High-Tech Amish Country Weekend


So, the internet is awesome. We just had a high-tech Amish weekend. I was able to find a bunch of area attractions and restaurants online before our trip. I even went crazy enough to make a spreadsheet beforehand of possible attractions. I had links to their site, other noted sites, and any online coupons that I found.  I even added the latitude & longitude thanks to Google maps, so I could make a custom POI file (complete with a custom icon) to export to the Garmin. We didn’t hit all the attractions that I had discovered beforehand, and we hit a few that I didn’t find ahead of time… but it really helped us plan our time so we weren’t rushed & so we were always moving in the right direction.  It was OCD-level madness, but it helped make an easy time of things once we were there…

..and it was easy to refer to once I popped it up in Google Documents, whenever we were at the hotel or some place with WiFi.  It was lightning quick to check prices, hours, and anything else I needed to know.  If they didn’t have something listed on their site, I emailed them ahead of time… and most were quick & gracious with answers.

Here’s a revised list of the places we did end up visiting:

…and a Google Map of all the attractions is here: Lancaster PA Road Trip

In the next few posts, I’d like to detail what we did & finally where we ate.  (Still waiting for UrbanSpoon & AllergyEats to add one more place where we ate before I do the full food review blog…)

From FAI :: “Give It Up!” for Food Allergy Awareness Week!


From the FAI

—– Forwarded Message —–
From: Food Allergy Initiative <info@faiusa.org>
To: [-mE.]
Sent: Monday, May 9, 2011 4:26 PM
Subject: Fw: FAAW – FAI’s Give It Up Campaign & Poster Contest

Food Allergy Initiative
Food Allergy Awareness Week — May 8 thru 15, 2011

“Give It Up!” for Food Allergy Awareness Week

Food Allergy Awareness Week is here! Join FAI’s 2011 “Give It Up” advocacy campaign and show your support for the 12 million Americans with food allergies—including some 3 million children. Here’s how it works:

  • Show your support by giving up a favorite food for the week, a day, or just one meal.
  • Write your elected officials, urging them to increase federal funding for research that will lead to a cure. (If you wish, you can add your story to the letters we’ve prepared for you.) The federal government only spends about $28 million a year on food allergy research—far less than on other important diseases. It’s time to solve this major public health problem!
  • Enter our poster contest! Enter on your own, or have family and friends join in the fun. You could win a Divvies gift certificate!
Since 2007, Food Allergy Awareness Week has put the spotlight on life-threatening food allergies. FAI and other concerned organizations will be conducting activities throughout the week.

JOIN THE CAMPAIGN TODAY AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Please help us get the word out! Share this e-mail—and be sure to take a look at these news stories:
  • NBC Nightly News and MSNBC ran a compelling three-part story on the impact of food allergies on children, which cites results from an upcoming FAI-sponsored study and features interviews with 6-year-old Lily Martin and 15-year-old Morgan Smith—Colorado students with life-threatening food allergies.
  • Read a statement from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases—the agency responsible for most federally funded food allergy research.

Our Mission

FAI supports research to find a cure for life-threatening food allergies; clinical activities to improve diagnosis and treatment; public policy to increase federal funding for research and create safer environments for those afflicted; and educational programs to make the hospitality industry, schools, day care centers, and camps safer.
Food Allergy Initiative
515 Madison Avenue, Suite 1912 | New York, NY 10022-5403
Phone: 855-FAI-9604 | Fax: 917-338-5130 | info@faiusa.org
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Copyright © 2011 Food Allergy Initiative. All Rights Reserved.

That’s right, it’s FOOD ALLERGY AWARENESS WEEK!

Aller-G’s


…Saw some more cool tweets about allergies today, again from pnutfreeworld.  They all caught my eye, and put me in a slightly better mood.  I’m not allergic to peanuts, but a lot of other people out there are.  I’m allergic to shellfish, and all of us that suffer from severe allergies need to stick together… so I’ve been following allergy issues on the web more & more.  I thought I might share with the hopes that if you’re out there suffering form allergies, and you happen to stumble upon this blog… you’ll know that there’s a bunch of us out here… or if you have a friend or family member that suffers form allergies, this may offer you some insight into their world.

