For the past 8 months or so, I’ve had an uninvited, unwanted “guest” living in and around my home. My home, by the way, is a small maisonette – sounds pretty, but it is, in effect, just an old home made into many small apartments. So, you may see how it could have open areas, unseen by me, which can be quite inviting to things which we don’t want living with us.

This wee guest, as you may have assumed by the title, is a rat. Not a mouse, but a genuine rat. Guessing by the earlier infestation we had in the Spring before the landlord decided to put something under the house to kill off the beggars, my rat is the sole survivor. As a matter of fact, given his size, I would be fairly accurate in saying he was most likely born between the floors in my home. I am on the bottom and the space is between me and the first floor was once rife with the pitter patter of marauding rats. At one time there had been many little scurriers – from what my ears could tell – and now there is one. Mine.

I have put the effort into ridding my home of the wee beasty, believe me. But the wee fellow has skills that Ninjas would die for. Such as, how to eat peanut butter from a rat trap trigger without it springing. And, I do mean, it is clean as can be when he’s done with it….as though I had never coated it top and bottom with the dreadful stuff (I’m not a peanut butter fan, only keep a jar for my son…and now, my rat, as it were). And, I do know how to load a trap correctly…in fact, the trigger is so delicate when I’m finished with it, it could be sprung by the rat simply breathing on it, let alone eating til his heart is content from it. That takes nothing less than Ninja skills in my books.

And yes, I have a cat. She’s a 15 year old rescue feral moggy and funnily enough, she don’t want to know. Clearly her mother before me did not instruct her in the arts of ratting. She’s a spoiled little madame living with me all these years and she evidently had been spoiled by her cat mum, as well. They say a kitten is taught all it needs to know in the first year of their lives by their mothers….mine failed Ratting 101. Or, was, as I suspect, spoiled then and all. I have watched her lay upon the arm of my arm chair (my living/sleeping room is directly adjoining the kitchen) and watch with little interest as the wee fellow darts across the floor from one of his many “safe houses” along the way to get to her bowl of dry food and effectively rob her blind. She’s never shown a blind bit of interest in the situation. Just looks up at me as if to say, “he’s at it again, Mum”. She can’t even be arsed to hiss at it.

When telling my ex-husband of the situation he merely laughed and said, “Well, if you’re not going to kill it, you may as well name it” What???

Guess what I did next? I named the ragged little creature! He is now known by friends and family as “Dodger”. No, not for the OMG-fit Dodger of Hollyoaks, sillies! My name for him came from a more Dickensian way..after the young Artful fellow in Oliver Twist, if you will. He does live up to his name – shh…in fact, I hear him rustling round my kitchen as we speak…and has moves and a skillset that not only would Ninjas approve of, but he would be a shoo-in for an MI-5 agent, as well! It’s actually fun to see how he goes from one of his safe houses to the next in order to load up on all the dry cat food he can steal. And it absolutely is the funniest thing to see him sort of flatten himself as he gets near something with a low rat head clearance and sort of glide up under the fridge. And, the charming chappy is getting more and more brazen…he used to only come round at the wee hours of the night and early morning to stock his many hiding places with food. Now, he comes out in broad daylight if he fancies it and does what he pleases.

I know by now you think I’m either making this up or have lost what is left of my bleeding mind. I can assure you the latter part of that statement is 100% truer than the first part. This is certainly not the me of some 40 odd years ago who went into a screaming fit for my Dad to come dispose of a mouse I somehow caught up between a book and wall and I was unable to do nothing more until he came, took the little infiltrator by the tail and toss him outside into the snow. That’s why dads are heros 🙂 Still, it just beggars belief that I, knowing that wild rats are just wrong to have in your home, have chosen to live in some modicum of peaceful existance with the rat, my cat, and constant cleaning up after and restocking cat food for both. I blame it on Buddha 🙂

There Goes My Hero
by Penny Dreadfull
29 May 2013

My son is graduating on Sunday. Believe me when I say that walking across that stage to accept his diploma is a REALLY big thing.

