Category Archives: Health and Wellness


A fascinating family memoir by Boston journalist and author Patrick Tracey is the story of one Irish-American’s search for the origins of the schizophrenia that has plagued his family for five generations in Ireland and America. Rather than subjecting the reader to a depressing journey through multi-generational insanity, Patrick Tracey explores his “family secret” through an often amusing, and always informative, travelogue through the Irish countryside, history, mythology and psychology. Beyond the original premise of his journey, Tracey’s book also examines the current, conflicted Irish perspective on Irish-Americans, the “in’s and out’s” of life in Irish campgrounds and the keys to finding people and places in a land where road signs and directions are often unfathomable.

Of course, the greatest mystery that Tracey explores is schizophrenia itself, a misunderstood medical condition that is frighteningly common among all nationalities. A disorder that suddenly traps young adults in perpetual waking nightmares, full of loud voices and sensory hallucinations, the causes and treatment of schizophrenia remain elusive. The information that Tracey provides about this particularly tragic medical mystery was surprising to me, disabusing me of some commonly-held misconceptions.

Anyone familiar with South Florida’s downtowns and urban parks knows that schizophrenics are a common sight here. “Mainstreaming” and the closing of most mental hospitals here and across America have resulted in thousands of schizophrenics being put out onto the streets to fend for themselves. After reading Tracey’s book, I can’t ever again look at these “street people” with casual annoyance or indifference.

Visit the STALKING IRISH MADNESS website at:

Find STALKING IRISH MADNESS in a library near you on Worldcat.


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4th of July Fireworks

The 4th of July and fireworks are often synonymous here in Florida.  High powered fireworks are sold at hundreds of retail outlets and tent sales across the state.  In many Florida communities, the night of July 4th often looks and sounds as if we were living in a war zone.  In truth, fireworks are responsible for deaths and serious injuries on the scale of a real war. 

In 2009 alone, there were at least two fireworks-related deaths and 8,800 fireworks-related emergency room visits in the USA, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.  The vast majority of these injuries were related to consumer fireworks, not professional displays.   The best way to safely enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks display, where your safety is protected by professionals.

If you hold your own amateur fireworks display, follow some common-sense safety tips:  One way to protect yourself during fireworks displays is to view them from a spot where a structure or fence stands between you and the launch site.  Supervise kids closely—children under 15 account for 40 percent of the injuries.  And go easy on the beer.  “Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.”  Be especially careful where you set off fireworks, and clean up the debris afterwards.   

Last year, Florida environmental activist Shirley Reynolds complained to the City of Daytona Beach and the State of Florida, alleging that fireworks were harming shore birds and other wildlife.  “You had sea turtles ingesting fireworks debris,” Reynolds said.  Many fireworks contain a salt called perchlorate.  In theory, it should be fully consumed during the chemical reaction, but scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency recently found that perchlorate from fireworks can make its way into the environment.  From 2004 to 2006, EPA researchers collected samples from an Oklahoma lake after fireworks shows.  Each time, the water’s perchlorate concentration spiked to up to 1,000 times above normal, and didn’t return to normal levels until as many as 80 days later.  David Parker, an environmental chemistry professor at the University of California, Riverside, says that raises concerns that perchlorate, which may impair cognitive and physical development in fetuses and infants, could contaminate drinking water.

Personal and environmental injuries aren’t the only hazard.  A few years ago, in Palm Beach County, a prominent Irish-American attorney lost her home when a roman candle from a neighbor’s yard landed on her roof and burned the very expensive home to the ground.  Imagine the financial consequences of the lawsuit that resulted from that one careless backyard blunder.

If you set off your own 4th of July fireworks here in Florida, protect yourself, your loved ones, your neighbors and our beautiful and fragile Florida environment.  See the full article “10 Things the Fireworks Industry Won’t Say” by clicking HERE.


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