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Three Simple Things You Can Do to Avoid Getting Sick at Work

As it turns out, the best advice to stay healthy during cold and flu season is really pretty simple. It doesn't involvemega-dosingVitamin C orpopping mysterious anti-influenza supplements.And while avoiding people who are coughing and sneezing isa good idea, the infectious disease pros say that's also not enough.Instead, what it mostly comes down to isyour hands.Start by taking note of what you touch. Some common virusesspreadquickly via surfaces touched by multiple people, as shown in a now classic study of viral contamination by infectious disease specialist Charles Gerba and his team at the Univeristy of Arizona.The researchers contaminated two surfaces, a doorknob and a tabletop, with viral samples in an office building, hotel rooms and a healthcare facility. The virus they used was harmless to people but mimicked the contagiousness of the human norovirus (the dreaded "stomach flu" that causes diarrhea and vomiting). Throughout the day, the researchers took samples from surfaces in the buildings, including light switches, bed rails, tabletops, coffee-pot handles, doorknobs, phones and computer keyboards. Withinfour hours, 40 to 60% of the surfaces in the buildings were contaminated with the virus. In the office, "the first area contaminated was the coffee break room," Gerba reported.Norovirus is heartier outside the body than influenza, which sticks around on surfaces for up to 48 hours but loses much of its potency the longer its exposed. Butsince we can't control exposure to viral particles in the air (aside from maybe wearing a mask every day), managing what we touch is the best strategy available to us.Withthatin mind,here are three simple things office dwellers can do to stay healthier this cold and flu season.Wipe down surfaces.Infectionsin officescould be significantly reduced by wiping down common surfaces with a decent disinfectant. That includes door handles, refrigerator doors, coffee pots, microwave handles, common area phones and anything else you can think of that gets touched by more than one person throughout the day. As Gerba's study showed, this practice is especially important in the break room. Vigilance with disinfectantsreduces the spread of virusesby 80 to 99%, according to his research.Use a paper towel to open the bathroom door.Since bathroom door handles are touched all day long, infectious disease experts recommend using a paper towel to open them when you're exiting and then throw it away. Your office building can help out by placing a wastebasket near the door to encourage the "open and toss," resulting in fewer people transferring germs and less infectious misery. If your office building isn't accommodating, they'll get the message when a pile of paper towels keeps appearing near the door.Wash your hands (the right way).Arguably thesingle best way to avoid getting sickis by washing your hands.But as you've probably heard, mostof us aren't washing our hands the right way. Rather than just spritzing with a little warm water, use the disease-neutralizing five-step process:And if you see someone not washing their hands, make sure to throw them a glare.Afinal item worth mentioning is to stay homeif you're feeling sick, but since we can't control what other people do, that's not a perfect solution (and the idea, of course, is to avoid getting sick in the first place). Washing your hands and staying vigilant about what you touch is about as effective a strategy as we're going to get, and it's really not that hard to do.You can find David DiSalvo onTwitter,Facebook,Google Plus, and at his website,daviddisalvo.org.