You see, Joshua has had a hard go at life straight off the pitch. He was 3 weeks premature while his twin sister was a full term 40 week baby**. Yes, there is a difference in a 37 week baby and a 40 week baby. Joshua’s ears were like paper…you could almost read through them. He was smaller, very ropey and thin, and bless him, he had no ass. I’m not being funny, the poor kid just had a line where most babies had fat little cheeks. And he was damned angry about having to be born so soon. I honestly don’t believe I have ever seen an angrier kid. His twin, Alexis, on the other hand was happy just to inspect her hands whilst laying in her cot.

As time went on, Joshua filled out, slept through the night, and occasionally became a lot happier. That is, until he was 3 and completely enamoured with balloons. I dreaded having to drag the kids into a supermarket that sold helium balloons, especially if I were short of the readies. To those reading this, if you recall any time around 15 or so years ago seeing a flustered mum trying to speed roll a trolly full of kids and food out to her car with one of them screaming, “I wanna ball-ball balloon!”…then, that would have been me.

Health-wise, he had gotten better until began getting loads of earaches around the age of 2 to 3. But nothing prepared us for what happened when Joshua was 4. I had taken him to his paediatrician for what seemed like whooping cough. It had been, but now his paediatrician said she could hear bilateral wheezing in his lungs, indicating asthma. She also seemed to think more was going on with him and wanted me to check him into hospital the next day for tests.

Joshua had a fairly uneventful evening that night but had an early night as he was very tired. So was I apparently, as we both slept like stones through the night. When I went to awaken Joshua the next morning, he wouldn’t wake up. Of course, I panicked at first but could make out his breathing, albeit shallow. I grabbed his tiny hands and they weren’t all that warm and worse still, his fingernails were turning blue. Grabbing my mobile, I called his paediatrician and got answering service. After giving them the details, as soon as I pressed “end”, his doctor rang me back telling me to go to hospital, do not bother with A&E, just get him to the Paeds Unit.

I guess all the Angels and Faeries and whatever else were there that day as I sped the 5 miles to hospital, found parking close to the door and doublequick at that, then ran in with my poor little chap, still in his jymjams, hopped on a waiting lift (that NEVER happens to me) and no one, not one nurse with an axe to grind stopped me. It wouldn’t have done her any good, anyway.

Long story short, Joshua had a collapsed lung, asthma, and yes, whooping cough. After 4 days in hospital, and all the sweetness and light nurses anyone could ask for, my little hero got to come home. Phew!

Of course, the asthma would never really go away (although I am happy to report that he is not using inhalers nearly as much as he used to), nor did the earaches. By the next year after his near-fatal case of whooping cough, Joshua was in school. He didn’t love it, still, we managed to get him through the first 5 years. And earaches continued along with those years. Those very well could have been a huge reason why he seemed to do poorly at school, however, I knew he didn’t have learning disabilities as he latched onto learning what he wanted to learn and could tell you everything about it.

Joshua’s doctor was so concerned about those earaches that she wanted to put tubes in his ears. His father and I agreed; the doctor went over everything with us and Joshua. The morning of his operation, we had him ready to be prepped at hospital at the unGodly hour of 6:00 am and Joshua announces that he is not going through with it. No operation, end of. This is not the time to put tough love to work. How horrible would I feel if I sent him into the operating theatre and..well, it doesn’t bear thinking about.

Hard even for myself to believe, still, Joshua never had another earache again from that day on. (and yes, all his earaches were legitimate…he was checked each time and had an infection every time…if I had all the money back that I spent on antibiotics…)

Things looked as though they may start going better for our Joshua that summer and we looked forward to a new school year. Joshua’s dad took him to school each morning and probably 75% of the time wound up having to bring Joshua to work with him. He simply could not be made to go inside most mornings. Luckily, his father had a relaxed work environment and Joshua could stay there. Unluckily, the school was having none of Joshua’s non-participatorial attitude.

This went on for another 3 years until, after testing, different programs, and changing schools twice, his father and I were informed that we would be arrested for Joshua’s truancy if we didn’t all 3 participate in a program where the child goes to a behavioural management class whilst we parents went to a child behavioural class. I think it lasted about 12 weeks. The good part was, as long as we made all the classes, even if Joshua wasn’t going to school, we would not be arrested.

