May 30, 2005

Millionaire Mindset

Most millionaires work for themselves, doing what they love, living below their means.

Paul Farrell's who writes at Marketwatch gives 10 tips to the millionaire mindset.

1. Don't obsess over money.  Millionaires spend an average of six minutes a day on personal finance.  They have better things to do

2. Accentuate the positive.  Attitude rules.

3. Think differently
.  Don't fit in.  Go your own way

4. Quit doing what you hate.

5. Do what you love.

6. Find the real you.

7. Invest in "You, Inc.". 

8. Live with passion

9. Live in the moment

10. Make a difference

Sounds like they understand the Business of Life.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:59 PM | Permalink

May 28, 2005

What's a Guy to Do?

My father's death was the envy of all his friends.

He hit a perfect drive off the eighth tee one spring morning and fell over dead of a heart attack. He was 73 and had never spent a day in the hospital. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of so-called procedures he ever had to endure.

Of course, given the outcome, we all might have been better off if he had submitted to a few more of them after that day of nausea a few months before his death. Dad's doctor decided it had been a teeny-tiny heart attack.

I might give the same advice to myself.

Dennis Overbye writes  Anti-Doctor and Anti-Death - What's a Guy to Do. 

If you're one of those guys - and you know who you are, avoiding doctors  - or married to one, this is a funny must-read piece.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:09 PM | Permalink

May 27, 2005

Better Living through Chemistry, NOT

As if you needed something else to worry about.   

A new alert has been issued over chemicals used in make-up, shampoo and toys that's taking the boy out of boys.

Experts say products containing the chemicals - called phthalates - could cause women to give birth to boys with female characteristics. Their research found shrunken genitals and less masculine behaviour in babies.

Phthalates help to give cosmetics colour and bond perfume molecules. They are also used in pliable plastics such as clingfilm, kidney dialysis tubes, blood bags and even children's toys.

"This is a very big problem," said study leader Professor Shanna Swan, of the University of Rochester. The research, to be published-next month in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found 90 per cent of babies exposed to high levels of the chemicals in the womb exhibited "more female physical traits".
Andreas Kortenkamp, an expert in environmental pollutants at the London School of Pharmacy, said: "If it's true, it's sensational. This is the first time anyone's shown this effect in humans."

He added: "These are mass chemicals. They are used in any plastic that is pliable. Sorting this out is going to be an interesting challenge for industry as well as society."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:17 PM | Permalink

The Pill Kills Libido?

Taking the pill for as little as six months could destroy a woman's sex drive forever, say scientists.

The oral contraceptive dramatically reduces the levels of a hormone responsible for desire and simply stopping taking it fails to reverse the effect, it is feared.

A survey produced such dramatic results that lead researcher Dr Irwin Goldstein advised any woman on the Pill who has sexual problems to stop taking it and try another method of birth control.

"There is a possibility it is imprinting a woman for the rest of her life," he said.

The research, presented at the American Association of Clinical Endrocrinologists last week in Washington, D.C, is summarized in the current issue of New Scientist.

UPDATE:  Does Viagra cause  blindness?  The FDA is looking into the blindness-Viagra link

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:33 PM | Permalink

Selling $20 bills

If you wonder why so many people, especially doctors, lose so much money with their investments, it could be that they were students of Max Bazerman who has quite a lucrative sideline selling $20 bills.

Psychologist Max Bazerman says that during the past ten years he has earned more than $17,000 by auctioning $20 bills to his MBA students at Northwestern University. In the course of almost two hundred of his actions, the top two bids never totaled less than $39, and in one instance totaled $407.

HT Ming the mechanic via growabrain

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:16 PM | Permalink

Get Rich Slowly, Clean Quickly

Saving you time and money.

Foldedspace has summarized about a dozen books on personal finance, distilling all their themes into one easy to read post.

Keeping your house clean in only 19 minutes a day, from Real Simple

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:04 PM | Permalink

HSA and health care costs

Medical costs for an average family of four will exceed $12,200 this year, up from just $8,400 in 2001.  That assumes health care insurance paid for by the employer, so out of pocket costs are about $2035, roughly 17% of the total, about the same percentage as 2001.

The story  in the Wall St Journal is  from the Milliman report based on the Milliman Medical Index, compiled from its data base of more than 15 million people.  (Both the WSJ report and the Milliman report are behind paid subscription walls).

As to just what effect  more consumer driven health care  will have on overall health care costs, who knows. 

But I bet once people understand they could shelter up to $4500 each year with a combined high deductible -health savings account (HSA) those accounts could be huge and their impact on overall health care costs even bigger. 

It may be the way, healthy aging boomers can sock away more money for their retirement.

They have the potential to become the dominant kind of health care financing in the next five to 10 years," says Greg Scandlen, a health care expert at the Galen Institute, a Washington think tank in a USA Today story.

Of course, you have to pay a lot more out of pocket with a high deductible, but the tax free withdrawals from your companion health savings account cover a very broad range.
(See the chart accompanying the USA story).