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In the Shadow of My Mother's Suicide
In the Shadow of My Mother's Suicide
The following is excerpted and adapted from "Half in Love: Surviving the Legacy of Suicide," published by Counterpoint.In 1974, when I was 21 and a college senior, my mother committed suicide in the closed garage of our family home, after having tried many, many times before. As my sister and I chose which dress she would be buried in, I resolved never to seek the solution she had found to end her pain. Like so many others in the family, I was angry that she had deserted us, angry that after all the years of all four of us struggling with her depression, we had come to this conclusion. Even as I felt sorrow and relief, I wondered whether I would ever overcome so many intense feelings and forgive her.But right before I turned 45 -- the same age my mother had been when she died -- my world fractured in ways I could never have foreseen. It was December of 1997, and I found myself drawn into my own vortex of depression, desperate for relief from the interior pain that obliterated nearly every waking moment. I couldn't talk with those I loved about my grief or my despair -- not my husband, not my sister, and certainly not my two sons -- so afraid was I that by speaking about such things, I would make them even more real.One day simply followed another, and then another -- and then the nights came on. The air of the house was tinged sepia. There was no color, not even black and white, to anything. None of the furniture or the objects in a room had any defined edges. It was as if I were trying to live without my glasses. Everything was out of focus.I spent a lot of time crying by myself, even when it seemed as if there were nothing to cry about, and I was mortified every time the tears started again. I remembered my mother had cried just this way and I closed my eyes against the shame that I hadn't understood her better, that I had blamed her for giving up. I felt like a traitor.I had been hiding my depression fairly well -- following each day's routines -- but still it gnawed away in my gut like a wolf in a trap, and at last it gathered itself for the attack. At my younger son's bar mitzvah in October, I had gotten drunk in public, but no one seemed to notice anything strange, perhaps because I was keeping my drinking private. Alcohol helped keep me quiet, sedated, and isolated.For the first time in my life, I envied my mother the solution she had found to quell the pain of her depression. For the first time in my life, my emotions pushed aside all concern for the family who would remain if I joined my mother -- even though I, too, had once been part of such a family so abandoned. I knew well the agony of that rejection.My thoughts of suicide did not mean that I didn't care about these very important people in my life. It was more as if the pain that accompanied my depression had moved onto a new plain, and, in my confusion, it seemed to require a new and different sort of release.From my own experience as the daughter of a suicide, I knew intimately how many people -- especially family and friends -- think of this quintessential act of self-destruction as a self-indulgent, self-involved, selfish choice -- or even a temper tantrum that takes no one else into consideration. But suddenly I saw the reality of it: interior pain, urgent, could indeed pressure you to take your own life.What once I had tried so hard to avoid and push away with such determination for over forty years, suddenly seemed natural, and I ached to surrender to it. Finally I recognized exactly what I had inherited: the lust to sit in the driver's seat of death. It was surely significant that she, the celebrated poet, had often told me "never be a writer, Linda," but not once in her foreshortened life had she ever said, "never be a suicide."That night I had nothing planned. There was just the pain. Suicide simply came up from behind and took me in a bear hug.I ran a tub and got in, slowly, carefully, balancing my martini on the rim. A sharp paring knife lay beside it. Next to the knife stood two small brown bottles: Valium and Dalmane, prescribed for some other difficulty, some other time. Their labels were perilously out of date.For the first time in weeks, all at once, I felt peaceful.My husband would not return from his business trip until the following afternoon. My sons, Nathaniel and Gabe, were asleep, their beds distant in another part of our silent California ranch. I had given them, 13 and 14 now, a special child-like goodnight. I told them that I would see them at breakfast, just as I always did, and then I tucked them into bed. Tucked in -- what a lovely way to say goodbye: tight woolen corners and smooth sheets, melodies built around the promise of sweet dreams.Even as I lay in the tub, I did not consider what would happen if they should be the ones to discover me. Because they knew all about their grandmother's suicide, I had accordingly made, from time to time, promises about my life.Nathaniel, I promise you that I will never ...The thought of violating his trust was horrific and untenable. Why couldn't I feel, deeply, what a betrayal it would be Why, this time, did my love for my children not help me to push away the desire to die and to push away the desperation that had dogged me all my life, as it had so many times before This time I was numb. The urgency pressed in upon me and flushed every family face, every family voice, from my mind.I became a small child that night, a vulnerable daughter. My mother seemed right then to hover in the room, guiding me. Once this act was complete, I could never be abandoned again, neither by my husband's work-related absences, nor my children's growing independence, nor my sister's emotional distance, nor my father's inevitable death, nor the retreat of friends.I studied the thoroughfares of my wrist. A few veins looked promising. My index finger palpated, looking for the best candidate.Was this simply a desire to escape pain, or a biological imperative, or a role model I could not resist, or simply the voice in my head goading me on