October 31, 2005

A Flash of Light

An Italian poet said, "We live in a flash of light; evening comes and it is night forever." It’s only a flash and we waste it. We waste it with our anxiety, our worries, our concerns, our burdens."

- Anthony de Mello, 20th century Jesuit priest

via Zaadz and Brian Johnson, Philosopher & CEO who offers more from de Mello -

"The way to really live is to die. The passport to living is to imagine yourself in your grave. Imagine you’re lying in your coffin….Now look at your problems from that viewpoint. Changes everything, doesn’t it?"

"You’re not living until it doesn’t matter a tinker’s damn to you whether you live or die. At that point you live. When you’re ready to lose your life, you live it."

"Life is for the gambler, it really is."

"So love the thought of death, love it."

If you haven't read his thinkarete.the manifesto, you will love it - What would you do if you weren't afraid?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:14 PM | Permalink

No Halloween for the Politically Correct

The Toronto school board worries that some children will traumatized by Halloween

Many recently arrived students in our schools share absolutely none of the background cultural knowledge that is necessary to view 'trick or treating,' the commercialization of death, the Christian sexist demonization of pagan religious beliefs, as 'fun,' "

They say, "Halloween is a religious day of significance for Wiccans and therefore should be treated respectfully."

Instead of eating sweets in class, they suggest writing health warnings for all Halloween candies.

I pity those poor kids in Toronto schools being deprived of what should be a great day for kids and instead having to write why candy is bad.
Are these people nuts?

UPDATE: Halloween is booming in Europe and some Europeans don't like it. They see Halloween as an "unnecessary, bad American custom" that undermines their cultural identity.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:40 AM | Permalink

Music and Art Engage Minds Thought Lost to Dementia

Minds damaged by dementia can be engaged by art. No one knows why. The New York Times explores The Pablo Picasso Alzheimer's Therapy.

Why did Willem de Kooning become more productive, almost maniacally so, as he descended into Alzheimer's? Why does frontotemporal dementia, a relatively rare form of non-Alzheimer's brain disease, cause some people who had no previous interest or aptitude for art to develop remarkable artistic talent and drive?

"Certainly it's not just a visual experience - it's an emotional one," said Oliver Sacks, the neurologist and writer. "In an informal way I have often seen quite demented patients recognize and respond vividly to paintings and delight in painting at a time when they are scarcely responsive to words and disoriented and out of it. I think that recognition of visual art can be very deep."
---
Besides improving patients' moods for hours and even days, the tours seem to demonstrate that the disease, while diminishing sufferers' abilities in so many ways, can also sometimes spark interpretive and expressive powers that had previously lay hidden.....If you met these people back where they lived on an ordinary day, you simply would not see them being this articulate and this assured," said John Zeisel, the president of Hearthstone, who conceived the program with Francesca Rosenberg, the Modern's director of community and access programs.
--
More than four million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease, and the number is expected to rise as the nation's overall population ages. With no cure on the horizon, caregivers are increasingly exploring art as a way to help manage the disease, and they take encouragement from the results with music. Dr. Sacks noted that exposure to music can even result in lowered dosages for patients being medicated for cognitive and emotional disorders.
One avenue of thinking about both music and art, he said, is that it engages parts of the brain that remain intact long after the onset of dementia....

Museum and Alzheimer's care officials say that at the very least, they see temporary but palpable, and moving, improvement in the small group of people who have participated in the tours. Hannah Goodwin, the manager of accessibility at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, recounted watching an elderly man react to a Stuart Davis painting. "Very spontaneously, he just starting talking about the painting and about the time period in New York," she said. "He was talking about jazz and improvisation and everything. It was very beautiful and unexpected. There was this absolute clarity and connection that I think was really sparked by the painting."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:01 AM | Permalink

October 29, 2005

Pressuring Workers to live healthier lives

From the Wall St. Journal's "Fiscally Fit" column by Terri Cullen. How companies are fighting rising health care costs.

