Archive for January 30, 2012

A Book Review – The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I have a 16 year old son who doesn’t like to read.  Wait, what?  How can anyone NOT like to read?  I LOVE reading, I always have.  One of my very favorite parts about working downtown Seattle was that I got 45 glorious minutes (each way!) of reading time on the bus.  My reading time has been cut drastically now that I no longer work downtown and my husband goes to bed way earlier than me so no reading in bed, either.  Adjusting to my new schedule, I hadn’t read anything other than a magazine in months.  Ok, so back to my son.  I always figured he didn’t like reading because he never read a book he really liked that could draw him in.  I asked a few kids his age, who do like reading, what all-time favorite book they would recommend and the consistent answer was “The Hunger Games”.  I bought him the first book (its a trilogy) for Christmas on the pretext that if he read it, I would take him to see the movie (which comes out March 23).  Well, the book sat on his dresser till a few days ago when I picked it up and thought I’d read it first so maybe I could encourage him to read it.  Oh My Goodness!  I Loved it with a capital “L”.  I couldn’t put it down.  The kids saw how engrossed I was and now they all want to read it!  I ran out to the nearest book store and paid full-price for the second book.  Full-price I said – that’s how much you know I love it; I don’t pay full-price for anything!

So here’s the story-line (without giving anything away)….the story is based in North America in the nation of Panem sometime in the future.  Anyways, there are 12 Districts and a Capitol.  The Capitol controls all the Districts. Some time in the past, District 13 rebelled against the Capitol and now no longer exists.  To commemorate that rebellion and to remind the rest of the Districts who is in charge, each year the Capitol draws two children’s names, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18, from each District to participate in The Hunger Games. Those 24 children (known as Tributes) are taken to the Capitol where they are interviewed and “prepared” for The Hunger Games.  The Hunger Games are a brutal battle to the death between the Tributes until there is only one victor.  In District 12, 12 year old Primrose Everdeen’s name is drawn.  Knowing she’ll never survive, Primrose’s 16 year old sister, Katniss, volunteers to take her place, an almost certain death sentence for her as well.  An accomplished hunter, Katniss must kill or be killed, choose humanity or survival.  Does she survive?  Does the boy Tribute from District 12 survive?  You’ve got to read it to find out…just make sure you have the dishes and laundry done first, otherwise you won’t be getting to it for a while! (I know it is a strange premise for a story to have kids killing each other off, but the storyline is amazing.)

Book One:  The Hunger Games
Book Two:  Catching Fire
Book Three:  The Mockingjay.

The best hangover advice ever

This is from an article I found years ago from a blogger named “I’m not Martha”. It’s really great advice on hangovers and how to deal with them. 

They don’t call it intoxication for nothing. Happy juice 
is poisonous. Put enough of it into your body and you die. 
It is not so much alcohol itself but the by-products of 
alcohol, and especially one particularly nasty chemical 
critter by the name of acetaldehyde. It’s got a lot more 
of the bad kind of kapow, and the latest research suggests 
that it may be responsible for the worst of your hangover. 

After you ingest alcohol, your body breaks it down into 
(among other things) acetaldehyde, before converting it 
into less harmful substances. The acetaldehyde messes with 
your brain at the same time as a host of depleted minerals 
are short-circuiting your nervous system, and that’s in 
addition to low blood sugar and the classic headache-and- 
dry-mouth symptoms caused by dehydration. The result: 
nausea, twitchy nerves, unpleasantness, pessimism, terrible 
brain pain, and a temporary suspension of the laws of 

The severity of a hangover varies according to . . . 
* The amount you’ve guzzled in a given period of time 
* Your own innate enzymatic capacity to deal with the poisons 
* Your age 
* Your gender…guys can drink more. Hey, they are bigger, 
Translation: the more you drink in a short amount of time, 
the more you’ll feel the alcohol. One’s weight is also a 
factor (the less you weigh, the more you’ll feel it), as 
is a genetic predisposition. Finally, the older you get, 
the more you’ll feel the alcohol the next morning. 

As anyone who has had a hangover knows, thirst and dry mouth 
are 2 of the cardinal symptoms. These symptoms caused 
scientists to investigate how drinking alcohol affects your 
water regulatory system. 

Anyone who has gotten drunk knows that drinking eventually 
leads to multiple trips to the bathroom. This is because 
consumption of alcohol causes a decrease in a substance 
called anti-diuretic hormone (ADH). As blood alcohol levels 
rise, less ADH is available, and more water is excreted by 
the kidneys. This situation reverses itself, however, when 
blood alcohol levels begin to fall, and your body begins to 
compensate for the temporary, alcohol induced dehydration. 
ADH levels rise, urinary output decreases, and you become 
thirsty. By the time the hangover gets into full swing, you 
are actually retaining fluid, as evidenced by the puffy eyes 
and face that some people get after a night of drinking. I 
suspect that this fluid retention, also known as edema, 
contributes to the hangover headache. 

