Soggy Days are Here Again

While the other parts of the country are blasted with snow and freezing temperatures, Oregon is blasted with rain and wind, the Pacific Northwest Winter. I’m taking a class at PSU this term about the Pacific Northwest, taught by a tall red-headed Prof. with a fantastic dry sense of humor; too bad he doesn’t see that we laugh at the same things. Regardless, this has been an insight on PacNW history and culture. We learned about the early explorers, a base understanding of how Oregon was settled and current issues that plague our society. A breath of fresh air has been breathed into the insight on the pride Pacific Northwesterners hold for their beloved region. An understanding has been formed on why people west of the Cascades are so damned proud of their webbed feet.

One thing we learned is that many of the first explorers to the Oregon Coast, Spanish and English, dreaded it. They hated the un-land-able rocky coast, they hated the wind, they hated the rain, and they hated the soggy. So many of the things Oregon prides itself in where detested by the early explorers. Even Lewis & Clark, regional (and national) icons of adventure and exploring hated the weather. They hated walking in the water all the time, they hated, as stated previously, just being soggy.

In Today’s age, now that we “tamed” the Pacific Northwest, we brag that we have webbed feet, the rain isn’t so bad, and we tell the exact opposite to Californians, thank you Gov Tom McCall. In addition, this weekend should be a testament to those webbed feet of ours. If we love the rain so much, we should love this soggy weekend. It was so soggy, and still is, that our beloved Sitka Spruce, 700 years old, and although nearing the end of its lifespan, will be missed by all due to an unfortunate wind gust that knocked it down from half way up. Hurricane force winds of bogged down the coast, and so much soggy, windy weather that the Governor has called a State of Emergency. What happened to our webbed feet?

The question begs, what would the early explorers have thought about the Pacific Northwest if they had Gortex Rain Coats and weatherproofed hiking boots to help them? Imagine if Lewis & Clark had plastic coated tents and an unlimited supply of tarps to keep the ground warm. Imagine if any of the early explorers stepped foot on the Oregon Coast with a fancy pair of hikers that would keep feet dry for a week without taking them off. Imagine Lewis & Clark marching along the Columbia balancing a kayak and wearing a slick outer shell from Marmot. What would their opinion be of the PacNW then?

We can claim that we have webbed feet, but it’s only with the help of the technology that has grown up with living here. Many of the people who helped raise this area to the civilized society it is now did it with an ingenuity and desire to tame nature. Of that taming was born icons like Columbia Sportswear, Leatherman, and Nike. Without these technological tools to help us, many of us would be complaining worse than Lewis & Clark. We have technology to thank for our webbed feet.

The irony lies in the self-reliance that is the base of the Pacific Northwest pride. The “man can do anything” attitude boosts confidence and makes people feel like they can accomplish anything. No Goliath will stand in the way of someone who holds the PacNW attitude. The realization is bolstered by invention. Pacific Northwesterners would not have the confidence they do without the technology created to tame the environment in which they live. So, the next time someone brags about their webbed feet, remember that they would not have those webbed feet without their protective gear.

Perhaps that protective gear is the real accomplishment of the Pacific Northwest. It is gear that enabled people to appreciate the land in which they live and create laws to protect it.


I figured it out! What the editing does, how it looks, and hopefully how to get this emailing a blog thing to sync formatting. Nope, didn’t work. C’est la vie.

The early morning rant was in regards to internet images. What are we portraying here on the internet? Who will see what sort of persona? I really didn’t think of a perspective job, a perspective employer using this medium to check me out. And, now I wonder, what if they have and they didn’t like what the see?

I am also surprised that there is another Michelle Lasley out there. I grew up with a name few had, Michelle Lee Debelak. I added my Alexis when I was confirmed, so Michelle Lee Alexis Debelak. Before Peter and I married, I questioned changing my name. We are not that old, neither are we that young. I have established certain things, or some things, under my maiden name. So, now I was faced with the choice, do I keep it or change it? The name that is. I opted for changing to further symbolize the union we created when we got married, and because I had no real good reason for not changing it. Before the paperwork was put in, a friend pointed out a website that claimed to tally if your name was rare. Debelak and Lasley came up about the same when combined with Michelle, so again, no real good reason not to change it.

Again, I am surprised to learn that there is another Michelle Lasley out there, especially after having grown up with a pretty rare name. For years, when I Googled Michelle Debelak, only I came up. Now, one other does. But to have more than one page, let alone five, with Michelle Lasley, is quite surprising, and even annoying. I am not unique in my name anymore. I’m working on some projects where it would be helpful to have a unique name, so when someone Googles “Michelle Lasley” and “said project”, what will come up? Just me?

Or will this other Michelle give me a bad name?