I'm looking forward to them. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:05 AM | Permalink

May 25, 2005

Abortion - Understanding what's at stake

I have never read a more moving, intelligent discussion about abortion than by Amba, an accomplished writer, whose AmbivaBlog is describes as "the swing state of the religious and political blogosphere."

Here are the first two of a three-part series.

Part 1

The simplest central tenet of feminism – that being female is a full human plenitude, not a shameful lack – had saved my soul. Abortion, I believed, was a woman’s business. My body, my choice. Case closed.

Then I had one.

Part 2

But once it has successfully taken root, there’s something else we know about a human embryo:

-- That it has a drive to live and to become. How sensate or aware it may be at this stage is a mystery. That it intends with every molecule of its being to survive and fulfill its design is not. In fact – and it is a fact -- that drive is powerful enough to propel it eighty years into the future.

I should probably amend my statement that “we know this.” When we’re young, we don’t. We just think about “having a baby,” and maybe raising a child, from the foreshortened perspective of our own desires and life plans. This is one of the drawbacks of living in a culture that does its damndest to stay “forever young.” Only someone older, who’s taken a step back from the life cycle, can point out to you the reality that “a baby” will, barring misfortune, become a young adult, a middle-aged person, an old woman or man. I now look at the young and see how time will change their faces; I look at the old and imagine how they looked as a child. And when I think about a new embryo, and our “choice” to uproot it or harbor it, I don’t only, or even mainly, see an “innocent child.” I see that what we hold in our hands is the power to greenlight or to cancel – to make nothing -- a potentially eighty-year human life.

That’s pretty terrifying, when you think about it. And I’m suggesting that we should think about it. I know I don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of convincing the “pro-life” that early abortion should stay legal, as I still sadly believe it must. But I do think I have a chance of convincing at least some of the “pro-choice” that women should be as terrified of risking accidental pregnancy now as we were back when abortion was illegal – not out of fear of the law or the dirty scalpel, but out of understanding of what’s at stake.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:19 PM | Permalink

Extinct redheads

When people ask me if my hair color is natural, I reply it used to be. 

I now have grey and brown hairs where used to grow natural red hair. 

So what happened?

Will all redheads go extinct by 2100?

Am I just an early harbinger of a disturbing trend?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:04 PM | Permalink

Dogs or Sheep

Was Your Meat Smarter than Your Pet?  Well, they tested the intelligence of sheep and cows and looks like they're smarter than my Jack Russell Terrier. 


Dogs are pack animals,  descended from wolves.  They understand social clues, so they can read US better.  All I know is dogs love humans.  You can't say that about sheep or pigs or chickens.
You could say dogs are more emotionally intelligent and know just how to get what they want.    Vinny certainly does -all the time. 

They want to part of the family and over two-thirds of families treat their pets as family members.  Some 20% of us will break off romantic relationships because our pets mean more to us; 79% of pet owners let their pets snuggle up with them in bed; 37% carry pictures of their pets in their wallets, and 31% take off time from jobs to be with sick pets.

All of these facts from Law Professor Gerry Beyer who writes about Estate Planning for Non-Human Family Members.  Even the New York Times reports that 27 states now allow owners to set up trusts for their pets and legislation is pending in other states.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:55 PM | Permalink

May 24, 2005

Medical Errors

Turns out that computer systems aren't reducing medical errors as once was hoped.  Despite in-hospital computerized medication entry systems, medication errors are continuing at an alarming rate.

As reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine, May 23, the most common errors involved a failure on the part of staff to anticipate adverse drug reactions.

You are your own best advocate, so here are 20 tips to help prevent medical errors.

And don't forget keeping your list of medications on your wallet card.

From the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:30 PM | Permalink

Data theft an Inside Job

If you're a customer at Bank of America or Wachovia, you may be hearing from them soon.

Seems as if bank employees sold account information of some 676,000  to data thieves in Hackensack, New Jersey.

While the thieves have been arrested and charged, this  biggest security breach in the banking industry has grown bigger and may reach 1,000,000 accounts.

All the more reason, you should be one of the first to buy an RSA SecurID consumer token as soon as they reach the market. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:03 PM | Permalink

Brain Food

Apparently, the word is getting out.  In the UK, high school and college kids are eating "brain food" before final exams.

U.K. grocery chains are reporting in increase of sales of oily fish, vegetables such as like broccoli and fruits such as blueberries and bananas.

One grocery chain, Tesco, says sales of salmon and tuna have doubled, avocado consumption has increased by 30 percent and blueberry sales have increased 131 percent, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:50 PM | Permalink

May 23, 2005

Worshiping "Ana", Discouraging Recovery

Watch out for those eating disorder, anorexia sites.  They don't really help by suggesting that anorexia or bulimia is a "lifestyle" choice and not an illness. 

In too many cases, they glorify these often offer fatal disorders with glamorous shots of too thin models and bad advice.  Often, they sell jewelry -thin red "ana" (anorexia) or thin purple "mia" (bulimia) bracelets  - as a badge of identity as well as status symbol.

