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How do pets impact human health?

Pet owners are well aware that at some point from “just funny animals” and “those whom we have tamed” they turn into real family members. And, like family members, they affect our physical and mental health. Let’s figure out how this influence works.

Reduce stress and anxiety
Interaction with animals increases levels of the hormone oxytocin, which in turn helps lower levels of the stress-causing hormone cortisol. So, now, when stressful situations arise, doctors also recommend domesticating themselves.

Interaction with pets is particularly beneficial for toddlers. Young children living in families with pets experience significantly less stress and anxiety as well as social problems. Such communications rule out the possibility of developing mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders in adulthood.

Strengthen the cardiovascular system and stabilize blood pressure
According to cardiac research, pet owners (mainly cats and dogs) are much less susceptible to pressure drops and heart problems. Aside from communicating and calming soothing pets, a regular stroll with them in fresh air is of great importance.

Increase physical activity
It is no secret that a person walks more than having a pet. This applies not only to walking and walking but also to bathing and cleaning animals. The most active, of course, are dog owners, but active games with cats are no less useful.

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Diagnosis of human diseases
Thanks to the animal’s amazing sense of smell, you can detect slight changes in the human body. Pets, feeling such a change, change their behavior dramatically next to the owners. Most often, animals can suffer from diseases such as cancer, narcolepsy, migraine, diabetes, and seizures. Dogs are particularly susceptible to diseases, detecting them with high accuracy.

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Reduce the risk of disease
It has been proven that keeping pets increases immunity, therefore, significantly reduces the risk of developing allergic diseases and heart disease. However, scientists at the Universities of California and Stanford have found that our pets protect the body from some forms of cancer. Children raised in families with pets are less likely to suffer from allergies, as they are habituated to wool and animal waste since birth.

Therapeutic effects of animals on humans
Veterinary medicine, so-called zoo or veterinary medicine, has long been used worldwide to relieve pain, improve mood, and treat disease. This includes hippotherapy (communication with horses), hirudotherapy (treatment with leeches), apitherapy (treatment with bee products), dolphin therapy, and pet therapy (treatment with pets). It is commonly used in hospitals, nursing homes, and hospices. Communication with animals allows patients to recover quickly from past illnesses and to be distracted by problems.

Social relations expansion
Common interests bring people closer and unite. With the help of pets, it is very easy for a person to interact, make new acquaintances or maintain conversations. Pet owners often get to know each other and begin to communicate on the Internet, during walk-in pet shops. In this way, our “little friends” help us cope with loneliness and shame.

Walking with your dog
Walking the dogs and walking your pet can provide many health benefits. Walking with your pet and exercising will help you stay active throughout the day. It is important to remember that you need to maintain a consistent and stable level of exercise so as not to tire yourself out. When exercising with your pet, it is important to remember that you must take proper precautions to prevent injury.

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Walking your dogs is one of the best ways to improve circulation and increase blood flow throughout your body. It helps your body burn calories when you run and burn excess energy. Walking your dog regularly will help maintain a healthy appetite and give you more energy to enjoy the fresh air you usually get outside.

Male Contraception – What’s in the Pipeline

Reproduction in humans is a two-way street – a sexual process that requires two partners. However, the methods developed so far to prevent it have more or less been designed only for the female counterpart. Till today, the only available contraceptive tool for males, except vasectomy which can sometimes be irreversible, is a condom.

For years women have been shouldering the burden of birth control predominantly because it is their bodies that will have to bear the consequences. However, as the human species is maturing, it is becoming more and more clear that just like the process of reproduction itself, the methods developed to halt it should also manifest a sense of partnership, a more just arrangement.

It’s not only about taking the burden off the women. It’s also about male autonomy. Undoubtedly condoms have good success rates but without a doubt, the social and financial responsibility of fathering a child can have a serious impact on the lives of men if things go wrong.

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Therefore, in recent years, much research is being done to develop more male contraceptive options.

The Male Pill:

Just like the birth control pills being used by women around the world, research is currently underway to develop a once-a-day contraceptive pill for males. The male pill follows the same mechanism as the female pill – regulation of sex hormone in the body. It is made up of a steroid molecule that exhibits properties of the male sex hormone, testosterone, and progestin, the synthetic version of the female sex hormone, progesterone. The progestin works to reduce testosterone levels in the male reproductive glands, testes which in turn lowers the production of sperms.

One might ask then what’s the point of having testosterone properties in the pill as well? The answer is – to prevent side effects such as problems with ejaculation or low sex drive. While reduced levels of testosterone in testes get the job done, low levels of it in the bloodstream can have dreadful effects on a person’s sex life.

So how low a sperm count are we looking at here? Normally semen at the time of ejaculation may contain anywhere from 40 to 300 million sperms per milliliter. At least 20 million healthy sperms per milliliter are required for conception. Therefore, these pills aim at reducing the sperm count to 1 million per milliliter to prevent pregnancy.

The Contraceptive Gel:

The good news about this one is that it is ahead of all other options in its clinical trials. Another plus point of it is that one can conveniently apply it on the arms and shoulders every day and the work gets done.