More Firms Pressure Workers to Adopt Healthier Lifestyles.

Last month, Stephanie Sobel joined thousands of her colleagues at drug giant AstraZeneca PLC in taking a free online health-risk assessment test.

Ms. Sobel says that she'd long planned to use the tool but never got around to it. This year, however, she had an additional incentive: In September, AstraZeneca began penalizing workers who fail to fill out the online assessment tool by boosting their health-insurance premiums by $50 a month until they complete the questionnaire.

The assessment tool asked questions about the 32-year-old sales and safety manager's lifestyle, querying her on everything from nutrition to her past medical history. After plugging in all her information, Ms. Sobel received an evaluation of her health and detailed recommendations on ways to adjust her lifestyle to improve her well-being. The result: Her health isn't too shabby but she could stand to take a daily dose of vitamins.

"I like how it divided up into two sections what my health issues are, but also highlighted what my strengths are," she says, "It made me feel good and encouraged me to keep at it."

Frustrated with efforts to contain health-care costs, companies are stepping up the pressure on workers to use diagnostic tools and take better care of themselves – or be penalized when they don't.

"We didn't want to go down the path of cost shifting for all our employees so we decided to head in the other direction, encouraging workers to use the tools available to help them contain health-care costs by making healthier choices," says Penny Stoker, vice president, human resources at AstraZeneca in Wilmington, Del. The incentive appears to be working: roughly 10,000 of the company's work force of 12,000 have signed up to use the tool.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:57 PM | Permalink

Radical Life Extension

I wish nothing more than people living long, healthy, happy and productive lives so I'm excited about the extraordinary medical and technological advances we are seeing.

Joel Garreau, the author of Radical Evolution, showed me how how we are riding on a curve of exponential change in genetics, robotics, information and nano (GRIN) technologies that is unprecedented in human nature.

Much as being made of Ray Kurzweil's, The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology which I haven't read. But when it comes to radical life extension advocates, I get the creeps. Why does living to 140 or 350 years sound so unappealing? I couldn't put my finger on it until I read an interview of Bioethicist William Hurlburt on the dangers of radical life extension.

It's like stretching out a symphony, playing it at half speed so it goes on longer–it wouldn't have the same beauty or meaning. We get a taste of each relational category–being a child, a parent, and a grandparent. And our direct family lineage is connected by both genetics and personal experience, not so attenuated by time that relatives feel unrelated. If people lived to be 140, as some scientists suggest we will through technological intervention, a child could have 64 great-great-great-great-grandparents whose names he or she could never remember. In our natural lifespan, there is a harmony of proportion between the cycles of birth, ascendancy, and decline–phases of generation, nurture, and dependency that give a sense of meaningful connection within the journey of our lives.

For the most part, I'm not afraid of dying because Life Will Always Continue. If you see yourself as inter-connected to all life, then dying is far more of a natural process, part of a Great Harmony.

My greatest concern is not how long we can live, but the rapidity of technological advances that is not being matched by similar advances in our wisdom or our ethics.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:06 PM | Permalink

Top Ten Myths of Social Security Reform

From the Center of Retirement Research at Boston College, this White Paper just out says.

"Social Security is a real problem and we need to fix it and that involves pain," says Jeffrey Brown lead author of a paper which seeks to critically examine the "The Top 10 Myths of Social Security Reform."--

A constructive debate about the future of Social Security should accept that a problem exists and focus on alternative methods of restoring long-run, sustainable fiscal balance to the program," he says. "Simply denying that the problem exists will not make it go away.----

"We shouldn't kick the problem down the road for 10 years for others to deal with it nor should we pursue policies that don't fix the problem but appear to," he says. "There are no easy solutions. Someone's ox must be gored. We either need more revenue or to pay less out of the system. People either don't understand that or they choose to ignore it."

