World No Tobacco Day

Today is World No Tobacco Day, and people dying of tobacco use is still an issue in this day and age. According to the CDC more than 480,000 people die from tobacco related deaths each year, including more than 41,000 from second hand exposure. That number is staggering considering that it is preventable, by not smoking.  Back in the day we were not made as aware of the issues that come with smoking, but now, the effects of smoking are advertised everywhere. Because the effects were not as well-known years ago, people were suing the tobacco industry and winning. That would include Cynthia Robinson who won one of the largest settlements at $23.6 billion. Click here for the details of the lawsuit, including a kind of step-by-step of how her husband died from smoking, at the young age of 36.
Maybe you are someone who is not concerned about your health, or the health of those around you, there are still plenty of other reasons to quit. Some of these reasons are money, smell, or looks, and this article outlines it all. Quitting is not easy, anyone who has smoked understands this. It is more than just the addiction, it is also the action, it becomes a part of your routine, lots to change. Here is a link to help you quit, when you decide you are ready.  Make sure you also talk to your friends and family, they are more than likely ready to help you! Good luck!

Happy Birthday Idina Menzel

Today is Idina Menzel’s birthday! The actress who is probably best known for singing “Let It Go” in the movie “Frozen” but did you know she was a stage actress well before that role? She started on stage back in 1996 for the play “Rent”, and while she had a few gaps, there was a consistent run, including the role of Elphaba in “Wicked” which she won a Tony for. Currently, you can see Idina touring, as she has moved over more to the world of singing. Here is a list of her tour dates, and it just so happens that she is getting ready to be in the United States, so now is the time to grab tickets!

Remembering Those Who Have Fallen

In a presidential proclamation on May 26, 1966, Lyndon B. Johnson declared it a day to “honor the memory of brave men who have borne our colors in war,” and in 1971, Memorial Day became a federal holiday.
As Americans take the day to honor the fallen, we should also pause to remember those who died in foreign lands — far from U.S. soil but right at the heart of the holiday.
The exact number of American Veterans buried on foreign soil is hard to pin down. The American Battle Monuments Commission has tried to keep a tally. They created and maintain 25 in 10 foreign countries, including France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, the Philippines, Panama, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, and Tunisia. The number of soldiers buried in those cemeteries is approximately 130,000.
There are thousands of American military graves lying forgotten and lost abroad. Why? For one, there isn’t a single organization that tracks the burials. There is no database of every American service member buried overseas. And the reason why there is no database is because finding all of America’s war dead is a complicated process.
While some are buried in formal memorial cemeteries, others are in private cemeteries, mass graves and isolated burial sites. Old records have been lost and new burials are being discovered. Women were not always counted among the war dead. Thousands of Americans fought under foreign flags before the U.S. entered the world wars, and are buried as foreigners. Those missing in action or lost at sea further complicate tracking. And some have just been lost.
But one historian has been painstakingly counting, cataloging and mapping the locations of American war dead buried outside formal memorial cemeteries. Read More.

Amnesty International Day

Today is Amnesty International Day, so what is Amnesty International you are asking? I mean most of us have heard of it, but have we really stopped to look up what it means. According to Amnesty International’s website, they, “help to fight the abuses of human rights world-wide, bring torturers to justice, change oppressive laws, and free people jailed just for voicing their opinions”. Quite literally they are out there looking out for the people, a guardian of sorts, allowing the truth to be told, however challenging it might be to hear it. Click here for a list of countries they are involved with, and if you scroll to the bottom you can find a downloadable report, documenting the state of human rights in 2016.

The Importance of Sunblock

I don’t know about you, but I am big on protecting my skin. Whether I am out taking Melky on a walk, or playing Disc Golf, I slather on the stuff to protect myself from skin cancer. It is estimated that 10,000 people will die from melanoma in 2017, that is a staggering statistic when you think that just a little sunblock can help protect you. You should not only wear sunblock when going out in the sun for extended periods, but instead you should protect yourself every day. Here are reasons to keep lathered other than just the cancer you could get. Remember to protect yourself from the sun every time you leave the house. Any areas that aren’t covered should have sunblock, and while a hat is nice, the sun can still get through. Protect yourself!

