1949 and the Calendar Page Opens to a New Year

images-1

January 1 – UN sponsored ceasefire brings an end to the Indo-Pakistan War of 1947. The war results in a stalemate and the division of Kashmir, which is still continuing as of 2014.  (In compiling these events, I find it astounding how many things continue to this day!)

January 5 – U.S. President Harry S. Truman unveils his Fair Deal program.

January 17 – The first VW Type 1 to arrive in the United States, a 1948 model, is brought to New York by Dutch businessman Ben Pon. Unable to interest dealers or importers in the Volkswagen, Pon sells the sample car to pay his travel expenses. Only two 1949 models were sold in America that year, convincing Volkswagen chairman Heinrich Nordhoff the car had no future in the U.S. (The Type 1 went on to become an automotive phenomenon.)

January 25 – In the first Israeli election, David Ben-Gurion becomes Prime Minister.

March 25 – Operation Priboi: An extensive deportation campaign begins in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The Soviet authorities deport more than 92,000 people from the Baltic states to remote areas of the Soviet Union.

March 28 -  English astronomer Fred Hoyle coins the term Big Bang during a BBC Third Programme radio broadcast

April 4 – twelve nations sign the North Atlantic Treaty establishing NATO

May 5 – The Council of Europe is founded by the signing of the Treaty of London.

May 6 – EDSAC, the first practicable stored-program computer, runs its first program at Cambridge University

May 20 – The AFSA (predecessor of the NSA) is established.

May 31 – First trial of Alger Hiss for perjury begins in New York with Whittaker Chambers as principal witness for the prosecution, but would end in a jury deadlock (8 for, 4 against)

June 2 – Transjordan becomes the Kingdom of Jordan

June 8-

Red Scare: Celebrities including Helen Keller, Dorothy Parker, Danny Kaye, Fredric March, John Garfield, Paul Muni and Edward G. Robinson are named in an FBI report as Communist Party members.

George Orwell‘s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four is published in London by Secker & Warburg. (rather ironic that 1984 was published at the same time that the “Red Scare” was at its height in the U.S.

June 14 – Albert II, a rhesus monkey, becomes the first primate to enter space, on U.S. Hermes project V-2 rocket Blossom IVB, but is killed on impact at return.

June 19 – Glenn Dunaway wins the inaugural NASCAR race at Charlotte Speedway, a 3/4 mile oval in Charlotte, North Carolina, but is disqualified due to illegal springs. Jim Roper is declared the official winner. (and the sports world dominates to this day, with similar stories of illegal whatevers whenevers)

June 24 – The first television western, Hopalong Cassidy, airs on NBC.

June 29 - Apartheid become official in S. Africa: The South African Citizenship Act suspends the granting of citizenship to British Commonwealth immigrants after 5 years and imposes a ban on mixed marriage.

August 5 – A 6.75 Richter scale earthquake in Ecuador kills 6,000 and destroys 50 towns. 

August 8 -   Bhutan becomes independent

August 12 -The Fourth Geneva Convention is agreed to.

August 14 -

The Salvatore Giuliano Gang explodes mines under a police barracks outside Palermo, Sicily

A military coup in Syria ousts the president.

August 28 – The last 6 surviving veterans of the American Civil War meet in Indianapolis. (wow!)

August 29

The Council of Europe meets for the first time.

The Soviet Union tests its first atomic bomb, code named “Joe 1“. Its design imitates the American plutonium bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan in 1945.

August 31 – The retreat of the Greek Democratic Army in Albania after its defeat at Mount Grammos marks the end of the Greek Civil War.

September 6 - Howard Unruh, a World War II veteran, kills thirteen neighbors in Camden, New Jersey with a souvenir Parabellum P.08 pistol to become America’s first single-episode mass murderer. (and so it began and the NRA is still screaming “2nd amendment!”

September 19 – The United Kingdom government devalues the pound sterling from $4.03 to $2.80, leading to many other currencies being devalued.

Sept. 21 – German Federal Republic (West Germany) established

Oct. 1 – Communist People’s Republic of China formally proclaimed by Chairman Mao Zedong

October 2 – The Soviet Union recognizes the People’s Republic of China.

October 7 – The Democratic Republic of Germany DDR is officially established. (the other side).

November 17-  Second trial of Alger Hiss begins in New York, again with Whittaker Chambers as principal witness

November 24 – The ski resort in Squaw Valley, California officially opens.

November 26 – The Indian Constituent Assembly adopts India‘s constitution [1].

November 27 – Indonesia is recognized.

November 28 – Winston Churchill makes a landmark speech in support of the idea of a European Union at Kingsway Hall, London

December 16 – Sukarno is elected president of the Republic of Indonesia.

and some more events of 1949:

The Vatican announces that bones uncovered in its subterranean catacombs could be the apostle Peter; 19 years later, Pope Paul VI announces confirmation that the bones belong to this first pope.[6]

The first 20 mm M61 Vulcan Gatling gun prototypes are completed.

1949 was the first year in which no African-American was reported lynched in the USA.[7]

Joseph Stalin launches a savage attack on Soviet Jews, accusing them of being pro-Western and antisocialist.

Samuel Putnam publishes his new translation of Don Quixote, the first in what we would consider modern English. It is instantly acclaimed and, in 2008, is still in print.

This also seems to be the year that pinup pictures with focus on breasts became mainstream.

Prescription Drugs Detected in Drinking Water

imgres

We have recently heard about the contaminated waters in the Elk River in West Virginia due to leaking toxic materials.  But for years now, our water sources have been the recipient of other potentially harmful elements: prescription drugs.

