Wednesday, 21st February 2018
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Know Your Rights

Online dispute resolution

Question

What can I do if I have a problem with an item I’ve bought online?

Answer

If you are not happy with an item you have bought online, you should always contact the trader first to make a complaint. If you are not satisfied with their response, you may be able to get help.

If your complaint is against a trader here in Ireland, you can contact the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission for advice.

If the trader is in another EU member state, you can contact the European Consumer Centre Ireland (ECC Ireland). ECC Ireland may contact the trader and try to resolve your dispute. If this is not successful, ECC Ireland can advise you on other options.

You can also use the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform. The ODR platform is operated by the European Commission for use by consumers living in the EU. It aims to help consumers and traders settle online disputes without the need to go to court. You use the platform to find a neutral third party (called a dispute resolution body) to handle your dispute.

You don’t have to pay when you submit a complaint using the ODR platform. However, a dispute resolution body may ask you to pay a fee if it agrees to handle your case. When a dispute resolution body agrees to handle your case it will tell you what the rules are, including how much you have to pay.

The outcome can depend on the type of dispute resolution body and their rules and procedures. Some decisions may not be binding on the trader. If you disagree with the outcome you might be able to appeal the outcome or take your case to court.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service.

Strange but - True!

By Bill Sones and Rich Sones, PhD Q. Have you heard about the "eggsplosive” danger of microwaves?

A. A customer in a San Francisco restaurant learned about it the hard way when a hard-boiled egg exploded in his mouth after being reheated in a microwave, says Leah Crane in "New Scientist” magazine. He allegedly suffered hearing damage and burns. Expert witness Anthony Nash and his colleague Lauren von Blohn microwaved almost 100 eggs in a water bath just as the restaurant had done and found that a shell-less hard-boiled egg exploded up to a third of the time, either after being bit into or pricked with a fork. Said Nash: "It was like playing Russian roulette with an egg - egg roulette.”

As to why the explosion occurred, Nash speculated that "tiny pockets of water within the yolk became superheated and then started boiling, violently releasing steam, when punctured by a fork - or your teeth.” Amazingly, the resulting explosion measured 133 decibels from 30 centimeters away, louder than a chainsaw running one meter from you. While such a noise would unlikely damage your hearing, biting into the egg and having it explode in your mouth could, and the resultant heat could also hurt your face.

The case was eventually settled out of court.

Q. Rather than some potentially painful swordplay, let’s opt instead for some wordplay from sword fighting. Can you explain how the following are used in the English language: "contretemps,” "ensiform,” "feint” and "hilt”?

A. "Contretemps” was originally a fencing term meaning a thrust made at the wrong time, says Anu Garg on his "A.Word.A.Day” web site. So metaphorically the word can mean an unforeseen and unfortunate occurrence, or a disagreement or dispute. Next, from Latin "ensis” (sword) comes "ensiform,” shaped like a sword or sword blade.

Two older, more commonly known words are "feint,” a deceptive move, especially in fencing or boxing, first documented in 1330; and "hilt,” a handle of a sword or dagger, used in the phrase "to the hilt,” that is, to the maximum extent (earliest documented use around 1000).

As Garg says, "Sometimes just the right word, the right remark, the right joke can disarm an adversary. Remember, you may be swordless but you are never wordless.”

Q. Compared to rats, pigs, mice and dogs, how does the human sense of smell stack up? And how would such a thing even be measured?

A. The measurements aren’t easy. "People can tell you when a certain scent is no longer detectable. But each animal has to learn to associate a particular odor with a reward and then do something, like press a button, to let researchers know when they smell it,” says Ashley Braun in "Discover” magazine. Humans have sniffed over 3000 different scents for science out of the trillions possible, but the highest number recorded for any animal species (spider monkeys) is only 81.

When odor sensitivity researcher Matthias Laska of Sweden’s Linköping University compared humans and 17 other mammals, he found that the more data he collected, "the more interesting the picture became.” Humans are more sensitive than rats for 31 of the 41 odorants tested for both species (76%), more sensitive than pigs for 3 of 5 (60%), more sensitive than mice for 35 of 65 (54%), and even more sensitive than dogs for 5 of 15 (33%). Dogs-–carnivorous hunters-–excel in detecting "meaty” smells, while humans-–omnivorous fruit and plant eaters-–have sensitive noses for vegetation. As Laska put it, humans "are not as hopeless as the classical wisdom will tell us, and dogs are not the super nose of the universe for everything.”

