Friday, February 27, 2009

Talk About Your Hardened Criminals...

YORBA LINDA – A man who police say could be linked to a Viagra theft in December was arrested this morning – after dropping into the pharmacy through the roof.

At 2:30 a.m. today, a silent alarm went off at B&B Pharmacy on the 18500 block of Yorba Linda Boulevard.

When police arrived, they noticed that a hole was cut in the roof – similar to how they found the roof in December when a large amount of Viagra was taken and the pharmacy flooded during a rainstorm that evening, said Sgt. Bill Smyser of the Brea Police Department.

Read the rest of the story here.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

NIH Study: Calories, Not Content, Determine Weight Loss

You aren't what you eat. You're how much.

That's the message from a two-year National Institutes of Health-funded study that assigned 811 overweight people to one of four reduced-calorie diets and found that all trimmed pounds just the same. It didn't matter what foods participants ate, but rather how many calories they consumed.

An intense debate has long raged over which dieting regimen is best. Low carb? High protein? Low fat? But the federal study, one of the longest of its kind, "really goes against the idea that certain foods are the key to weight loss," says Frank Sacks, principal investigator and a professor of cardiovascular-disease prevention at Harvard School of Public Health. "This is a pretty positive message. It gives people a lot of choices to find a diet they can stick with."

The study, published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, put participants on one of four diets: Two were low fat and two were high fat, and each of these included either a high-protein or an average-protein component. Carbohydrate intake ranged from 35% to 65%. All the diets were low in calories and saturated fat, and high in fiber, and participants were asked to exercise a fixed 90 minutes a week.

Patients, who attended counseling sessions, lost an average of 13 pounds after six months. After two years, they had lost nine pounds on average and trimmed two inches off their waists regardless of which diet they followed. The study, which ended December 2007, was conducted in Boston at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and in Baton Rouge, La., at Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

In the study, doctors calculated each participant's energy needs, and structured a diet that had 750 fewer calories than would be necessary to fuel his or her activity. Typical diets in the study had between 1,400 and 2,000 calories a day.

Continue reading here.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Blueberry Pomegranate Sorbet

A sweet frozen dessert with no fat, no dairy, and no added sugar. Also loaded with antioxidants.

1 cup Splenda sweetener
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup lemon juice

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the Splenda, water, pomegranate juice, and salt. Cook, stirring, until the Splenda and salt have dissolved. Allow to cool completely.

In a blender or food processor, purée the blueberries with the syrup and lemon juice until very smooth. Do this in batches if necessary.

Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove the blueberry pulp for a smoother texture, if desired. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours.

Churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions. Sorbet will have the consistency of softserve ice cream when it's finished churning.

If stored in the freezer, remove about 15 minutes before serving to allow it to return to proper consistency for serving.

Makes approximately one quart.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Way to Look Out for the Sanctity of Marriage...

She has been Mrs. Scott, Mrs. Street and Mrs. Smith. She was also Mrs. Moyer, Mrs. Massie and Mrs. McMillan. But the former Mrs. Berisford, Mrs. Chandler and Mrs. Essex was born Linda Lou Taylor.

She grew up in the Central Indiana town of Alexandria -- a place that lays claim to the largest ball of dried paint in the world. Farther south is Greensburg, where a man once leaped from a plane 640 times in a day. More than a decade ago, the 68-year-old found her own way to bring Indiana a Guinness world record: She got hitched for the 23rd time.

Her first marriage was in 1957, for love. Her most recent wedding was in 1996, for publicity.

Now known as Mrs. Linda Wolfe, she is the most-married woman in history. She is also the most-married person alive. And she is alone.

