Love and Writing

The art of writing is not as easy as many would think: writers spend hours on end engrossed in ink and paper, pouring thoughts and emotions out and attempting to organize them into a written message. They degrade their eyesight by transferring thousands upon thousands of words to paper every day. They transcribe thoughts into printed script for the sake that the world can view their work; and the pay is risky as well, not guaranteeing that the public will receive the piece of literature the way the writer intends. Sometimes writers risk even more than their livelihood when the message is received the way want it.

True enough, reading printed material is easy. Writing is the work that bears the brunt of hardships when it comes to words on paper. It is hard to see why some people choose such a life, but it is unquestionable that they do. Beneath all the hardships however, the art of writing does have its perks. There remain those who seek out the art, developing a real love for it.

Writers, like all other artists, are gifted with the ability to spread a message. Being a writer usually entails better communication skills – better mastery of language – than the majority of the population. This allows the greatest of them to use the full power of words; evoking the emotions they desire from their readers, and seeding minds with thoughts of their choosing. History has seen the often great, sometimes terrible, but always powerful effects of eloquently delivered messages in the works of men such as Churchill or Hitler, and many fall in love with the art of writing for this power.

Writing also calls people to it because of the freedom it promises. A writer’s pen can be likened to the hand of God, and the paper, a universe of His creation. There are no bounds and no laws that can truly hold back a writer’s words. Even if it is against the law to write against the wrongs of a government, and even if the writers who do so anyway are executed, they die knowing that the stories written are of their choosing, and not that of the opposition. In the writer’s own universe, the rules that govern reality do not apply unless the writer deems it so. Even lesser writers than such are afforded the same freedom, as proven by the mythical worlds we read of in paperback novels.

Finally, there are those who fall in love with writing because of the life it brings the writer closer to. Those who write for newspapers write of truth and that truth that is part of daily life. Some share stories of places and times of the world, telling tales of color and sound of cultures across the world. Many write to reveal the happiness, sadness, and souls of those who live day by day.

So yes, writers risk much, and face much more. The truth is this does not discourage them from the art. Writing is more than a skill, and more than a job. It is – to the truly devoted writer – a calling; and while many start writing as a necessity, the best of these artists find that given enough time, they write because they love it.

Tips on Writing Your First Novel

A novel is a form of prose; a fictional narrative about characters and their experiences. The word originates from the Italian term “novella,” which means “short story,” and often refers to prose more than forty-thousand words in length. Due to the sheer length of novels, they are considered by some fiction writers to be the pinnacle of the art.

Many new writers can be daunted by the challenge of writing a novel because of how the art form is viewed in the modern literary sphere. Even so, it is not impossible for new writers to create masterpieces enjoyed by millions worldwide; in fact, such occurrences are quite common. All it takes is the proper investment of skill, resources, and dedication.

Because a novel is fictional – though it can be based on reality – the first challenge when writing one of any genre is the same challenge met when writing any fictional story: the setting. The first task of the writer is to come up with a mythos; a set of rules to serve as the framework of the fictional world the characters inhabit. This set includes the geography of the world, a relevant history, social dynamics, cultures, technological advancements, etc. When coming up with a setting, the writer also takes note of how much time elapses from the beginning of the novel to its closure. A good setting will never stray from the rules unless the plot requires it to, and even in such situations, this is done in accordance to another rule in the mythos.

Once the fictional world is created, the novelist’s next step is to fill it with characters. This means not just the main cast of the story, but the general public that they encounter. For example, it is one thing to write about a man in a marketplace, but a completely different level to write about “a man in a marketplace filled workers – some carrying crates and some checking lists – whilst he haggled with a merchant over a kilo of fish.” A novelist may also add more characters to the scene, such as a beggar on the corner of the street dressed in muddy, brown rags. Skilled writers never neglect the background characters, because they help build the atmosphere of the place and time they are placed in. With regards to the characters the novel revolves around: Depth is necessary. It is very hard to enjoy a novel where the antagonist is pure evil (unless the mythos demands it to be). The most loved characters in writing are those with more than one face; a good father with a past as an alcoholic, a priest who committed murder as a child, or a sociopathic killer who genuinely loves and cares for a daughter who doesn’t know he exists. Depth of character makes it harder to love the good, and to hate the bad of the individual. It makes the character seem more real, and allows the reader to connect that much more intently with the story.

The third requirement to writing a good novel is plot. This refers to the events that drive the characters, building up tension until a climax is reached, and then releasing it to come to a conclusion. Some novelists may choose to write the story over time & with no clear end in sight. Others may have an entire storyline in mind, and merely have to transfer thoughts to paper. The conclusion may not necessarily be clear as well; open-ended conflicts tend to stir intense emotions among readers. A good plot, whether original or with a recurring theme, drives the cast of characters from one event to the next until they collectively lead to one important climax.

