Landscape Matters 2016

Landscape Matters 2016The Nassau County Cooperative Extension monthly series, Landscape Matters, are held from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 am and given by Nassau County Extension Agents and/or Master Gardeners.

These presentations will be held at the Yulee Satellite Office, 86026 Pages Dairy Road, Yulee. Rose Class and Pruning Class will be held at the Demonstration Garden, Yulee Government Complex, 96135 Nassau Place.

We have listed the presentations on our event calendar; here are the presentations for the remainder of the year.

April 6th -Hummingbirds
Fee $10 for recycled feeder.
To register email
Rebecca Jordi

April 20 – Snakes
10:00 a.m. to 11:00 am
Karl Shaffer

May 4 – Hydrangeas
10:00 a.m. to 11:00 am
Joanne Templeton

May 25 – Palm Trees
10:00 a.m. to 11:00 am
Demonstration Garden Location
Yulee Governmental Complex
Rebecca Jordi

June 1 – Garden Pests
10:00 a.m. to 11:00 am
Rebecca Jordi

June 20 – Lawn Problems
St. Augustine grass
10:00 a.m. to 11:00 am
Nelson Peterson

July 6 – Drought Tolerant Plants
10:00 a.m. to 11:00 am
Rebecca Jordi

July 20 – Native Plants
10:00 a.m. to 11:00 am
Rebecca Jordi

August 3 – Vegetables
Joseph Smith

August 17 – Invasives and Alternatives
Rebecca Jordi

September 7 – Landscaping for Wildlife
Bea Walker

September 21 – Butterflies
Ginny Grupe

October 5 – Tree Planting and Selection
10:00 a.m. to 11:00 am
Rebecca Jordi

October 19 – Bulb Propagation and Division
10:00 a.m. to 11:00 am
Rebecca Jordi

November 2 – Herbs
10:00 a.m. to 11:00 am
Claudie Speed

November 16 – Are Bats Beneficial?
10AM – 11:30AM
Pre-register by Nov 9. Fee $15.
Cindy Steighner and Karl Shaffer

Nov 30 – Holiday Mailbox Decorating
Carol Ann Atwood & Sylvie Baxter

These programs are free to the public, so please call (904) 530-6350 or e-mail if you plan to attend.

If response is too small, the program will be canceled.

Fernandina Seeking Labor Attorney

Fernandina Seeking Labor AttorneyThe City of Fernandina Beach is looking to hire someone as their contracted labor attorney. The qualified candidate will handle the traditional scope of work including legal counsel, legal opinions, consultation and coordination with the City Attorney and City Manager.

Attendance at a variety of meetings may be required, including but not limited to labor negotiations, administrative hearings, arbitrations, City Commission closed sessions and/or open public meetings, and employment-related litigation court appearances and administrative hearings, as specified.

Other services may include legal advice, counsel, services, training, consultation and opinions to the City Attorney, City Manager and City Commission on a wide variety of labor assignments, including but not limited to:
-Laws against discrimination (federal and state).
-Methods to avoid civil litigation.
-Labor negotiations, arbitrations, labor and employment counseling, PERC proceedings and employment litigation.
-Drafting and/review for legal correctness and acceptability; legal documents, contracts, settlement agreements, severance agreements, releases, collective bargaining agreements and other legal drafting, as requested.
-Appearance for and representation of the City in labor negotiation matters, as requested.
-Guidance to the City, as well as representation when necessary, regarding personnel actions, policies and procedures, employment discrimination claims, and the like.

The City has appointed an Evaluation Committee tasked with performing the evaluation of all qualified proposals.

Official Request For Proposal is available under “bid postings” at, and should be returned no later than 2:00 pm, March 29th, 2016.

2016 Relay For Life at Main Beach March 5th

Relay Poster-800

Click to enlarge poster

In communities throughout Florida people are gathering together to help fight cancer at a unique event called Relay For Life. Relay is the American Cancer Society’s national signature activity that brings together teams of families and friends from local companies, schools, clubs, churches, and other organizations to walk around the track in relay fashion.

All proceeds raised from this event are used for cancer research, education, prevention and patient services. The five-year relative survival probability for all cancers diagnosed between 1999 and 2006 is 68 percent, up from 50 percent in 1975 to 1977. This survival rate can be increased through more research and greater community awareness of health issues. Relay For Life combines a way to share vital cancer education and programs with community members and a way to raise money to fund more cancer research.

The success began in 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma, Washington surgeon and
American Cancer Society volunteer, ran and walked on a local track for 24 hours, traveling a total of 81 miles and raising $27,000. Since Dr. Klatt’s one-man marathon, thousands of people nationwide have passed the “baton” and raised billions of dollars for Relay For Life’s battle against cancer.


Click to enlarge schedule

“Survivor – Let’s Vote Cancer off the Island” is the message of this year’s Relay For Life Fernandina Beach/Yulee, being held March 5, 2016 at Main Beach Park on Amelia Island. The 12-hour event is free and open to the public.

Opening ceremonies begin at 10:00 a.m. with a welcome from Mayor Johnny Miller, and a message of hope from cancer survivor Judie Mackie. The first lap of Relay For Life celebrates cancer survivors. Anyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer, whether currently undergoing treatment or in remission for 50 years, is invited to participate. Caregivers, and then participating teams, will be invited to the track.