Nearly two-thirds of visitors to those sites used new weight loss or purging techniques they learned on the site according to researchers at Stanford University who presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies this week. Glorification of these often fatal eating disorders is flourishing they say, and some of those sites discourage recovery.

Here's a good one: National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.

update: more on the story  -Cult-like Lure of "Ana" Attracts Anorexics

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:12 PM | Permalink

An ordinary guy

He's just an ordinary guy, but the way De Pree Johnson spreads kindness for people in a hospital waiting room shows us how small, kind actions affect the world.

Someone once said, You don't get in life what you want; you get in life what you are.  If so, De Pree is a wealthy man.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:39 PM | Permalink

Five things we cannot change

1. Everything changes and ends.
2. Things do not always go according to plan.
3. Life is not always fair.
4. Pain is part of life.
5. People are not loving and loyal all the time.

Can't quarrel with any of that.  David Richo goes further and writes that we can find happiness by embracing The Five Things We Cannot Change.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:48 PM | Permalink

May 22, 2005

Some Sunshine May Prevent Cancer

Scientists Say Sunshine May Prevent Cancer

In the last three months alone, four separate studies found it helped protect against lymphoma and cancers of the prostate, lung and, ironically, the skin. The strongest evidence is for colon cancer.

Many people aren't getting enough vitamin D. It's hard to do from food and fortified milk alone, and supplements are problematic.

So the thinking is this: Even if too much sun leads to skin cancer, which is rarely deadly, too little sun may be worse.

No one is suggesting that people fry on a beach. But many scientists believe that "safe sun" - 15 minutes or so a few times a week without sunscreen - is not only possible but helpful to health.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:42 AM | Permalink

May 21, 2005

Your money or your life

By no means am I an expert on the health care industry or the national health service in the UK,  but I never imagined it was a Health service starved of humanity as described in the London Times.

THIS WEEK Leslie Burke sat in court in a wheelchair and listened while lawyers argued whether he should be starved and dehydrated to death. The lawyers arguing in favour of the proposition were egged on by the Secretary of State for Health, who deemed it too expensive to feed and water the ailing patient.

The General Medical Council was contending before the court that decisions over treatment were for doctors, not patients, ignoring utterly the provisions of the Mental Capacity Act which allow patients to make living wills denying themselves treatment and which will bind any doctor who might take a different view. In other words, a patient may choose to die and his wishes will be paramount but if he chooses to live he is to be deemed an expensive impediment to the authority of the medical profession. Of course, the Hippocratic oath is no longer automatically required, so it is possible for these doctors to look Mr Burke in the eye and tell him that it is their right to starve him to death.

I emphasise again that the issue here is food and fluid, not some esoteric and complicated medical procedure. We are not talking about assisting someone to breathe but merely refusing to starve him. Throughout the passage of the Mental Capacity Bill in Parliament the argument was put forward strongly in both Houses that it should be made explicit that food and fluid do not constitute treatment. The Government adamantly refused. We can now see why, but none of us could have predicted the speed with which the effects would be realised: the Bill was passed immediately before Parliament dissolved for the election and now, less than a month later, a minister says that it is too costly to administer basic sustenance to the dying.

During the passage of that damnable Bill we thought we were talking about the possible withdrawal of food and fluid from the unconscious (as in the case of Tony Bland, the Hillsborough victim who remained locked in a coma) or from those who could no longer take a decision because of mental incapacity. That had implications enough but
never in our wildest nightmares did we suppose that a mentally competent man in a wheelchair would have to fight for the right not to be starved.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:36 PM | Permalink

May 20, 2005

Past Divorce, people need each other

More and more ex-spouses are carrying for their former spouses, often because there is no one else.    Past Divorce, Compassion at the End
I despised what he had done to me," said Ms. Hayes, who, despite it all, became her ex-husband's caregiver when he developed Alzheimer's three years ago. "There is nobody else."

Her efforts are part of an emerging theme as the country ages.

In scenes exhibiting a vivid range of feelings - acrimony, compassion, rekindled love, abiding friendship - sick and dying Americans are being cared for by former spouses.

Hospice workers, academics and doctors say they are seeing more such cases, a development that is not surprising given the nation's changing demographics in the last 30 years.

The number of older Americans who have divorced and are not remarried has risen more than 60 percent in the last decade, according to the census bureau.

In 2003, the most recent year for which the census reports statistics, there were 2,726,000 divorced Americans older than 65 compared with 1,718,000 in 1994.

Bitterness, like that felt by Ms. Hayes, often is not the prevailing emotion. Often a person feels deep ties to a former husband or wife, or feels a responsibility borne of common experience and child-rearing.

"They are acting more like a brother or sister, or cousin or extended family member, or sometimes they have the joy of being grandparents together," said J. Donald Schumacher, chief executive of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, a public policy group representing hospices. He said the presence of former spouses at the hospital or deathbed, isn't uncommon anymore.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:37 PM | Permalink

American optimism stuns pollsters

Americans are overwhelming optimistic about their futures even if they think a catastrophe looms.  American optimism stuns pollsters

What amazed us most was their determined optimism, even as they showed great concern about bad things happening in the world," said Dr. Donald Louria of the Department of Preventive Medicine & Community Health at the New Jersey Medical School in Newark, which conducted the study.
The study of 2,000 adults in four distinct age groups was conducted for the school by McLaughlin & Associates throughout April.

