DEAR DR. ROACH: Why is there a flu season instead of it being a year-round health challenge? And why do flu strains originate in Southeast Asia instead of, say, Poughkeepsie, New York? - M.S.

Today is Monday, Dec. 9, the 343rd day of 2019. There are 22 days left in the year.

The world watched in horror last year as the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy left thousands of children separated from their parents, with many held in cages at the border.

Q: Dell's website says that my six-year-old Windows 7 laptop (an Inspiron 5521) was tested and found compatible with the earliest versions of Windows 10 (called build 1507 and build 1511.) But it isn't listed as being tested with newer versions. How risky is it for me to upgrade to the lates…

Thought for Today: "The real question is not whether machines think but whether men do. The mystery which surrounds a thinking machine already surrounds a thinking man." - B.F. Skinner, American behaviorist (1904-1990).

DEAR DR. ROACH: My grandson is 27 years old and a second-year medical student. He was recently diagnosed with Wilson disease. I have never heard of this disease, and I wonder if you have information on it or any group I could reach out to for him. - M.S.

Q: I'm already dreading the holidays. Our eight-year-old is a very excitable child and our family is expected to attend numerous holiday get-togethers at the homes of family members. When he's included in events where there's lots of excitement and anticipation in the air, he has a reputatio…

DEAR DR. ROACH: I'm an 83-year-old woman in very good health who takes no medications. My doctor informed me that I have an "extra" heartbeat, but I have no noticeable symptoms. What is my prognosis? Will my heart wear out sooner? - R.P.

Thought for Today: "Americans have always been able to handle austerity and even adversity. Prosperity is what is doing us in." - James Reston, American journalist (born 1909, died this date in 1995).

Today is Friday, Dec. 6, the 340th day of 2019. There are 25 days left in the year.

The Bloomberg News story about Bloomberg News being banned from the Trump campaign because Bloomberg News wrongly will not investigate Mike Bloomberg or other Democratic contenders, but will continue to probe President Donald Trump, refers to "Bloomberg LP founder and majority owner Michael …

The newspaper will begin publishing announcements of candidates seeking public office beginning Thursday, Jan. 2, for the 2020 primary, which will be Tuesday, April 28. Candidates can submit announcements by email to or mail to Venango Newspapers, ATTN: News Edi…

Dear Jim: We had many trees taken down due to ash borers, so I plan to use my fireplace more this fall and winter. I have never had much luck building fires without smoking up the room. Do you have any tips? - Ronnie H.

Today is Thursday, Dec. 5, the 339th day of 2019. There are 26 days left in the year.

Thought for Today: "Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see." - Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher (1788-1860).

We've seen thousands of sad stories in our time, but the case of a man found in his North Texas apartment three years after his death ranks right up there as one of the saddest.

Today is Wednesday, Dec. 4, the 338th day of 2019. There are 27 days left in the year.

Thought for Today: "People who have what they want are fond of telling people who haven't what they want that they really don't want it." - Ogden Nash, American humorist and poet (1902-1972).

DEAR DR. ROACH: A 2016 Hopkins study reported that medical negligence accounts for 250,000 deaths per year. And that's just mortality; it does not include any contributions to living with disease. My own view is to attribute nearly all of this to the fact that physicians are severely overwor…

Dear Savvy Senior, How do I go about appealing Medicare when they won't pay for something that they covered in the past? - Rejected Rhonda

DEAR DR. ROACH: A few years ago, while skiing in Utah, I became violently ill and could barely walk. I called 9-1-1 and was taken to the hospital, where I was diagnosed with hyponatremia. It took a week in the hospital to recover. My internist eventually prescribed 1 gram of salt/sodium a da…

Today is Tuesday, Dec. 3, the 337th day of 2019. There are 28 days left in the year.

Thought for Today: "Facing it, always facing it, that's the way to get through. Face it." - Joseph Conrad, Polish-born English novelist (born this date in 1857, died 1924).