Don't Make Me Cluck Like a Chicken
Dan LaRosa
Stage Hypnotist and Entertainer
Feb. 19, 2019

“Don’t make me cluck like a chicken”. This is how 69 y/o Dan LaRosa, stage hypnotist and entertainer, began his presentation to 62 Y’s Men of Meriden on Feb. 19, speaking without notes while intermixing animation and humor.

A graduate of Meriden’s Maloney High School and billed as “America’s Funniest Hypnotist”, LaRosa first presented a 10-minute video showcasing numerous scenes from venues such as colleges, fundraisers and corporations with those audience members caught up in mass hypnosis including many dancing strange dances, singing strange songs and some unable to remember their last names.

LaRosa next reviewed his past life which has encompassed 35 years as a stage hypnotist. After a stint in Colorado, he returned to Connecticut to work as a psychiatric aide in an alcohol and drug unit at Connecticut Valley Hospital; while there, his interest in playing guitar began linking him to other musicians, eventually coalescing into the Coconuts, a musical band providing baby boomer music and humor and with which he performs to this day.

But his interest in hypnosis was amplified after he answered a newspaper advertisement (found in a pile of trash on a restaurant floor where he was dining), paying the $500 registration fee and becoming astonished when the Indian teacher asked him how he felt, not realizing he had been hypnotized for several minutes. Soon thereafter, he was offering to hypnotize folks during intermissions at Coconuts concerts, successful in getting couples to be unable to recognize each other, making folks thirsty but unable to find their mouths for a drink, and even getting football teams dancing ballet onstage.

For the next six years, he worked as a club hypnotist and since has performed in 46 states, 15 European countries and three times onboard the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier.  But his recent career has swung to making his skills available to helping folks with psychological anxiety issues. A favorite recent success story: after a single session, a woman who had not been able to drive since 1982 not only drove herself home but even went the long way, “because I was having so much fun.” LaRosa’s presentation was followed by a torrent of questions from the audience including those who had previously been hypnotized and one who developed the art himself.

Feb. 12 meeting canceled
due to snow and Meriden schools closing

The Hartford Line and Railroad Safety
Kevin Burns
CT State Coordinator for Operation Lifesaver, CT Dept. of Transportation
Feb. 5, 2019

Traveling from New Haven to Springfield has never been easier now that CTrail Hartford Line trains as of Nov. 2018 increased train flow from 12 to 34 trips daily. But increased schedules have resulted in increased risks to people and vehicles along the tracks, a fact noted on Feb. 5 to 64 Y’s Men of Meriden by Kevin Burns, CT State Coordinator for Operation Lifesaver (OL).

OL is an international non-profit public education program, supported in our state by the CT Dept. of Transportation, which provides certified volunteer speakers who give free rail safety presentations to individuals and organizations regarding techniques to prevent collisions, deaths and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and railroad rights-of way. OL accomplishes its mission through education, engineering (e.g. improved signage) and enforcement (e.g. using local police departments to enforce school bus stoppings at all crossings).

During 2018, OL volunteers and staff made 8722 presentations on rail safety (including at Meriden’s Daffodil Festival and National Night Out in Hubbard Park). Other presentations were delivered to school bus drivers, police departments, driving schools and senior centers. All of Meriden and Wallingford K-5 students will have received a presentation by this April.

Burns then projected a video with graphic footage of train/vehicle collisions. And he provided several remarkable facts: the number one cause of rail-related accidents is people walking on the tracks; more than 50,000 passengers now ride the New Haven/Springfield line monthly; a 75-car freight train traveling 55 mph will take more than a mile to stop; and train travel is more than 100 times safer than automobile travel.

But the most important take-aways from this presentation were three key safely rules:
1. If your car becomes stuck between railroad gates in the down position so you are trapped on the tracks, force your way through the gate; it is made to break away, causing only scratches on your vehicle.
2. If your car stalls between railroad gates so you cannot force your way out, immediately leave the vehicle and run away at a 45 degree angle, going away from the tracks on the oncoming-train side.
3. If you see an emergency situation developing, call the ENS (Emergency Notification System) number posted on a sign at each crossing (white letters on a blue background) which promptly connects you to a central office in Boston and tell the dispatcher to stop the oncoming train.