I have written in the past that pharmaceutical drugs are a predominant fixture in our society.  They are so prevalent, however,  that they have started to seep into our environment.  According to several sources,

Traces of prescription drugs—including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones—have been detected in drinking water.  (Wikipedia, USA Today, Sunday Telegraph)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did a study and found that the level of drugs found in our water supply is much higher than previously thought:

Specifically, more than half the samples of waste water from major cities tested by the EPA tested positive for at least 25 drugs. “We were surprised to find that many drugs occurring across all the waste water plants,” EPA research biologist Mitchell Kostich told The New Republic. “We were also surprised to see so many drugs of a particular class – the high blood pressure medications — appear at those levels across the board.” – See more at: http://healthydebates.com/25-plus-drugs-half-americas-drinking-water/#sthash.pWqKQ5Pl.dpuf
How, you may ask, do these drugs get into our water system?  Think about it:  the drugs are in our system, they are in our waste as well.  We are told to flush unused drugs down the toilet.  Right there are two sources.
In a survey conducted by CBS:
Researchers [found] that nearly 70 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug, and more than half receive at least two prescriptions, reports CBS Atlanta.
This adds up to a lot of pharmaceuticals being dumped into our water systems.

If these chemicals are being found in our drinking water, they have to be entering other parts of the eco-system as well, ie, the fish we eat.

These findings frighten me.  We speak about the war on drugs and yet one could make a case that the biggest culprits are those who “push” pharmaceutical drugs on the unaware general public.  The irony is that the “pusher” is probably not fully cognizant of his/her role in the whole sordid picture or, at least,  I certainly hope not. Every time a doctor writes a prescription, he/she is potentially creating an addict. Think about it. How often have you heard a doctor stop something he/she has prescribed for a “chronic” situation such as high blood pressure (one of the highest levels of drugs found in our water systems) or high cholesterol?

Both of these “chronic” situations can be alleviated by exercise, eating properly, and removing oneself from stressful situations. But in the world we inhabit today, we take pills. Our doctors prescribe them and he/she must know that it is important to take these pills for our health.  Also, let’s face it: pills are so much easier to pop than going to the gym or preparing a meal…. and, it takes so much less time….. and, God knows, time is a luxury these days.  To add insult to injury, in spite of knowing that these pills may have potentially nasty side effects, we continue to push them into our mouths and swallow.

Many of the drugs we take have been presented to us as something we will need to take for the rest of our lives.  As an example, blood pressure medication.  Doctors caution, in no uncertain terms that once one starts taking blood pressure medication, they need to remain on it for the rest of their lives.  However, this may not be true.

Take the story of my mother-in-law. She had been on blood pressure medication since her 50′s. Her blood pressure probably had spiked as she entered menopause. The doctor had told her that she had to take the blood pressure pills for the rest of her life. When she had moved in with us, she had been taking this prescription drug for high blood pressure for over thirty-five years. Everyone assumed that these drugs were working beautifully because her blood pressure was normal.

One day, as fate would have it, she came down with pneumonia. She eventually recovered because of the miracle drug: antibiotics.

About ten days after my mother-in-law returned home, her doctor noted that somehow her blood pressure pills had not been resumed. Lo and behold, her blood pressure was still normal. He told us not to resume them. Who knows when she could have actually quit? But worse, think about how many people are on high blood pressure pills in our country today and how many might not need to be? A financial boom for the pharmaceutical companies, certainly.  Yet also, according to the EPA study, one of the most prevalent drugs found in our water systems.

© Yvonne Behrens, M.Ed  2014

 

 

 

Do Economics Influence Attitudes Towards Aging?

images-9

I have been working on a power point presentation entitled “One Size Does Not Fit All.”  The presentation will focus on how the cultural  mores of the aging population in our country are beginning to influence how we, as a culture, need to respond.

While doing research on this project, I am finding some very interesting studies.  One in particular struck a chord:  How economics influences our attitude towards aging.

Early studies which focused on socioeconomic predictors found that higher levels of economic development and industrialization are associated with less favorable attitudes towards aging and a lower societal status of older adults (e.g., Simmons, 1945Arnhoff, et al., 1964Maxwell, 1970Bengtson, Dowd, Smith, & Inkeles, 1975Palmore & Manton, 1974).

Why would this be?  Well, first off, the more money there is, the easier it is to “put an elderly away.”   In this country, retirement communities have sprung up all over and have, in fact, become an accepted part of the aging process.  This, in turn, means that grandchildren do not have a lot of opportunities to spend with their grandparents.  If the grandparent is not a regular part of the child’s environment, what sort of rapport can develop between the two individuals?  The less youth has an opportunity to interact with older citizens, the more likely they will develop a disdain for the apparent fogginess they encounter and even the inability to close the cultural gap that naturally exists between the energy of youth and the less energetic elder.

On the other hand, if a child grows up with [a] grandparent(s) in which the grandparent(s) [is] a very dynamic part of their world, their attitude will be very different.  There will be a bond.  There will be a sense of love.  They will actually see that Grandma or Grandpa has many sides to their personality.  They might even have the opportunity to see how grandma or grandpa change as they age and recognize that this is the natural order of things.

In turn, if the grandparent(s) [is] in a retirement community and the family visits them once a week, usually on a Sunday after church or brunch and the kid is in a strange environment, still in his/her church clothes witnessing a forced situation of having to make conversation, how much relating can really occur?  Most children don’t think to ask their grandparent what their life was like when they were younger.  So they sit there, feeling awkward in front of a virtually old stranger, just waiting for the moment when they can get up to leave to go home.

(Cowgill, 19721986) argues that industrialization has undermined the societal status of older adults and with the break up of the traditional extended family through urbanization, has shifted the value of the elder’s means of production and experienced based knowledge to a much lower rung.  Although in some circles, modernization theory is considered an oversimplification, I find that there is enough within the studies that validate the argument that modernization has had a negative influence in society’s general attitude towards its aging population.

In a study done by Corinna E. Löckenhoff, National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, USA, the researchers approached their study with the following predictions:

In general, we predicted that perceptions about aspects of aging that are strongly linked to biological changes (i.e., physical aging and changes in fluid cognitive abilities) would show less variation across cultures and fewer associations with culture-level variables than perceptions of socioemotional aspects of aging (e.g., family relations and life satisfaction) and societal views of the aging process. For culture-level associations with socioeconomic characteristics, we expected to replicate previous research indicating that advanced development is associated with less favorable perceptions of aging.

