June 30, 2005

More inviting and interesting

Larry Derfner, a blue state liberal now living in Israel writes in the Jerusalem Post,  Rattling the Case, God Bless America about Billy Graham's last crusade and seeing evangelists as people.
Those quarter-million congregants on the grass at Flushing Meadows were regular Americans with an emotional, spiritual need.
Leticia Mateo, a 32-year-old university administrator from New Jersey, described to The New York Times her experience of the crusade.    "It's like an opening in your heart. You feel like you're behind bars and someone has given you the key to get out," she said.
How can anyone not root for such people?
But the point is that America's religious revival is more than just a right-wing political phenomenon. It has also brought Americans of different races and economic classes together; brought community to towns, suburbs and neighborhoods that were being atomized by modern American life, and brought recovery to millions of Americans whose lives were being destroyed by alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence and the whole menu of contemporary American afflictions.
For all the irrationalism and Christian American chauvinism this religious revival has contributed to American politics, it has another side: that of an open-hearted, egalitarian social movement.
If I, a traditional blue-state liberal, think about people instead of just about politics, then the new, born-again America doesn't scare me at all. As a society, in fact, it seems more inviting and interesting than the one I left.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:59 PM | Permalink

Twists and Turns

If your house were severely damaged in the landslide at Laguna Beach and dangled over a cliff, but you were allowed 15 minutes to venture inside under the supervision of emergency workers to recover keepsakes and valuables, what would you take?

Albert Trevino, 74, got his passport, some documents, and his wife's favorite painting of the Mission San Juan Capistrano  that he bought for $50 at a garage sale some 25 years ago.  His son said, "The only reason I grabbed it was because my Mom loved the Mission so much.  At least that way they'd always have something they love if they move into a new house."

The Trevinos took the painting to the home of Pat Hagen, a family friend and artist, for safe-keeping, who said, "I stepped out, around the corner and said, 'Oh my God, that's so beautiful'."

Then she noticed the artist's signature, Joseph Kleitsch, a pioneer  of the California plein-air movement, who lived and painted in Laguna Beach before his death in 1931. 

A Laguna Beach art dealer appraised "Evening Shadows"  at $500,000.

Albert Trevino said, "Isn't life just a series of twists and turns?  You never know what can happen."

With no insurance coverage for landslides, the Trevinos plan to use the money to build a new house.

For twenty years, the painting hung on the living room wall, but two months before the slide, the painting was moved to another room, and a lucky thing too since no one could have ventured into the living room dangling off the cliff.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:22 PM | Permalink

June 29, 2005

Tsunami aftermath, traumatized people

Juliet Coomb, a volunteer and photojournalist from Melbourne, interviewed  children who survived the Asian Tsunami

"The first few days we cried not due to the death of our families but fear of these big machines held by giants with white faces that shine bright in our eyes.'"

It is not just for the expressive and lucid photography by the children once they were given cameras that Evelyn Rodriguez will be visiting Peraliya again.  Out of Tragedy, Meaning.

The mental health crisis the tsunami left behind is unimaginable.  Normal grief over the loss of loved ones has been compounded by the loss of homes, livelihood and entire community networks says a press release from the World Health Organization.  WHO is working with local organizations to train community-based workers to be counselors for traumatized individuals.

UPDATE:  Since I have a very strong, sometimes overactive blacklist, it's impossible for some people to add comments.  Here's what Evelyn Rodriguez wrote me:

Jill, Thanks. Actually Satinder Bindra, CNN's New Delhi Bureau Chief,
wrote that wonderful piece; and he says he is going back. I was really
struck by what he wrote and he's moved me to go to Peraliya, Sri
Lanka, this winter (with other writers, bloggers, photographers) for
the tsunami anniversary. The main theme is to take an in-depth look at
how people are rebuilding emotionally, psychologically, spiritually
over one year's time as I think their stories could shed light for
anyone confronted with trauma and loss in their own lives.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:06 PM | Permalink

Condemned to live

Martin Fletcher tells the story of Wafa al Biri, the 21 year old Palestinian woman whose greatest wish was to kill 30-50 Jews, including the doctor who saved her life.

When a gas cooker blew up while she was making dinner, burning her everywhere, she was taken from the Palestinian hospital to the Israeli hospital at Soroka. 

Dr. Yuval Krieger, the Israeli doctor who treated Wafa, said she arrived from the Palestinian hospital of Shifa with infected burn wounds. The treatment she had was not good and her burns were dressed incorrectly.
"Did you save her life?" Krieger was asked.
"I believe so, yes," he replied.
Before she was burned her mom told me that Wafa was a very funny girl, very active, laughing a lot," Latifah said. "But after the burning she became very tired and depressed. And often Wafa said to me, ‘I can't live like this, I am so ugly, I want to commit suicide.’ She had a fiance. But after the accident he left her. Then she kept crying, ‘Nobody will want me, I am too ugly, my body is scarred everywhere’."

When Wafa was released from Soroka, she didn't want to leave, Latifah said. "She was screaming, shouting, ‘Please don't let me go. I am better here. I'm going to die.’ But they made her leave, on a stretcher, and they took her home to Gaza."

In the Jabalya refugee camp, jilted by her fiance, surrounded by shamed brothers, scared parents and poverty, Wafa al-Biri was the worst of cases.

She was easy pickings for someone with a bomb and a cause. According to Wafa, the al-Aqsa militants came knocking. Here was a vulnerable young woman, willing to die, and moreover with the golden ticket — a pass for humanitarian reasons to a hospital in Israel.

After all, who would check the underwear of a sick young woman on her way to the hospital?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:33 PM | Permalink

"I must die or be better"

From Uncovering the Real Abe Lincoln in Time magazine, July 4.  Specifically,  Doris Kearns Goodwin's piece on Lincoln's emotional strengths that made him The Master of the Game.

Generosity of Spirit
Sense of Balance
A Social Conscience

At the lowest point in his life, in a deep depression, Lincoln wrote:

"I am now the most miserable man living," he wrote a friend at the time. "If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth. Whether I shall ever be better I can not tell; I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better, it appears to me."

His friends were worried that he was suicidal and removed all razors and knives from his room. Throughout the nadir of Lincoln's depression, his best friend, Joshua Speed, stayed by his side. In a conversation both men would remember as long as they lived, Speed warned Lincoln that if he did not rally, he would most certainly die.
Lincoln replied that he was more than willing to die, but that he had "done nothing to make any human being remember that he had lived," and that "to link his name with something that would redound to the interest of his fellow man was what he desired to live for."

Even in this moment of despair, the strength of Lincoln's desire to leave "the world a little better for my having lived in it" carried him forward. It became his lodestar, providing a set of principles and standards to guide his everyday actions.

Finding his meaning and purpose saved Lincoln's life.  With that lodestar to guide his actions, he went on to leave his Great Legacy.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:54 PM | Permalink

June 28, 2005

..And a time to die

Sharon Kaufman, a professor of medical anthropology at the University of California, San Francisco, has written a deep, quite remarkable book on how American hospitals shape the life at the end of life.

"And a Time to Die : How American Hospitals Shape the End of Life" (Dr. Sharon Kaufman)

For over a thousand years, death was a public event, not the private family matter as we understand it.  The art of dying well provided the model for the deathbed scene when it unfolded in public view,  the passage into the unknown seen as a spiritual one.

By the 18th century, the art of medicine made death more visible and the dying person was transformed into the patient.  Today we experience the "problem of dying" because new technologies allow a new state of being - "death in life".  The Karen Quinlan case began a new way of speaking about death - "a matter of deciding when a person should die and when a person should be considered dead."

We've gone from death watch to billable treatments.

The notion of  patient autonomy is actually applied only within a narrow sphere-decision-making about specific medical treatments offered by individual doctors.  Patients and families are given choices only among the options made available by hospital rules, reimbursement mechanisms and standards of care.  Death is rarely spoken until shortly before it occurs.  Until then tests and treatments continue.  There is a huge conflict between aggressive medical care and palliative care with every instinct of the hospital pushing people towards lifesaving treatment.

Old age as a disease rather than a developmental process that includes decline toward death has become a more compelling truth that drives hospital practice today.  Since 1913, the last year one could die of "old age,  the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) requires a bureaucratic listing of a discrete disease for every death.