Perhaps every one of them.I picked up the knife.I did not ask why.I wondered only at what angle to draw the blade.After I finished, I passed out. But when I woke I was lying in a blanket of cold red water.Under the dark surface, my body was invisible. I tried to sit up and failed; I rolled sideways on one hip instead, my hand scrabbling against the floor tiles for the phone I thought I had put there.Frightened, I woke a friend. She used her second phone line to call the police secretly while continuing to soothe me. Eventually, the police pounded on the bathroom door and in an instant defeated the lock. Armed with holsters and guns and nightsticks, they hauled me up by the armpits. I struggled vaguely against being saved but they loaded me onto the gurney and strapped me down.It was only then, rushing on my back through the hall, that I thought clearly of my children and allowed horror to flood through me. At last. Too late.------For many years after my first suicide attempt, I did not believe that I would survive. Now, 12 years later, as I turn 57 years old, I can see how much of my strength and determination it took to break the cycle of self-destruction upon which I had been raised. But with the help of a family that strived to forgive and accept, with the benefit of excellent psychotherapy and the best of modern medications, I have stopped my own part in my family's battle with suicide. I did not abandon my children as I had been abandoned. I am a mother who lived, despite it all.I hope I have put behind me my mother's legacy, that old dance partnered with a death wish. I hope that my life never again becomes as filled with despair as it did when my husband divorced me. I hope that I will always be able to work hard at my therapy, no matter how difficult, and that I will always discipline myself to take the medications for my bipolar disorder -- despite their side effects. I hope that I will never again lose the love, however temporarily, of my family and friends. I hope that depression will never again eat me alive. And I hope that none of these wishes are only magical thinking.In September of 2009, after 11 years of divorced life, I remarried. No longer am I alone. I believe that I have succeeded in burying the legacy, for despite it all -- despite my own history and my mother's black magic -- I am once again at my desk beneath a wide window, where a scrap of melody from a wind chime somewhere in the distance rides the slipstream of clear air to encourage me. I remember what a friend once said: sometimes you cannot know which is harder -- when you feel you can't possibly go on anymore, or when you start to realize that you will.
A Girl's Best Friend Isn't for Sale (well, OK)
A Girl's Best Friend Isn't for Sale (well, OK)
Kirsty is taking a long time brushing her hair, striking an indifferent pose to her friend's nagging, enjoying the privacy of staring into a mirror. Kirsty is sitting sideways, with her legs crossed, on the sandy steps at Federation Square; the mirror is in the lid of her make-up box, which she has set on top of the video camera's silver case.Her friend Laura stands a few steps down, holding the camera aloft in her palm; in the way her ancient relatives once hefted spears. For a while Laura's been saying things like "We have a lot to do" and "We're going run out of time" and "Aw, come on". Laura may as well be banging on a locked bathroom door.Suddenly, Kirsty moans in despair. Her hair is long and straight, very shiny, but she's brushed it so much she's mucked up the part on the side - and needs to start from scratch."Kirsty!" It comes out of Laura like a curse, then she flounces and looks at me.In between outbursts, she has been telling me their story. Kirsty and Laura - a year out of school and "best friends for years" - are making a video tour of the city. Laura plans to send copies to her pen pal in France and her grandparents in Brisbane. Kirsty plans to send copies to television producers; she "wants to be an actress or read the news or just be in commercials".Laura compiled the list of places they need to visit on the tour, wrote the script and will be doing the camera work. Kirsty is the on-screen personality but she doesn't like the script - a series of short and chatty descriptions of places such as Federation Square, the Town Hall, Parliament House, the Old Melbourne Gaol and so on."It's boring," she says, checking her lips and eyes in the mirror and suddenly smiling and ready to get on with it. "Well, come on." At this point Laura brings the conversation back to its original topic. "I suppose if you can buy a best friend on the internet, you can sell one too. How much do you think I'd get for Kirsty?" Now we are getting to the heart of the matter. I'd been wandering around, looking for a couple of "best friends". I wanted to know what a best friend was worth, in cash terms.A young fellow named Stuart Donald is probably sitting at his computer in Scotland at this moment, watching the eBay shopping website, where he is selling himself as best friend for a month to the highest bidder.Donald doesn't plan to hang out with his new best friend - no fireside ales and jolly tales. Instead, he's offering a modest package of emails, letters and text messages. Donald hasn't set a reserve price."It's just a stunt," says Laura."It's creepy," says Kirsty."I think I'll definitely sell you then," says Laura.So how much does Laura want for Kirsty?"I think I'd settle for a bottle of tequila." "Hey," says Kirsty, brightening, "that's what we could do. It wouldn't be so bad if it was just emails. You could have like a dozen (best friends) at the same time and just send them copies of the same emails." Suddenly Kirsty and Laura are riotous best friends again, making plans to sell each other off for shoes, clothes and make-up. It's all very giddy until Laura worries that Kirsty is serious about the idea."It's fun to think about," says Laura, sobering. "But you'd just be preying on all the sad cases." Kirsty makes a sad face to keep in step with her friend. "Yeah," she says. "There's a lot of them out there. But don't you think they'd get something out of it?"
