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Archive for the ‘vegetables’ Category

by Christopher Brinckerhoff

Seattle, Washington captivated me. From sea to lake, environmental consciousness to grunge, the Queen City offers jarring art amongst ecological splendor. Here’s a bridge To Seattle From Chicago I hope you enjoy.

Copyright 2010

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by Christopher Brinckerhoff

Wanna know what’s up with healthcare reform? Me too. A recent trip to the northeastern quadrant of Iowa led me to the town of Waverly, population about 10,000.

This seemed like an ideal place to take the temperature of our country’s healthcare opinions because: One, about two years ago President Barack Obama got his start with a Primary victory in Iowa on the way to the top office in the nation, and two, since his inauguration Obama’s approval rating in polls has dipped from 80-plus percent to below 50 percent.

Arguably one of the contributing factors to this change in public opinion was the introduction of healthcare reform proposals. Business owners in this small Midwest town provided a revealing look into what folks think about healthcare reform, and why President Obama’s proposals have not always been met with open arms.

One Waverly business owner was concerned about the implications of expanding public healthcare. Bertil Anderberg, owner of two salons, Tren D Hair And More and Cost Cutters Family Hair Care, said America has the best healthcare system in the world. Why else would the Mayo Clinic be filled with international patients? he said.

The Tren D Hair owner, who grew up in Sweden, provides a healthcare option for his employees.

“I know all about socialistic healthcare,” Anderberg said. “That’s the worst possible thing they can do here. You are going to stay in line like a bunch of heifers to get some help from the doctor, and then he’ll give you a pill and say ‘come back next week.’ Then go in this line. He’ll give you a pill again and say ‘come back in two weeks,’ and then you’ll go back over here again.”

The business owners I spoke with related to the healthcare reform question with different, yet interesting and revealing, viewpoints.

American Family Insurance agent Kristi Demuth said she was conflicted by the healthcare conundrum. The 20-plus year insurance veteran said she sees healthcare reform from two different perspectives: the consumer and the insurance agent.

From the consumer point-of-view, Demuth said there are situations when people are denied insurance options based on non-recurring or dormant conditions. While she acknowledged the needs of insurance companies to impose these pre-existing conditions clauses, there are times when these rules impose undue financial duress on otherwise healthy individuals.

From the consumer’s perspective, loosening the pre-existing conditions clause would be an improvement, according to Demuth.

Demuth said she would also welcome reduced premiums. But that scenario becomes less likely if insurance companies make it easier for people with pre-existing conditions to purchase plans without as many strings attached. In fact, premiums would likely go up, not down, according to Demuth.

Waverly, Iowa American Family Insurance agent Kristi Demuth says she sees the healthcare reform question from two views: the provider and the receiver. Neither gives a clear answer. In fact, the opposite is true. It is complicated. Photo by Christopher Brinckerhoff.

Waverly, Iowa American Family Insurance agent Kristi Demuth says she sees the healthcare reform question from two views: the provider and the receiver. Neither gives a clear answer. In fact, the opposite is true. It is complicated. Photo by Christopher Brinckerhoff.

Demuth said more communication between doctors and insurance companies could reduce costs.

If you see a doctor who has followed your health history over a long period of time, and you have the same health concern, such as allergies, every year, an office visit might not be necessary in order to write a prescription.

“It’s different if you’re a brand new client to a doctor,” Demuth said. “I don’t have a problem with that. But what I struggle with is that continually having to go to the doctor when you know that’s what you have just because you’ve had it so many times.”

One business owner was disturbed by the concept of politically administered healthcare.

Government intervention could only make matters worse, according to Osage resident Vernon Martin. Countries with socialized healthcare put elderly folks at a significant disadvantage in terms of receiving care, the construction company owner said.

“I know a girl in Canada for instance, and she’s a nurse up there,” Martin said. “And what happens up there? The old people get pushed back. People that should be getting care, and they aren’t getting care because they aren’t sick enough to be serious. You know, you take a number. They don’t care. Right now at least the healthcare system is providing for the old folks.”

