Saturday, November 26, 2005

Birds of feather, ‘flu’ together

By Sanket ‘not a doctor’ Kambli

We all have heard of the great avian flu. But the details are not known many, other than the fat that it is flu! Bird flu is an infection caused by avian (bird) influenza (flu) viruses. Officially its called, Influenza A (H5N1) virus – also called “H5N1 virus”. Wild birds are reported to carry viruses in their intestines, but usually don’t get sick because of them. But because of its contagious nature, domesticated birds, including chickens, ducks, and turkeys, can get very sick and eventually die. But the simple question here is, do bird flu viruses infect humans?
And I have got some answers ready for you. World Health Organization (WHO) maintains situation updates and cumulative reports of human cases of avian influenza A (H5N1). Bird flu viruses do not usually infect humans, but more than 100 confirmed cases of human infection with bird flu viruses have occurred since 1997. So since we know they can affect us, let us look at some of its symptoms.
These symptoms range from typical flu-like symptoms (say, fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches) to eye infections, pneumonia, severe respiratory diseases (such as acute respiratory distress), and other severe and life-threatening complications. The symptoms of bird flu may depend on which virus caused the infection. Symptoms apart, let us see how these dreaded viruses reach into our systems. Infected birds shed flu virus in their saliva, nasal secretions, and feces. Vulnerable birds become infected when they come in contact with contaminated excretions or surfaces that are contaminated with excretions. It is believed that most cases of bird flu infection in humans have resulted from contact with infected poultry or contaminated surfaces. The spread of avian influenza viruses from one ill person to another has been reported very rarely, and transmission has not been observed to continue beyond one person.
And about treatment, studies done in laboratories suggest that the prescription medicines approved for human flu viruses should work in preventing bird flu infection in humans. However, flu viruses can become resistant to these drugs, so these medications may not always work. Additional studies are needed to prove the effectiveness of these medicines. In spite of all these details, the risk from bird flu is generally low to most people because the viruses occur mainly among birds and do not usually infect humans. However, during an outbreak of bird flu among poultry (domesticated chicken, ducks, turkeys), there is a possible risk to people who have contact with infected birds or surfaces that have been contaminated with excretions from infected birds.

Monday, November 21, 2005

It’s Contagious! Still, spread it.

By Sanket ‘smile guide’ Kambli

"A smile is a window on your face to show your heart is at home"

"Life is like a mirror, we get the best results when we smile at it."

"Don't go for the looks, it can be quite deceiving. Don't go for wealth even that fades away -- go for someone who makes you smile because only a smile makes a dark day seem bright. Hope you find that person."

"Never frown, because you never know when someone is falling in love with your smile."

I am already behind my schedule to complete articles I was supposed to write. And in this hectic situation, the last thing that I would do is, smile. But, as the topic I have to write about is smile. Lets just smile and begin. Most of us think that a smiling person is a happy person, but how many of us know that just by smiling we can relieve stress and feel happier even for a moment? It is said, “Laughter is the Best medicine" and science has enough proof to indicate a high positive correlation between humor and immune system benefits, but research has also shown smiling to be of benefit as well. Facial expressions really reflect our inner feelings and making a simple smile can change our mood. Social Psychology has shown that facial expressions do reflect our inner feelings, and changing our facial expression can help to change our feelings too. It has also been proven to lower heart rate and produces less stressful and rapid breathing. When we smile, it produces the emotion most closely related to it, feeling happier! For many people, a smile is difficult. Some think it is rather impertinent to smile at strangers, but it is impertinent to stare. There are occasions when it is not appropriate to smile, but actually very few when you come to think of it. Most of the times, a smile can immeasurably improve our lives. Business is conducted more easily, relationships are confirmed, feelings expressed — all with a smile. A good smile may make you more attractive. As long as you have good teeth behind that smile, then you’re good to go. Otherwise, you might want to work on the closed mouth smile. A good smile will brighten the days of others. A good smile exudes confidence, while a weak smile may only show insecurity. If everyone’s talking in straight faces, a good smile can help to lighten the mood. While there’s nothing wrong with serious conversations, it’s always good to lighten up once in awhile. Want a totally free, simple way to boost your spirits and your health with no prescription needed? Then you want to laugh and smile as much as possible. As simple as it sounds, laughing and smiling, in other words allowing you to get swept away with overall good humor, is beneficial to the cardiovascular system, respiratory system, muscular system, central nervous system and endocrine system. Smiles are contagious! So spread some smiles!