On the night of the last class, kids and parents got a “graduation certificate” and were expected to get on with school and staying in it. I just kept hoping inwardly that we could muddle through till Joshua turned 16 and then we could all thumb our noses. What a poor attitude that was for me to have. Oh yes, I am heartily sorry for having been so pessimistic. Because what happened next is the very basis for this story with a happy ending…

One of the instructors at this class we were attending came over to wish us well. I suppose she could see in my eyes that I had no hope of my son actually attending a real school. That is when she told us about a programme in which Joshua could have a real teacher home school him. She made no promises that he would get on, still, she promised to sign him up for it. Within a few days, Joshua was meeting with his own teacher and has done so for the last 4 years.

On this Sunday, my Joshua will graduate. Oh, yes, I forgot – with honours. He maintained a 3.85 gradepoint average all the way through. So, yes, I am just a little chuffed 🙂

There is, of course, more to this story…all the testing, psychological visits, psychiatrists, medications, Joshua’s bi-polar and agoraphobia…they were just building blocks…Joshua has been able to go out with friends now, apply for jobs, even had a girlfriend or two..and now he is going to walk across a stage in front of hundreds of people on Sunday. That is what makes the tears well up in my eyes. That is what makes me the proudest..because I know how hard this will be for him. You see, I’m agoraphopic as well. Joshua is my hero.

** My twins were 3 weeks apart in conception due to superfecundation which is the fertilisation of two or more ova from the same cycle by sperm from separate acts of sexual intercourse. The term superfecundation is derived from fecund, meaning the ability to produce offspring.

by Penny Dreadfull
24 July 2012

Since my last article, Fat Friends? (13 June 2012), I had mentioned in it that I have had a good butcher’s at my food finances. I have noticed something terribly interesting that I must share. Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but, if you lose weight, you don’t need as much air conditioning! Hence, less electrics, less electrics bill. Not only that, but I have found if I don’t buy foods with empty calories, I am able to buy the foods that are good for me, and that, if I’m honest, like much better than crisps, fast-foods, and frozen dinners. For a good many of you, this is a given, however, I can’t put too fine a point on this subject. Especially after watching “The Men Who Made Us Fat”, another one of the wonderful BBC Panoramas that I wish would air on every television channel in the U.S.

In the true British style of politely telling you where you’ve messed up, this panorama places the blame squarely on the shoulders of those responsible for the fat epidemic that has crept up upon both the U.S. and the U.K. over the last 50 years, and more so, over the last 30 years.

Now, whilst fast food and frozen telly-meals are never a smart food choice, even they alone are not quite fully responsible for over 60% of us on both sides of the stream being 30% heavier than we were even in the 1980’s. We were only 2% heavier in the 1970’s after 20 + years of eating McDonald’s and KFC. That figure means that we now have a whacking large load around our figures. And we can’t even blame fat intake altogether, although we’ve done our utmost to place the blame entirely on fat alone. Too much of anything is a bad thing, but the one thing that we try to be most hush-hush about when we’re playing the blame-game is sugar. There, I have said the S word. Big Sugar (don’t confuse this with the Canadian rock band) is something I started hearing about in the 1980’s. I didn’t pay it any attention at that time as I was 5′ 9″ and 10 stone. I didn’t avoid sugar but I didn’t subsist on it either. Now, thanks to a bit of research since watching this panorama, I am finally seeing that the extra weight that I’ve put on over the last 18 years is not entirely due to a slowing metabolism.

Did you know that there are 50 teaspoons of sugar in a super-sized soft drink? At 16 calories per teaspoon, if you drink one of these for lunch, you have essentially ingested the full amount of calories (800) that you might expect to have for your tea/dinner/supper meal. That is just for your drink. We’ll leave the food out of it for the time being because knowing that having fries and Big Mac with that drink puts you up to a little more than a normal days worth of calories will probably make you cry. The effects of sugar on humans has been studied since the 1970’s. Allright, it has been tested on lab rats, but do keep in mind that we are very much like rats in our metabolism and physiology, therefore the tests are fairly accurate. In 1974, Professor Anthony Sclafani, University of New York, tested our little friends to see what would make them fatten up, since they never overate when given just plain rat food. However, when he gave the rats biscuits/cookies, cake, and other sweets, the little buggars quickly became obese. What happens when we eat foods high in sugar? Basically we don’t seem to know when we’re full. We continue to eat, even though under normal food circumstances, we would know when to quit. Another phenomena occurs as well. You may have had a very large lunch, yet in an hour or two you are feeling hunger again. I have proven this to myself quite by accident. In the old days of eating whatever I wanted, I seemed to always be hungry. I can promise you that I wasn’t eating healthy in the least. It may be a super-sized burger/drink/fries for lunch or some sort of sandwich, crisps, and soft drink at home. The point is, is that it was always full of sugar and I always felt as though I could have eaten double the amount. Since I’ve gone back to eating right, I have a cup of homemade soup (no sugar added, all flavour accomplished by herbs alone) and a romaine lettuce salad with olive oil and lemon, I am satisfied for hours on end. In fact at this writing, I am just now beginning to feel the need to cook my tea and it has been over 5 hours since I ate lunch.