This gel also uses a similar hormonal mechanism as the pill and can cause similar side effects. Also, since the gel and the pill both use synthetic forms of testosterone, the efficacy of these hormonal options differs in men of different ethnic origins. The reason behind this is yet to be discovered.

RISUG:

The acronym stands for ‘Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance.’ This is the non-hormonal method and a non-surgical alternative for vasectomy which in some cases can be irreversible. Keeping intact the reproductive tube which is cut in vasectomy, the vas deferens, this technique employs a synthetic chemical to block the tube and kill the sperms which enter it on their way to the penis.

Developed by a researcher in India, this polymer is non-toxic and effective right away. A man can get it injected and keep it in place till he decides to start a family. It can be removed just as easily with another injection which flushes the chemical out of the vas deferens.

Although there are chances that it will become commercially available in India in a few years, however for the rest of the world it might be a while as more trials are underway to evaluate its efficacy and safety.

IVD:

Just like a woman’s Intrauterine Device (IUD), this is an external device, a plug that is placed in the vas deferens and it filters out any sperm that might want to pass through to reach the penis. It can be conveniently removed when needed. However, just like other male contraceptive options, this too is in its early phase of testing.

Others:

The male sperm goes through several stages of development before it matures. Even then it has to journey all the way from the testes to the penis to ensure it gets pumped into the female vagina. Many of these points offer the potential for researchers to stop the sperm from reaching the female body. Several types of research are being conducted to create non-hormonal, reversible male contraception (NHRMC) targeting areas like sperm production, transport, and motility.

Set-backs:

Even though similar female birth control methods have been commonly available in the markets and are being used for decades now across the world, there are certain impediments in the way of making male contraceptives commercially accessible. Unlike the time when contraceptives for women were introduced some 50 years back, standards for acceptable side-effects have been raised considerably, and therefore severe side-effects like weight gain and decreased libido which were not considered significant enough back then today go beyond the thresholds approved by the health regulatory bodies.

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Moreover, since men don’t face the fatal risks associated with pregnancy and childbirth, the willingness to tolerate the side effects decreases even further among those in authority.

There are many reasons why the work in the arena of male contraception has been lagging behind for several decades now. However, the bright side is that the research is gaining pace as the world is becoming more and more equitable. Probably not for our generation, but hopefully the next generation of boys and men will be shouldering an equal responsibility of birth control with their partners as better, safer, and affordable options of male contraceptives become available in the market.

