Friday, October 23, 2009

Great Tips for Preventing the Flu or other Viral Maladies...

I SWEAR by the Neti pot...a cheaper version, which is just as effective, is to take a 3" bulb syringe (pharmacy supply store) and warm water mixed 3 parts salt 1 part baking soda and gently flush your nasal cavities. Best performed in the shower or over the sink, because it unless you are good, water goes everywhere!

This message is from Dr. Vinay Goyal a renowned doctor who visited last week to lecture on the topic H1N1 (SWINE FLU), its origin and precautions. He is an MBBS, DRM, DNB (Intensivist and Thyroid specialist) having clinical experience of over 20 years. He has worked in institutions like Hinduja Hospital , Bombay Hospital ,Saifee Hospital , Tata Memorial etc. Presently, he is heading our Nuclear Medicine Department and Thyroid clinic at Riddhivinayak Cardiac and Critical Centre, Malad (W).

Thanks to media hype about H1N1, several people who trust me have either approached or called me to advice. The hype in media about the utility of face masks and N95 respirators as a tool for g eneral protection against H1N1 can't be deplored enough. Yesterday, a friend who listened wanted me to write down briefly what I advised so that he could tell others in similar words. Hence this short email to friends whom I have advised recently (and others whom I haven't yet). Please realize that this is not an official advice, especially the one about face masks or N95.

Most N95 respirators are designed to filter 95% particulates of 0.3µ, while the s ize of H1N1 virus is about 0.1µ. Hence, dependence on N95 to protect against H1N1 is like protecting against rain with an umbrella made of mosquito net.

Tamiflu does not kill but prevents H1N1 from further proliferation till the virus limits itself in about 1-2 weeks (its natural cycle). H1N1, like other Influenza A viruses, only infects the upper respiratory tract and proliferates (only) there. The only portals of entry are the nostrils and mouth/ throat. In a global epidemic of this nature, it's almost impossible not coming into contact with H1N1 in spite of all precautions. Contact with H1N1 is not so much of a problem as prol iferation is. While you are still healthy and not showing any symptoms of H1N1 infection, in order to prevent proliferation, aggravation of symptoms and development of secondary infections, some very simple steps not fully highlighted in most official communications - can be practiced (instead of focusing on how to stock N95 or Tamiflu):

1. Frequent hand-washing (well highlighted in all official communications).
2. "Hands-off-the-face" approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of face
3. *Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine if you don't trust salt). *H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/ nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one. Don't underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.
4. Similar to 3 above, *clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water. *Not everybody may be good at Jala Neti or Sutra Neti (very good Yoga asanas to clean nasal cavities), but *blowing the nose hard once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral population.*
5. *Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C (Amla and other citrus fruits). *If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets, make sure that it also has Zinc to boost absorption.
6.* Drink as much of warm liquids as you can. *Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. They wash off proliferating viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm.

All these are simple ways to prevent, within means of most households, and certainly much less painful than to wait in long queues outside public hospitals.

Hard Work and Relaxation Shouldn't Be a Thing of the Past...

Ok, it's Friday, a day to start winding down-right? Sorry to burden you with a heavy blog before the weekend, but it's the first time recently I have had the chance to really sit down and write.

Jake and I were talking last night about how Christmas was only 65 days away and I brought up how different it was going to be this year for Thanksgiving and Christmas without Nanny around. Most of you who read regularly, know that my grandmother, fondly called, Nanny, passed away in July. I have been saying that I want to write about that experience, but time, like everything else, has been limited for me to feel like I could do justice to the subject.

A little background...Nanny was a worker. From the time she was a child, on her family farm in Kernersville, just off of Pisgah Church Road, Nanny worked. She had several siblings that died as infants and two sisters who she enjoyed for many years to come. Nanny was no stranger to difficult times as her family survived the Great Depression and continued to live on meager income farming tobacco. However, to hear Nanny describe her life, you never would know that they ever wanted for anything. Days were occupied by hard work and hard work paid off. During the depression, Nanny talked about having plenty to eat, most of it being provided on their farm, from home-grown vegetables, slaughtered animals, eggs, milk and the like. They didn't go hungry like the folks who relied on the "business-world", the stock market or "easy" money...barely a ripple was felt according to her recollections.

