Workplace Bullying in Christchurch


Further to my blog this morning on how people are, or are not coping with stress from the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes, we are now hearing stories of increased workplace bullying in Christchurch. I don’t know how much it would take place normally, but this is another example of ordinary people being stretched to extraordinary limits.

According to a story published in many media this week, the stress levels are as high as would be found in a war zone. An AAP story says that scripts for sleeping pills and anti anxiety drugs are up and many people are self medicating with alcohol often resulting in violent incident, domestic and otherwise. Women’s Refuge reports a 30% increase in demand since the February earthquake.

A poll in The Press established that only 38% of people in Christchurch don’t want to leave. Of course as I mentioned in my blog yesterday on  Post Traumatic Stress in Christchurch, because of mortgage commitments, and the logical lack of buyers, many people can’t afford to leave if they wanted to.

Meanwhile Prime Minister John Key is still unable to say whether a decision will be announced this week on which streets or  suburbs will not be rebuilt.

Here’s another every day view from NZ Herald TV, brushing your teeth with lemonade because there is no water.

Olmesartan and Recovery from Autoimmune Disease


The following presentation is fascinating. So many people suffer from autoimmune problems. Could it be that many of them can be cured using a subset of Vitamin D?

It makes sense that many bacterial genomes damage the immune system over time and incrementally shut it down. In effect microbiota block the Vitamin D Receptors from producing antimicrobials.

Professor Trevor Marshall has worked with over 500 human subjects and demonstrated reversibility of   many autoimmune conditions including Lupus, MS, Type 2 diabetes and many more conditions, typically chronic inflammation conditions.

What is even more impressive is that as the inflammation receded, a host of other conditions that the subjects suffered from also disappeared. These included  memory loss, obsessive compulsive disorder, osteoporosis, bipolar and even cardiovascular disease.

In their research they discovered a couple of very interesting points. One is that only 1,25 dihydroxyviatmin-D can activate VDR transcription, whereas Vitamin D that we can take as pills actually inhibit it.

Could this be one of the discoveries that will help increase our life expectancy and potentially cure people from many terrible diseases?

Why do people still smoke?


With the amount of information about the effects of smoking, it amazes me how many people still want to smoke. My father in-law had a laryngectomy several years ago and speaks through a valve in his neck. After several years of remission he now has tumors in his bladder. My mother in-law has emphysema and cerebrovascular disease, which is similar to Alzheimer’s Disease with similar symptoms. She still smokes.

The cost of smoking increases constantly with taxes and governments have been forcing manufacturers to add more and more horrific images of rotting lungs and other consequences, but to little avail.

It is now known that current smokers have a 50% greater likelihood of getting dementia and are 70% more likely to get Alzheimer’s Disease. It deems this hasn’t had the same publicity as other consequences, perhaps because there is no cure, or operation to help people recover from it.

For people that want the nicotine rush, but want to avoid the tar and other carcinogens that come from tobacco, there are now other alternatives. One is nicotine gum. I used this myself some 20 years ago when I decided it was time to give up. The gum worked for me because I wanted to give up and by continuing the supply of nicotine I was able to get over the psychological urge to smoke.

Now there are E-CIG’s which allow you to continue getting the nictotine rush as well as the need to have something in your hand, to put in your mouth and suck in that deep breath, inhaling a measured shot of nicotine sprayed from an atomiser and then having a nice relaxing exhale. This could one day become quite the vogue for people who want to enjoy smoking, but want to avoid the risks. There are several benefits. You don’t have to be a pariah, standing out in the cold, excluded from enjoying your passion, barred from restaurants and drinking establishments.

There are some ironies in the smoking statistics. In the US, the highest percentage of smokers are those just above the poverty level at 29.9%. Overall around 24% of men and 20% of women in the US smoke tobacco. You often hear of people saying the smoke because they can’t afford many vices and smoking makes them feel better. Off course we all know that those same people also have a lower life expectancy. Some of it might be down to access to medicine, not having medical insurance and so on, but those that can least afford it seem to spend the most money on alcohol, gambling and smoking (to list the legal things).