According to the White Paper, the top ten myths of social security that should be debunked on both sides of the aisle (full copy here) are:

1. Social Security is financially sound for "decades to come."
2. Economic growth will eliminate the existing problem.
3. Social Security is in "crisis" and will not be there when today's younger workers retire.
4. Personal accounts can save Social Security without benefit cuts or tax increases.
5. Allowing individuals to redirect their contributions from the trust fund to personal accounts will provide a higher rate of return.
6. Personal accounts will worsen Social Security's financial problem.
7. Personal accounts will cause benefit cuts.
8. Personal accounts are risky and the current system is safe.
9. Transitioning to personal accounts is too costly.
10. Social Security reform is bad for the poor / women / minorities.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:56 AM | Permalink

36% of babies born to unwed mothers

Nearly 1.5 million babies were born to unmarried woman in the U.S. last year, almost 36% of all births, a new record.

There is a downward trend of teenagers who accounted for only 24% of the births. The increase was among women 25-29.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:39 AM | Permalink

CarpetFlick

A Swifter for carpets - CarpetFlick looks like a wonderful new product from Proctor and Gamble that I'll be looking for after reading BusinessWeek's story, How P&G Conquered Carpet via the Dynamist.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:27 AM | Permalink

October 26, 2005

Don't count on an inheritance

Both Marshall Loeb and the Wall St Journal today warn against counting on an inheritance, especially when you are planning your retirement.

The elderly are living longer and better. Those assisted living communities and nursing homes can eat up what you thought you had coming.

An AARP study in 2001 showed that 5 in 6 boomers reported that they had not received an inheritance and the same proportion said they did not expect to get one.

About 64% of those who receive bequests of $100,000 or more are already well off says the Journal.

So save your money boomers. You're likely to be on your own financially.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:45 PM | Permalink

Smart and Dumb States

States Ranked: Smart to Dumb. Graded on 21 factors by the 2005-2006 Education State Rankings, New England states made the top three. The smartest state is Vermont. The dumbest is Arizona.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:59 AM | Permalink

Echoes of Eugenics

Many people don't know about the eugenics movement of the 20th century. Adolf Hitler wanted to create a master race by killing all those he thought inferior - Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, and retarded children

Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, said, "eugenic sterilization is an urgent need ...we must prevent multiplication of this bad stock."

Many states allowed forced sterilization of those with "insanity, idiocy, imbecility, feeble-mindedness or epilepsy." In 2003, the Governor of South Carolina apologized for decades of forced sterilizations.

The San Francisco Chronicle examines the history of eugenics in California, a key backer of whom was Charles Goethe, a wealthy conservationist and benefactor of what would become California State University's Sacramento campus in Echoes of Eugenics Movement in Stem Cell Debate.

Goethe, who backed preserving redwood stands as a way to enhance California's natural environment, also wanted to apply animal breeding concepts to the betterment of humanity -- apparently to exclude most everyone who wasn't white and European.
--
Chloe Burke, a Cal State Sacramento historian and organizer of a daylong conference held Friday and billed as the first of its kind, called "From Eugenics to Designer Babies: Engineering the California Dream."
says, "Both are linked to a conviction that tampering with heredity or our genetic makeup can lead to solutions for a broad number of problems, both individual and social," she said.
Behind the advocacy of stem cells, she said, "is this dream of living in a disease-free future," one of the early threads that made up Goethe's own worldview.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:37 AM | Permalink

Going to the Dogs

Walk a Dog, Lose Weight. A recent study found that overweight people bought and walked a dog for one year lost an average of 14 pounds.

These results are better than most weight loss plans and far more fun.

Besides who else will ever love you so unconditionally as your dog? Or take such joy in life day after day?

  Otis The Bulldog Pumpkins

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:36 AM | Permalink

Twenty-somethings

What's expected of twenty-somethings according to Doug Manning of Proactive Living. Being twenty-something is harder than ever as society no longer expects marriage for life or jobs for long, yet demands self-managment skills more than ever.