Members from our community are encouraged to continuously walk the track representing how cancer never takes a break. There will be family games, activities, entertainment, and six live bands will perform throughout the event. Themed laps will occur at the top of each hour, and Relay teams will compete in “Tribal Challenges” to earn immunity and of course, bragging rights.

After dusk, the Luminaria Ceremony remembers all of those who battled cancer. Candles surround the track with bags marked with the names of those still fighting, those who won the battle, and those we have lost. This ceremony of light symbolizes our mothers, our fathers, our sisters, our brothers, our sons, our daughters, our friends and our loved ones. The lights remind us of hope, and our shared vision for a cancer-free future. Fernandina Beach Vice Mayor Robin Lentz, and cancer survivor Patti Jubell, will share their emotional stories, and every Relay participant is encouraged to find a way to fight back against cancer, by raising money, making a healthy lifestyle choice or speaking up for cancer patients through advocacy.

ALL proceeds from the day’s activities, as well as vendor’s booths, will be donated to the American Cancer Society.

For more information about Relay For Life Fernandina Beach/Yulee please contact Alexandra Davis at (904) 391-3643.

For information about Relay For Life or about cancer, call toll-free anytime 1-800-227-
2345 or visit the American Cancer Society Web site at

Big Changes for SearchAmelia Coming

Since 2008, we’ve been bringing online news and events about Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach, Nassau County, and Northeast Florida to you – and those interested – in our little piece of Paradise. After eight great years, it is time to give a new look. We will continue to write articles about our town, stories about interesting people, cover more friendly events, and maintain our comprehensive community event calendar.

This new year brings worldwide adventures for my partner, Han; and for me the new year brings a new look at life after having battled cancer the past three months – and in turn it is only fitting that we bring a new look for, too.

In the meantime, sit back and watch your inbox… we’ll be back online soon!

Reason Why You May Have Frequent Nose Bleeds

nose-bleedsNose bleeds or bloody noses can be incredibly difficult to deal with the first time. Frequent nose bleeds, though not a common sign of a serious health condition, are caused by things that you may do everyday and not even think about.

A dry climate can be one reason that your nose bleeds so often. The heat and lack of moisture will dry out the nose. When your nose is dry, the mucus inside begins to crust over. This can become itchy or become irritated, and then you have a nose bleed. Summers in dry areas are notorious for causing nosebleeds in healthy people. Avoid scratching at or picking at your nose in this situation to avoid nose bleeds.

During a cold, blowing your nose can be the cause of a nose bleed. Well, in general, blowing your nose too much can be a cause of nosebleeds. This could be from allergies (which carpet cleaners could help avoid if the allergen is airborne), or from a cold, like stated earlier. Blowing your nose too much, or too forcefully, can result in breaking some of the blood vessels in the nose. They are extremely fragile, and bleed easily. They are in the front and back of the nose.

A less common cause of nosebleeds is an injury to the face. These could occur from a punch to the face, a car accident, or a fall. While many nose bleeds will not require medical attention, these will – no matter how long they last. This kind of nose bleed could mean a more serious injury – a broken nose, internal bleeding, or a skull fracture. If you know what kind of injury caused the nose bleed, it’ll help the doctor that’s treating you.

Another cause of common nosebleeds can be blood-thinning medicines, aspirin, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – NSAIDs. This prevent blood clots from forming. The blood must form a clot for a nosebleed to stop, which can make any nosebleed from a previous cause difficult to stop. However, medicines that thin the blood can cause more frequent nose bleeds. Clopidogrel and warfarin are two examples of blood thinners that have the risk of more frequent or longer nose bleeds. Any common medication for atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeat, also has the risk of creating more nose bleeds.

Other Uncommon Causes
The previously mentioned causes are among the most common reasons nosebleeds can occur often. There are plenty of uncommon or rare causes that might be concerning.

One such concerning cause is the use of too much alcohol. There is also data that proves that alcohol can cause nose bleeds if it’s consumed in high enough doses. Alcohol can cause blood to be unusually regulated. This can cause more blood to go to the nose, and one of the previous cases could cause a nose bleed easily. Unless it doesn’t stop within 20 minutes or so with direct manual pressure, it’s not life threatening or serious. The serious cause is the alcohol – which does more damage, but that is not for this article.

Furthermore, alcohol can cause the blood to act as if you are on a blood-thinning medicine. Blood pressure can be altered, and dehydration is also a risk.

Another uncommon cause is nasal surgery. Bleeding will be common for two to three days after the surgery. Nasal packing is usually given to keep the bleeding from getting out of hand. However, ignoring post surgery instructions can increase the frequency of post surgery bleeding. Blowing the nose the week immediately following the surgery is a big no-no. Strenuous exercise can also create the conditions for a bleeding nose after surgery.

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Finding Stepping Stones Across the River

Stepping stones for life's balancing act

Stepping stones for life’s balancing act

This year my birthday falls on Black Friday which somehow cheapens the experience into a 50% off or 2-for-1 deal.
As far as milestones go I’m turning 65, a cross road where most of someone’s life comes together or should. The big retrospection and the choices and options for the future. The point where the inevitable decline of the body’s physical abilities meets it mental acceptance.

