Everyone loves flamingos right? Birds migrate to warmer climates throughout the year despite global warming and colder climates with snow in unlikely places (last post). We all should know that birds are one of the major ways disease is transmitted across continents and via mosquitoes to animals and humans! .
Have you ever stopped to think how your own actions could prevent further spread of what are known as “communicable diseases” such as flu? This season is prime for H1N1 (known as swine swine flu) or others like bird flu, and the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the World Health Organization constantly share updates on disease spread and prevention.
Good friend Jenny, did her part too! She’s not only talented as a Dramaturg and Stage Director, she recently proved to be very health literate too! Being health literate is having the ability to act appropriately medically (getting tested, vaccinated, taking appropriate meds once sick, resting and drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration), and taking personal responsibility to prevent disease spread.
Her Facebook post (permission to share with you) says it all. It was the first time we had “virtual drinks” and it was a great time despite illness! Thanks Jenny for doing your part! Maybe it’s true that birds of a feather truly hang together…
I’ve never met a peach I didn’t like. Can you tell the difference among white or yellow flesh type peaches, nectarines and other local varieties? I used to live in the southern U.S. “Peach State” Georgia which first got me thinking and making wonderful peach tart-pies. I also got to appreciate the rich character and identity of each place I’ve lived in. We often overlook symbols and sayings but these add value to our historical knowledge as well as likely contributing to our health literacy. Phrases like “how peachy” can be positive while saying “oh, peaches!” could be a softer more comical way to express one’s frustration. So yes, we sometimes use “fruit language” when we speak.
Not only are peaches an attractive looking fruit, they taste great, are low calorie and have necessary fiber and carbohydrates and vitamins, including potassium and Vitamins A through E to help us function better during our day — particularly good for our skin fighting against the stress of everyday pollution. Furthermore, peaches are supposedly good for those with high blood pressure but as with everything please eat in moderation…yes, if fresh peaches are not an option, eating canned peaches with strained Greek-style yogurt is a low calorie meal especially at the start of your day. If you can afford the extra calories try “peaches and cream”, another southern U.S. tradition which is especially delicious. I particularly like one variety which comes from the region of Naoussa in Northern Greece where it looks like a squished flat peach but it’s sweeter than other varieties.
Here’s a secret for a great peach tart — bake the crust for about 15 minutes before then add your peach mixture and if your peaches are tart just add some more brown sugar! Yummy…
Yesterday I was waiting in line at the bank as they had changed their system in the last five months so those in the que needed to have numbered tickets. Summer is also a time with a lot of ex-pats and visitors to countries who may have no idea of the way things are done or changes and indeed a new system could create several communication issues…
I happened to ask a question and one of the few employees (think cut-backs and vacation time so it was the so-called “skeleton crew”) and she had directed me to an odd looking stand with a digital button to receive a number for the que. There were primarily older people over 70 years, one whom I’ll call “Gus” and one mid-lifer (45-50 years) who sat down after me, started listening to music singing to himself whom I’ll call “Dick”. What came to unfold was another case of personality traits up against digital – access literacy.
Gus was talking to me about the cuts in his social security and his disappointment with the current leadership and how he doesn’t see for the last three years any improvements. In fact, on a functional societal level it’s been the worst ever and the damage has been done for years to come despite these articles about Greece getting out of debt (well financially banks have gained and all Greek tax payers have been squeezed like no one can imagine since WWII!) a good one by Ms. Stamouli for the Wall Street Journal (link WSJ). Gus it turns out had not gotten a number for the que, so when the number changed Dick sprang up and in essence cut, even though he clearly saw the people waiting before him.
Gus: “Sir, sorry but it’s my turn in line” (Dick first ignored him, looking at the bank teller).
Dick: “Well this is my number”
This is where I had enough and said to Dick “please don’t tell me you didn’t see the people waiting here in front of you AND you see it’s obvious the man is older and likely didn’t know he had to get a ticket?” (no response just looking at us and the teller).
