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Salmonella: Symptoms, Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

June 30th, 2008

salmonella-bacterium.jpgWith salmonella-related stories making their way into the news recently, I figured that it was time for me to put together an article on the subject. This essay will summarize and describe the recent news, causes, symptoms, prevention, and treatment of infections related to this species of bacteria. The picture to the left is a magnified electron microscope image of what a single salmonella bacterium looks like. The scaling used is one micrometer, which is one millionth of a meter or one thousandth of a millimeter.

Recent News

The Center for Disease Control says the current outbreak, as of June 27, 2008, is linked to a rare form of bacteria called Salmonella Saintpaul. Thus far, it has spread to include 810 cases in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The specific source of the outbreak has not been found. Cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes, and those sold with the vine still attached are considered safe, but health authorities are advising people to avoid eating raw Roma or red round tomatoes. However, tomatoes cooked to 145 degrees for 15 seconds will kill the bacteria, which generally causes fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramping. The outbreak, which has affected several types of tomatoes, has hit hardest in New Mexico and Texas.

What is Salmonella?

Salmonella is a bacterial infection that lives in the intestinal tracts of humans and other animals. Bacteria are transmitted to humans when they eat foods contaminated with animal feces. Salmonella bacteria are subdivided into serotypes based upon their biochemical properties. Although salmonellosis can occur throughout the year, most cases occur during the summer months.

Several people have asked about the color of the salmonella bacterium itself. This can be somewhat difficult to track down because most images show the specimens only after they have been treated with some type of colored dye or other agent. It turns out that natural salmonella are nearly colorless but are opaque and can be seen on a nutrient plate after sufficiently large colonies have been nurtured. For an image of what plain salmonella looks like, see this picture from MicrobeLibrary.org.

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Search Query Sunday, 19th Edition

June 29th, 2008

search-engine-logo.jpgThis week we have a good variety of search queries to deal with, including some for pages that were not previously indexed. The most popular pages have not changed much since last week, although the compilation post on short funny sayings has made it into the top ten.

increase alexa rank without toolbar — If you want to do this by surfing your own site, you can use the Firefox extension Search Status and you will get Alexa credit for the page views just as if you had the toolbar installed. For other tips on increasing Alexa rank generally, see 10 Methods for Increasing Your Alexa Rank.

computer running too slowly — Try some of the tips from my Fix the Computer CPU Speed page. Most of the time a slow computer is a symptom of too much clutter, either in terms of installed programs that shouldn’t be there (viruses, malware, and the like) or having too many processes running at one time. On the other hand, if you’re trying to run a high-end application such as a modern PC game and it’s too slow, you may have a hardware issue to deal with as well.

how can i have weblog for free — Interestingly, I came up #5 in Yahoo for this one, and the listed result was my page on free text links. As for the question, you can always get started with a free weblog rather easily with blogspot.com or wordpress.com. However, if you’re really serious about blogging, I would recommend getting your own domain name and a reliable paid hosting service.

eponyms with examples — This is a page I have not received traffic to in a long time, so I am glad to see that someone searched on a relevant query for it. You can find my essay with examples of eponyms here.

is sendearnings.com real? — Yes, SendEarnings is certainly real. Better yet, they actually pay! See SendEarnings Confirmed as Paying Program for details.

can i put my cell phone in the refrigerator — Sure, why not? If you have any other household members, they might see this as a little odd but I certainly won’t mind!

dual monitor aquarium screensaver — Fortunately I have an article that deals with a virtual aquarium screensaver program, and my mother confirmed that it actually works well with dual monitors.

what could you make your kids as a sweet quick snack? — There are lots of options here of course, but one thing that I have used myself for a quick snack is the good old bowl of cereal. Most cereals are pre-sweetened anyway and it is certainly easy to prepare. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a somewhat more nutritious alternative, you could start with an unsweetened cereal and add some of your favorite fruit to it for sweetness.


English Lesson 15: Correct Use of A Lot, Alot, and Allot

June 28th, 2008

a-lot-alot-allot.jpgMany people use a lot, alot, or even allot to indicate a large number or quantity of something. In this article, I will attempt to unravel the apparent confusion over which one of these expressions should be used in a particular instance. I will also explain the differences between formal and informal usages regarding these concepts.

