Page 1

More that Matters Sally Ann Connolly

Sally Ann Connolly More that Matters

Š Sally Ann Connolly 2013 All rights reserved. E-mail:

CONTENTS Slots parlor would make bad situation worse


Slots a bad deal for Danvers


Single Again, and Rediscovering Joy


Processed meats linked to early deaths


Healthy Lunchrooms for Healthy Students


A boxer’s fatal blow


Boxing, not fighting is the focus at Dorchester teen center: COMMENT


Boosting youth is admirable, but must boxing be the method?


Boxing card raises money for the fallen: COMMENT


Look a little harder in hiccups case


When Music Becomes Noise


Educators are key to reducing the impact of noise


In life there is a time for everything. A time to be silent and a time to speak. For me, the time to speak is now.

LETTERS J ANU AR Y 2 8 , 2 0 1 3

Slots parlor would make bad situation worse in Danvers

RE “PLAN calls for slots parlor in Danvers� (Metro, Jan. 22): The proposal of a slots parlor in the Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers would turn a bad dream into a nightmare. Once a welcoming, family-centered community with a small-town sensibility, Danvers has evolved into the crossroads for commuters and shoppers alike. Routes 1, 35, 62, and 114 and Interstate 95 cut through and around our neighborhoods, increasing traffic congestion and safety problems. An open invitation to even more daily transients would place an additional burden on our roads, residents, and resources. The soon-to-be-open Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School is challenge enough. I say: No thanks, developers. For Danvers, a slots parlor is a bad gamble. Sally Ann Connolly Danvers


LETTER F EBRUAR Y 13, 2013 ___________________________________________________________________

Slots a bad deal for Danvers Danvers officials are currently meeting with developers to discuss the feasibility of a slots parlor in the Liberty Tree Mall. Residents need to play their cards right on this losing hand. The developers don’t care about the impact that a slots parlor will have on the quality of life in Danvers and surrounding communities. They don’t care that running 1,250 slot machines 24 hours a day will increase traffic congestion on our already heavily traveled roadways. They don’t care about the property damage and personal injury that increased traffic will bring. Currently, approximately 1,300 traffic accidents are reported to Danvers police each year. The developers also don’t care about the economic and social cost to individuals and their families. In the gambling industry, the “house” always wins. According to a PBS Frontline report, gambling in the United States has burgeoned into a $40 billion industry. And a quarter of the profits made by casinos and state lotteries come from gambling addicts. The National Council of Problem Gambling says that “compulsive gamblers cost the country $6.7 billion every year.” A federal study found that gambling addiction doubles within 50 miles of a casino. Slots, the most popular form of casino gambling, fuel addictive behavior. Fast play, flashing lights, winning sounds and clever animation create excitement. Frequent, small wins and “near misses” give the illusion that playing more means winning more. For a gambler in the “zone,” though, even winning can be an unwanted intrusion, an interruption in the flow of experience. Each day, slots players lose $1 billion: the day’s pay, the weekly paycheck, the monthly mortgage payment…. A slots parlor in Danvers? The stakes are too high. The city of Peabody was once known for its productive leather factories. Now it is infamous for its strip joints. The town of Danvers, always a family-centered community, was once derided for its “house” on the hill. We can’t afford to become slots central. Slots are the “crack cocaine of gambling.” JUST SAY NO. __________________________ Also published in the Gloucester Daily Times (February 14, 2013)


Public opposition stops slots DANVERS — The Cordish Companies of Baltimore has not approached the town about opening a slots parlor at Liberty Tree Mall since first floating the idea with local officials in January, Town Manager Wayne Marquis said. “They haven’t been in touch with us recently,” Marquis said Monday. The company met informally with the town after applying to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for the state’s sole license to operate a slots parlor. But after some Danvers officials and residents publicly expressed opposition, Cordish canceled a public meeting to discuss the plan. “They were concerned it might be premature,” Marquis said. “And, as things went on, they just focused on other communities.” — Kathy McCabe, The Boston Globe, North (June 20, 2013)


