30 April 2009

WHO raises swine flu global pandemic alert level to 4

UPDATE 4/30/9: The World Health Organization just raised the alert level yet again -- swine flu pandemic alert level is now at 5, the second highest level.

My blog has been receiving lots of traffic from Google Search and CNN.com with regards to the swine flu so I decided to do a follow-up blog post. The latest major news about it is that World Health Organization (WHO) raised the swine flu global pandemic alert level to 4. The question is, what does it mean to the common people? Read on and find out!

Source: World Health Organization

Phase 1: “No viruses circulating among animals have been reported to cause infections in humans.”

Phase 2: “An animal influenza virus circulating among domesticated or wild animals is known to have caused infection in humans, and is therefore considered a potential pandemic threat.”

Phase 3: An animal or human-animal influenza reassortant virus (a combination of at least two other viruses, as WSJ explains) has caused sporadic cases or small clusters of disease in people, but there haven’t been “community-level” outbreaks. This “limited transmission” doesn’t mean that the virus is spreading easily enough among humans to cause a pandemic.

Phase 4: A reassortant virus is causing community-level outbreaks, meaning there are sustained disease outbreaks in a community. This marks a “significant upwards shift in the risk for a pandemic.” However, a pandemic isn’t necessarily a forgone conclusion.

Phase 5: There is human-to-human spread of the virus into at least two countries in one WHO region. Most countries aren’t affected at this stage, but declaration of Phase 5 is a “strong signal that a pandemic is imminent.” There is little time remaining to finish the organization, communication and implementation of the planned mitigation measures.

Phase 6: In addition to the countries affected in Phase 5, there are community-level outbreaks in at least one other country in a different WHO region. A global pandemic is occurring.

27 April 2009

Swine Flu 101

Just when you thought that the global recession is the only thing to worry about, along comes a health scare that leaves scores of people dying across the Mexican border. So what exactly is Swine Flu in layman's terms? Apparently it's a common respiratory ailment in pigs (1% to 4% die) but the strain that's causing human deaths now appears to be a subtype never before seen in pigs OR humans. It also has a component from bird flu and human flu -- now, isn't that scary?? Uber-mutated virus if there's such a term! Hehe! Anyway here's a Q&A writeup from USA Today about swine flu. Read and be informed on how to protect yourself from the flu. You can also read more at www.cdc.gov ^_^

Q: What are the symptoms of swine flu?
A: The most common symptoms are fever, fatigue, lack of appetite and coughing, although some people also develop a runny nose, sore throat, vomiting or diarrhea, according to the CDC.

Q: What should you do if you have these symptoms?
A: Stay home from work or school, to avoid spreading your illness to other people. Don't get on an airplane. People should call their doctors to ask about the best treatment, but should not simply show up at a clinic or hospital that is unprepared for their arrival.

Q: Can you catch swine flu from eating pork?
A: No, according to WHO. Pigs coming in to slaughter facilities are monitored for flu symptoms, and those that are ill are not allowed to enter the food supply. Cooking also kills the virus. People who work with pigs, however, can catch the swine flu virus.

Q: Is there a vaccine against swine flu?
A: No, but government scientists could try to create one, according to the CDC. The scientists don't know if this year's flu vaccine offers any protection.

Q: What about antivirals? Can they prevent swine flu?
A: This strain of swine flu does appear sensitive to the antiviral drugs Relenza and Tamiflu, but not to amantadine, or Symmetrel, and rimantadine, or Flumadine. With normal seasonal flus, if taken within the first 48 hours after symptoms appear, antivirals can help people recover a day or two sooner.

Q: How can people protect themselves?
A: As always, people should wash their hands frequently. Surgical masks are designed to prevent the wearer from spreading germs, but may also catch large respiratory droplets if someone sneezes nearby. In a 2007 statement, the CDC said these masks could be worn if someone needs to go to a crowded place, such as a grocery store, for a short time. N95 respirator masks filter out 95% of particles to prevent the wearer from breathing them in. These must be fitted properly around the nose to create a seal, so they can make breathing difficult.

25 April 2009

are you on Twitter already?

If you love celebrities and addicted to knowing how their lives are unraveling then you should Twitter! If you haven't heard that Oprah Winfrey has joined this popular micro-blogging service or that Ashton Kutcher was the first ever Twitter member that reached a million followers then you're definitely living under a rock! :p Twitter is all the rage these days. Everybody is jumping on its bandwagon, even celebrities. Or should I say ESPECIALLY the celebrities who want to control their PR *cough* Anyway a website called WhoCelebsTweet.com allows you to see what the celebs are saying (tweets or 140-character messages) and who they're saying it about (followers) so go check them out. And if you're interested in my tweets, you can follow me @cutieissa. No, I'm not a celebrity :p

23 April 2009

join PinayJade's contest & win $100 + 200,000 EC credits!

PinayJade is a Filipina blogger living abroad who turned a year older last March 21. She decided to mark the event with a HUGE contest (click for the mechanics) and I surprised myself by sponsoring a prize! LOL! Yep, tightwad me decided to give away $10 of cold hard cash in celebration of PinayJade's birthday =) Here are the contest prizes and sponsors (click "Continue reading.." to see):


1) BEST POST (selected by PinayJade) - $50 cold hard paypal cash


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21 April 2009

Craigslist Killer is a Boston University medical student!