Fear of Commitment in Relationships:

Collated by Sanket 'fear guide' Kambli

This is one fear, which won't find any place on AXN's Fear Factor Show.

This phobia was experienced by someone close to me, eventually pushing me to explore it, and I was able to gather quite healthy material. Check it out.

Relationship expert Toni Coleman says.
We hear it all the time.
"He just won't make a commitment."
"She just wants some space right now."
"I'm not sure if I'm ready for a serious relationship."
"I'm just under a lot of stress right now."
"It's not you, it's me."
"I can't focus on a relationship right now because of my overloaded schedule."

And we all accept these reasons.
Mostly because, either it keeps away the real truth or maybe we are confused by our feelings, and response from the other person.

What does having a fear of commitment really mean?
It simply means what it says. For some reason you, or someone you are involved with, isn't ready to take this relationship (or any relationship) to the next step.
Commitment phobia definition– this is the fear and avoidance of having to commit to anything, but especially relationships.
But before venturing further, what could be the possible reason a person cannot sustain or commit to a long-term relationship

Here are a few collaborated ones:
    1. They are perfectionists. No relationship is ever perfect. Sally says, “I know there are no perfect men out there, but somewhere there is a man who is perfect for me.”

    2. They are lust seekers. The new relationship brings chemical high. Three years is usually as long as this high can be sustained.

    3. They are hunters. The thrill of the hunt is the best part. A guy laments the end of his last relationship then says, in an excited tone of voice, “That’s it. I’m in my hunting form again!”

    4. They are happy being single. They have built a life around being single. They have friends, social activities, and a lifestyle that would no longer exist with marriage.

    5. They can’t commit. They may or may not know this, but a long-term relationship is out of the question for them.

    6. The fear of being controlled.   Do you have strong feelings about having anyone control your life?  Do you come from a family in which one parent dominated the other?  Did your parents try to control you?  Do you hate being with someone who tells you what to do?  In a relationship, somebody else is going to have some power over your life.

    7. Trapped.  What if you make a commitment to someone and you end up feeling trapped?  What if you end up feeling “tied down” and you can’t get out?  What if another person’s presence, needs, ideas, personality and vision impinge on your territory, crowd your space and take away your freedom?  

    8. The fear of giving up sexual freedoms.   Some men and women are afraid of losing the option to choose others.

    9. The fear of being bored to death.  What could be more claustrophobic than the feeling of being entombed in a dull, ordinary marriage?  Some people equate commitment with boredom.

    10. The fear of physical or emotional limitations.  People who make a commitment to each other agree that they will make certain accommodations for the good of their relationship.  But accommodating another human being can make one feel boxed in and uncomfortable. This can produce a kind of emotional claustrophobia.  For example, you might think that if you become a committed couple you have to take all vacations together, go to all parties together, spend all weekends in shared activities together, present a united front to the world, and so on.

Regardless, these commitment-phobic men and women enter relationships but their anxiety eventually leads to the end of that relationship.

Well some psychologists have even sketched a few symptoms.
It can express itself in all kinds of different ways, but typically sufferers may exhibit any of these:
    * Being overly critical of the other partner in the relationship, and/or the relationship as a whole.
    * Annoying / hurting the other person, thus sabotaging the relationship, even if it’s considered to be working well.  An example of this might be consistently turning up late for things – whether with apologetic excuses, or not.
    * Being scared of getting noticed, because the other person might want to start a relationship.  In fact, they'll often reject other people from the word go, so that a relationship barely gets off the starting blocks.  The feeling behind this, can be to protect themselves from even the prospect of allowing others’ to get too close.
    * At the other end of the scale, a commitment phobic, may be flirtatious and appear to want the attentions of other interested parties, desiring even a longer-term physical relationship.  But, eventually the fear can, and often does, win out and the other person gets pushed away, leaving broken hearts in its wake.
    * Fearing being swamped by others, and thus losing sight of who they feel they really are.
    * Unable to face or explore the prospects, issues, or thoughts, of living together, or getting married.
    * Some commitment phobics may want to find Mr. or Miss Right and get married, but will often have somewhat unrealistic ‘ideals’ over possible suitors.  Often friends and relatives notice and will often make comments like: 'you're being too picky', and ‘Mr. /Miss Perfect’ just doesn’t exist.'
    * Sometimes they'll fall in love with other people who just aren’t interested in forming an intimate relationship.  The reasoning behind this can be that the commitment phobic has, (deliberately, or otherwise), chosen a person who can’t/won’t, form a lasting relationship, and so they are ‘safe’ from having to make that long-term commitment.
    * There is also the type of sufferer who enters a relationship, can’t commit, then leaves at some point, only to return sometime later, before leaving yet again.  This yo-yoing can happen time and time again leaving hurt, bewilderment and distrust in its wake.
    * There can be the avoidance of having to commit to anything.  This can also involve jobs, tasks, timekeeping, as well as personal relationships / friendships.  Interestingly, it can even involve undertaking treatment for the commitment phobia itself.