Finally, when the setting, characters, and plot come together, all that is left is to organize everything in the pages what is to become of the book. Writers will often do this in an outline form before actually writing the first draft of the story to make sure everything adds up. Once done, the novelist writes and edits the draft. During this phase, it is advisable to not shy away from rewriting and revising the draft as many times as necessary until the entire work is consistent with itself, and all errors are eliminated. Though long and tedious, this process guarantees that no corners are cut with regards to the quality of the written content.

Writing a good novel is no easy task. Many writers tend to get discouraged in the middle of the story when it dawns on them just how much work needs to be done. In fact, some novels require years to complete (J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings took 18 years to write and publish). However, time and effort often pays off, and novels drive the writer’s own created world into full view of the public. Many writers continue to write novels even if such success is not their goal however; the idea of having breathed life into paper is enough for them. That is after all, the true reason of the novel.

Guide for First Time Lionhead Bunny Owners

I have known countless people who have owned bunnies as pets. These are easy to maintain and are quite gentle and loving. One breed that has caught my attention of late is the Lionhead. Its wool mane gives it the appearance of a miniature cute lion. They are fast becoming a household pet for both celebrities and local folk alike. I have toyed around the thought of owning one in the future and as such, have done some research on what to expect. Here are some of the basics of owning a Lionhead bunny for the first time.

Bringing the Lionhead bunny home

Like with most bunny breeds, it’s best to get Lionhead bunnies which have already been weaned. This way, it isn’t dependent on its mother’s milk and care. From this point on, you’ll act at the Lionheads protector and provider. You should now start bonding with your new pet. a Lionhead lives for up to 9 years if well taken care of. This is quite some time and its up to you to ensure that its simple or difficult for both of you.

Some of the bonding tricks I found were regular shows of affection such as cuddling, feeding, provision of ample playing space and grooming. You should also train your bunny how to use a litter box early on and you won’t have to worry about droppings in your house.

Diet

This bunny is a strict herbivore. They will easily derive nutrients such as protein and fats from their plant diet. That said fresh hay and grass should be provided in abundance. These are the bunny’s favorite. If you prefer feeding your bunny on processed rabbit food, supplement it with fresh fodder. The fodder contains natural digestive enzymes which help keep organs such as the pancreas healthy. In addition, avoid processed foods containing high amounts of fat and protein as these can lead to obesity.

Lionheads tend to become dehydrated fast. They will need a constant supply of fresh drinking water. Ensure that you replace drinking water often to prevent contamination which can cause diarrhea.

The teeth

Being a rodent, the Lionheads front teeth are continuously growing throughout their life. To keep the teeth in manageable length, the Lionhead needs to keep nibbling on abrasive surfaces or food which erodes the top enamel layer. Natural foods like hay and grass will provide such abrasion. For Lionheads kept as pets, an untreated piece of wood is a great nibbling surface.

Health concerns

Lionheads don’t have many health concerns. However, its affected by common conditions that affect bunnies such as myxomatosis and viral hemorrhagic disease and needs regular vaccination against these. Worms are another concern that needs to be addressed through regular deworming.

Grooming

Bunnies with wool tend to require regular grooming than those with fur. Brush your Lionheads mane and body regularly to keep it in top condition. Besides this, ensure that the cage your pet lives in has a constant supply of dry hay to keep the bunny clean.

About Dry Scalp and Possible Remedies

A friend of mine usually experiences seasonal drying of the scalp. His job requires that he spends lots of time working outdoors which exposes his scalp to the elements. The condition usually becomes more prominent during winter. Before finding the right product for his dry scalp, he had tried out countless over the counter creams and gels which seemed to aggravate the condition even further. Interestingly, the product he uses is a home based remedy he discovered after searching the internet. But ill look at that later after discussing the condition commonly referred to as dry scalp.

What is dry scalp?

The scalp forms the foundation of your head hair. As such, it is home to millions of hair follicles which root the hair shaft. The hair follicles are also responsible for the production of oils which keep the skin and hair healthy. Dry scalp occurs when the hair follicles don’t produce enough oils to keep the skin moisturized. This can happen if the follicles are damaged or, the oil production process is negatively affected.

What can cause dry scalp?

There are varying factors which can cause hair follicles to underperform. Some of these include the following. The use of everyday cosmetics and shampoos can negatively affect the hair follicle. Harsh products strip the scalp of its oils and, can also cause considerable damage to the hair follicle. Another factor that can cause damage to the hair follicle or deplete the scalp off its oils is the weather elements. Staying out in the sun for long or harsh winter conditions are known to dehydrate the skin leading to dryness. Skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis affecting the scalp can also cause damage to the hair follicle. Dry scalp can also be caused by hair treatment, dyeing and use of heat to straighten and curl hair.

What are the symptoms of dry scalp?

Scalp dryness is usually accompanied by itchiness and production of flaky skin which comprises dead skin cells. It shouldn’t be confused with dandruff which is caused by a fungus. Constant itching can result in scabs on scalp which can increase chances of infections on the scalp.

Can the condition be prevented?

