TriMet surprises 102-year-old East Portland rider Vida Trout with 'birthday bus' (video)

Vida Trout gave up driving nine years ago.

Living in East Portland's Hazelwood neighborhood, she realized she could just walk to her daily destinations. For longer trips, Trout started riding TriMet.

On Wednesday, Trout turns 102.

Oregon's largest transit agency marked the occasion a day early by sending a No. 15 "birthday bus" to pick up Trout at 102nd Avenue and East Burnside Street.

Vida waited at the stop with her daughter Miriam, grandson Ryan and two great-grandchildren, Lauren and Nolan. "She looked shocked by the overhead sign (reading 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY VIDA') as the bus approached," said TriMet spokeswoman Angela Murphy. "When she boarded with her family she went directly to speak with the operator, not noticing the cameras and eyes trained on her."

Every week, Trout walks more than a mile to volunteer at Portland Adventist Hospital. She also attends church every Sunday, makes quilts for the Shepherd's Door, a mission for women and children, and takes a regular tai chi class.

Trout and her late husband, Harvey, graduated from the University of Oregon in 1933, where she studied nutrition.

"Some may question if Vida will be able to use TriMet's birthday gift of a lifetime pass for very long," Murphy said. "Considering her older sister has already celebrated her 104th birthday, we know Vida will."

Said Trout: "I don't mind being this old, as long as I can stay well."

-- Joseph Rose

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Simple Blood Test May Be Able To Predict Suicide Risk


By J Baulkman, UniversityHerald Reporter (

Researchers from John Hopkins University have discovered a genetic indicator of a person's vulnerability "to the effects of stress and anxiety and, therefore, the risk of suicidal thoughts or attempts." The findings could lead to the development of a future took of prevention to lower suicide rates.

"We have found a gene that we think could be really important for consistently identifying a range of behaviors" having to do with suicide, said Zachary Kaminsky, study researcher and an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine.

For the study, the research team studied about 150 postmortem brain samples of healthy people and those with mental illness, including some who had committed suicide. They found that a genetic mutation, in a gene called SKA2, was more common among the people who committed suicide.

The researchers then tested blood samples from more than 300 participants to determine whether these genetic changes could predict a person's risk of having suicidal thoughts or attempting suicide.

They correctly identified 80 percent to 96 percent of people who experienced suicidal thoughts or attempted suicide, Live Science reported. The model was more accurate among people with a severe high risk for suicide.

Kaminsky noted that while the biomarker indicates a person's vulnerability to stress and anxiety, SKA2 does not make a person "destined to experience suicidal thoughts and could equally show a person's resilience," The Washington Post reported.

He said the genetic changes in SKA2 may be involved in shutting down the body's response to stress.

He likened the genetic changes to "faulty brakes on a car: Without stress, it's like having a parked car with bad brakes, but once stress occurs, having brakes that work is important, or else the car can get out of control," Live Science reported.

Their findings could lead to a blood test for suicide risk that could determine how closely a person needs to be monitored for suicide risk.

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Weekday heart attacks still getting quicker treatment at hospitals


People who arrive at the hospital with a heart attack during business hours are more likely to survive than those who show up on weeknights, weekends or holidays, according to a new study.

Rates of death in the hospital are very low overall, at just over 4 percent, the researchers found. But some life-saving treatments can take longer to get to patients during off hours, which makes care less than optimal, they write.

It was actually surprising how similar quality of care seemed to be for working hours and after hours in the hospital, and even for balloon angioplasty, there was only a difference of 16 minutes, said study author Dr. Jorge F. Saucedo of the NorthShore University Health System in Evanston, Illinois.

In the most severe heart attacks, a blood vessel in the heart is completely blocked. Using a catheter to thread a balloon into the blocked artery can immediately restore blood flow.

In the new study, which included more than 50,000 severe heart attacks between 2007 and 2010 in the U.S., patients who arrived at the hospital during work hours took an average of 56 minutes to have angioplasty, the balloon procedure. For those who arrived on nights or weekends, the average wait time was 72 minutes.

Both times fall within the American Heart Association’s recommendation of no more than 90 minutes wait for angioplasty. The time to patients getting imaging or medication was the same for both groups, according to the results in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

When the researchers adjusted for a variety of patient characteristics, they found those who arrived at the hospital during off hours were about 13 percent more likely to die from any cause.

The proportion of patients who had angioplasty within the recommended 90 minutes was 89 percent during the weekdays and 79 percent during off hours.