The first one that jumped out at me today, was this one…

Law Makes Allergies a Restaurant’s Responsibility, Too – A Massachusetts Regulation Requires Restaurants to Get Food Allergy Training

If you saw my blog the other day about the two thrilling tweets, this would be the conclusion.  Apparently it passed! I know… this is odd for me to celebrate.  Normally, I’m anti- anything that has to do with making more rules & regulations or expanding government.  But, this just hits too close for me on a personal level to not be behind it.  I just hope they go about it efficiently.

Basically, the law says that if you’re a customer, you need to speak up and inform the restaurant of your allergy, and if you’re a restaurant, it’s your responsibility to have all of your employees trained and certified on allergy safety and cross contamination issues.  I realize that this is not a fool-proof system, and that I don’t even live near Massachusetts, but it gives me hope that other states may one day follow suit.  I now have something concrete to write about to my local politicians… and say “hey, look… they’re doing something that makes sense”.

Sadly, the legislation doesn’t seem to point to chain restaurants… like Subway, where cross-contamination with the seafood sub is a major issue.  It does, however, give me hope that I will someday be able to dine in an upscale restaurant with no abnormal concern for my safety.

If you’ve read my trifecta of tirades on the food industry & cleanliness & allergy issues, (That’s 1, 2, & 3) then you know that there are others out there who think that implementing such training would not only be impractical, but it would be just not done at all or treated like a joke from all concerned parties.  I really, really hope that’s not the case once this is put into effect.  I would hope that this would be an issue that’s handled quite seriously… it is, after all, a life-or-death issue.

The second article’s title made me think, “damn right”…

Food on the road can be a minefield – Taking steps to minimize the risks from allergies

Now, this is from a Canadian publication, and they seem to have a lot more government regulation already… but I don’t really support banning things like they seem to want to do.  Education and training is what we need. This article is a nice list of websites and literature that you can look to for support in dining out while traveling abroad.

I’m going to have to look into these sites a little more, and see if there’s anything worth noting or sharing.

There are two not mentioned in the article that look promising… but they really need their databases updated if they’re going to be useful at all:  Can I Eat There? & Shellfish Free

I’m also hoping UrbanSpoon.com one day makes note of more than just gluten-allergy friendly restaurants… and picks up on the big 8.

This last one is cool on a geek front as well as an allergy front…

Peanut Allergy Blocker On The Way

The concept just blows my mind.  I’ve said before… even if I was given a cure tomorrow, I doubt I’d ever even want shellfish at this point… but at least I’d be able to eat food off of the same grill or out of the same fryer without hesitation or anaphylactic repercussions.

I’ve read a lot about the causes of allergies… and asked a lot of questions of doctors.  It’s amazing how much they don’t know… but this article is very enlightening, and it’s all broken down so it’s easy to understand:

Dr Suphioglu said that the work being done by his team also has potential benefits for all allergy sufferers. “Taking a step further back in how an allergic reaction occurs, we are also carrying out research into how we can prevent the allergen specific antibodies from being produced at all.

“In an allergic reaction, the body produces cell signalling molecules called cytokines to trigger the production of antibodies. If we can neutralise the cytokines involved with the allergic reaction, we can potentially block or reduce the production of the antibodies. In recent preliminary results we have successfully identified a substance that interacts with one of the key cytokines involved in the allergic reaction. We are now assessing the capacity of this substance to block or reduce antibody production in the allergic reaction.”

Dr Suphioglu is confident that his team’s allergy research work will result in better treatments for allergy sufferers. “I believe our research into understanding the molecular and allergenic properties of major peanut allergens together with our work on how to prevent or inhibit allergic reactions will contribute to the development of safer and more effective methods for peanut allergy diagnosis, prevention and treatment as well as benefit sufferers of other allergies.”

I’ve read a bunch of articles pertaining to the links between asthma and dust mite allergies and their relation to the severe shellfish allergies.  It’s really interesting stuff.  I hope all of these studies merge in the near future, and perhaps there will be an end to all my allergy-related rants!