Flu Season is Here Again

sick_in_bedFlu season is upon us once again.  Do yourself and those around you a favor and don’t push it if you get sick.  The world won’t stop spinning if you take a day or two and stay in bed.  I’m hearing this season has started early and is pretty intense so far.

As you may have heard, this year’s flu vaccine didn’t exactly cover all the strains they thought would be floating around this season.  That’s making things just a tad worse.

You can check out more information on the flu situation by going to: Google Flu Trends.
You can also use the chart below to see how intense the flu is in your area of the country.

Remember, if you come down with the flu:  Drink lots of fluids…coffee and beer don’t count as fluids.  Get lots of rest… at least eight hours or more of actual sleep.  Take medications to treat the symptoms… antibiotics don’t work on viruses.

Try not to infect those around you:  Cough into your elbow.  Sneeze into a Kleenex.  Wash your hands often and/or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

And keep repeating to yourself this mantra:  “This too shall pass.”


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Does Caffeine Increase Long-term Memory?

Cup of coffeeDoes Caffeine Increase Long-term Memory?

Many studies suggest that caffeine bears a lot of health advantages. Today, fresh research indicates that a bit of caffeine following a learning session may help to boost long-term memory. This is according to a report published in the journal “Nature Neuroscience”.

A research team, led by Daniel Borota from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, noted that while earlier research has examined the effects of caffeine as a cognitive enhancer, whether caffeine may impact long-term memory hasn’t been analysed in particular.

To determine that, the researchers studied 160 participants aged between 18 and 30 years.  On the first day of the study, the participants were presented with images of various objects and were required to describe them as “indoor” or “outdoor” items.  Shortly afterwards, the participants were randomized to get either 200 mg of caffeine in the form of a pill, or a placebo pill.

The following day, the participants were presented the same images in addition to some fresh ones. The researchers asked them to choose which images were “new,” “old” or “similar to the original images.”

200 mg of caffeine ‘heightened memory.’

From this, the researchers discovered that participants who received the caffeine were more proficient at identifying images that were similar, compared with participants who received the placebo.  Still, the researchers observed that both groups were able to correctly differentiate whether images were old or new.  New studies indicate that ingesting 200 mg of caffeine every day might increase long-term memory.

The research team carried out more experiments utilizing 100 mg and 300 mg doses of caffeine. They discovered that performance was improved after the 200 mg dose, compared with the 100 mg dose; however, there was no improvement after the 300 mg of caffeine, compared with 200-mg.

“Therefore, we resolve that a dose of at least 200 mg is needed to detect the enhancing effect of caffeine on integration of memory,” the researchers wrote. This is the equivalent of two cups of coffee or one commercial caffeine pill.

The research team likewise discovered that memory performance wasn’t enhanced if participants were given caffeine 1 hour before executing the image identification exam.

The researchers state there are numerous theories as to how caffeine may enhance long-term memory.  For instance, they say it might block a molecule called adenosine, keeping it from discontinuing the function of norepinephrine – a hormone that’s been proven to have favorable effects upon memory.  They mention that additional studies should be carried out to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms by which caffeine affects long-term memory. 

In addition, they add:

“Given the widespread usage of caffeine and the rising interest in its effects both as a cognitive enhancer and as a neuroprotectant, these queries are of vital importance.”

Possible rewards and dangers of caffeine use.

According to the most recent calculations from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the average American consumes 300 mg of caffeine per day.  The main sources of the compound are coffee, tea and soft drinks.

A lot of research indicates that caffeine offers health rewards. A year ago, “Medical News Today” described a study indicating that caffeinated beverages might reduce the danger of liver disease, while a different study from Medical News Today alleges that drinking 2-4 cups of coffee per day may decrease suicide risk .

However, it’s not all positive news. One study indicates that the stimulant is able to interrupt normal sleep patterns hours after ingesting it, while a different study purports that caffeine from energy drinks may modify heart function. 

References:  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270963.php
Post-study caffeine administration enhances memory consolidation in humans, doi:10.1038/nn.3623, Daniel Borota, Elizabeth Murray, Gizem Keceli, Allen Chang, Joseph M Watabe, Maria Ly, John P Toscano, Michael A Yassa, published in Nature Neuroscience, 12 January 2014. Abstract http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nn.3623



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Things Winning People Do Early in the Morning.

I hate mornings!Wake up! Get out of bed! The morning time is your friend. Love it or detest it, using the morning hours prior to work is perhaps the key to a productive and healthy lifestyle. That’s correct, getting up early is a common trait found in a lot of CEOs, government officials, and other important folks. Margaret Thatcher was awake every day at 5 a.m.; Frank Lloyd Wright at 4 am and Robert Iger, the CEO of Disney wakes at 4:30am, to name a few. I know what you are thinking – you work better at night. Not so fast. According to Inc. Magazine, morning people have been found to be more proactive and more productive. Additionally, the health benefits for those with a life ahead work go on and on. Here’s five of the things successful people do before 8:00 in the morning:

Number 1: Exercise. A lot of people that exercise daily, exercise in the morning. Whether it’s morning yoga or a visit to the gym, exercising prior to work provides a boost of energy for the day and that merited feeling of achievement. Anybody may undertake any steno work after 200 abdominal reps! Morning workouts likewise eradicate the possibility of flaking out on your cardio after a lengthy day at work. Even if you aren’t bright eyed and bushy tailed at the thought of a 5 am jog, attempt to wake up 15 minutes ahead of time for a fast bedside set of pushups, situps or stretching. It will help arouse your body, and prepare you for your day.

