Fifteen Minute Exercise

by Lekwon Imoke

It is well known that a good diet 30 minutes of exercise a day can lengthen your lifespan, by decreasing the chance of many diseases as well as cancers. However, Americans are still overweight and Maryland is the 26th most obese state in the country.

For many of us, it seems we can’t find enough time in the day to devote 30 minutes to exercise. I personally exercise for about 30 minutes on Monday, and then go on a six-day hiatus from the gym because as the week goes on I feel more and more exhausted. What’s your excuse?

A recent study has shown that in order to add three years to one’s life you will only need fifteen minutes of exercise per day. Just fifteen minutes of activity shows a “10% decrease in cancer mortality and a 20% drop in cardiovascular disease, compared with sedentary people.”

Mike Donavanick, a Beverly Hills trainer, provides tips on how to get in your fifteen minutes without having to go to the gym. He suggests that you alternate cardio with resistance training, which can be done at home. When doing cardio, it’s important to remember that you should not be able to hold a conversation like you could while resting. Since your workout won’t last long, it’s important that you reach your target heart rate for the duration of these fifteen minutes. For strength training, Donavanik recommends “a course of five of the following exercises: push-ups and squats (alternating with lunges) for the lower body, triceps dips and shoulder presses for the upper body, and crunches for core work. Spend one minute on each exercise and cycle through three times for 15 minutes.”

So, whether you’re strapped for time, exhausted or lazy, I believe it’s fair to say that you can dedicate 15 minutes each day to benefit your health!


Lekwon Imoke just completed a Public Relations Internship at Howard County General Hospital. As a member of the class of 2011 at Hofstra University, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and a minor in Political Science. She enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with her friends and family


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Students should be coached on safe travel to and from school.

Most students will be heading back to school tomorrow, but it’s not too late for students and parents to think about how to head back in a safe, healthy, and happy manner. Fortunately, there are a ton of resources to help everyone get ready for a great school year. The Great Schools Organization offers hints on such necessities as establishing routines, focusing on nutrition, and getting organized. The National PTA has several helpful guides to help parents and students prepare with cost-cutting tips, transitioning from summer, communicating more effectively with teachers, and more. There are several places to find help getting a child ready for his or her first day. There are also many organizations that help promote safe play, comfortable learning environments, and general good citizenship.

Don’t forget that a positive attitude and sense of fun will also help make for a happy student. Have a great year, and check out even more useful resources from the Howard County Library System, including:

Study!: A Guide to Effective Learning, Revision, and Examination Techniques by Robert Barrass.

Please Play Safe: Penguin’s Guide to Playground Safety by Margery Cuyler.

The Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep by Lawrence Epstein.

Organizing the Disorganized Child: Simple Strategies to Succeed In School by Martin L. Kutscher.

Wash Your Hands!: The Dirty Truth About Germs, Viruses, and Epidemics–And the Simple Ways To Protect Yourself in a Dangerous World by Frédéric Saldmann.

Healthy Kids, Smart Kids : The Principal-Created, Parent-tested, Kid-approved Nutrition Program for Strong Minds and Healthy Bodies by Yvonne Sanders-Butler.

Staying Safe by Alvin Silverstein.

Eat, Play, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating for Kids by Allan W. Walker.


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Upcoming Howard County Events

  • August 26, 2-6 pm. Howard County General Hospital Farmer’s Market. Visit Howard County General Hospital today and every Friday through October 28th to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • August 27, 9am-1pm. Essentials in Babysitting. Learn how to effectively manage children, create a safe environment, and apply emergency techniques for children ages 10-14. For more information call 410-740-7601.
  • August 27, 10am-Noon. Ask A Master Gardener. Have a gardening question? Visit the Howard County Library-Central Branch, Miller Branch, or Savage Branch to get help and advice from Master Gardeners and improve your green thumb.
  • August 29, 5:30-9pm. Adult, Child and Infant CPR/AED. This course will teach you the skills to perform CPR and how to clear an airway obstruction. Upon completion you will receive a two-year AHA Heartsaver CPR/AED certification card. For more information call 410-740-7601.



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By Jessica “JP” Protasio

It rained the morning of the 2011 Athleta Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon. I felt the nervous energy buzzing around me–anticipating its sting. As the rain let up, an audible sigh of relief coursed through the crowd and the excitement returned.

I had just experienced my own battle with nerves the day before at the Team Fight luncheon. I looked around a room packed with racers and their families who had spent the last year training and fundraising for local cancer initiatives, initiatives that shaped my cancer journey. The least I could do was muster the courage to say “thanks.”

The horn blew and the crowd squeezed together. We hugged the barricades and cheered for over 2,000 women as they entered the lake in waves. I was captivated by the stories shared over the loudspeakers. I learned about women who’d battled cancer, mothers who were racing for their disabled children, and how one young woman was undergoing chemotherapy. The tears burning my eyes finally went rogue and rushed down my cheeks.

I walked back to the tent and enjoyed the shade for a minute before I saw her–one of the women I had met the day before at the luncheon. She was wet, sobbing, and apologizing. She clung to me, and I felt her tears saturate my shoulder. She had trained so hard and was crushed that she couldn’t get through the swim. I tried to console her, “No worries! I’m so proud of you!”I wished I had some profound, zen-like words to share, but I only hugged her tighter. After a deep breath, we exchanged jokes to lighten the mood. When she raised her head in laughter, I saw her courage and tucked the memory of her bravery in my heart.

We walked together with a few others to the transition area to see the swimmers become cyclists and the cyclists become runners. We cheered together and parted with more hugs and words of affirmation. I hurried back to the finish line to catch the finishers and ended up boxed-in on the congested path. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but I overheard a conversation between a grandmother and her grandson. “Grandma, why don’t we live forever?” She sighed with a hesitation, mulling over her answer. Finally, she replied, “Well, everyone has to die someday. Otherwise, the world would get too full. There’d be no space. We need to make space for the new babies.” I could only hear our footsteps as we rounded the corner going up the hill.