Some of the other effects of hangover appear to be caused by 
a condition known as metabolic acidosis. Acidosis is when 
your blood becomes more acidic than it should be. There are 
a number of reasons why alcohol causes this, but suffice it 
to say that alcohol interferes with the normal metabolism of 
some acids, and actually produces others. The end result is 
a slight increase in the acidity of your blood. This increase 
reaches its peak during the hangover period, and the level 
of acidity is strongly correlated with the severity of the 
hangover symptoms. It takes your kidneys and lungs about 
18-24 hours to return the blood acid levels back to normal. 
It seems likely that the symptoms of nausea and sweating are 
related to this temporary increase in blood acidity. 

The third cause of hangover symptoms is a disruption of some 
of your normal daily (circadian) rhythms. I have found some 
studies which observed that alcohol consumption that leads 
to drunkenness can change the normal daily rhythm of body 
temperature and brain activity. In those cases, the subjects 
body clocks were set back about 6 hours; that means that if 
they woke up at 9:00am after a night of drinking, their body 
thought it was 3:00am. This could definitely account for 
hangover grogginess and irritability. 

Lastly, some people believe that certain impurities or toxins 
that can be found in alcoholic drinks, called congeners, can 
cause hangover. In fact, there is a brand of vodka that used 
to market itself as so pure that it was hangover free; I 
believe some governmental agency has since made them stop 
saying that. In any event, drinks like vodka and gin have 
fewer congeners, and are supposed to produce less of a hang- 
over, whereas drinks like whisky and red wine, which have 
lots of non-alcohol ingredients, are supposed to insure a big 
headache. Along these same lines is the idea that a toxic 
byproduct of alcohol metabolism (acetaldehyde), builds in the 
bloodstream and causes hangover. 

You’ve just opened your eyes to find yourself crumbled into 
a collapsed mess, hopefully in a bed, hopefully in somewhat 
familiar surroundings, but, worst of all, awake. Your mind 
gradually manages to reconstruct some sort of memory of some 
portion of the previous night’s activities. You feel like 
the worst part of hell …this is the cue for the proverbial 
“I’ll-never-drink-again” declaration. You need help. Quick. 

You are suffering from the Big Three: 

1. Dehydration – the alcohol has forced evaporation of a 
certain vital portion of the body’s water. 

2. Nervous shock – with alcohol you’re coming off the 
effects of a mild overdose of a depressant drug, so your 
nerves are displaying the great Newtonian natural law of 
action/reaction by going into a relatively hypersensitive 

3. Malnutrition – pumping all that alcohol and liquid 
through your body has effectively flushed away a significant 
supply of your storage of vitamins and nutrients, chemicals 
which would stimulate natural defense systems, but you’re 
running seriously low on them now. 

What you need to do is take some restorative steps to begin 
a recovery process. 

Hydrate…water, water, water. Gatorade, Diet Coke, juice. 
Tea sweetened with honey. 

It also means trying to eat something that will help to 
replace the nutrients you’ve lost. That really should be 
in the forms of fruits/vegetables, NOT fatty, greasy junk, 
not dairy foods, something that isn’t too tough on the 
already beat-up digestive system. 

Bananas are great for key vitamins….tomatoes! Strange but 
true. This sort of explains half of the reason that a Bloody 
Mary is the standard morning-after drink. 

So, next time, try it. Maybe a little light pasta with a 
meatless, greaseless, tomato sauce. Cold gazpacho or a mild 
salsa may work too, but your stomach will be in no mood for 
onions and peppers. 

A glass of V8 may be just the thing. Citrus juices tend to 
bother the stomach too; but tomatoes are highly acidic, so 
I can’t explain that part. 


So now that you know exactly how alcohol can affect your 
little ol’ body and what makes you likely to feel the 
aftereffects, it is time to figure out how to prevent a 
hangover. Prepare yourself even before you step out the 
door, by following these tips: 

* Don’t go out on an empty stomach. Granted, it’s completely 
unrealistic to ask you to pause and enjoy a healthy meal 
full of starches and stocked with essential minerals when 
you’re getting ready to have a night on the town. Also, 
launch your night with a double order of curly fries. The 
moderating effect this will have on the absorption of 
alcohol into your bloodstream in the short term may be more 
important than the clogged arteries in the long term. The 
reason that food is so important is because it’ll sop up 
the alcohol so that it doesn’t all go directly into the 

* Hydrate your body. An ounce of prevention is worth a 
pound of cure. Sure, you’ll probably still wake up at 
4 a.m. with hairbrush tongue and a desperate compulsion 
to hang your head under the faucet, but every glass of 
juice or water you force yourself to swallow now is worth 
two in the morning. Everyone knows that alcohol acts as 
a diuretic. In case all those trips to the bathroom didn’t 
tip you off, more is going out than coming in. You need to 
replace that liquid. 