Martin, whose wife is also a nurse, said government intervention would translate into problems.

“The government’s trying to come in here and set up a health program that’s going to take care of everybody and supply everybody with everything – yeah right,” Martin said. “When has the government ever gotten their fingers into anything that they haven’t screwed up?”

While no clear solutions emerged from conversations with business owners in northeast Iowa, one reality did come to light: Americans, as a group, are at the same time passionate and mixed about healthcare reform.

Copyright 2009

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Originally published Oct. 1, 2008.

by Christopher Brinckerhoff

Video by Christopher Brinckerhoff.

Chicagoans swarm Madison Street every weekday morning and evening walking to and from their jobs. A number of them are speaking, but they’re not talking to each other.

The commuters are talking on their cell phones, and some are using headsets and wireless earpieces. Their phones are conveniently tucked away in their purses and pockets. Some research published this year suggested this may not be healthy for human reproduction.

The study, published by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine,  said cell phone usage by men might affect sperm quality. The research was completed by the Cleveland Clinic and was called “Effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic waves (RF-EMW) from cellular phones on human ejaculated semen: an in vitro pilot study.”

The study looked at the effects of electromagnetic waves on human semen by putting it into two small receptacles and exposing one of them to a common model cell phone two centimeters away.

In  the 36 samples they tested the results showed a decrease in the movement and viability of the sperm.

Though the study concedes it was limited in scope, in part, due to a small sample size and having to test in test tubes instead of on live people, another study they also conducted had results consistent with the theory that cell phones impair sperm viability.

In the other study the researchers looked at more than 300 men, and reported a correlation between daily cell phone usage and sperm quality. The research showed that men who used their cell phones more than four hours a day on average also had the least vital sperm on average.

The scientists’ “Effects of radiofrequency…” report said the most significant finding was the increase in  what are called Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). ROS is normally created in semen, and antioxidants bond with ROS, thus neutralizing them. This is good because then there aren’t as many free radicals. Free radicals can be bad because they have been associated with cancer formation.

What they found out was that the ROS increased in a statistically significant amount, according to one doctor.

Dr. Paul B. Odland at Columbia College’s Student Health Center said the research seems to pick up on a statistically significant ROS increase.

“The P value is a statistical measurement in which a P value of .05 means that the finding is less due to chance,” Odland said. “This is less than .05 (.022). So that means that it’s unlikely this is a chance measure. It’s suggestive that it’s an actual difference. So that would mean statistically significant. Actually what significance this has for sperm measure and fertility, I don’t know that.”

With the explosion of cell phone usage over the last 20 years and the subsequent growth of cell phone manufactures and carriers, a lot of money has been spent by consumers on these products. One cell phone carrier we contacted has yet to weigh in on the health issue these studies raise.

Photo by Christopher Brinckerhoff.

Verizon Wireless store supervisor Dwayne Garner at the 1105 S. State Street store said he was not permitted to comment on the issue. Garner said any comments made must go through their legal department. Messages left for Verizon’s Midwest media relations manager were not returned.

Some college students are not concerned with this possible cell phone hazard.

Columbia freshman and illustration major Mathew Hamilton was working out at the Student Wellness Center at the 731 S. Plymouth building. Hamilton said he’s not worried about the implications of the research.

“Maybe I will be more concerned if it turns out to be true,” Hamilton said.

Columbia student and film major Kyle Norwood said he’s not concerned about the possible danger either. Norwood said perhaps his future self will be mad at his current self for not being more cautious, but he’s so addicted to the technology it doesn’t bother him now.

Photo by Christopher Brinckerhoff.

Photo by Christopher Brinckerhoff.

Copyright 2008

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by Albert Corvera

Personal trainer Michael Salazar says his business is booming, despite the current economy. Photo from his website.

