Aug 30 2006

Teens Injured on the Job

Category: Health,ParentingTim @ 7:58 am

Some startling news is coming out of Wisconsin this regarding teens who are injured on the job:

One out of six working teens reported having been injured on the job in a new survey that found some youths were in hazardous occupations they should have been legally barred from because of their age.

The study, published in the September-October issue of the American Journal of Health Behavior, was based on results of a questionnaire completed by more than 6,800 Wisconsin high school students in 2003.

One in six, that seems pretty high. What type of work are they doing?

Teens were most likely to be injured in: lumber mills (51 percent); lumber yards (40 percent); gas stations (36 percent); someone else’s farm (36 percent); and construction (30 percent).

“Developing programs and strategies to reduce injury must be made a priority,” Kristina M. Zierold, assistant professor of family and community medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winton-Salem, N.C., said in a prepared statement.

She noted that on-the-job training usually falls far short of what’s needed and that there are no standards governing safety training.

The study does indicate the the majority of students are not in these type jobs, but the amount of time spent working caught my eye:

The survey found the teens working from just five hours a week to more than 40 hours a week. About 16 percent of those who worked reported putting in more than 23 hours a week, and 159, or 4 percent, said they clocked out after 11 on school nights.

“We surmise that working later hours may involve circumstances that place teens at greater risk for occupational injury,” Zierold said. Late at night, after managers have gone home, “teens may be asked to perform more prohibited or hazardous tasks than when supervisors are present.”

So, teens are working long hours in dangerous situations with inadequate training. Are we really surprised they are getting hurt?

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Aug 30 2006

Coaches Trained for Risky Situations

Category: Parenting,Youth SportsTim @ 7:30 am

The Anne Arundel Youth Football Association in Maryland has taken youth football security to another level:

All volunteer coaches were required to take a new three-hour class to learn about handling different risky situations that could arise from aggressive parents or youths.

After completing that and being certified as coaches, they wear ID cards on the sidelines, color-coded to represent classes. The county already requires coaches in recreational leagues to undergo criminal background checks.

“It provides the referees with a chance to know for sure who should be on the sidelines,” AAYFA President Rick Peacock said. “We’re just trying to be productive. We’re just trying to make sure we’re doing everything we can to prevent unthinkable things from happening.”

Criminal background checks are part of most organized leagues and are an accepted practice. While not a guarantee, it’s nice that someone is looking into the dads and moms who coach our children. Having been a coach, I think this is a good thing.

Wearing ID badges does not bother me either. I think it is good to know who the “certified/registered” coaches are and who are just loud parents in matching uniforms. Umpires have a tough enough time and this just makes life a little easier.

The scary part of this program is the training in “handling risky situations” that the coaches receive. What does this say about the state of youth sporting programs? Have we gone so far to the dark side that our parents need parenting? Unfortunately, the answer appears to be a resounding yes, we do.

Congratulations to the Anne Arundel Youth Football Association on taking this step. Hopefully, this is the start of trend to regain control of youth sports by the sane.


Aug 29 2006

AOL Labeled ‘Badware’

Category: Scams,Sci/TechTim @ 7:06 am

At one time, the letters AOL were synonymous with the Internet, “I don’t use the Internet, I go on AOL.” So pervasive was their market-share that the grammatically challenged “You’ve got mail” was even made into the title of a movie.

AOL has been in a lot of trouble lately. In June, Vinny Ferrarri recorded his attempt to unsubscribe from AOL and the audio showed a nasty side of AOL, earlier this month, AOL released private search information from over 650,000 of their subscribers, and over the past year, AOL subscribers have dropped by 3.1 million.

Now, it a software watchdog group has labeled AOL software as ‘badware’:

StopBadware.org, the group spearheaded by Harvard Law School and Oxford University to warn consumers about software it deems harmful or deceptive, Monday issued a notice flagging AOL’s client software used in the AOL online service as “badware.”