I was listening hard, staring at my feet, making sure I didn’t step on the heels of a pair of Crocs in front of me. She continued, “Everything dies so other things can live. Like the plants, the trees, animals… It helps other things grow and live. So, that’s why nothing–no one–lives forever.” At that point, I looked up and the path opened up to a happy assembly encouraging those approaching the finish line. Something inside me unraveled, and I cried while the racers finished.

Being an “IronMan/Iron Girl” embodies a strength that extends beyond the physical. It’s about the spirit, discipline, and motivation behind why you race. It’s the wisdom in recognizing your limitations and challenging yourself to be a healthier person in every aspect of your life. It’s how we celebrate the beauty and sheer complexity and resilience of the human condition. Itís finishing in last place with a sincere smile. It’s telling your grandson the truth in the simplest way you can. It’s being vulnerable but brave when you can’t finish. It’s sharing the story of who you are.

No matter what obstacles we’re faced with, if we keep trying, with patience and compassion, we’ll find ourselves crossing the finish line with an iron will.


JP is a Children’s Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch of the Howard County Library System. She is a Pajama Time storyteller, wannabe triathlete, KPOP-addict, baker of cupcakes, and a cancer survivor.



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Hurricane Preparation

by Mary Catherine Cochran

Were you prepared for the earthquake and are you prepared for Hurricane Irene?

Perhaps this week has been Mother Nature’s way of reminding us to prepare for emergencies.  Latest projections from the National Weather Service indicate a more easterly path for Hurricane Irene bringing her close enough to Maryland to cause an impact.

Two great resources for preparedness are FEMA and the CDC.  Both sites suggest the following three steps:

  1. Put together an emergency supply kitwhich includes:
    • Water (1 gal of water per person per day for at least three days)
    • Food – a 3 day supply of non-perishable food
    • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather radio and batteries for both
    • Flashlight and extra batteries
    • First Aid Kit
    • Whistle
    • Dust masks, plastic sheeting and duct tape
    • Moist towelettes, garbage bags with ties
    • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
    • Can opener for food
    • Local maps
    • Cell phones with chargers
    • Any prescription medication and glasses
    • Infant formula and diapers
    • Pet food and extra water for your pet
    • Cash and change
    • Important family documents in a water tight container
    • Blankets for each person
    • Change of clothing including sturdy shoes
    • Bleach and a medicine dropper
    • Fire extinguisher
    • Matches in a waterproof container
    • Personal hygiene items
    • Cups, plates, paper towels and utensils
  2. Create an Emergency Plan which includes information specific to your family, an evacuation plan, should you need to leave the area, a communications plan to so you can stay in touch with loved ones near and far and directions for protecting your property including information on how to safely shut off your utilities.
  3. Be informed.  Check in with FEMA and NOAA for up to the minute information.

For more information, read the Center of Disease Control’s (CDC) tongue in cheek Zombie Survival Guide which provides a good reference on how to prepare for any emergency- including a zombie emergency or check in withCERN for more ideas on being prepared.

Finally, if you don’t have a NOAA radio – and everyone should have one, you should know our local Emergency Broadcast channels:  Baltimore WBAL (AM-1090) and WIYY (FM-97.9) and Washington WTOP (FM-103.5) and WMAL (AM-630)

Be prepared, be informed, don’t be like Bob Dylan and rely on your answers to be Blowing in the Wind!


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In 1988, the fourth week in August was established as “Be Kind to Humankind Week.” During this week, a specific task is assigned to each day:

  • Motorist Consideration Monday
  • Touch-a-Heart Tuesday
  • Willing to Lend a Hand Wednesday
  • Thoughtful Thursday
  • Forgive Your Foe Friday
  • Speak Kind Words Saturday

This immediately made me think of one of my favorite films, Pay it Forward, released in 2000 and based on a book by Catherine Ryan Hyde. A seventh grade Social Studies teacher (Kevin Spacey) presents his class with an assignment:  think of something that will change the world and put it into action. One student, Trevor, decides that he will choose three people and perform a random act of kindness for them. Those three will then each “pay it forward” by bestowing random kindness on three additional people. All acts must be selfless and expect nothing in return.

The book’s author, Catherine Ryan Hyde, has established a foundation to promote this philosophy worldwide, and success stories are available on the foundation’s website at Deeds can be as simple has helping a stranger who is struggling to load groceries into his or her car.

You can help Pay it Forward in Howard County. Be kind to someone and tell them about Pay It Forward!

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by Matthew Hall

Fish oil is a supplement that has been gaining popularity in recent years and is known to have a  vast amount of health benefits. Unfortunately, until fairly recently there were few options to choose from, and almost all of them had a trademark fishy smell and taste.

I personally hate eating fish. I eat it anyway (oh the things we do to be healthy), but I refuse to drink a shot of fish juice first thing in the morning. So instead, I have been exploring all of the wonderful flavored varieties of this great supplement. They range from chewable gummies (the ones my children take) to pills and flavored liquid versions. In terms of benefits, there are more than a few studies available that show how numerous systems in the body can be aided by supplementation with fish oil.

The compound within fish oil that is so highly thought of is omega-3 (fatty acids). I mentioned that my children take an omega-3 supplement (which is basically candy for breakfast in their eyes), and we give it to them because it helps to support proper brain function. My wife began taking these supplements when she was pregnant with our kids, mainly because of the DHA, which is one of the three fatty acids and helps with brain development during pregnancy. Of course, the same brain health benefits are available for adults as well.