Obviously, being overweight isn’t the only problem associated with eating too much sugar, but adult onset diabetes is another. How I have avoided it as of this writing is truly beyond me. It is not only added sugar to foods and drinks that we have to be on guard about, but also foods and drinks which turn into sugar by your liver in the bloodstream. If you believe you’re doing yourself a favour by munching on loads of carrot sticks and grapes, slow down! A little of any fruit is a good thing, but be careful of those that will turn into sugar after ingestion. It is always best to get to know what you’re eating and what it does inside you. For this, I recommend Dr. Nicholas Perricone’s The Perricone Prescription , 2002. To be honest, I started reading it because I was concerned about a few lines on my face. What happened was that I lost 2 1/2 stone in a month! But, more importantly, he tells you why foods work for you, and why you should avoid others. He explains all the dirty details in a way that even I can understand, and I am not a medically trained person. And, best of all, he includes a shedload of wonderful recipes that anyone can make. It’s Dr. Perricone’s fault that to this day I could eat salmon with homemade pesto everyday of my life and not tire of it.

It feels good to be headed back in the right direction. I have loads of notations in which I had planned to slap fast food restaurants around a bit more, but, when you think about it, it isn’t entirely the industries fault. Perhaps it isn’t entirely Big Sugar’s fault, either. We have minds and we can learn what is right for us and what is wrong, if we’ll just get that TV tray off our laps, stop noshing on those Biggie Fries and pick up a book, watch a documentary, or visit our doctor in order to learn what effects food has on our bodies. Not to mention, you’ll save a bit of dosh on your electrics as well, when you reduce. In the meantime, I’ve included links to a couple of videos for you to watch about Big Sugar…you’ll want to kick it out of your life after you’ve watched.

Big Sugar – http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/big-sugar/

Greg McCormack http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lq8slONyRhM

Book – Pure, White and Deadly: Problem of Sugar by John Yudkin (Jul 3, 1972)

editorial by @Penny_Dreadfull

13 June 2012

Let us get a fact out of the way. First of all, here are the top ten fattest countries in the world per http://expatify.com:

1. American Samoa, 93.5%

2. Kiribati, 81.5%

3. United States, 66.7%

4. Germany, 66.5%

5. Egypt, 66.0%

6. Bosnia-Hergegovinia, 62.9%

7. New Zealand, 62.7%

8. Israel, 61.9%

9. Croatia, 61.4%

10. United Kingdom, 61.0%

That is where we stand on the scale of weight over a part of the world. The rest are fairly normal sized, even skinny, such as Asian countries and France, where they simply eat better quality of food and get proper amounts of exercise. Or perhaps others are too thin due to poor conditions and lack of money. That is where our concern seems to be mostly, trying to feed the third world countries, as well it should be. But, how do we ‘un-feed’ the fattest nations in the world?

I think I’ve hit upon the problem. It’s largely (pun intended) America’s fault.

America. Home of the Whopper (TM) Burger King®, KFC® (the ones who also strip the rainforests of trees to make their chicken buckets), McDonalds®, Pizza Hut®, Dominos® – the list is a long one – began the fast food epidemic in the 1950’s as a quick but tasty meal when you didn’t feel like cooking, were too busy to cook, or just wanted to treat the family. Added to that were Banquet® meals, the little TV dinners in aluminium trays with a ‘meat’ (not sure some were!), two veg, and a little apple crumble pudding. I think that those were also meant to have a salad or something healthy to be served along with it, however, since they were cheap, many people just began eating two of them at a sitting rather than bother with a salad. The caloric content of these little meals are astronomical for no more food than you recieved, and have only gotten worse over the years since they are made with fillers in most cases rather than real food. However, for the most part, American housewives during the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s still cooked the majority of their family’s meals and stuck to the Government’s food pyramid and serving sizes, only going to McDonalds® once or twice per month, therefore, the American waistline stayed in check with only a couple of inches of expansion over those decades.