Somehow I have arrived at the intersection of who I once wanted to be and the one I have become. A man who struggles and triumphs (luctor et emergo), a man who doubts and searches, who gains insight and sometimes feels like crying for a world that has lost its direction once again. A man who fakes fights with his past while nourishing the unfulfilled dreams. A man who had his heart broken by some, just to have it glued back together by others. The sum of a life that saw pendulums shifting direction as often as politicians break their promises. And in that spectrum of life’s possible outcomes, I found virtue between the extremes of excess and deficiency.

I’ve learned that many things are the way they are. If I leave an open can of beer on the counter, it’s going to go flat. It doesn’t matter what I or anyone else thinks about it. Step off the curb at the wrong time, and a crosstown bus will flatten you. No point in arguing with it. That is objective reality. That’s just the way it is.

I have also learned that reality doesn’t correspond to what the crowd thinks or what it wants. I have found that ‘something for nothing’ is a sadly misguiding human survival incentive and I have learned that what people expect almost never comes into existence; at least not in the projected timeline. And then there are things that exist because we just think (perceive) they do, without ever looking for objective proof. Religion calls it dogmatic acceptance.

Many subjective realities around us are perceptions, much like government, wealth without worry, religion, institutionalized education. None of them disperses warranties. I have learned that I can only guess how much upside or downside there is left in every swing of the pendulum, but I am now officially old enough to know that when thoughts and actions consciously focus on the positive, you will change the world. I’ve also learned that the secret of happiness is not something you feel, it’s something you do.

Therefore I am now much more than the sum of my regrets or accomplishments. My mind’s hard drive was formatted by the seventies, but my heart always stayed a child of the sixties. Without regret I report that it took me 45 years to learn and accept that when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. And yes I have often wished that I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then, but really it doesn’t matter, because I have also learned that the heart always has the last word.

The heart has the last word

The heart has the last word

So when I awake tomorrow morning, life will look me in the eyes with a faint mysterious smile around her lips, as she knows where I came from and senses where I’m going to.

“Surrender”, she will whisper seductively yet stern. “Follow me. I need men on my path. Men without labels; men who are not solely fed by materialism and hunger for power, men devoid of the narcissistic need for recognition and admiration. Real men, whose successes I have quietly shared and who I embraced in their deepest failures.”

“I will touch your courage when you cross your river at this 65th bend and surprise you with new horizons. And then, hopefully years from now, when you’re finally done exploring the mysteries of life, you’ll know the exact place where you will bloom for the last time in rich colors and scents and you will measure your life’s meaning only with what you had to give up to get there. And only then will you know for certain if you made a difference.”

Why a Family Tree Template is the Perfect Gift

It can be difficult to choose the perfect gift for many occasions. Maybe the person is someone who has everything or maybe he or she is picky about gifts. If you want to give a gift that is from the heart and will be unlike anything else he or she receives, choose a framed family tree gift.

Perfect for Birthdays and Anniversaries
A family tree printed on nice paper and framed makes a wonderful gift for a birthday or anniversary. With so many templates available, you can personalize it. For instance, you will want to include both sides of the family for an anniversary gift. A bow-tie family tree template is the ideal style for this project. When giving it as a birthday gift, you can choose to go backward into the family history for a younger person or forward for someone who is older. You may list all of their children and grandkids with their name at the center. A historian would love to get a family tree that goes back in time to another century if you have the information.

Perfect as a Wedding Gift
Making a family tree is a wonderful way to celebrate the joining of two families. Commemorate this special occasion by making a bowtie family tree that lists both ancestries. You can choose to keep it simple with just three or four generations or you can be more extensive with six or eight. Because the two lines are separated, they are easy to read. They join together in the middle with the young couple getting married. Print this family tree template on fancy cardstock or parchment paper and select a nice frame to create an unforgettable gift.

Perfect for a Baby Shower
Expectant mothers will enjoy a family tree for their little one. This is a one-of-a-kind gift that touches the heart. There is no need for you to do a lot of research. Just choose a simple three or four generational model and fill out the names of the baby’s parents and grandparents. The baby’s name goes in the center of the template. If a name has not been selected yet, you can simply say Baby (Last Name). For this template, try to choose a design that includes a fun visual. It may have an actual tree in the background with the names hanging off the branches. You can also choose a template that allows enough room for photos instead of just names. Once it is framed, it makes a lovely picture to hang in the nursery.

When selecting a family tree template to use to make a special gift, consider the age of the recipient and the occasion as well as the amount of information you have on hand. If you want to do a lot of research into the family history, you will want to start early. However, a simple family tree template can offer just as much meaning and express your feelings without a lot of extra work on your part.

About the author:
Suzie Kolber created to be the complete online resource for “do it yourself” genealogy projects. The site offers the largest offering of family tree charts online. The site is a not for profit website dedicated to offering free resources for those that are trying to trace their family history.

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How Google and Apple Engage in Marketing

How Google and Apple Engage in MarketingIn the modern, technology-driven society, practically everyone is familiar with Apple and Google, two powerhouses in the computer and technology marketplace. However, despite their similar position in the field, both companies approach marketing to their clients with very different attitudes. Even though Google and Apple are also in direct competition in the smartphone and tablet market, the strategies are completely different.

The most notable example actually comes in terms of direct advertisement. Google is such a prolific brand that simply the act of searching for information online has become a generic term: “Googling”. But when it comes to their products and services, Google relies heavily on word of mouth and the power of their brand more so than typical ads. This doesn’t mean Google shies away from the traditional ad campaign, as they have featured billboard and subway ads for their Google recommendation and voice search features and television ads that demonstrate the versatility of their search engine as well as promote their internet browser, Chrome.