The idea of a good death as one that gave the dying an opportunity to say farewell and to prepare to cross the threshold to the afterlife has morphed into a death that is quick, unconscious or at least painless.  More recently, the emphasis is on the individual patient's control of the style of death and " 'good' mostly indicates a death that is "aware, pain-free and in which psychological and worldly business are completed."

"The pervasive quest for an emotionally satisfying death exists uneasily with the fact that dying has become a technical endeavor, a negotiated decision and a murky matter biologically.  Potential litigation hangs over and even guides health practitioner activity.  These developments have an enormous impact on how life at the end of life is made and interpreted."

A difficult book and an important one.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:38 PM | Permalink

Zombie Dogs

SCIENTISTS have created eerie zombie dogs, reanimating the canines after several hours of clinical death in attempts to develop suspended animation for humans. 

US scientists have succeeded in reviving the dogs after three hours of clinical death, paving the way for trials on humans within years.

-----......this should be enough to save lives such as battlefield casualties and victims of stabbings or gunshot wounds, who have suffered huge blood loss.

The results are stunning. I think in 10 years we will be able to prevent death in a certain segment of those using this technology," said one US battlefield doctor.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:29 PM | Permalink

Bob Parson's Rules for Survival

Bob Parsons learned his survival lessons through his own life experiences that include being a rifleman in the Marines during Vietnam and founder of three  businesses, LeaseAmerica, Parsons Technology and the Go Daddy Group.

He has sixteen rules.  Here's a taste.

• Get and stay out of your comfort zone.
• When you're ready to quit, you're closer than you think.
• Focus on what you want to have happen.
• Measure everything of significance

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:51 AM | Permalink

June 27, 2005

Is Fidelity in the Genes?

Fidelity to one's partner may be in the genes. 

The New Scientist reports:

ONE piece of so-called "junk" DNA appears to have a surprising role. In voles at least, a particular stretch of non-coding DNA seems to control a male's fidelity.

The world we are creating will bring about changes we can't even imagine.   

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:58 PM | Permalink

A wash of love

A wash of love is how one woman describes how she feels when she's breast feeding her baby.  That's oxytocin at work. 

Testosterone is the hormone that causes the "fight or flight" reaction. A predominately male hormone, it's released during times of stress and manifested as aggression or withdrawal.

Oxytocin is the hormone that causes females to "tend and befriend" other women.  Women are much more social in the way they cope with stress. They depend on friends to get them through tough times.

Shelley Taylor, author of "The Tending Instinct" and a social neuroscientist at the University of California, says, "That difference alone contributes to the gender difference in longevity."

From Science is looking at women's innate need for friendship

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:09 PM | Permalink

More drinking better wine

Something happens in middle age when you realize the road ahead is shorter than the road that got you there.    Time is more precious because you realize you will run out and you don't know when.

Time to live for real, time to live on purpose.

Here's how Rob Paterson describes his 55th birthday.

So for me there is a poignancy of reaching a milestone. Life has become very precious for me as I acknowledge that my father had less than a year to live when he reached his 55th. How much time do I have? How much time do you have? What would it mean to have less than a year to live?

Of course none of us know and it may only be an hour or a day for many of us but we imagine that we have decades ahead of us.

For much of my youth I imagined that I had time.
No more bullshit for me now only life.

No more worrying about silly things. No more wasting time with people who make me feel bad. No more working for things that mean nothing.

More play. More being with those that I love. More doing dangerous things that do mean something. More being nice to myself. More doing and less thinking. More time with dogs and nature.

More drinking better wine. More with my body and less with my mind. More love less bitterness. More love. More love.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:59 PM | Permalink

Advice you'll never use

Just in case, here from the San Francisco Chronicle are the ten things you should do if you encounter a UFO

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:56 PM | Permalink

June 23, 2005

Preventing Alzheimer's

The first Alzheimer's Association International Conference on the Prevention of Dementia is being held in Washington, D.C.

There being highlighted is a "stream of studies" that show how simple lifestyle changes such as being socially engaged and watching how you eat, drink and exercise may have a preventative effect against developing Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

Future treatments for Alzheimer's disease may run the gamut from calisthenics combined with singing, Chinese herbs, immune-boosting therapies and insulin delivered to the brain via the nose.
----Several of the proposed treatment methods target beta-amyloid, the abnormal brain protein that is thought to be the culprit behind Alzheimer's disease.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:39 PM | Permalink

Cost of Alzheimers

Some 28 million suffer world wide at a direct care cost of $156 billion annually reports a team of Swedish scientists in Worldwide Alzheimer'[s Care Carries Staggering Costs.  This does not include the indirect costs of the time and effort expended by friends, family and neighbors to care for the sufferer.

In the US, caring for some 3 million Alzheimer patients costs about $50 billion/year.

"This is the most costly disease for our society," said study lead author Dr. Bengt Winblad, chief physician at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm and the Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge. "It's more costly than both cardiovascular disease and cancer put together."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:28 PM | Permalink

Outside Fiduciaries and Company Stock

More than 27% of all workers hold at least half of their 401(k) balance in company stock.  Some 7% have their entire account in company stock. 

Generally financial planners say no more than 15% of your overall stock should be in your employer's stock.    The debacle of Enron, with hundreds of thousands losing their entire retirement savings is the lesson in point.

Given the recent rash of lawsuits against Merck & Co, Krispy Kreme, General Motors, AIG, EDS and others alleging that company executives breached their fiduciary duty by NOT getting workers out of company stock, things are changing

More and more companies are hiring outside consultants to oversee the handling of company stock in employee retirement plans.

For employees it's an extra layer of protection.  For independent fiduciaries like State Street and US Trust , it's a rich new source of business.

Retirement Plans Get New Safeguards, Wall St Journal (subscription only)

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:12 PM | Permalink

Finding Time

Need to find more time? 

The Wall Street Journal has a new series called Finding Time with tips to keep up with the news,  clean, keep up with technology, and finding time for friendships, personal finances, exercise, reading and networking.

I think an online subscription to the Wall Street Journal is well worth it for its wealth of information and you'll need to access Finding Time

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:01 PM | Permalink

Vitamin improves memory

So are there any vitamins you can take to help your aging memory?

Dutch scientists say yes, folic acid.  New research unveiled Monday show about 800 micrograms of folic acid a day slowed brain drain

Folic acid which provides folate, is found naturally in oranges, strawberries, dark green leafy vegetables and beans. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:13 PM | Permalink

Free advice from a lawyer

Handy advice from a lawyer who writes from his own experience, a passalong email.   

Your checks

  • When next you order checks, have only the initials of your first name printed. If someone takes your checkbook, they will not know if you sign your checks with just your initials or your first name, but your bank will know how you sign your checks
  • Never have your social security number printed on your check.  You can always add it if necessary.
  • Put your work phone number on your checks instead of your home phone.  If you have a PO Box use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a PO Box, use your work address.
  • When you are writing checks to pay on your  credit card accounts, DO NOT put the complete account number on the "For" line. Instead, just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels won't have access to it.

Your credit cards

  • Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put "PHOTO ID REQUIRED".     See update.

Your wallet    

  • Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Do both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in  your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call  and cancel.      While you’re at it, make a photocopy of your passport.
  • Next to each card, write down the toll free number to call if the card is stolen.  Don’t forget the number to the Registry of Motor Vehicles 
  • Keep the photocopy in a safe place. Thieves work fast.  The key to stopping them –and limiting your damage - is to cancel cards quickly.

If your wallet is stolen    

  • File a police report immediately where it was stolen. This proves to credit providers that you were diligent and it’s the first step toward an investigation if there is one.
  • Report your cards stolen and cancel them. Believe me, you will be SO glad you  made that photocopy
  • Call the three national credit reporting organizations to place a fraud alert on your name and social security number.  This prevents thieves from applying for credit cards in your name.  Such an alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.   
  • Here are the numbers you need.  Keep this with the photocopy of your credit cards.

1. Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
2. Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
3. Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289   
4. Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271 

UPDATE:  From two commenters.    Seems as if you must sign the card as Visa merchants will not accept the card if not signed.

