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Popcorn Lung

As someone with a Blog, I felt it was my moral responsibility to pass on the article below. Guess I’ll be switching back to Pepperidge Farm Goldfish! (Lightly Salted flavor. The other ones are gross.)


"Popcorn Lung" Patient Ate Two Bags A Day

(CBS/AP) Wayne Watson loved microwave popcorn so much he would eat at least two bags each night, breathing in the steam from the just-opened package, until doctors told him it may have made him sick.

Watson, whose case of "popcorn lung" is the sole reported case of the disease in a non-factory worker, said he is convinced his heavy consumption of popcorn caused his health problems.

"You know, it's one of those things that you kind of shake your head and say, how can anybody eat that much popcorn? But it was about two bags a day every day for about ten years," Watson told Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen

Popcorn flavoring contains the chemical diacetyl, which has been linked to lung damage in factory workers testing hundreds of bags of microwave popcorn per day and inhaling its fumes. The chemical is a naturally occurring compound that gives butter its flavor and is also found in cheese and even wine, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

It's been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a flavor ingredient, but hundreds of workers have sued flavoring makers in recent years for lung damage.

There are no warnings from federal regulators, nor is there medical advice on how consumers should treat news of the rare, life-threatening disease, bronchiolitis obliterans, also known as popcorn lung.

Watson, 53, told CBS he first noticed something was wrong about three or four years ago during church choir practice.

"My lung capacity just seemed to start diminishing and I couldn't sustain my notes like I used to be able to," he said.

That's when he sought out Dr. Cecile Rose, a lung specialist at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver.

Rose said she initially didn’t know what was causing Watson's breathing problems.

"He had a lung condition that we know is related to something he was inhaling," Rose said. "And I took a very complete history, including a work history and an environmental history and found nothing. And it wasn't really until the end of his initial medical evaluation where I turned to him and asked him … was he exposed to or was he around a lot of popcorn? And his jaw dropped and he asked me how I would possibly know that about him."

The Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association said that Rose's finding does not suggest a risk from eating microwave popcorn.

Watson, 53, said his breathing has improved since his doctor told him to quit eating his extra-buttery microwave popcorn and lose weight. He said he's dieting and lost some 35 pounds, regained lung capacity, and his prognosis is good.

It's Too Late To Be A Rockstar

I’m not a music expert or anything, but they had an open mic night the other night at Chapter One – the coffee shop in Highland Park– and this local guy named Michael Wexler played. He’s a writer that lives in Highland Park and we’re pretty good pals from the coffeeshop scene.

I told him about my Blog and he asked if I could put up a link for people who might want to buy his EP, “It’s Too Late to be a Rock Star.” So here it is...

If you like music, check it out. He has a new album coming out in a couple months called “For The Fun” and there’s a song on there based on The Memory Bank!

Happy Listening,


March Madness: In Conclusion


March Madness Part III

My bracket is toast. Thanks for nothing Heels, and what the heck is a Jayhawk anyway?

At least I know Memphis is gonna win it all...

Magic Hour

They say that it’s all about the love of “the bean.” That’s coffee. Coffee can be a very good thing and a very bad thing, depending on how you use it. It’s really good for staying up if you have to study for a test. But it can be bad if you’re trying to sleep. It’s also very important to have a good coffee shop to hang out in. In Highland Park, we have Chapter One and PJ’s and there’s a Starbucks over the bridge in New Brunswick. But the best Coffee Shop in the world – excuse me – The Seems, is “Magic Hour.”

Magic Hour is located in The Department of Time – in Time Square to be exact – and is very popular. People from all Departments come there to hang out because of the ambience, the cast of characters who are regulars there – and the amazing coffee. (I prefer the Fair Trade Seems Roast. Or the Big Building Latte.)

There is also this one girl who works there during the day. I think her name is “Mellow.” And she IS mellow. And really pretty. Sometimes I’ll go there on a Sunday morning, leave my Me-2 at home to play with Benjamin, and just sip a Certain Tea and read the Daily Plan. I like to do the crosswords and see the latest installments of the Jinx Gnomes – which btw I heard is gonna become a TV show in The Seems!

Mellow has a lot of secret admirers who come in and just sit around hoping to get a few minutes of conversation and just watch her in action. She isn’t like a supermodel or anything but just she has that certain “je ne sais quo” as my old friend Thibadeau used to say. I don’t know if she has a boyfriend or what, but I know that if she was looking for one, there would be a line around Magic Hour.

Actually, there’s a line around Magic Hour right now. I have my laptop and I’m working on my Blogs here. Sometimes people ask me what I’m working on but I don’t really like to admit that I’m a Fixer or anything, because then people get all weird. Usually, I just say that “I’m working on a project for school – it’s about The World.” People usually just say “oh, cool” or “good luck,” and then they leave you alone. Don’t get the wrong idea, I like people. But sometimes not in the morning. Sometimes, it’s more fun to WATCH people a little bit rather than actually talking to them.

Anyway, I’ve got the seat by the window so I’m not getting up anytime soon. People are starting to dribble into Time Square, Mellow is working the counter and there’s good music on in the background.

