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Can fish oil help dry eye?

in Contributors/Dr. Mark Siegel, MD FAAO/Health by

By Dr. Mark S. Siegel

While artificial tears or ointments are a common treatment for dry eye, studies suggest consuming omega-3 fatty acid supplements may also provide relief.

Omega-3 oils appear to improve function in the eye’s meibomian glands, which produce the oily part of tears. Improved function of those glands can ease dry eye symptoms.

Dry eye becomes more common as a person ages. The problem develops when the eye cannot maintain a healthy coating of tears. Dry eye can be caused by hormonal changes brought on by menopause. There are a number of other causes, including a dry environment or workplace (such as wind or air conditioning), sun exposure, smoking or secondhand smoke exposure and many medications.

The National Eye Institute notes that in some patients with dry eye, supplements or dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids (such as tuna fish) may decrease symptoms of irritation.

Many studies have shown that the omega-3s in fish oil are believed to reduce inflammation. If inflammation of the eyelids or surfaces of the eye worsens dry eye, it makes sense that a supplement could help the problem.

Since dry eye is pretty complex, and there is no cure, it seems reasonable that by treating the inflammation, one can improve some of the symptoms.

A study of more than 32,000 women from the Women’s Health Study published in 2005 found those who consumed the most omega-3 fats from fish had a 17 percent lower risk of dry eye, compared with women who ate little or no seafood. More recently, a study in the International Journal of Ophthalmology concluded omega-3 fatty acids have a definite role for dry eye syndrome.

Omega-3 oils may also help in the treatment of other eye diseases. The oils may reduce growth of abnormal blood vessels that occur in age-related macular degeneration and other retinal vascularization diseases.

Talk to your doctor to find out whether omega-3 supplements are right for you.

Passwords cause dilemma on unplanned vacation

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

The recent unplanned vacation (evacuation) left us in a hotel without, of all things, our Internet passwords.

We had checked and double-checked our evacuation plan list before we left the house and even added a few things to take, but the “password book” never hit our radar.

It was not until we got to our hotel and attempted to connect to Internet sites that we realized we had forgotten it.

Here is what led us to creating the “password book”:  Initially, we only had a couple of Internet passwords. There were the AOL and MSN passwords. Then came the passwords for our computers and iPads.

Before we knew it, every company, like our bank, the electric company, the telephone company and any stores that we used required a login name and a unique password.

Then security and hacking became an issue so we were asked to add numbers or symbols to our words and we even started to get rated on the strength of the password: weak, strong, stronger.

Then we were asked to change our passwords on a regular basis. I know a lot of people who would use a word like Angel and then add a number. No, we were told. You have used that word before and besides, it does not have enough letters!

Or worse yet, the notice on the site reads “I’m sorry you have not logged into this site in six months and therefore you have to change your password”.

These requirements led us to purchase a business card folder. It is one of those three-ring binders that has plastic inserts for business cards. We filled it with cards and wrote the associated passwords. The constant changing of passwords every 30 days or 60 days, depending on the site, meant that the old passwords would get scratched out with a new one replacing it.

Since I have gone through all the family names, the dogs, the cats and street names, I had to succumb to words like “Kitchencounter84$” which received a STRONG rating, but was difficult to remember.  It is for these reasons that the password book exists.

So now I have added another item to my checklist: the password book. And you do not have to worry about someone trying to steal our book. It is not going anywhere soon. We are still looking for the combination to the family safe.

The missing sculpture (or where did King Triton go?)

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

Please be advised that I am currently missing a sculpture from my backyard. If by chance, you have found it, please DO NOT RETURN IT!  Keep it as a memento of Hurricane Matthew. My gift to you.

The sculpture in question was already in my backyard when I bought my house. I am almost positive that it had washed up from some barrier island and was only on the property because of some other hurricane.

I cannot believe that the sellers would have ever bought this item because it is so unusual. It is also possible that over the course of its lifetime it had been damaged and hence the reason for its current appearance.

It was not until I started to pull out dead palm fronds and vines that I spotted it. Truthfully, it startled me when I saw it. The sculpture was deeply embedded in dirt on the bank of the creek and was hidden in the brush.

It appears to have been made of brass or a similar material and is mostly discolored, sporting several shades of green.

Examining it, I was not sure what it was supposed to be. Was it a mythological deity like King Poseidon? It was hard to tell. Maybe it was supposed to be King Triton with his sharp trident.

The sculpture appears to have arms that spin, although it could be they are just broken. Maybe they were supposed to be that way and it was actually some kind of weather vain.