Lochte Mess Monster': Press & Social Media Lay into US Swimmers After Fake Rio Hold Up
Lochte Mess Monster': Press & Social Media Lay into US Swimmers After Fake Rio Hold Up
The world was shocked after what started out as a fun night out at the French Olympic house in Rio de Janeiro, ended with US Olympians Ryan Lochte, Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen claiming they had been robbed at gun point.However, the problem was that the not-so-fantastic foursome was being quite liberal with the truth. As their story started to unravel, so did the lies. There had been no armed hold-up - just a confrontation with a gas station guard who took exception to the US sportsmen trashing a bathroom."Ryan Lochte is everything the world hates about Americans," read a headline from the New York Post, which laid into the second-most-decorated male Olympic swimmer of all-time."The Ugly American is alive and well in 2016 thanks to this dope. Thanks for that, Ryan. Now don't let the bathroom door hit you on the ass on your way to Palookaville," wrote the article's author Mike Vaccaro as the tirade against the 32-year-old continued.Meanwhile the New York Daily News was also holding no punches as it got stuck into Lochte, who has had to live in the shadow of the greatest Olympian of all-time, Michael Phelps, for much of his career.Its print edition had a photograph of Lochte alongside the headline 'The Lochte Mess Monster'.There has been little sympathy for Lochte on Twitter or "the three other swimmers" as they have become known on social media.While Lochte is back on US soil, two of the athletes involved in the incident in Rio de Janeiro, Bentz and Conger, faced chants of "liar, liar, liar" from a group Brazilians who were incensed at the fabricated allegations, as the pair left a police station in the city, footage from RT's video agency Ruptly showed.The two swimmers were questioned for four hours in regards to their allegations that they were the victims of an armed robbery. The pair arrivedback home on Fridayafter they were originally pulled from their flight to Miami by police on Wednesday for questioning.Renato Siqueira, a client at the same gas station where the four swimmers were involved in an altercation with a security guard after damaging a restroom, was scathing of their behavior."It's shameful how these 'gringos' come to Brazil thinking it's all a mess. They came here created trouble at the gas station, broke everything and left. One is already in the US," he told Ruptly. "As a Brazilian I hope the ones remaining here will be punished. They can't come here and think it's all a carnival."Feigan, who is the only member of the group still in Brazil, has been trying to do his bit to try and gain an ounce of goodwill by saying he will donate $11,000 to charity, which will also allow him to leave Brazil.Meanwhile, the US Olympic Committee (USOC) was left to issue an apology condemning the actions of the athletes."We apologize to our hosts in Rio and the people of Brazil for this distracting ordeal in the midst of what should rightly be a celebration of excellence," USOC chief Scott Blackmun said in a statement.The statement confirmed police accusations that the swimmers had vandalized the gas station's restroom after the group had stopped there while returning the Athletes Village.
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