When the family wasn't chipping in to keep the place running, they enjoyed each others company. In a time pre-television and radio, the Bible was a mainstay of family gatherings and church and the work-free Sunday afternoon were a welcome respite to the weekly grind. These Sunday afternoons were literally without running around, shopping, cooking, cleaning or anything that resembled work. The family would gather on the front porch, visit near-by family and friends or take moments to reflect on the upcoming or bygone week. Even the food was pre-made for Sunday dinner and it was fresh, scratch-made and plentiful!

Though this is only a snippet into the inner-workings of most families that grew up in this era and only a small glance at my grandmother's childhood, I challenge you to look at your own situation and how we define work and relaxation. I too, am guilty of working non-stop both at home and in the office, running myself into a place where I am neither pleasant to be around and have a hard time coming down from. This pattern makes it almost impossible to stop, enjoy family or take a "breather" without feelings of guilt or anxiety.

Take a lesson from hard when it's time to work but enjoy the fruits of your labor and the company of those you love most when the opportunities present themselves. Because of her and her family's hard work and limited reliance on outside sources, they had an independence that allowed them to dictate when they relaxed, what their lifestyle looked like and provided time for friends and family without outside distractions. I understand that times have changed and they continue to change. In order for us to maintain a resemblance of sanity during these times, we must breathe and take personal responsibility, working hard and rewarding ourselves for time well spent. Turn off the t.v, the blackberry, the ipod, the radio and reflect on your family, your friends and what exactly it is that you are spinning your wheels for.

WOW! Deep thoughts by Brooke Cashion...sorry if I bored you to tears, but brace yourself, because more "Nanny" installations are to follow. Have a great weekend and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on hard work, self-sufficiency, family members as role models and anything else you would like to share...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Housing Prop on the Horizon....

Courtesy of the NC Realtor newsletter...

Yet Another Housing Bailout on the WayJust as federal officials seek to wind down many bailout programs, the Obama administration announced earlier this week another initiative to prop up the housing market.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Feds Hedging on Extension of Tax Credit....

This article appeared today. What are your thoughts on whether or not the tax credit should be extended or revamped to include "move-up" buyers?

HUD Secretary Hedges on Extension of Homebuyer Tax CreditOct 20, 2009 11:30 AM

By Richard Rubin,

CQ StaffHousing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan equivocated Tuesday on whether Congress should extend an expiring tax credit for first-time homebuyers.“I can assure you that the administration will work with Congress to fashion appropriate and effective homebuyer incentives, mindful of both their benefits to stimulating new demand and their costs to the American taxpayer,” he said in prepared testimony for a Tuesday morning hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. Donovan acknowledged congressional support for an extension, but he did not endorse it himself.The current $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers, created in the economic stimulus package (PL 111-5) enacted early this year, expires Nov. 30. Housing and real estate interests and their allies on Capitol Hill are pushing hard for an extension. Some also want to make the credit available to all home purchasers, not just first-time buyers, and to loosen the income eligibility limits.Various extension proposals have drawn support from lawmakers in both parties, including Senate Banking Chairman Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn.“The credit is set to expire in five weeks,” Dodd said in his prepared opening statement. “But the work of stabilizing the housing market won’t be done. We still need to use every tool at our disposal to fix this problem.”The intensified focus on the tax credit’s looming expiration came as the Commerce Department said Tuesday that while construction of new homes and apartments rose 0.5 percent in September, new applications for building permits fell 1.2 percent. That was the sharpest decline since a 2.5 percent drop in April and may have reflected uncertainty about the tax credit.Under questioning from Dodd, Donovan said there was “clear evidence” that the tax credit has helped housing markets, but he added that the administration wants to do more research on the costs.“We understand the urgency of this situation,” Donovan said. “And we believe that within the next few weeks, we will have additional data that will allow us to sit down with you” and discuss whether and how to extend the credit.Donovan downplayed the potential impact of allowing the tax credit to expire as scheduled next month. “The end of the tax credit would have some negative implications for the market,” he conceded, “but I do not believe based on all of the other actions that we’re taking . . . I do not believe that a catastrophic decline would be the result of the end of the tax credit.”The lead Senate supporter of an extension, Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., also testified at the hearing.Under a plan he is trying to attach to legislation extending unemployment benefits (H.R. 3548), the tax credit would be available to all purchasers of a primary residence. His proposal would double the allowable income of homebuyers eligible for the tax credit, to $150,000 per year for individuals and $300,000 for married couples. The credit would be available through June 30, and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimates it would cost $16.7 billion, according to Isakson’s office.“It brings a lot of Americans to the market that are sitting on the sidelines today,” Isakson said of his plan to broaden the credit, pointing in particular to the “move-up” market among people who already own homes.Isakson said that based on his conversations with administration officials and his Senate colleagues, he did not think there was support for boosting the maximum credit to $15,000, as he originally proposed, or extending it beyond June 30, 2010.“It’s the art of the doable and the art of the possible,” he said.Many economists have criticized the tax credit, saying that it would subsidize people who would buy houses anyway.Sen. Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the committee’s ranking Republican, echoed those concerns and said “some basic questions need to be answered” before the credit is extended. He also said that a credit offset by a reduction in government spending would have a much different impact from an extension offset by higher taxes elsewhere.Supporters of the bill have varying ideas on whether and how any extension should be offset. Isakson and Dodd said they are looking for offsets.“If we can find a pay-for, I’m all for it,” said Dodd.