Heart health is another benefit of taking a fish oil supplement. Supplementation can lower LDL cholesterol levels–otherwise known as “bad cholesterol,” lower triglyceride levels, and to raise HDL levels–the “good cholesterol.” By balancing all of these levels, you can lower your risk for heart disease and quite possibly various forms of cancer.

Fish oil also helps with inflammation, so anyone suffering arthritis or joint soreness may see some of their pain eased by supplementing with fish oil. This benefit is one of the reasons many exercise fanatics have added fish oil to their supplement regimen, because it will help reduce muscle soreness after an intense workout.

That being said, some may be unsure as to why they aren’t getting enough omega-3 from their diet already. One of the main reasons is because most people do not eat a lot of fish, which is the best food source available for the highest levels of omega-3 per serving (hence why they extract oils from fish for supplements). People also tend to snack on nutrient-devoid items like chips and other processed foods, as opposed to nuts, which are an excellent source of omega-3. Also, now that the majority of beef being sold is grain fed and not grass fed, the omega balance in beef has been thrown off to contain more omega-6 and far less omega-3.

The benefits are numerous, and now that there are tasty alternatives to the unflavored oils, everyone should look into supplementing their diet with fish oil. Your body will thank you!

Matthew Hall is currently an Operations Specialist for Howard County Library System and a student at Liberty University.

He spends the majority of his free time with his wife and kids. His interests include religious studies, psychology, and fitness.


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Upcoming Howard County Events

  • August 18, 7-9pm. Smoke-Free Lungs. Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center. Learn tips for quitting your tobacco habit and mastering long-term success. This four-session program provides support and education for those wanting to quit as well as those who have quit.
  • August 20, 10am-Noon. Ask A Master Gardener. Have a gardening question? Visit the Howard County Library- Miller Branch to get help and advice from Master Gardeners and improve your green thumb.
  • August 20, 11am-3pm. Healthy Kids in Healthy Families Clinic at the Mall. Located in the center court of the Columbia Mall this event features numerous screenings and programs.  For more information about the HCGH Healthy Kids in Healthy Families
  • August 22, 7-8:30pm. Ask A Master Gardener. Have a gardening question? Visit the Howard County Library- Miller Branch to get help and advice from Master Gardeners and improve your green thumb.
  • August 24, 6:30-8pm. Stroke Support Group. Share, ask questions and provide a supportive environment to survivors and their families. The goal of the group is for stroke patients and their families to learn that they are not alone or to talk with others who have been through a similar experience.  For more information or to register, call 410-740-7601.
  • August 27, 9am-1pm. Essentials in Babysitting. Learn how to effectively manage children, create a safe environment, and apply emergency techniques for children ages 10-14. For more information call 410-740-7601.
  • August 27, 10am-Noon. Ask A Master Gardener. Have a gardening question? Visit the Howard County Library-Central Branch, Miller Branch, or Savage Branch to get help and advice from Master Gardeners and improve your green thumb.

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Ticked Off

by Teresa Rhoades

The peace and quiet of a Sunday morning is shattered by a loud scream. My husband comes running over to see what the matter is. “Is this a tick?!” I ask. “Yes,” he replies.

(Further shrieks ensue.)

I am told not to panic and to fetch some rubbing/isopropyl alcohol. When I return, my husband pulls out a match and proceeds to burn the tick off. Then we clean the area off with the alcohol.

After feeling relived that the tick is gone, I later on begin to dwell on the idea of tick-borne illnesses. Shortly after consulting MedlinePlus and other websites, here is what I found.

According to the Center for Disease Control, remedies such as painting the tick with petroleum jelly or using heat to detach the tick (i.e., lighted match) should be avoided.

A MedlinePlus article on tick removal  emphasized that smothering the tick, burning the tick, or twisting the tick are all actions to be avoided. If a tick is attached to you, follow these steps to remove it:
1. Grasp the tick close to its head or mouth with tweezers. Do not use your bare fingers. If needed, use a tissue or paper towel.
2. Pull it straight out with a slow and steady motion. Avoid squeezing or crushing the tick. Be careful not to leave the head embedded in the skin.
3. Clean the area thoroughly with soap and water. Also wash your hands thoroughly.

The use of tweezers for tick removal is further emphasized in a Consumer Health Information handout produced by the FDA. Additionally, one is encouraged to save the tick for possible identification by a doctor. Unfortunately, since the tick was essentially cremated, I no longer have a way of telling if it was a dog tick or a deer tick. Deer ticks are a distinct possibility because deer frequent our front yard on a regular basis.

Fast forward several months to my annual checkup. When my doctor heard that I had been bitten by a tick of unknown origin, the test for lyme disease was added to one of the blood tests I had to take. Fortunately for me, the tests for Borrelia Burgdorferi Antibody with Reflex to Western Blot came back negative. On another note, my dog was also cleared of lyme disease at his yearly vet checkup. My dog does have a distinct advantage in that a. he is checked for ticks b. he uses a flea and tick repellent, called Frontline, which contains a chemical called fipronil (The Original Dog Bible, p. 441, ed. Kristin Mehus-Roe, 2009).

Since using Frontline on myself is not a logical course of action, I researched some of the basic precautions to take against ticks. These tips are provided courtesy of the American Lyme Disease Foundation:

  • Wear enclosed shoes and light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily
  • Scan clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors
  • Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails
  • Use insect repellent containing DEET (Diethyl-meta-toluamide) on skin or clothes if you intend to go off-trail or into overgrown areas
  • Avoid sitting directly on the ground or on stone walls (havens for ticks and their hosts)
  • Keep long hair tied back, especially when gardening
  • Do a final, full-body tick-check at the end of the day (also check children and pets)

There’s no sense in fear of ticks preventing me from taking my dog for a walk. And as always, consult your medical professional anytime you have a health issue.