Regardless of its looks, it proved too entrenched for me to move by myself. My spouse offered to drag it out with a rope tied to the back of the truck, but I said not to bother.  We really could not see it that well anyway unless we were on top of it.

But alas, Hurricane Matthew came swinging in with a surge just high enough on the embankment to loosen the dirt and sweep it off our property.

Maybe King Triton is now the new figurehead of one of the local sailboats. Who knows? He may just be waiting for his father Poseidon to churn up the seas and scoop him up to decorate someone else’s yard.

Or maybe he has already found a new home and is sitting in your reeds.

Vote the ‘Think For Yourself’ ticket

in Bill Rauch/Contributors/Voices by

By Bill Rauch

Reasonable people are of two minds about Nov. 8, this year’s election day. They are relieved the public name-calling might finally at least temporarily come to and end. But they find regrettable the choices before them.

Nonetheless, current surveys and the history books indicate, approximately the same lackluster percentage of registered voters will vote this season as have voted in the past. Tending to confirm the surveys’ findings, and the history, is my own experience at lunchtime on Friday, Oct. 23. That was when I voted. I was number 143 in the day’s cue. And all the chairs the Board of Elections people had set up for early voters waiting their turn that day were full.

Here’s how I voted in the tight races, and why.

For the Beaufort City Council — on which I served in various capacities for 16 years — I voted for Nan Sutton and David Taub. George O’Kelley is departing and with him will go the group’s best brain. Of those running, Taub offers the best replacement brain. For example, he has come up with a proposal to replace the ridiculous 2-percent franchise fee surcharge that City Council voted unanimously to levy city-wide to pay for burying the power lines on Boundary Street.

Some city council members serve for years and never come up with a proposal that can honestly be called their own. They just do what they’re told by the city manager except on those rare occasions when the public cries loudly enough to convince them their political self-protection requires them to oppose him.

In exchange for their fidelity to him the city manager tries to protect “his” council members from looking foolish in public. Taub won’t play that game. I can prove it. For the eight years he was mayor the city didn’t raise taxes — and city managers always want to raise taxes. I was there, and I know then-Beaufort City Manager Gary Cannon did.

In the South Carolina House District 124 race I voted for Shannon Erickson. Shannon’s a hard worker who is dedicated to constituent service.  And as a policymaker Shannon can be counted on to look out for South Carolina’s young people. That’s both good for our future … and unusual.

In the race next door: Broderick vs. Rivers for South Carolina House seat 121, I say Michael Rivers is needed where he is on the Beaufort County School Board where he keeps a close eye on Superintendent Jeff Moss. Mr. Moss is a highly-skilled politician in the sense that he is facile at keeping a majority of his board with him. Town managers, county administrators and school board superintendents all do this, if they wish to keep their jobs. But some are more brazen — which is to say they more obviously play favorites — than others. Superintendent Moss is one of the brazen ones.

Caught in September 2015 quietly changing the school district’s nepotism policy and putting his wife on the district’s payroll, Moss remarkably slipped the noose. (I’m sure it has cost us plenty.) Now he has concocted a scheme to separate the county’s residents and its visitors from about a quarter billion dollars to make capital improvements to the county’s schools.

The list of projects to be funded was developed with an eye to making the superintendent’s favorite school board members look good rather than the to-be-preferred steely resolve to serve the cause of educating the county’s children. Moreover, the flexibility that’s baked into the school board referenda (there are two) gives the superintendent and his board a majority that pretty nearly amounts to a blank check to chuck the list and use the quarter billion as they please. The clear message from the redoubtable superintendent to board members is: If you don’t stick with me, I’ll build a new coalition without you. And then you can watch your favorite projects slide into the ditch.

If you couldn’t tell, I voted No on both the school board measures.

But I said Yes to Beaufort County’s penny sales tax measure. Former Beaufort City Councilman Mike Sutton, Nan’s husband, who chaired the committee that wrote the list of projects, figured out how to rope me in. The results on Nov. 8 will tell us how many others were similarly lassoed.  Sutton managed to keep on the list a couple of million dollars for Beaufort’s beleaguered Southside Park. First Mayor Keyserling tried to sell the park. Then he proposed tilling it up and planting it in corn. Now, maybe, if the county’s long shot measure passes, the city can at last begin to try to make Mossy Oaks’ 18-plus acre neighborhood park into the premier city park it should be.

I have my fingers crossed.

Matthew puts J&L Landscaping Company to work

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

When we moved here to our pine forest home, we had not planned on hiring the J&L Landscaping Company.

However, after a couple of windy days when the pine needles showered down on our lawn, we started to consider it.