To begin with, there is no such word as alot - it is not even in the dictionary, and the few credible online sources that address its usage indicate that it is considered substandard or nonstandard English. Interestingly, I discovered earlier today that there is actually a town in India called Alot (capitalized), but this is a proper noun and has nothing to do with the general concept of “a lot”. Therefore, unless you’re referring to the town, alot should never be used in written English.

Meanwhile, a lot is an informal expression that is commonly used to mean “a large number”, “a large quantity”, or occasionally “often”. It is one of those phrases that is usually acceptable in spoken conversation but should not be used in any type of formal writing or journalism. If you’re writing anything formal or semi-formal, it is better to use the words much, many, or often in place of a lot depending on the context of the sentence. As a general guide, use many if what you are referring to can be counted as separate units, much if it cannot. Use often if you simply mean “frequently”. Here are some examples to illustrate the proper usage:

  1. We import a lot of oil from Saudi Arabia. (informal)
  2. We import much oil from Saudi Arabia. (formal, standard)



  3. We import a lot of barrels of oil from Saudi Arabia. (informal, rather awkward)
  4. We import many barrels of oil from Saudi Arabia. (standard, much better)



  5. We seem to import oil a lot from Saudi Arabia. (informal)
  6. We seem to import oil often from Saudi Arabia. (standard)

Finally, although the word allot is sometimes used as a misspelling of a lot, it actually means to allocate, apportion, or parcel out. It is always used as a verb. For example:

  1. The market research company chooses to allot five dollars to every member who qualifies and successfully completes its surveys.
  2. The United States Constitution provides that we allot two senators for each state so that they have some measure of equal representation in Congress.

Now we can look at examples of incorrect vs. correct usage:

Incorrect: Do you spend alot of time changing between numerous profiles? — Yahoo Answers question, posted by “Twigs”

Correct: Do you spend a lot of time changing between numerous profiles?

Incorrect: My cat used to do this alot. Its no problem at all. She probably likes you alot. Yahoo Answers response by “lightworker27″

Correct: My cat used to do this often. It is not a problem; she probably likes you very much.

Incorrect: If you alot a certain amount for one thing that you really don’t spend as much on monthly, alot the money to something that you are always falling short on. — Yahoo Answers response by “Dave O”

Correct: If you allot a certain amount for one thing that you really don’t spend as much on monthly, then allot the money to an an item in your budget for which you always seem to have insufficient funds.

Incorrect: I have researched allot of different ways to make money and what I found out is that most of them are scams. — “Making money From Home” page at opportunities4yousite.com

Correct: I have researched many different ways to make money and have found out that most of them are scams.

Quick Summary: Never use alot, use allot for allocations, and use a lot if you are in an informal setting. Otherwise use much, many, or often depending on the context of the sentence.


Algae Biofuels May Power Cars Soon

June 27th, 2008

algae-biofuels.jpgIn the last article about saving gas through safe driving techniques, we looked at ways in which people could save money by reducing their personal consumption of gasoline. However, another possibility for getting around the high gas prices is to develop some type of alternative fuel source. This article by Aaron Turpen suggests that algae-based biofuels may become practical enough come onto the market in the near future. Below the article I have included some relevant videos that discuss the current developments and possibilities for growing algae and using it to produce biofuels on a commercially viable scale.


With all the hype about biofuels and their great potential for replacing our current fossil fuels as alternatives, there is usually very little talk about when exactly this replacement might take place. Or the talk is in vague terms like “the next thirty to fifty years” or “the next few decades.”

The reality is that most biofuels on the market are not very well positioned to replace anything more than a fraction of our current fossil fuel use. Current numbers from the Department of Energy, for instance, show that ethanol only accounts for about 3.5% of our total gasoline usage in the USA. Biodiesel holds a larger market share worldwide, accounting for almost half of Europe’s total diesel fuel usage (according to the European Union).

Given these numbers, the future might look bright. The problem is that both standard biodiesel and ethanol require the use of crops that would otherwise be eaten by humans or animals or of croplands that would otherwise be used to grow them. This takes food off our tables or at least raises the price of it, which limits our economic freedom in other areas.

