The Ikaria Blue Zone in Greece and Its Longevity Secrets – Business Insider

Ikaria, located in the Aegean Sea, is one of Greece’s many islands. What sets it apart is how long its residents live. Known as the island of longevity, one in three of its residents make it to their 90s, and rates of dementia and some other chronic diseases are very low, according to the Blue Zones website.

The island is one of the world’s five Blue Zones, which are regions of the world where people regularly live about a decade longer than the US or Western European average. In Ikaria, people also tend to have lower rates of cancer, heart disease, and depression than in the US, The Guardian reported. The first Blue Zone, Sardinia in Italy, was identified by the researchers Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain, and the concept was built upon by Dan Buettner, who named four more and has explored the habits and lifestyles of people in all five locations for the past 20 years.

Ikaria is a tiny island located about 30 miles from the Turkish coast with a population of about 8,400. Due to its geographical location, it has historically been the target of invasions by neighboring nations, which Buettner said forced residents inland, leading to an isolated culture heavily rooted in family life. Remaining active well into your 90s is common there, as well as staying sexually active into old age. A study on Ikaria from the University of Athens indicated 80% of Ikarian males between the ages of 65 and 100 were still having sex.

Source: The Ikaria Blue Zone in Greece and Its Longevity Secrets – Business Insider

Congress hears testimony on Russia’s sonic attacks on US officials in Havana | US news | The Guardian

Russia has “targeted and neutralized” dozens of US intelligence agents in recent years in a covert worldwide operation using sonic weapons, a House committee heard on Wednesday as it looked into the mystery phenomenon known as Havana syndrome.

The panel heard from expert witnesses that Russia had “the motive, the means and the opportunity” to enact the attacks on US diplomats and other government employees at embassies and other government outposts that left many with debilitating or career-ending brain injuries and hearing loss.

Source: Congress hears testimony on Russia’s sonic attacks on US officials in Havana | US news | The Guardian

COVID-free again

Well, I am fully on the other side of my very first COVID infection. I was still testing positive on Monday morning, though I went into the office (masked) for a meeting with my manager. By Wednesday I tested negative, which would have been 11 days after being infected at EncounterQuest. According to the science stories I posted recently, a fully-vaccinated COVID patient such as myself is normally only contagious for an average of four days. Almost no one is contagious after 8-11 days from symptom onset.

I had blocked off my work week to work from home with the goal of not spreading this to my colleagues. Though I am feeling much better, I have opted to continue working from home this week.

So, was COVID fun? Not really. I was really, really tired the first two days of symptom onset. My brain felt fried all last Tuesday night and I was sweating at night, pulse racing as my body responded. Last Wednesday I began taking Paxlovid and my energy quickly returned (though the side effects of diarrhea and a bitter taste in my mouth were not fun). By the end of last week, Kelly and I were comfortable with not masking around each other.

Fortunately, there was no real pain. No fever. I was in a stupor for the first few days but once I was sleeping better (Paxlovid?) my brain function began to return. And I never lost my sense of taste or smell (though the bitter taste was a temporary add-on).

Good to be back to the land of the living again!

How Long Are You Contagious With COVID-19?

If you test positive for COVID-19, the duration of contagiousness can vary. This is because the virus can be shed (meaning released from the body through talking, exhaling, etc.) for anywhere from days to months depending on your age, vaccination status, immune status, severity of infection, and any preexisting conditions you may have.

Even so, the likelihood of transmission decreases as fewer viruses are shed over time. If you become infected with COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you isolate at home until you’ve been fever-free for 24 hours (without the held of medications). It’s also recommended that you take additional precautions for five days following isolation.2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Respiratory virus guidance.

This article explains how long COVID-19 is contagious and the variables that can increase or decrease the duration. It also offers tips on how to protect others if you or someone know gets COVID-19.

Source: How Long Are You Contagious With COVID-19?

Vaccine breakthrough means no more chasing strains | UCR News | UC Riverside

Scientists at UC Riverside have demonstrated a new, RNA-based vaccine strategy that is effective against any strain of a virus and can be used safely even by babies or the immunocompromised. woman getting a vaccinePeopleimages/iStock/GettyEvery year, researchers try to predict the four influenza strains that are most likely to be prevalent during the upcoming flu season. And every year, people line up to get their updated vaccine, hoping the researchers formulated the shot correctly.

The same is true of COVID vaccines, which have been reformulated to target sub-variants of the most prevalent strains circulating in the U.S.

This new strategy would eliminate the need to create all these different shots, because it targets a part of the viral genome that is common to all strains of a virus. The vaccine, how it works, and a demonstration of its efficacy in mice is described in a paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “What I want to emphasize about this vaccine strategy is that it is broad,” said UCR virologist and paper author Rong Hai. “It is broadly applicable to any number of viruses, broadly effective against any variant of a virus, and safe for a broad spectrum of people. This could be the universal vaccine that we have been looking for.”

Source: Vaccine breakthrough means no more chasing strains | UCR News | UC Riverside

Why does Paxlovid make things taste bitter? | Science | AAAS

Apparently, I’m one of the 6% who get “Paxlovid mouth.” Day Two on this medicine and my tongue is constantly telling me something in my mouth is bitter. It’s annoying but bearable – certainly not a reason to stop taking the medicine as some foolish people apparently do.

Paxlovid can prevent severe illness from COVID-19, but it comes with a price: In many users, the antiviral drug leaves a weird, metallic aftertaste that can last for days—a condition nicknamed “Paxlovid mouth.”

Now, researchers say they’ve figured out why. A component of Paxlovid activates one of the tongue’s bitter taste receptors even at low levels, which may draw out the yuck factor, the team reports this month in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. The work could lead to ways to alleviate the unpleasant side effect.