Ahhh…life can be good.

March Madness Part II

I really don’t think it’s a good idea to gamble on sports. But if, for some reason, you were in an NCAA college basketball “pool” like me, this would be a big weekend. The Final Four is on Saturday – which means the last four teams left in a tournament that started with 64 play against each other. Usually, the way it works is that everyone puts in a dollar or so, picks the whole tournament, and the person with the most right picks at the end wins all the dollars.

You see, it just so happens that a “friend” of mine picked all 4 teams in the Final Four and has a chance to win all the dollars. Now this friend will be watching over the weekend and is rooting for UNC (University of North Carolina) and UCLA to make it to the finals and for UNC to win the whole thing. I have to admit (only to you), that since this “friend” of mine is a *very* good friend, I was sort of thinking of calling in a favor with a Case Worker I know at the Big Building. I was thinking that if a certain player were to not be able to find his shoe before the game and had to play in a lower size shoe and got a blister and couldn’t be in the game with three minutes left to take the winning shot, that could be very good for my friend. But of course that’s a violation of the Rulebook and a Case Worker would never go for it. Case Workers take a Seemsocratic Oath that says they will never make Moves for selfish reasons – only for the good of The World.

So, I guess it’s just up to the Agents of L.U.C.K. but I really hope my friend wins a few dollars because who couldn’t use a few dollars!? If you’re bored and don’t have any plans or dates on Saturday, root for UNC to beat Kansas and UCLA to beat Memphis. And then root for UNC to win it all on Monday.

Come to think of it, I do know an Agents of L.U.C.K. or two and they are a little more “flexible” when it comes to calling in favors. If something “weird” happens in one of the games, though, don’t look at me. I’m sure it was just an accident. :-)

Go Tarheels,


New Favorite Song

"Empty" by Ray LaMontagne

March Madness

Normally, I would've personally made sure that the Agents of L.U.C.K stayed away from all games involving the hated Duke Blue Devils, but it wasn't even worth the effort this year. They just weren't that good. As for my brackets? Thanks to Drake and USC, they're pretty much toast.

Go Xavier.

Spring Forward Part 2 of 2

So, after studying the accuracy of Punxsutawney Phil I decided to make a personal phone call to Georgie, a Weatherman whom I know and I am pleased to announce that I have gotten this whole Spring thing sorted out!

Georgie actually owed me a favor from this thing that happened one time in a Rain Tower in The Department of Weather when I was a Briefer. Anyway, the big news is that I called in a favor and Spring will be arriving in exactly ten days! It’s good to have friends in high places.

So, enjoy this last bit of cold! Soon it will be all Spring flowers (and hopefully not too many Spring showers.) Or else, heads will roll!

The only problem with this whole Spring thing is that I have to go visit my relatives in Cape Cod this summer and I am dreading that like the plague. I will be locked in the car with my Mom, Dad, and Benjamin (me and him in the back) and we will have to listen to my Dad’s awful “Lake Wobegon Stories” CD’s and play city, state, river. Ugh.

Oh well. I guess I can’t complain. If it wasn’t for my parents I wouldn’t have a place to live or clothes or food. Sometimes you have to give a little back.

Talk to you soon. Your friend,


Spring Forward?

From what I’ve heard, Punxsutawney Phil (aka the groundhog that tells the weather) predicted six more weeks of Winter on Feb 2. But it’s almost been that long and it’s still pretty cold. Therefore, I am trying to get to the bottom of what’s going on. I figure it either has something to do with Punxsutawney Phil becoming senile or there might be a problem in the Department/s of Weather and/or Nature. As a Fixer, I have to keep a close eye on these types of things.

Hence, I went to and found out some important facts which I think you should really know…

• Yes! Punxsutawney Phil is the only true weather forecasting groundhog. The others are just impostors.

• How often is Phil's prediction correct? 100% of the time, of course!

• How many "Phils" have there been over the years? There has only been one Punxsutawney Phil. He has been making predictions for over 120 years!

• Punxsutawney Phil gets his longevity from drinking the "elixir of life," a secret recipe. Phil takes one sip every summer at the Groundhog Picnic and it magically gives him seven more years of life.

• On February 2, Phil comes out of his burrow on Gobbler's Knob - in front of thousands of followers from all over the world - to predict the weather for the rest of winter.

• According to legend, if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If he does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring.

• No! Phil's forecasts are not made in advance by the Inner Circle. After Phil emerges from his burrow on February 2, he speaks to the Groundhog Club president in "Groundhogese"(a language only understood by the current president of the Inner Circle). His proclamation is then translated for the world.

• The celebration of Groundhog Day began with Pennsylvania's earliest settlers. They brought with them the legend of Candlemas Day, which states, "For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day, so far will the snow swirl in May..."

• Punxsutawney held its first Groundhog Day in the 1800s. The first official trek to Gobbler's Knob was made on February 2, 1887.

• So the story goes, Punxsutawney Phil was named after King Phillip. Prior to being called Phil, he was called Br'er Groundhog.

To be continued…