Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Public Service Announcement: Beware PC Security Virus 2012

I have not been blogging or emailing or doing anything much computer related because the past few weeks we have been dealing with a computer virus. Why are there evil programmers out there who make viruses? I can understand if they are attacking businesses or really wealthy people but they have nothing to gain by infecting my computer!

If you get a popup window that says anything like "Microsoft Security Center 2012" or "XP Internet Security 2012" do NOT click anywhere on it. Just do a ctlr-W to close that window. I was completely FOOLED and thought it was the Microsoft anti-virus software that came with the PC. It said it had detected a bug and recommended a full scan to get rid of trojan horses and spyware. I was distracted with Baby E in one hand and the phone on my shoulder and clicked. The virus infected everything. I couldn't even open word or folders. Stewart was able to get rid of the virus after much ordeal. And I'm writing this blog entry from the past because he had to use time machine to put the settings on the computer pre-virus.

The virus was the final straw that made me run to my iPad and order an iMac. So the next blog entry you see will be from our iMac that hopefully comes today. A friend of mine who also switched from PC to iMac said once you use an iMac, you can never go back to PC. I hope this is true and that I will be completely wowed. (Of course, that would support the paranoid theory that the virus was propagated by Apple engineers who used an algorithm based on the fact that I have multiple Apple products to figure out I would order the iMac if attacked with this virus.)

The nerd in me says--Farewell to Arms blogging on PC. Hello Brave New World of iMac.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Three Year Old Field Trip: Christmas at Ardenwood Farm

H never had a single trip during his three years of preschool. I love him dearly, but I think the preschools he attended understood that part of the reason I put him in school was so I could have a break from him and his frenetic activity. But for some reason, the preschool R attends believes that I put him in school solely for his enrichment, which includes field trips. It never even occurred to me that a preschool would go on field trips so I hadn't asked before enrolling him. I found out the first day of school that he had a field trip the next week (I enrolled him mid-year). Of course, once he started it was easier to keep him in the program as opposed to switching to another school. So far we've done pottery at Color Me Mine, played at the water park, picked pumpkins for Halloween, and this past Monday we went to Christmas on the Farm at Ardenwood Historical Farm.
Anyone who lives in East Bay and wants to visit a working farm should consider a trip to Ardenwood in Fremont. The Regional Historic Landmark opened to the public on July 28, 1985, and includes a farm, a large forest and a mansion now called the Patterson House which was first constructed in 1857 by the farm's original owner, George Washington Patterson. The field trip with R's class involved a litany of activities and a strict schedule that Teacher Grace had us follow. First we toured Patterson House all dressed up for the holidays. They told us before we went in that all the things were old and we shouldn't touch them. I was thinking, maybe ten 3 year olds shouldn't be going in then. I underestimated the power of Teacher Grace. The children were very respectful of the artifacts, even in the toy room. Maybe the scary doll wasn't so inviting to touch! They were allowed, though, to touch and eat the cookies that the volunteer had baked in the wood-burning oven.

Next was a craft in the old granery followed by a visit with Jiggs the horse. Two minutes with Jiggs, then off to the train ride through the monarch butterfly forest. I think the guide was saying that there were 10,000 butterflies there but I couldn't be sure because of course, that's when Baby E decides she needs to eat lunch. The guide on the train ride cut up some eucalyptus for us to smell. It must have had something to do with the butterflies but again, not quite sure. The field trip ended with a visit with Father Christmas. R wouldn't follow my pleas to please look at the camera so there aren't any that I can use for our Christmas card. So I'll share them here. As you can see, Baby E did a much better job!

The park hosts many events, a Celtic festival, an Independence Day celebration, the Washington Township Railroad Fair on Labor Day, a Renaissance Faire in September, The Harvest Festival in October, a Zydeco concert, and many Halloween celebrations, complete with a haunted railroad. It's definitely a place to check out with kids if you are looking for something to do one weekend. Although, chances are, your kids will probably come here on a field trip sometime during their elementary school years.

I think what R likes the best about field trips is telling H about them afterwards. H always gets upset because he wasn't able to do it, even if it's something he's done before. We had a pretty good time even though R couldn't spend as much time as he wanted visiting with the animals because we had to rush back to pick up H from school. I'm seriously thinking of switching R's school next semester, not just because of all the field trips. Right now he only goes two days and I think I need him to go all day every day. Well, at least three half days. Field trips can wait till kindergarten!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Safeway Shop Along Giveaway Winner and Additional Q&A

We had some questions at the event that the Safeway folks recently answered for us and I thought I'd share the helpful information with my readers:

Q: Regarding the benefits of low-grade fevers, what is the threshold? At what temperature should you take action and call the pediatrician or go to the ER?
A: According to Mayo Clinic,a fever is usually a sign that something out of the ordinary is going on in your body. For an adult, a fever may be uncomfortable, but fever usually isn't dangerous unless it reaches 103 F (39.4 C) or higher. For very young children and infants, a slightly elevated temperature may indicate a serious infection. But the degree of fever doesn't necessarily indicate the seriousness of the underlying condition. A minor illness may cause a high fever, and a more serious illness may cause a low fever. Usually a fever goes away within a few days. A number of over-the-counter medications lower a fever, but sometimes it's better left untreated. Fever seems to play a key role in helping your body fight off a number of infections.

Anun explained fever is greater cause for concern in infants and in children than in adults. Call your baby's doctor if your baby has a fever of 101 F (38.3 C)or higher.

Q:How long can a virus live outside the body? For example, if I have the flu and sneeze into my hands, if I don’t wash them, how long can the virus live?
A: According to James M. Steckelberg, M.D., Mayo Clinic Internist, it varies, depending partly on where the germ-laden droplets fall. Experiments with specific cold and flu germs have shown potential survival times ranging from a few minutes to 48 hours or more. How long such germs remain capable of infecting you in day-to-day life is harder to say.

Researchers have repeatedly found that cold and flu germs generally remain active longer on stainless steel, plastic and similar hard surfaces than on fabric and other soft surfaces. On any surface, though, flu viruses seem to live longer than cold viruses do. Other factors, such as the amount of virus deposited on a surface and the temperature and humidity of the environment, also have effects on how long cold and flu germs stay active outside the body.

The best way to avoid becoming infected with a cold or flu is to wash your hands frequently with soap and water or with an alcohol-based sanitizer. Also, try to notice and stop yourself when you're about to rub your eyes or bite your nails. And — most important — get a seasonal flu vaccine every year and the H1N1 (swine) flu vaccine when it's available. Some people will always be careless about spreading their germs, but you don't have to catch them.

Q:Is there a link between chamomile tea and liver health (positive or negative)?Can you have a liver-involved allergic reaction to chamomile?
A: The only valid relationship between chamomile tea (or chamomile in other forms) and the liver is that chamomile might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Combining chamomile with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of these medications. Chamomile is sometimes mixed with other herbs and taken for liver disease, but according to the NIH, there's insufficient evidence to rate its effectiveness for liver disease or any disease or condition, for that matter. Most often, people use chamomile for sleeplessness, anxiety and GI conditions like upset stomach, gas and diarrhea. It can also be used topically for skin conditions and mouth ulcers related to cancer treatment.

Studies have not shown a liver-involved allergic reaction to chamomile. Allergic reactions associated with chamomile are typically limited to people with ragweed-type allergies, since chamomile is in the same plant family. Those reactions are more related to skin reactions, shortness of breath, throat swelling, etc. - nothing liver related.

Research of this question as well as other information can be found on the websites for the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Library of Medicine and ConsumerLab.com (which reviews and tests effectiveness of supplements).