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MARILYN HAGERTY: Washing hands is best defense against common colds

Dear Shirley, If you want to start a conversation around here in January, all you need to do is tell someone you have a cold. Turns out almost everybody either has a cold or knows someone who has been doing battle with sneezing, sniffling, bleary...

Dear Shirley,

If you want to start a conversation around here in January, all you need to do is tell someone you have a cold. Turns out almost everybody either has a cold or knows someone who has been doing battle with sneezing, sniffling, bleary eyes, aching arms and legs.

Well, it goes on and on. You may not know about the common cold when you live on the Arizona desert.

I was thinking of trying for the world's most persistent cold and making my way into the Guinness Book of World Records. Then I found other people have had this malady hang on and on so maybe my 14 days wouldn't count.

When I went online to study the common cold, I found there's nothing common about it. I have come to the conclusion that I need to drink more water. I am not sure what medications I should take because I have had a dozen different suggestions. All I had in the medicine cabinet was Advil and aspirin.

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When I was reading online about colds, I came away with the advice that the primary method of prevention is hand washing. And I read there is no evidence that air transmitted on an airplane causes colds. At one point, it said, "These infections have been with humankind since antiquity."

Maybe the sure cure would be a trip to Arizona. I was reading in the Tuesday USA Today that North Dakota's oil boom is fueling real estate sales in Arizona.

The story says that flush with cash from an oil boom and plentiful jobs, North Dakotans are snapping up homes in balmy Arizona -- where prices have plunged since the real estate bubble burst.

Plenty of people are making their exits this time of year. But we actually haven't had much cold weather. When my Xcel Energy bill came the other day, it said the average temperature for the past month here was 29 degrees. A year ago it was 12 degrees, Shirley.

Of course, it works two ways. When the snow finally came this week, the kids went wild. They were out skating on the rinks and they were sailing on their sleds down the hill created by the dike over in Lincoln Park. Kids don't worry much about their Xcel Energy bills.

Love from your sister Marilyn simmering a pot of chili on the kitchen stove.

P.S. If you want to learn how to do cross country skiing or how to make old fashioned donuts, you should come to Grand Forks. The community education programs on both sides of the river have released their offerings for this winter. And they are vast, Shirley.

You could learn from the experts how to buy and sell on eBay in a class by Don Fischer in East Grand Forks. Ken Ness is teaching a class on furniture refinishing. Darrel Koehler will have three gardening classes.

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For energetic people, there are water aerobics in Grand Forks and classes on how to jitterbug! The offerings seem endless, and here again it's the case of the early bird getting the worm. The best advice is to register early.

People seeking classes can go to www.gfschools.org/ace or the East Grand Forks Public Schools website .

Reach Marilyn Hagerty at mhagerty@gra.midco.net or at (701) 772-1055.

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