Yes, scalp dryness can be prevented. By avoiding the factors that cause scalp dryness, you increase chances of preventing it.

Dry scalp remedies

If you have dry scalp, you can try out some of the remedies outlined below.

First, you can use over the counter products such as creams and gels designed to moisturize the scalp. Ensure to find products which contain ingredients such as aloe vera and vitamins E and B as these are essential to normal skin functioning.

Vinegar is one of the most popular home remedies for dry scalp. It’s the product of choice for my buddy. Vinegar contains antibacterial and anti inflammatory properties which help relieve pain and prevent chances of infection in case the skin is broken when scratched. It also returns the skin to normal pH promoting proper functioning of the hair follicles. Simply dilute vinegar with water and apply in on the scalp. After 10 minutes wash it off.

Questions and Answers Regarding Kidney Stones

Throughout my adult life, I have come across friends who have suffered from kidney stones. From my observation, they are quite common among men and their lifestyles play a huge role on whether they will develop these stones or not. For me, they were initially a mystery. Most of the people suffering from the condition didn’t understand how they developed and therefore couldn’t provide a clear picture about the condition. This prompted me to conduct some research on kidney stones based on some of the questions I had concerning the condition. Here’s a short Q & A which will shed some light on kidney stones.

What are kidney stones?

These are crystals that form in the kidneys. These form when the urine is saturated with certain minerals such that they crystallize within the kidneys. The kidneys work is to filter out urine from the body. After development within the kidneys, the stones can remain within the kidneys or move to other parts of the urinary tract including the urerter, bladder or urethra.

What do kidney stones feel like?

In most cases, the stone is quite small and will pass through urine undetected. However, in severe cases, the stone can grow quite large up to a couple of millimeters. Some of the people I’ve come across with large kidney stones describe them as one of the most painful experiences they’ve had. The stone might squeeze against the walls of the kidneys, urerter, bladder or urethra as it tries to pass out through urine. The result is sharp pain.

Are there other symptoms?

The main symptom is pain in the lower back and lower abdomen. Passing urine that’s pink to brown in color is another symptom. The coloration is due to staining of the urine with blood if the stone scrapes the lining of the urinary tract. The affected person will also urinate more frequently. In severe cases, urine might turn cloudy due to infection of the wounds in the urinary tract.

Are there different types of kidney stones?

There are four main classifications of these stones and they are as follows. Calcium stones which are the most common are formed when there’s excess calcium in urine. The calcium combines with another compound such as oxalate. Uric acid stones are common in men and persons suffering from gout. Struvite stones are more common in women especially if they have urinary tract infection. Cystine stones are rare and found in persons with the genetic disorder cystinuria.

Who is at the highest risk?

Anyone can develop kidney stones. However, men have been found to be at highest risk especially in cases of calcium and uric acid stones. In addition, they are most common in people between ages of 20 and 40 years.

Are there home remedies for kidney stones?

If the stones aren’t quite severe, they can be safely treated at home. Some of the home remedies include the following. Water is considered one of the best home remedies. It helps to keep the urine diluted. Taking foods which act as kidney tonic like kidney beans and basil help to relieve pain. In total, changing the diet to include foods which help neutralize the minerals responsible for the formation of kidney stones goes a long way.

It’s There, But It’s Not: Phantom Pain

In the past, I’ve written a few things about the human body and how it never ceases to amaze me. Here is one of the most interesting things about it that I have always wanted to discuss.

I remember a friend of mine who came home from Iraq in the early 2000s with a missing left arm. He was no soldier; just a humanitarian worker turned collateral damage. Apparently, an improvised explosive device blew his arm away while he was trying to help clear the surrounding area. This isn’t about his story of recovery, however. To tell you the truth, he’s gotten over the event.

I want to focus one of the oddest things I’ve ever had to think about: phantom limbs. See, when my friend Henry was recovering, I recall he would often complain about feeling as if his arm was still there, but paralyzed. He would compare it to feeling as though he had taken a ring off a finger, but could still feel the ring there. Sometimes, he would complain that his arm actually hurt as though it was exposed to an ice bath.

Phantom limbs aren’t exactly rare among the handicapped/handicapable fraction of the population. In fact, most of the people who read this will probably be familiar with the concept. Even so, the phenomenon has been the topic of much intrigue in both medical and psychological fields of study.

We got our explanation for what was happening when we took Henry to the doctor. According to him, the sensation is caused by the sudden loss of sensory input in the somatosensory complex; in a way easier to understand, this is the part of the brain that is responsible for the sense of touch. As a result of this lack of input, the now unused region of the brain is reorganized to accept input from other parts of the body that shared the same pathways in the nervous system. What this meant was that when a certain part of the body was touched – in Henry’s case, the cheek – the person would feel as though the area touched was actually the missing arm.