Source: CQ Today Online News

Monday, October 19, 2009

I'm Baaaack....

Goodness Gracious! I am back, refreshed and ready to go! Jake and I celebrated 10 years of marriage in the Dominican Republic. It was beautiful and relaxing, but definitely not the United States!

While I was gone real estate was hoppin'! Thank God that Beth and Marianne were able to continue to work and keep our group moving forward.

Because, we are swamped with catching up, I didn't want to leave you too awfully long without some interesting information.

Just before I left, I attend our Kernersville Economic Development Council meeting, with the Kernersville Chamber. The speaker presented great information on the 2008 Forsyth County Trends. I thought I would share the link with you.

More great info to come from the Allen Tate Advance that I attended in Charleston, SC for the top 100 Tate agents in the Carolinas! Great info moving forward.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Mini-Farm in Lewisville...NEW LISTING!
Tranquil 4.98 acre tract with country cottage in Lewisville! Possibility to combine with other acreage tracts around the property that are currently for sale to make a large, working farm. Home is in great condition, has a deck, fenced area, trees, storage buildings and a ton of charm! Under tax value and priced to sell at $179,900! Check it out...

Friday, October 02, 2009

The latest EXCELLENT read...

It's been awhile since I wrote anything on what I read...and for any of you who know me-I LOVE TO READ! My friends Beth and Dave turned me on to The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, a couple of weeks ago. I won't go into an actual review and synopsis of the book, as I could go on forever on the varying themes and topics of interest. I would, however, encourage each of you to read this amazing work which is by the same author, who penned Atlas Shrugged.

Jake and I were talking about the book and came to the conclusion that what we liked most, is that she put into, amazing words, the thoughts and frustrations, that those concerned with mediocrity have felt. She speaks of "second-handers"--folks who glean ideas and prestige from society and have no thoughts of their own. Rand shows a world where the man that stands alone and works towards "greatness" is ostracized as a threat to the general good and where mediocrity is not only accepted but encouraged and propped up by the mainstream media-to use a modern term.

One of the statements from Wikipedia sums it up best.
("A world where the thought of each man will not be his own, but an attempt to guess the thought of his neighbor (...) Men will not work for money, but for prestige, the approval of their fellows - not judgment, but public polls") Toohey makes no mention of any overt dictatorship or coercive apparatus. Rather, Toohey's methods throughout the book suggest that such a regime might be able to retain the forms of democracy, multi-party elections and a free press, with actual power held by Toohey-like "informal advisers".

We see so many of our struggles today and the ridiculous nature of these ideals in the text of this book. One of my favorite pieces of dialogue in the book is one between Howard Roark (the protagonist) and Gail Wynand (tragic character with second-hander tendencies toward power) in which Roark has no interest in Wynand's propping him up financially or making social/political connections for him. Roark does not want a hand-out but goes on to say that he only wants the ability to see that success is possible, happiness and contentment are possible and that is enough to encourage his work and life.

As I said, I could go on and on, but don't want to bore you with my words when the author is so brilliant with her plots and verbiage. Anyone who is interested in the current state of our society, country and world should pick up this book and digest it's premises so that they can open their own eyes and minds to current situations, notions and trends--

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand c. 1942

**If you have read this book, please post comments and future recommendations--I would love to hear from you**