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Remember those dog days of July when photos of everyone’s dashboard thermometers, reading 105 or higher, were as ubiquitous on facebook as lost cows from Farmville?

You might have escaped the heat by sticking close to your air conditioner or taking a dip in the pool, but what about your drugs?

If you’re like me, you have an emergency kit in your car that includes basic first aid supplies and a few extras such as Excedrin, cortisone cream, or even an Epi pin.   You might even keep an emergency dose of insulin or allergy medication.   If you do, you need to restock your first aid kit and store it somewhere else.

According to this New York Times Article,  drugs exposed to temperatures above 86 degrees Fahrenheit might, at the very least, become ineffective and, at the worst, become dangerous to your health. The article says; “For patients with such chronic illnesses as diabetes or heart disease, a damaged dose of a crucial medicine, like insulin or nitroglycerin, can be life-threatening. But even common medicines can break down with potentially harmful effects, and you can’t always tell by looking at the pill or liquid that a problem has occurred, said Janet Engle, a pharmacist and past president of the American Pharmacists Association.”  Engle goes on to say, “Thyroid, birth control and other medicines that contain hormones are especially susceptible to temperature changes.”

Although most drugs cite a safe temperature range of 68 to 77 degrees, the article quotes Skye McKennon, clinical assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy, as saying that “anywhere from 58 to 86 degrees is still fine.

This means that you definitely have to move your drugs out of your car.  If you are traveling, keep your drugs with you in a separate bag and make sure to carry it on board with you if you are flying.  The article takes it a step further by suggesting that you go directly home from the drug store and not leave your medications in the car while you make additional stops.

It also means that if you keep your drugs in the medicine cabinet- you need to rethink that, as well.  Find a cool, dry location, which is secured and out of reach of children.  Check the expiration dates on medications on a regular basis and discard drugs that are out of date, damaged or expired.

Remember; old, expired and damaged drugs can be worse than useless, they can be dangerous to you and to your loved ones. For more information about Medication safety and a visit from Mr. Yuk, read this earlier post.



Mary Catherine Cochran is a big believer in communications and the critical role that it plays in community building.  (Although she is still adjusting to doing it in 140 characters or less!) When she isn’t busy truncating the message, she works as a Senior Communications Project Manager at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine where, among other things, she manages and writes for the Well & Wise blog.


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By Barbara Cornell

This is the season of bounty for tomatoes and summer squash—and for recipes to creatively use the excess.  I subscribe to two daily newspapers and one weekly, and they—and their attendant weekly and monthly inserts—have all taken a shot at tomato and/or zucchini recipes this summer.  You can come to Howard County Library System’s Glenwood Branch and ask for a copy of the handouts from the August 6 Farmers’ Market Chef class to see some of these.

Garrison Keillor
says that July is the only time country folks lock their cars in the church parking lot lest they find a few squash left on their car seat.  Barbara Kingsolver, in her 2007 book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: a Year of Food Life, also describes a kind of reverse larceny.  Otherwise friendly neighbors have been known to sneak up to your house and leave a bag of zucchini hanging from your mailbox!  Kingsolver’s daughter Camille developed sneaky ways to use zucchini, including in chocolate chip cookies!  You can find her recipes at

I have a few books to suggest with recipes that will make your bounty—or your friends’ gifts—exciting rather than a burden:

Tomatoes are one of The 10 Things You Need to Eat in Dave Lieberman and Anahad O’Connor’s book by that name.  The authors start with the heartening news that pizza (at least the way Italians eat it) is very healthy!  Lycopene has gotten news coverage for its anticancer and cardiovascular-protective qualities, but it must work in concert with all the other phytonutrients and vitamins in tomatoes. So take your tomatoes whole.  Pick up a copy at the library to find out what other 9 things you need to eat.

The Tomato Festival Cookbook by Lawrence Davis-Hollander is truly a gold mine of information about the history and science of tomatoes as well as some wonderful recipes I intend to try.  I’m not sure why the pages are yellow, but it doesn’t make the text harder to read, so we’ll forgive.  Davis-Hollander has great advice on growing tomatoes and  saving the seeds or sourcing heirloom seeds.

Chocolate and Zucchini: daily adventures in a Parisian kitchen
is from a then-27-year old Parisian,Clotilde Dusoulier, who created the blog. She says, “It is a good metaphor for my cooking style: the zucchini illustrates my focus on healthy and natural eating: fresh produce, artisan goods, and a preference for organic and local ingredients. And the chocolate represents my decidedly marked taste for baking in general, and chocolate, glorious chocolate in particular.”  I enjoyed the French flavor of this charming little book, and, yes, you will find a zucchini dessert recipe!

The Classic Zucchini Cookbook: 225 Recipes for All Kinds of Squash
by Nancy Ralston, Marynor Jorday, and Andrea Chesman is a great resource  for general information on the subject of squash as well as some very creative recipes.  When Chesman began using chopped zucchini in place of apples in a pie, her son said she should call it Zapple Pie.  The Squoconut Pie, using yellow squash in place of coconut in a custard pie, is a bit more of a leap of faith.  There are no photos to reassure me.

The Heirloom Tomato Cookbook on the other hand has beautiful photographs of more than 20 varieties of heirloom tomatoes and close-ups of almost every recipe.  The Kendall-Jackson Winery in Sonoma, California, hosts an Heirloom Tomato Festival every September.  Bay Area chefs bring their best to the festival resulting in these recipes.  Predictably, most have a wine pairing suggestion.

So, if you didn’t cultivate any tomatoes or squash this year, go and cultivate a friendship with someone who did!