Interestingly enough, it is possible to get an idea of what phantom sensations feel like. For example, I once (embarrasibgly enough) had a heat rash in my right armpit. Itchy armpits meant I was scratching a lot, and I recall a most peculiar experience: as I scratched, I began to notice some right arm pain. There was an aching sensation even if nothing was actually wrong with my body; my brain was projecting a feeling that wasn’t there, simply because my armpits and the part of my arm that felt the pain shared the same pathways.

The point I’m trying to emphasize is this sense of wonder I get whenever I discuss anything about the human body. I mean, sure, phantom pain might often be interpreted as a flaw in the way our brains are programmed, but if you think hard on the matter, you can see it as an attempt by the brain to remedy damage dealt to it. Prior to the development of phantom pain, the neurons that are involved in the phenomenon had no purpose; they were cut from all sensory input from the arm. In a sense, each of the individual cells tries to find a new purpose through the reorganization that leads to phantom pain. It is an attempt by brain cells that lost their purpose to find a new meaning for their existence.

Think about it: if on a cellular level, our body is hardwired to find a purpose in its existence, what more if we think about the human organism as a whole?

Moving On and Letting Go

If you’re as old as I am, you’ve probably had to face the harsh feelings of breakups. If so, that would also mean you’ve had to deal with the process of moving on. The thing is, how to get over someone is not an easy matter to discuss, much less put into play. The concept is simple – absolutely – but it can be as far from easy as things can get. Sometimes, people are afraid to admit that things are over; they may hold on to hope, desperately convincing themselves that there is still a chance. Other times, people don’t want to move on; not entirely anyway. A lot of factors can come into play when discussing the goal of letting go of people from the past.

I recall a few years into my youth when I heard of all these crazy ideas of why some people move on faster than others. One of the strangest of the bunch was the idea that people who suffered from “only child syndrome” had harder times moving on than those who grew up with a sibling. Having grown up a bit since then, I have learned to vouch against a good majority of these beliefs. I now think that such “explanations” for why people can’t move on are excuses in disguise to hold on to something that causes pain.

Why do people hold on so desperately? The simplest reason is because – especially in relationships that have lasted for a long time – they are scared of the unknown. People may not recognize or remember the world they had before the relationship. They may not see themselves existing in a world without their “other” anymore. It is that fear that prevents healing, and that fear that keeps people holding on.

So that in mind, I believe there are only two steps necessary for getting over someone.

The first step of moving on is to let go (no, they do not mean the same thing). Imagine yourself hanging over a bottomless pit, holding onto a bar for dear life. Of course, the logical thing to do would be to maintain that fast grip. But how do you know what awaits you at the end of the fall? How do you know there isn’t anything dangerous at the bottom? That no one is there waiting? Most of the time, you don’t. Some people may shout out to you to let you know they are there, but other times, you don’t know. All you are sure of is that given time, your arms will tire. Let go, because nobody can save you if you don’t let them. Let go, because in a hopeless situation, the only right choice would be to take a chance.

The second part of moving on is to have faith. See, once you let go, nothing will bring you back to that bar. Only have faith that – given time – anything that can happen will happen. Over the course of the fall, you will run into someone.

Blunt, right? Lacking in drama? A bit poetic? In the end, it doesn’t matter. This is just what I think on the matter. Like I said, it’s a fairly simple concept that is difficult to put into action. In the end however, it is the pattern of behavior we all go through as we move forward. The pain of hanging on eventually fades, and we forget. We move on.

You Might Like These Striped Corys in Your Aquarium

Throughout my career, I have interacted with different clients who stock fish in their office or home aquariums. As such, I’ve come to appreciate the different types of ornamental fish God created for mans pleasure. The Cory is one of my favorites. These armored fish come in a variety of colors and sizes. Despite their small size where catfish bait isn’t needed to capture them, they have spiked fins some of which contain mild venom.

I’m particularly drawn towards the striped Corys. They provide a blend of color to any aquarium any aquarist will appreciate. If you are interested in striped Corys for your office or home aquarium, here are some of my favorite species.

Skunk Cory

Originating from the waters in the upper Amazon in the countries of Brazil, Peru, Columbia and Ecuador, the skunk Cory is one of the popular striped cats found in aquariums. It’s so named not because it emits a stinky gas for protection but due to its resemblance to the skunk. Its creamy white body (at times gold tinge) spots two black stripes that run from the mouth, over the eyes and arches at the back. It lives in shoals of around 6 in the aquarium. It grows to lengths of about 2 inches and thrives among smaller or mid size fish.

This cat possesses the unique ability of being able to draw oxygen directly from the water surface. This is more or less a survival tactic especially if the aquarium has low oxygen levels.

Bandit Cory

This species possesses just one stripe which is quite unique. While most striped Corys posses stripes that run along their bodies, the bandit Cory possesses one black stripe that runs from one eye to the other over the head hence its name. This species originates from the tropical waters of Columbia and grows to up to 2 inches in length at adulthood. The beige body possesses colorless fins. The dorsal fin however has up to two thirds of its bottom covered with a black tinge. It will live peacefully among other small to medium size fish species including Corys.