Their findings confirmed this.  Utilizing Dutch Sociologist, Geert Hofstede’s value dimensions:

participants from cultures with greater Uncertainty Avoidance* reported more negative societal views of aging. Uncertainty Avoidance was also associated with less favorable expectations about age-related changes in family authority and life satisfaction. Further, participants from cultures higher in Power Distance** reported less favorable views of age-related changes in knowledge and wisdom.

Although this is a large topic of which only a small piece is reviewed in this blog entry, it just is another indication of how we need to re-think aging and bring it back as part of the mix.

 

* the concept of Uncertainty Avoidance deals with a society’s tolerance of ambiguity and uncertainty.  The more structured a society is, ie, Germany, the less comfortable its citizenry is with ambiguity.

** Power Distance refers to how those individuals who are less powerful within an entity (whether a society or a family) accept and expect inequality in the power structure with which they find themselves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1946, The First Year of the Baby Boom

images-3

As a boomer, I have decided that I am going to post events that happened every year from 1946-1964, the years that have been coined the Baby Boomer Years.  Each new post will take the next year up until the last year of the boomer years.

As it turns out, 1946 was an incredibly crucial year in which many events formed or helped create scenarios which have continued to be the backdrop of the world that we Boomers have lived in.  As a few: the Cold War and the CIA came into existence; the first computer was completed; the Zionist were making forays into creating a Jewish state in Palestine; the Nuclear weapons race begins; the United Nations was created; Ho Chi Minh and Vietnam entered the world stage; many new governments were created and a very definite line was drawn between the Eastern and Western blocs; many colonies were demanding their freedom, some of which were granted in 1946.  Television as a source of entertainment began; the issues of racism start to be acknowledged politically in the United States; the NFL is formed; the first commercially designed helicopter is introduced; the bikini bathing suit is introduced; the first Cannes Film Festival is held; Nehru forms a government in India; George Orwell publishes “Animal Farm”; Dr. Spock publishes his book on rearing babies, the bible used to bring all us boomers up.

Domestically,

President Harry Truman was President of the United States.  Within the country, much upheaval and change was being felt.  According to Wikipedia:

The end of World War II was followed by an uneasy transition from war to a peacetime economy. The costs of the war effort were enormous, and Truman was intent on decreasing government expenditures on the military as quickly as possible. Demobilizing the military and reducing the size of the various services was a cost-saving priority. The effect of demobilization on the economy was unknown, but fears existed that the nation would slide back into a depression. A great deal of work had to be done to plan how best to transition to peacetime production of goods while avoiding mass unemployment for returning veterans. There was no consensus among government officials as to what economic course the postwar U.S. should steer. In addition, Roosevelt had not paid attention to Congress in his final years, and Truman faced a body where a combination of Republicans and conservative southern Democrats formed a powerful voting bloc.[68]

The president was faced with the reawakening of labor-management conflicts that had lain dormant during the war years, severe shortages in housing and consumer products, and widespread dissatisfaction with inflation, which at one point hit 6% in a single month.[69] Added to this polarized environment was a wave of destabilizing strikes in major industries, and Truman’s response to them was generally seen as ineffective.[69] A rapid increase in costs was fueled by the release of price controls on most items, and labor sought wage increases. A serious steel strike in January 1946 involving 800,000 workers—the largest in the nation’s history—was followed by a coal strike in April and a rail strike in May. The public was angry, with a majority in polls favoring a ban on strikes by public service workers and a year’s moratorium on labor actions. Truman proposed legislation to draft striking workers into the Armed Forces, and in a dramatic personal appearance before Congress, was able to announce settlement of the rail strike. His proposal passed the House of Representatives, but failed in the Senate.[70][71]For commodities where price controls remained, producers were often unwilling to sell at artificially low prices: Farmers refused to sell grain for months in 1945 and 1946 until payments were significantly increased, even though grain was desperately needed, not only for domestic use, but to stave off starvation in Europe.[72]

Although labor strife was muted after the settlement of the railway strike, it continued through Truman’s presidency. The President’s approval rating dropped from 82% in the polls in January 1946 to 52% by June.[73] This dissatisfaction with the Truman administration’s policies led to large Democratic losses in the 1946 midterm elections, when Republicans took control of Congress for the first time since 1930. The 80th Congress included Republican freshmen who would become prominent in the years to come, including Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy and California Congressman Richard Nixon. When Truman dropped to 32% in the polls, Democratic Arkansas Senator William Fulbright suggested that Truman resign; the President in response indicated that he did not care what Senator “Halfbright” said.[74][75]

When I was looking at what was happening in 1946, I was a little surprised at how familiar many of the entries sounded to our world today.  I did leave out a lot of references to sport events, Broadway events, and music premiers, since, although influences, I was wanting to focus more on events that caused major changes in our outlook as a society and influenced our perception of the world around us, clearly to this day.

Anyway, have a look below.

On the very first day of 1946, January 1,  the first computer was completed by Mauchley/Eckert.  How about that!

January 10: we make first radar contact with the moon and the U.N. General Assembly meets for the first time in London, England.

January 17:  United Nations Security Council holds its 1st meeting

January 22: US president sets up the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  How about that!  And Rear Admiral Sidney W Souers, USNR, becomes 1st Director of CIA.

February 16: 1st commercially designed helicopter tested, Bridgeport Ct

In between January and February of 1946, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Albania form their dictatorships with Communism as their mantel.  Salazar in Portugal forms his dictatorship independently of the communist mantel.  And Franco continues his dictatorship of Spain.