Barbara Cornell joined the Howard County Library System in 1993 as Assistant Branch Manager at the new Elkridge Branch.

Since 2000 she has enjoyed a shorter commute to the Glenwood Branch.


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Upcoming Howard County Events

  • August 12 2-6pm. Howard County General Hospital Farmer’s Market. Visit Howard County General Hospital today and every Friday through October 28th to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • August 13, 10am. Wonder Walk: Using a Key to ID Trees. Do you wish you could identify native trees in your yard and the woods? Walk and learn with, Wanda MacLachlan, University of MD Extension. In the event of rain the program will be held indoors.
  • August 13, 10am. Ask A Master Gardener. Have a gardening question? Visit the Howard County Library-Central Branch, Miller Branch or Glenwood Branch to get help and advice from Master Gardeners and improve your green thumb.
  • August 13, 3pm. Biking is a Breeze With Wine and Cheese – Terrapin Adventures. Enjoy a 12 mile easy ride along the Little Patuxent River riding our comfortable mountain bikes over paved paths and hard packed dirt. Bikes, helmet, instructions, wine, cheese and bread will be provided.  For more information call 301-725-1313.
  • August 15. 3:30-5:30pm. Blood Pressure Screening. Free blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital at the Glenwood Branch.
  • August 15, 7-8:30pm. Ask A Master Gardener. Have a gardening question? Visit the Howard County Library- Miller Branch to get help and advice from Master Gardeners and improve your green thumb.
  • August 17, 6-7pm. Alzheimer’s Support Group – Lighthouse Senior Living.
    Open to anyone who is caring for or concerned about a loved one with Alzheimer’s. For more information call 410-465-2288.
  • August 17, 6-7:30pm. Teens Together. A student-led group that connects teens who have either a family member or close friend with a diagnosis of cancer. Event will be held at the Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center.
  • August 18, 7pm-9pm. Smoke-Free Lungs. Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center. Learn tips for quitting your tobacco habit and mastering long-term success. This four-session program provides support and education for those wanting to quit as well as those who have quit.
  • August 20, 10am-noon. Ask A Master Gardener. Have a gardening question? Visit the Howard County Library- Miller Branch to get help and advice from Master Gardeners and improve your green thumb.
  • August 20, 11am-3pm. Healthy Kids in Healthy Families Clinic at the Mall. Located in the center court of the Columbia Mall this event features numerous screenings and programs.  For more information about the HCGH Healthy Kids in Healthy Families Clinic at the Mall, please contact Howard County General Hospital at 410-740-7601.


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By Wendy Camassar

We all know that Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and beneficial in ridding our bodies of free-radical damage. But did you know it can be used as a part of your skin care routine as well?  Vitamin C, found in many topical antioxidants (among other vitamins and minerals), helps to prevent and repair damage to your skin’s tissue.  Antioxidants do this by slowing or preventing the effect of free radicals, which start oxidation — a process that causes damage from oxygen that can lead to cell dysfunction.
I came across a great post on Discovery Fit & Health about this issue.  In it, there is a great explanation about antioxidants and vitamins, and how they can affect our skin in a positive way:

When it comes to caring for your skin, antioxidants can help to protect your skin from the damaging effects of the sun. Unlike sunscreens and moisturizers, antioxidants can protect your skin from the inside out by guarding your cells from damage. Vitamins A, C and E and the mineral selenium are thought to be particularly helpful in skin care. In addition to helping to strengthen cells against free radicals, vitamins A and C also encourage cell and tissue growth. This is very helpful to the skin, which is constantly shedding and regenerating cells. For this reason, any antioxidants that protect cells and encourage cell growth could be helpful in an anti-aging regimen, as they may help fight fine lines and wrinkles.

All year round I apply an antioxidant right after I cleanse my face.  Then I apply my favorite moisturizer that has SPF 15.   If I will be out in direct sun like at the pool or beach, I will use a higher SPF- and a large hat!  I truly believe that using an antioxidant along with an SPF of 15 or higher (and avoiding the direct sun as much as possible) are the best ways to fight the aging process.  Remember, it takes about twenty years for sun damage to show up on skin, so moving forward, itís best to protect your skin every day and all year round.

For additional information on antioxidants and skin care, check out the following:

The Wrinkle Cure: Unlock the Power of Cosmeceuticals for Supple, Youthful Skin
by Nicholas Perricone

Natural Beauty. Your Antioxidant Arsenal. By Sherrie Strausfogel. Better Nutrition, May2011, Vol. 73 Issue 5, p30-31.

Sun Care: Fact or Fiction. By Wing Sze Tang. Flare, Jun2010, Vol. 32 Issue 6, p84-87.

SOS for Summer Skin. By Anna Soref. Vegetarian Times, May/Jun 2006, Issue 341, p24-26.

Wendy Camassar is a Customer Service Specialist at the Miller Branch of the Howard County Library System.  Prior to joining HCLS, she worked as a freelance makeup artist for several years.  She enjoys hiking with her family, exercising, reading, and organic foods and skin care products.


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Illuminating Hope

by Cara Koontz

“Cara,” she repeats my name and immediately my brain unfreezes and starts firing off questions. Most notably, “is she kidding?” Along with my Olympus size mountain of homework, volleyball practices and countless hours of community service yet to finish, my mother wanted me to do what? Without thinking about her question, my conscience starts brainstorming ways out of my new predicament. Wait; resurface. She continues with her spiel, “ Your name would be Princess Cherrybella and your job would be to entertain all the kids whose sick parents are attending the Blossoms of Hope Cancer Awareness Month events.” How can you say no to that? Correction, you can’t.