Transition to Critical Chain Multi-Project Management

Transition to Critical Chain Multi-Project Management for Long Duration ProjectsWhat to Do Until Buffer Management Kicks InAbstractThe transition from traditional project management to Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) in a multi-project environment presents a formidable problem with projects of long duration. A simple method is presented for that transition and provides the metrics necessary to directly encourage and cement the behaviors needed for Critical Chain Multi-Project Management. This paper assumes the reader is familiar with CCPM.The Multi-Project ImplementationThis paper focuses on the period of time from planning the first Critical Chain (CC) project, the cut-over project, to completion of the last traditionally managed project. This can be a long period of time before the company has fully implemented Critical Chain Project Management. Theory of Constraints (TOC) practitioners involved in Critical Chain Mulit-Project Management (CCMPM), often find this transition to be the toughest part of an implementation.The Implementation ConflictIn order to successfully implement Critical Chain Multi-Project Management, we must obtain support for it. Everyone expects that CCPM will be another flavor-of-the-month implementation that fades away if properly ignored. To obtain that support, we must start with one project to prove that CCPM works. And to be successful, we must change the whole project system to CCMPM. Because Critical Chain requires Buffer Management and traditional projects can’t use it, we must implement CC on all projects at the same time.Implement One Critical Chain Project FirstEven though we know it works, we must prove that it works “here!” A common solution is to use a pilot (trial) project as a way to demonstrate CCPM and get the bugs out of the existing system. One project at a time is much simpler to implement than many. The pilot project should not be thought of as a trial. It’s really the first Critical Chain (CC) project, the cut-over project. Every new project following it will also be a CC project.Typically, for a transition, the cut-over project is planned while the work-in-process is ignored. But in a multi-project management environment, that means that some or many shared resources will be fought over by the CC and non-CC projects. The resources are usually expected to multitask and have several projects in work at one time. Multitasking is a huge factor in projects being slow. How can scarce resources be assigned where they are most needed, if the statuses of these projects are measured differently?The common approach to adding a new project to the pipeline of projects is to commit to a date and put it in the system. With little understanding of the amount of work in the system and the system’s capacity, work is pushed in with the expectation that it will get done.With a system full of work-in-process projects, it will take a long time to complete this first CC project. Continued multitasking between projects will assure it. The reality is that people are asked to not multitask on the CC project while they are multitasking on the others. The non-CC projects will delay the faster, CC project. It will be difficult to determine and measure the Critical Chain project’s success compared to the others. Some people will believe it gets special attention and will demand to share its resources.The more difficult problem is the lack of Critical Chain buffer management. Lacking CC project buffers, traditional projects can’t use buffer management. Priorities among the projects may be determined by perceived urgency as expressed by the project managers. Implementing the first Critical Chain project has not always been easy.Big Bang ApproachThe whole project system can be changed in one massive replan of all projects. It may make a lot of sense since we know we won’t be done until all the projects are CC projects. All projects are measured the same way and they quickly get up to speed. Or do they? How does the whole system get changed? All of the projects must be re-planned and changed to CCPM by shortening the duration of many, many tasks of many projects.In a small system, the big bang approach is a real option. In a large system, it is definitely much more challenging and probably not possible. To change all the projects to be Critical Chain projects requires re-planning while they are in progress. The same people that are working the projects are need to do the replan. It’s likely to be chaotic and it won’t happen overnight. Re-planning will delay the implementation, delay current projects and may jeopardize an initial (or any) success. Just the opposite of what was intended.Delay Until the System is ReadyDo not insert the cut-over project until the resources can focus on it. Prioritize the projects. Since any prioritization is effective in increasing the speed of a system, use the commitment dates as priorities to help determine what to focus attention on. Propose a drum resource and plan the release of the cut-over project to be synchronized with this drum. That sets up the next issue. How do resources (and management) know what to work on next? We need buffer management. We still can’t have it.Unfortunately, it is not possible to start with a clean slate, no projects. We must deal with the work as it is in the system. It looks like we have to wait to use buffer management until after all projects in the system are CC projects. We still have an implementation conflict.A New ApproachCreate a method of comparing a Critical Chain project’s status with a traditionally managed project’s status, while promoting better behaviors.(1) Prioritizing the work allows us to recognize that some work may be low enough priority to be delayed or canceled. Use buffer management on the first CC project, and create a kind of virtual buffer for the other projects. Then use virtual buffer management on all of those projects without re-planning them.(2) Collect status for all projects as “How long until you are done with your task?” If percent complete is provided, accept it and restate it back as, “Does that mean you have 5 days of work remaining and you expect to be finished by next Wednesday?” Also ask, “Is there anything else you are working on?” Be consistent and persistent in asking for work remaining. Don’t argue about it. Accept whatever they give you. Reality will show up eventually.(3) For each main chain of tasks (the Critical Path) and each feeding chain, compare the planned (base) finish with the current expected finish. The status (days ahead or behind) relative to the plan indicates how it is doing. This same calculation is done for Critical Chain’s buffer management and is called buffer incursion (in days).(4) This information is used to manage the existing projects with their current due dates, without adding buffers to them, to create an unbuffered management report. The process is to prepare the existing projects by inserting a milestone at the end of the project, and between each feeding chain and the critical path. The milestone, being the last task in the chain, indicates the planned finish of the chain. As status is added, the expected finish of the current task pushes all successors to the future or pulls them earlier. Do NOT recalculate the critical path unless it makes a significant difference to the flow.(5) Compare the current expected finish date with the base milestone (planned) finish date. This becomes an unbuffered incursion and can be reported and/or plotted for each chain of the project. Unbuffered Management can be used for all the projects, including the Critical Chain project. This provides a way to compare the health of all of the projects and a gives a basis for assigning scarce resources. The Critical Chain project would also have a Critical Chain Fever Chart and Buffer Report.Unbuffered ManagementCreate a chart with % Complete on the X-axis and Days Ahead/Behind on the vertical axis. The chart will have characteristics like a fever chart. Place a zero line horizontally (exactly on schedule), and plot days behind above and days ahead below the line. Like the fever chart, it is a visual indicator that the projects are gaining or losing ground. The chart indicates how each the project is doing and its likelihood of completing on time. It has a virtual buffer. The buffer is really not there, but its usefulness is.Traditionally managed projects typically have significant safety in each task in a futile effort to get every task completed on time. Most project managers either believe they have little or no safety in their projects or they believe that their safety is a minimal requirement to maintaining their schedule. They have substantial experience to prove it. They know that time and Murphy are very fickle. By using unbuffered projects, they keep their original task estimates and project due date. By adjusting behaviors toward Critical Chain requirements, task safety is much less needed and will accumulate at the end of the project. All projects are likely to go faster than they were. Project Managers see real results on their existing projects and look like heroes.ConclusionCritical Chain Buffer Management provides focus for management attention to significantly improve project performance. Since it is extremely difficult to transition from a traditional project management system to CCMPM, a transition methodology providing tools similar to Critical Chain Buffer Management is a significant bridge for that gap. With prioritization and unbuffered management, attention is focused where needed. Then good behaviors and a Road Runner ethic are developed, with the focus on completing as soon as possible, rather than on meeting the due dates. All of the work takes advantage of unbuffered management and the whole system flows faster during the transition.This methodology is only for the transition to Critical Chain Multi-Project Management. It is not to eliminate buffers. It puts all of the projects on a level playing field until the transition is complete.What to do until Buffer Management kicks in? Be doing Unbuffered Management!Copyright Skip Reedy, 2002, 2011Reprint allowed with credit