Friday, July 31, 2009

Where is Superman?

With the 100+ degree temperatures down here in the Valley, you'd imagine there would be many an occasion where eating ice cream sounds like the best thing ever!! So I figured that I wouldn't be able to find Mackinac Island Fudge or Traverse City Cherry, two great Michigan flavors, but there would be Superman ice cream.

Yes yes, I know, Superman flavor is for little kids, all the fun colors and weird flavors. But you can't deny that every once and a while Superman sounds like the best idea, or at least Blue Moon, if you want to pretend that you're a bit more of an adult. :) Guess what!?!? No one down here has ever even heard of Superman or Blue Moon, what they ate as I child I do not know, but seriously who hasn't even heard of Superman. After scowling the grocery store, sure that they had to have something with all of the colors and odd flavors of Superman, just maybe under a different name, but no, they don't have it down here, so I came home and did some research on it. And guess what I found...

Superman and Blue Moon ice cream are Michigan things: created, made, and enjoyed all in Michigan, no where else. So where in Michigan you ask... "The best answer I’ve found so far comes from Jim Karnopp, owner of Ypsilanti’s Cafe Luwak, who says he’s pretty sure the original recipe came from Stroh's, the famous (now defunct) Detroit brewery, who began producing ice cream during prohibition." Who knew?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Presentation Day

So this week for the Monday series all of the interns had to present what they had been working on all summer. So here's what I presented:

I found out right after this presentation that there had been some issues in recruiting people for this program, so instead of the intervention being run on the dates listed above it will be run later in September/October.

So with a little over three weeks left of my internship, I've started two new projects, focusing one evaluation. One will be looking at some of the data collected at the Farmer's Market here in Brownsville. This data will be used as baseline data to convince funders of the potential that this market has in this area and the need for their continued support.

The second new project is policy based. The short of a long story is the Southern Texas Counties were given a large amount of money (after they went through the legislature to get it) that goes into action on September 1st. The counties get money for the next two years and is to be used for community health in these counties. Some counties have proper programs already set up to do community health and others will be starting up these programs. Cameron County will be at the forefront of this action, since there is a community-involved School of Public Health in the county. Not only does there need to be programs set up, there also has to be ways to measure how the money is being used in relation to community health--this is where an evaluation program comes in. Within the next year, individuals will have to begin reapplying for the state grant.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Dean's Talk

The Dean at the University of Texas School of Public Health at Brownsville is Dr. Joseph McCormick. He spoke on Monday about "The Origin of the HIV Epidemic." Dr. McCormick was involved in the early 1980's with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as part of their AIDS studies. After his involvement in the first African investigation in Kinshasa where they found that the number of partners highly correlated to AIDS. Also while in Africa, he discovered the long history of disease that had been in primates which he connects to the start of AIDS. Primates were hunted for meat and sold in bush meat markets. Dr. McCormick proposes that as humans hunted, cut, and handled monkey meat, a primate disease was passed to humans.

This infection still wouldn't create the HIV/AIDS that we have today. Due to the large diversity and different tribes, there was not much contact between groups. Urbanization in the 1980's created lifestyle changes that allowed for easy spread of HIV/AIDS. Multiple wars also hightened HIV/AIDS and allowed for the epidemic we have now.

Dr. Joe McCormick and his wife Dr. Sue Fisher-Hoch wrote the book "Level 4: Virus Hunters of the CDC" from there many experiences in Public Health. All of the interns here are reading the book and learning about all of the cool things these two have done.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dodge Ball!!

The Recreation Center here on campus had a dodge ball tournament this past Friday. Since physical activity is emphasized so much at the School of Public Health, the interns all decided that we should create a team and compete. Our team efficacy was low, having not played dodge ball in years (probably not since Junior High for all of us), but we were up for the challenge and just said that we would be happy if we stayed in for longer than 20 seconds. And we did!!! We actually took 2nd in the whole competition, 1st place got a t-shirt so we were fighting for that in our last round. But the opponent team had clearly more experienced dodge ball players. Here's some photos though for your enjoyment. :)

Our Fearless Dodge Ball team-- the "Level 4 Virus Hunters"

Waiting for the whistle

Celebrating a victory!! Woohoo

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Why Brownsville?

Monday's lecture was back to behavioral science, yay!! This lecture by Dr Jennifer L. Gay focused on why she decided to come to Brownsville and what projects she's working on here. Most of her work here at the University focuses on obesity and exercise. Studies on physical activity have shown decreases in cancer rates, diabetes rates, depression and increased mood.

Some of Dr. Gay's research has shown that 26.1% or above of Texan's report not doing any physical activity in the past month. In Michigan the rates are 21.3-23.2%. Only 1/3 of kids are reported being physically active, this leads quite directly to the 80% of adults who are obese. This is a national issue, with the top 3 reasons people die being due to tobacco use, poor nutrition, and a lack of physical activity.