DANG! What's with killers and violent people being doctors or studying to be doctors? We physicians have sworn an oath to take care of people, to heal them, to do them no harm at the very least. So how can a person be a killer and be also a doctor when one ends a life while the other one is for life? You just can't connect the two! Can a doctor's conscience even rationalize killing a person? And I'm not talking about euthanasia and other forms of secret mercy killings coz that's another debate -_- Can the doctor/killer be thinking that it doesn't matter if s/he murders coz s/he has saved a thousand of lives in return? Is there a higher percentage of psychopaths in the medical profession? Questions, so many questions! Anyway, here's a short history and latest update on the Craigslist Killer:

Boston police believe they have arrested the so-called "Craigslist killer" who murdered a young woman after she posted an advert on the popular site to offer massages, US media reported. The Boston Globe and New York Daily News quoted unnamed sources saying they believed the same suspect was behind two other attacks on women in hotels this month.

The first victim was a 29-year-old woman who advertised on Craigslist as an exotic dancer and was robbed of her credit card and 800 dollars cash on April 10. The second, a 26-year-old woman who offered visiting massage services, was shot dead. The third, just four days ago, was a 26-year-old prostitute from Las Vegas who was robbed at gunpoint at a hotel south of Boston, the Daily News said.

Police released surveillance photographs earlier Monday of the suspect. US media has dubbed him the "Craigslist killer." SOURCE

19 April 2009

SOOC Sunday

SOOC means "Straight Out of the Camera" =) Here's the description of this photo meme: ""Do you ever take a photo that you love and it comes out so well, (straight from the camera), that you're not tempted to do anything with it? It's wonderful and you want to share it." Well, now you can share it HERE. No fancy rules or themes, just post any photo you like (it must be one of your own) that hasn’t been tweaked or altered in any way (cropping is OK). Mine's below, just click to enlarge ^_^

"Pretty Eyes"
[ Calauit Island Safari, Palawan, Philippines ]

what's the perfect Mothers Day gift?

The celebration is less than a month away and I still don't know what to get my mom. I've given her perfumes, health books, travel bags, money (LOL), personalized photos and picture frames, various trinkets, and what-nots in the past AND now I'm frankly out of ideas. My mother isn't into technology so no fancy gadgets for her. She's into house and home stuff but we differ on design sensibilities so what I like or think she might like, she may not like. Tsk! What we both like though are rustic furniture to put in our vacation home. Unfortunately, I can't afford them. LOL!
Now isn't the log bed lovely? Even if I can't afford them, I can point my mom to the right direction where to buy it. Is that enough to be considered a gift? LOL! Anyway, I found this magnificent rustic bed in ScenicFurniture.com -- a company that makes bedroom furniture (log beds and sets) and western furniture. They use woods ranging from oak to cedar to hickory. The set featured above is the "Eastern Red Cedar Bedroom" -- lovely! I'm sure my mom would love it too. ^_^

17 April 2009

is my new theme neat?!

Yeah, I’m finally done messing with my blog’s template! If you’ve been visiting this blog the past two weeks, you would noticed its changing themes. I really couldn’t decide what theme to use. I started with a Pink WP Polaroid theme that had been “Bloggerized” (you can view how it looks HERE) and then I started modifying Minima Lefty using tutorials from BlogKori.com and BloggerBuster.com (that’s the thumbnail at left). I used the latter for about a week and I decided it was too amateurish, LOL!

So I searched for a new Blogger template and stumbled on Newspaper III which fitted my requirements of clean lines, easy customization of fonts and colors, and a “Read More” function. I sorely need the last one coz I write looong posts (see previous 2 posts to see what I mean, LOL) and it eats up the blog space. Anyway, I'm still tweaking the colors of my blog. This year, my lucky colors according to Feng Shui are blue, gray and black -- and that's why you're seeing a lot of blue instead of my usual fave pink now, hehe! 

12 April 2009

2009 Wrap Up — First Quarter Edition (part 2)


HAPPIER OR SADDER? Happier of course! Not that I was sad first quarter last year.

THINNER OR FATTER? Me thinks I’m fatter with all the cooking and eating I did this year o_O

RICHER OF POORER? Financially? About the same. We “lost” a lot of money due to our wedding last year but gained back most of it from the monetary gifts =)

WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU’D DONE MORE? More writing! More promotion of my sites with affiliate links, hehe! More traveling!

WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU’D DONE LESS OF? Eating, sleeping and Twittering! If you’re on Twitter, follow me @cutieissa =) 

HOW WILL YOU BE SPENDING CHRISTMAS? I don’t know, it’s still 8 months away..

DID YOU FALL IN LOVE? Yes, with Twitter – it’s been very helpful in tracking the latest medical updates. Oh you mean with a person? Hehe!