Tulle, so much tulle. I am standing in a room, a sort of Vera Wang playhouse, equipped with corsets, two hoop skirts, five-layered sleeves, four-inch heels and of course, a crown. To describe the dress in relatable terms, it was as though all the Disney Princesses and their sylvan friends had sewn the royal ladies dresses together to form one pink masterpiece. So, you may be asking, what’s the big deal? Let me explain. My ideal outfit consists of sweatpants, a sweatshirt and some sort of hideously ugly, yet sensible, footwear. My idea of makeup is the eye black I slather on before each volleyball game and maybe, if I can manage to avoid a direct hit with my bristled stick, mascara. I sigh, fully comprehending the fact that there’s no way out of this now; partly because my mother would never allow me to go back on my promise and also because I don’t think I can disengage myself from the dress without pulling some sort of ligament.

Seconds pass, then, my cue. I exit the door to a crowd of forty people all of whom are waiting for my debut. Adults smile, little girls cheer and my mother beams. I smile as told, I wave as instructed, but when greeted by younger fans I say, “What’s up dudes”- I can’t help myself. Hours pass, the evening wears down and I am introduced to Calvin Ball, a Howard County Council member, and his two shy daughters who are apparently dying to get a picture with a live princess. I momentarily forget my discomfort and grin inwardly thinking of how odd it is that I am in the presence of a household name that wants a picture with me. I quickly replace that fleeting emotion with discontent as I remember where I am and more importantly, what I’m wearing.

It is a month later, I expertly throw the dress on, lace the corset, step into the heels and place the crown at just the right angle, the process takes only minutes.  Tonight was the Lantern Parade, the final event of the month. Dusk falls, the excitement is tangible, I watch as a scarf-wearing mother and her three daughters laugh over something unheard and feel at ease. The sun is now completely set, little boys and girls line up at the start with their handmade paper Mache’ lanterns, practically jumping with anticipation. One, two, three, the lanterns are lit and we, being a crowd of almost one hundred, begin our descent. Tall “fairies” on stilts illuminate the way with youngsters close behind. Cancer patients and survivors alike walk hand in hand as the sound of the spring peepers becomes thick over the low murmur of voices. I reach the top of the hill and look down at the steady pace of those I had grown to know over the past month elucidated by the glow not only of their lanterns, but also of their hope. I am overcome with a feeling of content, as though everything superficial could be snatched out of my reach and it wouldn’t matter. An unexplainable lump fills my throat, tears pool in my eyes and, like a splash of cold water on my face, the bite of a bee, or any other cliché euphemism for an epiphany, I realize that I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.













As a high school student, Cara koontz served as an intern for the Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center. With the help of two other High School students, she established Teens Together, a support group for teenagers who have a parent or family member with cancer. Cara will put her tiara aside to attend Washington College in the Fall where she hopes to start a Quidditch team, play volleyball and study interesting things like underwater archeology


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By Brian Grim

Not long ago, I was walking through the library and I saw Jack LaLanne’s book Live Young Forever: 12 Steps to Optimum Health, Fitness, and Longevity on display. I couldn’t resist picking it up. I got a real kick out of him, ever since I first saw a repeat of an episode of The Jack LaLanne Show on TV a few years ago.  His enthusiasm and energy were infectious, and I was impressed by his diet and fitness advice, which seemed well ahead of its time for the 1950s. The most amazing thing about him is that, through the years, he never changed. He had the same strength, vitality, and enthusiasm for health and fitness until his death this past January at age 96.

Jack LaLanne was the “Godfather of Fitness,” probably the first of the modern fitness gurus. He opened one of the first modern health clubs in 1936 and encouraged both men and women of all ages to exercise with weights at a time when many people believed weight lifting was dangerous.  In addition to exercise, Jack promoted healthy eating: fresh fruits and vegetables (not overcooked!), whole grains, nuts, fish; and warned people to avoid sugar and processed foods.

In Live Young Forever, Jack tried to distill a lifetime of experience and knowledge on how to live a long, healthy, happy life into 12 steps. “I want you to experience the same joy of living that I have,” he explains. The steps include diet and exercise plans, of course, but they also include advice on attitude, posture, grooming, work, and relationships! The core of Jack’s message hasn’t changed, but he seems to have kept up with the times.

For instance, there’s a handy guide to fruits, vegetables, and grains, complete with nutrition information and current research about some of the various health benefits of each.  There’s plenty of useful stuff in here, although most of it isn’t anything new. And some of it is a bit superfluous, such as Jack’s advice on showering and grooming, or the superiority of wearing cotton fabrics over polyester. He was also pretty passionate about juicing, but I can’t see how it’s any better than just eating fresh fruit. Still, Jack had an evangelical zeal for wanting everyone to be the best and healthiest versions of ourselves that we can be.

Whether I learned anything new or not, I enjoyed reading Live Young Forever. Jack LaLanne got tremendous satisfaction from being able to spread his message, so I was happy to receive that message one more time. If in 50 years I have even half the zest for life that he did, I’ll be a happy man.

Brian Grim is a Customer Service Specialist for the Glenwood Branch of Howard County Library System.

He started at the Savage Branch in 2006. Brian is a sporadic fitness enthusiast, an occasional cook, and a one-time musician.