Single Again, and Rediscovering Joy Last year, constant pain defined the month of March. A strange tingling rash had morphed into an intense pain radiating down one side of my body, and within a few days even the slightest touch brought fiery flashes. My primary care physician confirmed my hunch—shingles. The month passed, the pain subsided, and no longer was my body the enemy. Early treatment had prevented lingering neuralgia. And time healed my physical wounds. That March marked both my husband’s birthday and the first anniversary of his death. For thirtyseven years, “Married” had been the box I casually checked. The anguish of my singlehood reappeared each time I needed to describe my new status: “Widowed.” Another year has come and gone. But this year I took precautions for the Ides of March—first, with a flu shot and, then, with the newly introduced shingles vaccine. With these defenses in place, the question became “What to do with my heart?” Shortly after my husband’s passing, I had written: “The death of your lifelong companion, lover, and friend is a shock beyond understanding. In the face of such eternal loss, joy and opportunity seem gone forever and even unseemly to contemplate. Happiness, beauty, laughter—these are gifts to be shared with your partner, the one who owns a special part of your history and your most cherished memories.” The vow to love “until death do us part” I found hard to turn off. Fidelity is not erased with a simple stroke. And half a lifetime is not wiped out by separation in time and space. In fact, as Elizabeth Barrett Browning stated, “Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose/I shall but love thee better after death.” My husband’s gifts of enduring love still adorn my ring finger. They belie the marital status I must pencil in. But gradually I am accepting that, in the words of Rabindranath Tagore, “death is not extinguishing the light. It is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.”


In my life now, happiness, beauty, and laughter are seeping back in and lightness is returning. A twohour road trip with a repaired car radio, for example, revived my childhood enjoyment of country music. The tunes of Rodney Atkins, Josh Turner, and George Strait reignited my crush on America’s singing cowboy, Gene Autry. And in my home, music infiltrates quiet moments. “Dancing with the Stars,” “American Idol”—in fact, any musical program—I eagerly anticipate. Humor, I find, is also making inroads. The written reflections I have used to ease my sorrow have begun to brighten. The unexpected gift of an iPod at Christmas motivated me to mull over my resistance to technological innovations. The approach of Valentine’s Day inspired me to indulge in chocolate-coated musings. And a bad hair day prompted me to reconsider my enduring reluctance to cut my hair. To my amazement, this latter exercise in writing emboldened me enough to throw caution to the wind. “Why not,” I thought. That week I turned my hairstyle over to the hands of a hairdresser. My locks were lopped, and my demons, exorcised. As for beauty and joy. Two baby boys have helped fill the void left by one wonderful man: Jack, seven months, a preemie who almost didn’t make it onto our family tree, and Brendan, three months, Jack’s cousin and the product of a textbook pregnancy and delivery. Longfellow once said, “Into each life some rain must fall/Some days must be dark and dreary.” Emerging from the darkness has been my challenge these past two years. And I’m making it. With the help of family and friends and a newfound creative outlet, each day becomes easier to close with a prayer of thanks. The sunny summer day, my grandson’s emerging smile, the blossoming lilies— simple blessings now take on greater glory. The latest research on grieving indicates that pining for one’s loss is common and normal. Feelings of longing and lamenting, researchers say, tend to peak at six months, but they continue over the years, emerging suddenly and unexpectedly. Knowing this gives me comfort. For the future, the words of Kahlil Gibran give me hope. He writes: “Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” March Madness did not strike this year, and the curtain is rising on a promising future.