Personal trainer Michael Salazar says his business is booming, despite the current economy. Photo from his website.

Chicago – Personal trainer Mike Salazar is doing something he dreamed about ever since he was a junior in high school. Not many 23-year-olds can say they have a successful business, but he can.

Just a little over a month ago Salazar’s business, Evolution Personal Training, 2633 W. Bryn Mawr, opened its doors. As of now the profits of Salazar’s training facility have been increasing to go along with his base clientele he has had at previous employers including Bally Total Fitness and locally owned Fitness Defined. In the opening month Salazar netted nearly $8,000 in profit.

Despite financial success at the other gyms, the sports business and business management student at Loyola University in Chicago wanted to break away from the big box gyms and start something different. Something he can call his own.

“I wanted to create an environment where people of all abilities can work out,” he said. “From the busy stay-at-home mom, the competitive athlete, the junior high volleyball player, and senior citizens; there is a place for all these people here at Evolution Personal Training.”

The majority of fitness workers work part-time at one individual facility, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Strength professionals such as EPT trainer Dan Deitch end up holding multiple jobs to create a full-time workload.

“I have a few clients here, some at Fitness Defined and at-home clients,” Deitch said. “A lot of people compliment personal training with other jobs, whether it’s construction or something like that. People just like to do this for fun on the side because it’s such a fun and great job to have.”

Personal trainers start at various wages. To test out his ability Salazar first started training teachers and fellow classmates for a small fee. Once he got his first certification, he became a regular at Bally, which charged clients roughly $20-$30 per hour.

Now at his own facility Salazar charges about $69 per hour on average. With training being a luxury, Deitch said people can pay the rate. They just have to make sacrifices on the little things financially.

“I think a lot of people can afford it,” Deitch said. “It’s just a matter of whether they want to. People tend to budge on really what they want. If you really discipline yourself for a few months financially, you can put that into training. But eventually it’s going to eventually be a need because people aren’t going out for exercise as much.”

Despite the struggles in today’s economy, people will still take their health seriously no matter at what cost. With the prices skyrocketing for healthcare, Frank Miele, vice-president of operations for International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA), says that more people are concerned.

“Personal fitness trainers fill the gap between sick care and health care,” Miele said. “Today, a personal fitness trainer can be defined as an individual who educates and trains clients in the performance of safe and appropriate exercises in order to effectively lead their clients to optimal health.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics a 27-percent increase has been predicted in the number of employment opportunities for fitness and nutrition professionals between 2006 and 2016. Reasons include many fitness corporations are looking for part-timers rather than full-times.

Deitch said there is only one reason to why being a personal trainer is one of the more prospective occupations – technology.

“I think within the last 20 or 30 years obesity in our country, at least among teenagers, will have almost tripled,” Deitch said. “More and more people are staying at home now, either with their ‘Crackberrys’ or their video games or on the computer.”

Twenty-three-year-old client Christopher Rivera recently signed for a few sessions with Deitch. In addition to getting in better shape and feeling healthier, Rivera said that he wanted personal training to learn how to workout smarter.

“You can look at training as a way to ease stress,” Deitch said. “There is nothing better about seeing your body in better shape and feeling better. Everybody has his or her own reasons, but stress alone is a key factor.”

Salazar has said that people want to exercise, workout and get in shape. But with the hectic schedules of everyday life, most people don’t have time to workout as much, which has caused many Americans to become out of shape and obese.

“These people want results,” he said, “but they still want to spend time at home with family and friends. Working with a personal trainer ensures they are getting the most from their workouts.”

“After a good workout it’s going to get some of that stress out,” Deitch said. “If you’re married, you’re going to be working out. If you’re a Cubs fan, you’re going to be working out.”

Personal trainers are self-employed. Many work by appointment. New trainers with a small clientele base go through prospecting, which Salazar describes as the salesman aspect of the job where the trainer attempts to sell him or herself to the consumer.