Add a Little Wine to Your Dinner Tonight

Wine has always had a following in the United States, even with the popularity of beer on the rise, and today is a day to embrace the bottle, since it is National Wine Day! With millennial’s drinking more wine than the generations before them, wine sells have increased in the past few years. But, like with anything, too much of a good thing has brought with it lawsuits. There was a recent lawsuit in which people sued over the levels of arsenic in about 80 different types of wines. All of the wines listed in the suit were less expensive, and are a lighter wine, or blush. It made me think to check out what is considered acceptable when it comes to arsenic in our food and beverage.
Arsenic is a naturally occurring substance in the earth. Arsenic can be found in soil, and since grapes grow in the ground, it is a small leap to arsenic being in the grapes used for wine. But what is safe when it comes to arsenic consumption. According to the EPA drinking water can have 10 ppb (parts per billion) of arsenic in the water you drink. Now, this is where it gets interesting. According to the the EPA does not have standards for wine, but if you look at Canada their standard is 100 ppb. The site goes on to say, “none of the wines tested by Beverage Grades tested higher than 50 ppb. And three-quarters of the bottle of the roughly 1,300 bottles of wine reportedly tested below 10 ppb, which is the EPA’s allowable limit for arsenic in drinking water”. The result, the case was dismissed, since the bottles are labeled warning about drinking, and really much of the wine was satisfactory for the levels of arsenic found. If you are concerned with the levels of arsenic in your wine, then perhaps drinking a slightly more expensive bottle, or switching to red is a good plan for you. Otherwise, remember the levels found in most of the bottles, is the same as what is coming out of your tap, that you wash your fruit and brush your teeth with.

Enjoy your wine!

Get Out There and Take A Ride!

National bike month is quickly coming to an end! Did you dust off your bike and go for a ride this month? There is still time to get a ride in, and what better time than a holiday weekend! You can grab the whole family, and do a shorter ride around your neighborhood, making loops, or you can choose to do a longer one. If the kiddos aren’t up for the longer ride, then maybe a short one with them, before or after the longer one you do is in order. I found this list of trails around Modesto, it includes places that you might want to drive to first, but the experienced cycler could easy bike there and then bike the trail. I did not notice that the list included the area in Ripon around the river, so I found this article that goes over that trail. If you choose to do the Ripon trail you will probably want to use a mountain bike.

This brings up a good point, remember, different trails do require different forms of bikes. For instance, if the trail is paved all of the way, you will probably be okay with a road bike. If you have dirt and road surface then maybe a hybrid bike, or mountain bike is better. With all dirt trails, you are most likely going to want a mountain bike, but a hybrid could work too. If you are looking to just “cruise” around then a beach cruiser is right up your alley! Regardless of the type of bike you use, you still might want to have the tires “slimed”, to help make them stronger and protect the tires.

Whatever you decide, enjoy your time riding. Let loose, be free, and have fun with it!

Amy Winehouse, Gone Too Soon

Do you ever notice how the really great singers / performers seem to die young? Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Bob Marley and the woman I am going to focus on, Amy Winehouse, to name a few. (If you are interested in a more in-depth list that includes actors, click here.) Amy Winehouse was known for her powerful, voice, among other things. She was not only an amazingly talented singer, she also wrote her own music and played the guitar. According to, “Amy was intelligent beyond her years. She would devour the Sunday newspapers at her best friend Juliette’s house. While her peers were reading teen magazines, Amy would sit at the kitchen table peppering Juliette’s mom with questions about news stories”. She was intelligent, and a beautiful soul, who tragically lost her life at the age of 27. I again say it seems many of our talented artists pass when they are young, and sadly, many from drugs or alcohol. Amy Winehouse died on July 23, 2011. Instead of remembering her for the bad parts of her life, I am going to memorialize the good parts, including one of my favorite albums “Back to Black”.

Ireland Passes Same-Sex Marriage Law

It was on this day, May 22 in 2015 that Ireland became the first country to legalize same sex marriage. What makes this so controversial is that it is primarily a Roman Catholic Country.   According to a New York times article, “not long ago, the vote would have been unthinkable. Ireland decriminalized homosexuality only in 1993, the church dominates the education system, and abortion remains illegal except when a mother’s life is at risk. But the influence of the church has waned amid scandals in recent years, while attitudes, particularly among the young, have shifted”. It is truly remarkable that this passed. At the time the United States allowed same sex marriage in 37 states, but not long after, on June 26, 2015 the United States Supreme Court did rule that same-sex couples can marry in the US. Ireland led the pack though, they carried the torch as the first country to allow same-sex marriage.