Then we lived through a few strong thunderstorms and that sealed the deal.  We found an exclusive company willing to take care of one property: ours.  This company is extremely reliable. Normally, they show up early on Monday mornings and proceed to blow the pine needles into piles, mow the lawn, trim the bushes and weed the garden. They even clear all the leaves off the porch and walkways.

The company has been known to take several truckloads of old dead tree limbs to the convenience center after a particularly bad storm. There have been those times when they have not shown up on a rainy Monday morning, but ultimately they return on the next nice day.  And occasionally, if a heavy storm has come through mid-week, they show up.  They always seem to get the job done and work for little money.

After finding J&L Landscaping, we discovered that we needed the LSS home cleaning service, the JDS boat maintenance company, the JL laundry service and of course the Scott construction company, which has completed numerous jobs including room painting and varnishing floors around the house.

If you have not guessed yet, all of these phantom companies are run by one or two people: me and my spouse.

We do hire other contractors.

We have had electricians, plumbers and HVAC companies do work around our home. But when we know we can do the job, we just do it.  Of course, it is also one of the problems living with someone who just cannot relax.

There must be something in our DNA that makes us both somewhat hyper-active. Or it could be just the way we were brought up to rely on ourselves to get things done.

We joke about feeling guilty sitting on the couch.

“Shouldn’t we be doing something?” we ask ourselves.

Even a fortune cookie that said “Take the day off” was ignored as we got out our rakes.

Ultimately, we will shut down all the companies and start hiring others. But in the meantime, thanks to Matthew, J&L Landscaping is up and running and working full time.

My coal mine canary returns

in Bill Rauch/Contributors/Voices by

Photo above: At 4 a.m. the storm wobbled to the northwest and for 45 scary minutes Matthew’s eye headed straight for us.

By Bill Rauch

When the rain really started to come down at 3 p.m. Friday (Oct. 7) I watched my family — my wife, two boys, mother-in-law, three dogs — drive out the driveway.

After looking at the National Hurricane Center’s tracks, and hearing the governor, the president and the Weather Channel, I had decided to do what I have always done: ride it out.

It felt a little lonely watching them drive off.  But parting always does.

Frankly, there was less good reason to stay this time to visit firsthand with Matthew. In 1989, with Hugo bearing down on Beaufort, I had a newspaper, The Lowcountry Ledger, to look after. And as we all know, news and her deadlines come first.

In 1999, when Beaufort evacuated for Hurricane Floyd, I had a town — a great and delicate town — to look after. Only in extremis do mayors leave their towns.

Both times I never considered going.

But why stay now? It’s crazy. My grown children now living in New York, my sister, and several friends told me so … in no uncertain terms.

But not Beaufort people. They mostly said, “Sure, stay. That’s what I’m doing.”

What is it about New Yorkers who are so tough that they are so careful too? Everyone with whom I communicated Friday night who lives on Manhattan Island begged me to leave immediately for high ground. Maybe it’s that New Yorkers are a pretty smart bunch.

The evening started calmly enough. In fact, I called the family to say goodnight and turned in early. But then at 2:30 a.m. an odd thing happened … like a canary in a coal mine. The gas detector — the thing that hangs on the wall and sounds like a smoke detector — went off: “Beep” … “Beep” … “Beep.” First I thought I was dreaming it.  Then it woke me up.

May I say without my readers thinking me crazy that things like this used to happen when I lived in The Castle on Craven Street. It was always at night. A door would slam. A window would creak. I’d wake up, “What was that?” Then I’d hear my daughter in her crib who had the chicken pox crying … or a son sleepwalking. It was weird.

I don’t know why the gas alarm went off.  I had shut the gas to the whole house off. But I fumbled around with resetting it, and while I was up I thought I’d take a look outside.

I took the flashlight and went against the wind out to the porch and looked around. There was water everywhere! The house, up on 2-foot brick piers, was surrounded by water! I shined the light under the porch. There was water everywhere.

Amazingly, the lights were still on, so I fired up the laptop and looked up the tides: high tide would be at 2:49 a.m. So the water was definitely still rising.

When I was mayor I took a group of 115 intrepid volunteers down to Long Beach, Miss., to help that devastated town chainsaw out from under Katrina. Then after I was mayor I worked a couple of years for FEMA, helping mayors negotiate the byzantine FEMA post-disaster reimbursement process. So, as New Yorkers would say, “I know from floods.”

Now I was in for one. Between about 3 and 4 a.m., while the house still had lights, I moved things up onto beds onto tables onto shelves, wherever I could find a spot. It’s interesting what you choose. Here’s the priorities list: (1) favorite guns (2) anything to do with the children (3) family stuff, photo albums, etc. (4) everybody’s tennis rackets, sports equipment, shoes and boots (5) anything else of value.