Web Names

In August, MSNBC posted an article warning job-candidates of their internet image. The article used an example of a “well-qualified young female psychiatrist”, where upon doing a due-diligence check that led the interviewer to Facebook and MySpace, she was featured removing her top in several photos.

Who hasn’t Googled their name? I’d venture a guess as to not many now a days. But, maybe because I’m a little slow, I didn’t think about what my internet image would be or is.

Back in 1998, shortly after Google landed with a smash on the web, and I started to go back to school at MSU, I began Googling myself, mostly to see if my MSU web page came up, and it did. As the months and years went on, I noticed that a friend here or there had a link to me, or my name, so I’d pop up there too. At most, I had 5 entries, a half Google page. In fact, Google couldn’t Google me further than that!

Now, I’m married. Now, I have, in a way, two names, my married and my maiden name. What would happen if I Googled my married name? Oddly, several entries appear, and it seems that as I’ve been married nearly one year, even more entries appear than when we first were married. The most prolific entry is from a blond girl, slightly older than I am, from California. She seems bubbly enough, but perhaps a bit flirty, especially for the internet. Now the thought occurs, what if someone Googled me for a job search? Is this why my job search of several months has continued to run up dry? Are these other names on the internet blowing my chances to work with the place I covet most, TriMet?

I could go on with my thoughts, but I fear it would be too conspiratorial. Then, of course, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean their watching you, right? I really did just roll my eyes there. I cannot believe there is a human-made grand design, so I cannot believe that all these jobs that have evaded me is because of someone else who shares my name, and who clearly has had my married name as her birth name a heck of a lot longer!

So, the question begs – do you address this in a cover letter? “And, while you consider me for the candidate you are looking for, please disregard anything you may find while Googling my name through your due-diligence report. As you can see from the enclosed photograph, the personas featured on the web are not me, therefore I remain the most qualified candidate.” How would that go? Horribly, I fear. So, perhaps, it’s juts another Catch-22.

Allergy, Asmtha & Immunology vs. Farm Life

Farm residents with livestock, except poultry, have protection against allergy later in life

Michelle Lasley | Environmental Science & Resources 428, Professor Alan Yeakley


There has been a worldwide increase in asthma and allergies over the last half century. Many studies link this to the Western lifestyle and increased standard of living. In addition, the rise of atopic diseases has been linked to the decline of infectious disease. Furthermore, several studies have linked the use of antibiotics in infancy and early childhood to prevalence of asthma, eczema, and allergy rhinitis. The post-industrial period saw changes in the development of allergies, increased risk of asthma and allergy rhinitis, or hay fever.

To discuss why these changes are happening, numerous European studies have linked less likelihood to experience allergies if children have parents who are farmers, and more specifically children who live on farms in the presence of animals. These children, who live on farms with animals, have decreased adult asthma, allergy rhinitis, and eczema. A New Zealand study found that this was null when children were on farms with poultry. This is important because pediatricians find asthma and allergies, during the late 1970s, to be difficult to treat. Farm environment for children protects against allergic rhinitis and asthma. Exposure to environmental mycobacteria and actinomycetes could be the explanation. If planners could incorporate these findings in urban designs, perhaps symptoms of allergies in children would decrease, increasing the quality of life for all.


Society’s quick change from an agrarian society to an industrial society has had many unforeseen affects on the urban landscape, or in the urban ecology. One such unforeseen affect is in allergies. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, there were few documented cases of hay fever, asthma and other allergies. Victims of allergies can tell you that allergies have a debilitating affect on the sufferer. Because allergies affect every facet of the sufferer’s life, allergy has a direct correlation to Quality of Life (QOL) issues and measurements. As QOL decreases, the potential to treat allergies gets harder.1 Treating allergies and the occurrence of allergies has startling costs to society. Additionally, allergy is so prevalent that new professions have arisen out from this increase and formation of allergy.

With such a wide ranging affect, it is helpful to know what is included in allergy. Recent papers include in allergies the following types: allergy rhinitis (hay fever), asthma (inflammation of the bronchial tubes), and atopic/eczema/dermatitis syndrome (AEDS) (skin rashes and conditions).2 Several studies over the past two decades indicate a strong correlation between protection against allergies in adulthood and exposure to farm animals, except poultry, as a child. This paper will show the debilitating affect allergy has on young people, a basic introduction on what happens in allergy sufferers; a discussion of the studies showing links between livestock and allergy protection; a discussion of the studies that show an adverse link, especially in regards to poultry; and finally a summary of what was shown with suggestions on where studies should next proceed.