Wolfe can't list her husbands in order. But she remembers things that matter. The nicest was George Scott, her first and -- at seven years -- her longest marriage. He was 31 and fresh from a stint in the military. She was 16 and just out of eighth grade. "We used to sing that song, 'I'm only 15 and he's 21,' " Wolfe said. "But we'd go around saying, 'I'm only sixteen and he's thirty-one.' "

The best lover was Jack Gourley, who liked skinny dipping and impromptu trysts. She wed him three times. The marriage to Fred Chadwick was the shortest: 36 hours. The love wasn't there.
The strangest exchange of vows took place at the Indiana Reformatory at Pendleton to a one-eyed inmate named Tom Stutzman, whom she said was wrongly convicted of rape. And her last beau . . . well, his history of marriage makes Wolfe seem almost chaste.

Wolfe has been married in front of judges and priests, in grand halls and living rooms. The bride wore a white taffeta gown. The bride wore a yellow, two-piece suit. The bride wore denim. She never wrote her own vows. And she always saw the end coming.

Two of her husbands were gay. Two were homeless. A few stepped out on her. One choked her and turned her lip inside out. Another secured the fridge with padlock and chain. Wolfe had enough bad experiences to rue the whole chaotic sequence. So one day, she squashed all her wedding and engagement rings into her daughter's dirty diapers, bagged them and waited by the curb for the trash collector. "I stood right there and watched, and they were beautiful rings," she said. "Good riddance."

Wolfe wears acid wash jeans and a sweatshirt, and goes heavy on the blush. Her hair used to be blond, but it's gray now. She lives in Anderson's Longfellow Plaza Apartments, a retirement complex that is HUD housing for the elderly. At $195 a month, it's affordable. She's been here three years, long enough to fill her room with trinkets, like her plastic Furby collection. Long enough for dust to gather on a half-dozen fake roses.

Medicine bottles, glass angels and crucifixes sit on the coffee table in front of her like talismans. Between lungfuls of smoke from her second Maverick 100 of the hour, she explains how she passes the time praying, and watching married TV couples like Ray and Debra Barone on "Everybody Loves Raymond" every night.

"It's easy to sum up," she said of her life. "When I was younger, I was just a snot-nosed kid, but the neighborhood boys were all in love with me. They all wanted to marry me."

Linda Lou Taylor was born in 1940, the youngest of seven children. Her father died when she was 2. Her mother took in washing and ironing and cleaned houses. "She made it -- took us through school," Wolfe said. "She was a real kind, sweet, loving mother. We grew up all of us Christians, till we got older."
As a young teen, Wolfe started chasing boys. She claims to have run off and unofficially married several of them, until her mother put a stop to it, pulling her indoors in the evening. Wolfe ended up with seven children of her own, born to her first three husbands. There's Ruth, who has three daughters. Becky is on her third marriage. Melody was a lingerie model. Robert died of cancer. Louis is in prison for a drug-related offense. Joe and Dan round out the set of siblings, all of whom endured a cavalcade of stepfathers and suitors.

"They don't come around me," Wolfe said of her brood. "They've got their own lives to live. "
Becky visits Wolfe occasionally. She said the kids try not to discuss their mother's marital odyssey -- not because they're mad, but because they're busy.

"People see it as something different, but it wasn't that way with us kids. It was hard to grow up with," Becky said. "We were made fun of when we were in school."

Her notoriety went way beyond school. By the early 1990s, Wolfe was commanding appearance fees of $5,000 to $20,000 on the talk-show circuit. "I've been on Joan Rivers, Geraldo, Phil Donahue. He got real fresh with me," Wolfe said. "I've been on Maury. I liked Maury. He gave me a real nice spread of flowers." She met Wayne Newton, Chuck Norris, Liberace and Sally Jessy Raphael. She did "Inside Edition" and was in the National Enquirer. "Oprah wanted me," she said, "but they didn't pay anything."

Locally, she did radio and newspapers, and rode in Muncie's St. Patrick's Day parade. But Wolfe laments that people in Anderson treat her as some kind of joke. "I got to thinking that in some of these towns where world record holders live, they have signs outside city limits," Wolfe once said. "I wouldn't mind if Anderson would have a sign like that."