Schools during those decades at least still stuck to correct portions for school lunches, as well as a pint of milk to go with it. And as a bonus, it was, for the most part, all cooked from scratch. I don’t know exactly where it began to go pear-shaped, however, as I finished my high school year in North Carolina in the 70’s, I noticed that prepackaged sandwiches, chips, and other foods that weren’t conducive to maintaining a healthy weight and heart were becoming the norm. And, it got worse. Suddenly, schools looked more like a shopping centre food court, sporting Taco Bell®, McDonalds®, and good old KFC®. Not a spot of cooked- from- scratch food to be found. If you were among the poorer students on free or reduced lunch, you were given choices such as slices of frozen pizza, chips, and prepackaged sandwiches. The little pint of milk probably can’t be found these days but has been replaced with a wide array of fizzy drinks and the occasional bottled water.

Of course, as wide as the pond has grown physically over the centuries, it became no more far away than down the street with the advent of television and the internet. Suddenly, other countries wanted McDonalds®. Along the course of years following the 70’s, McDonalds®, Dominos®, Burger King®, et al began springing up in Great Britain with McDonalds® first opening in Woolwich (SE London) on 12 October, 1974, but can you believe that KFC® came to Preston, Lancashire, England in 1965? It’s true. And sorry to say that the local chippies suffered by the addition as Britons went wild for the “11 herbs and spices” recipe. However, it was a good marketing ploy to begin in Lancashire because the good farming folk in the area would love the hearty “meat and potatos” meal. Like all things bad for you, it spread all over Great Britain and I’ve never seen anyone so enamoured with the 10 piece bucket as James Corden portraying “Smithy” in Gavin and Stacy. But, to his credit he has slimmed since.

It makes one wonder why Great Britain isn’t higher on the fat scale as shown above. What I think that may be due to is advertising, walking more (and common sense). I have noted that American television adverts and British television adverts are so different on so many levels. American television programmes are interrupted on average of every 8 minutes with as much as 5 minutes of advertising during each break. It’s nearly impossible to enjoy a programme without a series of advert breaks that flog fast-food on every other one. That’s another major difference in British adverts and American….every fast food restaurant has as many as 2 adverts per station break on American television. I have noticed that whilst watching British television that not only are advert breaks less common, they are shorter, and rarely have more than one fast food advert in the mix. In fact, recently watching ITV1, the only fast food advert was for McDonalds® and it was for a healthy menu choice for children. But, this is only during daytime television viewing hours. Just wait untill evening rolls around! By 6:00 p.m. on American television we begin to see a sharp increase in the amount of fast-food advertisement. Suddenly, you see very little if anything about vacuum cleaners, household products, and the like. From 6:00 p.m. on through the wee hours of broadcast time, it’s all about Checkers®, McDonalds®, Burger King®, Pizza Hut®, and Taco Bell®. Particularly McDonalds® and Taco Bell® as many of those restaurants are now keeping later hours – up to 3:00 a.m. and for some, 24 hour service! If you can manage to get your fat ass into your vehicle, you can munch down on any number of tempting fast-food menu items at any time of day or night.

And munch away America does. “In 1972, we spent 3 billion a year on fast food – today we spend more than $110 billion. McDonald’s feeds more than 46 million people a day – more than the entire population of Spain” (from the Supersize Me website). Spain could really use all that $110 billion these days in the wake of their financial crisis. McDonalds® should give them a bailout. That would give new meaning to “living off the fat of the land”.