Beyond that, Google utilizes their brand in unique ways. By attaching their name to innovative technology ventures such as Google Glass and even asteroid mining, this gives Google publicity through news and media outlets without the standard advertising formula. Additionally, the company has extended itself into so many different ventures like translating website content. Google, having acquired the smartphone operating system Android and online video hub YouTube, for example, while launching their own ventures such as GMail, and online voice chat service Google Voice, just to name a few.

On the other side, instead of relying on fantastically innovative and unusual technology ventures or their sheer presence on the internet like Google, Apple has built a brand off of taking technology products and appealing directly to their customers’ wants and needs. Apple has built a reputation of selling their WHY and not their WHAT. For example, many companies will market their products by saying how great they are, how affordable, how stylish, etc. Apple markets start by appealing to why the technology is needed, why they as a company feel so strongly about their product, and only then do they tell you how great their product is.

This approach began in 1997 with the return of Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, back into the corporate fold. While internally the company would shift their approach, their advertising would begin to take shape, as well. Instead of television ads saying “look at how amazing this computer is”, Apple became famous for a series of ads featuring actor Jeff Goldblum whose delivery and presentation made it clear that Apple’s computers were fun to use, easy to use, and allowed for customers to relate directly to the product.

Since then, with the launch of the iPhone, iPad, and a host of other products, Apple has become the single most dominant brand in computer and consumer electronics. Apple has never been a stranger to unique advertising strategies. Notably, their controversial Super Bowl commercial from 1984 to launch the Macintosh, featuring a “Big Brother” video screen projecting propaganda to a room of emotionless, grey-suited people before a woman hurls a sledgehammer through the screen. The ad served as a statement going forward that Apple was not a traditional computer company and never would be.

Every commercial, whether on television or online or in print since then, has been very simple and relatively understated. Apple uses very little printed copy and allows the aesthetic imagery of their product to do most of the selling. When they talk, it’s always about the methodology and rarely ever about the product itself.

The most notable point between how Google and Apple market their products is that neither company does so in a traditional manner. Apple may advertise in similar ways, but with a very different sort of message, while Google often forgoes typical ads but lets their tech ventures speak even louder, but both companies still see tremendous success based off of the quality of their products.

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The Hidden Dangers of Traditional Paints

The Hidden Dangers of Traditional PaintsYou want to keep your home environment healthy and safe by locking doors, using smoke alarms and routinely checking your home for possible safety hazards. One aspect of home safety that you may have overlooked is the paint and related solvents that you use and store in your home. How can paint be harmful to your home environment? And what can you do to keep paint and solvents from being a hazard in your home?

What Makes Paint Toxic?
Paint, strippers, and thinners can contain VOCs or volatile organic compounds. VOCs are gases emitted from the paint that can cause health issues. Glycol, xylene, ethyl acetate, methylene chloride and formaldehyde chemicals can be emitted from both solids and liquids and cause health problems for some time after the paint has dried on your home decorating project. Paint fumes can also cause illness issues when paint or paint-related products are being stored. While all people can be affected by breathing in these toxic fumes, babies, children and pregnant women are the most likely to be harmed due to their high respiratory rate.

People who routinely work with paint should protect themselves from the harmful fumes that paint emits. Persons with respiratory problems, children and babies should also be protected from exposure to paint and paint fumes. Government regulations regarding using paint only pertain to professional painters who paint often. These laws do not concern to folks who paint occasionally. Therefore, people who only paint occasionally in their homes need to use some common sense methods to protect themselves and their families from paint-related illness.

Potential Health Problems Associated With Paint Toxins
Lead-based paint is no longer made due to some of the side effects and health problems associated with using the substance. If your home was painted or built before 1978, it is possible for you to have lead-based paint in your home.

Some of the symptoms of lead poisoning due to to lead paint are:
· Nausea
· Coordination problems
· Language and behavior problems
· Slow growth patterns
· Headaches
· Organ damage
· Seizures

Children, babies, and pregnant women are especially susceptible to health problems due to exposure to lead-based paint. Even if your paint contains no lead, the fumes from some paint chemicals may cause health problems.

Some of the health issues caused by paint fumes include:
· Trouble breathing
· Vision problems
· Dizziness
· Allergic skin reactions
· Nose irritation
· Eye irritation
· Headaches

Ways to Reduce the Amount of Toxin Exposure from Paint
One way to reduce the amount of toxin exposure you or your family may receive from paint is to use paint that has a low or no VOCs rating. Also, using water-based paint rather than oil-based paint will go a long way in reducing the VOCs the paint contains to protect your family.

Some other ways to keep you safe and your family from health-related problems due to paint toxins are:
· Read the paint’s label and follow any instructions the manufacturer recommends
· Protect your skin by using painter coveralls
· Use proper ventilation when painting and when the paint is drying
· Store paint and paint-related products in a safe place
· Do not use lead-based paint
· Be aware that your walls may contain lead-based paints if the home was built before 1978
· Clean your skin thoroughly after painting
· Keep paint and paint related products away from children
· Clean up paint splatters and paint chips to prevent children from accidentally eating paint or paint chips

Modern paint is vibrant, holds its color for a long time and is safe when used properly. Paint manufacturers continue to work on making their products safer for the public’s use. People who purchase paint can stay safe from potential paint-related illnesses by following manufacturer’s recommendations as well as following the above suggestions to keep their home a healthy place to live and looking great as well.