Number 2: Plan Out Your Day. Maximize your potential by planning out your agenda for the day in addition to setting your goals and to-dos. The morning is an effective time for this because it’s frequently one of the sole quiet moments an individual finds throughout the day. The early hours promote easier reflection that aids whilst prioritizing your activities. They likewise allow for uninterrupted problem solving while trying to accommodate everything into your timetable. While scheduling, do not forget about your mental health. Plan a 10 minute intermission after that stressful job for a speedy walk around the block or a bit of meditation. Attempting to eat healthy? Schedule a minute in the evening to pack a few nutritious snacks to bring to work the following day.

Number 3: Consume a Healthy Breakfast. We each recognize that rush out the door with a cup of coffee and an empty stomach feeling. You’re just about to your first job and you are already wondering how soon that sandwich truck sets up outside the office. That’s no good. Use that additional time in the morning to fuel your body for the jobs ahead of it. It will enable you to keep your mind on what’s close at hand and not your growling stomach. Not only is breakfast beneficial for your physical health, it’s likewise a good time to connect with your family. Just five minutes of talking with your children or spouse while consuming a fast bowl of oatmeal could raise your spirits before heading out the door.

Number 4: Visualization. Nowadays we talk about our physical health incessantly, but sometimes our mental health gets left out. The morning is the ideal time to spend a few quiet moments inside your mind meditating or visualizing. Take a few minutes to visualize your day ahead of you, concentrating on the successes you’ll have. Even just a moment of visualization and positive thinking may help improve your mood and outlook on your tasks for the day.

Number 5: Make Your Day Top Heavy. We each have that one thing on our to-do list that we hate. It looms over you all day (or week) until you finally give in and do it after a good deal of procrastination. Here’s a simple tip to relieve yourself of the tension – accomplish that least desirable chore on your list first. Rather than anticipating the unpleasantness of it from your first cup of coffee through your lunch break, get it out of the way. The morning is the time when you’re (by and large) more well rested and your energy level is up. Therefore, you’re more well-equipped to take on harder projects. And look at it this way, your day will get increasingly easier, not the other way around. By the time your work day is finishing, you are winding down with easier to-dos and heading into your free time more at ease. Winner!

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Are Temporary Jobs becoming the New Trend in Employment?

Lately, hiring has increased in an area where few people prefer to be employed.  From companies like Wal-Mart, General Motors to PepsiCo, companies are increasingly turning to temporary workers, freelancers, contract workers and consultants.

It seems what’s driving this trend is that companies are wanting to insulate themselves from a volatile economy while creating a permanent group of cheaper, benefit-less workers to replace a big chunk of their full-time workforce.  Temporary workers are often paid less than full-time workers and are not likely to receive benefits such as health insurance, retirement benefits, or be protected by labor laws.

The use of temps has expanded into employment sectors that rarely used them in the past – professional services, for example, which include lawyers, doctors and IT specialists.

The impact this has had on the legal industry is that lawyers and paralegals are often hired on a temp basis to perform fixed-term tasks like documents searches.  Instead of maintaining a group of expensive lower level legal help, law firms increasingly are outsourcing work to other locations abroad like India, where an educated and lower paid labor force works in English.  Legal outsourcing is likely to grow as more firms look to save on labor-intensive tasks.

What does this mean for court reporters?  I believe with the technology we have, there is nothing inhibiting law firms from using technologies such as Skype and GoToMeeting, among others, and cloud computing sources to be able to outsource their deposition work.  This would also apply to any other entity that would have a need for stenographically recorded documents. 

So if you want to stay ahead of the curve, you need to be proficient in new technologies so you can be competitive in a world where permanent job positions are decreasing, enabling employers to avoid paying soon mandatory health insurance, and instead are hiring outsourced, freelance, contract and temporary workers.  There’s no reason you can’t be the one on the other end of that Skype connection working from your home.

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Favorite Grammar Gaffes: Danglers

I ran across this article today in the New York Times.  Since we can all use some  occasional grammar reminders, I thought I would post it here.  Feel free to copy and paste it for yourself or comment on it.

March 5, 2013, 8:00 am

Favorite Grammar Gaffes: Danglers


On our list of recurring grammatical woes, dangling modifiers rank right alongside subject-verb problems and who-whom missteps.

Participle constructions, appositives and other modifying phrases generally should be followed immediately by the noun or pronoun that the modifier describes. Getting this right lends polish and precision to our prose; missteps make our writing seem slipshod.