Allergy – Symptoms & Basic History

For one hundred years now, modern science has known that synthetic antihistamine would protect an animal from induced anaphylaxis, meaning that for one hundred years we have known what allergies look like and a basic idea of how to control allergies. Then, about 65 years ago, immunoglobulin E (IgE) was discovered as the acting carrier of ragweed, and later other allergens, the main component whose sensitivity chooses who has allergies and who does not.3 It was learned that allergies occur when people have a hypersensitivity to triggers, and in this instance, ragweed. This sensitivity follows across the board from allergy rhinitis to asthma, and as Leffert describes asthma as an immunologic hypersensitivity, sometimes where emotional stress triggers and exacerbates symptoms. One of the key components of asthma is when antigens sensitize a child and then these antigens trigger an immunologic reaction, i.e. an asthma attack. Likewise, for allergy rhinitis, it would seem that exposure to allergens, the body developing a hypersensitivity to these allergens, and then triggers by the allergens force allergies in the sufferer, i.e. hay fever or sneezing attacks such as when a burst of pollen from sniffing a flower itches the sufferer’s nose.

Through the past 100 years, medicine has continued to study allergy, the causes of allergy, and how to treat allergy. Questionnaires have been issued, studies have been tallied, and the basic findings are that allergies are expensive to treat, can often confound the pediatrician in charge of care, and clearly makes the victim of allergy suffer sometimes year round. Some questions used to decide if someone suffers from allergy are found in Table 4.4 The questionnaires studied for this paper generally follow an if-then format. If the sufferer experiences this symptom, then continue here, if not, go to this place. It is important to differentiate between colds, flu, and actual allergy symptoms. All studies used had a 95% confidence index, suggesting strong credibility.

Livestock as an Allergy Protection

Beginning with studies in the mid-90s, several European scientists in Sweden, the Netherlands, the UK, and other places in Europe, have been curious about the connections to allergies comparing urban and rural children. In the early 19th Century, it was thought that urban children had fewer allergies than rural kids did because at the time, rural places were cleaner than urban places, making exposure to allergens higher in urban places, rather than rural. Modern studies have found the opposite to be true. Ironically, studies from the past twenty years, mostly in Europe, have shown that exposure to farm animals has a protective affect against allergens, especially in regards to allergy rhinitis, or hay fever. Bråbäck illustrates the relationship between occupations and habitat in his 2004 article in Clnical & Experimental Allergy.5 Data is taken from Swiss conscript data from 1952 on. Alhtough occurences of allergy increased for habitants from both rural and urban dwellings, urban people had a higher increase and the gap between urban and rural grew larger.

Braun-Fahrländer and colleagues found, in 1999, that farming as a parental occupation decreased the risk of children developing symptoms of allergies.6 This paper has been documented in many following, suggesting a leading insight into this allergy conundrum. Braun-Fahrländer and colleagues hypothesized that children growing up ion farms were less likely to be snesitied to common allergens and then that they wold suffer less from allergic disease. To carry out their study, Braun-Fahrländer and colleagues used the Swiss Study on Childhood Allergy and Respiratory Symptoms with Respect to Air pollution (SCARPOL), a data set used by most of the European studies examined. Methods were questionnaire at the school health services, a routine visit for the three ages groups studied, and blood samples for the older age groups. Of note in their findings was that farming familes had a lower socio-economic status; had more children; had more humitidy or visible mold in their home,;used traditional heating such as coal and wood; were more likely to keep furred pets, but the furred pets were less likely to be in the children’s bedroom; had mothers that were less lilkely to smoke; and had less hay fever, asthma, and eczema in their family history. From their findings, they discussed that the possiblity exists that the living in an agricultural enviroment could provide a model of primary prevention. If this proves to be true, then, these findings could be taken into the urban environment as preventive maitenance for alleryg sufferers.

Poultry – An Adverse Affect

Contrasting the European studies, a New Zealand study also looked at farms, children’s exposure to animals, and resistance to allergies as an adult.7 This study found that the children in the sample, their risk increased with exposure to farms. The most striking difference is the New Zealand study had more poultry, or in general poultry farms. The European studies did not, indicating that it is exposure to poultry that either increases or does nothing to the risk of being affected by allergy. Wickens, in Table 5 shows incidence where exposure to poultry nearly doubles the risk of hay fever compared to other triggers studied, such as cats and residence, the farm abode.8 Additionally, this study noted a higher incidence of allergy in regards to pigs and hayfever, farm abode in current allergic rhinitis, farm abode for asthma, and cats (inside or outside) regarding AEDS (skin problems).

The study discusses that all children living on farms had increased risk of all studied forms of allergy: hay fever, allergic rhinitis, asthma, wheezing, and eczema. Of the European studies examined, they concluded that living on farms with livestock had the protective affect against allergy later in life, but the published results did not pare down which animals were on the farms like this New Zealand study. On the other hand, the New Zealand study did not mention animals like cows (a European animal attributed to the protective affect), horses, goats, or other farm mammals besides pigs. Regardless, examining these causes in more detail and from a different vantage point, this study pushes further research to examine more fully which animals actually have the protective affect. If this is not done, one could believe that it maybe something in the air in European farms rather than the animals present.