Wolfe walks with a cane now. When she was younger, she said, she used to strut. "I'd flip my hair back -- it was just something I've always done," she said. "The cars would honk. There was a wreck or two because of me. That's just the story of my life. Men ran after me. I've tried to figure it out and I can't."

The many husbands of Linda Wolfe include a convict, a vending machine repairman, barmen and brawlers, electricians and plumbers, musicians and machinists. But her final man was a preacher. Glynn "Scotty" Wolfe was a Baptist minister, and by the time he reached his 80s, he was also the most married man in the world. Linda Wolfe was his 29th bride.

They say Scotty took the holy out of matrimony, that he married so often because he wanted sex without sin, and that he once divorced a woman for eating sunflower seeds in bed.
Scotty and Linda wed in Quartzsite, Ariz., in 1996. A British TV crew filmed the event, but Wolfe has never seen the footage, or the money promised to her for the publicity stunt.

"They carried him out from his nursing bed for the ceremony," she said. "I knew something was fishy." Shortly afterward, she returned to Indiana and he to California, where he died, destitute, 10 days before their one-year anniversary. One of his 19 children came to the funeral -- a son who couldn't afford the cremation fee.

Wolfe fears a similar fate. "I'm left with nothing, except a few old newspaper articles and some photos," she said. "I got a dollar and 33 cents to my name." She has been single now for a dozen years, her longest stint unmarried since childhood. Since her last groom, she hasn't dated and she doesn't kiss. Wolfe has the record, but she would rather have something else, more common and more lasting.

"But I would get married again," she said, "because, you know, it gets lonely."

Monday, February 2, 2009

Tough Choices for America's Hungry

(CNN) -- As Walter Thomas knows, it's hard to look for a job when your stomach is rumbling.

The 52-year-old from Washington, D.C., started skipping meals in early January when his savings account was running dry and his kitchen cabinets were almost empty.

Thomas at first didn't want to turn to the United States' food safety net, the food stamp program, for help.

But after being laid off in July from what seemed like a steady job in sales at a furniture store, Thomas swallowed his pride and applied for the monthly food aid.

"It lets me think, 'OK, well, tomorrow I'll be able to eat. If nothing else, I'll be able to eat,' " he said.

With the national economy in meltdown, more Americans than ever are relying on the federal aid program to keep from going hungry. In October, more than one in 10 people -- about 31 million -- were using the food stamp program to get by, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

More recent numbers are not available, but advocates for the poor say the number of those in need of aid probably has increased since then.

Stereotypes associated with food stamps abound, and recipients are often seen as prone to taking handouts, sometimes when they may not be needed.

But the profile of hunger in America is multifaceted, as diverse as the nation itself, especially in these times of economic hardship.

To get a better idea of what it's like to live on a food stamp budget, CNN correspondent Sean Callebs has decided to eat for a month on $176 and blog about the experience on

That's a situation many people, Thomas included, can relate to. Thomas, who said he had been working steadily since he was 13 years old, now receives $175 per month for food. That's about $5.83 per day -- less than $2 per meal.

Not that Thomas is complaining. After getting his first payment, which is added to an inconspicuous debit card to reduce the stigma associated with the program, Thomas went straight to the grocery store. He was hungry and grateful.

"It's definitely been a blessing to me," he said of the food stamp program, which, since October, has gone by the name Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

Advocates for the poor, as well as those on federal assistance, hope President Obama's economic stimulus plan will increase food stamp payments. The average family on food stamps would receive $79 more per month if the stimulus bill passes in the U.S. Senate this week, according to The New York Times. How are you doing in this tough economy?

There is some debate about whether giving people money to spend on groceries is a valid form of economic stimulus.

Few are more hopeful the measure will pass than Crystal Sears, a 30-year-old mother in Germantown, Pennsylvania, who said she has been on food stamps for more than three years.

