When we associate texting with our health, the topic is usually bad news: texting while walking/driving causes accidents; constant texting causes carpal tunnel syndrome; texting too much damages personal relationships etc. etc. However, as the following studies show, texting has also proven to have distinct health benefits. In fact, mobile phones have found a place in the modern delivery of health care. It’s called Mobile Health, or mHealth, which covers any use of laptops, cellphones, tablets etc. in collecting patient data, monitoring patient health and delivering services.
Here are four ways that sending and receiving text messages can improve our health:
• An emergency room doctor at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Rhode Island led a study that offered a violence prevention and intervention program via text messages to young female patients who’d experienced peer violence. The teens overwhelmingly agreed to the follow-up service, believing the supportive messages could help them avoid violent situations in the future, and they indicated they would recommend the service to other young girls at risk. The results of the study were released this past March, and the positive outcome has the hospital looking at ways to expand the service to reach out to at-risk male youths and non-English speaking teens.
• A University of Connecticut study observed positive results in HIV/AIDS patients who connected with their health care providers via text messages. Earlier this year, The Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention (a division of the university) released the results of a study in which patients who received text message “intervention” were found to be more likely to stay on track with their drug regimen and have better health than those who just saw their physicians for follow-ups every few months.
• Persons at risk for type 2 diabetes could benefit from text message reminders about their health, according to a University of Michigan study. Persons who signed up for and received regular messages about eating healthier, drinking more water, exercising etc. were more likely to lose some extra weight and live a healthier lifestyle, according to the study results released in 2013.
• Receiving a simple “how r u” on their phone from a loved one can be a much needed lift to someone who is isolated or feels alone, according to a University of California Berkley study that began in 2010. The project, led by a clinical psychologist, involved sending mental health participants regular messages asking about their moods, suggesting they think about positive things that happened to them and reminding them to take their medications. When the program ended after a number of weeks, several patients reported missing the regular connection. To someone who’s depressed or under stress, a concerned text message is a welcome connection and immediately makes them feel cared for – proving that through texting you really can “reach out and touch someone.”
Feel Good Messages
Downhome asked our facebook friends, “What’s the BEST news you ever received via text message?” Here’s what some said:
“I got asked to be a godmother for the first time.” – Chantal Oake
“Friend’s baby’s arrival.” – Fousty Touton
“‘I’m coming to get you’ – when I was stranded.” – Tracy Perry Stepanuk
“Pics of my grandbaby-to-be.” – Wendy Roenigk-Crane
There are two main reasons to visit the Little, Big Bear Safari, located about 90 minutes from Moncton in Acadieville, New Brunswick. One, of course, is to safely view black bears as they roam onto the wilderness site. Another is to meet Richard Goguen, a.k.a. “the bear whisperer.”
“My husband has a gift with animals,” says Vivianne Goguen, who co-owns the attraction with her partner. The couple built an observation tower in 1998 with the intention of inviting the public to safely view and photograph black bears in their natural environment. But one bear had a slightly different plan. During construction, an orphaned cub wandered into the area and, as Vivianne puts it, “adopted” Richard. They aptly named the cub, which Vivianne says followed Richard around like a dog, “Pooch.”
“After a few years she had babies and we said, ‘Oh great, she’s going to become wild and that’s ok – but after a few weeks she brought her babies out and literally introduced them to grand-daddy,” says Vivianne. “She pushed them towards Richard.” Now 16 years later, the Goguens believe Pooch has passed on, but three generations of her descendants still visit the site very frequently and maintain the unusual bond with Richard.
Check out this shocking footage taken at the Little, Big Bear Safari. Richard enters the scene at 1:20.
While they do not guarantee sightings, Vivianne says their tour groups have missed out on seeing black bears only twice since opening to the public in 1998. Once visitors are safely inside the 26-foot-high tower, Richard lures the animals to the site with food. “We have the same permit as hunters – we have the right to leave little treats,” says Vivianne, adding, “but we shoot with cameras only.”
Local biologists have openly criticized the business, saying Richard’s close relationship with the bears is extremely risky – not only putting himself in harm’s way, but also anyone who may encounter one of these bears in the wild, outside the safety of the Safari. Vivianne maintains they have never had any complaints of that nature and believes the bears prefer Richard only. However, she warns, “We don’t suggest that people do that in their backyard. Don’t try to do this.”