February 14-15: Bank of England is nationalized

February 21: Anti-British demonstrations by Egyptians

February 24: Juan Peron elected president of Argentina

February 26: 2 killed & 10 wounded in race riot in Columbia Tenn

Mar 1st - Panama accepts its new Constitution

Mar 2nd - Ho Chi Minh elected president of North Vietnam; Kingman Douglass, becomes deputy director of CIA

Mar 5th - Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech (Fulton Missouri)

Mar 9th - Ted Williams is offered $500,000 to play in Mexican Baseball League.  He refuses

Mar 12th - Part of Petsamo province ceded by Soviet Union to Finland

Mar 14th - Belgian creates several governments over the course of the year, beginning with Spaak.  Until then, Belgian was ruled by a monarchy.
Mar 15th - British premier Attlee agrees with India’s right to independence

Mar 22nd - Britain signs treaty granting independence to Jordan

Mar 28th - Cold War: The United States State Department releases the Acheson-Lilienthal Report, outlining a plan for the international control of nuclear power.

Mar 31st - The first election is held in Greece after World War II.
Apr 1st - 400,000 US mine workers strike
Apr 1st - Tsunamis generated by a quake in Aleutian Trench strike Hilo Hawaii;  Weight Watchers forms; Formation of the Malayan Union.

Apr 3rd - Netherland-German postal relations resume

Apr 7th - Part of East Prussia incorporated into Russian SFSR; Syria’s independence from France is officially recognised.
Apr 8th - League of Nations assembles for last time

Apr 13th - Eddie Klepp, a white pitcher signed by defending Negro League champ Cleveland Buckeyes, is barred from field in Birmingham Alabama

Apr 18th - Jackie Robinson debuts as 2nd baseman for the Montreal Royals;  US recognizes Tito’s Yugoslavia government

Apr 20th - 1st baseball broadcast in Chicago, Cards vs Cubs

Apr 21st - SED, Socialistic Einheitspartei Germany forms in East Germany (another dictatorship forms under the mantel of Communism)

Apr 27th - 1st radar installation aboard a commercial ship.
Apr 29th - 28 former Japanese leaders indicted in Tokyo as war criminals

May 1st - Start of 3 year Pilbara strike of Indigenous Australians; The Paris Peace Conference concludes that the islands of the Dodecanese should be returned to Greece by Italy; Fieldmarshal Montgomery appointed British supreme commander

May 2nd - Prisoners revolt at Alcatraz.  The revolt lasts two days.  Two guards and three inmates are killed.

May 7th - William H Hastie inaugurated as 1st black governor of Virgin Islands; Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering (later renamed Sony) is founded with around 20 employees.

May 8th: The Estonian school girls Aili Jõgi and Ageeda Paavel blow up the Soviet memorial that preceded the Bronze Soldier in Tallinn.  Aili was 14 years old at the time and very active in the resistance movement.  She was finally caught and found guilty as an under-aged terrorist and sent to a Gulag labor camp,  west of the Ural mountains. She was exiled from the Estonian SSR for eight years.

May 9th - 1st hour long entertainment TV show, “NBC’s Hour Glass” premieres

May 10th - Umberto II succeeds Victor Emmanuel III as king of Italy; Red Sox win 15th straight beat Yanks 5-4, DiMaggio hits Grand Slam

May 11: The United Malays National Organisation, (UMNO) founded and  is  presently Malaysia’s largest political part and a founding member of the National Front coalition

May 13th - US convicts 58 camp guard of Mauthausen concentration camp to death

May 25th - Abdullah ibn Hussein becomes king of Jordan

May 26th - Klement Gottwald becomes premier of Czechoslovakia.  He was a founding father of the Communist party in Czechoslovakia; Patent filed in US for H-Bomb.

Jun 2nd - Italian plebiscite chooses republic over monarchy (National Day)
Jun 3rd - US Supreme court rules race separation on buses, unconstitutional;  1st bikini bathing suit displayed (Paris)

Jun 6th - The Basketball Association of America is formed in New York City

Jun 7th - US Supreme Court bans discrimination in interstate travel

Jun 8th - Sukarno calls for anti colonial defiance in Indonesia

Jun 9th - Bhumibol Adulyadej, becomes king of Thailand; Joe Louis KOs Billy Conn in 8 for heavyweight boxing title

Jun 10th - Italian Republic established; Rear Admiral Sidney W Souers, USNR, ends term as 1st director of CIA Lieutenant General Hoyt S Vandenberg, USA, becomes 2nd director of CIA
Jun 13th - 1st transcontinental round-trip flight in 1-day, California-Maryland; King Umberto II of Italy abdicates

Jun 29th - British mandatory government of Palestine arrests 100 leaders of Yishnuv
Jul 1st - Rajah cedes Sarawak to British crown; US drops atom bomb on Bikini atoll (4th atomic explosion)

Jul 3rd - 1st Dutch government of Beel forms

Jul 4th - Philippines gains independence from US

Jul 14th - Dr Ben Spock’s “Common Sense Book of Baby & Child Care” published; Mass murder of Jews in Kielce Poland

Jul 15th - British North Borneo Co transfers rights to British crown
Jul 16th - US court martials 46 SS to death (Battle of Bulge crimes) in Dachau

Jul 22nd - Menachen Begin’s opposition group surprise attack on King David hotel
Jul 23rd - Menachem Begins opposition group bombs King David Hotel

Jul 24th - US performs atmospheric nuclear Test at Bikini Island; US detonates underwater A-bomb at Bikini (5th atomic explosion)
Jul 25th - At Club 500 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis stage their first show as a comedy team.
Jul 26th - President Harry Truman orders desegregation of all US forces
Jul 26th - Aloha Airlines began service from Honolulu International Airport

Aug 1st - Pres Harry Truman establishes Atomic Energy Commission (AEC)

Aug 6th - US officially submits to jurisdiction of World Court
Aug 7th - 1st coin bearing portrait of Negro authorized
Aug 8th - India agrees to give Bhutan 32 sq miles

Aug 13th - Britain transfers illegal immigrants bound to Palestine, to Cyprus
Aug 16th - Great Calcutta blood bath – Moslem/Hindu riot (3-4,000 die)

Aug 17th - George Orwell publishes “Animal Farm” in the United Kingdom

Sep 1st - Greece votes for monarchy

Sep 2nd - Nehru forms government in India

Sep 8th - Bulgaria ends monarchy

Sep 20th - Churchill argues for a ‘United States of Europe’; The first Cannes Film Festival is held.