Let us look at steps to overcome fear of commitment as provided in the book,
“He’s Scared, She’s Scared” by Carter and Sokol (M. J. F. Books).

Ø    Recognize your fears and know how you act when you are afraid.  Fear of commitment is about fear.  Fear of being stuck, trapped or tied down; fear of losing options; fear of losing freedom; fear of losing control; fear of dependence; fear of being bored; fear of leading an ordinary life; fear of making a mistake or repeating a mistake.  Be very specific in examining precisely what it is you’re trying to avoid of protect yourself from.
Here’s a good way to do this:  Starting with parents and other relatives, think about all the people you know in long-term relationships.  Make a list of what it is about these relationships that makes you uncomfortable—and that you don’t want to duplicate in your own life.  Then think about all the people you know who have lives or jobs that you consider settled but dreary.  Make a list of everything you consider negative or stultifying about their lives.  Then think about how these fears might be determining your behaviors.   Have any of your choices in your relationships been extreme reactions to some of these fears?
Ø      Learn how to make small commitments and small choices.  What are the non-romantic choices in your life that paralyze you?  Making firm appointments? Deciding what to wear?  What to eat?  Which organizations, if any, to join? Which interests to pursue?  Which movie to see?  What type of computer to purchase?  Which car?  When to take a vacation?
Start with the commitments that you perceive to be less intimidating and begin to take small steps in overcoming your conflicts.  As your successes accumulate over time, challenge yourself to take on slightly more ambitious commitments.  Don’t torture yourself with unnecessary pressure, but keep building slowly.

Ø     Stop acting on your conflicts, by running away.   When we are unhappy or dissatisfied with a situation, a person or a decision, sometimes it seems as though the only way out is to run away or to do something similarly outrageous.  As humans we have been gifted with the ability to communicate with one another.  Use that gift.

Ø      Make a commitment to being fully accountable in all your relationships.  If you say you are going to call, call.  If you make a lunch date, keep it.  If you say you’re going to visit, do so.  With everyone you know, become totally reliable.  Don’t always give yourself 101 ways out of every situation, no matter how trivial.  Obviously sometimes conflicts arise, and even the most important plans sometimes need to be changed.  But this should be an exception in your life, not the norm.

On a parting note, hope you all benefited from my compiled write-up.
Anyway feedback and opinions are always welcome.