All in all, the numbers are better than in past studies, the authors note in their report, and in most categories there were no differences in treatment based on when patients arrived at the hospital.

Management of these severe heart attacks seems to have improved greatly over the past several years, said Dr. Rodrigo Estévez-Loureiro of the interventional cardiology unit at Complejo Asistencial Universitario de León in Spain.

“Differences observed in (door to balloon) times, although statistically significant, are not clinically relevant between off and on-hours,” Estévez-Loureiro, who was not involved in the new study, told Reuters Health by email.

A 16-minute delay likely will not influence overall mortality from the heart attacks he said.

“Also surprising was the very low in- hospital mortality for both groups,” Saucedo told Reuters Health.

The hospital catheterization laboratory, where angioplasties are performed, is fully staffed during the day but most hospitals in the U.S. do not staff the lab after hours, he said. When a heart attack patient arrives on a night or weekend, staff members are paged and have to drive to the hospital from their homes.

To make angioplasty wait times equal day and night, catheterization labs would have to be fully staffed 24-hours per day, but currently the financial and logistical costs would be too high to recommend that, Saucedo said by email.

Patients may have waited longer to come to the hospital with heart attack symptoms in the middle of the night, which might have contributed to the increased risk of death, he noted. All things considered, the management and outcomes for people with severe heart attacks after hours was very good.

One takeaway message for patients, he said, is to come to the hospital as soon as you have symptoms of a heart attack, including tightness of the chest, excess sweating, weakness and light-headedness.

Estévez-Loureiro recommended calling an ambulance to get to the hospital, since medical personnel may be able to verify if you are having a heart attack on the way and start administering treatment and call the catheterization lab en route.

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5 things not to buy at dollar stores

By Quentin Fottrell, MarketWatch


Dollar Tree’s DLTR -1.11%  announcement that it will buy Family Dollar Stores FDO -0.46%  for $8.5 billion shows that while dollar stores were once an afterthought in the retail industry, they have become an increasingly important player — for investors and consumers.

Big box discount retailers and so-called dollar stores (which are known for deep discounts but do price some items at more than $1), have been battling for years. Target Corp. TGT +0.18%  , Wal-Mart WMT -0.61%  and even Walgreen WAG -0.11%   have experimented with their own take on the dollar format.

With so many players slugging it out for customers, it’s hard to know where to find the best deals. MarketWatch spoke to retail experts, who advised choosing wisely on everything from vitamins to spatulas and paper towels and sunglasses.

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“When I shop at the dollar store, I stick to greeting cards, party supplies, movie snacks, puzzle books and seasonal décor,” says Kendal Perez, blogger for Light artificial maple syrup is a good buy, adds Edgar Dworsky, founder of Bleach toilet tablets, alas, were hit and miss, he adds. When it comes to extension cords or power strips, always check for the “UL” international safety certification label, Perez says, while zinc-carbon heavy duty batteries don’t always have as much stored energy as name-brand or lithium batteries.

“There are often coupons available for the dollar store,” says Andrea Woroch, consumer savings expert with Kinoli, an online marketing firm based in Windsor, Colo. Check out the company’s own websites and apps such as’s free mobile coupon app for online deals, she says. But dollar stores often don’t stock the best-known brands and some items need close inspection.

Here are five other items that may not be the best choice at a dollar store:

Bath towels

“Avoid bath towels,” says Brent Shelton, spokesman for deal site The brands in the discount stores tend to fade, shrink and curl faster than higher priced towels, he says. “Even the crazy towel deals from the big box retailers on Black Friday are a risk for getting quality towels,” he says. “Hold out for January White Sales when stores like Macy’s M -0.09%   move quality inventory at discount prices. In fact, a recent survey by rated the 1888 Mills Luxury cotton bath towel ($19.99 on AMZN +0.25%  ) as No. 1 out of 10 tested based on price, drying time, absorbency and durability, and rated WestPoint Home’s Lasting Color No. 1 in the budget category ($5.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond BBBY +0.10%  ).

Children’s toys

A lot of toys that end up on shelves at dollar stores are from the last season or toys that didn’t sell so well in places like Toys “R” Us, says Christopher Byrne, content director of Water blasters from lesser known brands may be prone to leaking, lose power and are frustrating to play with, he says. After testing bubble solutions, he recommends two brands — Gazillion Bubbles and Imperial’s Miracle Super Bubbles. Dollar stores do have some good deals and often some decent quality stuff from established brands, he says, “but if you’re buying at a dollar store, your expectations should be in line with what you’re spending. Definitely stock up on small toys that are good for birthday party favors.” Be careful when buying toys anywhere, especially if it’s a brand or type you don’t recognize. They could be poor quality or pose safety hazards.