“As a trainer, you can’t sound like a salesman,” Salazar said. “You need to enjoy what you do, do it right and have integrity towards your work. You shouldn’t focus on the money, but on the client.”

Copyright 2009

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by Christopher Brinckerhoff

cmw1

NetSquared and Community Media Workshop toasted the beginning of CMW's annual conference this Tuesday. Gordon Mayer and Thom Clark of CMW both spoke at the event. Photos by Christopher Brinckerhoff.

Chicago – Nonprofit technology professionals from NetSquared co-hosted their monthly meeting tonight with Community Media Workshop at Columbia College. CMW used the occasion to kick off their annual Making Media Connections conference as well as preview their “the New news” report on Chicago media outlets. The Chicago Community Trust commissioned the research.

The gathering commenced with a streak of drinks and chatter, and moved onto the traditional introduction round robin that happens at most networking functions. There was a common question each person answered as we went around the room. What is the newest news source you have found and will love forever?

In addition to the expected support for traditional outlets including the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and National Public Radio, it was notable how many people in the 50-plus group said their new great source was Twitter.

One man said he found out about the Hudson River plane landing on Twitter before he saw it reported by other news sources. This recognition of the relatively new immediacy of information dissemination folded nicely into CMW’s new media report preview.

While some folks get their news through classic channels, others are tweeting on their iPhones and clicking on hyperlinks for their info. At the same time, newspapers are laying off writers like there’s no tomorrow and millions of writers produce online content for zero monetary compensation. This has left many of us wondering how the new media revolution will grow with funding resources.

The report showed funding for the reviewed outlets in the following order, most to least: my piggy bank, for-profit, other (including from advertising dollars), nonprofit, donations, subscriptions, sales of goods and services, venture capital and no response.

The June NetSquared meeting and CMW’s conference kick-off wrapped with perceptive observations on the changing roles of media professionals and technologies.

CMW President Thom Clark said while the business model of online news sources continues to be a subject of debate, there is no doubt the new news has augmented the lob-sided public square of information with more diverse voices.

Copyright 2009

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Commentary by Albert Corvera

The infamous Cubbie curse is upon us yet again! Best record in the National League, and yet another three game flop in the National League Divisional Series (NLDS).

If you didn’t find a scary costume to wear for Halloween this year, I suggest that you go next year as a Cubs curse: the “Billy Goat,” “Black Cat” or the “Bartman.”

Put on a goat mask. Wear all black and put on cat ears, and you’ll make a “Black Cat” to spec. Or, don a Cubs cap, elbow on a blue sweater, and top yourself with a pair of headphones to look like the infamous Steve Bartman, the Cubs fan who was blamed for knocking away a foul ball in the 2003 NLDS.

But one thing you have to ask yourself, either as a Cubs fan, or a baseball aficionado: are the Cubs really cursed? Has the 100-plus year drought of a World Series win gotten to us so that we now truly believe, after years of doubt, the Cubs curse really exists?

Lifelong Cubs fan and Northeastern Illinois University psychology major CJ Mina doesn’t think the curse is the case. Possible blame of the Cubs demise could be placed on the media hype that the team faces every single season with the insurmountable pressure to win it all, according to Mina.

“Cubs cursed?” Mina said. “No. How can any type of superstition account for the Cubs not producing runs during the NLDS this year. Besides, the dude with the ‘Billy Goat’ curse has been dead for almost 40 years now. I think it’s more of the media hype because that’s all [fans] can relate to when the Cubs lose.  Still sad and pitiful though, it’s gonna be 100-plus years.”

Cubs’ historian, author and lifelong Cubs fan George Castle said the Cub’s curse does not exist. Castle said factors within the organization and management gave the team their hundred plus year demise as a soft laden franchise. Not any single one of the curses exists, according to Castle.