FORUMS – Lifestyle – Health and Wellness MARCH 8, 2013

Processed meats linked to early deaths School officials who care about the physical well-being of their students as well as their intellectual development should heed the results of the latest European study. Researchers studied approximately a half million men and women in ten countries, and they found a positive association between the consumption of processed meat and early mortality. The greater the consumption of processed meat—ham, bacon, sausages, and pre-packaged meats—the greater the risk, especially of cardiovascular disease and cancer. The culprits in processed meat seem to be fat, salt, smoke and nitrates used as preservatives. Lifestyle of the subjects, researchers found, was related to dietary intake. “In general a diet high in processed meat was linked to other unhealthy choices. Men and women who ate the most processed meat ate the fewest fruit and vegetables and were more likely to smoke. Men who ate a lot of meat also tended to have a high alcohol consumption.” These factors were taken into account in the study’s analysis. Educators prepare students for continued learning and a career. By focusing on students’ personal, social, and intellectual development, they help students prepare for life. Processed meats in the lunchroom undercut those efforts.


Published Online: April 3, 2013 Published in Print: April 3, 2013, as Healthy Lunchrooms For Healthy Students


Healthy Lunchrooms for Healthy Students To the Editor: As educators, we seek to prepare students for life. We nurture their personal and social development along with teaching academic competencies. But our efforts are being undercut by school lunchroom menus that put students' physical well-being at risk. The latest study of half a million men and women in 10 European countries found a positive association between the consumption of processed meat and early mortality. The greater the consumption of processed meat—ham, bacon, sausages, and prepackaged meats—the greater the risk, especially of cardiovascular disease and cancer. The culprits seem to be fat, salt, smoke, and nitrates used as preservatives. Lifestyle also factors in. As reported by many news outlets, the study's researchers found that a diet that was high in processed meat included additional unhealthy choices. The men and women in the study who ate the most processed meat also ate the fewest fruits and vegetables and were more likely to smoke, while men who ate a lot of meat also tended to have high alcohol consumption. A lifetime cut short by unhealthy choices is not what we wish for our students. Success in continued learning and a career may be our focus, but we can best serve our students by also nurturing their physical health. My interest in school lunchroom menus began in earnest when I discovered that during her first week in kindergarten, my first grandchild had eaten a hot dog each day. To this day, processed meats in various forms are offered regularly in her school system and in my own community. 7

We must revise school menus to protect and promote the health of our children. Processed meats must be eliminated from school lunchroom menus. Sally Ann Connolly Danvers, Mass. The writer has worked as a high school counselor and teacher. Vol. 32, Issue 27, Pages 24-25.

______________________ Also published as “Cutting Our Losses,” MASCA Counselor’s Notebook (April 2013)


Red meat and the gut Lean steak is low in fat and cholesterol and high in protein—qualities normally considered healthy. But eating a lot of it can still cause heart disease. Researchers have now laid the blame on bacteria in the human gut that convert a common nutrient found in beef into a compound that may speed up the build-up of plaques in the arteries. — Chris Woolston, Nature (April 7, 2013)


Concussions and youth Concussions are particularly concerning in children and adolescents, because there is evidence that a child's brain is more vulnerable to injury and that recovery from concussion is prolonged when compared with adults…. Participants in boxing are at risk of head, face, and neck injuries, including chronic and even fatal neurologic injuries. Concussions are one of the most common injuries that occur with boxing. Because of the risk of head and facial injuries, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Paediatric Society oppose boxing as a sport for children and adolescents. These organizations recommend that physicians vigorously oppose boxing in youth and encourage patients to participate in alternative sports in which intentional head blows are not central to the sport. — Policy Statement, “Boxing Participation by Children and Adolescents,” American Academy of Pediatrics, Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness, Canadian Paediatric Society, Healthy Active Living and Sports Medicine Committee (2011)



A boxer’s fatal blow To the editor: Following the Boston Marathon bombing, leading scientists called for an autopsy on the brain of one suspect, the deceased older brother. Dr. Robert Cantu and Dr. Robert Stern, cofounders of the Center for the Study of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University, say that an autopsy could help determine if Tamerlan Tsarnaev suffered boxingrelated brain damage. We cannot begin to know what evil lurks in the hearts of men and what motivates some to commit atrocities, but we have learned much more about the human brain and the damage caused by repeated head trauma. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a condition found increasingly in athletes engaged in contact sports, especially boxing and football, and in veterans of the battlefield. Tamerlan, who had been boxing since childhood, had become an outstanding Golden Gloves boxer. The American Academy of Neurology, the international association of more than 21,000 neurology professionals, says that intentional trauma to the brain — the kind inflicted by boxers — results in measurable, persistent damage. And the damage accumulates long after the boxing ceases. “Punch drunk” syndrome manifests itself in diminished motor and cognitive skills, as well as behavior.