Three stripe Cory

Also known as the trilineatus Cory, it originates from the tropical waters of Peru, Brazil and Colombia. This Cory has a silvery body covered with spots. This is what makes it similar to other popular Corys such as the Julii Cory which is quite rare. However, its spots tend to join forming a maze like feature around the head. In addition, these spots tend to join forming distinct narrow stripes running along its body from the gills to the tail fin.

It slightly larger than the two aforementioned striped Corys growing to a maximum length of 2.5 inches at adulthood. It also loves living in shoals of up to 8 in the aquarium.

When deciding to stock striped Cory catfish, a good idea is to mix them up with other smaller fish which come in blends of single color and spots. This makes your aquarium livelier.

A Look into Two Common Respiratory Conditions

Throughout my life, I’ve come across countless people suffering from respiratory conditions. These are hard to hide since symptoms include coughing, runny nose and wheezing. Most of these conditions are triggered by different factors which can be as simple as exposure to smoke or dust or, due to an infection. Cold and flu are the most common respiratory conditions which affect most of us. However, there are more serious conditions such as bronchitis vs pneumonia. These are usually persistent conditions which need proper medical attention to treat. I’ll take a look at both conditions.

Bronchitis

This condition of the respiratory condition affects the airways. It’s the inflammation of the bronchi. Many people will experience the condition after a bout of another less severe respiratory condition such as flu. During this time, the immune system has been compromised providing the perfect opportunity for infection.

Inflammation of the bronchi occurs such that their internal lining swells limiting flow of air to and from the lungs. The inflammation also results in the formation of mucus as a byproduct of the body’s immune system trying to battle the infection.

The inflammation of the bronchi is believed to be cause by bacteria or viruses. It can be further aggravated if the person inhales irritants such as dust, cigarette smoke and certain chemicals. Its symptoms can also be more apparent when the person is exposed to a sudden temperature change such as mornings.

Some of the symptoms tied to the condition include a cough that’s accompanied by mucus. In the case of acute bronchitis, the cough might be present for a couple of weeks. In the case of chronic bronchitis, the symptoms might be present for months and it might require medical intervention to solve. Other symptoms of the condition include shortness of breath, wheezing, fatigue and, fever.

There are a number of bronchitis home remedies some of which are readily available. Some of the home remedies include ginger, garlic, hydration and warm salt water. In severe cases, the doctor might prescribe antibiotics and antivirals to kill the causing agents.

Pneumonia

This is a more severe condition that affects the respiratory system. It is an infection of the lung tissue and can result from bronchitis going untreated. Infected lung tissue becomes filled with fluid and cannot function properly.

This condition has several causing factors and they include bacteria, viruses, exposure to toxins and airborne chemicals. This is the reason why pneumonia is often categorized according to the agent that causes it.

Like bronchitis, the main symptom of pneumonia is a cough that’s accompanied by mucus that can be blood stained. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, wheezing and, muscle pain. Persons with severe pneumonia are usually oxygen deprived and patients might experience change in skin color.

Pneumonia is considered an emergency health condition which requires medical attention. Infection of the lung tissue will lead to gradual breakdown of the lung cells. This hinders the lungs from working effectively. Seeking medical attention where the appropriate medications will be prescribed is recommended.

An Uphill Battle Against Injury

As a fairly active person, I’ve had my fair share of injuries. That’s not unexpected. It makes sense that despite exercise and all its benefits, every now and then, health junkies have to face the result of overworking their bodies. Take for example, what happened to me late July: I was out for a morning run when I decided to change the course I normally take and go for a ten second uphill dash to end my routine. Everything went well until I tripped as I made my way up the forty-five degree slope; then, I was on my side, picking myself up, and groping at my left ankle.

It was definitely a sprained foot or a sprained ankle. I’d felt it before, and I knew the drill on dealing with it. I had a friend of mine assist me home, and I spent the rest of that Sunday in my couch, with my foot elevated. It took me a few days to realize that the sprain was a bit worse than I was used to.

When the pain hadn’t fully gone away by the fourth day, I decided to have a doctor check up on my ankle. The diagnosis was sinus tarsi syndrome, or STS.

According to my doctor, STS is commonly associated with sprains and other injuries that damage the ligaments around the ankle and heel area. This causes tenderness on the lateral side of the hindfoot, instability, and scar tissue in the sinus tarsi.

I’ll be honest here: listening to the way my doctor described it scared me. I mean it sounded a lot more complicated than it was. However, after listening closely, I was told that it could be treated the same way other sprains are treated; with rest, ice, compression, and elevation. I was on the right track all along. Without proper treatment, STS can worsen just like any other physical injury, and lead to development of ganglion cysts, more torn tendons or ligaments, or even cause serious internal bleeding.

It took me a few weeks to fully heal before I could feel no more pain from the injury. Soon after that however, I was back on track, and continuing my active lifestyle. After a bit of research, I found a few ways to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen to me again.