Then, at 4 a.m. I found WSAV’s live stream — WSAV did an award-winning job and public service covering the storm — and their weather people said, “Matthew is still tracking due north and will make landfall between Tybee Island and Hilton Head Island.”

Whoa, I thought, that’s us!

Then the lights went out.

There’s lonely, and then there’s LONELY!

With my flashlight I checked the water level under the house. It was unchanged. The tide might be supposed to be going out, but it was clearly no match for the wind.

Back inside, in my mind I ran over my alternatives. That didn’t take long. There was only one: whether to put on my son’s old t-ball batting helmet that I had just dug out of the back of a closet. I thought, nah, and — having done what I could do —  settled into my favorite reading chair to listen to the majesty of the wind, and for the gurgle of the sea rising up through the floor boards.

It was so dark that there was absolutely no difference between having your eyes open or shut.

When I woke up, the water was running out of the yard.

Matthew had moved on.

Some people are sand philosophers

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

If you have ever gone to Hunting Island State Park and walked the beach during low tide, you might have seen some of our local philosophers at work.

These are the people who walk along the shore with their sticks and are inspired to write just when the ocean tide is at its lowest.

Whether it’s the breeze off the ocean or the endless horizon that inspires them, it’s not long before they are writing in the sand. But unlike Aristotle and Plato, whose works have been around for thousands of years, the sand philosopher’s words are only here for a limited amount of time.

On a recent morning I noticed that someone had written “Always.” I stopped and just looked at it. Always what? Always in love? Always hear the ocean? Always, as in God? Or maybe someone just expected the reader to be inspired by the meaning of the word and come to one’s own conclusion.

A good friend told me that she knows people who go to the beach over New Year’s and write the old year over the new year and take pictures as the old year gets washed away. How symbolic; especially for those people who have had a bad year. The water appears to wash away the past.

You might see footprints near some writing, too. Couples will stand together and squish their feet deep into the sand as they face one another. Written next to the footprints is something like “soulmates.” It takes much longer for the incoming tide to erase the deep footprints.

Parents are also known to do this with their children with the date written next to the footprints, as if forever imprinting the moment in time.

But some of the sand writing is actually not philosophical, but more like Comedy Central.

You might see “Life is a beach” or a long arrow pointed to the water with the words “Beach this way.” I also saw “Wilson was here” as a reference to the movie “Cast Away,” where the Wilson volleyball floated away. And of course, there are the endless games of tic-tac-toe.

So if you are having a particularly unpleasant week and need to be inspired, go down to the beach and check out the sand philosophers’ work.

And don’t forget to bring your own writing stick.

Hypersensitive sense of smell holds memories

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

The other morning when I walked out into the yard, I thought I could feel autumn. After months of hot weather, the 73- degree air was a big change.

However, the real difference for me was the smell. The fresh north breeze blowing across the marsh had replaced the smell of the southern-ocean breeze. I inhaled it deeply.

But it was not only the outside morning air that was different. The air inside my home had changed.

Our old friend and constant companion, Bailey, is gone.

And although his dog hair and scent is still scattered throughout the house, I have noticed that it is slowly disappearing and the air we breathe is changing.

My spouse says I have a hypersensitive sense of smell. If we ever had a gas leak, he is confident that I could pick it up early.

For me, the sense of smell is extremely important. When I have not seen my children for a while, I make sure to hug them close and breathe in their scent. Even as adults, they are used to me pressing my face into them.

Now my grandchildren have become accustomed to their grandmother leaning into their necks and inhaling.

There are times when my spouse wishes I did not have such a good nose.  Occasionally I walk in our house and find myself seeking out an unfamiliar odor. “What is that smell?” I will ask him as he shakes his head. “Only the nose knows!” he will respond back, knowing that I will continue sniffing until I find the source.

And I confess that when he is gone on a trip, I sleep on his side of the bed and place my head on his pillow so that I can still inhale Eau de Jacques.

It is only now that I notice Brandy, our younger cocker spaniel, going around the house seeking out Bailey’s presence in the form of the smells he left behind. She licks his stuffed animals and sleeps in the bed he used to occupy.

Soon, I will no longer have Bailey’s scent around. Brandy and I will stop seeking him and learn to live in this house without him.

But for now I appreciate my hypersensitive sense of smell more as his blanket goes unwashed until it loses the memory of him.

On its sesquicentennial, Beaufort let Reconstruction slide

in Bill Rauch/Contributors/Voices by

Top photo: The legendary birthplace of Robert Smalls in the “slave cottage” at 508 Duke St. is not registered with the Secretary of the Interior, nor is there any plaque or sign at or near the house that might help visitors find it. Photo by Bill Rauch.