AAN considers boxing a serious threat, and it urges steps to reduce the number of direct blows to the head and to increase the monitoring of participants’ neurological health. The Australian Medical Association is even stronger in its opposition. Boxing, it feels, should be banned from the Olympic and Commonwealth Games, as well as prohibited for those under the age of 18. In their combined position statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Paediatric Society vigorously oppose boxing for any child or adolescent. In 1983, the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. George Lundberg, created a controversy when he called for a ban on boxing. For both medical and moral reasons, Lundberg still urges an end to the “barbaric” sport whose goal is to inflict maximum harm on the opponent. The amalgam of physiological, psychological, social and cultural factors that shape human behavior preclude our fully understanding the marathon bomber’s state of mind. But the evidence on concussions suggests that a look into his brain could provide useful information. Bomber No. 1 may be one more boxing loser.


FORUMS MAY 14, 2013

Boxing, not fighting, is the focus at Dorchester teen center

COMMENT Boxing may be a metaphor for life, but it is also an exercise in Russian Roulette. Today’s Boston Globe reports two separate incidents in which a blow to the head resulted in either critical injury (to a college basketball player) or death (to a young man engaged in an altercation). Continued trauma to the head over an extended period of time can also have devastating effects. Scientists are learning more about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), “a progressive neurodegeneration clinically associated with memory disturbances, behavioral and personality change, Parkinsonism, and speech and gait abnormalities.” (Ann McKee, MD, Robert Cantu, MD, et al.) Boxing is the sport most associated with CTE. And the longer the participation, the greater the damage. Can’t we encourage our youth to engage in activities that foster a positive self-image and help them to develop life skills, without also endangering their physical health? I can think of several, more civilized pursuits.


LETTERS MAY 24, 2013 | Lessons in the ring

Boosting youth is admirable, but must boxing be the method? IN “BOB. WEAVE. SPAR. STUDY” (G section, May 14), Paul Doyle says that boxing is a metaphor for life. Boxing may also be an exercise in Russian roulette. A single blow to the head can kill or severely injure. More insidious is the damage caused over time by repeated blows to the head, even those that are subconcussive. The cumulative injury can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Doctors around the world oppose the sport of boxing. In 1983, the World Medical Association called for a ban, as did the Journal of the American Medical Association. The journal’s editor at the time, Dr. George Lundberg, still urges an end to the barbaric sport whose goal is to inflict maximum harm on the opponent. Norway and Iceland have listened. We should listen, at least, to the Australian Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and Canadian Paediatric Society, all of which oppose boxing for a child or adolescent. Our youth need activities that foster a positive self-image and nurture life skills, but not at the expense of their physical well-being. Sally Ann Connolly Danvers


FORUMS JUNE 18, 2013

Boxing card raises money for the fallen

COMMENT The headline reads: “Memorial to war on terror victims will be created.” And the article quotes Dan Corey as saying: "I mean, it sucks at first because you get your head punched in the ring." “Brawn beats brains” should be boxing’s punchline. A boxer wins by inflicting the greater pain and injury. One ill turn does not deserve another. Rather, honor the fallen by doing good.