About the author:
Lee Flynn is a freelance writer. Through small local workshops and articles, Lee trains and teaches others on home preparation, healthy > living, food storage techniques, and self reliance.

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A Look at Epilepsy

A Look at EpilepsyWhen you hear the word epilepsy, you might think of intense seizures with muscle spasms and loss of consciousness. But most epilepsy seizures are surprisingly subtle and may be hard to recognize. These little spells can be an early warning sign of epilepsy, a brain disorder that strikes an estimated 1 in 26 Americans at some point in their lives. The sooner epilepsy is recognized, the sooner it can be treated and seizures prevented.

Most people know surprisingly little about epilepsy, even though it’s the nation’s 4th most common neurological disorder, after migraine, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease. Epilepsy is marked by repeated, unpredictable seizures that may last for seconds or minutes. Seizures arise from abnormal bursts of electrical activity in the brain that trigger jerky movements, strange emotions or sensations, falls, or passing out.

“Epilepsy can strike people of all ages, from the moment of birth—even in the delivery room—up to older ages,” says Dr. Jeffrey Noebels, an epilepsy expert at Baylor College of Medicine. The condition is most likely to first arise in children and in adults over age 60. “Most types of epilepsy last a lifetime, but some are self-limited, meaning they can go away on their own,” Noebels adds.

The causes of epilepsy are varied. “Defects in genes are probably responsible for the largest fraction of epilepsy cases,” Noebels says. Scientists so far have linked more than 150 genes to epilepsy. “Other types of epilepsy can be acquired through trauma (such as head injury or stroke), infections, brain tumors, or other factors.”

Anything that disrupts the normal pattern of brain activity—from illness to brain damage to faulty brain development—can lead to seizures. But for up to half of people with epilepsy, the underlying cause is simply not known.

Types of seizures can also vary widely, which is why epilepsy is sometimes called a “spectrum disorder.” In some people, seizures may appear only occasionally. At the other end of the spectrum, a person may have hundreds of seizures a day. The seizures can be severe, with convulsions, loss of consciousness, or even sudden death in rare cases. Or seizures may be barely noticeable.

Such subtle seizures—sometimes called partial or focal seizures—can cause feelings of déjà vu (feeling that something has happened before); hallucinations (seeing, smelling, or hearing things that aren’t there); or other seemingly mild symptoms. During some seizures, a person may stop what they’re doing and stare off into space for a few seconds without being aware of it.

“These little spells or seizures can sometimes occur for years before they’re recognized as a problem and diagnosed as epilepsy,” says Dr. Jacqueline French, who specializes in epilepsy treatment at the New York University Langone Medical Center. “They can be little spells of confusion, little spells of panic, or feeling like the world doesn’t look real to you.”

The symptoms of these small seizures generally depend on which brain regions are affected. Over time, these types of seizures can give rise to more severe seizures that affect the whole brain. That’s why it’s important to get diagnosed and begin epilepsy treatment as soon as possible. “If you notice a repeating pattern of unusual behaviors or strange sensations that last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, be sure to mention it to your doctor or pediatrician,” French says.

Over the past few decades, NIH-funded scientists have been working to develop better approaches for diagnosing, treating, and understanding epilepsy. The condition can now be diagnosed through imaging tools like MRI or CT scans, by testing blood for defective genes, or by measuring the brain’s electrical activity. Seizures can often be controlled with medications, special diets, surgery, or implanted devices. But there’s still a need for improved care.

“Traditional medications for treating epilepsy are effective but problematic,” says Dr. Ivan Soltesz, who studies epilepsy at Stanford University. “About 1 in 3 patients has drug-resistant epilepsy, meaning that available drugs can’t control the seizures. In these cases, surgical removal of brain tissue may be the best option.” When the drugs do work, he explains, they can also cause numerous side effects, including fatigue, abnormal liver function, and thinking problems.

One issue with today’s medicines is they aren’t targeted to the malfunctioning brain cells. Rather, they tend to affect the whole brain. “The drugs are also not specific in terms of the timing of treatment,” Soltesz says. “The medications are always in the body, even when the seizures are not occurring.”

He and other researchers are working to create highly targeted epilepsy therapies that are delivered only to malfunctioning brain regions and only when needed to block a seizure. So far, they’ve developed an experimental approach that can stop epilepsy-like seizures as they begin to occur in a mouse. The scientists hope to eventually translate those findings for use in people who have epilepsy.

In another line of NIH-funded research, a team of scientists is studying a deadly and poorly understood condition called SUDEP (for sudden unexpected death in epilepsy). “Most people with epilepsy live long and happy lives. But SUDEP is the most common cause of the shorter lifespan that can occur with epilepsy,” says Noebels. “It’s been a real mystery. We haven’t known who’s at greatest risk for this premature death. It can happen to different people who have epilepsy, from all walks of life.”

Noebels and his colleagues have identified several mouse genes that seem related to both sudden-death seizures and heart rhythm problems. The researchers are now searching for similar human genes that may help predict who’s most at risk for SUDEP. “We believe that SUDEP doesn’t have to happen—that we can learn about it, predict it, and eventually find better ways to prevent it in every patient,” Noebels says.