UPDATE 2:  If you haven't seen Zug's hilarious credit card prank, you owe it to yourself to be one of the 30 million who have done so. Only then are you ready to appreciate credit card prank 2   It seems as if no one ever checks the signature.  Many thanks to Mike at Info Sec News Blog

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:18 AM | Permalink

Most doctors believe in God

Surprisingly, most doctors believe in God and in an afterlife a recent survey reveals that will appear shortly in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

In a survey of 1044 doctors across the nation, 76% said they believe in God, 59% belief in some sort of an afterlife and 55% said their religious beliefs influence how they practice medicine.

Dr. J. Edward Hill, president of the American Medical Association, said religion and medicine are completely compatible, as long as doctors do not force their own beliefs on patients.
Belief in "a supreme being ... is vitally important to physicians' ability to take care of patients, particularly the end-of-life issues that we deal with so often," said Hill, a family physician from Tupelo, Miss

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:11 AM | Permalink

June 22, 2005

What's so funny?

Via Medpundit and the Journal of the American Medical Association

At 4 PM on a March day, a 32-year-old, previously healthy barber was standing and cutting a client’s hair. The client related a funny story, upon which the barber broke out into a very strong, sustained, loud, and unrestrained laughing fit during which, according to observers, he "blacked out" and fell to the floor. Although he sustained interscapular bruising and minor trauma to the right shoulder, he exhibited no seizure activity and no bladder or bowel incontinence. He regained consciousness within a few seconds, was completely oriented, had no apparent neurological deficit, and immediately resumed his work. He had been working on his feet throughout the day, but this was customary for him and he had never had a syncopal or near-syncopal episode before. The temperature at the time had been mild. The timing of his most recent meal was not recorded. The patient did not reveal the content of the story.

More evidence of the decline of health care in this country.  How could the Doctor not ask what the joke was? 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:20 PM | Permalink

Women"s Health Good News

Sometimes I forget to post a draft I wrote earlier, like this one I wrote in May.

Brains scans suggest women may be neurologically more vulnerable to alcohol than men.  CT scans show accelerated atrophy and shrinkage compared to men.  From Alcoholism-Linked Brain Damage Hits Women Sooner. 

The good news if you are a recovering alcoholic is that the damage started reversing once you stopped drinking.

Other good news.  Cholesterol Lowering Drugs May Protect Against Cancer.

Studies find simple lifestyle changes may reduce cancer's recurrence:  low-fat diets fight breast cancer; aspirin does same against colon cancer.

It's good for you, makes you feel good, and now Moderate Exercise May Reduce Risk for Ovarian Cancer.   

A dual treatment of mammograms and MRI's catch almost all breast cancers in high risk women.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:09 PM | Permalink

Fitness Blogs

Yes, there are fitness blogs and Trainer Pundit rounds them all up in Fit to Blog.    Pick any one as a personal motivator, you know, for those times when you say to yourself, I just don't feel like it...

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:22 PM | Permalink

June 21, 2005

Secrets of Successful Aging

How well we react to stress is one of the most significant factors for predicting how well we age writes Tara Parker Pope in the Wall Street Journal's The Secrets of Successful Aging.

"One of the myths of aging is to choose your parents wisely," says John W. Rowe, who, before becoming chairman of Aetna Inc., served as director of the MacArthur Foundation Research on Successful Aging, one of the largest aging studies in the country. "People feel there is a genetic program they are playing out. But since only about one-third of aging is heritable, the rest is acquired -- that means you are responsible for your own old age."

Staying connected with strong relationships is especially important.
Connectedness in old age is enormously important.

Second are the personality traits such a optimism, adaptability and a willingness to try new things.  People with such traits get over day to day stress sooner.

Other coping skills that you can develop are
• seeking control when you can
• getting accurate information so you know what to expect.
• keeping friends and family close
• finding exercise you like and doing it on a regular basis
• getting more sleep.

Plato once said, "Old age has a great sense of calm and freedom," but only if you get there and age well.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:02 PM | Permalink

Curt on Success

Lots of interesting posts over at Curt Rosengren's Occupational Adventure

There's the thirty career lessons from successful people including this one from Dionne Blackwell

Great questions to ask yourself like  How is this moving me forward?

Surprising tips - If you want to save big, you have to dream big  Who can stick to a long term savings plan unless your dreams fuel your will to save.

But most interesting is Curt's series of posts exploring what success means to him.   You want to read them all and as a spur to thinking about your own definition.  Curt lists career passion, financial abundance, time abundance, love, health, being present and meaning.

I would add of course Living and Leaving a Legacy.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:41 PM | Permalink

Preparing to care for your parents

Elinor Ginzler has written a guide for AARP titled, Caring for your Parents. 

Families also should make sure they have medical, financial, insurance and investment documents assembled in one place that everyone knows about to facilitate the decision-making, she said.
"There's often an array of services you don't know about because you haven't been thinking about it," Ginzler said in a
MarketWatch article by Kristen Gerencher.
Among the resources families can tap for information are www.AARP.org and the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging's site at www.AAHSA.org, she said. Visit the AARP. See the AAHSA site.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:33 PM | Permalink

Sperm babies on Father's Day

Just catching up on some Father's Day posts when I come across th

What do donor-sperm babies do on Father's Day? 

Many are adults now and they want to know more about their genetic dads.  Sperm donors' offspring.

As the first large generation of sperm donor babies comes of age, some are beginning to look for their biological dads, much as adopted children have sought out their birth parents. The searches pit young people's desire to discover their roots against donors' expectations that their identities never will be disclosed.

Like so many new developments, this one is unfolding in large part on the Internet, where many sperm donor offspring are posting queries about their origins and claiming a right to know their parentage.
In a survey of adolescents published in November in the journal Human Reproduction, researchers at the University of California-Davis found that the thing the children wanted most, other than the donor's name, was a picture.

"They are not looking to establish a father-son/daughter relationship and [they] are not looking for financial or other support," said Eric Blyth, a professor of social work at the University of Huddersfield in England, who has written extensively about the topic.

What they want, he says, is "a more complete sense of their identity."

"I feel my right to know who I am and where I come from has been taken away," she says.

Via Daddytalks who says

well, it seems no one was really thinking of the children when the whole spermbank thing started. Gee, you mean an industry that's almost entirely dependent on college students masturbating for beer money doesn't think much about the future consequences? There's a surprise.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:29 PM | Permalink

June 20, 2005

Another reason to Floss -Alzheimers

I may be making too much of this Swedish twin study that suggests possible Alzheimer's risk factors, but these are the three risk factors mentioned.

1. stroke

2. periodontal disease by mid-life

3. and less education than the twin.

All relate to brain health with periodontal disease a marker for inflammation. 

Would flossing help?  From probably to likely on the gum disease anyway.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:38 PM | Permalink

June 18, 2005

Health News Roundup

Some miscellaneous health links

Bipolar Disorder More Widespread Than Thought
New study: about 4.3% of US adults have some form of the illness

Green Tea May Protect Against Autoimmune Diseases
Tea compound suppressed immune-cell activity in skin and salivary glands.

Scientists Discover Lung Cell Linked to Cancer
Monitoring these stem cells could lead to earlier diagnoses

Lung Scans Could Spot Tumors Early
Catching cancer in its first stage is key to a cure, researchers say

Lifelong Friends Make Life Longer
Strong bonds may extend life span, study finds while close contact with  children and relatives has little impact on survival rates study finds.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:04 AM | Permalink

Clean House

One of the things "ladies" magazines used to do a lot more of was to give practical tips for keeping a house organized and clean. 

The phenomenal success of the magazine Real Simple is attributable to the dream every woman has of an organized home and the need for practical tips, all the better for being wrapped up in a beautifully designed package.  It was too long before their online website looked as good as their magazine, but too often, their solutions are fey or don't really cover the day to day gritty practicalities.

More practical and homespun advice can be found at FlyLady who says "We don't need new trash cans, a resupply of underwear or plastic containers to get rid of the CHAOS in our lives.  All we need is ROUTINES." which she gives you along with email reminders several times a day.    I joined for several weeks to see what it was like and I've never gotten more email in my life, rather like a hectoring aunt with occasional flashes of wit and brilliance.

Maria Cilley who runs FlyLady could get any woman feeling overwhelmed on the right track in a few weeks if you read the heart warming, sometimes heart-rendering letters that women send in. 

