Where Did Peanut Allergies Come From?

Posted by: on Dec 23, 2013 | No Comments

The NJ Senate has passed a resolution to urge airlines to protect travelers with peanut allergies. Now, I don’t know about you but I did not know one person growing up who had peanut allergies. Didn’t even hear about them until I had kids of my own and they were in pre-school. So what I want to know is where did peanut allergies come from?

According to the good folks at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC, the rate of children suffering from peanut and/or other tree nut allergies tripled from 1997 to 2008.  Tripled!!! That’s a lot of kids in the span of about a decade.

With my curiosity piqued, I did a little digging. One theory is that clean living has caused this dramatic increase. In others, we are so quick to treat and prevent infections that we not only kill off the bad stuff, we also kill off the good stuff that helps prevent other bad stuff.

Linda and I know this from personal experience. When Allie was little, she was prone to sinus and ear infections. Some day I will tell you about the day she had her adenoids removed…that was fun…but I digress. Because she was constantly battling infections, she was also taking meds to fight off those infections. Little did we know that we were also stripping her immune system of the good bacteria everyone needs to fight off colds, infections and other of our bodies little enemies. Who knew that bacteria could be good for you? At one point in her teenage years, Allie was actually taking a probiotic supplement to help rebuild the good bacteria in her system. Luckily for us, of all the ailments that did afflict Allie (and the dozens more she thought she had) peanut allergies was not one of them.

I guess according to this theory, by trying to make our children healthier, we might be doing just the opposite. Maybe that’s a good analogy for how kids are raised in general these days. Maybe we try to do much. Maybe we don’t let them get sick, get dirty, learn to fail, learn to walk on their own. At least that’s the way the rest of you people raise your kids.

An IraSez Update, Tuesday, 12/24 at 2 PM
Wanted to add something to this after the original posting. I’m going with IraSez peanut allergy conspiracy theory. Your child gets sick; your child is prescribed meds from a big pharma company this is trying to recovering billions of R&D dollars; the meds not only cure your child but just so happen to have a nasty side effect or two, one of which completely strips away the good bacteria the immune system needs, so your child continues to get sick and continues to get more meds and develops allergies; allergies treated by big pharmas meds, not to mention the additional meds needed to rebuild the immune system. And you wonder why these folks are so afraid of medical marijuna (but that’s a whole other IraSez post).

The Victim Was Us

Posted by: on Dec 18, 2013 | No Comments

On Monday, I wrote about the recent tragic death of Dustin Friedland:

Beyond the normal emotions that I felt while reading and hearing about this tragedy, this one struck particularly close to home as the shooting occurred at The Mall at Short Hills, which is 5 minutes from my house;  and the victim was an SU alum (as am I, my wife, my daughter and soon to be my son) having graduated from the SU College of Law in 2009 and his wife SU Law ’11.

As you can tell by the title of the previous post, I didn’t know the victim. At least I didn’t know him personally but plenty of folks who read that post were quick to point out that I did in fact “know” the victim. The victim is us.

Dustin is us because his death touched our lives. Dustin is us because that could have been one of us. Dustin is us because the way he lived is the way we live. Dustin is us because he died fighting for the one he loved. But what I have found out over the past few days is that Dustin is us because his life touched my life and so many lives of people that touch my life.

Some folks call it 6 degrees of separation but I strongly believe it’s really only 2. Last January I wrote a blog post for the SU Alumni President’s blog entitled 2 Degrees of Otto:
I don’t want anyone to think I’m making light of this tragedy but to honor his life and to best exemplify how Dustin touched our lives, here are a few examples of 2 Degrees of Dustin:

  • A friend of mine and my former SU neighbor let me know that Dustin’s brother was one of her daughter’s teachers at her high school.
  • My god daughter (SU ‘ 12, mom is SU ’82) lives in NYC. Her roommate works with Dustin’s wife.
  • My daughter Allie lives in LA and works with a woman who is also SU Law ’11. This co-worker helped Dustin’s wife pick out her wedding dress.
  • I’m sure there are many more but I think you can see where I’m going with this.

So Dustin, I didn’t know you personally but your life and your wife’s life have touched so many people in so many different ways. I will miss not having the chance to meet you, not getting to play 2 degrees of separation so we can see how our lives paths have crossed and I will miss not knowing who you were before you were the victim. May you rest in peace and may your memory be a blessing to your wife, your family, to your friends and to all whose lives your life touched.