In New Zealand around 25% of people smoke and a worse statistic is that around 174 to 490 non smokers die from second hand smoke.

There is no end in sight and while in countries like New Zealand it is pretty much illegal to advertise tobacco in any form, hope over to countries like Jamaica and you will see enormous ‘statues’ of packs of cigarettes and billboards of people with big smiles on their faces as they take a big lungfull of tar.

I would love to see support for the E-CIG’s because if people got the same stimulation, even if they don’t have fun curling the smoke from their mouths to their noses, or blowing smoke rings, they would at least live longer. I don’t know how bad the nicotine is as a stimulant.  I did some research on whether nicotine is harmful in itself and there are conflicting opinions and I guess given the commitment of manufacturers to keep making and selling tobacco products, there is potential for bias.

The main thing people say is that nicotine is an addictive substance, but my experience was that nicotine chewing gum made it so much easier for me to give up smoking. The evidence on smoking tobacco is irrefutable and the many court cases the tobacco industry has lost bear testiment to this.

I have a problem with intelligent people using and abusing drugs. Whether it is overuse of prescription drugs, smoking, taking mild or dangerous drugs such as methamphetamines or binge drinking. Many of my friends drink alcohol every day and many can’t open a bottle of wine without finishing it in one sitting. Many are happy drinking a whole bottle on their own, several times a week. I have a friend who works in a prison with methamphetamine addicts and told me that they have inmates who have virtually no brain left. That warden still smokes and drinks to excess.

So here’s a lits of what intelligent people are legally risking with tobacco smoking according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Lung cancer and other lung diseases. Smoking causes nearly nine out 10 of lung cancer cases, as well as other lung diseases, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also makes asthma worse.
  • Heart and circulatory system problems. Smoking increases your risk of dying of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke. Smoking 15 cigarettes a day doubles your heart attack risk. Even smoking just one to four cigarettes daily increases your risk of heart disease. If you have cardiovascular illness or heart failure, smoking worsens your condition. However, stopping smoking reduces your risk of having a heart attack by 50 percent in the first year.
  • Other cancers. Smoking is a major cause of cancers of the esophagus, larynx, throat (pharynx) and mouth and also is related to cancer of the bladder, pancreas, kidney, cervix, stomach, and some leukemias.
  • Physical appearance. The chemicals in tobacco smoke can change the structure of your skin, causing premature aging and wrinkles. Smoking also yellows your teeth, fingers and fingernails.
  • Infertility and impotence. Smoking increases the risk of infertility in women and the chance of impotence in men.
  • Pregnancy and newborn complications. Mothers who smoke while pregnant face a higher risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, decreased birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in their newborn. Low birth weight babies are more likely to die or have learning and physical problems.
  • Cold, flu and other illnesses. Smokers are more prone to respiratory infections, such as colds, flu and bronchitis, than are nonsmokers.
  • Diabetes. Smoking increases insulin resistance, which can set the stage for the development of type 2 diabetes. If you have diabetes, smoking can speed the progress of complications such as kidney disease.
  • Impaired senses. Smoking deadens your senses of taste and smell, so food isn’t as appetizing as it once was.
  • Risks to your family. Spouses and partners of smokers have a higher risk of lung cancer and heart disease, compared with people who don’t live with a smoker. If you smoke, your children will be more prone to sudden infant death syndrome, asthma, ear infections and colds.

So I’ll leave the last note to doctor’s of yesteryear:

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course http://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

What happens when the consumers can’t buy anymore?


Everyone has a deal. Harvey Norman is offering 12 months deferred payment and 12 months interest free, Noel Leeming has deals, Bond and Bond has deals, there is even a web site called Perweek that lets you search for products by the period of interest free terms they are offering.

The Scooter Bar has ads on Trade Me offering deferred payment and special deals on new motorcycles and on it goes.