Although it's easy just to tell someone "go exercise" it's not as simple to actually follow through. The Ecological Model shows there are intrapersonal, interpersonal, community, institutional, and policy levels to any change. Specifically motivation, social support, and a proper built environment. Here in Brownsville, factors against a proper built environment include extreme heat in the summer, stray dogs on the streets, a lack of sidewalks, and improper use of bike lanes (drivers use them as right turn lanes here).

Dr. Gay also does some research with youth on their perceptions of their bodies "not fitting into the various athlete categories" right before puberty and the decrease in physical activity that also occurs around this time.

At the rate obesity has been growing for the past few years, by "2030 all Americans will be obese if we don't do anything!" This leaves so much room for individuals in public health to work.

An interesting quote: "With the invention of the washing machine, we have engineered physical activity out of our lives."

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Independence Day--Brownsville Style

The July 4th weekend was a lot of fun. The one and only Jessica Schulte came to visit for the weekend and to experience Brownsville for herself :) We had a great time, discovering a new beachfront.

You follow a road here, called Boca Chica, going east and then after quite a while you see a sign that says road ends in 1500 feet and then, boom the road ends (just like it said it would, haha). We attempted to drive a bit on the sand like the other vechicles did, but then realized it wasn't going to happen when we saw our friends pushing their 4-wheel drive vechicle and we only had 2-wheel drive... not good. Unlike the Island, there's nothing around, so it's more of a private beach, would be great for beach camping.

Later that evening we went to the Brownsville Sports Park for food, fireworks, and fun. :) There was the Texas Army National Guard 36th Infantry Division Band playing marches for the first while and then as it got dark, fireworks were launched off to patriotic, country music, in true Texas style. Afterwards a hip-hop/cumbia group called Kingz-1, formally called the Kumbia Kings, played a concert.

It was a unique evening of American/Hispanic celebration, in true Brownsville-style.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Michigan Mitten, how do the other states live?

Everyone who lives in Michigan knows just how cool and handy, only slight pun intended, using your hand(s) as a map of the state is.
For instance, home for me is on the left side of my palm, and I go to school over in the crease of my thumb and palm, Mackinac Island is at the tip of my middle finger, and Traverse City is over by my pinky finger :)

Here’s some Texans who wish their state was as cool as Michigan, thanks Katie!!

Enjoy!! More updates to come soon!

101 degrees

Yes you read that correct, we went into the triple digits this week. Hot stuff!!

This past week has been fairly busy, two other interns and I moved into a house that we’re house sitting at. I went from this to this . Here are some other photos from the house. I think my favorite room is the kitchen, we can actually cook meals, no more microwave meals, yay!! Plus they have all of these cookbooks from around the world, so there's lots of different things to try. And the three patios are awesome, they're all screened in. The only stipulations that the owners have are that we water their plants and trees (which you can see there are a lot) and that we don’t turn the A/C below 80 degrees. :(

Monday morning in Matamoros, Mexico makes for a nice alliteration and a made for a fun morning. This Monday I went with two UT SPH staff to do a focus group with a group of women in a colonia at the border. The television station that gives the Tu Salud Si Cuenta program free airtime, asks the University to do these focus groups. We focused on participants opinions of canal siete and other television channels that they like/dislike and why they feel the way they do. We showed clips of the Tu Salud Si Cuenta segment and asked for their thoughts of the content, the set, and the people within the clips. We also asked a few questions about the radionovela program that we’ll be starting this month. It was really interesting talking with all of the women and hearing their thoughts on the television clips and radio episodes and how their lives and their family’s lives relate or don’t relate to the media around them. They were extremely open with us.

Monday afternoon, as a part of the lecture series, Dr. Loubna Tazi spoke about Molecular Epidemiology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in Casablanca, Morocco. There are 14 million deaths due to infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria. There are two different clarifications of TB, MDR (multiple drug resistance) and XDR (extensively drug resistant). MDR-TB is resistant to two of the first-line drugs, where as XDR-TB is resistant to all first-line drugs (3) and at least one secondary-line drug. In Morocco there are 30,000 new cases yearly, 1/5th of these cases are in Casablanca. Dr. Tazi has made a strong report for the ancient orient of TB in Morocco. There was lots of biology to get to this point, which I can’t exactly say I understood. However, I can say that it’s a good thing that some people enjoy and understand biology. There’s a lot of work in the field to be done and this type of work is not exactly cut out for the entire population, so it’s a good thing those involved really enjoy it. Good news though, we go back to behavioral health topics on Monday, yay!!