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Upcoming Howard County Events

  • August 5, 2-6pm. Howard County General Hospital Farmer’s Market. Visit Howard County General Hospital today and every Friday through October 28th to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • August 5-8. Restaurant Week. Restaurant week is coming to an end. Enjoy great, local food at participating restaurants while you still can!  Prices range from $10.11 to $40.11.
  • August 6, 7:30-11:30am. Walks in the Parks Series. A series of walks in Howard County Parks. Each event will have a 10-kilometer (6.2 mile) walking trail with a shorter 5-kilometer (3.1 mile) option. There is no-pre registration. For more information, visit Columbia Volksmarch Club or call the Rec & Parks at 410-313-4700.
  • August 6, 10am. The Farmer’s Market Chef. Discover creative ideas on how to prepare your seasonal Farmer’s Market produce at the Howard County Library-Glenwood Branch. Registration is required.
  • August 6, 10am. Ask A Master Gardener. Have a gardening question? Visit the Howard County Library- Miller Branch to chance to get help and advice from Master Gardeners and improve your green thumb.
  • August 6-13.  66th Annual Howard County Fair. Come enjoy the rides, food, home arts, and more! Located at the Howard County Fairgrounds:  2210 Fairground Rd, West Friendship, MD 21794. For more information call 410-422-1022.
  • August 8-12:30-3pm. Blood Pressure Screening. Free blood pressure screening by Howard County General Hospital at the Howard County Library-Savage Branch.
  • August 8, 7-8:30 pm. Ask A Master Gardener. Have a gardening question? Visit the Howard County Library- Miller Branch to get help and advice from Master Gardeners and improve your green thumb.
  • August 10, 9-11am. Diabetes Screening. Free diabetes screening at Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. For more information call 410-740-7601 or email
  • August 10, 7pm.  Cruising To Novel Destinations. Thinking about a cruise? Learn how to plan yours with Renee Gerber of CruiseOne, Gerber & Associates. Come to the Glenwood Branch to discuss Traveling Challenges: Afraid to travel with special needs? Learn how hotels and cruises accommodate conditions such as celiac disease, diabetes, and dialysis.
  • August 11, 8 pm. Town Hall Meeting on Alzheimer’s Disease. Co-sponsored by the Office on Aging the meeting will take place at Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. The meeting will offer residents an opportunity to provide their input on how Alzheimer’s disease has impacted their family and share their ideas on how the federal government can help families facing this devastating disease. For more information, contact the Office at 410-313-6410.
  • August 11, 7-8:30 pm. Caregiver’s Support Group. The group is designed to give caregivers a safe place to air the concerns that go along with caring for a loved one with cancer. Meetings held every Tuesday at the Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center.
  • August 13, 10am. Wonder Walk: Using a Key to ID Trees. Do you wish you could identify native trees in your yard and the woods? Walk and learn with, Wanda MacLachlan, University of MD Extension. In the event of rain the program will be held indoors.


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By Kim T. Ha

E-books don’t just contain picture books for young children. They can also be valuable resources for those older elementary-aged kids interested in nonfiction topics or with school assignments. TrueFlix is such an online resource; it combines Scholastic’s ‘A True Book’ series with brief introductory videos.

Each ‘A True Book’ includes vivid photographs and drawings as well as fun, tidbit-filled captions. Every book opens with a true or false question, meant to encourage reflective reading. Categories include space, US government, natural disasters, continents and westward expansion. Below, I take a brief look at four informative books from the human body category, all by Christine Taylor-Butler and recommended for ages 8-10.

The Circulatory System
Does the right side of the heart do most of the work? This book answers this question and many others related to the circulatory system, which includes the heart, blood vessels, and blood. The circulatory system works with other organs to deliver food, oxygen, and water to cells in the body. It also carries away waste, such as carbon dioxide, that the body produces. This book includes detailed diagrams showing how blood flows throughout the body and how a wound heals. Photos of devices such as an ultrasound machine (used to examine the heart) and an artificial heart provide insight on how doctors treat heart problems and diseases. The last chapter discusses how readers can keep their circulatory system functioning well, such as with healthy eating and exercise. Resources for further reading and suggested places to visit for more information are included at the end.

The Digestive System
Take a glimpse into food’s journey and learn fun facts, such as what makes a person belch and what makes a stomach ache. Colorful and well-labeled diagrams take the reader step by step through the digestive system from food’s entry point (the mouth) to waste’s exit point (the rectum), complete with time line. Lunch eaten at noon, for instance, is not completely digested and waste gone from the body until 7:30 the following morning. That’s one long journey! This book also contains helpful tips for normal digestion and a healthy digestive system. For instance, one way to improve digestion is to relax. When a person is relaxed, his/her body will produce more gastric juice, which breaks down food. Also, avoid eating late at night because the body takes longer to digest food when one is asleep. Water and fiber can keep the digestive tract healthy, while too much fat can slow down digestion. Resources for further reading and investigation are included in the back.

The Nervous System
This is a very important system of the body that includes three main parts: the brain, the spinal cord, and the nerves that branch off from them. The nervous system is responsible for the ability to distinguish among thousands of different tastes and colors, controlling memories, and controlling voluntary movements, more specifically: posture, balance, and coordination. This book explains what happens to people’s bodies as they experience a scary movie. It also explains why a doctor taps a patient’s knee with a rubber hammer. Many types of nerve disorders are described, and illustrations and photographs depict ways in which these disorders are treated. An extensive list of things to do to protect the nervous system is included. Tips include: (1) Wear protective head gear when playing sports; (2) Use earplugs around loud noises and turn down loud music, especially when using headphones; and (3) Use a seat belt when in a moving car.

The Respiratory System
Ever wonder why you breathe faster when you exercise or what lung disease was probably most common in ancient Egypt? This book answers these questions and more. Some favorite features include an illustrated explanation of how a sneeze forms and the ‘True Statistics’ section. The latter section includes such interesting factoids as: (1) There are about 6 million US children with asthma; (2) About 40,000 people die from secondhand smoke in the US annually; and (3) About 1 pint of mucus is produced my the nose and sinuses each day. As with other books in the ‘A True Book’ Human Body series, this one includes useful health tips. For example, wear a mask when working on projects that involve dusts or fumes. Also, remember to work out regularly because exercise increases lung capacity.