As a rebuttal to the New Zealand study, Braun-Fahrländer points out that having contact with farm animals shows the substantial decrease in the development of hayfever and asthma comparing children living on farms and non-farming children.9 He introduces in this editorial the ALEX study (ALlergy and EndotoXin) where dust samples were obtained from enrolled children and tests were done to see the development of IgE sensitization. Although not well supported, it was this sensitization that farm animals protect against, a known cause of allergy. Subsequently, although growing up on a farm does not suppress the process of IgE sensitization it protects against it. Still, though, animals remain undefined, and the New Zealand study, of the obtained articles, is the only one that specifies which animals were tested against.


In this paper I showed the debilitating affect allergy has on young people, studies showing links between livestock and allergy protection; and studies that show an adverse link in that protection, especially in regards to poultry. Several European studies over the past two decades have shown that when children live on farms with livestock, this experience later in life acts as protection against allergies, allergies that are increasing in society. This is important because of the discomfort and adverse affects to Quality of Life, the costs of health care for the afflicted persons, and the cost of healthcare for the public. If we can pinpoint what causes allergies, what can keep allergies at bay, and lastly how to overcome allergies, we would live in very different places than we do now. To take these findings further would be to introduce them into the planning stage of urban centers. If these findings could be more pinpointed for policy gurus, then we could try to make our cities allergy free. This would allow us to cure or control allergy at a local level with less cost to the individual and public. The next question could be, “Besides livestock, which animals that protect against allergies could be introduced as part of the urban landscape?” We’ve seen that poultry does not, so does that mean we need more dogs? Should every household enjoy the company of a dog, further reducing the need for places such as the Human Society?


  • Asher, M.I., U. Keil, H.R. Anderson, et al. 1995. International study of asthma and allergies in childhood (ISAAC): rationale and methods. European Respiratory Journal. 8:483-491.
  • Bråbäck, L., A. Hjern, and F. Rasmussen. 2004. Trends in asthma, allergic rhinitis and eczema among Swedish conscripts form farming and non-farming environments; a nationwide study over three decades. Clinical and Experimental Allergy. 34:38-43.
  • Braun-Fahrländer, C. 2002. Do only European cattle protect from allergies? Allergy. 57:1094-1096.
  • Braun-Fahrländer, C., M. Gassner, L. Grize, et al. 1999. Prevalence of hay fever and allergic sensitization in farmer’s children and their peers living in the same rural community. Clinical and Experimental Allergy. 29:28-34.
  • Emanuel, M. B. 1999. Histamine and the antiallergic antihistamines: a history of their discovers. Clinical and Experimental Allergy. 29(supplement 3):1?11.
  • Gerth van Wijk, R. 2002. Allergy: a global problem; Quality of life. Allergy. 57:1097-1110.
  • Kilpeläinen, M., E.O. Terho, H. Helenius, and M. Koskenvuo. 2000. Farm environment in childhood prevents the development of allergies. Clinical and Experimental Allergy. 30:201-208.
  • Leffert, Fred, M.D. 1978. Asthma: a modern perspective. Pediatrics. 62(6):1061-1069.
  • Wickens, K., J.M. Lane, P. Fitzharris, et al. 2002. Farm Residence and exposures and the risk of allergic diseases in New Zealand children. Allergy. 57-1171-1179.

Tables & Figures

Table 11

Association of physician-diagnosed asthma during lifetime with background factors in young Finnish adults. Adjustment performed by logistic regression model for all the other factors in the table and parental education.

Total N* Prevalence (%)* Crude OR* 95% CI P-value Adjusted CR† 95% CI P-Value
Place of Residene at Age 0-6 years
Rural non-farm 1,243 5.3 1.00 1.00
Farm 1,095 3.7 0.68 0.45-1.01 NS 0.70 0.46-1.06 NS
Urban 7,276 4.5 0.81 0.64-1.10 NS 0.81 0.61-1.07 NS
Day care outside the home at 0-2 years
No 9,324 4.5 1.00 1.00
Yes 1,127 5.1 1.14 0.86-1.52 NS 1.09 0.80-1.49 NS
Passive smoking at age 0-2 years
No 8,292 4.3 1.00 1.00
Yes 2,257 5.6 1.32 1.07-1.62 <0.01 1.30 1.03-1.64 <0.05
Male 4,142 5.1 1.00 1.00
Female 6,488 4.2 0.81 0.67-0.97 <0.05 0.72 0.59-0.88 <0.01
Parents’ asthma or atopy
No 6,258 2.9 1.00 1.00
Yes 4,299 6.39 2.46 2.04-2.97 <0.001 2.32 1.89-2.84 <0.001
Number of older siblings
0 5,672 4.9 1.00 1.00
1 3,597 4.3 0.88 0.72-1.08 NS 0.94 0.76-1.17 NS
2 920 4 0.82 0.58-1.16 NS 0.91 0.62-1.33 NS
3 256 3.5 0.71 0.36-1.40 NS 0.74 0.36-1.53 NS
?4 144 3.5 0.70 0.29-1.73 NS 0.90 0.36-2.25 NS

* Using all available information.

