Charlie Brown

July 13, 2011  |  Celebrity Sinuses  |  ,  |  No Comments


Climate Change Worsens Allergies

June 30, 2011  |  News  |  ,  |  No Comments


See? The soothsayers at The New York Times confirm Sinus Sister’s suspicions that this June/July has been murder on allergies. According to Dina Fine Maron‘s article, one New York-based allergist has been faced with an onslaught of patients complaining their symptoms are starting earlier and hitting harder than ever before. (Apparently it’s not “all in my head”, mom!)

Climate change is the culprit in the extended severe allergy season

Gird your loins.

Belfast Counts

Is Irish pollen more intense–like their rock stars and tea consumption? , wonders Sinus Sister

Belfast is no longer a city under siege, but it’s a city surrounded by grassy hills. Where there’s grass, there’s pollen. Sinus Sister stepped off the plane, gripped her umbrella and awaited the inevitable sneezing fit….and waited.

Flying over Ireland, the green-green fields looked suspiciously enhanced by Photoshop. It was impressive, but it set off my worry alarm. Would I sneeze my way through my sister’s wedding? Would Irish pollen be more intense–like their rock stars and tea consumption? I couldn’t recall having wild allergic reactions while visiting Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s, but my memories have been wiped clean when it comes to the horrors of childhood hay fever (Mom claims I got allergy shots every week and ate crushed antihistamines on a cookie). The revisionist history ends at university, when there’s no denying that my ivory-covered residence on the banks of the Thames River gave me bloody sneezing fits.

Back in Belfast,  I booked into a swanky hotel that would certainly have a good air filter and an adjustable thermostat, among other comforts (Correct, it turned out, on both counts).  The Merchant Hotel easily catered to the demands of my sinuses. “You’ll not be sneezin’ yur head aff this week,” offered the doorman,adding, “Since it’s bucketin’ down out there.” [translation: because of the rain]. Of course! Saved by the rain, which supposedly cleans the air of pollutants. Allegedly, pollen sticks to wet grass and trees, rather than getting blown up your nose.

The doorman added another wee bit of news: “The Uni [translation: Queens University] just rigged up a system on the roof to read the pollen count each day. Before, the closest pollen count came from Edinburgh.” Good to know. The new, more accurate pollen count for Belfast was, officially and truly, low.

Unconcerned with blowing my nose all week, I was free to enjoy Brendan at the Chelsea, a play at the newly rebuilt Lyric Theatre. I shopped at the quirky boutique-cafe Acova, visited the new Titanic Museum, and toured town in a black taxi with the irrepressible Billy Scott. Trying to wrap my head around The Troubles of olden day, I viewed the political murals with Belfast Attractions (Thanks Gerard McGlade, you charmer!) and decided it was too complicated for a blow-in like me to understand. Best to just enjoy a pint of Magner’s cider cider with the other clueless tourists, then comb the stores for a fascinator to wear to my sister’s wedding (If you can’t wear a fascinator in 2011, the year of The Royal Wedding, when can you?)

Leaving the pub after two pints, Sinus Sister blinked at the mid-day sun and blew a kiss toward the new pollen counter at Queen’s University.

Flight Club – Pet-free flying?

Should pets be allowed on airplanes? Sinus Sister thinks pets could have a civilizing effect on The Boarding Pass Class in airplanes, like they do in maximum-security prisons–both confined places with an empathy deficit. I’d rather sneeze among docile passengers than spend eight hours flinching beside a hothead. But airplanes aren’t Oz. People are expected to behave and shouldn’t need their furry mascots nearby to unclench. Here’s the latest move by Air Canada…

The brewing fight for pet-free flights

Allergic to Fluffy? You can re-book—at your expense.

by  on Thursday, July 16, 2009 1:20pm – 0 Comments

The brewing fight for pet-free flightsWhen Air Canada banned pets from aircraft cabins in 2006, pet owners were furious. But many say the airline’s recent decision to reverse that ban was a bigger mistake, as it puts pets ahead of people—and may even put lives at risk.

As of Canada Day, dogs and cats can travel with their owners on executive or economy Air Canada flights, as long as they’re in pet carriers that fit under the airplane seats. The plan, which was recently announced as part of Air Canada’s “renewed commitment to the customer” initiative, allows pet owners to register their pets 24 hours before the flight, as long as they pay a $50 or $100 fee.