A slow economy is attributed to eating more fast food. I think primarily that is due to the fact that since people can’t afford to take holidays, they treat themselves the next best way that they can, by eating outside the home. Not to mention that even a cheap cut of beef is no less that $3.99 per pound now and one can get a fast-food burger for $1.29. (From http://us.altermedia.info/ ) “In the US, comparable sales rose 6.5 percent on higher breakfast demand, the seasonal Peppermint Mocha and a Chicken McNuggets promotion, the fast-food chain said. In Europe, November same-store sales rose 6.5 percent, driven by performance in the UK, France, Russia and Germany. Comparable sales in the Asia-Pacific region, Middle East and Africa increased 8.1 percent in November, led by Japan and China. Shares of McDonald’s rose 1.6 percent early Thursday to $97.95.” (From http://us.altermedia.info/ )

Strangely, the percentages of people in the US v. UK who eat fast-food are very close, although the US is the fatter nation. A poll led by the BBC for a documentary finds that people of the UK at 45% “like the taste of fast-food too much to give it up” whilst by comparison, 44% of the US feel the same way. (bbc.co.uk). Again, I think that the UK uses more common sense, walk more and most likely eat smaller portions of the fat-filled fast-food. Whilst the percentage of sales of fast-food rose comparatively the same, it did so driven by several countries on 3 continents in comparison to one country, America.

It isn’t only fast food restaurants that are to blame. Every time I am in supermarket there is a person ahead of me using Food Stamp benefits purchasing large bags of crisps/chips, colas, candy bars and all. If they would sit down and do the maths, they could easily purchase more fruit and veg with the same money. I should know. I recently have had to re-examine my food budget as well and have found that if I do without certain things, I can actually afford the foods that will help me stay healthy and slim.

I also believe that America’s love affair with driving (particularly the petrol swilling “muscle cars” and huge trucks) has quite a lot to do with the expansion of the average waistline. No one walks anywhere if it can be helped. Every town and city has a bus line yet, only the poorest use the mass transit systems available. You won’t see a lawyer hopping a bus to his office. He feels he has earned his Mercedes and he will bloody well drive it. There is a gym on nearly every corner, yet only the young and fit seem to use them whilst the older folk shy away because they feel they have no place there or are too self-concious of their bodies. I suppose it could hardly do much good anyway as it would take 7 hours of exercise to burn off a super-sized value meal complete with drink. In other words, if you aren’t going to eat right, moderate exercise isn’t going to do much anyway.

Lastly, America has also led the way to “fat-dom” in the UK by being the first (wouldn’t you know it) to put up BBW (Big Beautiful Women) websites. These poor women are not just big, they are well too fat for their own good. I watched recently a documentary called My Big Fat Fetish on channel 4 (UK) which featured several very, very large ladies who have websites set up and, well…eat, if you will…for a living! One, named Patty in California, weighs 44 stone (616 lbs.). She looks to be in her 40’s and has been eating for money almost all her adult life. She was once slender, she had a son, and was broke. It was an “easy” way to make money. Nowadays that son has to take care of her every need, including bathing her and wiping her bum after bowel movements. She can’t stand up from sitting without his help, her son fetches her food for her, is with her all the time and is only 25 years of age. He has no life. Now after all these years, Patty has seen the error of her ways and has become depressed and says that she has turned a corner from which there is no going back. If she had it to do over again, she never would have gone this route. Perhaps too late for Patty, but sadder still is the amount of young girls who are getting into this fetish for money who actually do have other avenues open to them to earn a living, such as the case of a lovely blond 19 year old girl from Leeds, England who actually flew to Florida to meet with a woman who sets up websites for the BBW’s as well as starring in her own. This young girl is overweight, but she could end this nonsense now and have a healthy life. Instead, she had snaps taken, website set up and I suppose she is getting on with her new career. I only wish she would speak with Patty first. But once again fat is gaining more popularity in the UK from it’s fat cousin America.

The question now remains, what to do?

Firstly, we should fight back with whatever tools we can. Turn off the television whilst having meals, or, if you must watch, at least watch a film or something with no adverts. I also recommend that we get the advertising for fast-food on television to end at a reasonable time in the evenings. I will be checking into how it may be brought about. Fast food restaurants should also look into when their heaviest sales take place and if the sales do not warrant being open all night, it would be more cost-effective to close up earlier. Fast-food restaurants should be banned from schools, full stop. More classes should be held in schools regarding proper food portions and eating habits. Food Stamp benefit reciepients should have to take a course on food management and proportions, along with recommended daily servings of vegetables and fruit as well as not being allowed to purchase crisps, colas, cookies/biscuits, or candy with their food stamps anymore than they are allowed to purchase cigarettes or alcohol. With the economy in many countries going down the swanee, we must put our money in the best of possible sources of energy and food is energy, giving the kind of energy that would help us lessen our dependance on foreign oil by actually walking somewhere rather than driving.