You can take steps to reduce some risk factors for epilepsy. Prevent head injuries by wearing seatbelts and bicycle helmets, and make sure kids are properly secured in car seats. Get proper treatment for disorders that can affect the brain as you age, such as cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure. And during pregnancy, good prenatal care can help prevent brain problems in the developing fetus that could lead to epilepsy and other problems later in life.

“We’ve made exciting advances to date in our understanding of epilepsy, its prevention, and treatment,” says French. “But there’s still much we have to learn, and much we’re actively working to improve.”

Contributed by NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Managing Editor: Vicki Contie
Contributors: Vicki Contie, Alan Defibaugh (illustrations), Brandon Levy, and Carol Torgan

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Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

Seven Wonders of the Ancient WorldAwesome is the best word to describe the seven wonders of the ancient world. People today can only marvel at what ancient builders were able to create with primitive equipment and engineering techniques; pyramids, lighthouses, huge statues…

Great Pyramid at Giza
The Great Pyramid brings to mind visions of Cleopatra and the pharaohs. Indeed, the 480-foot tall pyramid is the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu, whose subjects considered him a living god. This primarily limestone pyramid was built around 2560 BC and for centuries was the world’s tallest building. Women may enjoy shopping for a cartouche ring or pendant as they are said to bring good luck to the wearer.

Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon was built like a fortress, but also was an amazing tourist attraction in its day. The wall was wide enough to allow two four-horse chariots to drive on it at the same time but scenic enough with its gold statues and the Tower of Babel rising above. The gardens, which were located in present day Iraq, were destroyed by an earthquake in the second century BC. Recall the aromas of Iraq by taking home a mabhara and some incense.

Statue of Zeus at Olympia
Greece has been hosting the Olympic Games since 773 BC, drawing athletes from throughout the region. A shrine to Zeus, king of the Greek gods, was part of the games’ site. The shrine started out simple but soon grew to encompass a 40-plus-foot high ivory- and gold-plated statue of Zeus, created by the sculptor of the statue of Athena in the Parthenon. Key chains featuring the five rings of the modern Olympic Games will bring back memories of visiting this ancient site.

Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
The temple of Artemis, also known as Diana, the goddess of fertility, was only around for a few centuries. Still, travelers who had visited other wonders of the ancient world described it as the most magnificent of them all. The original temple was built around 800 BC; a replacement temple was destroyed by fire nearly 500 years later by a man who wanted to make history. Since Diana was the goddess of fertility, baby clothes from here would make a good gift for a pregnant woman.

Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
Mausolus was a king of Halicarnassus who incorporated Greek culture and architecture into his kingdom in what is now Turkey. When he died in 353 BC, his queen, who was also his wife and sister, decided to build the most magnificent tomb to honor him. In a nutshell, this is how tombs became known as mausoleums. Turkish carpets would make a great souvenir, though carpet cleaning may be needed back home.

Colossus of Rhodes
Trivia buffs may be interested in knowing the Colossus of Rhodes served as the model for New York City’s Statue of Liberty. The original Colossus stood in the harbor at Rhodes. Build around 280 BC to celebrate a war victory, the 110-foot high statue was destroyed by an earthquake in 226 BC. When it comes to buying souvenirs, Rhodes is famous for its jewelry and pottery.

Lighthouse at Alexandria
The lighthouse at Alexandria was considered one of the most technologically advanced structures when it was built in the Third Century BC. Founded by Alexander the Great, Alexandria was a great port city for its day and needed something to guide ships through the busy harbor. It was the first lighthouse in the world. It was destroyed by an earthquake in 1303. Packets of papyrus paper will be a surefire hit with travelers who make their own greeting cards or want special stationery.

These wonders left behind a great legacy, remnants of a glorious past. It is unfortunate that today only the Great Pyramid at Giza remains standing. This means today’s citizens must use their imaginations to visualize the greatness of centuries ago.

Author bio: Jennifer Livingston is a freelance writer who specializes on topics related to health, fitness and family. When she is not writing she likes to bake, read and travel.

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I’d Like to Buy a Bowel, Please

I'd Like to Buy a Bowel, PleaseWhen you are diagnosed with cancer, some of the worst imaginable thoughts go through your mind. When you tell your loved ones you have cancer, what they imagine is even worse! Within two weeks I went from learning I had cancer to having about a foot of my colon and a portion of my rectum surgically removed to get this disease of epidemic proportions out of my body.

I remember waking up from the surgery in a combative state. I couldn’t swallow, I felt nauseated, and I was surrounded by people I didn’t know. Trying to sit up, I reached to clear my throat, a female nurse stopped my arm and explained I had a tube in my nose and I couldn’t take it out. I felt the head of my bed raise a little. I muttered, “I feel sick.” She waved an alcohol swab in front of me and said it would help. I took a breath and fell back to sleep.

The next time I woke up they were preparing to take me to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to recover. I was told about my procedure. They briefly told me that I was given a temporary ileostomy bag so my colon could recover. I was also informed that I had a cyst on my ovary and they called in an additional surgeon to remove the cyst, my ovary and one of my fallopian tubes. It had been a long surgery, over seven hours. They wheeled me past the waiting room where my husband and father had been waiting; they asked the inevitable question, “How are you feeling?”

“Great, how are you feeling?” I snapped back.

“We’ll get her settled in, and then you can come back and sit with her.” I heard someone say.