The usual rules when it comes to avoiding sprains come into play when one wishes to avoid STS. Warming up before an exercise improves flexibility of tendons and ligaments, and allows muscles to take on sudden motions with greater ease. Popular stretching exercises are good examples of warm ups that help serve this purpose. Cooling down after a strenuous workout also builds resistance to injury.

Finally, it is beneficial to take not of consistency. As the body gets used to a set pattern of motion – a specific route run every morning, or a sequence of exercises performed every workout – the risk of error is reduced, and muscle memory helps to perform the actions right. Such simple adjustments to an active choice of life help ensure the quality of healthy activities, and prevents the risk of injuries such as sprains; or in my case specifically, STS.

Q & A about Second Degree Sunburn

A couple of months ago, I met up with a high school buddy. He had managed to build a business and sold it for a handsome amount of money. Now he lives the fast lane and most of his time is spent travelling exotic lands and living life to the fullest. Meeting up was by chance. As we caught up, he informed me that he was planning to visit Africa during his next adventure. “I’ve been there a couple of times. The only thing I didn’t enjoy there was the hot sun. I actually got sunburn the first day I went hiking.” He said excitedly.

We parted ways as we promised each other to keep in touch. I had come across people with sunburn but didn’t give it too much thought. However, my friend’s mention of the condition aroused my curiosity. In particular, I was interested in sunburn of the second degree. Here are some of the common questions and answers about the condition.

What’s sunburn?

This is a condition where harmful ultraviolet sun rays damage living tissue. These rays usually destroy skin tissue since it’s the most exposed to the sun.

Are there different types?

There are three main types depending on severity. First degree sunburn is mild in nature and usually affects the skin tissue. It usually resolves within a few days. Sunburn of the second degree is a bit severe and besides damage to skin tissue, the damage can extend to nerves in the skin. Third degree sunburn is the most severe and will usually require immediate medical attention since damage extends deep into the underlying tissue.

How does second degree sunburn occur?

This condition occurs when the skin is exposed to the suns rays for extended periods of time. The sunburn can occur within 10 minutes of exposure to the suns rays. Symptoms can emerge within 30 minutes of exposure and can last for weeks.

What are the symptoms of sunburn of the second degree?

Some of the symptoms of this condition include the following. The first symptom is reddening of the skin as the skin tissue starts deteriorating. Many people will think it to be a tan. As the damage advances, swelling and inflammation occur. At this point the skin feels hot to touch and is painful. In severe cases, blisters start forming on the skin and the person might experience other symptoms such as fever and fatigue. Dehydration is another symptom associated with the condition.

Who is at the highest risk?

Anyone can suffer from sunburn of the second degree. However, people of fair skin complexion, fair eyed and, with freckles are at the most risk.

How can sunburn of the second degree be prevented?

One of the best preventive measures to take is to keep your skin covered when you go out in the sun. Vulnerable areas such as the face and arms should always be covered. If you engage in activities which expose skin to the sun such as sunbathing, it’s advisable to wear sunscreen at all time to protect against UV rays.

How is the condition treated?

Treatment usually involves using products which promote healing and prevent further damage occurring to the skin tissue. Vinegar for sunburn is one of the popular home remedies for sunburn. Applied to the affected area, it helps prevent infection and relieve pain.

Theories of Personality: I don’t know you, but I know I won’t like you

Do you ever wish you could look at a person and just know whether or not the two of you can get along? Think about it. Wouldn’t it be much simpler if people could just tell from the start whether or not they are in the right company? That way, we could avoid people we don’t want to be around, and surround ourselves only with people who we know we’d have no problems with. I know I’m not just speaking for myself when I say these things. Throughout history, mankind has made attempts to predict behavior. A simple Google search with the keywords “theory of personality” brings up a multitude of names, dates, hypotheses, and researches dedicated to understanding how and why people get along with some, and loathe others. One such theory was developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and Catherine Cook Briggs.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator theorizes that people are extraverted or introverted, sensing or intuitive, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving. A combination of these traits forms a general picture of how the individual forms pictures and makes decisions regarding the world around them. Interestingly, the MBTI has been absorbed by pop culture to the extent that a decent following of people use it to determine their interaction with other people.

Here are a few examples. I took the MBTI test, and found that I was classified as an INFJ personality; introverted, intuitive, feeling, and judging. According to supporters of the MBTI, INFJ relationships tend to follow a set of personal standards, and are full of intensity and meaning. INFJs are said to be perfectionists who strive for the “best” relationship. On the other hand, a friend of mine took the test and turned out to be ENFJ; pretty similar to me, except he was considered an extrovert. The personality inventory would have that ENFJ relationships are usually warm, with the occasional tension created by the ENFJ personality’s strict observance of how he believes the relationship should be. The list goes on to cover a vast majority of traits possessed by every human being. People can interpret the results to determine whether people are jealous or not, whether they make good families or not, etc.

I’ll be honest here, though: I sometimes wonder how valid such theories of personality are. I mean yes, they give us some grasp of how people think; and yes, they allow us to make predictions of human behavior. But are human beings really limited by such rigid rules?