Q. It’s been estimated that worldwide there are about 10 million species, but as yet fewer than two million of them have been classified. In what unexpected places might some of these unnamed species be found?

A. Rather than trekking into the wilderness, try rummaging in the drawers of museums’ forgotten and neglected collections, where specimens remain "lost in time—-until someone opens that drawer or takes the lid off a jar and sees something unknown inside,” says Christopher Kemp in "New Scientist” magazine. Perhaps as many as 75% of newly described species are already part of a collection somewhere on the planet.

Consider the size of the collections of just a few large, established museums: The London Natural History Museum: 10 million beetles filling 22,000 drawers; the American Museum of Natural History: 25,000 bats; the California Academy of Science in San Francisco: 300,000 reptiles and amphibians; Duke University herbarium in North Carolina: 160,000 specimens in the moss collection alone.

Yet the process of identification and classification is a painstaking one, with an average shelf life between collection and description (across all orders of organisms) being about 21 years. And even after a specimen is examined, it is often misidentified and wrongly named.

And now for the almost mind-boggling numbers: "All told, US natural history collections contain an estimated 1 billion specimens. Across the world, the number probably exceeds 3 billion,” far too many to be accurately identified and named.

Q. Tired of all that ironing? Why do clothes wrinkle anyway? And how does ironing work? What about wrinkle-free clothes?

A. Plant-based fabrics such as cotton, linen, and hemp are mostly made of the natural polymer cellulose, whose molecules bond weakly with each other, says chemist Mark Lorch in "American Scientist” magazine. While the many bonds make the fabric strong, they continuously break and reform–-especially in the presence of water, like in a washing machine-–so the fabric tends to adopt whatever shape it has when it dries. If the fabric is scrunched up while it dries-–like in a clothes dryer-–the wrinkles are locked in. The heat and moisture of an iron quickly breaks the bonds, and the pressure gives the fabric a smoothness that gets locked in as the fabric cools and dries.

Now consider wrinkle-free clothes: Starch is also a polymer but it’s branched in such a way that it stabilizes cellulose to prevent wrinkling. However, since starch is water soluble, it just comes out in the wash. So if you want permanently wrinkle-free clothes, you need non-water-soluble "starch”--the secret of wrinkle-resistant fabrics.

Q. "Healthy See, Healthy Do.” Sounds good, but is it true?

A. Actually, it is, as seen in grocery store purchases where the location of store displays can influence shopping choices, says Rachel Nuwer in "Scientific American” magazine. The hotspot for sugary and salty snacks is the checkout area, and a few studies have suggested that swapping healthier options for junk food there could shift customer behavior.

To see for itself, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has been working with over 1,000 store owners to stock and promote nutritious foods. Testing this idea out in the city’s dense urban checkout areas, research scientist Tamar Adjoian and her colleagues enlisted three Bronx supermarkets to give one checkout lane in each store "a healthy makeover,” replacing processed snacks like candy and cookies with fruits, nuts and other lower-calorie foods. While only 4% of the 21,000 tracked shoppers bought anything from checkout, Adjoian found that those in the healthy lines "purchased nutritious items more than twice as often as those in the standard lines-—and they bought unhealthy items 40% less often.”

Stay tuned as department officials work to expand healthy options at checkout aisles throughout the city.

(Send STRANGE questions to brothers Bill and Rich at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Healthy Ireland at your Library!

The Mayor of the Waterford Metropolitan District, Cllr Séan Reinhardt launched the exciting new national initiative 'Healthy Ireland at your Library’ for Waterford Libraries in Waterford Central Library last Tuesday 30 January along with guest speaker, Aoife Hearne, RTE’s 'Operation Transformation’ panel nutrition expert. As part of this initiative, Waterford Libraries have produced a programme of free health and wellbeing events to take place in each of their 12 branches across the county between now and the end of March. Waterford Libraries have also acquired a range of book stock, including Aoife Hearne’s latest book, 'The Plan’ and lots of online resources.