The tube in my nose, a nasogastric tube or NG Tube, was causing me to panic. It hurt like Hell and I was having trouble breathing. It was supposed to be removing the contents of my stomach, but I felt like I was going to puke. The last thing you want to do after having major abdominal surgery, is to retch, so the hospital staff worked hard to make me a little more comfortable.

Finally, they let my family come into the room. It hurt to talk so I mostly nodded now and then to be a part of their conversation as they filled me in on their waiting room experience.

I had tubes and wires everywhere. An IV in my hand, oxygen under my nose, a tube up my nose, a heart monitor, and a contraption on my fingertip to measure something or another. There was a bag collecting my urine, a little plastic bottle collecting fluid from my abdomen, the tube down my throat was suctioning into a bag place near my headboard, and I had the ileostomy. I think they took my temperature every hour on the hour. I looked like a million bucks, or more like I was costing insurance about a million bucks… and I was starting to feel the pain.

My colorectal cancer was found during a routine screening; I was 51, one year past the recommended age. Before the surgery, I had discussed with my husband if any of my female organs were in the way, it was fine with me to have them removed. At my age, and with three healthy adult children… I was done with those internal body parts anyway. As it turned out, it was good we had that discussion.

My husband told me the surgeon did have to form an ileostomy, a procedure we were hoping to avoid. This is when the take the lowest part of your small intestine and turn it inside out like the cuff of a sleeve, and then they stitch it to the outside of your abdomen, called a stoma. When you look at the stoma, you are actually looking at the lining of your intestine. A pouch system is then attached to your skin as a means to collect the body’s waste. There were two holes: one has mucus (distal), and the other one evacuates waste (proximal).

My son, an environmental scientist, stopped by with a beautiful pink orchid, and sat with us. My oldest daughter, who works for a colorectal surgeon in Chattanooga, was driving to Florida to be by my side. She had called while I was in surgery and said she wasn’t able to function at work and thought she should come home for a few days. From the time we told her my diagnosis she was asking for copies of my discharge papers and pathology reports. She deciphered the information into plain English. Her surgeons assured her that my surgeon was doing everything exactly the way they would. Their words confirmed what my doctor was saying, and it put the entire family a little more at ease. Our youngest daughter, who also works in the medical field, is a student at Florida State University and had made plans to come home the following afternoon from Tallahassee, just as soon as she finished taking an exam. It was no surprise to me when all three of them jumped at the opportunity to see my intestines sewn to the outside of my body. The oldest explained all the gory details to her siblings; while it truly was a heart-warming moment for me to watch them bond, all three of them enjoyed it way too much.

While the surgery was painful, and I absolutely detested the NG Tube, the most difficult part of all was waiting the expected three to four days for the pathology reports to come back from the lab. The surgeon felt the cancer was caught early enough that he was able to remove all of the diseased tissue. He also removed a margin of surrounding tissue and 12 lymph nodes, too, now we needed to wait for those results.

Humor helped me face these changes to my body. I teased my husband about it being a good thing we were already married because, “Hey, would you like to see my intestines?” is not a very good pick-up line.

At first, we had a very hard time getting the pouching system attached to my skin without any leakage. Home health care would come by and check my vitals, help us order ostomy supplies, and give us a pat on the back for doing so well, but no one really offered usable tips. Everyone warned not to get information off of the internet, but one of the best tips I learned was to put a little toilet paper into the commode before draining the pouch to reduce the splash, genius!

Since I have no control over when my stoma will evacuate, one of the home health care nurses told me to eat marshmallows. Though I’m not a big fan unless they are roasted and layered on a s’more while sitting around the campfire, I tried it a couple of times without success.

Flushing the commode twice, using Lysol, air fresheners and a little product suggested by a friend called Poo-Pourri helps reduce the bathroom odor of a household learning to live with an Ostomate. Occasionally, especially when I’ve been sleeping, the pouch will fill with a substantial amount of air (gas), so I’ll step into the master-bath to burp the pouch. Once, after a long day away from the house and our dog cooped up inside, I awoke to my husband circling our bed in the middle of the night, he was practically sleep-walking and shouting, “Someone shit on the floor, someone shit on the floor!” The dog’s name is Bentley; I immediately realized he was not blaming the dog.


On the third day after my surgery, the doctor came in with the pathology report. He had indeed removed all of the cancer. The margins of tissue surrounding the tumor had no cancer cells and all 12 of the lymph nodes had no cancer cells. The doctor added, “You do not need any chemotherapy or radiation.”

“Hallelujah!” I know I heard a chorus of angels singing.

It has been nine weeks since my laparoscopic, low anterior resection and I have learned that I still have a lot to learn about having a stoma, and about how I want to live the rest of my life. I’m supposed to grieve; I don’t know when that phase will hit me, but right now I’m pretty damn happy that I don’t have cancer anymore. I’m happy that my ileostomy is supposed to be reversed, and today I hope to learn when testing will be scheduled to make that a reality. The sooner the better! My husband and I are still learning to be empty nesters, and with our youngest in the middle of her junior year in college, I’d like to kick-off 2016 with all remnants of cancer in my rear-view mirror and recovered enough to start anew!

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Hiring an In-house SEO: Is It a Good Idea?