Shampoo and conditioner

Although these may seem like a good deal, dollar stores’ shampoo and conditioner selection is limited to just a few lesser known brands, Woroch says. “I’ve found the same product at Wal-Mart for less.” You are better off buying your hair-cleaning products at Target or Wal-Mart where you have a larger selection of brands and cheaper prices, especially since there is always one or two on sale plus coupons available,” she adds. Dollar Tree sells Silkience, Alberto V05, Hair & Scalp and Salon Selectives shampoos and conditioners at a unit price of $1 per bottle (as part of a 12-bottle case). Good Housekeeping rates Pantene Pro-V as the best overall hair thickener shampoo ($4.50 at Walgreens).

Food and drinks

While dollar stores obviously have bargain basement prices, soft drinks are often cheaper when they’re on sale or sold in bulk at grocery and big-box stores, says Jeff Yeager, author of “ The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Road Map to True Riches .” Dollar stores are not the place you’re likely to find San Pellegrino or Snapple. Dollar Tree has soft drinks like Shasta Cola and Stars & Stripes Cola ($1 per bottle as part of six-bottle case). Dollar stores typically sell frozen and tinned food rather than fresh fruit and vegetables, and they’re often obscure brands and packaged in small amounts for the $1 per unit deal, adds Holly Johnson, owner of A package of Oreo cookies (14.3 ounces), for example, costs $3.50 at Deals, which is owned by Dollar Tree, but sells for $2.98 at Wal-Mart.

Back-to-school items

Dollar Tree does have the pricing edge on some items like athletic socks and backpacks, says Will McKitterick, a retail analyst at firm IBISWorld, but buying in bulk is often cheaper at Wal-Mart. What’s more, Wal-Mart has a pricing policy that guarantees they will match any advertised price from any local store as long as it’s an identical item and the ad clearly states the price. Some instances where Wal-Mart beats out dollar store prices: A three-ring binder costs $1.91 at Wal-Mart, but $2 at Deals, 4-ounce glue (34 cents at Wal-Mart, $1 at Dollar Tree), and a 64-package of crayons costs $2.84 at Wal-Mart and $3.50 at Deals (if customers buy a minimum quantity of 12 packets).

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Lightning strikes that killed man at Venice Beach could return


The unusual weather conditions that created a deadly lightning storm over Venice Beach on Sunday are expected to linger through about noon Monday, potentially bringing more lightning and thunder, forecasters said. lRelated WestsideRare lightning storm at Venice Beach kills 1, injures 13See all related8

Sunday's approximately 15-minute thunderstorm struck as more than 20,000 people were visiting the southern portion of Venice Beach; at least four direct lightning strikes hit at about 2:20 p.m. A 20-year-old man who was pulled from the water was killed and at least seven others were injured -- one of them critically. 

Lightning from the same storm hit Catalina Island about 90 minutes earlier, injuring a 57-year-old man on a golf course in Avalon and igniting two brush fires, officials said.

Witnesses said the thunder and lightning were so explosive that it shook homes, triggered car alarms and caused dogs to start barking.

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The possibility of a second round of lightning and thunder over the coastal areas was expected to linger through the morning Monday, but the related weather system was forecast to move out after noon and set up over the region's mountains, said Andrew Rorke, a senior meteorologist with National Weather Service.


Bill Patzert, a climatologist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said the extremely rare weather event on Sunday occurred after an intense high-pressure system pulled an unusual mass of hot and moist air up from Mexico and the Gulf of California to the coastal areas, creating the unstable atmospheric conditions. Normally, he said, those air masses travel no farther west than the high desert and mountains.

“Coastal Southern California is virtually lightning-proof. Because it’s so unusual, people are not sensitized to the dangers,” he said.

The name of the 20-year-old victim killed in the lightning storm was not released Sunday pending notification of relatives. Authorities said the man was reported to be floating in the water and was not breathing when retrieved.

A second victim in critical condition was a 55-year-old male who had been surfing, said Capt. Danny Douglas of the Los Angeles County Fire Department's lifeguard division.

All told, officials said, firefighters responded to medical complaints by 13 beach-goers, eight of whom were transported to area hospitals.

L.A. County Fire Capt. Brian Jordan advised anyone in the water at the time to see a physician, because electrical burns can sometimes have delayed effects.


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