But this is the first blog I've seen on housecleaning. My clean house via of all people Bill Ives.

What ever happened to Hints from Heloise you ask.  Her daughter is carrying on at Heloise.com and answering your questions at an iVillage messageboard every week.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:45 AM | Permalink

Early returns on HSAs

Some 4 million Americans now have HSAs (Health Savings Accounts) and they have mixed feelings says a report this week in the Wall St Journal. (subscription only)  

The early picture -- based on the experience of companies that offer the plans, and research by consultants and plan providers -- suggests that participants aren't skimping on health care as some critics had feared. They are, however, frustrated by having to be health-care consumers because medical price and quality information still is so hard to come by.

Consumer-driven health plans -- arguably the biggest shift in health-care coverage since health maintenance organizations -- typically combine a high-deductible insurance plan with some sort of savings account that participants can use to pay for care until they meet the deductible.

A survey of 2500 consumers by McKinsey & Co found that those with health savings account were 50% more likely to ask providers about cost and 20% more likely to follow treatment regimens.  80% said they didn't have enough information on the prices doctors charge.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:05 AM | Permalink

June 17, 2005

Naked Conversation and Interview

Transparency is one of the things I love most about blogs.  You learn about the writer, what he or she cares about, whether they correct mistakes, how they respond to feedback, those little things which are everything when it comes to building trust.

Shel Israel  is one of those people I've come to trust without ever having met him, simply through his blog and emails.  Since I'm going to the  the Blogher conference at the end of July, I'm looking forward to meeting both him and Scobel, who will be attending and easy to spot in a room full of  women.

I first came across the Red Couch, now named Naked Conversations, when he and Robert Scobel posted chapter one, Blog or Die, in their new book, now title Naked Conversations, how blogs are changing the way businesses talk to customers.    The book itself is being posted chapter by chapter online for feedback in a remarkably transparent, real time experiment in publishing with each chapter only whetting my appetite for the whole thing.  Feedback, conversation and promotion all at the same time.  There you go, another reason for blogs.

I was pleased, honored and delighted to take part in an interview for the book when Shel contacted me.  I'm even more honored  and pleased that he's posted the interview even though it's not going to fit in the planned structure of the book. 

You will learn a lot more about me and what I'm doing and what I think about blogs, if you read the  Interview: Jill Fallon.    If you get the sense that I'd rather talk about other people than myself, you're right, so that's why you should read the interview.

cross-posted at Legacy Matters, Business of Life and Estate Legacy Vaults.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:53 PM | Permalink

June 16, 2005

How to Feel Rich

If you didn't read Ben Stein's How to Feel Rich in the New York Times, it's reprinted at Beliefnet. Don't miss it.

The secret to happiness is being grateful for everything.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:15 PM | Permalink

Helping with Medical Choices

There's a new and free website patientINFORM.org set up by a consortium of medical-journal publishers and patient-advocacy groups to help people navigate the world of health care research reports the Wall St Journal.  (subscription only)

The American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association have joined together to offer access to

selected medical-journal articles, and provide plain-language explanations of what the studies mean, how they compare with what's already known, and how patients should weigh them in making treatment decisions.

By putting research in context, the site will help patients make better choices. 

One example on the American Cancer Society site explains why two recent studies on prostate-cancer treatment in major medical journals that seemed to contradict each other are actually complementary (one found that those who opt for surgery are less likely to die while another suggested that some men can safely skip treatment). The former compared two treatment options while the latter looked at how men fared once they had already chosen a strategy of putting off treatment, known as "watchful waiting."

"For years, patients have been telling us they wish someone would explain to them what a study really means in practical terms," says J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, the American Cancer Society's deputy chief medical officer.

As Martha Stewart would say, "That's a good thing."    It's helping people with the Business of their Lives.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:00 PM | Permalink

Fish Oil and Breast Cancer

Another reason for splendid salmon  - or Fish Oil.  The good and essential fatty acids.

Fish Oil Compound Plus Anesthetic May Fight Breast Cancer
in lab, this combo cut tumor cell spread in half

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:58 AM | Permalink

June 15, 2005

Making up for lost time

If you wonder why people now find the Internet "most trustworthy" for health information, consider this story.

A wheelchair-bound woman diagnosed her illness online, got the right therapy, walked for the first time in 23 years, and is now headed to Nepal to go trekking.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:39 PM | Permalink

Living in a Zone

For seventy five minutes yesterday, a tsunami warning was in effect for the California coast triggered by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck about 83 miles off the coast of northern California. 

Below is the seismograph image

   Quake Off Coast

The Asian Tsunami, triggered by a magnitude 9 earthquake off Sumatra, killed more than 290,000 people with its surge of 16.5 feet.

If yesterday's earthquake had been a magnitude 9, it would have triggered a surge of more than 20 feet along the Washington and Oregon coasts according the UC Santa Cruz geophysicist Steven Ward.

The San Francisco Chronicle displays Ward's graphic of the impact of such a Tsunami surge along the West Coast here.  (HT  Wizbang)

Those of you in an earthquake zone living aside the beautiful coast of the Pacific  should look at yesterday's quake and brief tsunami warning as a SIGN or a BUMP.    Time to pack a go-bag and be prepared to flee with what you hold most dear.

A guy named Lileks commented on Gerard Vanderleun's Bump.

I have a Go-Sack, a Go-Bag, and a Go-Box. The Sack is in the closet, and contains requisites necessary for a trip from here to there, God forbid. The Box is in the garage, and can be thrown in the car in a second; it has food, electronics, fire, cooking tools, wind-up radios, pointy things, all that Coleman crap you can buy at Target. The Bag has all the digitized histories. Worst comes to worst: one, two, three, and we're off.
I often feel foolish for having these things, let alone updating them from time to time. Until I read entries like yours. And the comments! I'll add a notebook and a book to the Box.
Tomorrow. Or one of the days that follow. Hell, next week. What's the ru

I like Gerard's new banner quote,  "A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow." - George Patton.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:03 PM | Permalink

Find what you love

Remarkably good life advice from Steve Jobs.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods in my life.
I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful-tasting medicine but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life's going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love, and that is as true for work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking, and don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it, and like any great relationship it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking. Don't settle.

Every life transition, especially if it's hard,  is a chance to recreate your life, to reorient towards your own North Star, your truest self.

Philosopher and theologian, Harold Thurman Whitman wrote, "Don't ask yourself what the world needs - ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."     

Find what you love.  That's what makes you come alive.  Part of the Business of Life™.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:17 AM | Permalink

Lost Boys

It seems as every day, I learn that there are more ways to be cruel than I ever imagined.  Life is tough for boys these days all around and everywhere. 

Julian Borger in The Guardian

The lost boys, thrown out of US sect so that older men can marry more wives

Up to 1,000 teenage boys have been separated from their parents and thrown out of their communities by a polygamous sect to make more young women available for older men, Utah officials claim.

Many of these "Lost Boys", some as young as 13, have simply been dumped on the side of the road in Arizona and Utah, by the leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), and told they will never see their families again or go to heaven.

via Best of the Web, James Taranto

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:58 AM | Permalink

June 14, 2005

Being Prepared

At some point in your life you realize that not everything turns out well and in fact your world can change in a moment.  If your country is at war and you're in a war zone, you know this without a  doubt. 

The smarter or more experienced of us realize that you can't waste time worrying about "something happening" but that it's better to be prepared "just in case".     

I wrote once about being prepared.

"Be prepared for what?" someone once asked Robert Baden-Powell, the Founder of the Boy Scouts.

"Why, for any old thing," he replied.

Baden Powell's idea was to prepare boys to handle emergencies and to prepare them for life. He wanted his Scouts to be prepared body and mind for any struggle, and to meet with a strong heart whatever challenges might lie ahead.

He understood that knowing you had done your best enabled you to live more happily and without regret.

Gerald Vanderlein the wonderful writer who blogs at American Digest lives in Laguna, California and live-blogged the slide of many of his neighbors' houses down, down  the hillside in There Goes the Neighborhood.

Yesterday, he felt an earthquake.  He calls it  BUMP!    He realizes he was "an unreconstructed fool" like most of us.