Hiring an In-house SEO: Is It a Good Idea?Decisions relating to employing people are pretty challenging. Hiring decisions are particularly tough when SEOs are in question. You need to come to a concrete decision regarding whether to hire a specialized agency or opt for employing an in-house SEO. Both have their own distinctive advantages and pitfalls. You need to make a smart decision that fulfills your requirements and helps you to attain your business goals and objectives. However, we would be discussing why hiring an in-house SEO may not be a wise option.

Your Site May Not Be Requiring a Full-Time SEO
If you have a website that comprises only a few pages, you do not actually require the services of a full-time SEO. This does not imply that SEO is not that critical to your website. SEO is very much important, but it would be less time-consuming to optimize and maintain optimization of a relatively smaller website. However, huge websites that consist of thousands of pages would need numerous in-house SEOs as well as some agency assistance.

A Full-time In-House SEO Could be Pretty Expensive
As per some reputed sites the average salary for full-time SEO professional is about $76,000. Additionally you need to spend on taxes, healthcare and training to keep him/her abreast with the latest technology. However, cost is just a factor in the decision-making process. You must more importantly consider the results. From results point of view, an agency comes up with better outcomes, even though you end up paying lower or at best, equal fees. Just keep in mind that cost is only one among many other important considerations. Join a reputed SEO training academy to gain adequate knowledge for making robust SEO decisions.

The In-House SEO May Be Lacking in Skill set
SEO specialists need to be multi-faceted. SEO today entails a wide range of activities. It is almost impossible for any SEO professional to possess all the requisite skills for taking a comprehensive approach toward a particular business’s search marketing strategies. An agency would be providing you comprehensive services as a broader skill set could be utilized and accessed.

There are basically three broad categories of SEO skills:
Onsite SEO: The on-site SEO is highly skilled in handling content that gives a tremendous boost to rankings. They are in total control of the back-end relating to content optimization from optimization of title tags to effectively tracking down 404s. Additionally they are incredibly proficient in keyword mapping and keyword research.
Technical SEO: This sort of SEO specialists are extremely tech-savvy and are capable of optimizing even the most cutting-edge features or attributes of site speed, fine-tuning your SSL and optimizing code-to-text ratios.
Link SEO: it is an acknowledged fact that backlinks play a pivotal role as far as search rankings are concerned. This SEO expert is regarded as a link-genie. He is the one assisting sites in escaping link penalties, building strong backlinks and a wonderfully optimized link profile.

The fact is, it is in very rare cases you would find an individual SEO, who is competent in fulfilling all the above three roles. An agency generally hires enough SEOs for ensuring all three categories are fully covered.

May Not Be Competent Enough to Come Up with Effective Search Strategy
A full-time SEO may not be adequately equipped to create a truly comprehensive SEO stratagem. An agency on the contrary is capable of resetting and defining search strategy of any business.

Strategy is vital to organic search. The strategy has to be really flexible as search trends are constantly undergoing changes. While making the hiring decision, you must keep in mind factors such as strategy, flexibility and continuity.

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Great American Smokeout is November 19, 2015

Great American Smokeout is November 19, 2015Get ready to lose the habit, and become victorious over tobacco. The American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout event is your chance to triumph over addiction. Every November, we set aside the third Thursday to encourage smokers to go the distance, and to finally give up smoking.

About 42 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, and tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. As of 2013, there were also 12.4 million cigar smokers in the US, and over 2.3 million who smoke tobacco in pipes — other dangerous and addictive forms of tobacco.

By quitting — even for one day — you will be taking an important step toward a healthier life — one that can lead to reducing your cancer risk. It’s a race for your health, and it starts on the third Thursday of every November. November 19, 2015, is the day that quitters win.

Quitting is hard, but you can increase your chances of success with help. The American Cancer Society can tell you about the steps you can take to quit smoking and provide quit-smoking programs, resources and support that can increase your chances of quitting successfully.

To learn about the available tools, call us at 1-800-227-2345.

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Amelia Island Named Top 10 U.S. Island by Conde Nast

Amelia Island Named Top 10 U.S. Island by Conde NastAmelia Island, FL – Northeast Florida’s Amelia Island has placed among the Top 10 U.S. Islands in the 2015 Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards. Amelia Island finished in the #10 spot in a list comprised of destinations such as Maui, Kauai and Oahu, and only one other Florida island – Longboat Key – in the 28th annual competition.

“We’re proud of the year we are having on Amelia Island as our list of accomplishments and recognitions grows,” said Gil Langley, managing director of the AITDC. “It’s especially encouraging to see our efforts pay off as we continue to promote the destination to travelers around the globe who recognize the uniqueness of our little island paradise through awards such as this.”

Three of Amelia Island’s award-winning accommodators also placed among the Top 25 Florida Resorts: the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, a 446-room beachfront resort (#11); the Elizabeth Pointe Lodge, a 25-room, oceanfront boutique hotel (#17); and Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, a 404-room beachfront resort (#23).

Conde Nast Traveler announced the results of its 28th annual Readers’ Choice Awards on October 20, ranking the best hotels, resorts, cities, islands, airlines, and cruise lines in the world. More than 128,000 dedicated readers cast votes for more than 5,000 hotels, hundreds of cities and islands, dozens of cruise ships, airlines and airports, and in an average survey time of 20 minutes. The result? More than 1,500 of the best travel experiences in the world. The Readers’ Choice Awards are announced in the November issue of Conde Nast Traveler on newsstands nationwide on October 28, 2015.

The full list is published exclusively online, at

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