Don’t get me wrong: I am not against psychology, and I fully support the quest for understanding human behavior. I understand the importance of needing to understand the thought process and interaction process that happens between each person on this planet. What I don’t understand however, is why single theories of personality are held by some people to be all that people follow.

Here’s what I believe: mankind does follow a set of rules hardwired into our genetic code. We follow rules that guide our personality and tell us who we are. But I really don’t believe mankind is so shallow as to be encompassed by a single theory of how we behave.

I don’t feel strongly for what pop culture has done to theories of personality originally meant to serve as bases on which we ground our understanding of who we are as human beings: turn it into a set of rules that dictate who we make good matchups with, and who we should avoid before we even have a chance to meet the person. Sadly, personality tests have turned into mere compatibility tests.

No, I don’t believe that at all. Nothing beats good old fashioned experience when it comes to meeting new people; getting to know them so you can tell if they’re the ones you should be around. When it comes right down to it, the best compatibility test is called meeting in person.

A Look into the Bunionette

Sometime back, my buddies and I decided to go hiking. It was a week long trip that comprised the guys only. It gave us time to enjoy nature and catch up. Most of us had been so caught up with work and family that we didn’t have time by ourselves. The trip had been planned for weeks and we were all excited.

Three days into the trip, one of my friends started slowing down. He needed constant breaks and was complaining about his sore little toe. The edge of the toe was completely swollen and the toe itself seemed to be riding upon the other toes.

“It’s a bunionette.” he exclaimed to us as he sat down and removed his hiking shoes. “Gets sore ever time it rubs on the boots surface.” He said as he examined it carefully. After a couple of minutes, I suggested he wear open shoes and we walk more slowly. “With open shoes, your toe won’t rub against any surface.” He did so and we had an exciting hiking trip.

Back then I didn’t know much about the bunionette. After that trip, I sought to know more about it.

What’s a bunionette?

A bunionette is one of the two types of bunions. It’s a bone deformity that affects the joint between the metatarsal bone and the little toe. The deformity is such that the joint protrudes outward forcing the little toe to point towards the other toes.

It’s also called the tailors bunion. This name was coined centuries ago when it was believed that tailors were the most likely to develop the condition. This is because they usually sat with their feet set at an angle such that the edge of the shoe at the small toe constantly rubbed along the floor.

What causes bunions?

Bunions are caused by wearing ill fitting shoes. Studies show that people who wear shoes that are too tight at the toe box and high heeled are at higher risk of developing the condition. However, there are health conditions that affect the foot which are believed to put people at higher risk. These conditions include having overly flexible ligaments, abnormal growth of the metatarsals and having flat feet.

Can the bunionette be managed?

Bunionettes can be quite painful. Managing them is therefore essential to ensure that you can comfortably walk. Some of the techniques you can use to manage the condition include the following include the following.

Wearing shoes that fit properly, or as was with the case with my friend open shoes will help you prevent aggravating the bunionette further. Wear shoes that are wide at the toe box and low heeled. This will protect the little toe against rubbing against the shoe surface.

Orthotics placed inside shoes help to balance out the body’s weight along the foot. As such, there won’t be too much pressure around the toes which is one of the reasons bunions develop.

For pain and inflammation, you should use ice or painkillers to provide relief.

Gum Bleeding and a Bad Taste in the Mouth

metal taste in mouthGum bleeding is a common problem that plagues hundreds of millions of people everyday. Interestingly, not everyone notices that they even have such an oral problem. One of the leading causes of gum bleeding is gingivitis.

I recall a cousin of mine who regularly complained that she had a condition called dysgeusia; an altered perception of taste. She often whined about a metal taste in her mouth or a salty taste in her mouth after eating, brushing, or flossing. Earlier this year, we finally got sick of her whining and set her up with a long overdue dental checkup.

It was just as well we did. As it turns out, my cousin Samantha was diagnosed with gingivitis; her gums were sensitive and suffered from inflammation. Sometimes, her gums even bled during meals or during flossing or brushing. The taste of salt or iron in her mouth was actually the taste of her own blood.

Looking back, I don’t understand how she could not notice gum bleeding; Sam claimed she never saw discolored spit-water after rinsing with mouthwash. She said she never saw any blood on used floss either. Still, the dentist didn’t lie. She definitely had gingivitis. The only thing she could focus on after that was dealing with the problem.

As it turns out, gingivitis is brought about by a number of risk factors which include poor oral hygiene, stress, low dental care utilization, and smoking. Sam was actually guilty of all these. The result: buildup of oral bacteria, plaque, and tartar. These in turn, lead to halitosis (also known as bad breath), discolored gums, and sensitivity and irritation when eating.

Needless to say, the dentist gave Sam a set of rules to follow in order to nurse her gums back to good health. She was given toothpaste-coated floss, a bottle of antibacterial mouthwash, and of course, reminders to brush three times a day.