To find out about other wild encounters available right here in Atlantic Canada, see the July issue of Downhome.
Editor's Note: Richard's interaction with black bears is extremely risky. Never, ever approach a black bear if you encounter one in the wild. To find out what to do if you do encounter a black bear, click here.
A Newfoundlander living in Nova Scotia for the past 28 years, Lisa Braye’s ear is still fine-tuned to the sound of the Newfoundland accent. Whenever the 46-year-old hears that unique lilt roll off some stranger’s tongue, she says she just can’t help but ask, “What part are you from?” But one day last fall, Lisa’s favourite conversation starter wound up leaving her completely speechless.
On October 3, while enjoying a night out at a bar in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia, Lisa overheard that familiar twang from a couple seated nearby her and, as usual, she began chatting them up.
As Lisa predicted, the couple, Shirley and Jeff Taylor, were from downhome.
“They told me they were from St. Anthony and then they asked me (where I was from) and I said, ‘well, I was born in St. Anthony actually, but I grew up in Corner Brook because I was adopted out,’” explains Lisa. Curious, Shirley asked Lisa how much she knew about her birth parents – which wasn’t a lot. Lisa’s adoptive parents, Gae and Rex Braye, knew only that her birth mother’s surname was either Grinham or Greenham and that Lisa’s name at birth had been Ivy; she knew nothing of her birth father.
After revealing those few pieces of information, along with her date of birth, Lisa says, “their mouths were open and it was just total shock.”
“(Shirley) said, ‘I would say 100 per cent but I’m not going to because I have to call her – but I’m 90 per cent sure that my best friend is your biological mother,” says Lisa, recalling the conversation that took place. The following evening, Shirley phoned Lisa and confirmed that her best friend, Liz Grinham, was indeed Lisa’s birth mother, and gave Lisa Liz’s phone number.
“Every emotion any person could ever have I had it that whole weekend – happy, excited, nervous, shocked – you name it,” says Lisa. Despite the emotional rollercoaster, Lisa quickly picked up the phone to speak to her biological mother for the first time.
“I felt like I had to call her because you hear these stories of adopted kids who hate their parents,” says Lisa. “So I called Liz to basically tell her that I didn’t hate her for giving me up whatsoever, that I had a loving family and I had a great relationship with them.”
A mother’s dream
That first telephone conversation with Lisa was overwhelming, says Liz, bringing back a flood of emotions from the heartbreak she endured the day after giving birth to her more than four decades ago.
“The nurse brought her in and she told me I had to feed her,” begins Liz, and for the first and last time, a 19-year-old Liz held the bottle of milk to her baby girl’s mouth. “Then the head nurse came in and told (the nurse) off because she gave me the baby – because I wasn’t supposed to see her.” After a falling out with her boyfriend, and having been turned away by her own parents, Liz, now 66, says she had previously signed documents that relinquished her parental rights. But Liz says those few precious moments with her infant daughter were enough to change her mind. Unfortunately, she was told, there was no going back.
But as the years rolled on, her baby girl was never far from her mind.
“On her birthday, the 16th of May, I used to go around the floors saying, ‘I wonder where she’s at, is she alright? If she had a good life and stuff like that – just mumbling to myself,” says Liz. “I never talked about her much, because it hurt too much.”
Liz later had three more children and in 1999, she and one of her daughters, Loretta, decided to search for the missing piece of their family; they quickly reached a dead end, though, told that nothing could be done until “Ivy” (Lisa) came looking for them.
Meanwhile in Nova Scotia, Lisa was becoming curious about her roots as well. Around the time she turned 40, Lisa says, she began pressing her adoptive mother, Gae, for more information.
“It just seemed like I was hurting her, so I said, ‘no, I’m not going to do nothing till she’s passed away and if it’s my loss than it’s my loss.”
In 2011, Gae passed away at 79 years of age. Lisa was planning to resume her search for her biological parents when she stumbled upon the Taylors last fall.
Together at last
With Lisa’s blessing, within a few weeks of finding each other Liz and Loretta were flying to Nova Scotia. The Taylors hosted the long-awaited reunion at their home.
