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The New Flu Shot

2 Oct

This year, Boston Children’s Hospital is releasing a new quadrivalent flu vaccine. This new vaccine is supposed to cover all strains of the notorious flu virus.

The flu virus is split into four known strains, two types of an A strain and two types of a B strain; any type of strain can circulate at any given time. Current trivalent flu vaccines are designed to only protect against three types of the virus and are currently only about sixty percent effective, meaning recipients of the vaccine are still vulnerable. Because circulation of the flu virus is constant and global, predicting which strain will be most prevalent during flu season is near impossible. The quadrivalent vaccine reduces the chance of encountering a strain with which the recipient’s body is unfamiliar, but as helpful as this vaccine is, it, by no means, is the absolute solution to preventing the flu.

The release of the quadrivalent vaccine this season will be with watchful eyes as scientists will be monitoring the impact and effectiveness of the new treatment. While the quadrivalent vaccine may seem like the better option in terms of flu shots, the limited number of vaccines will make it impossible for everyone to obtain one. Doctors suggest people focus on receiving any vaccine as soon as possible instead of waiting specifically for the quadrivalent formula.

Fall Season with Summer Weather

30 Sep

With the return of pumpkin spice lattes and sweater weather, one would think fall has officially arrived, but is it here to stay?

Forecasts for the current week and upcoming days project warmer temperatures and lack of rainfall similar to summer weather. Currently, the city is well below the average for amount of rainfall, but it is not a record-setting level, nor does it indicate a dry season. Forecasts are not predicting any rain in the next eight days. Wednesday is predicted to be the hottest day of the week, with temperatures reaching the low eighties while the entire week is projected to be just as warm. This warm streak is good for apple orchards, viewing the changing leaves, and other outdoor activities. The heat makes it a great time to start new crops too.

Unfortunately, the heat means the sweaters might just have to stay in the closet for a few more weeks.

New Green Line Signs

23 Sep

On Thursday, the MBTA debuted new signs for the Green Line train. With the help of the Celtics’ first round draft pick Kelly Olynyk, the city introduced “Next Train” electronic boards to the Kenmore Station. Unlike last year’s upgrade to other stations on various other lines, the signs at Kenmore Station are not countdown clocks, which state how long before the next train arrives. Albeit having a countdown would be helpful to commuters, the new signs will at least say which train will be next arriving at the platform. Instead of having to wait until the train arrives to know which line it’s on, riders will now know whether the next train coming is the one they want. MassDOT secretary Rich Davey said at the unveiling that the countdown clocks are expected to arrive at the Kenmore Station in the next twelve to fourteen months. Also, signs will be installed in other green line stations over the coming year. The signs are being considered as the first experiment in a long project to improve the current transit system.

Homeless Man Returns Bag of Money

17 Sep

A homeless man discovered about $40,000 in a backpack but instead of keeping it to himself, he turned the lost money in to the police department. This heroic deed was committed by Glen James, who has been homeless since 2005, but is currently living in a shelter.  James said about the act that even if he was desperate, he would not even have taken a penny. James attributes his attitude to his strong faith in God, who, he says has always taken care of him.

The backpack has since been returned to its owner and James has been commended by the Boston Police Commander, Edward Davis. In a small ceremony on Monday, James received a special citation from the commissioner for his actions along with gratitude from the backpack’s owner, a Chinese student who was in town visiting friends.

A Virginia man was so inspired by James’ actions that he set up a collection for James to reward him for his good deed. After seeing the story, Ethan Whittington of Richmond, Virginia felt that James deserved some reward for returning the money especially considering his situation. If you’re interested in helping out, visit the website.

Should You Really Wash That Chicken?

10 Sep

A study done by researchers at Drexel University has found that washing raw chicken is actually more harmful than previously assumed. Through washing, cooks give the potentially harmful germs from chicken a medium of movement, which is the washing water. Using a germ tracking simulation, researchers found that germs tend to be spread in a two to three-foot radius due to splashing. The germs attach themselves to the water particles and are invisible to spot. If one is not exacting in their cleaning practices, salmonella and other dangerous illness could be spread throughout the kitchen. The chances of cross-contamination occurring also increases. Washing of the chicken did not do much in terms of decreasing the amount of bacteria on the chicken itself. Researchers noted that the particularly dangerous germs that could inhabit the bird could really only be killed by cooking the chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees, which is the recommended cooking procedure.

If washing the chicken does more harm than good, why do people still do it? Some say that washing chickens has become ingrained in the American cook’s culture. It was something that was suggested for years by iconic cooks such as Julia Child. In many homes, where cooking skills are learned, the idea that chicken should be washed before preparing has been handed down through families. Now it might be time to break tradition, for the sake of health.