My neighbor shrugged. "What you gonna do?" he said in the manner of those who, faced with their continuing powerlessness, have nothing at all to say.

"I don't know about you," I answered, "but I'm getting dressed."

"There's a thought."

I went back inside and got dressed thinking, "Now what does one wear to a truly stunning natural disaster?" This thought revealed to me that I had not a smidgen of an idea about what to wear or what to do at all. Not a single brain cell in my over-furnished brain had been tasked with determining how to survive the most likely disaster in my little world.

Like millions of others on this shaky slab of the planet, I just woke up every day, took a breath, had some coffee and ran my "I'm okay and I'm okay" tape in the background and got on with "havin' a good one." Like millions of others in this state which is, like all states, just a state of mind, I "had the experience but missed the meaning." Like millions of others, I had -- in my heart -- scoffed at the old man in the Lexus who had, probably for the hundredth time, pushed to wife and the cat into the car and driven to the valley with his various survival supplies rattling in the trunk. Unlike millions of others, I stood in my bedroom and, not for the first time, realized that I was an unreconstructed fool. Worse still, I was a fool that laughed at the wise. Worse yet, I had no plan for a disaster that was not an if, but a when; a bad day that only lacked a date certain.

Today he got a plan.  And a Go-Bag. 

Experienced sailors, having seen the lethal caprice of the sea and survived it, have a habit of packing a "Go-Bag." People who advise about emergencies also advise you to have one. These bags are supposed to contain all sorts of items handy in a survival situation: radios, batteries, flashlights, first-aid kits, ropes, knives, and so on. All the items deemed necessary to get by and keep going if the world around you is, suddenly, transformed to one state or another of, well, rubble.

He's smart enough to know you add the most precious things you can carry.

• A collection of photographs of my daughter in a small album. It stops at age 11.

• A card she once made for me for a long-ago father's day.   

• Pictures of my wife and stepson.

• A long letter of advice from my father that he wrote to me when I was too young to know how valuable it was.

• A photograph of myself and my two brothers in our Sunday School best posing with my mom and dad on some long ago summer afternoon.

• A sheet of paper with a hand-written haiku made for me by my first love.

• A slim King James Bible owned and bearing the initials of my paternal Grandfather, that old reprobate.

• A page from a notebook containing idle doodles and a few self-portraits of my daughter that she did, off hand, while being bored at my apartment in New York five years back.

• Tom Mandel's Marine dog-tags.

• A small oval tin given to me by my wife Sheryl containing a very small picture of her and two silver hearts that make a soft rattling sound when you shake it.

What are your very favorite things you would be desolate without?

Think about your own GO BAG.  At minimum, take digital photos and store them on a memory stick in your Go-Bag. 

You can either assemble the essentials in a  Go-Bag yourself or buy anyone of a variety of pre-packed "ready kits"  at the Red Cross or others that I've listed at If you're not prepared, Ready Kits are for you

Laughing Wolf has a lot of thoughts like my own only he factors in bureaucrats in Some Additional Thoughts on Practical Preparedness

His earlier posts on preparedness when firestorms and blackouts in California were everyday matters.  No unreconstructed fool, he.

Rational Preparedness: Power

Rational Preparedness -Part Two

Rational Preparedness - Part Three

Practical Preparedness: Bugging Out

Snivel Gear for Bugging Out.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:58 AM | Permalink

June 13, 2005

The Real Test of Character

It is fitting with father's Day close upon us that I remember again the most important lesson my beloved father, dead now 14 years taught me. 

He treated everyone the same, everyone with respect.    A tall, good-looking Irishman, he was greatly respected in his profession - he was an arbitrator and loved by many. 

I was reminded when I read Janice Turner's piece in the London Times.

The real test of character: how big people treat little people

OVER THE YEARS I have improvised my own psychometric tests for evaluating a person’s character. I determine someone’s profligacy with money by how deeply they are prepared to fish around in a full kitchen bin to retrieve a lost knife. I rate their joie de vivre by whether, if a child’s football crosses their path in the park, they step over it glumly or boot it back with a grin.

But my definitive test is how someone treats the people who serve them, those over whom, if so inclined, they can exercise cruel and arbitrary power. I once listened to a teenager boast, while her mother giggled indulgently, that she had tormented their Austrian au pair until she’d left. That one remark told me all I needed to know about that family. Men who are churlish to waiters, women who berate their cleaners, mothers who brag that they’ve run through 14 nannies in seven years: can’t middle-class professionals learn how to behave with all these newly acquired staff?
A colleague who had lunch with the Prime Minister told me that even deep in conversation about the euro he always made eye contact with the waiter each time he was served. Of course, it would be crass to judge someone entirely on their private good grace, to rate US presidents not by, say, their foreign policy but the fact that the Clintons were cold and haughty with their security detail while the Bushes are affectionate, informal and kind.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:29 PM | Permalink

Internet "Most trustworthy" for health information

A new study conducted by Neilsen/Net Ratings found that consumers trust the Internet second only to their personal physician when it comes to health information.

In a survey, 42% of respondents said they trusted health information they found on the Internet, compared to just 16% for information found in "offline" media, including TV, newspapers, radio and magazines. Consumers are also taking advantage of the depth of health information on the Internet. More than 85% said they look at two or more Web sites when searching for health information.
In addition, over 65% of the respondents in the Nielsen//NetRatings survey said that they use the Internet to research important health topics before and after they visit a doctor

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:22 PM | Permalink

Hilarious advice

Jonah Goldberg of the National Review gave one of the eulogies to his father Sidney Goldberg,  who died last week and who is called called "an American original" by those who loved him.

John Podhoretz said it was a "sad, moving, hilarious, tragic, glorious occasion" which is what I think all funerals should be.

In his report of the funeral, he writes

Jonah spoke of the time when he was around 8 years old, walking up Broadway with his dad, when Sidney offered him the most important advice any boy has ever received. "If you are in a South American country and you're stopped by a policeman," Poppa Goldberg told young Jonah, "say, 'I'm sorry, Officer. I must have made a mistake. Is there any way I can pay the fine right here on the spot?'"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:34 PM | Permalink


"Your body is spewing off millions of data points a second," says Eric Teller whose company Bodymedia is featured in Forbes magazine, Future Teller

BodyMedia has sold 7,500 armband monitors, 2.9-ounce pods packed with six sensors absorbing physiological data 32 times a second. Wearers dump their data wirelessly to a PC, which sends them to BodyMedia's computer servers to be analyzed by 1,300 algorithms that figure out what that body is doing.

Will constant body feedback inspire people to make healthier choices?  Will insurance companies require them as a way to incentivize healthy behavior?  Will health care become a meritocracy with the best care going to those who did what they could to avoid getting sick?

In ways we can't even imagine, technology will change our lives, mostly for the better.  What I wonder is whether we can  deal with the ethical dilemmas such new technologies raise?

UPDATE:  The Boston Globe has a piece today on a new experiment  on depressed patients. Getting wired could help predict emotions.

In a groundbreaking experiment at Massachusetts General Hospital, a handful of patients battling depression have agreed in recent weeks to be wired up for 24-hour-a-day, mobile monitoring of their palm sweat, heart rate, voice dynamics, movements, and location.

The study aims to show that such measures can reliably reflect a patient's state of mind as treatment progresses, researchers say.  But more broadly, it seeks to prove that technology has reached the point where it can monitor a person's basic emotional tenor through ordinary days.

While the patients in the study are using LiveNet (a fanny pack), the piece discusses using LifeShirts (already FDA approved).

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:51 AM | Permalink

June 12, 2005

Sunday reading

Some interesting Sunday reading

Darwin, me and the Big C.  "Harry Thompson wrote a book about the survival of the fittest, only to be struck down in his superfit prime.  You get inoperable lung cancer, you never smoked, where does that leave you?

A moving Ryan's song: His shot changed life, school, town. You don't want to miss it.  HT to American Digest

Marshall Brain, the guy behind How stuff works has a terrific article up on How to Make a Million Dollars

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:42 PM | Permalink

Baby Boot Camp

"I get babies to sleep through the night" could be the elevator pitch for Suzy Giordano.  But she doesn't need it.  She's already a legend in the Washington DC area for her ability to teach newborn babies how to sleep through the night. 