For subjects with complete data on all the background variables.

1 M. Kilpeläinen, E.O. Terho, H. Helenius, and M. Koskenvuo. “Farm environment in childhood prevents the development of allergies” in Clinical and Experimental Allergy. 2000. 30:201-208.

Table 21

Association of physician-diagnosed allergic rhinitis and/or allergic conjunctivitis during lifetime with background factors in young Finnish adults. Adjustment performed by logistic regression model for all the other factors in the table and parental education.

Total N* Prevalence (%)* Crude OR* 95% CI P-value Adjusted CR† 95% CI P-Value
Place of Residene at Age 0-6 years
Rural non-farm 1,243 20.80 1.00 1.00
Farm 1,095 13.90 0.61 0.49-0.77 <0.001 0.63 0.50-0.79 <0.001
Urban 7,276 22.40 1.10 0.95-1.27 NS 1.08 0.92-1.26 NS
Day care outside the home at 0-2 years
No 9,324 20.50 1.00 1.00
Yes 1,127 25.20 1.30 1.13-1.51 <0.001 1.22 1.04-1.42 <0.05
Passive smoking at age 0-2 years
No 8,292 21.00 1.00 1.00
Yes 2,257 20.60 0.98 0.87-1.09 NS 1.03 0.91-1.17 NS
Male 4,142 21.90 1.00 1.00
Female 6,488 20.20 0.90 0.82-0.99 <0.05 0.82 0.74-0.91 <0.001
Parents’ asthma or atopy
No 6,258 15.40 1.00 1.00
Yes 4,299 28.90 2.23 2.03-2.45 <0.001 2.25 2.03-2.49 <0.001
Number of older siblings
0 5,672 22.30 1.00 1.00
1 3,597 19.50 0.85 0.76-0.94 <0.01 0.86 0.77-0.96 <0.01
2 920 20.40 0.89 0.75-1.06 NS 0.99 0.82-1.19 NS
3 256 19.80 0.86 0.63-1.17 0.99 0.71-1.37 NS
?4 144 9.00 0.35 0.20-0.61 <0.001 0.47 0.26-.84 <0.05

* Using all available information.

For subjects with complete data on all the background variables.

Table 32

Association of respiratory and allergic symptoms1 and allergic sensitization with farming as parental occupation.

Symptom prevalence accounting to parental occupation Association with farming as parental occupation
Total study population (n,%) Farming (n,%) Non-Farming (n,%) Crude OR (95%, CI) Adjusted3 OR (95%, CI)
Questionnaire (N = 1620)
Repated cough 594/36.7 103/33.6 491/37.4 0.85 (0.65-1.10) 0.90 (0.63-1.29)
Bronchitis 156/9.6 31/10.1 125/9.5 1.07 (0.71-1.62) 1.37 (0.77-2.40)
Wheez 135/8.3 16/5.2 119/9.1 0.55 (0.33-0.94) 0.77 (0.38-1.58)
Asthma (ever) 150/9.3 24/7.8 126/9.6 0.80 (0.51-1.26) 1.17 (0.64-2.13)
Sneezing during pollen season 125/7.7 8/2.6 117/8.9 0.27 (0.14-0.54) 0.34 (0.12-0.89)
Hay fever (ever) 197/12.2 22/7.2 175/13.3 0.50 (0.32-0.79) 0.89 (0.49-1.59)
Itchy skin rash (ever) 193/12.0 27/8.9 166/12.7 0.67 (0.41-1.02) 0.86 (0.49-1.50)
Eczema (ever) 305/18.8 48/15.6 257/19.6 0.76 (0.54-1.07) 1.15 (0.74-1.81)
Serological test2 (N=404)
Postive SX1 test (CAP-class?2) 139/34.4 16/18.6 123/38.7 0.33 (0.18-0.59) 0.31 (0.13-0.73)
Specific IgE’s to outdoor allergens (CAP class?2) 119/29.5 15/17.4 104/32.7 0.43 (0.24-0.78) 0.38 (0.16-0.87)
Specific IgE’s to indoor allergens (CAP class?2) 81/20.1 4/4.7 77/24.2 0.15 (0.06-0.38) 0.15 (0.04-0.57)

1 During the past 12 months if not otherwise specified.

2 318 serological tests were done in children from non-farming families, 86 in farmers’ children.