By Sanket ‘not delivering pizzas’ Kambli

Yeah this write-up hasn’t got anything to do with Smokin’ Joe’s or even for that matter a pizza. Some researchers at The University of Minnesota have made a startling revelation, at the American Association for Cancer Research's annual Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research meeting, in Baltimore, USA. They found that some products are not good alternatives for people trying to quit smoking. The products they were talking about were smokeless tobacco products. Products like moist snuff and hard snuff lozenges fall into this category. According to their research, people trying to quit smoking should stop thinking about these products being good alternatives. They also found that medicinal anti-smoking products such as a nicotine patch are a much better aid in helping people kick the habit. Stephen Hecht of the University of Minnesota Cancer Center said, "Collectively, these results indicate that most smokeless tobacco products are not necessarily a safe alternative to smoking and are inferior to medicinal nicotine products with respect to carcinogen exposure," "Smokeless tobacco products should not be considered an acceptable substitute for cigarette smoking, especially when relatively harmless medicinal nicotine products are available," Hecht said. Fellow researchers at the University of Florida, added, smokeless tobacco may encourage some teens to start smoking, as according to them, the use of smokeless tobacco did not increase smoking-cessation success rates. "Based on this evidence, we feel that the use of smokeless tobacco is rarely a successful strategy for smoking cessation in the U.S. and may actually be a risk factor for starting to smoke," study lead author Scott Tomar said in a prepared statement. "There is insufficient evidence that using smokeless tobacco is effective, feasible or acceptable as a smoking-cessation strategy in most populations." Every year, millions of Americans try to quit smoking, and millions fail. "When we talk to smokers across America, only one in five are using the counseling and medicines we know will increase their likelihood of success," said Dr. Michael Fiore, a professor at the University of Wisconsin Medical School and founder of the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention. Studies have shown that when trying to quit smoking without help, the chance of success is only 5 percent. They say what smoker’s need most is a comprehensive quit plan, which should start with counseling. They also said that smokers who use telephone counseling when they're about to quit are two to three times more likely to succeed than those who don't get this help. Many help lines send out quit smoking guides on coping skills, dealing with stress, withdrawal symptoms, and (perhaps most important) the use of medicines. Many smokers mistakenly try to avoid using nicotine replacement products. Researchers say smokers today have more tools to help them quit than ever before. If only they would use them.
(Facts sourced from a report "World News Tonight." for ABC News' filed by John McKenzie)

For You – another poem by Sanket Kambli

I was walking alone
on this path called life
thinking this is the way
to go anyway
Then I saw someone
felt like an angel
closer I went
a look to take
Then I saw you there
knew what they call
this thing called
love at first sight
always I had dreamt
of meeting a women like you
but felt that dreams
never come true
a beat my heart skipped
eyes didn't care to blink
time had stood still
ears eager
then i had a fall
and that was a deep fall
I fell in love with you
I don't want to go
on this path called life
without you
by my side
my life without you
cannot be called life
the picture is perfect
in your presence
time you are not near
I don't want to stay here
want to sleep and
see you in dreams
Want to see this world
do many things here
but never without you
by my side
I want you to know
I can really show
My love for you
is not fake
I love you now
I will love you always
I can only love
you more

Table cricket

By Sanket ‘stumped by the idea’ Kambli

What is Table cricket?
Table cricket is growing in popularity
You might not think of cricket when you see a table tennis table, but Doug Williamson of Nottingham's Trent University did.
Williamson is the chief designer of the game of Table Cricket which provides an opportunity for youngsters with severe physical or learning disabilities to play competitive cricket.
The ECB have backed it as part of their development plans for disabled cricket.
There is even a national championship contested each year with the final played at Lord's after ten regional tournaments have selected the leading contenders.
The game is played on a table tennis table or similar sized surface area with side panels featuring nine sliding fielders.
A plastic ball is bowled by a ball launcher at one end of the pitch, while at the other the batter has a wooden bat.
Teams consist of six players, with each individual innings lasting two overs, regardless of whether the batter is given out or not.
Every time a wicket is lost five runs are deducted from the team's starting score of 200.
Two, four or six runs can be scored if the ball is hit in-between fielders placed on the side panels.
And wide deliveries are punished with four runs awarded to the batting team.
# There are a number of ways that a batsman can be dismissed, including: Driving the ball over the side or rear panels counts as a dismissal
# If the batter is hit on the fingers, hand, arm or body by the ball then that is deemed to be lbw
# Striking the ball back to the ball launcher results in a caught and bowled chance
# If a legal ball goes off the table at the batting end of the table, the batter is bowled
# Or if the ball is hit in that direction then it counts as caught behind
Avoiding the 'caught out' zones on the side panels requires good shot selection and placement.

Read This, If You Feel Down And Out.