New Threats of Old Enemies
Enduring Challenge of Vector-borne Diseases in the 21st Century
Goudarz Molaei
Research Scientist, Center for Vector Biology and Zoonotic Diseases, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
Jan. 29, 2019

Goudarz Molaei, PhD, Research Scientist and Associate Clinical Professor, Center for Vector Biology & Zoonotic Diseases at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven, delivered a “Tick Talk” to 67 Y’s Men of Meriden on Jan. 29. Backed by colorful slides, he noted that vector-borne diseases account for 17% of all infectious diseases in the state.

Concentrating first on diseases transmitted to humans by mosquitoes, Molaei noted that West Nile Fever is spread by some 60 mosquito species (but mostly by the genus Culex) to both humans and horses, causing meningitis and encephalitis but severe in only 1% of cases. The primary hosts are birds with the West Nile Virus being carried by mosquitoes from birds to humans. Connecticut currently maintains 93 mosquito traps throughout the state with the captured insects being transported to the Center for examination.

Deadlier is the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), frequently carried by the Culiseta Melanura mosquito from birds (especially the American Robin and Wood Thrush) to humans, horses and other mammals. About 43% of infected humans die from the disease, with many survivors suffering long-term mental and physical impairments. EEE incidence in humans has sharply increased in the state since 2003.

Culiseta Melanura mosquito

Deer tick

Bull's-eye rash in Lyme Disease

The three tick species carrying human disease include the deer (black-legged) tick, American dog (wood) tick and the Lone Star tick, all prevalent in eastern America, along with a nasty newcomer, the Asian Longhorned tick having recently arrived in Connecticut from New Jersey. Human tick-borne diseases include Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis and Powassan Virus infection.

But the most prevalent tick-borne infection in the Northern Hemisphere is Lyme Disease, its name derived in 1975 after cases were detected in Lyme and Old Lyme, CT. Spread by the deer tick carrying the bacterium Borriela, it affects over 30,000 people annually in the United States, usually presenting with an expanding rash (often in the shape of a classic “bull’s-eye”) along with fever, headache and lethargy and sometimes progressing to chronic arthritis and even encephalitis.

Jan. 22 meeting canceled
due to single-digit temperatures and widespread icing

Assisted Technology
How it increases independence, allowing the disabled to function again

Pam Fields
CEO of MidState Arc
Jan. 15, 2019

Its name is “Clocky”, a $40 digital alarm clock that if you don’t promptly shut it off will roll on its wheels off your nightstand, crash to the floor, and then travel an erratic path while emitting an annoying assortment of sounds, forcing the sleepy owner to get out of bed to shut it off. During her presentation to 59 Y’s Men of Meriden on Jan. 15, Pam Fields, CEO of MidState Arc, pre-programmed one to activate during her talk, compelling her to leave the podium to deactivate it after it hit the floor.

But her presentation was devoted to more hi-tech Assisted Technology equipment currently being developed to assist disabled people to function more reliably. She noted that the cost of care in facilities ranges from $25K/mo. for institutions to $13K/mo. for nursing homes to $7K/mo. for group homes, as opposed to $0-7K/mo. for independent living. And there are simply not enough human care givers in the world to provide for all the people who require this assistance. In Connecticut alone, there are 16,000 disabled people being cared for at a cost of more than $1billion annually.

So what to do? If living at home can be provided with assisted technology, clients can enjoy a safer environment and an opportunity to live within their community at vast cost savings. In one example, a man with Down Syndrome lives in a home transformed into a “smart home” using a variety of technology to supplement care provided by his family, staff and home health care services. Hi-tech door locks, thermostats, cameras, sensors and sensor pads (on the bed or under the TV chair) monitor his safety. When he returns home from a day at MidState Arc, a tap on a door sensor results in an out-of-state sister remotely opening and then relocking the door and then monitoring his location in the house as needed. Compared with placement in a group home, the state’s one-time $130K startup and $60K annual cost has now been reduced to $8K start-up and $2.5K annually for assisted technology.

Other examples include MedMinder pill dispensers (calls the client if he is late, then calls MidState Arc 15 minutes later if needed), Stove Minders (first beeps, then shuts off stove if client is away from stove for too long), tracking watches and shoe soles, and video chat technology. MidState Arc has now partnered with NESIT Makerspace at 290 Pratt St. to form the Assisted Technology Training Center of CT, tutoring health providers in equipment usage.