“(Liz) was sitting at the kitchen table there and she didn’t know what to do, like I could tell she didn’t know whether to stay seated or stand or give me a hug or whatever,” says Lisa. “She just looked at me, and I said, ‘well would you like a hug dear?’ And she come over and grabbed a hold of me, started bawling her eyes out and just said, ‘Oh, I got my baby back in my arms again.’”
“We cried and we laughed and we did it all,” says Liz. “She’s still my baby to me.”
When word got out about the twist of fate that led to Lisa’s reunion with her mother, a flurry of media attention followed, with news stories popping up in both provinces. One of those stories reached the home of Wilson Osmond of Triton, Newfoundland – Lisa’s biological father.
The year that Lisa was born, Wilson says he moved to the mainland, where he settled down and started a family, including two daughters: Lori and Lisa (yes, another Lisa). He returned home to live in 2001.
Lisa and Wilson have since connected by telephone, and they’re planning their own reunion this summer.
“I feel great about it, yes I really do,” says Wilson, 68, adding he thought bout Lisa often throughout the years.
Since running into the Taylors last fall, Lisa’s family has expanded considerably. In addition to finding her biological parents, she’s gained four sisters and a brother – plus nieces and nephews.
“I’m going to have to start working two other jobs just to send Christmas presents,” says Lisa, laughing – but it will be more than worth it.
“It’s filled a void that’s always been with me, and I’m sure every adopted child has that void,” she says.
It’s going to be a whirlwind summer vacation this year for Lisa, who’s planned visits in both St. Anthony and Triton – but her first stop will be Corner Brook, to pick up her adoptive father, Rex, who plans to accompany her.
Rex says he plans to give both Liz and Wilson a hug when he meets them; after all, without them he never could have been Lisa’s father.
“We loved youngsters,” says Rex who, together with his late wife, had a hand in raising about 85 foster children who passed through his home. He believes if his wife were alive today, she would be pleased to see her daughter reunited with her biological family. “She would think it was wonderful,” says Rex, “because that’s the type of person she was.”
Whether you’re spending the weekend boating, camping or partying at the cabin, here are some tongue-in-cheek, but surprisingly practical, things to take or do to make the most of this May Two-Four. (In order of no importance.)
1. Pack several changes of clothes: rubber clothes, wool clothes, flannel clothes, summer clothes. Be like the Scouts, prepared for anything.
2. At least 5 tarps – one to cover the cold, wet ground; one to go over the tent; one for the cooking area; and two more to block the wind.
3. Deck of cards, to keep the youngsters from killing each other ’cause it’s too miserable to play outside.
4. Sunblock. Many May campers have been caught off guard by a sudden sunny break and come home looking like a lobster.
5. Lifejacket, seriously. And wear it. A seat cushion won’t save you from drowning.
6. Cell phone, preferably a smartphone so you can tell your whole social network if you get lost, or that you’re in the woods and forgot toilet paper #bummer.
7. Guitars, harmonicas, ugly sticks – if you can’t play them, you can use them as noisemakers to keep the bears away.
8. Garbage bags to put your sleeping bag in – to keep it dry at night.
9. Snowsuit to sit around the fire at night.
10. Newspapers – they make great fire starters and, if you’re stuck, toilet paper.
11. A shovel – in case it snows, and to clear a spot for your camper/tent.
12. Good quality fly oil to douse yourself in.
13. Coat hanger, to use as makeshift rabbit-ears antenna, a fire-proof handle for the camp kettle, a marshmallow roaster, or a slim hope of unlocking your car to get the keys inside.
14. Disinfectant wipes to wash off every surface of the cabin after you find out what rodents have been wintering there.
15. A hat that will keep your head warm and dry, and make you presentable for the trip back to civilization.
16. A bucket to carry water, to sit on around the fire, to hold the fish you catch, or to pee in if you’re that afraid to leave the tent at night.
17. An axe to chop wood, cut through ice, or pose with for “outdoorsy” photos for facebook.
18. Homemade bread and tea bags. You can’t start the day without a feed of toast and tea!
19. Disposable dishes and cutlery. The weekend’s too short to be doing housework.
20. Dry wood for the campfire or cabin stove – ’cause you won’t find a dry stick to burn in the woods in May.
21. Snowmobiler locater beacon – so rescuers can find you when the unforecasted overnight snowfall crushes you in your tent.