Alternatives such as hydrogen are becoming more and more viable, but it will still be decades before the fuel cells can be made at a cost low enough to make the vehicles they power marketable. Similarly, electric-only vehicles are plagued by their relatively short range because of limitations in battery storage.

This summer, however, marks a huge stepping stone for algae as a production-level biofuel. Despite setbacks due to funding cuts by the Clinton administration of the 1990s, new funding and a renewed interest by large corporations in the energy industry have rekindled algae’s possibilities.

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How to Use Safe Driving Techniques to Save Gas

June 26th, 2008

save-money-on-gas.jpgIf you have purchased a new car (or even a not-so-new one) using the tips provided in the last article, you will probably want to save money on gasoline, especially considering the currently high prices. According to this article by David Hamilton, simply using relatively safe driving techniques can help you improve your overall gas mileage and squeeze some much-needed money out of a limited budget.


Want to spend less on the road? Drive safer. The same driving techniques that keep insurance cost under control can curb other car costs as well. Through a combination of safe driving habits and preventive maintenance you can stay safe, reduce costs, and cut your accident risk.

Low tire pressure, a dirty air filter, or oil made heavy and thick by accumulated debris can increase your risk of a sudden and potentially dangerous breakdown. On the financial front, fueleconomy.gov reports the savings from properly inflated tires alone can reduce effective gas cost by as much as 11 cents per gallon.

Preventive maintenance is crucial, but small changes to your driving habits will make the biggest difference over the long haul. Key among these changes is simply slowing down. According to research conducted by Energy and Environmental Analysis, Inc. speeders pay an additional 20 cents per gallon for every five miles above 60 miles per hour.

The usual argument for a faster pace is a lower travel time, but the numbers just don’t add up. A poll conducted by Gallop.com estimated that the average round trip commute lasts about 46 minutes. Even assuming you spend the whole time going 80 on a 60 mile an hour interstate, your total time savings is about five minutes each way. This small time savings will cost you nearly two dollars extra on every fill-up.

Saving safely isn’t just about the way you move. The way you stop and park can plays a role as well. By watching for upcoming red lights and stop signs you can slow down in preparation and reduce the need to slam on the brakes. In the short term this will cut the amount of time your engine is burning money going literally nowhere. A safe following distance and earlier, less drastic reactions to road changes could also lower your accident risk. As an added bonus, consistent application of this driving style will extend the life of your brakes.

Gas-saving enthusiasts squeeze an extra drop out of longer stops as well. Those who keep close watch on the fuel gauge wince at the gas wasted backing out of parking spaces. Why waste gas backing your car out of a space only to go forward again? The simple solution is to pull forward when you park. The safety advantage comes from a better field of view and easier control of the car.

Regardless of the exact safe saver techniques you choose, the key is consistency. The daily impact on your gas budget can seem small, but it will quickly compound. Some of the more dramatic savings are even easier to miss. You might not even notice it when you slow down early ahead of a fast braking car and avoid a collision. It is even less likely that you will see the concealed highway trooper who clocked your safe speed and let you pass without adding a ticket to the price of your commute.



Tips for Buying A New Car

June 25th, 2008

car-buying-tips.jpgThis article by Kristin Goodman provides some good beginner’s tips for those who are looking to buy a new car for the first time. As with most other significant purchases, it ultimately comes down to doing the proper research beforehand and avoiding impulsive buying decisions. Meanwhile, if you need to obtain financing for a car and want to figure out what your payments might be, you can look at my previous article on simple interest amortization.