HOW MANY ONE-NIGHT STANDS? None, my husband will kill me! LOL

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE TV PROGRAM? Hmm, ever since we had cable, I have so many faves! Damages (Glenn Close is sooo awesome!!), Jon & Kate Plus 8, Iron Chef America, Top Chef, Top Design, Project Runway, Jamie’s Kitchen and ALL his other shows, Come Dine With Me, American Idol 8, No Way Out, and the usual: CSI and Heroes =)


WHAT WAS THE BEST BOOK YOU READ? So far all I’ve read were from the fantasy genre and I loved the Dragonlance: War of Souls Trilogy =)


WHAT DID YOU WANT AND GET? Harry Potter hardbound set, yeah! ^_^




HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL FASHION CONCEPT THIS PAST QUARTER? Classic, understated and casual. I’m done with uber-colorful outfits! LOL

WHAT KEPT YOU SANE? My husband and our lovely dogs ^_^


WHAT POLITICAL ISSUE STIRRED YOU THE MOST? Hmm, I’m not so into politics these days..

WHO DID YOU MISS? My doctor friends! Wasn’t able to attend their impromptu “reunion” last March

06 April 2009

2009 Wrap Up — First Quarter Edition (part 1)


January - I bathed naked in a public room! LOL! Labsie’s Christmas gift to me was a SPA experience in a new Korean spa & massage center in Lanang which I "redeemed" first week of January. I spent 30 minutes in a sauna, bathed briefly in a warm jacuzzi (dang, the germs!!) and washed it all off with a cool shower. Since there were no closed stalls that offer privacy, I just bathed naked in the open. It was liberating to say the least, LOL!

February - Had my very first annual “Executive Check-Up” with Labsie. We had our blood sugar and necessary blood chemistry levels taken + chest X-ray and other tests. The bad news is we both have high cholesterol levels. The good news is mine was high coz my good cholesterol (HDL) was high. Labsie had low HDL and high LDL (bad cholesterol) which is NOT good! Time to say goodbye to fastfood!

March - [a] Made all-original dishes: baked savory beef-stuffed squid rings and pan-fried bacon-wrapped fish. YUM! =) [b] Touched a newly-operated person’s TITANIUM-implanted back. It was a bit cold and oh-so awesome!! [c] Asked a bartender for FREE shots at a bar and got two, LOL! ;-) [d] Joined Earth Hour for the first time and surprisingly, I got a lot of things done w/o electricity! [e] Had an overnight vigil with Labsie in a funeral home for my bestfriend’s dad’s wake..

2. DID YOU KEEP YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS? - Not all. I was still impatient and a bit moody at times =( What I was able to keep was the Project 365 photos and everyday diary entry =)

3. DID ANYONE CLOSE TO YOU GIVE BIRTH? - Hmm.. No one *that* close but I heard some of my friends gave birth. 

4. DID ANYONE CLOSE TO YOU DIE? - One of my bestfriend’s dad died unexpectedly =(

5. WHAT COUNTRIES DID YOU VISIT? - Didn’t visit any countries, didn’t even travel save for within Davao del Sur and Davao del Norte =) 

6. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR THAT YOU LACKED EARLY THIS YEAR? - Hmm.. I guess more income streams. LOL! Right now my income is just from freelance writing and paid-to-blog opps. I want my Adsense and affiliates commission earnings to ramp up. Family and marriage-wise, I have nothing to ask for. Everything’s just dandy! =)

7. WHAT DATE WILL REMAIN ETCHED UPON YOUR MEMORY AND WHY? - February 13 and 14 coz Labsie got me a Valentines cake from Bistro Rosario and the entire Harry Potter series in hardbound! It was the first time he got me a cake for Vday, LOL

8. WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT OF THE YEAR SO FAR? - I can walk away from a heated quarrel without yelling and too much talking. Trust me when I tell you this is an achievement, hehe! It’s coz I’m a very passionate person and it’s hard to keep my emotions in check.

9. WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST FAILURE? - Character failure: I’m still a procrastinator, I’m still subject to my mood swings, I’m still undecided about my medical career *sigh* 

10. DID YOU SUFFER ILLNESS OR INJURY? - Yes! Was down on New Year’s Day and the next 2 days due to a bad case of food poisoning. My mom and Labsie was also affected. Was also sick early February with atypical pneumonia which took weeks to resolve.


12. WHOSE BEHAVIOR MERITED CELEBRATION? - Probably my youngest brother’s. He worked on his thesis and went to work at the same time. Awesome Tots!!


14. WHERE DID MOST OF YOUR MONEY GO? - Savings! Where else?? =)

15. WHAT DID YOU GET REALLY, REALLY, REALLY EXCITED ABOUT? - Labsie’s Masteral thesis and upcoming graduation this April! Also our planned summer getaway alone and with my family, can’t hardly wait! I just hope I won’t get sunburn, LOL

16. WHAT SONG(S) WILL ALWAYS REMIND YOU OF THINGS THAT HAPPENED EARLY THIS YEAR? - Hmm.. Probably the theme songs from “Iron Chef America”, “Top Design” and “Jon & Kate Plus 8” =) The first quarter of my life was all about food, organizing our marital bedroom and finding the ‘new’ family rhythm -- there are now 2 married couples living in our home after all =)
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