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Hot flashes (02/04/2007)
By Janet Lewis Burns

At the turn of a new year we look ahead, always hoping deep down that this will be the year of peace, reform, and justice for all. Anyway, living's not all beginnings and endings - it's the in-betweens.

Could it be true! President Bush actually reached out to the new Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, who have themselves indicated that they hope to start working with the administration. Can't you just feel the love!

TV broadcasts always end up with a burning Bush as questions are fired at him concerning the hot topic of war in Iraq. The heat is on!

Good news in the world of health! Breast cancer rate among women has greatly plunged since millions of women stopped taking menopause hormones. Women ages 50 and older have seen the biggest decline in tumors whose growth is fueled by estrogen. Back to the hot flashes!

There is now a one-time shot for everyone over 60 to be vaccinated against shingles. Another itch scratched! Democrats in Congress are predicted to push for lifting federal restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. On the upcoming congressional agenda, government plans to negotiate prices directly with pharmaceutical companies for the Medicare prescription benefit. Ah, how about across the board reform?

The highest reward for work well done is the ability to do better. There are miles of room for improvement in the political arena. Fire up!

Consider, there are 46 million Americans who have no health insurance. Not everyone in the medical field is greedy. Retired doctors and nurses are leaving their golf clubs in the bag, as they donate their services to address the clinic shortage. Fifty "Volunteers In Medicine"¯ clinics are up and running in the U.S. It all began with Jack McConnell, M.D., who got so bored in retirement that he launched the first free medical clinic, in Hilton Head, South Carolina, for low-income people with no health care.

Of single mothers raising children, 42% live beneath the poverty line. These are the working poor. Many suffer from depression with no means to buy the drugs they so desperately need to function. Nothing from nothing leaves nothing for the millions of victims of hurricanes last year. Those most in need, from low-income communities, have no investments to help them rebuild. Help is slow in coming! Something new called "microlending"¯ is one form of community investing which assists people, mostly women, who were poor candidates for loans, providing them with an opportunity to get back on their feet, to rebuild and start over with dignity and hope for a brighter future. Small businesses have reopened and social services such as day care have become available.

Even the Audubon Society has a year-end report to offer. This annual Christmas bird count makes one wonder if our feathered friends have flown the coop for whiter places. Fifty-one species of birds were counted in the area, compared to fifty-eight last year. It's a mystery why waterfowl weren't swarming on unusually open water. Maybe they just didn't recognize the place.

Hold up on those New Year's resolutions! Those who enjoy sweets live longer than those who don't. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and actually improves blood flow. We all need comfort food once in awhile.

Sleeping-in is a good thing"¦unless you're jeopardizing your job. A Columbia University study showed that people who sleep only six hours a night are 23% more likely to weigh more than those who sleep seven to nine hours.

Here we are in the 21st century, and we're still telling Ole and Lena jokes, getting goose bumps singing "Amazing Grace"¯, getting hot under the collar, visiting cemeteries, burning bridges, wishing on falling stars, and telling tall tales around campfires.

Happy Trails!

Janet Burns resides in Lewiston. She welcomes e-mails from readers. She can be reached at patandjanburns@earthlink.net 


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