3 The logistic regression model included the following variables: age, sex, parental education, a family history of asthma, hay fever, eczema, number of siblings, maternal smoking, pet ownership, indoor humidity, study area, and heating fuels.

Table 43

SAMPLE – Core questionnaire rhinitis module for 13-14 year olds NOT INCLUDED

Table 54

Adjusted odds ratios for the association between various exposures and having hayfever ever, allergic rhinitis in the last 12 months, asthma ever, wheeze in the last 12 months, atopic eczema/dermatitis syndrome (AEDS) ever, and skin prick test (SPT) positivity

n (293) Hayfever ever Current allergic rhinitis Asthma ever Current wheeze AEDS ever SPT positivity
First year of life
Farm abode 94 1.3 (0.4-3.9) 0.5 (0.2-1.2) 0.7 (0.3-1.8) 0.5 (0.2-1.4) 0.7 (0.3-1.8) 1.3 (0.5-3.6)
Regular poultry 36 1.8 (0.5-6.6) 2.0 (.07-5.9) 2.7 (0.9-7.7)* 2.1 (0.7-6.6) 3.7 (1.3-0.7)** 1.1 (0.4-3.5)
Regular pig 29 0.4 (0.1-1.9) 0.6 (0.2-2.0) 1.0 (0.3-3.3) 0.6 (0.2-2.3) 0.6 (0.2-1.8) 0.2 (0.1-0.9)**
Cats inside or outside 223 0.4 (0.1-1.0)** 1.4 (0.6-3.1) 1.4 (0.6-3.1) 1.0 (0.4-2.4) 0.4 (0.2-0.8)*** 0.6 (0.3-1.3)
Dogs inside or outside 185 0.5 (0.2-1.3) 0.7 (0.4-1.4) 0.4 (0.2-0.8)*** 0.6 (0.3-1.2)* 0.8 (0.4-1.5) 0.8 (0.4-1.6
Current exposures
Farm abode 95 1.3 (0.4-3.9) 2.7 (1.0-6.9)*** 2.0 (0.8-5.2) 1.9 (0.7-6.6) 1.7 (0.7-4.1) 0.8 (0.2-1.7)
Regular poultry 45 2.2 (0.7-7.0) 1.5 (0.6-3.8) 0.8 (0.3-2.0) 1.0 (0.4-2.6) 0.5 (0.2-1.2) 2.8 (1.0-6.9)**
Regular pig 22 2.8 (.6-12.2) 1.0 (0.3-3.6) 0.7 (0.2-2.3) 1.6 (0.4-5.9) 0.7 (0.2-2.2) 3.3 (0.9-11.8)*
Cats inside or outside 234 0.7 (0.3-1.9) 1.0 (0.5-2.2) 1.5 (0.7-3.3) 0.9 (0.4-2.1) 2.8 (1.3-6.1)*** 1.4 (0.6-3.3)
Dogs inside or outside 214 1.5 (0.5-4.0) 1.0 (0.5-2.2) 1.6 (0.8-3.5) 1.5 (0.7-3.4) 1.3 (0.6-2.7) 2.0 (0.9-4.3)
Geomean endotoxin 0.9 (0.6-1.2) 1.0 (0.8-1.3) 0.9-0.7-1.2) 1.2 (0.9-1.5) 1.0 (0.8-1.3) 1.0 (0.8-1.3)
Diet at < 2 years
Yoghurt once or more a week 225 0.3 (0.1-0.7)*** 0.3 (0.1-0.7)*** 1.1 (0.6-2.4) 1.1 (0.4-2.3) 0.6 (90.3-1.20) 0.8(0.4-1.7)
Unpasteurized milk ever 38 1.1 (0.2-5.0) 0.3 (0.1-1.1)* 0.7 (0.2-2.4) 0.6 (0.2-0.8) 0.2 9 (0.1-2.20**) 0.6 (0.2-1.9)
Pasteurized milk once or more a day 192 1.7 (0.7-4.6) 1.5 (0.7-3.3) 1.3 (0.6-2.7) 1.1 (0.5-2.5) 1.4 (0.7-3.00) 0.8 (0.4-1.7)
Cheese once or more a week 200 2.1 (0.8-5.6) 1.3 (0.6-2.8) 1.1 ()0.6-2.4) 1.4 (0.5-3.3) 1.3 (0.6-2.7) 0.7 (0.3-1.4)

* P = < 0.10

** P = < 0.05

*** P = < 0.01

Adjusted for all variables in table, plus gender, ethnicity, mother’s education level, family history of allergic disease, family size, antibiotic use in first year, mother’s smoking in the first year and currently, coal and wood fires in the fires year and currently, having a history of measles and whooping cough infection and current dairy food consumption.