But the Lung Association says the decision will not only make flying dangerous for passengers with asthma or allergies, it’s not even popular with the customers Air Canada is trying to serve. According to a survey released by the association last month, 80 per cent of Canadians want airlines to offer pet-free flights, and 75 per cent expect action from the federal government to change the policy allowing pets.

“We don’t want anyone to be in a situation where they get a severe reaction on the plane,” says Cameron Bishop, a spokesperson for the Lung Association. “There are asthmatics, there are people who have COPD [emphysema and chronic bronchitis], who can have life-threatening reactions if their trigger points are pet hair, urine and dander.” He adds that the Lung Association was not consulted by Air Canada before the ban was reversed, and he now hopes to bring the issue before the federal health committee.

Previously, allergy sufferers had the choice between pet-free Air Canada, and WestJet, which has always allowed pets. But now Air Canada says if allergic customers end up on a flight with pets, they have to re-book 24 hours in advance. There’s no guarantee the next flight will be pet-free either, and the regular fees for re-booking apply.

Bill Swan, co-chair of the National Asthma Patient Alliance, says that isn’t right. “You have to put the rights of human passengers above the animal passengers.”

Ice Cream Controversy

We’re convinced that if someone was to do a study on this subject, they would probably find a nationwide spike in sinus infections commencing when companies started to add chemically-complicated artificial flavors to ice cream.

Earth Clinic

Really? My half pint of Cookie Dough Dynamo is a sinus trigger? The earnest people at Earth Clinic are very good to point this out, but I prefer to remain in denial–hands over ears, humming–about the evils of ice cream. As I sit here, spoon in hand, I refuse to attribute my non-stop runny nose to Häagen-Dazs….Rest assured, Ben & Jerry’s will never get the blame. Sniff.

Kleenex Recidivist

June 20, 2011  |  Tissue Throwdown  |   |  No Comments


Hankies are noble. They help the environment and they score instant cred at yoga class. If you want to bask in the adoration of strangers, just pull out a handkerchief in the health food store. But hankies are expensive and time consuming. Apparently I hate ironing little squares of cotton. Linen is even worse. It doesn’t matter if the hankies are organic or embroidered or monogrammed or edged with little shamrocks. They’re a pain to maintain.

I have no problem using a clean hankie. That’s easy. But what do you do with a half-used handkerchief? Put it back in your purse, where it’ll stick to your wallet? Shove it up your sleeve, where it sticks to your arm? I started carrying around ZipLock bags (un-recyclable plastic!) to store my cotton handkerchiefs. I figure that’s a zero sum game, environmentally, and reach once more for a 2-ply tissue. There you have it. Sinus Sister is a Kleenex recidivist.  To argue the pros and cons of hankies, join the tissue forum at


Tales of a Hankie Rebel

June 17, 2011  |  Tissue Throwdown  |  ,  |  No Comments

Sinus Sister is no tree hugger. But she’s starting to feel guilty about using so many tissues…

Since June, there have been two Kleenex boxes jammed into the recycling each week. These crumpled coffins make me groan. They represent about 260 two-ply tissues—or, 18 tissues per day. That’s alot of blow. And June isn’t a big sneeze month. Peak season is January to April, before hay fever in August. There’s no way around it: my Kleenex consumption rate is a disgrace. It’s time to consider the alternatives and I can only think of one: hankies….Gross. ..But they’re no longer the exclusive domain of the Amish. Environmental activists and school kids have been pushing hankies as an easy way to save the Earth for years now (insert eye roll).

Hankies, to me, belong to the generation that marveled at indoor plumbing. They’re not a marker of poverty, so much, as age and foreignness. My Granda from Northern Ireland had hankies in every pocket. When he pulled one out, my sister and I recoiled and giggled, wondering why mom didn’t offer him a tissue. On laundry day, Granda’s hankies hung on the clothes line, soon to be ironed and returned to his underwear drawer. They didn’t belong on the kitchen table, like Kleenex, because there was something intimate and possibly germy contained therein. So I’m not totally unfamiliar with the world of hankies, but the time has come to visit and and stop the guilt.