JULY 2, 2016 -- BY JIM NEFF







In almost every news item there is a key word. Sometimes that word is obvious and is just fun to spot. Other times the word dictates the meaning of the entire item.


FILTERED: The water situation in my home town of Flint is never far from my mind. You may have read the headlines this week that filtered tap water is now safe to drink and even assumed that the water crisis is over. The key word, however, is FILTERED. Most homes have just one faucet with a filter and the EPA, CDC, and DEQ still consider unfiltered tap water too contaminated for human consumption. Every day activities still depend on bottled water.


To illustrate this , a group of citizens staged a live case-in-point in front of the Flint City Hall. Using a common activity this time of year, filling up a kiddie pool so their children could cool off in the heat, the group showed how lack of access to clean water affects something we all take for granted – kids splashing around in clean water on a summer day. It took 80 cases of bottled water to fill the pool. Eighty cases for one kiddie pool. Not much relief for Flint's children on this Fourth of July holiday.



HIDDEN: On the subject of water, it's no surprise that people in drought stricken areas of the country are looking to our Great Lakes and hatching schemes to divert our water to them. They obviously need water to live normal everyday lives, but what most people don't know is that a lot of water consumption is HIDDEN. “Although we don’t see it, millions of gallons of water go into the products we buy, use and throw away. The factories that manufacture everyday materials like paper, plastic, metal and fabric depend on water to make and clean their products.”


Examples of this are mind blowing. “It takes 24 gallons of water to make 1 pound of another everyday material: plastic. In fact, it takes at least twice as much water to produce a plastic water bottle as the amount of water in the water bottle. The water footprint of 1 pound of cotton is 1,320 gallons. That’s more than 700 gallons of water for one new cotton shirt.” It takes over 80,000 gallons of water to produce the steel for one car. The gasoline that fuels a car takes 2.5 gallons of water is to refine a gallon of gas. No wonder so many states want our water. (http://www.gracelinks.org/285/the-hidden-water-in-everyday-products)


CHEETOS: Some key words are nothing but fun. This is the case with CHEETOS, that cheesy puff of corn you may have taken for granted. Want to keep your kidlings busy at a picnic and make $60K in the process? Hand them a bag of Cheetos and turn them loose.


The Cheetos Museum is looking for individual puffs that resemble something else. If you go to www.cheetosmuseum.com you can see puffs that look like Abraham Lincoln, the Statue of Liberty, a giraffe and more. “From now through Aug. 15, you can submit your photo and the story behind your unique Cheeto. to. Ten weekly winners will be awarded a $10,000 prize...Cheetos brand will then turn the voting over to America to determine the grand prize winning shape from the four weekly winners with the highest scores. The fan whose submission has the most votes will be awarded an additional $50,000.”



SWIPE: When you pay for those bags of Cheetos you may wonder if you need to SWIPE your credit card or if the store has the chip reader installed. If they do not have the chip reader, there may be a good reason. “You see, if you swipe a chip card instead of inserting it into slot, the merchant is responsible for covering any fraudulent charges — not the bank. And some retailers aren't in a financial position to cover major security breaches...That means you get stuck covering the snafu.”


Many retailers are still waiting for credit card companies to certify that the readers work. Experts advise: “If you approach a check-out without a chip insert, just pay with cash instead. Or if you do swipe, make sure you monitor your account closely to watch for fraudulent charges.” (http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/money/news/a38530/dont-swipe-a-chip-credit-card/)


HEALTHY: Finally, everyone wants to stay HEALTHY over this holiday weekend. AARP Magazine listed “20 Quirky Summer Health Tips (That Actually Work).” For example, if you want to stay hydrated eating fresh produce can help. One watermelon wedge has 10 ounces of water, a medium peach has 5 ounces, and even a cooked ear of corn on the cob has three. And if you do get hot just grab a chilled bottle of water and hold it in your hand. Cooling the palms pulls heat from the body.


Several other suggestions are interesting. To fight off a sore throat eat campfire-cooked marshmallows because the gelatin in these coats the throat and relieves irritation. If your sweaty running shoes stink, just wipe the inside of the shoe with a rubbing alcohol moistened cotton ball and then put a tea bag in the shoe overnight. If you are fighting off both mosquitoes and sun rays, make sure to apply sunscreen first and then bug repellent if you want the repellent to work. More tips are at: http://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2016/mosquito-bites-sunscreen-summer-photo.html.


Amid all the good advice in this article I did note one tip that might be problematic. “Researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand have found that honey reduces healing time significantly when applied to wounds, because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Honey also reduces scarring, another study showed. Simply spread it over the affected area.” Something needs to be added to this, I think. 'After smearing honey on your body do not fall asleep in an outdoors hammock unless you want to wake up with ants in your pants.'


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at CadillacNews.com and NeffZone.com/cadillacnews.  

Randy Bish
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Jun 29, 2016