Per unit increase in endotoxin per gram of dust.


Not Included

Do Buy Nothing Day Like a Pro

There was an article in The Oregonian Wednesday that instructed people how to buy like a pro on Black Friday. I sent this in, rather late, to the letters to the editor.
Why support our piggish consumer culture while lining the pockets of already rich CEOs on Black Friday? Why not actually do something with your family, something they will remember a lot longer than Black Friday gifts. The following fifteen is from me; Ad Busters has more on Buy Nothing Day.
  1. Don’t go shopping, for anything
  2. Stay at home, relax
  3. Play with your kids
  4. Enjoy time with your spouse
  5. Play board games
  6. Call up that friend you’ve been meaning to call during the holiday season now
  7. Make cookies, decorate with your family
  8. Make Christmas wreaths with your friends
  9. Enjoy hot cider
  10. Sit by the fire
  11. Sing carols
  12. Volunteer at a soup kitchen
  13. Volunteer at a school with the SMART program (Start Making a Reader Today)
  14. Make Christmas cards
  15. Make Christmas ornaments

Thanksgiving Consumerism

Remember a few years ago, when the woman was crushed by a horde of people wanting a discounted DVD player (CNN Archive)? One store opens at 6am, then the next opens at 5am, then 4am. But, that’s not enough, now Kmart will be open on Thanksgiving Day (ABC News)! Thanksgiving really has become the forgotten holiday. It’s a gateway drug to shopping mania. People will crowd these stores; maybe trample another just like them, to get great deals on stuff that no one really needs. How did we get this far, and will it ever end?

When I was in Eighth grade, we had to do speeches for my English class. I did mine on my family, a mixed family of Steps. Most of the speeches were like mine, mundane. But, one girl, Carin Skivington, did her speech on Thanksgiving, labeling it the forgotten holiday. I’m not sure who coined the term, but at 14 years old, her insight is magnificent. Thanksgiving has become the forgotten holiday, and now Halloween barely gets a nod. We line up the year beginning with New Year’s and resolutions, coast into Easter where it’s all about candy, followed up by Memorial Day. Clearly, some do what is expected of Memorial Day and remember those lives lost in war, but who remembers that day was started to remember the lives lost in the Civil War? Skip over the parent remembrances and celebrate the 4th of July. How do we celebrate it? Cooking out and watching fireworks, chemicals exploding in the air. Sing a few rounds of the Star Spangled Banner toasted in with a few beers, and then go to bed. Do we remember the struggle it was to put this country into place? Do we remember the bloodshed, the lives lost, and the struggle to get people to agree? Do we remember that without the Bill of Rights, we would not be here today like this? No, we don’t. We’re more interested in the day off the holiday gives us, instead of remember the people who even gave us the holidays with Labor Day.

History classes in school teach people how to be brainwashed citizens, it doesn’t teach kids about the importance of why we have these holidays. It doesn’t teach people why it’s important to remember what others have done for us so we can stand on the shoulders of giants. We stress over these holidays, to eat too much food, and get crap from those we care about, stuff that we don’t care about. What would it take for us to get back to basics? What would it take for us to remember what these holidays are all about?

Holiday is a derivative of Holy Day, stemming from religions, specifically Christianity, and then Catholicism. All Saint’s day is preceded by Halloween. Christmas, Easter, All Saint’s day mark season changes. I don’t think it is a coincidence that we have these holidays connected with climate. Astrology points to a changing era, from the Age of Aquarius, soon we will enter the Age of Pisces. Pisces is the last sign on the astrological wheel, the old soul, the philosopher. The Mayan calendar is rumored to end in 2012. Perhaps this year will mark the change when we go from being a me-society to a more human centered society. Perhaps we will finally remember to remember. We will see that history has its place, and it’s place is to be told. Skip the master narrative and remember the mistakes we made. It’s not about things, as the old saying goes, you can’t take it with you when you die. And, if you can’t take it with you when you die, what good is it here on earth?

Hopefully we, collectively, can see that we need these changes now, instead of 5 years from now.