“What gives Billy Sianis the right to put a hex on the Cubs?” Castle said. “No one in this world can ever have that power or right to do that!”

The Daley Plaza Picasso sculpture of a woman’s face sports a Cubbie blue lid at a playoff pep-rally in October, 2008. Photo by Albert Covera.

The Daley Plaza Picasso sculpture of a woman’s face sports a Cubbie blue lid at a playoff pep-rally in October, 2008. Photo by Albert Covera.

For those of you less or not familiar with the “Curse of the Billy Goat,” the story goes like this…

Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis brought his pet goat to Wrigley Field during a 1945 World Series game. Fans were bothered by the odor of the goat, and Sianis was asked to leave with his goat.

The request angered Sianis, and the supposed hex came about when he said that the Cubs would not win anymore. Some thought the Sianis hex meant that there never would be another World Series at Wrigley Field.

Unfortunately, so far, this has been true. There hasn’t been a World Series game there since then. The last time the Cubs even came close was in 2003 when the team was five outs away from clinching the NL Pennant. Then, disaster struck in the fifth inning, and another curse was born.

Bartman was listening to broadcasters Pat and Ron on the radio during game six of the Cubs 2003 NLDS. In the fifth inning Bartman reached up for a foul ball at the same time as Cubs left fielder Moises Alou jumped to make the out.

Sure, it was a catchable ball for Alou, but that ball was clearly within the grasp of all the neighboring spectators. In the close up photographs of that moment other fans near Bartman were also reaching for the ball. Unfortunately, one guy took the heat for the way it was. Bartman became a victim of his own human instinct to catch a ball headed his way.

But there is one thing that people are forgetting. How about the groundball through the wick-its (legs) of normally sure-handed shortstop Alex Gonzales?

No one made a huge deal about that when the Cubs faltered in game seven against the Florida Marlins, the World Series champs that year. That was the fishes’ second in six years, compared to the Cubs zero in the past 100.

Castle said Cubs management and personnel have been the real reason and tale for the lack of winning by the organization.

“Most people, the media especially, like to use the curse as sort of a scapegoat for the Cubs’ miseries in the past century,” Castle said.

No one can explain it. No one can pinpoint the exact cause of failure. But one Sox fan explained it this way.

“The Cubs aren’t cursed! They just suck!” said Alvin Baetiong, a researcher Northwestern University.

Sadly, as a diehard Cub fan, I couldn’t agree more. 

Copyright 2008

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by Antonette Brotman

Chicago – “How much?” asked the lady in the Polish Triangle, picking up a porcelain chef figurine from between a box of pantry items and a pile of old clothes.

“It’s free. Everything is free,” voices answered. But she wasn’t accepting it as free. A container filled with change at her feet read, “Give if you want, take if you need.” She drew a dollar from her wallet, dropped it in with the other money and walked off, clutching her new trinket like a smuggler.

On Oct. 26 local activists brought their idle possessions together for barter at the Really Really Free Market (RRFM). They set up blankets to station themselves with their goods, and started looking around for things of interest to trade – for free.

Maggie Block and Zak Eveland dump a pile of clothes on a blanket to set up for the RRFM. Photo by Antonette Brotman.

Maggie Block and Zak Eveland dump a pile of clothes on a blanket to set up for the RRFM. Photo by Antonette Brotman.

Activist Maggie Block organized RRFM at the Polish Triangle located at the intersection of Division Street, Milwaukee Avenue and Ashland Avenue. The event was held in commemoration for Kirsten Brydum, a San Francisco activist, who was fatally shot this past September in New Orleans.

“We wanted to start a long-overdue RRFM in [Brydum’s] honor,” Block said. “And hopefully we can make this a more consistent thing.”

With the winter months approaching, RRFM events will be moved indoors until the spring, but the details have not yet been confirmed.

Not to be confused with standard charity, the RRFM is interactive sharing where everyone benefits. People can got rid of their no longer needed items and traded with other people for things they wanted.