22. A can opener. There’s nothing more frustrating than when you break the tab-thingy off the can of sausages, beans, KAM etc. before you get it open.
23. Stick of bologna – walk softly over the marsh but carry a big stick!
24. Say “shag it” and rent a hotel room.
25. The best way to survive May 24 in NL? Spend the weekend with friends and family who you can count on for a good time no matter the location or the weather!
• Last year, researchers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Memorial University teamed up to survey previously unexplored depths of the Atlantic ocean off the coasts of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Using an underwater robot known as ROPOS (Remotely Operated Platform for Ocean Science), the scientists captured thousands of photographs showing the types of life that exist at depths as far down as 2,500 metres. Among their amazing findings was an octopus named "Dumbo," so-called because of the large ear-like fins located near its eyes. Other finds from this expedition include colourful coral aged at about 800 years, and orange "file shells" - a type of scallop previously unknown in this region, which might also be a new species to science.
• A group of scientists have made a hot discovery, literally. Life forms existing 1.6 km beneath the North Atlantic Ocean seafloor (the deepest living cells found to date) are thriving in temperatures ranging from 60 to 100 degrees Celsius. Even more interesting, scientists say these underwater organisms - which thrive despite lack of light and oxygen - could one day lead to the discovery of life surviving similarly beneath the surfaces of other planets.
• There are thousands of active volcanoes located on the ocean's floor - but none quite as deep as the ones discovered recently below the ice-covered seafloor of the Arctic Ocean. A research team found rough shards of rock scattered over five square miles - evidence of volcanic eruptions - 4,000 metres below arctic pack ice along the Gakkel Ridge, which stretches from northern Greenland to Siberia. This discovery defied long-held assumptions that such eruptions could not occur at such great ocean depths, due to the immense weight and pressure of the seawater.
• An underwater cure for cancer? Maybe, say experts at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California. Scientists have been studying Salininspora tropica, a bacterium found in muddy ocean sediments off the Bahamas, since 1991. The bacterium is believed to produce natural antibiotics and anti-cancer compounds. Human clinical trials recently began to determine the bacteria's success in treating a variety of cancers (including lung, pancreatic and bone-marrow).
• Experts don't need a magnifying glass to study some of the creatures of the deep in the waters of Antarctica; the naked eye will often suffice. Gigantism, a condition where organisms grow to unusually large sizes, is common in the waters of this region. After a recent stint exploring the deep waters of Antarctica, scientists reported sea spiders the size of dinner plates, as well as abnormally large worms and crustaceans. Although the condition is not well understood, one theory states that the organisms' larger size is due to an adaptation for scarcer food sources, which delays sexual maturity and results in greater size.
• The waters around Atlantic Canada have been home to some rare lobsters that, when caught, are a real shock to the fishermen who always figured "if you've seen one, you've seen 'em all." For instance, in June a seasoned fisherman caught a lobster off Morell, Prince Edward Island, that had not two, not three - but four claws! The mutant crustacean was nicknamed "Mothra," after the Japanese movie monster. Another rarity that surfaces in fishermen's catches throughout Atlantic Canada from time to time are lobsters that are two-toned. As if a multi-coloured lobster isn't weird enough, many of them are also hermaphrodites, bearing female genital organs on one side and male genital organs on the other.
• Some areas of the seafloor may more closely resemble the rooftop of your house than a deep-sea environment, with chimney-like structures spewing smoky substances into the surrounding water. Called "black smokers," these structures form naturally over hydrothermal vents - cracks in the seafloor that emit jets of extremely hot, acidic water (up to 400°C), laden with minerals, bacteria and toxic chemicals. Sounds rather inhospitable, doesn't it? Actually, the area surrounding a black smoker is usually teeming with bizarre life forms (think shrimp without eyes, giant tube worms and miniature lobsters) that, ironically, cannot survive elsewhere.
• During a 2006 expedition to document life on seamounts in the Coral Sea, researchers discovered what is considered to be a "living fossil." Named the "Jurassic Shrimp," the creature was previously only known from fossil records and was thought to have become extinct about 50 million years ago.