TV – Confessions of a New Mom

After Levi was born I began breastfeeding, and after the mothers paid their visit, I discovered that we actually got a reception on our cable-less TV. Soon, the lengthy breastfeeding sessions were supplemented with soap operas. I used to catch Days of our Lives in high school, back when Sami was so conniving it made you sick, and it seemed that she and Lucas should both be in jail, and the search for the real Roman was in full swing. I found that it was easy to get caught up, I remembered who all the characters were, and I just needed a few episodes to fill in the blanks. I must not have been breastfeeding correctly because Levi and I would sit there for an hour, and he was always hungry. Those first three to six months were a very frustrating time for all of us, Peter included. So, to pass these hour-long breast feedings sessions that occurred every two hours (that means an hour in between), I watched television. Soon, Peter purchased Rabbit Ears, and now we had channels 2-ABC, 5-PDX CW, 6-CBS, 8-NBC, 10-OBP, 12-FOX, 24-Trinity, 49-PDX49, and 54-ION/Infomercial. That’s NINE channels! I had the entire day lined up with morning news, local talk, Rachael & Martha, Passions, Days, and As the World Turns (a new soap I’d never experienced). As one can expect, I lost motivation, became overly enthralled with the TV, and sunk further into a cycle of Levi and TV. I’m not sure how I completed two classes, with As, Spring Term.

With the summer’s tragedy and frustrations, TV became less important. When we would be at the house, and during July and August it felt like we were home less than we were out, I stopped looking forward to these shows. My soap fix was fixed; I could care less about Katie and Jack. Game shows will always be there in some form. Local talk is being outsourced. The news is always repeating the same stuff, so there is no new news. In addition, primetime has the same script just a different name on the show.

Regardless of these realizations, I do have favorites. I admit two, but really, it’s four. Heroes and Desperate Housewives. The former has an intriguing plot while the latter is simply guilty pleasure. Who really lives like that? And, are they near Chicago, or did Illinois suddenly become coastal? But, I also enjoy Bones and House. I realized that I like the “smarter” shows. I enjoy the shows that have clues and mysteries to solve, however leading. I enjoy the shows where the nerd prevails and the underdog brings down The Man. I do not enjoy the mindless fluff. I do not enjoy the catty, gossipy shows that put people out there to make fools of themselves. I do not enjoy staged dramas pretending to be reality. I know what reality is, I’ve lived in dorms, I live life.

I also forget that I am not average, which is good. But, it’s surprising to learn that on Thursday, Survivor: China wins out at the 8 o’clock slot! It’s a broadcast version of The Real World with more stunts! Who watches these shows? And, by examining a ratings list,, it seems that many of the days highest are these reality shows, or shows that I simply don’t understand.

I recognize that TV is iconic and a symbol of the dumbing down of America, but to see it in full frontal view is, well, astonishing. It makes me mad. And, although I don’t foresee giving up Heroes or Bones, I am getting fed up. Why would we sit there, every night, minimum of two hours a night, or 14 hours a week, and watch this crap? Have books become so unpopular that we no longer remember what it was like to have an imagination? Are we so embroiled in our debt-ridden lives that the only release we have is to turn to gooey Jell-O on the couch? Why don’t we get mad? What would it take for us to stand up, turn off the TVs, and shout, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

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For Cristi

Simply, for Cristi.

Matty will be posting a blog today regarding my late sister, Cristi. It’s interesting how death affects us. In August, my family made a resolution to have a yearly Cristi Challenge to allow her memory to live on vividly in all of us. Cristi was a go-getter. She was ambitious, driven, passionate, and a humanitarian. She had her faults, some of which she was proud of, like her drinking. But, she didn’t smoke, anything. Drinking, it was her release. I don’t generally condone drinking because of what it did to my biological father, and historically, I’ve never enjoyed being around drunk people. They have bad breath. But, exceptions can be made, and for Cristi they had to be.

She generally had a take me as I am front. But, it was just a front. She craved acceptance for her choices, her life. And her last boyfriend, the one who killed her couldn’t let her be the flower she needed to be to bloom. One starving for acceptance, and another starving for control, a situation that turned lethal. I was shocked when it was said this qualified under Domestic Violence. A duh moment, if you will. How can Domestic Violence be a part of my family? How can something so cruel and viscous be in our lives every day now for the rest of our lives? I will probably always cry when I think of that, realize that.

Although, we’re not over it, we’re also beyond life’s not fair. You have to be, simply to move on. So, instead of What Would Jesus Do, or Who Wants Jack Daniels, it is now What Would Cristi Do? At least once a year. The goal is to do something you’ve always wanted, pondered about, or just challenges you in anyway. And, we’ll think of Cristi as our Coach looking over us, watching us, guiding us, leading the way. I think this has been the fire lit under my butt recently. Things that I can sometimes sweep under the rug, I am more convicted to say something. The creeping passive-aggressive deep within my soul is being squelched, and like when I was pregnant, my tolerance for intolerance is looming at an all-time low. Then, I think of Cristi, and what she would do.

Every day. Every day, I pass by her candle on the counter. Every day, I wonder where she is. Every day, I hope there is a heaven she can be in. Every day I hope her bad deeds did not outweigh her good. Every day I hope and try to take the good she did and incorporate it into mine. Maybe everyone can participate in their own version of a Cristi Challenge, and be the humanitarian she was.