Here are a few of the latest lapses:


Mr. Hagel has long been on the outs with some party mates because of policy disagreements with them over the years, which sometimes made him seem more like a Democrat. But stemming from their Senate ranks as he did, the intensity of their grilling was striking and illustrative of how the old ways of the Senate are disappearing.

This is a classic dangling participle. The first noun or pronoun after the introductory modifying phrase should be the thing the phrase describes. In this case, that would be Hagel, not “intensity.”


Silver-haired, stooped and cerebral, Benedict’s influence could well extend to the choice of a successor since he has molded the College of Cardinals — the papal electoral body — by his appointment of kindred spirits during his papacy.

A common type of dangler problem. Immediately after the modifiers, we should find the noun being modified. But the possessive “Benedict’s” can’t fill that role grammatically, since it, too, functions as a modifier. So “silver-haired, stooped and cerebral” seem to describe “Benedict’s influence” — not what we meant.


Unlike a legal proceeding, no one testified under oath and witnesses were allowed to speak anonymously in the Freeh report, which also failed to conduct interviews with “most of the key witnesses,” the Thornburgh report said …

The noun right after the “unlike” phrase should be the thing that is “unlike.” Perhaps recast the sentence: “Unlike a legal proceeding, the Freeh inquiry did not involve sworn testimony, and …” (Trying to skirt this issue by using a phrase like “unlike in a legal proceeding” is no better, since “unlike” is a preposition and should be followed by a noun or pronoun, not another preposition.)
In a Word

This week’s grab bag of grammar, style and other missteps, compiled with help from colleagues and readers.


The mayor, finally, makes for a diffident diplomat. His journeys to Albany feature elbow shots at the governor and legislators. Last week, he offered a seminar in how to turn off friends and fail to influence enemies.

As a reader pointed out, “diffident” means timid or shy, certainly not what we wanted to say here. Perhaps we meant “reluctant”?


Fun., the Brooklyn pop-rock trio, won best new artist and song of the year for “We Are Young,” their inescapable hit that spent six weeks atop the Hot 100 and sold more than six million copies.

Let’s draw the line at changing the rules of punctuation in names. We don’t give Yahoo its exclamation point or Kesha her $, either. The period at the end of the name looks like a typo, which could cause readers to be confused or think we are sloppy. It has no practical effect on pronunciation, understanding or search.


It turned out the activity was centered around a high school in Orange County.

From the stylebook:

center(v.). Do not write center around because the verb means gather at a point. Logic calls for center on, center in or revolve around.


Prisoners have an important role in Palestinian society, with even those convicted of murder often upheld as heroes of resistance against Israel.

Make it “held up.”


What he did not know was that the United States was quietly advocating against him.

“Advocate” means speak or act in favor of something; avoid the phrase “advocate against.”


“I couldn’t understand any ideology that justified living here and not praying for the soldiers who are risking their lives for us to be here,” said Mr. Lipman, who grew up in Maryland.

Rabbis should keep that title in all references; throughout this article, we referred to Rabbi Dov Lipman as “Mr. Lipman.”


But that has never stopped me from thinking with a shiver, when some poor civilian sap becomes the focus of an actor’s jibes and sallies, “There but for the grace of God …”

“Gibes,” not “jibes.” From the stylebook:

jibe. Colloquially, it means conform. In sailing, it means shift. Gibe means jeer or taunt.


A cyclist made their way through the snow in Boston.

The plural “their” does not work with the singular “cyclist.”


Perhaps the reason so many people are in the dark is because they want it that way.

“Because” is redundant after “reason.” Make it “that,” or rephrase.


Tunisians had prided themselves on largely avoiding the political violence that has troubled transitions in neighboring countries like Libya, where the government has been unable to reign in militias that fought Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, or interrupt a cycle of political assassinations in the city of Benghazi.

A common lapse. Make it “rein in,” not “reign in.”


In 2011, he encouraged Jewish voters in Brooklyn and Queens to vote for a Republican, Bob Turner, instead of a Democrat, David I. Weprin, in order to send a message to President Obama, whom he felt was not supportive enough of Israel.

Make it “who,” the subject of “was.”


The Brooklyn Bridge may not be for sale, but surplus paint from the span is.

From the stylebook:

span. It is the part of a bridge between piers or supports. Do not use the word, even in a headline, to mean bridge.


The iron was the odd piece out after it received the fewest number of votes among the original pieces.

Redundant. “Fewest votes” would have been fine.


Mr. Hauer said that coastal areas of Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island could see flooding and should be prepared to seek alternative shelter.

The coastal areas won’t seek shelter; the people who live in them will.


“We are gonna weaken the United States and make it much more difficult for us to respond to the crises in the world,” he said.

No reason to use this nonstandard dialect spelling. Many — probably most — American speakers pronounce the phrase this way, but it’s still spelled “going to.”


The main criteria used by judges is the risk of the defendant’s not returning to court for trial. …

In recent years, the use of bail bonds and pretrial release rates have fallen, he said.

In the first sentence, we meant “criterion,” singular. In the second sentence, make the verb “has fallen” to agree with the singular subject “use.”

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