Sep 26th - 1st edition of Tintin (Kuifje), publishes until June 1993

Sep 28th - Greek king George II returns to Athens from exile

Sep 29th - Los Angeles (previously Cleveland) Rams play 1st NFL game in LA
Sep 29th - NPS, Nationale Party Suriname, forms
Sep 30th - 22 Nazi leaders found guilty of war crimes at Nuremberg; Von Ribbentrop & Hermann Goering sentenced to death by Nuremberg trial
Oct 1st - 12 war criminals sentenced to death in Nuremberg

Oct 8th - Kwo-less-shrew selects Gen Chiang Kai-shek as president of China

Oct 27th - Georgi Domitrovs National Front wins Bulgaria elections (78%)

Oct 28th - German rocket engineers begin work in USSR
Nov 1st - Charles S Johnson becomes 1st black president of Fisk University

Nov 3rd - Emperor Hirohito proclaims new Japanese constitution

Nov 4th - UN Educational, Scientific, & Cultural Organization formed
Nov 5th - John F Kennedy (D-Mass) elected to House of Representatives

Nov 9th - Pres Harry Truman ends wage/price freeze

Nov 12th - A branch of the Exchange National Bank in Chicago, Illinois opens the first ten drive-up teller windows.

Nov 15th - House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) interrogates astronomer Harlow Shapley

Nov 21st - Georgi Dimitrov, a communist,  elected premier of Bulgaria

Nov 23rd - French Navy fire in Haiphong Vietnam, kills 6,000
Nov 23rd - The Workers Party of South Korea is founded.

Dec 3rd - US government asks UN to order dictator Franco out of Spain
Dec 5th - Pres Harry Truman creates Committee on Civil Rights by Exec Order #9808

Dec 11th - Spain suspended from UN; UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) established (Nobel 1965)

Dec 12th - Tide detergent introduced; UN accepts 6 Manhattan blocks as a gift from John D Rockefeller Jr
Dec 13th - Leon Blum elected French premier

Dec 14th - Togo made a trusteeship territory of UN; UN General Assembly votes to establish UN headquarters in NYC

Dec 19th - War breaks out in Indochina as Ho Chi Minh attacks French in Hanoi

Dec 23rd - U of Tenn refuses to play Duquesne U, because they may use a black player in their basketball game
Dec 24th - 4th French republic established
Dec 24th - US General MacNarney gives 800,000 “minor nazi’s” amnesty

Dec 25th - Constitution accepted in Taiwan

Dec 26th - Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas opens (start of an era)
Dec 31st - French troops leave Lebanon


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obamacare is Coming! Obamacare is Coming!

images-7

[Ed. note: Although I try and avoid political entries on this blog, the topic of this blog has been so politicized, that I am not able to avoid it.]

In spite of the fact that representatives in Congress have tried to repeal the Health Care Reform Act a whopping 40 times, open enrollment is due to begin on October 1 and the Health Care Reform Act, aka Obama Care, officially will go into effect the first of January 2014.  That is the good news.

The news that really chagrins me is that each time the obstructionists in Congress tried to repeal the law (which would actually benefit most American citizens) they did so to the tune of 1.5 MILLION dollars.  EACH time!  SIXTY MILLION DOLLARS of OUR tax dollars ended up being spent for what I can only conclude is shenanigans on the part of the obstructionists.  These are the same people who keep telling us that the government does not have enough money to operate.  They are the same people who can get the very best healthcare available at a 72-75% discount.*  As we have been the only developed nation in the world that still does not provide universal healthcare to its citizens, the actions of these obstructionists has been destructive.  Okay.  Politics over.  Back to the good news.

Starting October 1, people will be able to choose their healthcare coverage and healthcare provider.  Health insurers are no longer allowed to deny individuals with pre-existing conditions.  They are no longer allowed to drop individuals if they cost them too much or put a lifetime limit on benefits.

The following is the coverage that every citizen will have a right to regardless of the healthcare plan they choose.

Free annual check ups; Emergency services; Hospitalizations; Laboratory services; Maternity care; Mental health and substance abuse treatment; Outpatient, or ambulatory care; Pediatric care; Prescription drugs; Preventive care; Rehabilitative services; Vision and dental care for children.

Open enrollment will allow one to compare coverage options before enrolling.  In this new requirement that all citizens own health insurance, the government is offering an exchange rate between what the premiums cost and what the insured will have to pay. This exchange rate will be determined by the individual states.

In Virginia for example:

The average premium, without tax credits, would be $237 a month for the lowest-cost bronze plan and $335 a month for the second-lowest silver plan.

For a family of four making $50,000, a mid-range plan, after tax credits, would be $282 a month under the second-lowest silver plan. Without a tax credit, $799.

For a 27-year-old person earning $25,000 a year, the premium would be $80 a month, with a tax credit, for the bronze plan and $145 for the silver plan, also with a tax credit.

Six out of 10 Virginians who are uninsured will be able to find coverage for less than $100 a month when tax credits and Medicaid coverage are included.

 

© Yvonne Behrens, M.Ed  2013

_____________________

*According to the Congressional Research Service, the FEHBP offers about 300 different private health care plans, including five government-wide, fee-for-service plans and many regional health maintenance organization (HMO) plans, plus high-deductible, tax-advantaged plans. All plans cover hospital, surgical and physician services, and mental health services, prescription drugs and “catastrophic” coverage against very large medical expenses. There are no waiting periods for coverage when new employees are hired, and there are no exclusions for preexisting conditions. The FEHBP negotiates contracts annually with all insurance companies who wish to participate. There is plenty of competition for the business; FEHBP is the largest employer-sponsored health plan in the U.S.