While not what some people would call a medical emergency, the gravity of the situation was enough to embarrass my cousin into taking the dentist’s words to heart. The effect of the antibacterial mouthwash was instant, and alleviated most of her symptoms, most especially halitosis. With regular use, coupled with brushing, flossing, and a dental appointment every three months, the rest of the symptoms eventually subsided as well. Within months, we had gotten used to her no longer talking about her oral problems (that eventually led to better table conversation).

If I think back on the symptoms she had regularly complained about – the taste of metal in her mouth – I have to think about how common of a problem gum bleeding and gingivitis in general really is, and how often many people take such simple activities as oral hygiene for granted. Think about it: wouldn’t it be better to spend five minutes every day to make sure you look better, smell better, and present yourself better, rather than wait a few months, then spend a couple of hundred dollars to repair damage done to your mouth just so you could attain the same level of cleanliness and neatness?

Seriously. Think about it.

Weekend Trip for the Family

It is very unfortunate for my two kids, Dana and Eric that they are experienced acne breakouts during their adolescent years. I said the term unfortunate because I did not experience it back in my day. It is a bit puzzling because my family and my wife’s family does not have much history about acne breakouts. My wife, Katie remembered that she experienced a scalp acne once in her life and it was gone in just a week. I told my wife that what our kids are having are not normal because they are big, unsightly, nodular acnes. We both agreed that we really needed to have our kids examined by a trained professional. I told our kids about it and I am glad that they agree about it. My kids shared that some of their classmates are teasing them about their acne. My wife and I assured our kids that once they are treated by a dermatologist; their acne would go away gradually.

I still remember when my wife called the dermatologist and she booked our kids’ appointment that coming weekend, so that they do not have the need to be absent at school. She reminded me about the appointment and I should not miss it. I laughed and told my wife that I am going to file a leave of absence this weekend and I assure her that I would come with them for our kid’s consult with the doctor.

I went off to work and I told my best friend, Rico about my kid’s appointment. I am so happy that he understands my kid’s situation because his kid has also experienced the same teasing when his kid had big acne breakouts on his face. I told him that I hope that my kids would be treated as soon as possible because I do not want them to suffer self-esteem and self-image issues at a very young age and Rico agreed with me.

Weekend came and my wife is so glad that I am able to come with them at the clinic. I asked my kids if they are excited and they told me that they are a bit nervous about the treatment. I told them that they should not be worried so much because the doctor would just examine them and then she will tell us about the available treatments possible.

In just a few minutes, my kids’ names are finally called and then we went inside the clinic. The doctor greeted us and she introduced herself as Dr. Henderson. She asked about what brought my kids into her clinic and my wife told her about their acne breakouts. She examined our kids’ acne and she told us that since they are just young, she would just clean their faces with mild cleansers and then, they would need to put topical antibiotics on their acne two times a day until they become dry. I asked about how long will the treatment last and she said that with my kids’ case, it would take them three weeks to a month.

That Itchy Feeling

dog park

My two kids love their pets so much. When they were young, they used to have a dog each. They loved their pets deeply, as they often stroll to the park with their dogs with me. Every weekend, we did a routine of socializing their pets with other dogs from the community, so that they would not be so aggressive towards other dogs. During weekends, my wife and I made it as family bonding time, as my wife always brought snacks and it would appear as a picnic at the park. My kid’s dogs have been enjoying their time, as they always have exhausted their energy every weekend with playing with other dogs.

One time when we came home from the dog park, my kids noticed that their dogs have been itching around their neck and ear area. They thought that the dogs just needed to take a bath, but after bathing them, they still had the penchant to scratch themselves. My kids told me about the dog’s symptoms and I said that they must have gotten it from the other dogs from the park. I told my kids that we should go to the veterinarian, as soon as possible before their condition gets worse.

I told my wife about it and asked her a favor to call the veterinarian to book an appointment this afternoon. She had done it right away and she told me that our dogs are booked for 3pm. My kids were so glad about the appointment and they thanked their mom and me for the immediate response. I reminded our kids to keep track of our dogs’ activities, so we would know if it is getting worse and our kids agreed.

We went to the clinic early. In just a few minutes of waiting, the doctor came out and asked us to come inside his clinic. He asked about what made us brought our dogs to his clinic and we told him about the itching symptoms around the neck and ear area. He examined the dog’s ears and skin carefully and he told us that it looks like a yeast allergy, but he still needs a confirmation, so he got a cotton swab from the dogs’ ears for him to study. In the meantime, he prescribed our dogs some allergy medicine for dogs to alleviate the itching symptoms. He added that the dogs would feel a bit drowsy and it is just normal because it is a common side effect of antihistamines. Before we go out of the clinic, he reminded us to isolate them from other pets that we have. My son asked him if he could still stroll around with his dog and the doctor told him that he could, but he needs to avoid contact of his dog with other dogs because he does not want the disease to spread around our community. We all thanked the doctor and we told him that we would come back in a week for a follow up check-up.