There is always something essential that you need, like a new HD TV with Freeview, an iPhone, a new car, a stereo that you can plug your iPod into and on it goes.

A couple of years ago I bought a new Canon camera. I had the cash in my savings, but I decided to take the 18 months deferred payment and then pay it off straight away. I paid a week late and GE Money, the company that seems to be offering a large chunk of retail finance wanted to charge me a hefty fee for that, but no one sent me a slip or reminder to say it was due and I had diarised it a week out. I stood my ground and as Noel Leeming wanted to keep my business I didn’t have to pay the late fee.

6 months or so later I got a letter from GE Finance offering me a special deal with pre-approved finance for a sum, I can’t remember exactly, but it wasn’t interest free, they were offering me finance at 24% interest!

They have all sorts of great ideas and of course you could say that anyone silly enough to take that deal deserves to be taken to the cleaners, but the problem is that there are people who are struggling and will be thinking, these guys want to lend me money and I need money, so lets do it.

I wonder if there is recourse in the finance. If the person who is paying for their new HD TV defaults, does it become the finance company’s loss or the retailers problem. Finance companies are typically risk averse, so I’m guessing it’s the retailer. It would be great if someone can clarify that for me.

So here’s the thing. There are loads of people spending money they don’t have on things they can’t afford and chances are it’s not one item, it’s several over a period of time. So when the masses are broke and the retailers aren’t getting paid, what happens next?

We are already officially in a recession and things aren’t getting any better. Very soon a large number of people will owe much more on their homes than their value, especially the thousands who bought at 90 to 100% of the property value in a growth market and those who leveraged heavily for their retirement funds.

If retailers can’t recover their money, they can’t buy new product, they can’t afford their staff and the manufacturers can’t keep manufacturing. If houses aren’t being built because people can’t afford to buy them, all the trades will suffer, plumbers, electricians, builders, labourers, the list goes on.

Is this inevitable? Is there a solution?

Some people got hurt in 87′ but most people in New Zealand have not lived in a depression and have lived a life of instant gratification. Of course there will be some fortunes made as well. What could some of the consequences be?

Increased domestic violence is on the rise, violent crimes are on the rise including aggrevated robbery. Drug use is on the rise which increases crime and the worse of things are, the more displaced young folk will be heading into the welcoming arms of gangs.

How can we avert this?

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course http://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

The Right Track Programme


This morning I read a story in The Aucklander about The Right Track programme which is an intense program for first time motoring offenders to get them to think twice in the future about boy racing, drinking and driving and other motoring activities that are dangerous to themselves and innocent bystanders.

According to the police this programme is having good results, but it seems that funding from Manukau City Council is going to end. They said that it was never a long term exercise.

Amongst other things members of the programme visit the Otara Spinal Unit and meet survivors who now need a wheelchair for their mobility. Funeral Directors talk to them about how they have to pick up body parts after an accident and try to put them together for funeral viewing.

It’s all about having the ambulance at the top of the cliff according to John Finch who developed the programme which is a world first.

My father in law has had throat cancer and as a consequence had a laryngectomy. In conjunction with the NZ Cancer Society he visited many primary schools and told his story. He let the children have a look at the whole in his throat and see how he can talk. He let them ask questions and gave them honest answers. It’s interesting how onto it kids are. He has dozens of letters from students saying that they will never ever smoke. I would say he has probably saved at least one or two lives, which probably represents a six figure sum at least to our health system.

An ambulance at the top of the cliff has to be significantly greater than the cost of mopping people of the road after a needless accident, but unless funding is found, this excellent and selfless service will disappear.

I wrote a song about situations that kids find themselves. It’s called One More Time Around the Block and you can hear it at Music Forte.

It thundered down the road like a young boy racers dream

The Rockford Fosgate sub beat like a life support machine

They never saw what hit them on the wrong side of the bend

They didn’t have an inkling that their lives were going to end.

The mourners stood in silence dressed in dark clothes, mostly black

A mother screamed her lungs out, cried “I want my baby back”

Their friends stood round in circles, still not coping from the shock

They said they be five minutes, one more time around the block.