I Didn’t Know The Victim

Posted by: on Dec 16, 2013 | 3 Comments

Earlier today, when Channel 4 News called me to discuss last night’s tragic shooting at The Mall at Short Hills, I made it clear that “I didn’t know the victim.” That’s OK they told me. You live in town, you work in town, you are well connected to SU – the victims Law School alma mater. So they came to my office, interviewed me and went on their way. News at 6. Funny how a tragedy can strike so close to home, even when you don’t know the victim.

Last night at around 9:45, I got my first glimpse into an unfolding news story. Someone posted on twitter that a shooting was being reported at The Mall. I was upset but not so much so that I was going to miss the ending of Homeland but, as soon as the show was over, I grabbed my computer and started hunting for details.  At 10 PM last night, there was not much to tell. In an apparent carjacking, someone had been shot and taken to Morristown Hospital. No age, sex or details. This morning it was reported that the a young man had died but no name was being released. Still I don’t know the victim.

At about 10:30 this morning, many more details were being released. Dustin Friedland, age 30, was senselessly gunned down for his Land Rover. His wife was in the car but was left unharmed. Dustin was an 2009 graduate of the SU College of Law and his wife as SU Law ’09. He is not involved in the local alumni club (which I preside over) and still I don’t know the victim.

I take a brief moment and posted a note on the SUNNJAC twitter account mourning the loss of a local alum and don’t think much about. I don’t use that account often (preferring my IraSez account) and very rarely check for replies or messages but something told me to leave that webpage window open. An hour later, a Channel 4 reporter responds asking if there is someone at the club who can comment on Dustin’s death. A couple of twitter messages, an email and a couple of phone calls, and at 3:15 the camera is on.  All the while I keep stating I didn’t know the victim.

Now here I sit. My interview has aired, my 15 seconds of fame is done and I’m wishing it had never happened. Such a senseless loss. To be his wife, to be his parents, to be his friends.  And who am I in this? I’m a person speaking for my communities – home and alma mater. It touches me someplace down in my soul, makes me want to hug my children even harder than usual and brings tears to my eyes. And just think…I didn’t know the victim.

The Blogging Hat

Posted by: on Dec 12, 2013 | No Comments

Last night was the annual SUNNJAC holiday. As many of you know, this is my 9th year as president of the SU alumni club here in North Jersey or, as I prefer to look at it as the 3rd year of my 3rd three term (there was only supposed to be one!) and it looks like a 4th term is on the horizon.

The first (and not quite official) IraSez hat.

During my annual holiday party speech (you know there had to be a speech), my good friend and Orange alumni mentor Brian Spector, presented me with an @IraSez hat.  As Brian was presenting me that hat my first thought was “Shit! I haven’t written anything in a month.” My second thought was “Shit! Now I have to written something soon…real soon.”

Brian being Brian, I knew that the minute he gave me that hat, that he would take a picture of that hat and put the picture of that hat on facebook….and he did.  Thank you all for the great response to that picture and the picture of Linda and me (wearing that hat). Now the pressure was on.

Ever since I’ve started IraSez, I’ve written when the moment inspires me. I guess I haven’t really been inspired much these daze but that’s about to change. I’m actually in the process of launching a new and improved IraSez website. I’d like to tell you that I’m saving all my material for the launch of the new site but that would be a lie.  I’m just lazy sometimes.

I probably need to start writing my blogs the way I wrote my papers in college. Get totally jonesed on coffee and no-doz, stay up all night writing and see what happens. Worked more often than not but as one of my professors told me when I was handing in one of those papers having obviously pulled an all-nighter, “Mr. Berkowitz, you look like hell!”

Hoping to launch the new site in January. The site will feature regular IraSez blog posts, some links to other blogs I read and post on (mostly SU sports related), The “DailySez” where I plan to post quick thoughts on the day.  For example, my quick thought for today is “Why did Brian have to give me that damn hat!”

So, 3 weeks before New Year’s, I resolve to do more with IraSez, write more often, cover more topics, try to make you laugh, try to make you cry, try to make you think, try to make you read my blog so you will spread the word about IraSez, make me famous and maybe this thing will make me some damn money. At least enough to buy more hats.