Kim Ha is the Children’s Instructor and Research Supervisor at the Elkridge Branch of the Howard County Library System.  She enjoys dancing, jewelry-making, photography and traveling. So far, her favorite destinations are Hawaii and Italy. She recently discovered the joys of yoga and stunt kite flying.


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Drowning, Quietly

St. Michael's Life Preservers


It was the perfect summer evening with friends and family by the pool.  Laughter and chatter from the adults standing along the edges filled the night. Paul Simon’s “Graceland”, was cranked up- not quite to Tufnel’s Amplifier #11 in Spinal Tap- but loud enough for Rhymin’ Simon to out sing the August evening’s cricket choir.  Older kids migrated towards the deep end of the pool to play stealthy games of Sharks and Minnows and the more raucous game of Marco Polo.  The littlest ones, in swim vests and water wings, clung to the sides of the shallow end and hovered on the steps impressing themselves and their cousins with the daring feats of bubble blowing and frog kicks.

I come from a family of lifeguards and ocean swimmers.  We learned to swim as soon as we could walk and we taught our children to be early swimmers, as well.   We all have a healthy respect for the wildness and unpredictability of the gray Atlantic surf, for the murky brown of the farm pond, and for the serene blue waters of the neighborhood pools.   We are not complacent adults; we watched our children in the unguarded pools as well as guarded ocean beaches ready to charge in at the first frantic wave of the arm, or sound of coughing and sputtering, or panicked shout for help.

I found out on that August evening that drowning never happens that way- the way depicted in the movies and in television shows like Baywatch.   There is no crying- or yelling or frantic motions- in drowning.

My niece, too young for the deep end, but way too old at age 5 to hang out with the babies on the steps, had been playing in the shallow end of the pool.  I had noticed that she was creeping towards deeper water but I also knew she had basic swimming skills and that other adults were keeping watch.   I glanced back in time to see her large panicked brown eyes- the only part of her still remaining above water- quietly sink beneath the surface.  She did not yell, she did not flail.  Not one other adult out of at least six who were watching the pool noticed her quiet slip beneath the surface. And still, I hesitated- if only for a couple of seconds- because I could not comprehend that this quiet slip-sliding away was drowning. I shook off my hesitation and jumped in- fully clothed- and pulled her to the surface and it was only then- when she was in my arms and out of harm’s way that she began to cough and choke and cry.

U.S. Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer, Mario Vittone, writes in the gCaptain Blog that “Drowning is not the violent, splashing, call for help that most people expect”. Vittone points readers to Dr. Francesca Pia who studies the Instinctive Drowning Response- how people physically respond to avoid actual or perceived suffocation in the water.  Pia’s studies indicate that there is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind.

Vittone concludes; “This doesn’t mean that a person that is yelling for help and thrashing isn’t in real trouble – they are experiencing aquatic distress. Not always present before the instinctive drowning response, aquatic distress doesn’t last long – but unlike true drowning, these victims can still assist in their own rescue.  They can grab lifelines, throw rings, etc.”

Be alert to the signs of the Instinctive Drowning Response.  Share these signs with your friends and family and encourage everyone to be safe this summer at the beach, at the pool or wherever you swim. Remember- it’s the quiet ones that you have to watch out for.


The instinctive drowning response:

  • Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled, before speech occurs.
  • Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.
  • Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water, permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.
  • Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.
  • From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.


Mary Catherine Cochran is a Senior Communications Project Manager at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine where, among other things, she manages and writes for the Well & Wise blog.

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By Angie Engles

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Anxiety is crippling. Sometimes it sits on our chests like an elephant, other times it flits through our nerves like a skateboarder who has had way too much coffee. At its more casual, it’s something we can live with, but it makes life a lot harder and far less enjoyable. At its most severe, and for those who are stricken by it on a daily basis, anxiety seems to be the one in charge, not the person who has it.

So it’s very comforting to discover that the recently released The Mindful Way Through Anxiety:Break Free From Chronic Worry and Reclaim Your Life, by Orsillo and Roemer, is written not only with clarity and compassion, but with a determined mission to help all of us break through the anxiety that feeds our constant worry.

“Anxiety is an emotion that begs us to mishandle it through worry and rumination. In a careful, step-by-step fashion, Drs. Orsillo and Roemer show you how to use mindfulness to break free from the grip of anxiety and move forward now toward the kind of life you want to live.” So writes Steven C. Hayes, Ph.D., author and psychologist.

Mindfulness, being in the moment and aware and taking ownership of it, is the key to approaching anxiety. It’s impossible to halt a natural emotional response like anxiety in its tracks by sheer will. But being more aware, living in the now(bold), instead of constantly living in the future by worrying about it, is a step in the right direction.
Sometimes it may seem to us that weíre all alone in our anxiety. But as the authors write: ìBecause we are not privy to others’ personal experiences, we donít always see their private struggles with difficult and painful emotions.î And others may be experiencing fear, worry, or anxiety, all of which are different, but often combine together into one massive mess.

Susan M. Orsillo and Lizabeth Roemer, both psychologists, worked out a method that helps sufferers fundamentally change how they deal with anxiety. In clear, understanding, and sincere language, they describe how to better gain awareness of anxious feelings without letting them get worse, how to enjoy the benefits of emotional and physical well-being, and how to uncover new possibilities in life.

Orsillo and Roemer also tackle understanding fear and anxiety, how anxiety can complicate one’s life, and changing your relationship with anxiety through centering your mind on the right things. This very helpful book also has chapters on developing those skills needed to conquer anxiety, heighten emotions, and adopting a Zen-like approach to acceptance.

Angie Engles has been with the Howard County Library System for 17 years, 14 of which were at the Savage Branch. She currently works at the Central Branch primarily in the Fiction and Audio-visual departments. Her interests include music, books, and old movies.


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