Imagine driving to a car dealership, purchasing the brand new car of your choice and being back on the road in 20 minutes. Impossible? It’s not! Not only can you buy a brand new car without the usual hassle, but you can get the exact price you want (less than the manufacturer’s suggested selling price). Here’s how:

  1. Do your homework. The Internet is a wonderful tool! Once upon a time, car buying meant physically going to a car dealership and talking to the (somewhat overzealous) salesmen. Now, you can shop for a vehicle in the comfort of your home! You can compare prices, research options for the vehicle of your choice, and determine what vehicle fits your budget. You can even research the value of your current vehicle prior to selling it! By the time you set foot on the car lot, you are an educated consumer, and you know exactly what you want.
  2. Let’s make a deal. If you’re not comfortable with face-to-face haggling, you can still get a great deal. Many car dealerships allow you to contact their Internet sales department online and make an offer. Once you know what the vehicle is selling for at one dealership, you can negotiate with another for a lower price.
  3. Application made easy. With the size of a loan application these days, it can take longer to complete the paperwork than it does to decide on a vehicle! Once you’ve reached a deal, have someone at the dealership email or fax you the required documents. You can submit all the required information before you even get to the dealership, saving you lots of time.
  4. Make an appointment. Once your vehicle has been selected, your price negotiated, and your financing in order, talk to the representative you’ll be meeting with. Pick a time that works best for you (mid-week evenings are usually a slower time for dealerships) and make an appointment to wrap up your deal.

With everything in order, you will literally be out of the dealership cruising down the road in your new car quicker than it takes for a trip to the grocery store. You will have saved yourself lots of stress and can now just relax and enjoy your brand new car!



How to Cut Grocery Costs

June 24th, 2008

save-money-grocery.jpgWith all the talk lately of recession and rising fuel and food prices, families are struggling to find ways to save money and make ends meet. This article by Joanie Raisovich shows you how it’s possible to drastically reduce your grocery costs and not sacrifice good taste or good nutrition.

1. Plan your meals. The first step in saving money on your grocery bill is taking time to plan your weekly meals. Plan each evening meal’s entree as well as side dishes. Select several items that are cheaper to fix to easily save money on your groceries. Good examples of inexpensive meals are spaghetti, meatloaf, soup or stew, and meatless meals.

Planning ahead also allows you to take advantage of using leftovers for meals or for packing lunches. Both can save you quite a lot on your grocery bill.

2. Shop once a week. Each time you go to the store, you’re tempted to buy more than you need. Limit that temptation by only shopping once a week. As a bonus, you’ll save gas and time. This is one reason for planning your meals; you can easily buy everything you need in one visit.

If you really feel that you need to go back for milk, bread, etc., then force yourself to just buy those things.

3. Buy in bulk. The key to buying in bulk is being familiar with what items normally cost at the supermarket. Many canned goods are cheaper when purchased at the big box stores, but you do need to double-check since some items are actually more expensive. Take some time and jot down the prices of items you typically buy so you can do some comparison when you start buying in bulk.

Be careful about buying perishable goods in bulk; they often spoil before you can use it all. Many times the big box stores sell only name brands, and while they’re cheaper, you might still be able to beat the price by buying generics where you normally shop.

4. Freeze leftovers. You may be accustomed to tossing leftovers, but don’t. Instead, freeze them and use them for easy meals when you’re too busy to cook. This is a much better and cheaper choice than takeout. You can also take leftovers for lunch and save even more. While you’re buying your weekly groceries, buy plastic wrap and bowls to put your leftovers in so you won’t have an excuse not to save them.

Many meats, rice, bean dishes, and soups freeze well. Frozen vegetables and fruits are quick and healthy choices.

5. Buy cheaper brands or generics. You may be used to buying certain brands, but keep an open mind. Try a cheaper brand or even a generic. Often these are just as good as the brand you’ve been using. Generics are particularly good when you’re mixing them in with other items. For example, while you may notice the difference in generic lunch meats, you’re not likely to notice when you change to generic sugar, oil, or flour.

When trying a new brand, buy only one or two just in case you don’t like it. After all, if you won’t eat it, it’s not saving you anything.

6. Buy less meat. Meat is one of the most expensive items on your grocery list, but you don’t have to fix meat for every meal. Instead, try bean, pasta, or rice based dishes. You’ll save money and eat healthier at the same time. As a bonus, these dishes often freeze well and make great lunches and leftovers.

7. Shop at local markets. Fruits and vegetables are often cheaper and fresher at local markets than at the grocery store. Many markets offer deep discounts on fruits and vegetables that are over-ripe. These are still good, as long as you can use them within a day or so. They are also great options for freezing.