Free School Lunch

3 Sep

This new school year is bringing about a pleasant surprise for families: free school lunches. As part of a new federal program, Boston Public Schools will now be offering free breakfast and lunch to all students regardless of family income. The aim of the program is to increase the number of children being fed while eliminating the paperwork families have to work through in order to enroll. Although snacks and other extras will still cost extra, the standard meal will be provided for free.

Mayor Menino is all in favor of the program because he feels it makes it easier for low-income families to obtain healthy meals for their children, especially because statistics state that almost 80 percent of students currently already qualify for free or reduced price meals. Previously, the city had introduced a meal plan that eliminated the cost of school breakfast for students. The breakfast program was estimated to save families $230 per child while the lunch program is projected to save families anywhere from $405 to $455 per child.

For more information, visit the Boston Public School website.

Science Fiction Meets Reality

14 Aug

Science fiction dreams may soon become a reality, with the creation of an actual working jet-pack. This week, the first working jet pack meant for practical use will be taken out on manned test flights. Although the aircraft is in its testing phases, the public can’t expect to see a market ready product until 2015. The estimated cost of this jet pack will start at $100,000 but it’s more likely to cost around $1500,000 to $200,000.

The New Zealand based company, Martin Aircraft, has been working on the jet pack model for about 30 years. Glenn Martin, who designed the jet pack, was inspired by his favorite science-fiction cartoons, seeing something he wanted to make into reality. Now his dream is coming to fruition. The jet pack is currently about 400 pounds and seven feet high and wide. This size makes portability difficult, but it is necessary to encompass the aircraft’s gas engine and cylinders with fans. The jet pack is able to cruise at its maximum speed of sixty miles per hour for about thirty minutes and can reach a maximum height of 8,000 feet. The New-Zealand government is taking notice; they are potentially developing plans to use the jet pack as part of military or emergency training.

Bulger Trial Verdict Decided

12 Aug

The trial of James “Whitey” Bulger has finally come to an end. The jury convicted Bulger on 11 out of 19 murder charges. Bulger was also convicted of money laundering, extortion, gun charges as part of his initial indictment of racketeering. Over all, Bulger was convicted of 31 of the 32 criminal counts he faced.

Whitey Bulger is known for his extensive criminal activities during the 70’s and 80’s, as part of Boston’s Winter Hill Gang. After his crime run ended, he spent sixteen years in hiding, evading police, until he was finally caught in California. At one point in time, he was placed on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” List.

The two-month long trial ended with a five-day, thirty-two hour long deliberation. Many people have mixed feelings about the result. Bulger claimed he was pleased with the results not because he was not convicted on all charges, but because the trial exposed government corruption. Allegedly, Bulger was an FBI informant during his days as a crime lord. In exchange for information about the gang world, Bulger received inside information from corrupt law enforcement. Others are not so keen on what occurred. Families of the murder victims say some did not fully receive justice.

Sentencing is scheduled for November 13th.

Climate Change

8 Aug

New reports are showing the massive effect that climate change is having on the environment in California. Effecting everything from the ocean to the farming economy, the damage from climate change is widespread. The reports have found “36 indicators” predicting climate change including worsening forest fires, increasing sea levels and temperature, less glacial run-off, and changes in plant and animal migration. The danger in changes like those comes with their secondary effects. The change in the waters, which also includes an increase in acidity, contributed to a drop in the population of Chinook salmon in 2004. Less glacial run-off means less water for hydroelectricity plants and farmers who rely on run-off for irrigation. Reports stated that the state’s temperature has risen 1.5 degrees since 1895. Although that is not a significant amount, the increase in temperature has picked up speed since 1975.

The changes in environment, according to reports, are a clear sign that things need to change. It was noted that there had been a slight decrease in greenhouse gasses over California in recent years, but this is not enough. The alarming details of the report have prompted further monitoring of environment changes.

Government Center Stays Open for Now

31 Jul

The renovation of Government Center that was scheduled to begin this season has been postponed. The project involved updating the station to meet new requirements regarding disability accessibility. The reconstruction involves renovating the train platforms, building a new entrance, completely redoing the electrical system to accommodate new elevators, escalators, LED signs, and better lighting. Plans also include expanding the fare collection area and improving some of the surrounding area including City Hall Plaza and Cambridge Street.

As part of the plans, the building would cause the Government Station T stop to close to passengers although trains will still be able to pass through. A special bus route that stops at Government Center, State Street, and Haymarket will be added to accommodate MBTA riders.

In order to avoid further disruption of traffic patterns, the construction has been postponed until the Callahan Tunnel is reopened in the spring. The Government Center reconstruction is still expected to finish by spring 2016.