By Bill Rauch

When it comes to understanding the difference between talking about Beaufort’s Reconstruction past and actually doing something to emphasize it, I don’t think my friend David Lauderdale at The Island Packet has got it yet.

To educate themselves, here’s what I suggest he, and the others who think they’ve done a lot, consider doing.

First, they should go to the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce’s website and check out the “50 Things to do in Beaufort” section. There’s nothing there that might tip visitors to Beaufort’s  Reconstruction history.

Then, just to be sure, break out “Tours.” When you do that, here’s the clickable list that comes up in this order: “Historical Church self-guided tour,” “Captain Dick’s River Tour,” “Self-guided tree walk,” “Kazoo factory tour,” “Beaufort walking tour,” “Carriage tour,” and finally “Sunset harbor tour.”

If, as Lauderdale wrote on Sept. 25, Beaufort is the “cradle of African-American freedom,” and it is, a reasonable person might conclude the city’s designated marketing organization (for which it is paid $317,252.76 last year, according to the city manager) might emphasize that fact more than, say, a kazoo factory tour.

Or, Lauderdale could try this. Call the Visitor’s Center where they will probably tell him, as they told me, that there is a picture of Robert Smalls’ house in the chamber’s history museum (in the Beaufort Arsenal which the chamber of commerce rents from the city for $1 a year) upstairs from the Visitor’s Center.

The Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce, which the city of Beaufort also supports, isn’t much more helpful.

Its website does include a chronology that emphasizes Beaufort’s Reconstruction past, but for a visitor who wanted to actually find the few sites that are described there, there is little or no help provided.

Or, Lauderdale could try this. Congressman James Clyburn says Beaufort’s Robert Smalls is “the most consequential figure in Reconstruction history,” and indeed Lauderdale has got the story about Smalls being born a slave in the cottage behind the big house who later ended up buying the big house.

But here’s the thing: Go find the houses at 511 Prince St. and 508 Duke St.. The houses are there, but there’s no self-guided tour to show a visitor where to go to find them, and there are no plaques or other indications at the houses that might tell a visitor who Robert Smalls was and why his life was of significance.

By the way, Lauderdale’s dead wrong about this. In the story I wrote that appeared in The Atlantic recently, I didn’t write Beaufort’s “still pushing the story of the Lost Cause.” I didn’t write that because I don’t believe Beaufort’s “pushing” that story either. On the sesquicentennial of Reconstruction, when it comes to Civil War and Reconstruction era history, Beaufort’s just not marketing.

Here’s why: Van Willis in Port Royal said it best. Speaking of what Mayor Billy Keyserling told him, Willis told me: “Billy and his brother have a building they want the feds to buy to be the ‘Reconstruction Era Interpretive Center.’ What he told me was ‘I’m not doing Reconstruction as mayor, I’m doing it personally.’”

It shows.

Peers, younger generation both have things to share

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

My grandfather was born in 1893, and when he ultimately retired, he moved into one of those “over 55 years of age” communities in Florida. When I asked my mother why, she explained, “He wants to be around his contemporaries.”

Now, years later, I understand a little better what she meant by that statement. Grandpa wanted to be around people that shared the same history.

The year John Kelly was born, the Duryea Brothers set up the first successful gas-powered automobile manufacturing plant. He was 10 years old when the Wright Brothers’ famous flight took place in December of 1903.

He lived through World War I, the Great Depression and then World War II.

In the 1920s, when radio stations started to broadcast, his young family would sit around the radio listening to bands and mystery shows.

Moving to that adult community meant he could be around individuals who could recall songs from those old broadcasts and sing barbershop melodies with him.

I personally do not live in an age-restricted community, (although I qualify) but I do live in a neighborhood filled with people in my own age group. These are the people who recognize references to events that happened in our shared past and the tunes we played on the radio.

My generation remembers the Cuban Missile Crisis and the day John F. Kennedy was shot. We lived through the 1960s civil unrest and the British music invasion. And we watched as men walked on the moon.

There exists with contemporaries a unique language and an understanding of the world.

But even though I am comfortable with my age group, I still want to be around younger generations. I want to understand the fascination with reality shows and be exposed to social media. With their encouragement, I want to open myself up to other radio stations and not just listen to my classic radio station. I want to expose myself to artists like Adele, Taylor Swift and even Justin Timberlake.

Yes, I understand my grandfather’s decision to move to Florida. There is something so comfortable about your own peers. But ultimately I think he missed out on many new experiences he would have enjoyed.

So for the time being, I will continue to seek out the younger generation and be inspired by their new ideas and experiences.

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