Archive | February, 2013

Spring Music Festival 2013

28 Feb

Feeling the winter blues? Here’s a great event to look forward to and get you through a winter slump. This summer, Boston’s City Hall Plaza will be hosting its first two day music festival. You can pick up tickets starting on Friday, March 1.

Boston Calling, the city’s first multiday, multistage, ticketed rock festival, will begin selling early bird weekend passes at 10 a.m. on Friday. General admission will cost $120 while a VIP pass goes for a cool $325. Single day tickets for the event, which runs May 25-26, will go on sale for $75 soon after.

The first night’s headliner, Fun., just won Grammy Awards for song of the year (“We Are Young”) and best new artist. Aaron Dessner, guitarist for the second night’s headliner the National, helped curate the lineup, which includes two bands with local ties, the Beverly-bred post-rock instrumental group Caspian and Boston’s own Bad Rabbits, formerly known as the Eclectic Collective.

Are you going to buy tickets? Who are you most excited to see? Who would you have liked to have seen added to the bill? Check out the full lineup after the jump.

Saturday, May 25
The Shins
Marina and the Diamonds
Matt and Kim
Portugal. The Man
Ms Mr
Bad Rabbits
St. Lucia

Sunday, May 26
The National
Of Monsters and Men
Young the Giant
Andrew Bird
Dirty Projectors
Ra Ra Riot
The Walkmen
Youth Lagoon

– See more at:



UMass Boston breaking ground on new building

27 Feb

BOSTON (AP) — The University of Massachusetts-Boston is holding a groundbreaking ceremony for a new academic building aimed at supporting the school’s growing enrollment and course offerings.

UMass President Robert Caret (kuh-RET’), UMass-Boston Chancellor J. Keith Motley and other education officials as well as faculty and students are scheduled to attend Wednesday’s ceremony.

The four-story, 181,000-square-foot building will house the art, performing arts and chemistry programs and provide nearly 2,000 seats of general purpose classroom space. The building will also have a theater, recital hall, studios, labs, student lounges and a cafeteria.

The $113 million building in the northeast corner of campus is expected to open in 2015.

The facility is part of a 25-year master plan.


Safety on a Budget?

26 Feb

The Fung Wa Bus Company is primarily known for its affordability as a budget friendly travel option from Boston to New York. The company boasts the lowest prices that take that route, and fares may run as low as $1.00 per ride. Not bad, right?  

However, officials now seek to shut down the line, citing it as an imminent hazard and a threat to public safety. Most recently, the company underwent a random inspection in which eight of the nine vehicles inspected had cracks in their frames and were ordered off the road by the Department of Public Utilities. 

This failed inspection follows a long string of incidents: In 2005, a bus caught fire en-route to connecticut, and in 2008 a passenger died as a result of a bus crash en-route to New York. 

In short, this company offers the best prices, but what price is your safety?

Here are a few reputable, safe (but unfortunately more expensive) travel options:,,

Mediterranean diet shown to reduce heart disease, landmark study finds

25 Feb

Consumers have, for years, been urged to eat a Mediterranean diet, which eschews red meats and processed food in favor of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, olive oil, and wine, but the advice lacked a rigorous study to prove it prevented heart disease. Now there is one.

A Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or mixed nuts can significantly reduce heart attacks, strokes, and deaths from heart problems, according to a study that is the first to demonstrate its benefits in a type of clinical trial considered the most reliable.

Spanish researchers tracked thousands of participants over roughly five years and found a 30 percent reduction in the rate of heart disease, primarily strokes, among the Mediterranean diet eaters compared with those who consumed more traditional low-fat fare. That diet included more starch and grains, but fewer nuts and oils.

Earlier studies analyzed health outcomes based on participants’ recall of meals and concluded there likely were benefits from a Mediterranean diet. Health and nutrition specialists who reviewed the latest study, published online Monday by the New England Journal of Medicine, said its size, controlled structure, and focus on patients who were already at risk of heart disease offered powerful and much-needed evidence of a protective heart effect from a Mediterranean diet.