At this point, the teller was going to allow the older man to go in front, but Dick (true to his name) didn’t budge, so Gus just said “it’s ok…it’s obvious to me this man doesn’t have courtesy”. I got up gave Gus my ticket and got another one glaring at Dick. You guessed it, we waited until Dick was done, as I said to Gus loudly for Dick and others to hear “You see if you’re dealing the ‘me-first’ people there is no point in talking sense to them…” Gus agreed as did a woman next to me and of course we continued pleasantly to talk about a group, maybe even a newer generation of people who are oblivious to their surroundings most of the time including to those with special needs or elders, pregnant women, etc. there is such a need of mindfulness training!
Personality traits like narcissism, digital literacy, corporate and human communication….hmm….don’t even get me started about the tailgating and “me first” attitude on the roads!
Many of you may think you know what poverty looks like. But given what poverty levels are there substantial numbers of people in the world living it every day. You can see it, you can smell it, you can feel it, it is not so pleasant for you or for your daily living requirements.
When poverty exists, there are no street cleaners picking up after daily trash, not enough policemen to go around and do an adequate job, people’s ADL skills are so low that you often have to hold your nose from the stench in crowded public transport systems.
One day I saw an older man picking through trash from a dumpster in broad daylight in a more upper scale part of a city but I didn’t have time to ask him what he was looking for exactly — food, or other? I frequently see some people picking out aluminum cans for recycle money and sometimes to the dismay of local people living there (since they dump other trash on the ground and don’t pick it up) or to monetary loss of municipalities.
Another day I saw someone rummaging through my neighboring garbage bin so I asked – stated “are you looking for food? I’m sure the local fast food place or the church further down can help you out with that….” He looked at me saying in broken Greek (so I knew he was a migrant, and pretty well dressed guy who could look like any local!) “you know what I’m looking for? Clothes for my wife and kids”. So I told him where he could find stuff including the fact that we now recycle clothes in big red bins in many areas of Athens now! Then I thought to ask how many kids he had? He said FIVE. So I smiled saying “wow, you moved fast but hard to support all of them…most of us can’t make it with one or two!” The current poverty levels falling under “extreme poverty” are up to 15% according to survey sources in Greece.
How can we reach people in being more health literate about spacing children and general contraception information, being realistic about responsibilities and understanding that we now live in cities mostly not in farms, and talking more seriously about overpopulation as many religious leaders still continue to preach about the “sin” of birth control and encourage population growth… really?
Let’s help people better manage themselves their homes and communities to not delve in poverty so that the upper “land lords” gain the wealth only. Share the wealth, live in and with integrity.
Last weekend we jammed, heard amazing leaders talk about a range of topics from preventing nuclear proliferation, super foods, social justice and health literacy, to rebuilding communities, by focusing on leadership and giving hope to young people. The Peace Jam is an annual event —started by an international effort for peace back in 1996 — with more than 39 countries active in participation, including Greece the last years with the group Eimai headed by Ellen Froustis at the steady helm.
A great chance to reconnect with Dr. Chris Zarcadoolas, checkout her blog Public Linguist. She gave insight about what is happening in health literacy and U.S. trends with e-health and technology, some communities’ access (and lack there of) to healthy food and obesity trends, the social media tidal wave, and questions of social equity and issues of trust.
A student from Hellenic American College/ Hellenic American University working on a pilot study with a team of students and their professor in a Global citizen class and showcased several images of various vandalistic style graffiti posed both questions and concerns for the event’s audience members to ponder over in a workshop —messages which their younger counterparts will definitely “take home” in better understanding tagging and how much money is needed for clean-up, or how vandalized road signs can negatively affect drivers.
Nobel Laureates actively support Peace Jam events as guiding beacons across the globe. Luckily we heard Nobel Laureate 1980, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Argentinian Activist and Painter, share his lifelong lessons. He talked about the problem of foreign debt by comparing both Greece and Argentina as countries in crisis. He said, “A democracy is constructed you cannot just give it, built from below. We are ALL responsible for bringing and building democracy…” He talked about the importance of caring for our earth, maintaining hope especially for young people that there is “always some light ahead of us”. We must not despair but always move forward. Education helps us become free men and women.