AOL 9.0 has been added to the “Badware Watch List,” a kind of software hall of shame, because the AOL software compels the installation of additional and unnecessary software without informing the user, according to StopBadware.org. AOL 9.0 also forces users to take actions they can’t avoid, while also installing “potential adware components” in a manner viewed as badware behavior.

How does AOL reply?

“No company has done more to fight malware than AOL,” company spokesman Andrew Weinstein said. “We’re reviewing the suggestions made in the report, and we are taking steps to address them, as they mostly involve minor UI issues. “

Prior to this latest problem, AOL was working on trust:

Since the search disclosure, AOL has taken steps to restore consumer trust, said Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jon Miller in a recent e-mail to employees. “There is a tremendous responsibility that goes along with our mission of serving consumers online,” he wrote. “We have to earn their trust each and every day and with each and every action we take.”

I’m not sure how hiding spyware in your installer software that cannot be removed equals trust; I guess I’m just not seeing things properly. After all, I don’t think of AOL as the Internet.

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Aug 28 2006

Youth Sports Getting Too Competitive

Category: Parenting,Youth SportsTim @ 9:42 am

This is a issue that will always be near and dear to my heart and will continue to appear on this site. I am both a parent of youth athletes and a coach of various youth teams who wants to see the fun return to sports. I believe we have gone too far in “developing” student athletes and forgotten the basic lesson that competition is meant to be enjoyed, not dreaded.

It seems there are a growing number who share my view:

At times, the district director of the local Babe Ruth chapter of baseball does think youth sports have become too competitive.

“You have coaches who are too competitive and so are the kids and so are the parents,” [Steve] Ayersman said. “A parent will sit back there and belittle the umpire, but they are not willing to go on the field or join an organization and help.”
[…]
“Almost all the sports are. There’s AAU travel teams. Those are for kids who are more talented. Some of them are on the league teams. You get complaints from the parents about playing time. Travel ball is talking away from recreation league players. There’s not such thing as rec ball anymore.”

Why are we so driven to push our children to excel in sports? Could it be the money we see professional athletes earning? Could it be the status gained by being the parent of the star player? Could it be trying to right the wrongs of our own childhood sports experiences? Could it be all of the above?

Please, let kids be kids. They grow-up too fast as it is.

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Aug 23 2006

Cybersquatters Beware, Microsoft Is Coming

Category: Scams,Sci/TechTim @ 12:39 pm

I’m sure we’ve all experienced this one. You are trying to get to your favorite web site and, thanks to the slip of a finger, you find yourself somewhere else entirely. Often, the site you are seeing has nothing on it but advertising and your little finger slip may have resulted in a pay-day for some opportunist. Welcome to the world of the Cybersquatter.

Cybersquatters are the type of creatures that hang-out in damp dark places that never see the light. They while-away the hours searching for available domain names that are just slightly off from major web sites (www.yotube.com, www.googl.com, www.mcrosoft.com). Once they identify their pray, they set-up their revenue nets to snare their victims while swapping stories with Spammers about how cleaver they are.

Well, Microsoft has said, enough is enough:

Microsoft Corp. said on Tuesday it has filed two lawsuits against so-called “cybersquatters” or “typosquatters” who use the company’s product names to profit illegally from online advertising.

How wide will Microsoft spread their net?

The software giant says the parties violated the 1999 Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, which imposes a fine of $100,000 on a person or entity who purposefully registers domain names that are the same or very similar to established sites or that are clearly meant to profit from their likeness to other sites, Reuters reports.

Microsoft filed legal action against the specific people who registered or tried to register the suspect names, but it is not currently going after the ad services that allow such parties to post their ads, according to Reuters. Yahoo, Google and Microsoft all offer online advertising services in which they act as middlemen for sites seeking to place their ads on other popular websites, Reuters reports.

Granted cybersquatters are simply modern-day carpetbaggers and rank somewhere down with other wiggly creatures, but why would a company with more money than most countries be worried about the little cybersquatter? Is there something more to the story?