Massachusetts receives $44 million to further health care overhaul

22 Feb

Massachusetts will receive up to $44 million in federal money over three and a half years to continue ongoing efforts to change the state’s health care system.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Thursday that it would distribute $250 million to six states that are trying new methods of delivering care to people enrolled in government health care programs serving children, the poor, and the elderly.

“Our hope is that the best ideas will spread throughout the country,” US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on a conference call.

In Massachusetts, the money will be used for various projects, including standardizing the way in which doctors and hospitals report on the quality of care they provide, using electronic health records, to make it easier to compare them. The state also will invest in education across hospitals and physician groups, setting up systems to share ideas for what works in cutting costs and improving care, said state Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz.

The federal money “helps reinforce the work that we’ve already done here in the state,” he said.

The money also is earmarked for expanding medical homes, which assign a team of providers to oversee a patient’s overall treatment.

Wives Tales that are True

21 Feb

Old wives’ tales that are true

“Wives Tales” are traditional and often superstitious measures we use take to combat bad luck, illness, etc. While not proven to work, they are generally known and accepted as traditional ways to alleviate various ailments. Some of these old wives’ tales may sound like myths, but there are facts and studies that back them up.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away: Research at the University of Ulster found that apple phenols protect against colon cancer. Researchers at Cornell University also found that up to six apples a day can prevent breast cancer in primates, and believe this may also apply to humans

Hot tubs may decrease chances of pregnancy: A three-year study at the University of San Francisco found men who switched to showers instead of their normal hour-long hot baths had sperm counts that rose nearly 500 percent.

Long labor, must be a boy: Researchers at Dublin’s National Maternity Hospital studied 8,000 births and found that mothers of boys were significantly more likely to have longer labor and more complications.

Don’t swim right after eating: The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority says after a meal, blood is diverted to the digestive tract to help assist with the digestive process. Exercise diverts blood to muscles, so it is possible that vigorous exercise after a meal could lead to cramps.

Wear a hat to hold onto your body heat: U.S. military research in the Arctic in the 1950s found up to 80 percent of body heat was loss through the uncovered heads of volunteers. Subsequent research conducted in Army labs qualified the claim, finding that a body at rest loses 7 to 10 percent of heat through the head, and during exercise, up to 50 percent, according to TLC: How Things Work.

Eat your carrots: Researchers at the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam found that eating high levels of beta carotene – the compound that gives carrots their coloring – as well as vitamins C, E and zinc, lowers the chance of age-related macular degeneration by up to 35 percent. Other sources of beta carotene include pumpkins, sweet potatoes, pink grapefruit and spinach.

Gain a child, lose a tooth: New York University College of Dentistry did a study of more than 2,500 women and found that as the number of children increases, so does the mother’s risk of losing teeth. More children also led to a greater risk of developing periodontal disease.

Drink cranberry juice for a bladder infection: A study done at Harvard Medical School showed that properties in cranberries destroy bacteria clinging to the wall of the bladder.  Blackberry juice has a similar effect
Chicken soup fights a cold: says that in the 1980s, researchers from the University of Nebraska Medical Center found chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe a cold. Other researchers have found that the amino acid, cysteine, is a byproduct of chicken soup, seems to reduce the inflammatory response that comes from colds and other upper-respiratory infections.

Willow bark tea can cure a fever: The University of Maryland Medical Center says the use of willow bark dates back to the time of Hippocrates (400 BC) when patients were advised to chew on the bark to reduce fever and inflammation. The bark of white willow contains salicin, a chemical similar to aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). In the 1800s, salicin was used to develop aspirin. White willow appears to bring pain relief more slowly than aspirin, but its effects may last longer.

Swallowing gum can plug up your intestines: Swallowing a huge wad of gum or swallowing many small pieces of gum in a short time can cause a blockage within the digestive system called a bezoar, most often in children who have a smaller-diameter digestive tract than adults, according to Scientific America. But the condition is extremely rare.

Fish is brain food: Fish oil is high in the essential fatty omega-3 and omega-6, which are good for brain health and function. According to Dr. Jennifer Thieman, a recent study showed that, among people over age 65, those with high fish intake showed a lower rate of cognitive decline. Another study, done at Oxford University, found that children with coordination problems who were given omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs over three months showed significant improvements in school performance.