Respiratory exposure in the farm environment “Workers in CAFOs [confined animal feeding operations] are likely to be exposed to organic dust from animal waste, feed particles, endotoxins, glucans, and various gasses, such as ammonia, methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and volatile organic compounds. Exposures to these dusts and chemicals may cause mucous membrane irritation, organic dust toxic syndrome (ODTS), bronchitis, allergic asthma, and nonallergic asthmalike symptoms…. Disturbing the soil on farms may also increase exposure to fungi, which could result in mycotic infections such as histoplasmosis, blastomycosis, coccidioidomycosis, and cryptococcosis.” — Ricky L. Langley, “Consequences of respiratory exposures in the farm environment,” North Carolina Medical Journal (November/December 2011)



Look a little harder in hiccups case To the editor: When you don’t know the cause, “It’s all in your head” is an easy, but ineffective, explanation. My friend’s psychosomatic headache turned out, in the end, to be fatal. Before attributing the hiccups afflicting North Shore Tech and Essex Aggie students to contagious conversion disorder, respiratory and neurological factors should be rigorously investigated. Were the students exposed to an irritant in the athletic field or in other soils disturbed by the extensive construction? Methane in manure is one contaminant that has been linked to environmental pollution. Were the students’ immune systems compromised by previous bacterial or viral illness? Strep, Lyme, mono and the flu are being studied in relation to the sudden and dramatic onset of obsessive-compulsive behaviors. When hunting for a cause of the students’ vocal tics, the town formerly known as Salem Village should avoid like the plague any explanation that points a finger at mass hysterics. ________________________ Also published in The Gloucester Daily Times (July 17, 2013)


Noise: A serious public health threat An international team reports in The Lancet that a review of the latest research shows that noise impacts an array of health indicators: hearing loss, cardiovascular disease, cognitive performance and mental health, and sleep disturbance. They conclude that noise exposure constitutes a serious public health threat.

— “International Research Team Weighs in on the Negative Consequences of Noise on Overall Health,” Penn Medicine (October 30, 2013)


November 2013

When Music Becomes Noise Amplification turns a concert’s music into noise, endangering the hearing health of the audience.


he music was deafening. Literally. Yet I continued to sit there, as did the rest of the audience. We had come for an evening of musical entertainment, first, from the local high school jazz band and, then, from a nationally renowned swing/jazz/blues group. The excessive sounds emanating from the amplifiers, however, had turned the delightful performance by the high school band into unbearable noise. The sounds were not only unpleasant; they were dangerous. I recognized that. “Noise-induced hearing loss” is the medical term. Excessive noise causes immediate or gradual and cumulative damage to hearing, and it doesn’t matter whether the source of the sound is an explosion, an iPod, or a concert. But I remained seated, socially constrained from escaping the unpleasantness. I stuffed pieces of cotton tissue into both ears. My companion stuffed pieces of napkin. Only after the lady who was sitting next me turned, grimacing in pain, did I say to myself, “That’s enough. I’m out of here.” Sheepishly I retreated to the back of the auditorium, where I remained for the rest of the evening. Later I discovered that my personal discomfort had been shared. Although they had tolerated the noise, only one-third of the audience returned after intermission. A report sponsored by a federal government agency in Australia says that in order to protect young people, “venue operators, bands and DJs need to be aware of the level of noise being produced in enclosed venues and the damage which can be caused by repeated exposure to this noise.” 19

This responsibility is based upon indisputable evidence. The American Speech-LanguageHearing Association says that “of the 28 million Americans with hearing loss, nearly half are the result of damage from excessive noise.” The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 12.5% or approximately 5.2 million children and adolescents between 6 and 19 years of age suffer hearing loss due to excessive exposure to noise. Hearing loss is not our only concern. Repeated exposure to high intensity sound results also in tinnitus and vertigo as well as increased heart rate and blood pressure. Instinctively I had followed two of the recommended ways to protect our hearing. I had moved away from the sound source, and I had blocked the sound. Although my earplugs were improvised and insufficient, they were a step in the right direction. The third recommendation was not feasible. As a mere attendee I could not turn down the volume. In the future, I will be certain to pack a set of ear plugs when attending a musical performance. This lesson I should have learned earlier. A Disney ice show in Boston years ago and several state-wide dance competitions this past year also had me rummaging through my pocketbook for something to block the noise. Educators need to step up to protect and preserve our youngsters’ hearing. We should ensure that their learning and recreational environments maintain safe decibel levels. We should provide a curriculum for them and their caregivers that includes information about normal hearing, hearing loss, and the deleterious effects of noise. We should encourage them, in their daily activities, to turn down the volume, take sound breaks, and, if necessary, wear appropriate ear protection. We should also tell them that if they have to shout to be heard, they should muster the courage to stand up and walk away.