Like other large employers, the government pays a large share of the cost of coverage. On average, the government pays 72 percent of the premiums for its workers, up to a maximum of 75 percent depending on the policy chosen. For example, the popular Blue Cross and Blue Shield standard fee-for-service family plan carries a total premium of $1,327.80 per month, of which the beneficiary pays $430.04. Washington, D.C.-based employees who prefer an HMO option might choose the Kaiser standard family plan. It carries a total premium of $825.15 per month, of which the employee pays only $206.29.  (Factcheck.org)

 

Multitasking Video Games that Stimulate the Brain

images-7

Back in 2006, I was sitting at a dinner table with my husband, a friend of ours (to whom my husband was also a consultant), and a Scientist.  The Scientist, who had been involved in creating a computer program to help children with learning disabilities (a program our friend was using in her Rehabilitation Center) was excitedly sharing with us that the same group that had created this program for children with learning disabilities had just come up with a new program to help re-stimulate the aging brain.

My maternal grandmother had succumbed to dementia.  She had been living alone for many years and although she had been living in a small French town where she knew many people and she had had a livelihood as an artist, arthritis had set in, impeding her ability to go out and paint.   My father, diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, also developed memory loss.  My mother-in-law, a brilliant woman who was living with us at the time, in her 93rd year (albeit that is a nice old age) started to loose her mind.  It is not comfortable watching someone who was such a part of life fade into nothingness.  I suppose it will happen to many of us if something else does not get to us first, but…I digress.  Back to the dinner.

Needless to say, when I heard about this program, my ears pricked up and I recognized that this would be the next big step in extending the aging process.  I asked the Scientist how I could learn more about the program.  Our friend agreed that this program could be incorporated into her business, but that I would remain an independent representative of the company providing the Brain Fitness Program, Posit Science.

I loved the program and I loved introducing it to people.  Because it was the first of its kind, there were a lot of rough spots that the company kept tumbling over.  Some of it was proving the claims they were making, but most of it had to do with “meeting those profits.”  In the end, they never permitted their representatives to own a part of the company or even be a franchise, thus it could never develop into a business for me.  At around the same time that I recognized this, the company decided to only market via the internet.  Nevertheless, the concept is a sound one and since that time, other companies have developed their own programs.

Just recently, I came across an article that spoke about a Scientist who is using video games to the same effect.  In reading the article in The New York Times, I see that some of the same arguments are being put forth that were constantly surrounding the Brain Fitness Program: what are the positive effects; what are the negative effects; what are the long-term effects.  In spite of this, there seems to be positive responses for this new study:

The latest research was the product of a four-year $300,000 study done at the University of California, San Francisco. Neuroscientists there, led by Dr. Adam Gazzaley, worked with developers to create NeuroRacer,  a relatively simple video game in which players drive and try to identify specific road signs that pop up on the screen, while ignoring other signs deemed irrelevant.

Studies have shown that multi-tasking abilities diminish with age, starting in one’s ’20′s!  By the time people reach their ’60′s, the ability to multi-task has dropped by 64%.

But after the older adults trained at the game, they became more proficient than untrained people in their 20s. The performance levels were sustained for six months, even without additional training. Also, the older adults performed better at memory and attention tests outside the game.

“That is the most grabbing thing here,” Dr. Gazzaley said. “We transferred the benefits from inside the game to different cognitive abilities.”

In spite of these findings, the Scientists remain cautious.  It is not just playing video games that will re-stimulate one’s aging attention span and Dr. Gazzaley emphasizes the need to remain within the confines of scientific rigor. His study does include a further validation of the effectiveness of video games:

The researchers created a second layer of proof by monitoring the brain waves of participants using electroencephalography. What they found was that in older participants, in their 60s to 80s, there were increases in a brain wave called theta, a low-level frequency associated with attention. When older subjects trained on the game, they showed increased bursts of theta, the very types of bursts seen regularly in people in their 20s.

“We made the activity in older adults’ prefrontal cortex look like the activity in younger adults’ prefrontal cortex,” said Dr. Gazzaley, referring to a part of the brain heavily involved with attention.

All of this sounds very positive to me.  I still believe in the benefits of re-stimulating our neurons through interactive technology.  But I also appreciate that the brain is a sensitive organ which we are still in the process of understanding and, thus,  understand the Scientists’ caution.  In the meanwhile, just in case, I will buy myself some video games…..

 

© Yvonne Behrens, M.Ed  2013

 

A Story About Our Medical System

images

I have to get my decks power washed and stained.  The man who is doing the job, very nice, friendly, talkative, shared the fact that last year, he had a major heart attack.  I asked if I could share his story and this is it:

“I am 42 years old.  Now I don’t like doctors and I don’t like hospitals.  So something has to feel really wrong for me to even consider either.  I was working on a job, it was around Christmas last year, three days before Christmas to be exact.  I started to feel pretty terrible.  I had been having some chest pains on and off, but, you know, you don’t really think that it might be a heart attack.  Heck, I’m only 42 years old, so….But that day, I was really feeling a lot of pain.  I decided to go home.  I called my wife and told her that she needed to call an ambulance.  When I got home, the ambulance had not arrived yet.  She gave me aspirin.  It was winter.  It was cold.  They came and I told them that I thought I was having a heart attack.  They looked at me and replied, “Nah. Can’t be.  You are too young.  You are still standing up.  We’ll take your blood count.”  Apparently the blood counts were off the charts, causing the orderlies to jump into high gear.

They told “Jack” to get into the ambulance.  They had called ahead for a helicopter to come to the local hospital because his counts were so high.  They had called the destination hospital, alerting that this patient needed immediate attention.  By this time, “Jack” was shaking with cold.  The orderlies told him they would keep him warm in the ambulance.   “I kept grabbing at more and more blankets.  I just could not warm up.”

Off he went in the helicopter.  Yet when he arrived at the destination hospital, he ended up waiting up to two and a half hours before he went into surgery.  His wife, who drove home from the local hospital to get supplies (they had a baby), arrived forty five minutes after her husband did and helped finish the check in.   He had still not been seen by a doctor.