These past weeks/months we’re witnessing natural and man-made disasters, the recent mass shooting in the US of yet another brainwashed fanatic, political upheaval in Spain, all seem to denote an “Apocalypse now”. Makes one think of what we believe in and what can we truly prevent? History may be forgotten and media definitely shapes what we perceive as important. Of course language and culture continue to shape how we “see” things, thus our own media literacy needs to be cultivated as well as media advocacy for prioritizing health topic areas.
In some countries one even has to be careful of every word they say or post in public lest they offend the leadership — take for example North Koreans living in fear of deportation, corporal punishment or worse, death, if speaking out; or Miss Turkey 2017 losing her crown over her past July tweet about “martyrs” and her menstruation that was perceived as anti-government (!) The fact that the US is a target from one side of the world (N. Korea sees strike on US as ‘inevitable’) to the other countries building their own nuclear programs (Iran), never mind ongoing terrorism and unfortunate reality of a new (some repeated) bio terror — in the range of Ebola, anthrax, and even resurgence of Asian swine or H1N1 flu type epidemics.
In a recent circulating Facebook interview by animal activists with people living in more “democratic” communities, the latter asked interviewees about whether they would eat a cat over a dog (yes I’m familiar that in some cultures, in Asian custom, they do eat “Fido” or at least those collections from the streets) , and what makes us continue to eat animals asking about humane versus inhumane ways? Well dears, if we’re seeing more Burger joints open up marketing “fresh” meat seems people must like this protein thing and it’s an easy way to make money (McDonalds built an empire). So a bit of alternative fund streams may be as important to discuss.
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, have caused continued problems in communities in many US cities and territories including Puerto Rico. Here 70,000 inhabitants may have permanently lost many of their homes as the dam has broken and tons of water has flooded the low lying areas below. Thank goodness for helping hands… It’s as if we need a wake up call to nature’s delicate balance, as I was recently reminded by a restaurant’s cool decor in Bielefeld, Germany (and yes contrary to the myth Bielefeld does exist today)… a tree without leaves seeming like an eerie synthetic jail? Last month the blog focused on heat waves, now we’re seeing destruction by wind, water, or internal fire as also high Richter scale earthquakes are demolishing Mexico and China — possible link between Kim’s launching of weapons in N. Korea? And yes Mr. Trump the change of heat on land leads to climate changes on the sea, etc. as written informatively in a September National Geographic Article.
There was also an unfortunate oil spill “accident” along the Saronic coast of Attica (possibly intentional as the petrol was illegal…) in the already economically deprived Greece this past week that not only reflects the depressed feeling of people, has caused death to animal life and to all the beach bars and restaurants losing money daily… and no people, one doesn’t just “recover” it takes years and side health effects will occur!
‘Good’ international news this week with a twinge of bittersweetness?
- Seems that they’ve discovered antibodies to HIV at about 99% but does this mean less condom use trends again?
- It’s a good” thing that the current First Lady Melania Trump — despite her expensive clothes which seemed to be highlighted, criticized in media — indeed following Michelle Obama’s gardening efforts at the White House ….here’s one positive effort from the Obamas that hasn’t yet been eliminated by current administration of D. Trump!
- Lastly Ms. Donatella Versace in memory of her brother Gianni Versace (one of the most talented designers of his time) brought forward Super models from the 1990s in giving us “Freedom” (we miss you George Michael) showing that beauty is timeless… well it helps to have a higher income level to pay for better food, exercise programs, access to medical and related health or beauty treatments but whose thinking of all that? Hmm…
Some common themes emerge — continue efforts in disease prevention and health education and promotion including focus on scientific & media literacy. All are important if we are to be civically engaged and make wiser and more health literate decisions. Stay tuned…