"Sleep," says Tia Cudahy, a Giordano client who has a toddler and infant twins, "is the difference between misery and joy when you have a newborn."
According to Giordano, there are two basic tasks to accomplish before the big sleep can be achieved. The first is to shift babies to a schedule where they consume enough breast milk or formula during the day to sustain a night without feedings. The second is to teach the baby to self-soothe, so that he or she can get back to sleep without assistance, and even stay happily in the crib in the morning until mom or dad arrives for breakfast.

"The key is to just slow down the parents so they can have a better vision of the responsibility," Giordano says.

So there are feeding logs and plans based on a baby's weight and age. By about eight weeks, as long as a baby has passed the nine-pound milestone, Giardano shifts into what she calls "
baby boot camp," when nighttime feedings are gradually spaced apart and phased out, and late-night and early-morning wakings are handled without the baby getting picked up and held. Instead she rubs the babies, pats their bellies, helps gently move them into more comfortable positions.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:32 PM | Permalink

June 11, 2005

The Body's Janitors

Do you know what "microphages" are? 

"Macrophages are the janitors of the innate immune system, gobbling up waste products in the brain and throughout the body," says Dr. Milan Fiala.

In healthy people, innate immune system cells called macrophages easily cleared amyloid-beta in a test tube. In contrast, Alzheimer's patients' macrophages couldn't adequately perform this task.

So improving the health of the body's own janitors, those microphages, could lead to a treatment for Alzheimer's according to a new study authored by Dr. Milan Fiala, at the University of California, Los Angeles, and published in the June 10 Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:34 PM | Permalink

Long term care

There's considerable upheaval in the insurance industry over long term care insurance.

Since 2000, half of the top carriers, those companies with annual sales of more than $10 million have stopped selling long term care insurance according to this report on Marketwatch.  Among them are CNA, Aegon, Fortis and TIAA-CREF

Mistaken assumptions about how to price the product have led a slew of companies to exit the market in recent years, while many of the companies that remain continue to raise premiums on older policies, sometimes by as much as 30%, industry analysts said.

"Insurers have not hit on the right business model yet in order to help people deal" with long-term-care needs, said Martin McBirney, a consultant with 15 years' experience as a pricing actuary, lobbyist and product developer, and operator of LTC Solutions, in Sandpoint, Idaho.

"There is a need out there and the insurance companies have not yet hit on quite the right formula for meeting it," he said.

Be careful before you commit to a policy.  You need the best advice by someone who really understands the industry. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:25 PM | Permalink

French antiques

Those that are wealthier than you or me have already cut back on their real-estate investments according to a recent Cap Gemini and Merrill Lynch report and reported in the Wall St. Journal.(subscription only).  Real estate holdings  now amount to 13% of their portfolios, down from 17% in 2003.   

If you think the real estate market is over-heated, maybe even a bubble about to burst, may be it's time to think about furnishings. 

While people like me think  of Restoration Hardware , Crate & Barrel, or Pottery Barn, the rich are different.  They think about French antiques. 

French antiques cost about half what they did in 2000 and the Wall St Journal reports that pieces from the 17th and 18th century have fallen to the lowest levels in years.  Liberte, Egalite, Frugalite (subscription only).

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:37 PM | Permalink

June 10, 2005

Mentally Ill

Every decade, the National Institutes of Health take a snapshot of the nation's mental health.  The Wall St. Journal reports on the latest  (subscription only) and it doesn't look good. 

That is unless you're a drug company selling antidepressants and anti-psychotic medications to the tune of about $20 billion a year.  While such medications help many millions of people, they haven't had an effect on the overall numbers.

More Americans are seeking treatment for mental illnesses than ever before, but most of them fail to get adequate care....

In the once-a-decade report funded by the National Institutes of Health, researchers found that
one-quarter of Americans had a psychiatric disorder in the year prior to the survey, and 40% of them sought treatment, up from just 25% who sought treatment in the previous report a decade ago.
Only one-third of affected people received even "minimally adequate" care -- which was defined by the researchers as getting at least two months of appropriate medication and seeing a doctor at least four times, or undergoing at least eight psychotherapy sessions of 30 minutes or more.
Some 60% of people identified as having a mental disorder didn't seek treatment. And among those who did seek help, many opted out of conventional medical psychiatry altogether; a third of all mental-health visits were for unproven alternative therapies like acupuncture and dietary supplements.

Results of the study, known as the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, are being published in the June issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

It seems that about half of the chronic cases begin before age 14.  Three-quarters by age 24.  Mental illness begins in youth

This new study demonstrates clearly these really are chronic disorders of young people in this country," said Dr. Thomas R. Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), which funded the study. "These disorders cause a high degree of disability, with nearly 6 percent of the population showing serious disability. That is really extraordinary. Those are the kinds of numbers we didn't have before."

The New York Times reports some doctors think the numbers are inflated.

"Fifty percent of Americans mentally impaired - are you kidding me?" said Dr. Paul McHugh, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University.  While the new survey was carefully done, Dr. McHugh said, "the problem is that the diagnostic manual we are using in psychiatry is like a field guide and it just keeps expanding and expanding."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:30 PM | Permalink

Personalized Medicine

Personalized medicine based on your genetic make-up just got a lot closer according to a Boston Globe story by Raja Mishra .
Remember this field of  "pharmacogenetics"  - you'll be hearing a lot more about it.

Researchers last week announced that they had successfully used patients' genes to determine how much of a potentially dangerous blood-thinning medication they should get -- bringing the era of personalized medicine a giant step closer.

''To me, it's really remarkable that five years after the sequencing of the human genome we're starting to see direct applications for clinical medicine," said Dr. Scott Weiss of Brigham and Women's Hospital who conducts research into personalized asthma treatments. ''The major areas are going to be in prediction -- of who gets disease, and for those who have it, predicting the course of their disease, and predicting who's going to respond to medication."

The blood-thinning drug warfarin (sold under the prescription
Coumadin) is notoriously hard to prescribe, with many patients, given just a bit too much, bleeding internally, and others, given too little, left at risk for blood clots. The researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle and Washington University in St. Louis said they had found a way to use the patients' genes to determine whether to start them on a high, medium or low dose of the drug that is now used by millions of Americans at risk for blood clots or heart attacks.
Rochelle Long can see the progress from her perch as program director for NIH's Pharmacogenetic Research Network, the nation's chief funder of personalized medicine research, which has spent more than $100 million in the last five years on the work.

''There are people looking at cardiovascular drugs, anticancer drugs, antidepression drugs," she said of studies funded by her agency. ''It's exciting; there's a lot of research going on."

And Long still believes in the future of pharmacogenetics: ''
The promise is ultimately getting a genetic test just once, and knowing how you will interact with most drugs for the rest of your life." 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:58 AM | Permalink

June 9, 2005

Manly Men

I'm all for manly men so long as they are clean, kind and funny. 

So it seems are most American women

Women want the "man" back in "manly," a Harris Interactive survey shows. The rough-and-ready attitude is in, women say, while the manicured "metrosexual" look is on the way out.
    A full 61 percent of women surveyed said they would rather see a man's hands rough and working hard than well-manicured, a slap in the face to the extreme-makeover, suave-guy crowd.
    Ninety-two percent of women said dependability is a desirable characteristic in an ideal mate. Only 16 percent chose "fashionable," and 62 percent chose "strong" as a desirable characteristic.
    The Harris survey was conducted among 1,003 men and 1,128 women 18 or older from across the United States. Among the findings:
    •75 percent of women said their ideal man buys his grooming products at a grocery store or drugstore, not a salon.
    •72 percent of women said their ideal man spends his free time doing home-improvement projects.
    •41 percent of women said their ideal man spends his time watching sports.
    •47 percent of women said their ideal man spends his money on electronics, compared with 9 percent who answered "designer clothes."
    •90 percent of women said they prefer low-maintenance, easygoing guys

UPDATE:  It's different in France.  French men want to be pregnant

   Metrosexual This is not a manly man.

UPDATE 2  PARIS (AFP) - Macho man is an endangered species,  fashion industry insiders say. Move Over Rambo, you're cramping new man's style

"We are watching the birth of a hybrid man. ... Why not put on a pink-flowered shirt and try out a partner-swapping club?" asked Le Louet.