One important thing that everyone should do is to save a month’s shopping reciepts, then sit down at end of month and tot up what they have spent on food. Next, single out all the bad foods they’ve bought i.e., colas, crisps/chips, biscuits/cookies, pre-packaged foods, etc. Tot those up separately. Go to a green grocer’s or farmers market and write down prices for fresh fruits and vegetables. Then, back at home, replace the rubbish foods that you bought the month previous with the fresh produce. You probably saved money as well as 10 lbs. off your weight for the following month. Also, when you eat the right carbs (fruit and veg), you tend to feel more full and you eat less.

People don’t seem to realise that if you stick to proper portions, you actually can afford food that is good for you. For instance, fresh salmon at the supermarket sells for $6.99 per pound on sale. As much as I would adore eating the full pound in one sitting, I can get 2 oversized portions out of it (you should only get three but I am a salmon glutton), therefore spending on $3.50 per meal. If I went to buy a frozen Marie Callander’s® pot pie to pop into “Chef Mike” to cook, I would spend nearly $1.00 more and I wouldn’t feel too great afterward for a variety of reasons.

Whatever avenue you wish to take in the fight against fat, whether in the UK or US, or whichever country you are from, we all need to take action now. Otherwise we’re all going to be buried in “super-sized” coffins.

 

 

 

editorial by Penny Dreadfull 8 June 2012 

On the 31st of May 2012 on BBC2, I watched the jaw-dropping panorama documentary, Euro 2012: Stadium of Hate with Chris Rogers of the BBC, who spent a month documenting the horrifying behaviour of racism in Poland and the Ukraine. I’ve actually been too gobsmacked by what I witnessed to write about it untill today. But, write I must.

To be honest, I didn’t realise that I lived in such a bubble that I didn’t know this kind of hatred and racism went on in other countries. I thought that racism was mainly carried out in American southern states in the middle of the night with sneaky racists, KKK, and skin-heads burning crosses in lawns, tying up some poor soul and dragging him behind their pickup trucks, and, least of all, calling people the hateful “N” word, among some other things I’d rather not mention. Now I see, that as much as it may seem we have moved ahead, we are still stumbling our steps. And some, such as the football fans in Poland (the Polish Ultras) and the Ukraine, have stopped moving alltogether. Football fans there shout racial slurs, make racial signs such as the Nazi salute (as well as wearing swastikas, iron crosses, and other signs of hatred and racism on their shirts), and attack fans of their own favourite teams – if they are black, Asian, and Jewish. The Policja just look the other way.

When Chris Rogers interviewed a man (whose name I did not catch) whom said that “the fans were pointing at other fans, not giving the Nazi salute”, even though clearly the Polish fans were saluting and shouting “Zieg Hiel” whilst Chris was filmed sitting in the stands as this was going on. The fans were also shown physically attacking a group of Asian fans (whom coincidentally were cheering for the team of their attackers!). In all cases, the banners and shirts of the fans were shown to be marked heavily with racist signs and words.

This is terrifying, especially since Poland and Ukraine will be hosting footballers from other countries for the Euro 2012. Of course, UEFA (United European Football Association) says there will be “zero tolerance” for racism, but the catch phrase “zero tolerance” is just another one of those lipservices we perform but have no idea how to put into action. Particularly when faced with entire countries full of racists.

As the Dutch national team are training in Krakow, already the black team members are being attacked with monkey chants.

“Until now, the threat of racism at these championships has been limited to co-host country Ukraine and this development is deeply unwelcome to Poland” – The Independant (theindependant.co.uk) I beg to differ. Poland was the first of the host countries that Chris Rogers filmed and I would say from what I witnessed the Polish Ultras are among the most racially threatening people on Earth.