The third decade is a time of emotional and spiritual adolescence. Whereas the first twenty years enable us to mature physically and mentally, we remain relatively undeveloped in our adult relationships and connectedness to meaning. In the crucial third decade, individuals are expected to shift from being 'cared for' to 'taking charge' of their own existence. This means learning how to be a good worker/parent/friend, finding a way to sustain yourself, and getting involved in fulfilling life activities that enable you to be who you are. Developing these capacities is not a simple task.
----
The third decade may be the most difficult one to face. It is therefore the one that offers the most hope for developing the self-management skills, relationship skills and mental toughness required to feel alive and successful in a constantly changing world. The rest of us can help if we will just get out of the way.

Thanks to Jeremy of Lifestylism

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:18 AM | Permalink

Helping hearts during stress

We all know how well Viagra works when it comes to love-making, but only now do we learn it's good for the heart by reducing the harmful effects of stress.

Good news for a LOT OF PEOPLE.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:17 AM | Permalink

Adult stem cells

Why is there not coverage in the general media about these fabulous breakthroughs using adult stem cells?

Michael Fumento who writes frequently "on the gulf between the promise of embryonic stem cells and the reality of therapy using adult stem cells," asks the question in Raise a Glass to Adult Stem Cells.

Adult stem cells are now rebuilding human livers.

Up to now, people with irreversible liver damage could only hope for a transplant and too many have died waiting.

The New Scientist reports that stem cells from patients own bone marrow have been used to treat liver damage

Umbilical cord stem cells have been injected by Korean doctors into the spine of a paraplegic allowing her to walk again.

Have you read these stories? Why do you think this type of news is not being reported?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:01 AM | Permalink

October 25, 2005

Paris designer, mother of 92

For some people, being a top fashion designer in Paris is the epitome of success.

Cecile Pelous designed for Yves St. Laurent, Christian Dior and Nina Ricci, but her life purpose wasn't revealed until she went to Calcutta and was overwhelmed by the poverty she saw.

She began working with orphans, first in India, then in Nepal. Many of the 92 orphans she has adopted she found at the top of trees after a huge flood. Their parents threw them in the trees to save them and were never seen again.

Cecile is now in the United States raising funds for her orphanage. Called the Mother Theresa of France, she has

found support around the world because she has been able to help children who have no identities under Nepal's caste system mature into self-aware, educated adults.
   "I am very happy because they don't have sad eyes," she said. "This is a gift of God for me

Her website where you can learn more is nepalfirsthope.org

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:59 PM | Permalink

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

You didn't need a study to tell you that Candy Out of Sight is Out of Mind.

Secretaries who were given Hershey kisses for Secretary's Week ate more of them when the jars were clear or on their desks than when the chocolates were in opaque containers or placed a short distance away.

"It should make us think about what we're doing" to undermine people's willpower, said Dr. Louis Aronne, director of the weight control program at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York and president of the Obesity Society, which held a conference where the research was presented.
------

"Here's the golden lining: If we move food away from us, even 6 feet, we eat less and we overestimate how much we have eaten," the researchers concluded. "It may also work for healthier foods, such as raw fruits or vegetables. What makes the candy dish nutritionally dangerous might bring the fruit bowl back in vogue."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:38 AM | Permalink

I might need that someday

Are you lost in your own clutter?

You're not alone. US Material Wealth Leads to Clutter.

Is it a result of our evolutionary past? Are we compelled to get more and more stuff and never throw anything out because some day we might need it?

Why do we hoard all this stuff? Turns out there are significant brain changes in some people that sends up a red alert if something is to be thrown out.

There are even groups of Clutters Anonymous in 50 cities.

But if you're ashamed to bring someone home like Karen Lowe, then it's time to hire a professional. If your friends can't recommend anyone, try this link to find an organizer near you who belongs to the National Association of Professional Organizers.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:38 AM | Permalink

Katrina leaves scientific research in ruins.

Some New Orleans-based scientists lost their life's work in the storm.
The National Institutes of Health estimates that some 300 federally funded projects, representing about $150 million, suffered serious damage as a result of Katrina.

Katrina leaves scientific research in ruins.