James Lileks' responds: Perhaps because you’ll look like a florist ad and contract the clap? There’s your modern lap: FTDs and STDs. I hate to break it to these theorists, but it does not take guts for a young man to want to have multiple sex partners. It takes guts to settle down and have a family and rein in the roaming libido.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:34 PM | Permalink

All in the Genes

Is this great news or small consolation? 

Women who fail to orgasm during sex may be genetically programmed to weed out unreliable men who are a flop between the sheets, according to new research.
The findings suggest the failure of some women to orgasm regularly is not a dysfunction, but a sophisticated mate-selection strategy that evolved during prehistoric times.

Ann Althouse calls it the basis of human civilization

It looks as if all the achievements of human civilization ought to be attributed to how hard it is to satisfy us women. Men did plenty of the work over the millennia, but they wouldn't have bothered if we women hadn't needed something more than sex to impress us.

Evolution or  intelligent design?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:37 PM | Permalink

June 8, 2005

Movies most profitable

Well this is a shocker.  But maybe it shouldn't be.  Study shows G-rated far more profitable.

While the movie industry produced nearly 12 times more R-rated films than G-rated films from 1989-2003, the average G-rated film produced 11 times greater profit than its R-rated counterpart.

I'm not the only one who's a sucker for a good movie with a good story.

So why did I feel disgusted as if  I had to take a shower after watching one of Hollywood's latest ballyhooed movies, Closer?
It was brutal.    Shiny and glossy on the surface,  debasing underneath.  What a depressing, flat land to live in.

I don't think of myself as a prude.  I love Six Feet Under and just finished watching the third season on DVD.  (Thank you Netflix. Granted I'm a year behind,  but I can immerse myself in the sweep of the series and the depth of the characters.  One episode after another was great fun on a rainy Saturday.  Yes, it pushes the envelope, yes it's edgy, but there's a sweetness,  a yearning for real love, a tenderness in dealing with the recently departed, above all an acknowledgement of the great mysteries of life and death.

Maybe that's the new edge.  Tenderness and mystery.

Barbara Nicolosi, who writes Church of the Masses, has a quote on her banner.  "Theaters are the new Church of the Masses - where people sit huddled in the dark listening to people in the light tell them what it is to be human."      (Don't miss the hilarious post of her interview with the New York Times)

That's what we need more of - movies that tell stories of what it's like to be human.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:01 PM | Permalink

Six Million, Six Months

With Citibank's announcement Monday that 3.9 million of its customers may have had their personal data stolen, the overall total of such stolen or lost data has now reached SIX MILLION in the past SIX months according to the Washington Post.

The spate of breaches has included federal agencies, universities, banks and other financial institutions, data brokers and data-storage companies.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:49 PM | Permalink

How old are you?

Just exactly how old are you? 

You'll never really know unless you click here.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:09 PM | Permalink

Terminally Ill

"The prospect of hanging concentrates the mind wonderfully," - Samuel Johnson

While the adage "life is short" may seem true for everyone, no one understands this better than those facing a terminal illness

Who can they talk to about the serious matters weighing on their minds?    Doctors and nurses are too busy.  Family and friends are often too uncomfortable with unsettling reflections. 

At the same time, terminally ill individuals face very pressing, end-of-life issues. "Major transitions like these are inherently spiritual, and people start asking questions such as 'What is the meaning of my life?' 'What's my legacy here?' 'Where am I going to next?' " Miller said. "All of these issues come into play. And it's those three areas, in particular, that aren't being addressed."

Support groups seem to work.  Makes sense.  Who knows better what  a terminally ill person is going through than someone else facing the same prospect?

Talking Together Brings Comfort to the Terminally Ill

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:08 PM | Permalink

June 6, 2005

My new role model

I just found my role model for being 91  - Katherine Woodworth.

The would-be purse snatcher thought he had an easy mark: a frail-looking elderly woman.

But Saturday afternoon, when the thief approached 91-year-old Katherine Woodworth in a West Toledo parking lot and demanded her purse, he got more than he bargained for.

He got a whuppin' instead.

Angered by the thought of being robbed, Ms. Woodworth, a tiny woman with gray hair and glasses, who normally wears a hearing aid, turned her purse into a weapon and repeatedly struck the man until he fled.

"He just made me mad," Ms. Woodworth said. "I wasn't really thinking, I just hit him."

It reminded me of the little old ladies in the Funniest Voice Mail Ever.  You can hear it here.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:25 PM | Permalink

Good Sense and Preparation

There's a telling story in the Washington Post today in a column by Claire Berlinski.

....a revealing drama on a Paris sidewalk: A shady-looking character ran up the street. Suddenly, a man wearing the familiar outfit of a French waiter rushed up behind him, yelling at him to stop, then charged into him, knocking him to the ground with a clatter. The waiter straddled the man and began slapping his face, calling him a filthy thief.

A police motorcycle roared up. Off hopped a cop who could not have been more than 25. He interposed himself between the thief and the waiter, and then, with his finger in the air, began a lecture. Never raising his voice, he told the infuriated waiter that no matter what the thief might have stolen -- some customer's wallet, it seems -- he had no right to settle matters privately. The policeman outlined the procedure for filing a civil or criminal complaint.

Then he said, slowly and quite distinctly: "In France, we have the law."

Now the policeman did take the alleged thief into custody and the waiter shouldn't have slapped the man, but it struck me quite forcibly  as explaining something about  the French character.   

The sense of personal responsibility has been so attenuated that people expect the government to solve their problems and if someone exercises initiative, say in catching a thief, it's immediately questioned. 

After all, 15,000 (or was 20,000?) seniors died in France during the summer of 2003 because of a protracted heat wave and neither their children nor government officials  bothered to come back from vacation.     

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote, "Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility."   

If you are unwilling to take responsibility, you don't act, you do nothing. 

You have to depend on your own good sense and preparation to survive if something terrible happens, a terrorist attack, a fire, or in what seems increasingly likely next year or the next two or three,  a pandemic of avian flu.     

You have to depend on your own good sense and preparation to survive because the federal government, state and local governments are not prepared as they should be and never will be. 

This used to be commonly accepted.  Louisa May Alcott wrote, "I am not afraid of storms for I am learning to sail my ship." 

First a terrific example of good sense from Wired.  -Question Authorities

For nearly four years - steadily, seriously, and with the unsentimental rigor for which we love them - civil engineers have been studying the destruction of the World Trade Center towers, sifting the tragedy for its lessons. And it turns out that one of the lessons is: Disobey authority. In a connected world, ordinary people often have access to better information than officials do.....

After both buildings were burning, many calls to 911 resulted in advice to stay put and wait for rescue. Also, occupants of the towers had been trained to use the stairs, not the elevators, in case of evacuation.

Fortunately, this advice was mostly ignored. According to the engineers, use of elevators in the early phase of the evacuation, along with the decision to not stay put, saved roughly 2,500 lives. This disobedience had nothing to do with panic. The report documents how evacuees stopped to help the injured and assist the mobility-impaired, even to give emotional comfort. Not panic but what disaster experts call reasoned flight ruled the day.

Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing

As for preparation, more to come.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:06 AM | Permalink

June 5, 2005

Fool proof test for marriage

Just in time for June weddings, Rabbi Marc Gellman, with many years of experience, offers his fool-proof test for marriage. 

Do they touch and do they laugh?
Touching is the way love begins and it is the way we try to keep it from ending even in the face of death.
Laughter reveals trust and joyousness, humility and helplessness in the face of love.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:44 PM | Permalink

June 4, 2005

One Montezuma, please

Now I know what to do on my next trip to Florence.  Hemingway's.

How's this for a review. I have seen God in a cup of chocolate.

the very best was their Mexican-style drinking chocolate, called the Montezuma, a viscous drink made with very bitter chocolate, seasoned with chillies, aged Cuban rum (I don't drink, either, but I had two of these), and cinnamon and nutmeg. The longer I held sips of Montezuma in my mouth, the more flavors and subtleties I discovered. The chillies suffused my sinuses and the rum made my whole abdomen glow gently, like banked coals. This was, without a doubt, the best thing I ever tasted, and possibly the best sensation I've ever experienced. I've seen people in religious ecstasy. That's what this felt like.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:41 PM | Permalink

June 3, 2005

Message in a Bottle

When you are abandoned and the food and water is running out, by all means try a message in a bottle.   