82 percent of Americans ages 18 to 24 feel optimistic about their futures; 82 percent of those ages 25 to 44 do so as well; and 75 percent of those ages 45 to 64 and 64 percent of those 65 or older agree. Only 15 percent to 22 percent of the respondents say they have grown more pessimistic over the past five years.

Between two-thirds and three-quarters of those in all the age groups fear the United States will suffer a biological or nuclear attack in the next 20 years.

HT The Anchoress

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:07 PM | Permalink

Spelling Love and Peace

I've gotten a number of lovely emails about my post, Fill Our Lives with Beauty

The one I treasure the most is from the physician artist Zen Chuang who also sent me photos of his spring garden.

  Love And Peace

The daffodils will come up from the earth every year spelling Love and Peace to the sky.

Zen's gallery, From Earth to Sky, is well worth your visit.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:31 PM | Permalink

Hunger for Happiness books

Since I'm always interested in happiness, this article, despite its title - I hate smiley faces - caught my eye, Smiley Phrases about our hunger
for happiness books. 

The "self-help" book category is now just about $670 million a year.  Those little gift books at the checkout register are more like greeting cards with added value; their sales aren't even tracked in the book industry.   

People hunger for happiness, even more for meaning.  The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren has sold an astonishing 20 million copies.
Religious books have greater sales, about $1.8 billion and sales are expected to increase 37% over the next five years. 

Stanford University philosophy professor John Perry says the best advice for bliss comes from Confucius and your grandmother.

"Confucius said happiness is a well-ordered life and family" - in other words, taking time to do the basic things right, Perry says. "Your grandmother said keep busy, have friends, don't be self-absorbed."

If we listened to these wise old heads, Perry concludes, "we wouldn't need all those books."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:10 PM | Permalink

Learning from Experience

He was not a brilliant strategist or tactician, not a gifted orator, not an intellectual.  At several crucial moments he had shown marked indecisiveness.  He had  made serious mistakes in judgment.  But experience had been his great teacher from boyhood, and in this his greatest test, he learned steadily from experience.

This description is from David McCullough's soon-to-be published biography of George Washington, "1776,"  parts of which are excerpted in Newsweek.

Learning from experience can be very hard.  Just look at how many of us keep making the same mistakes over and over again.  You've heard it said that each of us is given certain lessons of life to learn. 

How do you know when? 

Whenever you feel victimized, annoyed, frustrated or stuck, you could ask yourself the question what am I supposed to learn here?

Surprisingly, you'll always come up with an answer.  That's learning from experience.

I'm so looking forward to rethinking Washington with this new biography.  I want to understand better how this rich, vain slaveholder  became such a stunning leader of men.  Fearless,  hopeful and persevering, he would lead a rag tag group of rebels with his sheer commanding and compelling physical presence to defeat the most powerful army in the world.  What was it about him?


McCullough writes:
If you know history, you know there is no such thing as a self-made man or self-made woman.  We are shaped by people we have never met.

That's certainly true of Washington, our founding father.  Every American alive today owes at least an occasional moment of gratitude and appreciation to those long ago who in 1776

carried the fight for independence forward a year of all-too-few victories, of sustained suffering, disease, hunger, desertion, cowardice, disillusionment, defeat, terrible discouragement, and fear, as they would never forget, but also of phenomenal courage and bedrock devotion to country, and that, too, they would never forget.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:54 PM | Permalink

May 17, 2005

Foreign Babe in Beijing

A China scholar, fluent in Mandarian, Rachel DeWoskin graduated with honors from Columbia, then took off for China getting a job at a U.S. PR firm

She became one of the most widely watched TV stars on the planet, playing a sexy American on a hit Chinese soap opera. 

Terrific interview found via the bookofjoe

Now a book, Foreign Babes in Beijing: Behind the Scenes of a New China.  From the Booklist review.

An executive for an American PR firm by day, by night DeWoskin is the unlikely star of one of China's first television soap operas, an equally unlikely melodrama involving a sexy American college student who wins the love of a rebellious young Chinese man. The merging of two disparate worlds onscreen is nothing compared to the cultural assimilation DeWoskin observes transpiring within China itself in the years immediately following Tiananmen Square. Hers is the ultimate insider's view, living witness to the philosophical and practical aspects of a traditional and repressed society's tumultuous confrontation with liberated, energetic, and economically dynamic Western influences. Exhibiting sensitivity and uncommon wisdom, DeWoskin delivers a candid and valuable portrait of a China few Westerners get to see.

Fearless, smart and lucky, Rachel understands the Business of Life.™

                    Foreign Babes

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:11 PM | Permalink

Health Benefits of the Virtual World

Not just for kids anymore, video games help stroke patients.    "Moving" their bodies in virtual reality improved climbing steps, walking and standing.