Mark Van Bommel, Captain of the Dutch team, said that he “would take this (monkey chants) up with UEFA”, yet as reported on the BBC News today the Dutch team now say that they will not be making a complaint to UEFA. It seems UEFA isn’t really backing the teams as UEFA president Michel Platini warned that any player who left the field of play in protest over racist abuse from the stands would receive a yellow card. Yet Platini also confirmed referees have been instructed to halt matches at Euro 2012 if a player was taunted with racist chants. (theindependant.co.uk)

The former Arsenal defender Sol Campbell last week told supporters to avoid the tournament because of the threat of racism and violence. Ukraine’s Euro 2012 director Markian Lubkivsky said Campbell’s remarks were “insolent”. Clearly, Lubkivsky isn’t black, nor could he understand what Sol Campbell has suffered at the hands of racist fans as he himself was racially abused by fans in 2008. Those fans were arrested. Campbell watched the footage filmed by the BBC along with Chris Rogers during the documentary. Needless to say it was painfull for him. Now, he is being attacked once again for warning supporters against going to Euro 2012 as they “could come back in a coffin”. I wholeheartedly agree with him

Campbell does not believe Poland and Ukraine deserve to host the competition, which begins on 8 June, because of the problems that still persist in those countries:

“I think that they were wrong, because what they should say is that if you want this tournament you sort your problems out,” he said.

“Until we see a massive improvement, that you have sorted [it] out, you are never going to get the tournament. You do not deserve these prestigious tournaments in your country.”

In response Uefa he said: “Uefa’s zero-tolerance approach to racism is still valid both on and off the pitch and ultimately the referee has the power to stop or abandon a match should racist incidents occur. (guardian.co.uk)

Our bodies may be in the 21st century but our minds are clearly still in the 19th century. Regardless of the feelings of the Polish and Ukraine fans, they should be at least mature enough to put it aside for this great event and welcome the people who come to cheer the teams. Ah, but if a modicum of maturity were present in their minds, they probably wouldn’t be racists to begin with. So, they bite the hands that feed them, as I am sure hosting the teams is a bit of help to their economies. Sadly, rather than punishing these countries for their behaviour by stopping their participation, UEFA will allow these countries to continue hosting. I only hope that Sol Campbell’s words aren’t prophetic and that all attendees go home in one piece and safely.

 

 

Environment.

Dr. Shakil Afridi has been recently sentenced to 33 years imprisonment for his alleged role in helping the U.S. find Osama Bin Laden by running a fake vaccine program in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Why was he not protected by the U.S. from the beginning? Why wasn’t Dr. Afridi taken out of Pakistan immediately following Operation Neptune’s Spear? He put his life on the line to give America the World’s Most Wanted and he was left alone to try and flee Torkham border on his own, then being sentenced on 23 May, 2012.

He could have been, should have been given new identity and flown out with military troups then and there, then given American citizenship. End of.

Here it is 1 year after Bin Laden was found, and it seems a little too late that U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton says Pakistan has no justification for imprisoning Dr. Afridi. That Rep. Dana Rohrabacher has asked President Obama to intercede on Dr. Afridi’s behalf (and has also introduced two bills to Congress, one of which to make Dr. Afridi a naturalised American citizen (he should have been for the last year!) and to give him the Congressional Medal of Congress (I suppose that is supposed to keep him safe in a Pakistani jail, where I doubt he’ll make 33 years). And now we’ve cut aid to Pakistan by $33 million. Now that’s really hurting them. Especially since U. S. purportedly wants to lift Pakistan’s 2012 total aid to $3.4 billion from the $2.96 billion Congressional Research Service says has been requested for 2012. (Read more: http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2011/05/11/did-pakistan/#ixzz1vtkLDJs0).  Do the maths.  It’s a drop in the bucket comparatively.

One million for each year he is to be held in prison. That’s what he’s worth for finding the man whom was responsible for more than 3,000 Americans being brutally murdered on 11 September 2001 by Bin Laden. Not directly, but all the same.

One million per year to do something that President Bush couldn’t do in 8 years, and that President Obama may not have been able to do without Dr. Afridi’s help.

I do hope that the faint cries from Washington do some good for Dr. Afridi. But, I would ask you, regardless of where you live, America, Britain, France, Ireland, wherever, please for humanity’s sake do something. Write letters, protest, do something.