"Help, please, help us" on a scrap of paper, stuffed in a bottle and tied to a fishing line saved the lives of 88 last week who were adrift at sea in a sinking boat.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:52 PM | Permalink

Wedding at top of Mt. Everest

Hearty congratulations and many blessings to Moni Mulepati and Pem Dorjee, a Nepalese couple who got married at the top of the world, the 29,035 foot high summit of Mt. Everest.

Blessedly simple - no champagne, family, procession, wedding dress, bands or favors - the couple stayed only 10 minutes, long enough to take off their oxygen masts, exchange vows and have their pictures taken by friends.

Here they are on their return to Katmandu.

   Nepalese Couple

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:41 PM | Permalink

Seniors Selling Life Insurance

If you or a relative of yours is considering selling their life insurance policy to a "life settlement" company to get money out, please think again.

According to a new Deloitte study, seniors who sold their life insurance policies received just 20 cents on the dollar instead of what Deloitte calculated to be the intrinsic value of the policy, 64 cents on the dollar.

Read Robert Powell on MarketWatch, Seniors get fleeced when selling life insurance  or go to Life Settlements Education to read the studies

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:15 PM | Permalink

June 2, 2005

Humiliation of Croatian Bride

Do you remember when you were little and practiced making terrible faces and some adult would say, Be careful or your face will freeze like that?

Think of that happening and then think of the most embarrassing moment of your life and you still will not come close to the total humiliation of this Croatian bride.

Doctors had to be called to separate the bride and best man after they were caught in the act during a wedding in Croatia.

The couple were trapped together by a muscle spasm after a friend of the groom walked in on them as they had sex in the toilets.

Unable to be pulled apart, the couple had to endure a procession of wedding guests who came to see what they had been doing before doctors could turn up.

Unable to help, they had to transport the pair on a stretcher to the local hospital where she was given an injection to relax her muscles, allowing the best man to get free.

The wedding party in Varazdin, Croatia, continued after the groom announced the celebrations were to mark his divorce rather than his wedding, reported daily Slobodna Dalmacija.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:34 PM | Permalink

The Green Genocide

This is such a stunning article by an atheist in Africa that I simply must point to it, The Green Genocide by Andrew Kenny or why religion works better than ideology in the overall scheme of things. 

Previously, religion had served mankind's deep needs for explanation, order, spiritual comfort and transcendental meaning. Now a new and hideous thing was summoned up to serve the same needs. The thing was ideology, and in a few decades it caused more bloodshed than millennia of religion. It was darker and more irrational, and contained within it something unknown to all the Religions of the Book: a death wish. Religious leaders, however bad they may be, however prone to hubris and hatred, are generally constrained by fear of God above and by ancient tradition and wisdom.

Ideological leaders have no such constraints.

Ideology comes in three colours: Red, Brown and Green, representing Marxism, Fascism and environmental extremism. Judged on sheer evil, the worst crime in history was brown, the Nazi genocide, although the reds slaughtered more people. The death toll (difficult to measure) is roughly: Hitler's holocaust, six million; Stalin's famine and terror eight million; and Mao's famine 30 million. But the Greens have topped them all. In a single crime, they have killed about 50 million people. In purely numerical terms, it was the worst crime of the 20th century. It began in the United States in 1972. It was the banning of DDT.

I have heard not one word of pity or regret from any Green organization about the vast loss of human life caused by the ban on DDT. On the contrary, they seem to regard it as a glorious triumph. The likely reason was spelled out with chilling clarity by Charles Wurster of the Environmental Defence Fund in the United States in 1971, when it was pointed out to him that DDT saved the lives of poor people in poor countries. He said: "So what? People are the main cause of our problems. We have too many of them. We need to get rid of some of them and this is as good a way as anything."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:23 PM | Permalink

Last Act of Love

"Children are always a good thing, devoutly to be wished for and fiercely to be fought for."

Justin Torres writes about the "hesitation" many of the attending doctors, even his own family feel about what they are doing.   

Last month his sister in law Susan Torres, 26 years old, the mother of a two year old and 17 weeks pregnant, suffered a stroke brought on by undiagnosed melanoma.  She now lies brain dead in a Virginia hospital, on life support, with no hope of ever recovering.  Her family is keeping her alive in the hope that by so doing they will save the life of the unborn child.

Keeping this baby alive is Susan's last act of love, one that has been tremendously moving to watch even as it makes you question everything you thought you knew about the fundamental justice of the world.

Fifty years ago, medicine could not have done what we are trying to do. But I suspect that if it could have been done, no one then would have hesitated. The answer would have been, Of course, we must try to save the child, because saving children is what medicine is meant to do.

Via Amy Wellborn's Open Book

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:35 PM | Permalink

June 1, 2005

Dust-off -a scary story

You know those little cans of compressed air that you use to clean off your computer? Dust-off. 

Turns out that teen-agers, especially those 14-16,  have died after 'huffing" from cans of Dust-off.  The propellant R2 is to blame as a father writes about the tragic death of his son Kyle, confirmed by Snopes.

But it could.  Time to tell your kids some scary stories.

a great number of teens and pre-teens routinely attempt to get high by abusing inhalants and solvents found in common household products. Dust-Off is just one of a thousand or more products that can abruptly end the life of someone foolishly looking for an inhalant high. The list of items that can be turned to this purpose is almost endless and includes such innocuous-looking goods as hair spray and aerosol whipped cream. Depending on how the intoxicant is taken in, the process is referred to as 'bagging' or 'huffing' — bagging requires the substance be contained in a plastic or paper bag which the thrill-seeker then breathes from, while huffing involves either breathing directly from an aerosol or through a cloth soaked in solvent.

Both bagging and huffing can, and have, proved fatal. Sudden death can result on the first try, making one's first time seeking this particular kick also one's last. That first time's being a killer isn't an exaggeration, either: 22% of all inhalant-abuse deaths occur among users who had not previously bagged or huffed. Suffocation, dangerous behavior, and aspiration account for 45% of inhalant abuse fatalities, with "sudden sniffing death" (fatal cardiac arrhythmia) causing the remaining 55%.
Inhalant abuse is rife among children and teens for a number of reasons beyond the usual factors that inspire young people to experiment with drugs, such as curiousity, thrill seeking, escapism, defiance, and peer pressure. First, the products required to produce inhalant highs are readily available in every home. Even when users have to resort to buying their own, the goods cost little and are easy to purchase, both in terms of availability (almost every store sells at least a few items that can be huffed) and lack of challenge by sales clerks (kids generally need not fear provoking adult disapproval or undue questioning through the act of buying cans of whipped cream). No drug dealers need be sought out, no furtive connections with the underworld made; purchases are easily effected at the corner store, even by the most unsavvy and knock-kneed with terror at the thought of being caught.

Second, because these products are an ordinary part of the household landscape, they take on for many a presumption of safety. Few adults are accustomed to thinking of air freshener as something that can kill, or of Magic Markers as items that can end lives; these are instead viewed as non-dangerous goods, the sort of ordinary household necessities one doesn't so much as look at twice let alone regard with mistrust. Kids can easily take that bland acceptance a step further, adding a presumption of harmlessness to that which is routinely left about for anyone to use.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:08 PM | Permalink

The new "Mommy wars"

Mothers of all types from all backgrounds are increasingly upset at the popular culture which threatens their ability to impart positive values to their children according to a recent survey.

"We heard mothers talking about the kind of hypersexuality that's out there, about violence and disrespect, about body image, all the things that are not exactly news, but cutting across a huge and diverse sample of mothers," says Martha Farrell Erickson of the University of Minnesota, lead researcher on the study, released by the Institute for American Values in New York. "What they would really like to see is mothers and fathers joining forces more effectively to take on some of these issues."

Politics did not come up naturally in these mothers' group conversations; they see the solutions more through the avenue of personal and community action, rather than dumping these problems on the doorstep of government

The new Mommy wars

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:57 PM | Permalink

Yes dear

Married 80 years, Percy and Florence Arrowsmith, the world's longest married couple reveal their secrets.

She says, "Never go to bed with a quarrel"
He says, "Yes dear"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:45 AM | Permalink