Business Digest - March, 2010

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Protein May Increase Risk of Alzheimer's Disease  Asleep at the Wheel  That Sneezing Might Not Be A Cold Theo's Corner 

Overcoming Career Boredom

If you feel like you are in a dead end, doing the same things over and over again at work, you may be suffering from career boredom. This burnout can result from the human brain's need for constant stimulation. If you have mastered your job to the point of boredom, your brain may tell you to try to move on. The key to overcoming this is to find something new related to your job or career that can keep you energized and excited. Here are some ideas to recharge your career.

  • Become a teacher. This can be anything from writing a book using your career knowledge, to editing technical manuals, to training new employees. You could also get a part-time teaching job at your local community college or trade school.

  • Become a speaker. Give talks to groups of young people about your profession, offer visitors tours of your company, or speak to local professional groups. You can also offer to mentor a young person.

  • Become a consultant. If you are an expert in what you do, you may be able to offer that expertise to companies just starting out.

  • Become a volunteer. If your job skills would be beneficial to other organizations, see how you can help.

  • Become a business owner. If you are really suffering from job burnout, it may be time to forge your own trail. Starting a company offering your specific skills can be a great way to restart your career.

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Asleep at the Wheel

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsiness or fatigue is the principal cause of up to 100,000 passenger vehicle crashes every year, with over 1,500 deaths and 71,000 injuries. Many people think that those most at risk are long-haul truckers, but less than one percent of all sleep-related crashes involve truck drivers.

Twenty percent of crashes and 12 percent of near-crashes are caused by tired drivers. Surprisingly, most of these occur during daytime hours rather than at night. Many nighttime crashes, however, are more serious because they are more likely to occur on high-speed highways and rural roads. Researchers have also found that the 18-20 age group is the one most likely to be involved in fatigue-related accidents. All other age groups had the same percentage of drowsy-driving crashes.

How can you keep from becoming a tired driver? Here are the best things you can do to protect yourself and others.

1.  Don't drive if you feel sleepy. Pull over to a safe spot and stop your vehicle.

2.  If you want to use caffeine to stay alert, be aware that it can take up to 30 minutes for it to enter your bloodstream. Do not drive during that time. Instead, use it to take a short nap.

3.  If you are planning a long road trip, be sure to get at least six hours of sleep the night before.

4.   It is not safe to work or go to school all day, then drive at night.

5.  Try to only drive at times when you are normally awake.

6.  Take care during the tired parts of the day, usually midafternoon and the hours between midnight and dawn.

7.  High-protein snacks are better than high-carbohydrate snacks when on a long driving trip.

8.  Cold, flu, or allergy medicine can make you drowsy, as can some prescription drugs and sleep aids. Only take these medications if you are finished driving for the day.

9.  Having an alert passenger with you can help keep you awake. Engage in conversation to keep from drifting off. A radio, however, is not a good substitute for a person with you.

10.  Take a break every two hours, even if you don't feel like you need it. Get out of the car, do some stretching, and chat with someone for a few minutes.

11.  Try to limit your total driving per day to less than 400 miles.

12.  Look for these warning signs of drowsiness: frequent yawning, inability to remember the last few miles driven, difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open, and missed traffic signals or exits.

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Protein May Increase Risk of Alzheimer's Disease

Although high protein diets have been popular in recent years for weight loss, there may actually be some risk to following this diet regimen. A recent study suggests that a high protein diet may cause brain shrinkage and an increased susceptibility to or progression of Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers theorize that a high protein diet could cause neurons in the brain to be more vulnerable to a build-up of Alzheimer's disease plaque. High fat can also contribute to this, making these types of diet riskier, as they often do not limit the intake of fat, just carbohydrates. Researchers do not know if the age of the dieter has any relationship to the effect. They also do not know if limiting protein could contribute to a slowing or avoiding of Alzheimer's disease, so further studies are being conducted.

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That Sneezing Might Not Be a Cold

During the winter months, coughing and sneezing can hit at any time, but don't assume that you have a cold. It could be allergies. While colder temperatures can bring some relief by limiting mold and pollen in the atmosphere, more time indoors means more exposure to indoor allergens.

Dust mites, pet dander, cigarette smoke, gas fumes, and household sprays and chemicals can all trigger allergy and asthma symptoms. Mold can continue to grow during colder weather, as it really only needs moisture and oxygen to thrive.

There are some things you can do to help relieve allergy or asthma symptoms during the winter. These tips can help:

  • Keep humidity levels in your home under 35 percent to restrict the growth of mold and dust mites.

  • If you use a humidifier, keep it clean and change the water frequently. You can also use an anti-mold agent in the water or as a spray for the humidifier.

  • Use exhaust fans in your bathroom and kitchen as often as possible.

  • Replace your furnace filter every two to three months. Be sure to use high-efficiency filters in order to remove as many allergens as possible.

  • Vacuum floors and furniture frequently. Make sure your vacuum has a HEPA filter. If you have a problem with dust mites, consider removing any dust traps from your home, including stuffed animals, clutter on shelves, old books, and decorative pillows and blankets.

  • Use allergy covers on your mattresses. You can also cover your box springs and pillows. Wash bed linens and nightclothes in water above 130 degrees.

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Theo's Corner

Dog Park Etiquette

More and more communities are providing areas for dog owners and their pets to play, enjoy the outdoors, get some exercise, and meet new friends. Dog parks are a great resource for city dwellers and those without yards. It is important to remember common courtesy when using a dog park. Here are some etiquette tips that will help make your experience a great one.

  • 1.  Make sure your dog is healthy before leaving home. This includes having current immunizations. Some dog parks don't allow puppies, so be sure to know the rules before visiting the park.

  • 2.  Plan on being responsible for your pet's behavior. You should monitor your dog closely, especially if he or she is not used to being around other dogs. Watch his body language and look for any signs that your dog may be fearful or aggressive. You should also be aware that others may not be as responsible as you are, so watch the other animals as well.

  • 3.  Clean up after your pet. As soon as your dog makes a mess, clean it up and throw it away. Most parks have scooping supplies, but bring your own just in case.

  • 4.  Leave your dog's favorite toys at home. You don't want the dogs at the park fighting over your dog's toys. Most parks have communal tennis balls that are free for tossing around.

  • 5.  Take care when bringing your children with you to the dog park. Dogs in the park often run quickly and play rougher than they would at home. If you have toddlers, you may not want to bring them at all. Dogs not used to children may knock them over or even nip at them. If you must bring your children with you, keep them close to you and a safe distance from the dogs at play.

Watch that People Food

It can be hard to resist your dog's sad eyes when he or she is begging for a taste of your food, but it will be better for him in the long run if you deny him the treat. Some human food is loaded with fat, grease, and spices that can cause dogs to have upset stomachs, bloating, and gas. It can even lead to pancreatitis. Other foods are seriously dangerous, including alcoholic beverages, caffeine, chocolate, fat trimmings, raisins and grapes, chicken and turkey bones, onions, macadamia nuts, salt, and sugar. These foods can cause serious health problems and even be toxic.

If you can't resist the urge to treat your dog from the table, try offering vegetables, such as broccoli and carrots. But your better course of action is to stop the begging altogether. Do not reward your pet with human food. You can also feed your dog at the same time you eat, but in a different part of the house. Finally, you can get a toy to offer your dog when he begins to beg for food.

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