It turned out that one of the arteries was blocked 95%.  They put a stint in.  The next day, he was ravenous and ready to leave the hospital.  They only provided a menu for a heart patient, which, as one can imagine, was pretty light fare.  ”I told them that I needed to eat something and if they were not going to feed me, I would get up and leave and go get some real food.”  The doctor relented and he was able to eat a hearty (no pun intended) breakfast.

“I really wanted to spend Christmas at home with my family.  The doctors told me, ‘absolutely not!  You need to heal from the surgery.’  I replied that the way I was going to heal was to be with my family.  Thankfully, they did release me on Christmas day.”

He was given a slew of medications to take, including blood thinners and Statins.  He was supposed to go back for a re-check three months after the surgery.  ”I missed that appointment, but finally got back last week.  They found that my heart had recovered 99% of its abilities.  They were totally amazed since they said  this was very unusual.  But they also told me that my cholesterol was still too high and so they put me on a stronger Statin, Lipitor.”

Apparently, they are suggesting that he only do this for a year.  They will re-test in December to see whether he needs to continue.

Jack continued: “The doctor gave me a coupon for one of the  medications.  This medication costs $280 a bottle and the doctor told me, what with the fact that I work for myself, that if this was too cost-prohibitive, he would write me a prescription for a different medication.  Turned out that bottle cost $18.  I chose the medication that cost $18.”

“Now I’m not saying I am hundred percent and I don’t feel like I used to.  I have made some adjustments and I have slowed down, but I wonder where I would be had I not taken some initiative.”

One could say that “Jack” is a miracle story.  One could even conclude that had he not been tended at the hospital, he might not have been telling me his story.  On the other hand, where would “Jack” be if he had stayed in the hospital, under doctor’s advisement, eating “heart-healthy” meals for X amount of days?  What about the fact that there are two drugs out there that apparently have the same effects: one for $280 and the other for $18, and why did the doctor not suggest the latter in the first place?  And as for Lipitor, “don’t get me started!” [a bow to Billy Chrystal]  The side effects of this drug should be enough to prevent anyone from even considering ingesting this bit of poison.  But most people who are given it, take it, no questions asked.  Why?  The label says: potential side effects.

In conclusion…Some of the story shows our medical system at its best and some of the story shows areas that our medical system needs an overhaul.

Should the Topic of Bi-polar Disorder Be Made Into A Lighthearted Movie?

images-7

The other day, (well now it has been a couple of months!  I am so not keeping up with this blog!)  some friends and I went to see the movie “Silver-Lining Playbook.”  It was a good movie.  The acting was excellent.  I assume that if Bradley Cooper had not been up against Abraham Lincoln, he would have won an Oscar for his portrayal of an individual with bi-polar disorder.

However, the story line itself was total fantasy and, as the movie proceeded,  it became more and more a fantasy.  Maybe the author of the book/movie entitled the story, “Silver-Lining Playbook” precisely to let the movie viewer know that we would be shown a fantasy. But any of us who have seen/lived with someone diagnosed with bi-polar disorder knows that this dis-ease (at least up until now) does not have a silver lining attached to it.  I found the fantasy that the movie portrayed a bit over the top.  Now I know that American movie goers tend to love the happy ending story and this was as fairy tale-ish  “…and they lived happily ever after” as it gets.  But I found it a little disturbing to approach the topic of an illness wherein there has been no cure found [as of yet] in such a fantasy like way.

Bipolar disorder has no single cause. It appears that certain people are genetically predisposed to bipolar disorder. Yet not everyone with an inherited vulnerability develops the illness, indicating that genes are not the only cause. Some brain imaging studies show physical changes in the brains of people with bipolar disorder. Other research points to neurotransmitter imbalances, abnormal thyroid function, circadian rhythm disturbances, and high levels of the stress hormone cortisol.  These imbalances purportedly can be modified with pharmaceuticals.  But pharmaceuticals have their side-effects, some of which can be pretty nasty.

External environmental and psychological factors can be involved in the development of bipolar disorder. These external factors are called triggers. Triggers can set off new episodes of mania or depression or make existing symptoms worse. However, many bipolar disorder episodes occur without an obvious trigger.

  • Stress – Stressful life events can trigger bipolar disorder in someone with a genetic vulnerability. These events tend to involve drastic or sudden changes–either good or bad–such as getting married, going away to college, losing a loved one, getting fired, or moving.
  • Substance Abuse – While substance abuse doesn’t cause bipolar disorder, it can bring on an episode and worsen the course of the disease. Drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, and amphetamines can trigger mania, while alcohol and tranquilizers can trigger depression.
  • Medication – Certain medications, most notably antidepressant drugs, can trigger mania. Other drugs that can cause mania include over-the-counter cold medicine, appetite suppressants, caffeine, corticosteroids, and thyroid medication.
  • Seasonal Changes – Episodes of mania and depression often follow a seasonal pattern. Manic episodes are more common during the summer, and depressive episodes more common during the fall, winter, and spring.
  • Sleep Deprivation – Loss of sleep—even as little as skipping a few hours of rest—can trigger an episode of mania.

Lithium is the oldest and most commonly used mood stabilizer. It is “highly effective” for treating mania. Lithium can also help bipolar depression. However, it is not as effective for mixed episodes or rapid cycling forms of bipolar disorder. Lithium takes from one to two weeks to reach its full effect.  But some of the side effects of lithium include:

weight gain, drowsiness, tremors, weakness and fatigue, memory and concentration problems, stomach pain, thyroid problems, nausea, vertigo.

Of course every doctor will tell you that not everyone develops these side effects, but if you happen to be one of the ones who does, would you willingly subject yourself to them?

In extreme cases, antipsychotics may be prescribed for bipolar disorder.