Thumb sucking gives children buck teeth: Unless a thumb sucking child stops before age 4, gums, jaw and permanent teeth can be affected, causing the condition known as buck teeth, according to Kids Health from Nemours.

You’ll snore more if you sleep on your back: Sleeping on your back allows gravity to make your tongue fall back into your throat, partially blocking the airway, causing your tongue to vibrate as air passes, increasing snoring, according to the British Snoring and Sleep Apnea Association.

Chewing parsley cures bad breath: Parsley has long been known to counteract garlic breath.  Herbalist Dee Atkins says that the high sulphur content of garlic that causes the unpleasant odor it counteracted by compounds in parsley.  But putting parsley in food to cure bad breath doesn’t work.  It takes chewing a sprig of fresh parsley.

Spider webs stop bleeding, heal wounds: In traditional European medicine, spider webs are used on wounds and cuts to help healing and reduce bleeding. Spider webs are rich in vitamin K, which can be effective in clotting blood. arachnologist Rainer Foelix says a coating on webs may protect old and abandoned webs from fungal and bacterial attack, giving spider webs an antiseptic quality

Heartburn during pregnancy means a hairy baby: Pregnant women who reported moderate heartburn had hairy newborns 82 percent of the time while the majority of heartburn-free women gave birth to bald babies, according to a study done by researchers at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Researchers surmise that the pregnancy hormones that stimulate fetal hair growth, also relax the esophageal sphincter, allowing stomach acid to back up into the esophagus and causing heartburn.

Breakfast is my most important meal of the day: Skipping breakfast can lead to low blood sugar.  Once food is eaten later, insulin levels shoot up, leading to hunger later in the day and disposition of fat in the abdomen, according to Dr. Judith Reichman, NBC Today Health. Non-breakfasting individuals are more likely to become obese, and to develop heart disease and have higher and earlier rates of mortality, she says.

Red sky at night, sailors’ delight: When we see a red sky at night, this means that the setting sun is sending its light through a high concentration of dust particles, according to the Library of Congress, Everyday Mysteries. This usually indicates high pressure and stable air coming in from the west. Typically, good weather will follow.
Red sky in morning, sailors take warning: A red sunrise reflects the dust particles of a system that has just passed from the west, according to the Library of Congress, Everyday Mysteries. This indicates that a storm system may be moving to the east. If the morning sky is a deep fiery red, it means a high water content in the atmosphere. So, rain is on its way.

While wives tales can never be completely provable, they can be useful and fun to think about. So while I might stay away from using spider webs as bandages, it couldn’t hurt to eat an apple a day!

Share Your Elliptical, Exercise Generously

20 Feb

You may be a gymrat if you get angry when someone is on “your” treadmill… not sharing however does not fit the holiday spirit… nor is it terribly good for exercise.  Fitness can be quite an emotional experience.  For those that are not regulars in the gym, a few miles on the spinning bike can be a humbling experience and even an anxiety provoking one.  To the religiously fit, the health club can be a place of single-minded, teeth-gritting drive.  And then there are many more that experience the glory of victory and the agony of defeat with each wellness accomplishment or goal unattained.  Despite simply being rooms of concrete, steel, and iron, gyms are pools of emotion.

Perhaps it is time to consider harnessing and spreading exercise emotion. Researchers found clearly that happiness and health are shared through social connectedness.  In essence, the emotion you bring to your treadmill will infect the person running next to you… and potentially the entire row of runners/walkers… a potential exercise nudge for everyone towards their exercise goals!  Positive psychologist, Barbara Fredrickson explains this phenomenon as “positive spirals,” subtle but powerful vibes that radiate outward energizing the networks around us.

Throughout each and every day we spread emotion.  Not so much through our words, but through subtle actions, demeanor, and openness.  Geography seems to be most powerful predictor of how contagious these emotions become.  As the winter has arrived more exercisers will head to the gym – close quarters.  The spaces and places of exercise will yield opportunity for anxious exercisers to be supported and ardent exercisers to be aided towards their goals.  Carrying warm emotion will allow energy to jump from one treadmill to the other.