'Healthy Ireland at Your Library’ is running from now until the end of March 2018 and is being financed by the Department of Health as part of their 'Healthy Ireland Framework for Improved Health & Wellbeing 2013-2025’. The Healthy Ireland 2018 campaign was launched nationally by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and seeks to encourage people to make positive choices to improve their physical and mental health, while also providing support and information to help people make those healthier choices. Public libraries are currently delivering the nationwide 'Healthy Ireland at Your Library’ programme that will establish libraries as a valuable source within the community for health information.

There is a full programme of free events taking place in each of the 12 Waterford branches including Play, Dance and Music for Parents and Toddlers, organised walks, nutrition and health information talks, family yoga and much more! Pick up a programme in your local Library branch or phone 0761-102975 for more information.

Written in the Stars

Waterford Today weekly horoscopes

Wednesday 7th January - Tuesday 13th January

Aries 21st March-21st April

You’ve had a lot going on Aries, and with last month’s lunar eclipse amplifying your energy as well as Mars further bolstering your reserves, you may have to rein yourself in. There could be a tendency to get carried away with yourself and read more into situations than is there. Don’t mistake someone’s tepid response for full on permission, or for flat out refusal. Before jumping in with both feet on ANYTHING take a second look.

Taurus 22nd April-21st May

You’d like to be able to put everything in order in your world Taurus, and with certain things that’s possible. But with the rather tricky arena of emotions, it’s another task altogether, as certain feelings won’t just be neatly stacked in a tidy pile in the corner. If there are emotions you’ve been sweeping under the carpet, it’s time to lift the rug and face them. Don’t underestimate the ear of a good therapist, friend or even hairdresser(!) to help you work through them.

Gemini 22nd May-21st June

You could be feeling inspired to take action on plans you’ve been collaborating on with someone for some time now. You’re a

veritable beehive of activity and energy, super-charged by the recent eclipse and others could find themselves in awe of your ability to keep firing off ideas and see them to fruition. The bigger the vision and the more of a challenge it presents, the more you want to get your teeth stuck into it. You’re in your element Gemini.

Cancer 22nd June-22nd July

Security is the watchword for the week Cancer, in all it’s forms - financial, emotional, physical and technical. Check all your current systems from passwords (consider changing them), to anti virus software. Check the security of your house and car, alarms, windows and doors etc. And finally be aware of any insecurities and fears you are secretly harbouring, shine a light into the dark corners.

Leo 23rd July-23rd August

With all the changes going on around and inside you, it’s only natural that the dynamics between you and those closest to you begin to shift and change. You may need to find your footing again within relationships, as the balance shifts. You may feel you need more support than heretofore, and if it’s not forthcoming, you may decide to fly solo for a while. Something that you’ve been resisting could suddenly seem like the answer.

Virgo 24th August-23rd September

Pay attention to your dreams, aspirations and creative urges Virgo, the recent eclipse may have heightened your inspiration and you could find yourself tuned in to some higher purpose. Likewise, pay close attention to where in life you sabotage yourself, where you have great plans that you don’t allow yourself to follow through on. Recognise the difference between reasons and excuses for not doing them.

Libra 24th September-23rd October

Don’t be afraid to shine in a group situation Libra. Being part of a team doesn’t mean you can’t step forward into a role you know you’re made for. Playing small to allow others to feel bigger only diminishes everyone’s part. Playing to your strengths ultimately helps the whole team, and could inspire others to follow suit, rising the tide and the expectation and elevating everyone’s sense of achievement.

Scorpio 24th October-22nd November

You could be feeling a little out of your comfort zone Scorpio, or maybe like you’re running just to stand still. The recent eclipse is doing a little re-arranging in your world. Things you thought were written in stone could suddenly disappear, people, men in particular, who you thought were rock solid suddenly seem more human and vulnerable. You may need to to be their rock now. Step forward into the leading role.