The study is a “good first step” in teasing apart the mechanism behind Paxlovid mouth, says Alissa Nolden, a sensory scientist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who was not involved with the research. But she says more work will be needed to truly understand why the metallic taste lingers for so long.

Source: Why does Paxlovid make things taste bitter? | Science | AAAS

COVID finally caught me

COVID positive

Well, my remarkable streak of avoiding COVID came to an end this week as I finally tested positive Tuesday morning. It seems I brought it home as a souvenir from this weekend’s EncounterQuest event. Four years of successfully avoiding it came to an end.

The biggest clue was the fatigue I got Monday afternoon, that and the stomach cramps that hit me all day. I finished my work day and fell asleep on the couch, conking out by 6 PM just wiped. I went to bed early Monday night (by 8:30) and felt better in the morning. Kelly noticed my cough and suggested I test for COVID. I laughed at this suggestion but tested anyway and was flabbergasted to see it come back positive. At that point we both masked up and the COVID routine began in earnest. I wrote my VA doc and by 2 PM I had a dose of Paxlovid waiting for me at the Durham VA.

There were some earlier, subtle clues that I had caught something. Monday night as I was trying to sleep I had quite the runny nose. I chalked this up to having mowed the yard Sunday without a face mask, inhaling a bunch of dust and grass. I also had aching joints Monday, making it a little challenging to go up and down stairs. And there was a bit of dizziness Monday, too, as I stumbled around the kitchen making breakfast.
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2022 Challenges: COVID arrives at the Turner household

Twenty twenty-two was the year that COVID came home to roost at the Turner household. After masking nearly everywhere, Travis went to his high-school chorus rehearsal unmasked on April 6th and the next day was sick. He spent the next week or so coughing and hardly leaving his bed. Kelly and I masked and tended to him and she and I dodged the bullet.

It was a little over a month later that it was Kelly’s turn to get COVID. She tested positive on May 15th and was sapped of energy for about a week. Kelly isolated in our guest bedroom while I took care of her. We’re not sure where she picked it up: possibly a work event or a social event.

Hallie is the latest to come down with COVID when she tested positive on December 22nd. She had dodged COVID when it affected her Carrboro roommates, drove for hours with her sick friend Jonas as they traveled the state, and kept healthy during her semester at Highlands with the exception of a short bout with the flu. She isolated in her bedroom here at home for over a week, always answering a sad “not good” when I’d asked how she was feeling. Only after Christmas did she seem to start feeling better. We all masked up in house and I kept the HEPA air filter running day and night and thankfully we are all healthy again.

I have never tested positive for COVID, neither PCR or rapid antigen tests. That is not to say that I dodged COVID because I think the odds of that are pretty small. Still, I have never stopped masking up in public places. I got another COVID booster vaccine in May and the bivalent booster in September. Yet, in spite of the negative tests I have noticed the “COVID toe” phenomenon appearing occasionally. And the day before I thought to test Hallie, my right shoulder began aching – the same one that I got my last COVID shot in. It always makes me wonder that I’ve been exposed to COVID but perhaps my body is very good at fighting it. Who knows? I am adamant on staying healthy and that’s that.

A positive COVID test

Over the two-year course of this COVID-19 pandemic, I have taken extra steps to keep myself and my family safe. I’ve kept abreast of the latest medical advice and research. I’ve invested in N95 and KN95 masks. I’ve hauled around my HEPA air filter to places where proper ventilation would be hard to come by. Most importantly, whenever I’ve had the slightest concern that any health symptoms I’d been experiencing might have been COVID, I have gotten tested with Wake County’s free PCR COVID tests. Six times I’ve done this, and six times I received a relieving result of negative. Most recently, we were shipped a set of four COVID antigen tests free from the government, and a test using one of those turned up negative, too.

I kept my precautions up, thinking I had succeeded in avoiding an COVID infection. It turns out I may have been wrong and didn’t even know it.

Last week, I noticed that one of my right toes was a little stingy and looked bruised. I didn’t recall injuring it so I wondered if it might be the “COVID toes” I’d heard about. See, COVID patients reported sores on their toes (mainly. Fingers may be involved, too), and my toe looked suspiciously like this. COVID attacks the vascular system in addition to everything else it hits, and red toes can be a symptom. Around that time, I had an attack of my Reynaud’s Syndrome, with some of my fingers turning numb and white for over an hour. This red toe effect could also be caused by Reynaud’s (which is also a vascular disease), so I couldn’t say for sure what was what. Thus, I popped open the antigen test and 15 minutes later it told me I was COVID negative. Sure, an antigen test is not as accurate as a PCR test but this was at the height of my symptoms so I assumed if I was going to pop positive on anything it would be right at that moment. But, no, it was negative!

Over the weekend, I got to thinking about how my body reacted to the primary, secondary, and booster COVID vaccines I had gotten. Basically, I didn’t react at all! There were no noticeable side-effects whatsoever. I was thinking about this and deciding that perhaps my reaction to the actual virus would be a similar non-event. I decided to contact the VA to schedule a COVID antibody test, knowing that this might show whether I’d been exposed and didn’t know it.
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On the Internet nobody knows you’re a spook

OS Division, USS ELLIOT, fall 1991

OZ Division, USS ELLIOT DD-967, fall 1991.

Had a dust-up on social media the other day and, frankly, I am still mystified how it all took place.

I tend to follow online and amplify veterans who lean left because the perception of the military consisting of only right-wingers needs to change. A tweet from one of the more popular veterans I follow attracted several good comments. I liked one from a particular veteran (we’ll call her Karen), checked her profile, and followed her when I saw we had something in common: our Navy occupations were in cryptography.
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