Antipsychotic medications used for bipolar disorder include:

  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
  • Quetiapine (Seroquel)
  • Risperidone (Risperdal)
  • Ariprazole (Abilify)
  • Ziprasidone (Geodon)
  • Clozapine (Clozaril)

The common side effects of antipsychotic drugs are similar to those of the mood stabilizers: Drowsiness, Weight gain, Sexual dysfunction; Dry mouth; Constipation; Blurred vision.

Often, antipsychotic medications are combined with a mood stabilizer such as lithium or valproic acid.  So you can imagine what someone on both antipsychotic drugs and mood stabilizers might look like.  This is why I put the words “highly effective” in quotes.  By whose definition?

My apologies to the readers: I seem to have lost the sources by which I got my details on symptoms and remedies.  However, a google search for bipolar disorder will bring up pages with which you can further educate yourself.  But please, please, do not think that the two individuals portrayed in “Silver-Lining Playbook” are representative.

© Yvonne Behrens, M.Ed  2013

 

 

 

 

Fear and Loathing

images-1

Am I afraid of getting old?  Hell yes! You might ask why it is, then, that I spend time working with the elderly and their caregivers and focusing on aging by writing many articles that deal with aging.    I work with the elderly because I want to try and change the dire landscape that exists today for the elderly.  What might that landscape be?  One where the “old” person is left to vegetate in a corner, where derogatory comments are made about getting old, where services are constantly being cut and tax monies are used for the young, in spite of the fact that the young make up a smaller percentage than the ever-growing older population.

As boomers, we really do not want to focus on the fact that we are aging, that we are moving into a period in our lives when we will be more vulnerable and needing to depend on others for our care (if death does not find us before then).  We were the generation that grew up with the Peter Pan song: “I won’t grow up.”  We could just as well sing it, “I won’t grow old.”  We do not want to confront our aging process and so we don’t.  By not acknowledging it, we believe it will go away.  We insist that by acknowledging it, we will somehow help it, affirm it in its manifestation.

Two years ago, I had a friend who truly believed that aging was an attitude.  This past year, she is noting changes in her capabilities and attributing it to age.  Yes, folks, it does happen.  The hardware does start to wear down, break, fall apart.

The reason I am afraid of getting old in this society is that we are not humane towards our elderly.  This might have something to do with the fact that we live in a mobile, youth oriented society that does not respect its elderly population.  Also, I happen to fit into the statistic of being a single, certain-aged female with no children or grandchildren.  I have to admit that the idea of finding myself in a nursing home being taken care of or ignored by poorly paid staff scares me.

We live in times where the technological developments of hospitals and the advancements in medication allow us to live longer.  But what has been overlooked is the quality of life our living longer affords us.  Is it really a great thing to live to be 90 years old but have no mind to speak of?  Or have only the choice of living in a potential hell hole wherein one lives a semi-comatose existence in some dark hallway by being fed psychotropic drugs to keep us quiet?

I would rather depart from this life in my ’70′s, when I still have some life in me than be kept alive with absolutely no life to speak of.  (A friend of mine who is in her ’70′s has told me that when I reach that age, I will probably have a different outlook.  I don’t doubt her wisdom on the matter, but I am also a firm believer that life should be lived fully and since we are all going to go at some point…..what is it the comedians say, “Leave them laughing”)  I also do not doubt that I will probably have what I call a “clutch” to life as I confront the fact that I will be departing it.  Ironically, part of what sustains the medical establishment’s focus on keeping individuals alive is something that I believe is a natural part of dying: the clutch to life.

Now maybe this topic seems morbid to those of you reading it, but the fact of the matter is, if we do not confront our aging process and our eventual demise, we will do nothing to change what happens to us as we age and we might find ourselves far outliving our usefulness in a state that we would never wish on anyone let alone ourselves.

© Yvonne Behrens, M.Ed  2013

 

 

Changing One’s Living Situation

images-7

When it was clear that my father could no longer live alone, I found myself, by virtue of being the child who lived closest to him, in the position of having to  encourage him to consider living in a retirement facility.  At first he was resistant.  He did not want to live with a bunch of strangers, eating in an institutional dining room.  The way I talked him into considering it was to compare it to living in a college dorm. “Dad, you did this when you were attending college.  It is the same concept.”

Just recently, I read an article about a new trend among aging single women.  Four or five ban together à la Golden Girls in a group house.  More than any previous generation, boomers are single, either because they never married, they are divorced, they are part of the LGBT grouping, or they are widowed.  A larger number of aging people are women (57 percent make up the grouping 65 and older and 67 percent make up the group of 85 and older).

I know several women who share a home.  It is not always as easy as it may seem.  My friends told me that when they first moved in together, they all went about their own business.  They did not even sit down to dinner together.  But then one of the women needed to take care of her father and the household opted to allow him to move in with her.  This decision made their house become a home, as they all found themselves pitching in to help.  Although the father has since passed away, the pattern of doing things together within the household has remained.  And the women are very happy about this.

One structure that makes a marriage a marriage and a family a family is sharing meals.  Another structure is that everyone in the household pitches in to maintain the home.  Having and/or developing mutual interests also makes up a structure of a family.  These factors would seem important in the formation of a group home.

I like the idea.  I sit here in a house that has become too large for me — too empty.  I like the socialization that comes with sitting around a dinner table.  I always enjoyed doing things with my husband.  Presently, upkeep of home keeps me fairly busy.  It would be nice to share those tasks with someone else. Although I keep busy with many different projects and have an active social life,  coming home to someone has a very different feel.

Of course, one does have to consider that illness may settle on one or two or maybe even three of the housemates and then what happens?  Another thing to reflect on is that different people have different approaches to or definitions of cleanliness.  When in college, one’s sense of cleanliness may have been a little less stringent.  One might be a little more impatient with someone else’s habits when in their ’50′s or ’60′s than they were at eighteen or twenty-one.

However,  I do like the creative way that boomers are looking at the question of housing and how they want to spend their older years and I look forward to reading more about these innovative approaches towards aging.

© Yvonne Behrens, M.Ed  2013