HT medpundit  

Other virtual health benefits?  Blogging in the early stages of Alzheimer's really improves the quality of life.  As reported by Wired News in  Blog to Cope with Alzheimer's Fog, blogging helps Alzheimer's sufferers to "recall tasks completed and milestones passed,"  to categorize and store memories online and to reach out to others experiencing memory loss.

Stories of other people who have been through what you're going through are tremendously helpful.  Going virtual means a single story can help people around the world - like this story in a  A Year to Remember  by woman who published her journals about caring for her mother with Alzheimer's just so others could take solace.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:13 AM | Permalink

My Daddy is a Donor

What does it feel like to know that you were created with donated sperm or a rented womb?

The Chicago Tribune today has a story about such donor-conceived children who suffer not knowing anything about their real fathers or mothers  even as they are protective of their nurturing , generally same-sex couples.    Their search to make sense of themselves and their origins is  painful when people tell them "it shouldn't matter."

...[D]onor-conceived children know that the parents raising them are also the ones who intentionally created them with a severed relationship to at least one of their biological parents. The pain they feel was caused not by some distant, shadowy person who gave them up, but by the parent who cares for them.

This knowledge brings the loyalty and love they naturally feel for the parents raising them in direct conflict with the identity quest we all must go through. When they ask, "Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here?" they confront a welter of painful uncertainties our culture hasn't begun to understand.

From Kids need a real past by Elizabeth Marquardt.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:29 AM | Permalink

May 16, 2005

Moving Times

Moving is sometimes happy, sometimes sad, never easy.  I suppose it also depends on where you are in your life and the circumstances propelling the move.   

It's too easy just to focus on all that must be done to sell or buy a home.  Not a small job.

Still and all, moving is another form of reinventing your life.  Your attitude about what you can do affects your experience.  Here are two interesting blogs about the personal experience of moving.

Garden for Sale Home Included starting off with stories about her garden.

A Sense of Place, finding somewhere to call home by my friend Ronni Benett who also writes at Time Goes by

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:12 PM | Permalink

Inner Slacker

Jory Des Jardins continues her series on working without a net, adventures of the unemployed/self-employed, most recently on her inner slacker.

I've had an interesting relationship with my body. In the past it has been a vehicle, like a beaten up Honda that I drove everywhere because it got me places. I never thought to maintain it, or give it premium gas, and when it rebelled and broke down I was often pissed at it and pushed it harder. During times of full-time employment I tended to drive it to dangerous levels. These days I am much more willing to admit that I live in it; I notice it much more.

I was a lot like Jory for much of my life.  Far more in my head than in my body. 

Yoga, which I've been doing for 12 years now, changed all that. 

I've become so aware of my body, all its different parts and how well it works, that I've found myself in the shower -  where my best mediation is done  -  thanking my feet, then my legs and arms for all that they do.  Feet, especially, I think don't get enough gratitude. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:48 AM | Permalink

May 14, 2005

Kids Too Busy for Their Own Good?

At the UCLS Center on Everyday Lives of Families, a recent study concludes that family dynamics are changing dramatically with both parents working outside the home -they are barely coping. 

From Compassion at stake for families in motion by Joseph Verrengia

That change means parents and children live virtually apart at least five days a week. When they are together, today’s families tend to stay in motion with lessons, classes and games.

Mothers in the UCLA study still bear the key household and child-rearing responsibilities, even while working full time.

Researchers contend that this appears to erode families from within, like a rusting minivan dropping parts as it clatters down the highway.
What’s falling by the wayside? Playtime. Conversation. Courtesy. Intimacy.

“We’ve scheduled and outsourced a lot of our relationships,” said the study’s director, Elinor Ochs, a linguistic anthropologist. “There isn’t much room for the flow of life, those little moments when things happen spontaneously, and we’re moving from a child-centered society to a child-dominated society. Parents don’t have a life after the children go to bed.”

For Ochs,
the most worrisome trend is how indifferently people treat each other, especially when they reunite at the day’s end. Other human cultures — even other species like wolves — greet each other in elaborate ways that reinforce social bonds. In her view, the chilly exchanges repeated in so many of the study’s households suggest something has gone awry.

“Returning home at the end of the day is one of the most delicate and vulnerable moments in life,” Ochs said. “Everywhere in the world, in all societies, there is some kind of greeting.

“But here, the kids aren’t greeting the parents and the parents are allowing it to go on,” Ochs said. “They are tiptoeing around their children.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:07 PM | Permalink

May 13, 2005

Extra credit if grandma dies

From the Annals of Improbable Research, the Dead Grandmother / Exam Syndrome

The basic problem can be stated very simply: A student's grandmother is far more likely to die suddenly just before the student takes an exam, than at any other time of year.

And in Britain, extra credit given if a pet dies on day of exam, more if parent or grandparent, as reported by the BBC.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:42 PM | Permalink

May 12, 2005

Cleansing Widows

I had never heard of cleansing widows, a common ritual in some parts of rural Africa.  A widow is forced to have sex with one her late husband's relatives to break the bond with his spirit and save the rest of the village from insanity or disease.

