Champagne and cupcakes, Trailer Park Boys, and hand sanitizers in massage practices

Holidays are all about tradition.

And nothing says tradition more than the Canadian TV show, Trailer Park Boys.

Amy and I have a polar bear that guards the compound during the long winter nights; we have champagne and cupcakes for birthday parties, and every Christmas Day, we gather round the hearth with whoever’s left in town, and watch the Trailer Park Boys Christmas Special.

Trailer Park Boys is a popular Canadian comedic mockumentary television series that ran from 2001 – 2007 and focused on the misadventures of a group of trailer park residents — primarily Ricky, Julian and Bubbles (right) — living in a fictional trailer park located in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

In the 2004 Christmas Special, Ricky interrupts the midnight mass to share the true meaning of the season:

“Sorry to interrupt, but I just had one of those brain-learning things pop into my head. …  What is Christmas? I just got out of jail, which was awesome, you know, they don’t have presents and lights and tress, we just get stoned and drunk, it’s the best time. And I get out here and I’m all stressed out. … That’s not what Christmas should be, you should be getting drunk and stoned with your friends and family, people that you love. … That’s Christmas. … Getting drunk and stoned with your families and the people that you love. And if you don’t smoke or drink, just spend time with your families. It’s awesome. Merry Christmas.

My mom and daughter Courtlynn spent the weekend in Manhattan (Kansas) for a little holiday cheer and to help celebrate Sorenne’s first birthday, and while we didn’t get drunk or stoned, we did just spend time with our family and friends.

My other favorite Christmas movie, Mystery, Alaska, features Russell Crowe as a hockey-playing sheriff in the town of Mystery, Alaska. The 1999 movie has nothing to do with Christmas but oozes a Jimmy Stewart kind of sentimentality as a fictional small-town hockey team plays a game against the New York Rangers.

One of the best segments is Canadian Mike Myers (party on, Garth) as play-by-play analyst Donnie Shulzhoffer, who asks during one of the breaks, “Anyone know where a guy can get a rub and a tug in this town?”

Which raises a question: should hand sanitizers be used in a massage parlor, or by massage therapists?

The Institute for Integrative Healthcare Studies has concluded – maybe.

With the rising popularity of hand sanitizers, some therapists are opting to rub an alcohol-based gel between their hands in lieu of scrubbing with soap and water. While hand sanitizers have revolutionized how we practice infection control, it may not always be the best choice for massage therapists.

Bodyworkers’ hands function as their primary tools. Because their tools are reused on each and every client, keeping their hands free of pathogens is a prerequisite to being a responsible therapist. Bodyworkers must wash their hands:

· Before and after eating
· Before and after using the restroom
· Before and after each interaction with a client

At first thought, bodyworkers may think that hand sanitizers save them time during their requisite hand cleansing. However, further investigation shows that this assumption is not accurate. In addition, hand sanitizers may kill most types of bacteria and viruses but they are not sufficient for removing body fluids from the hands. Thus, the old-fashioned approach using water, soap and a towel remains the preferred way for massage therapists to achieve clean, hygienic hands.

Happy Birthday, Sorenne, and thanks to everyone who came by for champagne and cupcakes.

McDonald’s fillet-o-fish is really fish

Putting aside years of conspiracy theories, the Miami Herald commissioned Nova Southeastern professor Mahmood Shivji’s to use DNA fingerprinting technology to confirm that the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwich is actually made of fish.

Alaska pollock.

McDonald’s corporate website identifies pollock as one of two fish sources for its decades-old fish sandwich (the other being hoki, a fish found off the coasts of New Zealand and Australia).

Both fish species are recognized as sustainable, well-managed fisheries — meaning Filet-O-Fish lovers can feel good that their guilty pleasure won’t harm Mother Nature’s marine ecosytems.

Confirmed: birds poop on peas in field, sicken 99 with campylobacter in Alaska

Sarah Palin, look at what is going on in your own backyard while you’re getting people all excited with your Katie Couric interviews.

New molecular laboratory findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide a firm link between an outbreak of Campylobacter diarrhea that occurred in Southcentral Alaska this summer and eating uncooked peas grown in Alaska.

"Molecular studies demonstrated that there was a match between Campylobacter bacteria obtained from sick people and those obtained from pea and Sandhill Crane samples taken from the farm in Palmer," said Dr. Tracie Gardner, an epidemiologist with the Alaska Division of Public Health.

To date, the investigation has identified 99 people sickened by the bacteria who reported eating raw peas within 10 days of illness onset. Fifty-four had laboratory confirmation of illness. Five were hospitalized. None have died.

Investigation revealed a lack of chlorine in the water used to wash the peas at the farm. State officials are working with the farm to implement future control measures.

Yes, chlorinated water could be part of the economic bailout to boost health-care reform. Over to you, Sarah.

Sarah Palin: what will you do about sandhill cranes pooping on peas and giving Alaskans campylobacter?

We can’t kill all the birds. That’s my usual response when talking about the practicality of on-farm food safety systems for fresh produce. Yes, birds are salmonella and campylobacter factories. But, as a farmer, you do what you can to reduce risk.

It now appears that the 18 people in Alaska sick with campylobacter got it from eating raw peas from a farm, where apparently sandhill cranes were crapping all over the peas.

The Anchorage Daily News says that Joe McLaughlin, state epidemiologist with the state health department, said Thursday afternoon the likely culprits in spreading the illness in Mat-Su are sandhill cranes.

Apparently the migratory birds love the peas in Mat-Valley Peas’ fields. And what geese can do to a sidewalk, cranes do to a field.

"The farmer thinks that’s the likely scenario," McLaughlin said. "He has another field with cattle nearby, but it’s highly plausible that the cranes’ poop is the cause."

Duane Clark, who markets the peas for longtime grower John Hett, said, "They don’t have proof we’re the ones, and we don’t have proof we’re not."

"I’ve been farming for over 30 years," Hett said, "and never had a problem."

Shayne Herr, Hett’s son-in-law and manager of the farm, said, "If DEC’s concerned, we’re concerned." He said his family eats raw peas all the time, "and we never get diarrhea. We wash them and we’re fine. If we don’t like them, we don’t sell them."

It’s a new marketing slogan: our food is fine cause we don’t get diahhrea.

What would Sarah Palin do? Peas in Alaska source of campylobacter, 18 sickened

My mom was a hockey mom. She and dad drove me all around Ontario to play hockey. I still remember the brawl between some of the hockey moms when we played Galt (before it was Cambridge). The cops were called. I may have been 13. My mom wasn’t involved (at least she won’t admit she was involved).

I coached and helped out with my four girls playing hockey, so I guess I was a hockey dad. I’m not a pit bull and don’t wear lipstick.

Sarah Palin may be a hockey mom who thinks the Flintstones are an accurate representation of human-dinosaur co-habitation and is open to war with Russia, but what I’d really like to hear about is how the vice-presidential candidate responds to foodborne illness in her own backyard.

The Anchorage Daily News reports that a farm in the Matanuska Valley has been called the focal point of a campylobacter outbreak that has sickened at least 18 people in Southcentral Alaska after they ate raw peas.

Mat-Valley Peas in Palmer sells the peas in 5- and 10-pound bags with cooking instructions that would have prevented the outbreak, but some retailers and sellers at farmers markets have repackaged the peas in smaller quantities and left out the cooking instructions, said Joe McLaughlin, state epidemiologist with the health department.

The first of the 18 cases, including one person who was hospitalized, occurred Aug. 1.

And my mom, she never had to brag about being a hockey mom. She was the real deal.