So the lowdown is: eat, drink (water), and you’ll be merry 
in the morning. 


OK, so you’ve loaded up on food and water. Now you can 
start your drinking. But while you’re deciding whether 
you’d like a Fuzzy Navel or a Shirley Temple, there are a 
few things you can do while you’re drinking to lessen the 
effects of the alcohol: 

* Choose your drinks with care. There are poisons besides 
alcohol itself that contribute to a brutal hangover. Nasty 
chemicals called congeners occur naturally in all fermented 
drinks. The general rule is that darker drinks, such as 
red wine, bourbon, scotch, and brandy have more congeners 
than lighter drinks like white wine, vodka, and gin. But 
you should also keep in mind that whatever your drink’s 
color, the cheaper it is, the more poison will be in it. 
So avoid the cheap sauce. One further note: red wine 
contains an extra hangover-inducing poison all of its own 
called tyramine. So be especially careful with cheap red 

* Alternate alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic beverages. 
This simple measure will help keep you hydrated. A fruit 
juice (which is particularly good at re-hydrating the body) 
is an especially good choice. 

* Consume less than one drink per hour. Your liver breaks 
down alcohol at the rate of about a beer an hour, so 
spreading out the drinking over the course of an evening 
will lessen the likelihood of a hangover. 

TIPSY TIME…despite all your best efforts! 

* Don’t pass out! Your metabolism slows down when you’re 
asleep, so your body takes longer to process and safely 
dispose of all that alcohol. This is how hangovers happen. 

* You have to drink lots of water immediately. Remember 
dehydration is responsible for a major part of that 
hungover feeling. OK, you hate water – try Diet Coke or 
something, as long as it’s not full of sugar. Drink at 
least 2 big glasses of it, whatever it is. 

* You are going to stay awake for at least an hour, so 
chat with a friend (or the cat), make a cup of tea (not 
coffee – that just dehydrates you more), do anything that 
keeps you awake. 

Stay awake drinking water until you’re only about half as 
drunk as you were, if not exactly sober. Now, go to bed – 
and when you wake up you won’t feel nearly as ghastly as 
you would have without the extra awake time and the water. 
You may be pleasantly surprised by complete hangover 
absence if the impending hangover was likely to be mild; 
or if you were set for a major hangover, you’ll get a mild 
one instead. 

* In your list of hangover cures you mention taking aspirin, 
ibuprofen, or acetominophen. One thing you REALLY ought to 
be aware of — if you plan on living very long — is that 
acetominophen in combination with alcohol does HORRENDOUS 
liver damage. Alcohol alone damages the liver; and 
acetominophen (Tylenol ie.) does a little damage to the 
liver; but if you mix the two, the damage you incur is 
EXPONENTIAL. I’m sure you can find plenty of medical 
journals to calloborate this if you want to. This made 
news a while back. You can literally wreck your liver in 
a very short time if you mix Tylenol with alcohol. 

Aspirin upsets the stomach and aggravates the symptoms of 
a hangover. 

Ibuprofen is the best. Before you go to bed take 2 Advil 
(or any headache pill that is made of Ibuprofen). 

* If you want to take a pill, a multivitamin might help by 
replenishing some of the B vitamins you’ve quite literally 
pissed away during the course of the evening. Research has 
shown that B Vitamins are the first thing to be used up 
when the liver is processing alcohol. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: See a doctor IMMEDIATELY if you are 
experiencing tremors, stomach pain, or if you see blood 
in your vomit. These are indications that you have tippled 
way too much, and must get professional medical attention, 
(e.g., a stomach-pump at the local emergency room). Better 
safe than sorry. 

Before you go out put a glass of water next to your bed. 
Then drink it and put another one there for when you get 
home. Works best if you know where you’ll be sleeping. 

You can help your body to ease the pain and assist rapid 
recovery by trying a little-known substance called cysteine. 
Cysteine directly counteracts the poisonous effects of 
acetaldehyde. It can be found at vitamin shops. 

If necessary, follow up with a dose of Maalox, lots of 
Gatorade, and bouillon soup for dinner. These ingredients 
will rehydrate your body, replace essential vitamins and 
minerals, and help rid your body of some of the toxic by- 
products of metabolized alcohol. 

For a headache that drugs don’t seem to touch, try an ice- 
pack or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel, 20 
minutes on your head, 10 minutes off. 

You will require something protein-heavy for breakfast– 
avoid lots of sugar. You can have a cup of coffee now, 
and extra water. Go out and face the day! .