Noise exposure at school A World Health Organization report (1997) on preventing deafness and hearing impairment says that children in North America “may receive more noise at school than workers from an 8-hour workday at a factory.” — Dangerous Decibels Program, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR,


Noise and cognition “More than 20 studies have shown environmental noise exposure has a negative effect on children’s learning outcomes and cognitive performance, and that children with chronic aircraft, road traffic, or rail noise exposure at school have poorer reading ability, memory, and performance on national standardized tests than do children who are not exposed to noise at school.” — Mathias Basner, et al., “Auditory and non-auditory effects of noise on health,” The Lancet (November 2013)


Educators are key to reducing the impact of noise


he music was deafening—literally—yet I continued to sit there, socially constrained from leaving. I had come to listen to the high school jazz band and a renowned swing/jazz/blues group, so I stuffed pieces of cotton tissue into my ears. Only after the lady next to me turned, grimacing in pain, did I think, “That’s enough. I’m out of here.” Sheepishly I retreated to the back of the auditorium. Excessive sound had turned the delightful performance by the high school band into unbearable noise. The sound, however, was not only unpleasant; it was dangerous. Excessive sound affects our physical and psychological health and cognitive performance. Whether it is intensive and sudden or prolonged and continuous—whether it emanates from an explosion or from a jet engine, traffic, leaf blower, or personal music player—noise causes tinnitus, vertigo, sleep disturbance, increased heart rate and blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and stress. Noise also causes hearing loss. More than 28 million Americans have a hearing impairment, and the incidence of noise-induced hearing loss is growing. According to the CDC, approximately 5.2 million children and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 19 have hearing loss due to excessive sound exposure. Educators are key to reducing the deleterious effects of noise. According to the World Health Organization, students in North America “may receive more noise at school than workers from an 8-hour workday at a factory.” Educators must monitor decibel levels: on school buses, in academic, shop, and music classrooms, in the cafeteria, and during assemblies, sporting events, and concerts. Educators must also teach students about noise pollution and hearing conservation. Students must learn how to practice “safe sound.” That is, to turn down the volume, take sound breaks, wear ear protection, or, when possible, simply walk away.


Noise exposure and airports Recent studies indicate that noise exposure may “increase morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease. The results imply that the siting of airports and consequent exposure to aircraft noise may have direct effects on the health of the surrounding population.” — Stephen Stansfeld, Ph.D., “Aircraft noise may increase risk of heart disease, say researchers,” Editorial, BMJ (October 8, 2013)


Noise: Public health recommendations Researchers at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and the Network for Public Health Law recommend that noise be included in the federal public health agenda. They say that the U.S. National Prevention Strategy (NPS) should:  Exert noise control through direct regulation, setting maximum emissions levels.  Require emissions disclosure on products, such as children's toys.  Improve information dissemination about the dangers of noise.  Conduct more research to fully understand the impact of noise on the population. The researchers also suggest ways that states and local governments could fill the gaps:  Enact regulations on sources of noise that aren't covered by the Environmental Protection Agency or other federal agency.  Adopt procurement policies to reduce community noise caused by construction, emergency vehicles, and maintenance equipment.  Take steps to build or renovate housing that protects people from noise. — Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Regents, Michigan News (December 6, 2013)



More that Matters  

Commentaries on health and safety, education, and lifestyle issues.

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you