Sharon LaFraniere, writing for the New York Times reports that AIDS is now compelling Africa to challenge this common tradition. 

In a number of nearby nations including Zambia and Kenya, a husband's funeral has long concluded with a final ritual: sex between the widow and one of her husband's relatives, to break the bond with his spirit and, it is said, save her and the rest of the village from insanity or disease. Widows have long tolerated it, and traditional leaders have endorsed it, as an unchallenged tradition of rural African life.

In the tragedy of AIDS in Africa - 25 million infected with HIV, 2.3 million dead last year alone, there are small glimmers of hope.  Women rights activists prodding political and tribal leaders to change a cultural practice I can only call barbaric, like another common cultural practice,  female genital mutilation.

I believe that one of the reasons the Catholic Church is having such success in Africa in attracting new converts and priests is that they offer a higher morality, one that respects and honors the individual man or woman. 

Those who think that  condoms and "safe sex" are the only way to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa, have failed to examine closely the success in Uganda.    Dr. Edward Green of the Harvard School of Public Health has.

Green, who examined the Ugandan experience scientifically, wrote in a recent report:
"Few in public health circles really believed — or even believe nowadays — that programs promoting abstinence, fidelity or monogamy, or even reduction in number of sexual partners, pay off in significant behavioral change. My own view of this changed when I evaluated HIV prevention programs in Uganda and Jamaica."

According to Green, HIV prevalence rates dropped 70 percent between 1991 and 2001.....

He added in his study: "Some reports continue to claim that the world's great success story in AIDS prevention, Uganda, owes its achievement to condoms, but this is not true."........

Nantulya credits Uganda's "zero-grazing" — or marital fidelity — campaign as the major reason for Uganda's success in fighting HIV/AIDS. Green added that according to the Demographic and Health Survey, 95 percent of all Ugandans age 15 to 49 now report practicing monogamy or abstinence.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:23 PM | Permalink

I'm sorry Mom

Sometimes people just don't know what to do or how to take care of a sick mother.  They resent what they are called upon to do, especially if they are young with their character still mostly unformed.

Jeff Harrell tells the painful story, one of guilt and still burning shame.   

Funny, how character is formed, how the gold is uncovered, the dross burned off in fire. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:49 AM | Permalink

May 10, 2005

Mom Happy to Go to Jail

A German mother of three is happy to go to jail instead of paying a parking fine so she can get a rest from her "demanding" children and "lazy" husband.

I don't doubt it for a moment.  I am the oldest of seven children and my mother loved working part time in a hospital emergency room when we were all young.  I heard from people she worked with that when she got to work, she'd say, "Thank God, I can relax."  In an emergency room!

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:58 PM | Permalink

Rating Diets and Balance Transfers

You listen to them about toasters, search them out to buy dryers, order special reports before you buy a car, now Consumer Reports rates diets.  Weight-watchers leads the pack.

Thanks Ken Leebow for the tip.  He learned it from Consumer World which also has a handy checklist about the 12 questions to ask before you sign on to that tempting balance transfer

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:37 PM | Permalink

May 9, 2005

Human Potential for Evil

Everyone is a potential torturer.  All humans are capable of committing torture and other acts of great evil according to an analysis of over 25,000 psychological studies involving 8 million participants by Susan Fiske and colleagues at Princeton University.

It's hard to avoid reports of human evil as we read reports on the 60th anniversaries of the liberation of the death camps and the victory in Europe.  Joshua Greene recounts the story of the liberation of Dachau and William Denson, the prosecutor from Alabama who brought Nazis to justice.

But this story by Seth Siegel in last Friday's Wall St Journal is about the rippling effects of good acts by ordinary people.  Yom HaShoah is Holocaust Memorial Day.

From its earliest observance, Yom HaShoah focused in part on the hopeful and heroic--the glimmers of light in the otherwise unremitting darkness of those years. "Who was a hero?" asks Dr. Jacob J. Schacter, dean of the (Orthodox) Rabbi Soloveitchik Institute in Boston. "Ghetto fighters, partisans, resisters of any kind, even those who continued to live a moral life in the face of such evil."

In preparation for this year's Yom HaShoah, a Jewish school in New York discovered one such act of defiance and survival. At a recent parents' meeting at the progressive Abraham Joshua Heschel School on Manhattan's Upper West Side, two fathers of young daughters introduced themselves and learned, remarkably, that both of their fathers had been born in the same small Ukrainian town.

The Heschel parents, an American and an Israeli, realized that, since there was only a single Nazi transport from the town, both of their fathers were undoubtedly on the same train bound for an extermination camp in October 1942. The American told of his then 19-year-old father, who escaped by jumping through a plank he had dislodged from above a window in the car. His father, telling the story, always added that, before he jumped, he pushed a boy up and out through that loosened plank.

The Israeli instantly knew who the boy was, for his own father had always told of how there was an opening too high for him to reach--he was then age 11--and of how an older boy lifted him up and pushed him out. The two boys never saw each other again, but each, miraculously, survived the war by hiding in Ukrainian farms and forests. Now their children, so far in time and space from these events, came to learn that their daughters are in the same class.