Sagittarius 23rd November-21st December

Sudden changes could knock you off your feet and you could feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew in one area of your life. Don’t run for the hills just yet though. Help is at hand if you ask for it. Communication is everything now, talk through the issue with someone whose experience and advice you trust. Get as much information as you can before you take your next step.

Capricorn 22nd December-20th January

Sometimes, it’s not until a month or so after an event that we feel it’s full effect or realise the full ramifications of it. So it is with the recent eclipse which zero-ed in on some of your closest ties. Don’t try to immediately assimilate any new arrangements that may happen all at once, just take one thing at a time. And be prepared for further sudden changes. Things will settle down again, until then, stay on your toes!

Aquarius 21st January-19th February

You could be feeling a bit scattered at the moment with a hundred and one tasks vying for your attention. You have so many plans and ideas, but trying to tackle everything at once is asking for trouble. Prioritise which items you most want to tick off your list, and which you’re most likely to be able to make happen. Then work from there. Pace yourself, there’s plenty more for you to accomplish as the month progresses.

Pisces 20th February-20th March

Someone you can usually rely on for help may disappear from your radar for a while and you feel you could really use their support right now. Release the need to control everything, especially if you feel like you’ve a lot on your plate. There is only so much that can be done on any given day and trying to do too much too quickly inevitably leads to things not being done properly or worse, leads to you burning yourself out.

With Breda Gardner Homeopath, lcph, mcos, rgn

Health Therapies Clinic

13 Gladstone Street, Waterford.

Tel: 087 2025753.

Insight Natural Health Clinic

15 Upper Patrick St, Kilkenny

Tel: 056 7724429

Have a heart

Ten years ago, in his foreword to my book "Words of Wisdom for your Health &

Happiness!” the late, great health guru Jan de Vries wrote the following words: "This book is yet another step to building bridges between orthodox and alternative medicine, which is leading to Complementary

Medicine. There is a great need for this today and both fields of medicine should be working together to find the best system to help human suffering.”

Jan’s sage words still resonate with me today and underpin the ethos of what I try to do in my work as a complementary health therapist. As a former nurse, I have experienced firsthand the wonders of modern medicine. I also believe that modern medicine does not have all the answers, and sometimes a different approach is needed. But my most fervent belief, as Jan de Vries said, is that the two systems should be working together, side by side.

One of the areas where traditional medicine has made the greatest advances is in cardiac care. My father died of a heart attack, so it is a subject that is quite literally close to my own heart. And that is why I am so angry at the ongoing lack of 24 x 7 cardiac care in the South East. It is nothing short of a national scandal that we in the South East are still being denied this life-saving service. People have died – and more people will die – because of the dereliction of duty of the health minister, the Dept of Health, the HSE and our local politicians. Their negligence is shameful and unforgiveable. I realise that these are strong words, but they are also the truth. The goal of all people who work in healthcare is to do their best for the patient, and with the lack of 24 x 7 cardiac care in our region, we are being failed by the very institutions which are supposed to care for and protect us.

Minister Harris could implement 24 x 7 cardiac care in UHW at the stroke of a pen. Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin could threaten to withdraw his party’s support of the government unless the service is implemented. Voters will not easily forget the image of Micheál Martin and Mary Butler saying "Fianna Fáil will secure 24/7 Cardiac in UHW.” Nor will they forget John Halligan’s words that he would withdraw his support for the government if 24 x 7 care was not implemented.

This Saturday 10th February, I will be marching with the South East Patients Advocacy Group to protest at the ongoing absence of life-saving services in our region. We’ll be marching from the Williamstown Centre (WLR) at 2.15pm to UHW. From the bottom of my heart, I urge every reader to join the protest. Remember, it might be you or a loved one who dies for the simple want of proper cardiac care in the South East.

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    The Winter OlympicsAlthough Ireland has more than it's fair share of athletes competing in the forthcoming Winter Olympics in PyeongChang in South Korea there will be very few people in the country who will be disappointed if they don't come back with a slew of medals. For a country that goes into meltdown when we get some few inches of snow every decade or so it's even amazing that we've got any athletes going to the Winter Olympics at all!The Winter Olympics just really aren't our thing, we're n …

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