Sears said she sometimes skips meals so her three children can eat. Even with federal assistance, she said, she sometimes has to make a meal for herself out of crackers or food scraps.

She said she has been out of work for several years because all three of her children have medical conditions: Her 8-year-old son has a seizure disorder that requires frequent hospital visits and constant attention; her 2-year-old daughter was born with heart problems; and her 12-year-old daughter has scoliosis, a back condition that recently required two surgeries, she said.

Without much money, she's forced to make tough choices.

"If the kids needed sneakers and their sneakers are getting too small, or if my water bill is past due, I'd opt not to pay it and risk them sending me a shut-off notice just so my children can eat," she said.

Sometimes she chooses to buy more food instead of paying her gas bill to heat her home. When she does, the family sleeps huddled around their stove or an electric heater, she said.

Her monthly food stamp payment is $489, she said. That's sometimes sufficient. But some months, she said, she doesn't receive full payments because of mix-ups with paperwork. Until recently, she said, she received about $250 per month, which she said was far from enough to feed her family of four.

The SNAP program is meant to supplement a person's food budget, not cover all food expenses, said Jean Daniel, a spokesperson for the USDA, which administers the program.

Taking on part-time work would further complicate the application process, she said. Sears said she worked for seven years at a Salvation Army shelter before becoming unemployed.

"For me, I've always been a helper. And my thing is I don't like to help people to enable them. I like to help people so they can help themselves in the long run," she said.

Sears stretches her food budget by buying cheap and sometimes fatty meals. She said she doesn't like doing that but can't avoid it. With food prices high, she said, grocery shopping is stressful.

"We get like the mac and cheese, which is dehydrated cheese -- basically food that's no good for you health wise," she said. "Everything is high in sodium and trans fats ... and that's all we basically can afford. There's not enough assistance to eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight."

Advocates for the hungry say many people on the food stamp program opt to buy less-healthy foods because they can't afford fresh fruits and vegetables on such a tight budget.

Food stamp "benefits aren't really enough for a healthy diet," said Jim Weill, president of the nonprofit Food Research and Action Center.

Sears said she is grateful for the help she does get.

Maribel Diaz, a 36-year-old mother of three boys in Los Angeles, California, said her $319-per-month payment isn't always enough.

But she said she would starve herself before letting her boys go hungry.

"You're bringing home less bags [of food] now, because the milk is almost $5 a gallon and the bread is $3 a loaf. ... A chicken is, like, now $8," Diaz said. "If you're really breaking it down, you're not bringing a lot of groceries home."

All SNAP recipients are eligible for free nutritional counseling to help people stretch their food budgets, said Daniel, of the USDA.

Advocates for the hungry find flaws in the way the program is set up, but they praise it for being a safety net the government can't take away during tough times.

Unlike aid to soup kitchens, the food stamp program receives federal funding in times thick and thin, and has a $6 billion backup fund, Daniel said.

"The money will be found so people are not turned away," Daniel said.

All of the benefits paid to participants come from the federal government. States split the program's administrative costs.

Advocates see some flaws in SNAP but generally give it praise.

"I say about food stamps what Winston Churchill said about democracy: 'It's the worst possible system except all the others,' " said Joel Berg, executive director of the New York Coalition Against Hunger.

Berg said the program's benefits are too small and too difficult for people to obtain.

But the food stamp program is somewhat successful, he said.

"The main purpose of the program is to wipe out Third World starvation in America, and it's worked," he said, adding that he's optimistic about improvements that could come as part of the economic stimulus plan.

Thomas, the laid-off furniture worker in Washington, said he doesn't want people to feel sorry for him.

After being let go from his store, he stopped at an employment center before going anywhere else. He said he faxed about 20 résumés to similar companies on that very day.

None has resulted in a job yet, but Thomas said he has been to interviews for other types of work and hopes employment will come soon.

For now, he's just happy to continue the job search without the pain of hunger nagging at his stomach.