One example is the Bogalusa Heart Study, which was tracking the diets, lifestyles and blood chemistry of 16,000 people in Bogalusa, La., with an eye to pinpointing risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Thirty to 40 years' worth of biological samples were stored in minus-70-degree freezers. After three or four days without power, those freezers rose to room temperature and two generations' worth of knowledge went with them. Genetic analysis is still possible, as DNA can withstand such changes, but other tests are now out of the question, Whelton said.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:37 AM | Permalink

Diet Coke in a sippy cup

Thinking ahead, parents have to start early, like Dooce

This is what I like to call Vacation Parenting. Much like a Vacation Diet you get to break all the rules: you get to eat bacon and let the kid drink Diet Coke out of a sippy cup. OH DON’T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT, my sister fed her babies Diet Coke in a bottle. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE. Jon asked me yesterday if I thought we were terrible parents, having let our daughter watch television in her lap and ingest orange Styrofoam. And I told him, “You forgot the part where she backed up into the wall and I laughed at her. If anything we’re preparing her for the first time she gets drunk in college.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:39 AM | Permalink

October 24, 2005

Cheating Death

If you want to learn all about Aubrey de Grey, the English biogerontologist who claims we can live to be 1000, who has won the respect of some scientists and the scorn of others, you must read The Man Who Would Murder Death.

Whether it's above, beyond or beneath me, I find the idea of living to 1000 years exhausting even to think about. All this focus on the survival of the physical body alone seems creepy.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:40 PM | Permalink

Health and Wellness round-up

Avian Flu Vaccine offers hope coupled with questions. It seems effective, but immunity requires two shots and a longer time to take effect, researchers say,

Keeping an Eye on Stroke Risk. Tiny aneurysms in retina help identify patients in danger, study says.

MIT launches major autism initiative to understand its genetic, molecular and behavioral aspects.

Gender gap for bad behavior narrowing. A new University of Florida study reveals that girls are displaying more delinquency and aggression that their male classmates with an increase in anger between sixth and seventh grades and a decrease in self-control.

Food and mood. The link between food and mood disorders like depression, anxiety and stress is becoming clearer. People aren't eating enough of the right building blocks for neurotransmitters and they are eating too many refined sugars.

How old you feel is linked to your well-being.

If you're having trouble sleeping, it could be because gastric reflux wakes you up. If a couple of Tums before you go to sleep doesn't help, your doctor may prescribe an acid-reducing drug. Or a minimally invasive surgery could prove effective.

What we call 'junk' DNA turns out to play a key role in maintaining an organism's genetic integrity.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:26 PM | Permalink

Sharing your bank book

Marshall Loeb says in Till cash do us part.

Some loving couples would rather share a toothbrush than a bank book. But if you plan to be with your mate for the long-term, sharing your basic financial information is as important as sharing your health history.
At least once a year, you and your mate should talk about what you owe, what you're spending on and what are your future financial goals.
An easy way to have this conversation is to start by making or updating lists of what you own and owe, separately or in common.
You should know the names, email addresses and phone and fax numbers of the financial professionals in your mate's life. They include any stockbroker, accountant, banker, attorney, insurance agent and financial planner.
Then there are the lists of your assets. They include all real estate, bank and brokerage accounts, cars and boats, precious jewelry, works of art and insurance policies.
Keep your lists in the same secure place where you store your wills, property deeds and your marriage license, if you have one.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:13 PM | Permalink

New Puritans

They're young, educated, opinionated, and early adopters. They just may have an "enhanced ability to recognize the pitfalls of contemporary life."