8. Buy only groceries at the grocery store. Don’t buy laundry detergent, shampoo, cleaning supplies, etc. at the grocery store. You’ll spend a lot more than you should. Instead, buy these items at a dollar store and you’ll save money. Don’t forget to explore cheaper brands and generics for these items as well.

9. Avoid boxed convenience foods. Ready-to-eat foods are real budget busters. A precooked box of beef and gravy can cost five or six dollars. For the same amount of money, you can buy twice as much meat that you’d cook yourself. Take the time to prepare your own meals and you’ll save a lot of money. As a bonus, you’ll avoid all the preservatives that these foods contain.

10. Make your own desserts. Instead of buying cookies, cakes and candy pre-made, make them yourself. For example, a pre-made frosted cake can cost $7-$10, but you can make one homemade in less than an hour for about $3.

11. Clip coupons. Coupons are a great way to save money on your groceries as long as you don’t let them tempt you into buying items you normally wouldn’t use. Also, coupons are typically for boxed convenience foods that are already more expensive. Use good judgment and only buy items that are real money savers.

With a little time and effort, you can see a big reduction in what you pay for groceries. Cook more, use leftovers, and explore cheaper brands. You’ll soon find even more creative ways to save money and feed your family.


John Stankiewicz Warns Against WorldPassive and DollarMonster

June 23rd, 2008

dollar-monster.jpgJohn Stankiewicz of 9PlanetReviews.com is warning his subscribers and any potential members of the WorldPassive program (formerly DollarMonster) that it may be turning into a scam. DollarMonster was a popular doubler-cycler program that had its heyday back in 2004 when such programs were in vogue among certain populations of the alternative investment community. After the original program ran out of funds, it has since been resurrected twice, the most recent reincarnation being published under the WorldPassive moniker. Below is the letter I received from the admin of 9PlanetReviews earlier today. Fortunately, I did not “invest” any funds here.


Below is what I posted in my blog yesterday.

I will never again recommend that outfit. It used to be that one could make a few bucks there, so I recommended them each time they came back out.

I now hear that Blondie (Judy) just got booted today as well, and she had over 50 folks signed up in that one. Am not sure how many I had. So Admin at WorldPassive are biting the hands that have fed them.

UPDATE: WorldPassive Cycler (DollarMonster)

Looks like a reader of mine ratted me out. I simply made a one line statement, and here it is: “Actually, new developments. Avoid DollarMonster, am about to publish that in my blog. So if your fifty cycles? Get it out and stay out.” And looks like my “friend” sent that in to support. So they canceled my account and my payout of two cycles. Here are the details:

I originally bought a $50 position, that cycled, and then I put all of that back in and that cycled too. Then I made w/d request.

Guess what?

I just received an email saying they had shut down my account and are giving me my original $50 back. Why? I was in violation of their agreement. It says basically I would not do anything to harm their programme. Well, I did not. Check my blog. (I merely made one comment to a reader of mine that sent that in to support! Not as if I posted this all over the Internet! But now I have. And so should you!)

But, I did mention to one reader, in a private e-mail that I would not put any more money in that one as I thought it was about to fold (as most cyclers do, and this one did twice or thrice before). I guess that reader sent that one in to support.

So I replied to support and basically said they had better pay my cycled positions or I will make this into a story. And here the story is!

They have done the wrong thing. I have not said anything negative in my blog about their latest scheme. And now I am. They gave me the opportunity. It’s not about the fifty bucks. I could care less. But that kind of treatment? Say anything negative about them and your account will be shut down? Sounds like desperation and totalitarianism. Sounds like a scam. Sounds like a poor decision by some flunky support person.

And scam it is! Spread the word. Spread this word far and wide so you cannot get cheated ever again by these three time failure goons! I sure am!

PS: WorldPassive Admin/Support have renegged on even refunding me my $50 that I put in at the start. Well, I hope they have some fun with it, maybe buy some candy or chips. But I hope they do avoid the Aspartame laden pop and gum.

js

By the way: there was no real harm done by my post up above. Why? Because they were pretty nearly dead already. Too few members, not enough money, and they failed three times before. Plus it is summer. The absolute WRONG time to launch an opp such as this! Stupid or what? Stupid mostly. At this point I will not even likely get my fifty bucks back! But am laughing all the way! Not at you. But with them! We’re all just having fun here, right? Until the next memory-wipe!