They were best of friends like they were tied at the seam

They knew what each was thinking and they shared the same big dreams

They were just young men in the prime of their life

Their futures lay before them, empty pages still to write.

But now those days are over and their lives have been snuffed out

The sub’s no longer thumping and their hearts have lost their clout

If only they had listened, if only they had stopped

They said they’d be five minutes one more time arouind the clock.

And now the music’s playing and the mourners begin to pray

They sing the Lord’s Prayer and ask themselves

Why did it end this way?

The V8’s sound like thunder, can’t you hear the engine’s roar?

Car horns sound a last salute with feat flat to the floor

Wish we could have changed the outcome, wish we could have stopped the clock

They said they’d be five minutes, one more time around the clock

They said the’d be five minutes, one more time around the clock.

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course http://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

How about some Maggot Therapy.


When I was a kid and said “I can’t be blowed doing something” (an Anglo Saxon explitive meaning I couldn’t be bothered) I would get a severe talking to or worse from my father. The being blowed was a vague reference to fly blown, which used to be a common problem in sheep farming, where flies would lay their eggs in live sheep.

Anyway, over the years, maggots have been considered one of the most gross and disgusting forms of life, generally found in rotten meat or dead animals such as roadkill.

We have heard about leech therapy, which has been used for centuries, but now it seems that maggots have been used in the healing process for centuries too and these little creatures have become the next new old thing.

Apparently in the dim dark past they discovered that wounded soldiers who had maggots eating at the rotten flesh on their wounds were more likely to surive than those who didn’t.

Now if you asked me to lie in hospital with maggots crawling on my body, I would be horrified and would probably complain to whoever would listen. But it seems that these little larvae secrete an enzyme with very strong healing properties. It’s the enzyme that matters. So drug companies like BioPro are now looking at harvesting the enzymes and creating biofunctional textiles which have these enzymes in them, to place on top of wounds, which will have the same effect.

In the past people with wounds that won’t heal, sometimes associated with cancer or diabetes have used places like Hyperbaric Chambers which are very high in oxygen to help the body heal itself, but whilst this has had great success, it doesn’t always work.

Lately there have been spates (not to be confused with Speights) of cases of Norovirus and other infections that have an immunity to today’s antibiotics, such as Penicyllin and when these outbreaks occur in hospitals (and cruise ships), there is a major problem and we go back to my old question of, ‘Is Hospital the best place to be when you are sick?’

So now they have discovered that the Maggot Enzyme can fight these nasty bugs, so the race is on to understand the enzymes and then synthesize them so that we don’t have to build fly farms.

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course http://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

Pharmac funds flavoured condoms


A couple of nights ago I was in an urgent chemist with my daughter to fill a prescription who was suffering an allergic reaction to something. We were discussing generic drugs.

In New Zealand, many drugs are subsidised by Pharmac who are a government agency. we were talking about Zyrtec which is an antihystamine which works very well for sinusitis and related allergies. This drug used to be subsidised but has been replaced with a cheaper generic drug, which according to Pharmac is identical.

The chemist said that he himself suffers from the condition and has tried the generic, which didn’t work for him and Zyrtec which does. he further went on to say that he spoke to people who work for the generic drug manufacturer at an international coference and they told him that the majority of the factory staff will not use the generic drugs they manufacture themselves, and favour the original manufacturers product.

It’s all about money and I understand that many asthma sufferers in New Zealand also had major problems when their Ventolin inhalers were replaced with another generic. I wonder how much it costs the taxpayer when people get prescribed cheaper drugs which are ineffective or less effective and end up in hospital.

So to the story today, I just received a tweet from the NZ Herald to say that Pharmac is now funding flavored, ribbed and otherwise enhanced condoms. I am all for free condoms to reduce unwanted pregnancies, STD’s and any other consequences of unprotected sex, but if they can cough up for fancy prophylactics, surely they could also fund effective drugs and help patients access what their doctors want them to take?

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course http://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)