Something very interesting, indeed radical, is happening to Britain,' confirms Jim Murphy, associate director of the Future Foundation, the trends forecaster which coined the term 'New Puritan'
--
a New Puritan does not binge drink, smoke, buy big brands, take cheap flights, eat junk food, have multiple sexual partners, waste money on designer clothes, grow beyond their optimum weight, subscribe to celebrity magazines, drive a flash car, or live to watch television. And the list is likely to grow longer: research by the Future Foundation has found that 80 per cent of people agreed that alcohol should not be allowed at work at all; 25 per cent said snack products should not be offered at business meetings; more than a third agreed that we should think twice before giving sweets and chocolates as gifts to family and friends, and a further 25 per cent thought that 'the government should start a campaign to discourage people from drinking alcohol on their own at home'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:10 PM | Permalink

October 21, 2005

Life by numbers

Let's say the average lifespan is 78 years. Just how much time do we spend on everyday activities?

That's just what an enterprising German researcher asked, but he did the work which was published in the German Science magazine Geo Wissen. Here's Life by Numbers

sleeping - 24 years, 4 months
at our jobs - 7 years

watching TV - 5 years, 6 months
eating and drinking - 5 years
cooking family meals - 2 years, 2 months
talking - 2 years, 10 months
going to school - 1 year, 10 months
cleaning, 1 year, 4 months
relaxing - 12 months
washing and ironing - 9 months

commuting to our jobs - 9 months

do it yourself projects - 5 months

playing computer games - 4 months
waiting - 3 months
kissing - 2 weeks
praying - 2 weeks
having orgasms -16 hours

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:50 PM | Permalink

October 20, 2005

Gender Gap

What is happening to our young men? Why are they not going to college?

News today is how far men are falling behind women in terms of their representation at colleges nationwide. Now that women are You would expect that the college population would be roughly 50% women and 50% men.

Not so. Women make up 57% of the college population. This is a huge disparity especially when you consider how women have closed one gender gap only to begin another.

The question becomes should a more qualified woman be denied admission so that a male can be admitted to achieve gender parity.

Are the admissions standards gender-neutral?
Are fewer men without a college education good for women?
Is it good for society?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:22 PM | Permalink

October 19, 2005

Household Disasters

Burst pipes, electrical surges, appliance leaks, kitchen fires, sewerage back-ups.

One in three homeowners experience damages each year at an average cost of $2500 not including costs covered by insurance , but only 35% of homeowners budget for them. Yahoo story.

Since most disasters are unexpected, this can cause a financial pinch.
They are also inconvenient say 95% of those surveyed, even traumatic (74%) and it can take more than a week before lives get back to normal.

ServiceMaster Clean commissioned the story and they have tips for preventing, preparing for and recovering from these household disasters here.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:22 PM | Permalink

Sidetracked by the Business of Life

Sorry for the light posting, but I've been sidetracked by my Business of Life. My mother, 84, just back Friday from a three week visit to Switzerland and Italy, went into the hospital on Monday. She told us it was a minor medical procedure.

Well, we found out later that day that, in fact, a major surgery was planned. Only mid afternoon did we learn that she had undergone a lumpectomy - the removal of the upper lobe of her left lung along with a 1.5 cm cancerous nodule.

My brother and I spoke to her surgeon after the operation who told us it was stage 1A - the best score you can get with cancer because it's at such an early stage.

She's doing remarkably well according to the doctors and all her nurses who are amazed at her strength and should be home in less than a week. She was even making jokes in the recovery room

I've been on the shuttle run to the airport collecting brothers and sisters and ferrying them to the hospital and talking to her friends and other relatives.

That's the way life is. Everything seems the same, then, suddenly everything changes.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:09 PM | Permalink

October 15, 2005

Where the rich go to cry

Everyone must deal with the Business of Life, even the privileged and over-indulged.

The LA Times reports on Moonview Sanctuary
a new high-end clinic for the rich and, often, famous. It is a kind of psyche-spa for the burned out, the depressed and the anxious elite who want total anonymity and are willing to pay $175,000 a year for the latest innovations in mental health — no insurance accepted. Where the rich go to cry

Even corporate moguls and Hollywood celebrities are looking for a more integral way of living.

Many people have abandoned the religion of their youth and never found something to pick up in its stead, and have an emptiness or hole that they can't fill up with psychology or analysis or relationships or drugs or alcohol. Our goal is to help them look at what they discarded and how they may be able to bring it back into their lives."