Microsoft said it is still unclear who is responsible for policing intellectual property on the Web and it wants information from advertising service providers about the profits these domain registers are making.

‘We’re not 100 percent certain which ad services these pages are using. That’s one of the things we intend to learn through our litigation,’ Microsoft’s Kornblum said.

This reminds me of the standard Microsoft business plan: Attack, discover what opportunities exist, and destroy the competition. By going after the cybersquatters, perhaps Microsoft is really going after Internet marketing. They may be trying to corner the ad space market by destroying the competition. We’ve see it before.

Worse yet, what if Microsoft wants to be the ones who “polices intellectual property” on the Internet. Are we scared yet?


Aug 23 2006

Slightly Overweight is Bad Too

Category: HealthTim @ 8:45 am

We are getting fat. So fat that the word obese has crept into daily life. Fast food and slow movements have created a society that pushes the limits; the limits of the scales.

Perhaps you are one of the lucky ones, the ones who are only just slightly overweight. Up until now, you’ve considered yourself to be in need of a little work, but nothing serious. Well, I’m sorry to say, the researchers are after you now too:

The 10-year study of more than 500,000 U.S. adults found those who were just slightly overweight in their 50s were 20 percent to 40 percent more likely to die in the next decade.

Another study involving more than 1 million Korean adults, also being published in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine, produced similar results.

No! Now it’s not good enough just to be slightly heavy, you actually have to be “normal” weight. What’s next? Are they going to expect us to workout too?

There are some who claim these studies are over-blown and part of the growing “obesity hysteria“:

“I think they are just adding to the obesity hysteria,” said Glenn A. Gaesser of the University of Virginia. “They are presenting the data in a way that paints overweight and obesity in the worst possible light. It’s not as bad as they make it seem.”

The number of Americans who are overweight has been increasing steadily in the United States. About two-thirds of Americans are now overweight, including about a third who are obese.

It seems that there is just no way around it; staying in shape means you live longer. Unless you are run-over by a car jogging or get skin cancer from being outside too much, or contact West Nile Virus from a mosquito, or camp-up and drown in a pool, or ride your bike off a cliff, or over-exert yourself and have a heart-attack, or go to a club and die from second-hand smoke, or …

Why is it the news is never good?

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Aug 22 2006

Glucose Monitoring Cell Phone for Diabetics

Category: Health,Kids & Technology,ParentingTim @ 7:47 am

It’s a sad reality in health care today; advances are not made until there are enough afflicted patients to make the advancement profitable. Well, with the startling growth rates of diabetes, here come the breakthroughs.

In a move aimed at diabetic kids, LG has creates a phone that can help children monitor and report their blood sugar levels:

LG-KP8400.gif

Patients place a drop of blood on a test strip that is then inserted into a slot on the phone, Kim says. An application calculates the blood glucose level and displays it on screen. The phone can automatically send the results via text messaging to caregivers, who can reply back with recommendations for insulin dose levels or other advice.

The system is being marketed to children and the elderly, two vulnerable groups that must be closely monitored and need frequent feedback on treatment options

Of course, after getting the reading and entering it in the phone, you still need someplace to send the information.

Once the reading is done, the included software can forward it via the cell phone to a HealthPia data center. Later with the press of a single button the user can retrieve the data on the phone or simply by connecting to HealthPia at home.

The collected data will also be used to do an in-depth analysis of the values both by the software and above all by the HealthPia Guardian that is follows the cell phone user. The software is also able to manage meal plans by calculating the calories assumed and can give valuable information to the diabetic user.

If I were the parent of a diabetic child, I sure would like to be cc’d on those text messages. This sounds like a great step forward in healthcare.