9PlanetReviews



Search Query Sunday, 18th Edition

June 22nd, 2008

search-query-share.jpgMy search query stats for the past week indicate that the summer period has seen an increase in the number of people with ant infestations in their homes. They are also dropping their cell phones in the water at near-record rates, and rejection letters are now more popular than ever. I even received one of these dreaded things in my email regarding an affiliate program that I had applied for nearly two weeks ago. Needless to say, I was not amused. Now I will deal with queries to the somewhat less popular pages.

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Tips for Keeping Your Bathroom Clutter Free

June 21st, 2008

bathroom-shower-caddy.jpgThis article by Shery Russ addresses the issue of excess clutter in the bathroom. The author’s main suggestion is that the use of a bathroom or shower caddy like the one displayed in the image to the left can improve the overall appearance of your bathroom while also optimizing your available space.


The bathroom is the one room in the house that is often overlooked when it comes to both tidying and organizing. This is because the bathroom isn’t specifically any one person’s room. However, it is easy to organize the bathroom in such a way that will make items easy to locate, identify, and assign to each member of the house.

The bathroom is the one area of the house that has items belonging specifically to each family member and also a room that can generate a lot of arguments if items are misplaced or used by the wrong person.

A bathroom caddy is the single most useful item when it comes to organizing the bathroom. More specifically, one bathroom caddy per person is ideal. This useful item can provide you with the room to house all personal items including toothbrushes and other hygienic items that are considered to be personal to each family member.

Bathroom or shower caddies also allow each family member to put in his or her own shampoo and other bathroom essentials. The unauthorized use of these items is probably one of the biggest reasons for family fights, so organizing the bathroom may help to prevent accidental misuse.

Of course, another reason for organizing the bathroom in this way is that it looks neater. The bathroom then becomes a lot easier to manage. When there is mess, items get lost, damaged or broken and the bathroom is no different in this respect.

Clutter in the bathroom can be dangerous, causing people to have accidents or at the very least to injure themselves. By ensuring that everything in your bathroom has its place, and is in its place, you can easily prevent accidents, injuries and arguments from happening.



Libertarian Party Gains Ballot Access in 30 States

June 20th, 2008

libertarian-party-logo.jpgThe Libertarian Party has announced that it has added Illinois to its tally of successful ballot access drives today, making it the 30th state to include the LP candidate. The party is expected to eventually achieve ballot access in 48 states, with Oklahoma and West Virginia being the most likely holdouts. Here is the official update from Chairman Bill Redpath:


Dear Fellow Libertarian:

Thirty states and counting!

That’s right, the Libertarian Party is on the ballot in 30 states across the nation and still on track to be on at least 48 by November.

Thanks to all of your hard work and donations, we are able to finish the ballot access drive in Illinois this week, and are continuing to work in Pennsylvania. In the very near future, we will be turning our sights to Ohio, Alabama, Kentucky and Maine.

But the fight isn’t over yet!

We still have 19 states left to give voters another choice for representation in 2008. While more than half the work is done, we still have a long way to go.

This is why we need your help in making sure the Libertarian Party is on the ballot in November for all voters!

Every dollar you donate to ballot access will be used to help spread the message of liberty to voters desperate for another choice in 2008. To donate to our ballot access drive, please visit our Web site at www.LP.org and contribute at https://www.lp.org/contribute.

We are also still looking for volunteers to assist with ballot access efforts in states that we have yet to get on the ballot. Every signature collected by a volunteer is a signature we don’t have to pay a petitioner to gather. This can save the Party up to $2 per signature!

If you are interested in helping out with collecting signatures to give voters more choice, please sign up at http://www.lp.org/volunteer.

Even if you are unable to gather signatures, you can help the Libertarian Party get on the ballot by donating at https://www.lp.org/contribute.

We thank you for considering donating to ballot access or volunteering your time in order to help the Libertarian Party get our candidates elected, and in turn, bring more choice and freedom to all Americans.

Sincerely,

Bill Redpath
National Chairman
The Libertarian Party


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