In earlier years, the school's Yom HaShoah memorials have featured Heschel grandparents, including leaders of anti-Nazi partisan groups and survivors who described life in the ghettos. Those presentations were extraordinary, but perhaps none was equal to this story of entwined generations--and the hope it offers.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:02 AM | Permalink

May 6, 2005


Here's a wonderful passalong for Mother's Day.  I'd love to credit the original author of these "Momisms" but I don't know who it is.  If you do, let me know.


My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE. If you're going to kill each other, do it  outside.  I just finished cleaning.

My mother  taught me RELIGION. You better pray that will come out of the carpet.

My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL. If you don't straighten up, I'm going to  knock you into the middle of next week!

My  mother taught me LOGICBecause I said so, that's  why.

My mother taught me MORE  LOGIC. If you fall out of that swing and break your  neck, you're not going to the store with me.

My mother taught me FORESIGHT.  Make sure you wear clean underwear in case you're in an accident.

My  mother taught me IRONY.  Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about.

My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS.   Shut your mouth and eat your supper.

My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM.  Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!

My mother taught me about STAMINA.    You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone.

My mother taught me about WEATHER.    This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it.

My mother taught me about  HYPOCRISY.    If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!

My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE. I brought you into this world,  and I can take you out.

My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION. Just wait until we get home

My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE. If you don't stop crossing  your eyes, they are going to freeze that way.

My  mother taught me ESP. Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you are cold?

My mother taught me HUMOR. When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me.

  My mother taught me GENETICS. You're just like your father.

My mother taught me about my ROOTS. Shut  that door behind you.  Do you think you were born in a barn?

My mother taught me WISDOM. When you get to be my age, you'll understand.

My mother taught  me about JUSTICE. One day you'll have kids and I hope they turn out just like you!

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:21 PM | Permalink

May 5, 2005

Bad Medicine-Episiotomies

Over a million are performed each year on women, yet the evidence is overwhelming against this unnecessary and damaging procedure, episiotomies. 

According to an analysis by the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality, at the behest of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, episiotomies performed on women have no benefit whatsoever.

In fact, an episiotomy -- a preemptory incision, theoretically intended to prevent pregnant women from experiencing torn tissue during labor -- probably makes such complications more likely and causes more pain and worse side effects as well.

Did I mention there are over one million performed each year on American women?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:17 PM | Permalink

Mom's Salary

With 11 million stay-at-home Moms caring for 41 million children under 15, has estimated that each, if paid at prevailing rates for the jobs they do, would earn about $131,471//year.  And that's without a 401(k)

They estimated the salaries of a day care worker, van driver, housekeeper, cook, CEO, nurse and general maintenance worker to come up with a base pay of $43, 461 and overtime of $88,009.

Makes the gift you've chosen for Mother's Day seem sort of puny, doesn't it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:09 PM | Permalink

Just a Minute, Save a Life

There is a very short window (3 hours) after a person has a stroke within which the administration of a clot-busting drug can limit disability and brain damage.  Currently, only 2% of stroke patients reach an emergency room in time for tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) to be given.

Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.

Now there is a very simple way or test to determine whether a person is suffering a stroke. 

• Ask the individual to SMILE
• Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS
• Ask the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE

If he or she has trouble with any of these tasks, call 9-1-1 immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher. Researchers are urging the general public to learn to ask these three questions quickly, to someone they suspect of having a stroke. Widespread use of this test could result in prompt diagnosis and treatment of a stroke, and prevent permanent brain damage.

From a
report from the American Stroke Association. You'll find the same report at the American Heart Association. Just a minute: Bystanders may identify stroke symptoms in 60 seconds.

Each year some 600,000 Americans experience stroke. Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:11 AM | Permalink

May 4, 2005

Meditate, Live Longer

It may be that if you practice meditation regularly, you will live longer, a recent study suggests.

Attending religious services weekly may benefit your health in many ways according to the WSJ's Health Journal yesterday:  there's a social network, meditation and a set of values that discourages unhealthy behaviors. 

Most important may be the practice of turning to prayer or meditation in times of anger and distress and thus diminishing the harmful effects of negative emotions.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:27 PM | Permalink

Write long in the SAT

If you want your kids to do well in the SATs, just tell them to write at length in the essay part and don't worry about making mistakes.

In the New York Times, SAT essay test rewards length and ignores error.

He was stunned by how complete the correlation was between length and score. "I have never found a quantifiable predictor in 25 years of grading that was anywhere near as strong as this one," he said. "If you just graded them based on length without ever reading them, you'd be right over 90 percent of the time." The shortest essays, typically 100 words, got the lowest grade of one. The longest, about 400 words, got the top grade of six. In between, there was virtually a direct match between length and grade.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:07 PM | Permalink

May 3, 2005

Emerging After a Lost Decade

Donald Herbert was fighting a house fire in 1999 when the roof collapsed burying him under debris, depriving him of air.  This Buffalo firefighter was comatose for about 3 months, brain-damaged and mute for the past 9 years.