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Aug 22 2006

Iwo Jima Photographer Joe Rosenthal Dies

Category: HistoryTim @ 5:00 am

Joe Rosenthal, who took the famous flag raising photo from Iwo Jima, died on Sunday at age 94. His photo has become an icon and was even made into the monument at Arlington National Cemetery. At the time, Rosenthal didn’t have any idea just what kind of shot he had:

“Out of the corner of my eye, I had seen the men start the flag up. I swung my camera and shot the scene,” he said a decade afterward. “That is how the picture was taken, and when you take a picture like that, you don’t come away saying you got a great shot. You don’t know.”

The photo quickly became the subject of posters, war-bond drives and a U.S. postage stamp. It kept Rosenthal busy for years as he fielded requests for reprints. He said he was flattered by the attention, but added, “I’d rather just lie down and listen to a ball game.”

iwo-jima-flag.gif

Rosenthal’s picture captured a small moment in time from a key battle in World War II, but most people do not know the entire story of that battle. For example, the flag raised in his photo was not the first one to go up but was a replacement flag. Also, the battle was still nearly a month from ending when this flag was raised.

I’ve just finished reading Flags of Our Fathers; an amazing book written by the son of one of the flag raisers immortalized by Rosenthal’s shot. I’m a student of history and still didn’t know the real story of Iwo Jima and the tremendous sacrifices made by our Marines. If you are looking for an incredible story, I highly recommend Flags of Our Fathers.

For more on Rosenthal, check out the Houston Chronicle’s article His simple click captured a legacy of courage.


Aug 22 2006

“Little” Leaguer? Are You Kidding?

Category: Youth SportsTim @ 4:00 am

Are you kidding me?

Durley.jpg

Aaron Durley towers over the competition at the Little League World Series.

The 13-year-old first baseman for Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, stands an imposing 6-foot-8 and weighs 256 pounds.

“I was standing next to him and I was up to his elbows,” Scott Kingery, a 12-year-old, 4-foot-9 Phoenix shortstop, said after meeting Durley.

How can a 13-year-old possibly be nearly 7 feet tall? How does that happen?

Last year, at the Little League World Series, he was only 6′ 5″. He’s still growing!

Clearly he needs to be a pitcher. Could you imagine being 12, digging in at the plate, looking up to see someone standing on a hill that makes him appear over 7 feet tall, and he is about to throw something at you very hard…

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Aug 21 2006

Avoiding the ‘Freshman 15′

Category: Health,ParentingTim @ 7:05 am

Remember going to college for the first time? Soft serve ice cream with every meal, nightly pizza study breaks, drinks of various colors and calorie counts, mac and cheese anytime, and care packages of goodies from home. Ah, the good life. All of that added up to what was lovingly called the Freshman 15; referring to the 15 or so pounds usually gained by incoming college freshman.

Universities are recognizing this problem and are offering programs to help:

“The patterns and the habits that students get into in the first two to three months of school is what tends to carry them through the rest of their time on campus,” said Jen Ketterly, nutrition and fitness coordinator for campus health services at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

At nearby Duke University, the private college of about 6,000 undergraduates offers an interactive nutrition workshop for freshmen with eating problems. It includes tips for quick, healthy meals in the dorm, and how to eat the right way in an all-you-can eat dining hall.

Not all freshman gain the weight, some go the other way:

The problem isn’t always weight gain: Some new students lose weight because they’re no longer getting three meals a day from Mom and Dad.

Of course, it might be the cafeteria offerings that are the problem:

“Many kids tell me they stop eating meat and chicken and hardly ever eat fish when they come to college because of how it looks in the dining halls,” Quatromoni said. “Some eat very few fruits and vegetables when they go out on their own.”

Well, maybe excersie is the answer:

Even though all full-time students have access to the David Pottruck Health and Fitness Center, data have shown that many don’t take advantage of it.

Villari said the 2004 survey showed that about 25 percent of Penn students get no exercise at all.

But she added that students’ weight tends to become more stable after the first year of college.

Basically, good eating habits have to be extended into college to become part of daily life. This establishes a trend that will continue throughout adulthood. The lesson for parents is to teach your children what healthy eating is and to allow them the ability to make healthy choices before they are off on their own.

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