• In 2000, oceanographer Robert Ballard (discoverer of the Titanic wreck) went to the bottom of the Black Sea in search of evidence to prove the Noah and the Ark story really happened. Convinced the area was flooded in 5,500 BC, Ballard hoped to find proof that humans once lived upon what is now that sea's floor. He was encouraged by what he found: the remains of a house, stone tools and ceramic vessels.
In the January 2010 issue, Downhome ran the story “The Lost Boys of Markland,” about three boys who were lost in the woods overnight near Markland in 1954. At the time of the incident, Frank Parsons, Cliff Hurley and Steven Griffin didn’t know whether they’d live to see the dawn, let alone old age.
Incredibly, just days after the January issue was delivered to readers, Downhome received a call from one of the boys, Steven Griffin, and through him we located the other two as well.
We found Cliff living in Old Shop, Newfoundland. He told us that despite his harrowing experience, he returned to the forest as a logger in the same area where he got lost years before.
“We worked on that block of woods afterwards for a couple years,” he says. “We went right back to where they found us.”
The land around that spot is different now. It’s not a forest anymore but houses and new development. Cliff says he doesn’t think about that night much anymore, and the 70 year old still goes out to cut firewood in nearby woods.
Over half a century has passed, but Cliff can still remember the logans he wore that night. Logans are knee-high boots with rubber soles that were popular at the time.
Cliff got out of the forest without frostbite, but Stephen lost the two biggest toes on each foot. The rescuers gave 16-year-old Stephen a shot of brandy to warm him up and took him to the hospital.
“The boys got me on their back and carried me out,” says Stephen from him current home in Ontario. “It’s amazing that I’m still here.”
Stephen survived but his dreams of being a police officer like his father were permanently lost with his toes. He applied to the military, but his injuries held him back from that as well.
“That really discouraged me,” he says. “My father gave me enough money to get to Ontario, I got work and I stayed here.”
Downhome couldn’t reach Frank Parsons by press time, but according to his family he’s living in New Harbour, Newfoundland.
Stephen says when the wind howls outside in winter, he still thinks of the night he spent the Markland forest.
“When you break open a window, you hear that whistling,” he says. “I hear that and I have to slam the window because I get deathly cold.”
Preserving foods by smoke-curing is a prehistoric practice discovered by our early ancestors. People in cultures the world over have relied on the smoke-curing of fish and meat products for long-term storage. Before there were refrigerators and deep freezes, smoking was a way to ensure a longer supply of protein throughout the year. In spite of our modern appliances today, many of us enjoy smoked products for their delicious, unique flavour.
In Newfoundland and Labrador we often see such delicacies as smoked cod and kippers (a favorite of my Dad's). However nothing beats that culinary classic, smoked salmon. Here is a recipe for smoked salmon parfait that I think you will like.
Smoked Salmon Parfait
1 6-inch stainless steel pastry ring without top or bottom
1/2 lb smoked salmon
8 oz salmon caviar
8 oz black caviar
1 pint sour cream
2 oz fresh dill
Watercress to garnish
1 pkg rye crisp, Melba toast or other thin, crisp bread
Drain the sour cream overnight in a cheesecloth-lined sieve; mix dill into sour cream. Rub canola oil on the inside of the pastry ring and place the pastry ring in the center of a decorative serving platter. Fill the bottom of the ring with thinly sliced smoked salmon, layering evenly. Spoon a thin layer of dill cream onto the salmon. Top with an even layer of salmon caviar, being careful not to break any of the eggs. Top with more dill cream. Finish with a layer of black caviar and dollop with dill cream. Chill in ring for 1 hour or more before serving to allow parfait to set. Remove the ring carefully and garnish the top of the parfait with sprigs of dill. Use watercress leaves and crisp bread to garnish the platter. (Serves 6 to 8 appetizer portions)
Backyard smokers built with bricks and mortar, or special barbeque smokers, are becoming popular for preparing dinner. Here are some things you should know before you start smoking.
• Any fish can be smoked, but oily species such as salmon and trout are recommended, because they absorb smoke faster and have better texture than lean fish, which tend to be dry and tough after smoking (making them look less appetizing as well).
• Use seasoned, non-resinous woods: hickory, oak, apple, maple, birch, cherry, juniper or alder. Avoid: pine, fir, spruce or green woods. If heavier smoke flavour is desired, add moist sawdust to the heat source throughout the smoking process.