Saturday he asked for his wife, then spent 14 hours catching up with his 4 sons and other family and friends.

The word of the day was Amazing.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:27 PM | Permalink

May 2, 2005

Who's a Tomboy?

Tomboy tools, are tools and home improvement techniques for women, by women. 

            Tomboy Tools

Their philosophy? Empower women to become confident and competent homeowners with the tools they need to repair and improve their most valuable asset, their homes.  There's a very good forum for asking home improvement questions and getting good answers.

Tomboy, by the way, is defined as "a girl who determines her own destiny."  And that includes all the single, divorced and widowed women who own homes.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:22 PM | Permalink

33 million times a week

Someone is trying to steal your identity through Phishing scams

Phishing, if you don't know the word, is the scam that deceives users into revealing personal information that can then be used to steal your identity.

33 million times a week according to Symantec.

Here are a few tips to protect yourself from Computer Security News

1. Don’t click on links offered in email text, which can often be redirected to illegitimate websites. Instead, type the domain name directly into your browser.

2. Be suspicious of any website address that doesn’t end in “.com”.

3. Check that the website is secure. A secure website begins with “https” rather than “http”. Look for a “lock” symbol at the bottom corner of the web page and click on any “SSL Certificates” to make sure they are valid.

4. Keep your browser and Windows operating system updated. Microsoft and other software providers frequently release security patches that close holes in your computer system. These holes could be exploited by Phishers if left un-patched.

5. If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply or click on the links. Legitimate companies do not ask for this information via email.

6. Review credit card and bank statements as soon as you receive them. Notify your bank immediately if you notice any unauthorized charges or suspect you are the victim of identity theft.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:36 PM | Permalink

Kitchen Myths

What do the following have in common?

Searing meat seals in the juices.
A box of baking soda in the fridge absorbs odors.
Use water instead of milk to make scrambled eggs.
Sushi means raw fish.
Avoid aluminum cookware because of Alzheimer's disease.
Gas stoves are better than electric.

They are all FALSE. 

Kitchen myths has done the research.

HT grow a brain

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:36 PM | Permalink

May 1, 2005

Fill Our Lives with Beauty

While looking for something to illustrate the last post, I came across this beautiful image of a lotus and a far more powerful rule of life, Paint Our Days with Colors, Fill Our Lives with Beauty.    Actually, there were two and I couldn't decide between youth and experience.

      Lilies -Youth And Experience

I wanted to give credit to the artist, now I want to tell his story.  From Earth to Sky is a gallery featuring the watercolor works of Zen (aka C-C) Chuang who's not only an artist but a physician as well.  His motto( a too small a word, and I'll be damned before I call it a mission statement, maybe it's a banner or a gonfalon) is Paint Our Days with Colors, Fill Our Lives with Beauty.

Born in Taiwan where he began painting watercolors, by way of Argentina where he spent his teens before making the US his home, Zen graduated from Brown with a degree in biochemistry and studio art and then, a medical degree from Yale School of Medicine.  While in medical school  he wrote and illustrated a children's book Gee-Chi about a little bird who finally finds his voice and a friend.  Take the time to leaf through Gee-Chi on his website (that Zen created and manages).  It hasn't been published  because he's not certain the story is just right yet.

      Little Bird Gee-Chi

A profile in January's ArtBusiness News reveals that he takes his easel and brushes wherever he goes and he has gone through much of the United States, treating people in medically underserved areas  "from the Painted Desert of Arizona to the arctic tundra in Alaska; from the foothills of the Maine mountains to the countryside in the Carolinas."

He begins his morning with a brush in hand, painting as meditation what he calls the "coins in life"  - the visual delights he can share through the wonder of his watercolors.  He paints the "essence" of peaches, of an autumn leaf, of a butterfly, approaching more closely the nature of things.  Clearly his study of biochemistry informs his art.  He's quoted in the profile, "What’s underneath a brilliant leaf shining in the sun are billions of cells operating on the microscopic level."

      Sugar Maple

Then it's off to a busy, solo family practice in Taunton, Mass, treating newborns, the dying and everyone in between.  It's the human condition up close and Chuang relishes his opportunity to "watch the life cycle every day." 

Another feature in Yale Medicine captures his sensibility,  "He tries to see each day as a gift. “There is so much adversity. … But most of us go through daily life without any big problems. That in itself is a miracle. That’s something we take for granted, like the air.”

Rounding out his day may be the course he teaches to first year medical students at Brown, "Art and Medicine," designed to enhance their observation skills and encouraging them to become more creative and humanistic doctors.

He's living an integral life and now he's putting all in one place - a colonial house with offices on the first floor, a studio upstairs, a gallery in the garage, and a healing garden where this spring it blooms with thousands of bulbs planted by Brown University students, part of the web of relationships that support his life.

Doesn't he look like a happy man?  He really understands the Business of Life.

                        Zen Chuang

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:32 PM | Permalink

Reality TV in Monastery

Changes five lives forever.  Five men underwent a spiritual makeover spending 40 days and 40 nights with Benedictine monks.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:40 AM | Permalink