“It’s a wonderland,” Shimer College liberal arts student David Brault said. “It’s a joke on the real market where you sell services for money. But here, I can sell my services for free.”

Many people provided services including massages, haircuts or music lessons. In addition there were also clothes, books, photos, paintings and posters. Brault drew free portraits for the event.

“It’s funny because it’s like, ‘oh, buy my thing! Buy my thing! But really, you’re giving it,” Brault said.

Priceless. Photo by Antonette Brotman.

Relaxing massage:zero dollars; Vegan baked goods: zero dollars; Trampoline, bike, color portrait, hand-me-downs, posters, music, books, all zero dollars. Refusing the capitalist society: Priceless. Photo by Antonette Brotman.

Rosy Phinick, an English major with a minor in Queer Studies at DePaul, baked all vegan apple pie cookies, chocolate chip cookies, brownies and banana bread. She heard of the market through Bash Back!, a radical trans/queer/anarcha-feminist group.

Bash Back! described themselves to their myspace as “an anti-assimilation, sex-positive, radical group of queers, transfolk, and feminists dedicated to eradicating heteronormativity, subverting binary gender norms, capitalism and attacking intersecting oppressions including but not limited to white supremacy, patriarchy, classism, ableism, sizeism and poverty inside and outside of the movement.”

Punk folk country based group The Rust Belt Ramblers provided free music, collaborating with others on guitar, vocals and percussion. They played the later half of the market and gave away CDs of their album, Cheer Up Champ.

While it was exciting to experience the diversity of everyone’s talents and services, for some, RRFM was just a good way to eliminate hoarded relics.

Leila Nations, a student at Truman College and Radical Cheerleader said they “got most of the stuff from [their] roommates. When we all moved in, we had excess [expletive deleted].”

Out-of-towners Loren Hall and girlfriend Sarah Lann used RRFM as an opportunity to get crafty. The couple picked up arctic cod liver oil to share with RRFM community. Though they live in Massachusetts, the travelers have been a part of several area activist events including Glamour Queer.

Bash Back! member Lily Wilcock tests out the bounce on a really really free trampoline. Photo by Antonette Brotman.

Bash Back! member Lily Wilcock tests out the bounce on a really really free trampoline. Photo by Antonette Brotman.

The activist community overlapped at RRFM. Food Not Bombs, a self-proclaimed revolutionary group that shares free food and protests poverty and war, showed and served up homemade vegan dishes. The group stood under a sign proclaiming “Comida No Migra” which means food does not migrate. The Radical Cheerleaders also made an appearance. Cheers like “Pervert” collected crowds and got everyone energized.

“We’re fed up, and we want change,” activist Lily Wilcock of Bash Back! said. The RRFM and Food Not Bombs are concerned with gentrification, police brutality and anti-assimilation, according to Wilcock.

“Above all, we don’t want to assimilate,” Wilcock said.

Though, it was everyone else who seemed to be assimilating to RRFM on Sunday. Many passersby stopped to inquire about what was going on, and upon discovering the freeness, some even loaded up grocery carts.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Wicker Park resident and RRFM bystander, Harry Callion said. “It’s good to see bartering still going on; it was the first money system in the world.”

RRFM participant Zak Eveland offered music lessons on basic guitar theory for free. The bike to his left now has a happy owner. Photo by Antonette Brotman.

RRFM participant Zak Eveland offered music lessons on basic guitar theory for free. The bike to his left now has a happy owner. Photo by Antonette Brotman.

Getting involved in future RRFM events can take either as much or as little preparation as you’re willing and capable of providing. One option is to collect unused goods from family and friends or to prepare a meal or instrument lesson. These are not last minute options because they take some planning beforehand.

Since no money is accepted for trade at the RRFM, things are given away instead of, and without, a monetary transaction. This means that even if you have nothing to share with the community, you won’t be excluded from the activities.

Copyright 2008

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