By Sanket Kambli
This was forwarded to me by my friend, read it, especially if you feel down and out.
> The third difference between optimists and
> pessimists is that optimists
> see events as external, while pessimists interpret
> events as personal.
> When things go wrong, the optimist will tend to see
> the setback as
> resulting from external factors over which one has
> little control.
> If the optimist is cut off in traffic, for example,
> instead of getting
> angry or upset, he will simply downgrade the
> importance of the event by
> saying something like, “Oh, well, I guess that
> person is just having a
> bad day.”
> The pessimist on the other hand, has a tendency to
> take everything
> personally. If the pessimist is cut off in traffic,
> he will react as
> though the other driver has deliberately acted to
> upset and frustrate
> him.
> Remain Calm and Objective
> The hallmark of the fully mature, fully functioning,
> self-actualizing
> personality is the ability to be objective and
> unemotional when caught
> up in the inevitable storms of daily life. The
> superior person has the
> ability to continue talking to himself in a positive
> and optimistic way,
> keeping his mind calm, clear and completely under
> control. The mature
> personality is more relaxed and aware and capable of
> interpreting events
> more realistically and less emotionally than is the
> immature
> personality. As a result, the mature person exerts a
> far greater sense
> of control and influence over his environment, and
> is far less likely to
> be angry, upset, or distracted.
> Take The Long View
> Look upon the inevitable setbacks that you face as
> being temporary,
> specific and external. View the negative situation
> as a single event
> that is not connected to other potential events and
> that is caused
> largely by external factors over which you can have
> little control.
> Simply refuse to see the event as being in any way
> permanent, pervasive
> or indicative of personal incompetence of inability.
> Resolve to think like an optimist, no matter what
> happens. You may not
> be able to control events but you can control the
> way you react to them.
> Action Exercises
> Now, here are three actions you can take immediately
> to put these ideas
> into action.
> First, remind yourself continually that setbacks are
> only temporary,
> they will soon be past and nothing is as serious as
> you think it is.
> Second, look upon each problem as a specific event,
> not connected to
> other events and not indicative of a pattern of any
> kind. Deal with it
> and get on with your life.
> Third, recognize that when things go wrong, they are
> usually caused by a
> variety of external events. Say to yourself, “What
> can’t be cured must
> be endured,” and then get back to thinking about
> your goals.

Old Age Home: An Analysis


By Sanket 'old enough to be young' Kambli

"Don't be too hard on your parents, you may find yourself in their place..." wrote the famous English writer Compton Burnett-Dame Ivy
‘Respect your elders’ is what we are all brought up with and often, we tend to define our Indianness with this maxim.
Before introducing you to this topic let us take a look at the build up to this topic:
Life Expectancy is improving.  A silent revolution has occurred in the last 100 years - unseen, unheard, and yet so close. The biggest achievement of the century is longevity. All over the world life expectancy has risen, leading to a sharp rise in the number of Older Persons. When health and education is good, survival beyond age 80 is likely. Especially once a person has survived to, say age 60, survival till age 75 is the average outcome.The joint family system is being broken down due to changesin society and culture.
And often children work far away from where their parents are located. Traditionally having an elderly member was a low-cost affair which isn't the case with todays standards for health expenses.
And as everyone has observed the joint family system is being replaced by the nucleur family system in our society.
This has eventually resulted in the aged parents being left to fend for themselves as their children leave them and get engrossed in the affairs of their own families, after acquiring one. But one thing that goes unnoticed is that in old age, a person becomes tender like a child, and, therefore, he needs to be looked after as a child. This is a situatuion which calls for the need of homes for the aged, and that to open to all sections of the society.
Its a general tendency that, when he is child, then he does not care much about his parents.  But when he himself becomes old, then he remembers that he should get respect. In the case of well off people becoming old, they do not have any food problem but son of a poor father can not earn so much that he can feed his old parents after feeding his wife and children.
There should be a residential ‘Ashram’ where food, water, clothes and medicines can be arranged for these old people.There are 1018 Old Age Homes in India today. Out of these, 427 homes are free of cost while 153 old age homes are on pay & stay basis, 146 homes have both free as well as pay & stay facilities and detailed information is not available for 292 homes. A total of 371 old age homes all over the country are available for the sick and 118 homes are exclusively for women. Kerala has 186 old age homes, which is maximum in any state.
(Directory of Old Age Homes in India, HelpAge India, 2002). A very good commission should be constituted for the old people which should have all the facilities.
For many old aged folks who have nowhere to go and no one to support them, old age homes serve as a safe haven. These homes give them a sense of security and friendship as they share their grievances with others like them staying at the home, making them an unusual family of older people(like in the movie Shararat). Many will still argue that, old age homes are not the solution to the problem, as the best care for an older person is within his or her own family, but I feel unfortunately that is not the reality of the present day scenario.