Moonview works with an array of religious people, medical director Eagan says, including Catholic priests, Buddhist monks and a Native American drumming specialist, among others.

Said one minor celebrity

"When you're living in a town where people feed you bull constantly, you want to hear the truth. You hear the truth here, and it's an incredible motivation,"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:28 PM | Permalink

October 14, 2005

Bubble To Do

This is a great idea. The Bubble To-Do List. The size of the bubbles represents how important it is.

You can see at a glance your progress on the more important things or whether you've frittered away the day on the trivial.

   Bubble

HT Matt Homan at the [non]billable hour.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:27 PM | Permalink

October 13, 2005

No accidents in 80 years of driving

Discount for 100 year old driver No accidents in over 80 years of driving.

Well that's one way to save on car insurance.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:40 PM | Permalink

Sperm donor must pay child support

A Swedish man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple now must pay child support for their three children.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:32 PM | Permalink

The Green House

Long term nursing care modeled on the idea of healthy human development? What a concept and long overdue. Makes sense too with the right people, the ones actually doing the care-giving, in charge.

Small World, The Green House, AARP Bulletin, Oct 05 and not available online.

"The Green House: It looks like home and feels like home. It's a new way of living when you need long term care"

A reinvented nursing home, developed by geriatrician William Thomas, and centered on the idea of healthy human development, a Green House creates small, intimate environments instead of large, impersonal institutions. Rather than long halls, there are small family-sized homes with 10 residents or fewer, each with private bedrooms and baths around a common area, each a "warm, loving, nurturing sanctuary."

In charge are the nurse's aides, usually the most over-worked, underpaid and disrespected, each of whom has been transformed with 200 hours of additional training into "shahbaz" (powerful falcon in Farsi) who blend the roles of caregiver, homemaker and friend. Before their jobs were too small for them, now they, like their patients, are blooming.

A Green House costs about the same as a regular nursing home, but exceeds on every other metric traditional nursing homes in the analysis of a study made on Tupelo Mississippi's Green Houses with traditional nursing homes by Rosalie Kane, a long term care expert at the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:55 AM | Permalink

October 12, 2005

New Filing System

It's not often that you see a whole new filing system, but here it is.

The Noguchi Filing System.

It makes a certain sort of sense. It's simple, even elegant. Maybe I'll try it when I move.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:59 PM | Permalink

Contents of My Mom's Life

The beautiful lotus that grows from the mud of the swamp is in itself clean and pure. A very important symbol in India and of Buddhism, the lotus
refers to many aspects of the path, as it grows from the mud (samsara), up through clean water (purification), and arising from the deep produces a beautiful flower (enlightenment). The white blossom represents purity, the stem stands for the practice of Buddhist teachings which raise the mind above the (mud of) worldly existence, and gives rise to purity of mind.

The photographer Clayton James Cubbitt, in trying to find beauty in destruction, has some extraordinary images in the aftermath of Katrina as he captures "the contents of my Mom's Life." Very much like the lotus.

Thanks to Jeremy Hiebert of lifestylsm who writes about creating the lives we want for the link.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:59 PM | Permalink

Suffer the children

Suffering matters and children of divorce suffer more and that's not all.

In Divorce Study Breaks New Ground, Maggie Gallagher says,

If you've been in the marriage debate for 20 years, you seldom hear something really new.

But Elizabeth Marquardt (a former colleague of mine at the Institute for American Values) has just released a startlingly original study of children of divorce, "Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce" (Crown). Marquardt is a child of a good divorce herself, with parents who both continued to love, see and support her.

Marquardt has two insights: The first is that suffering matters.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:26 AM | Permalink

Cyber Catharsis

Last month, I wrote about the AOL survey that showed that nearly half of bloggers blog as a form of therapy. The Washington Post calls it Cyber-Catharsis and explores the phenomenon.

Seems as if even hospitals are seeing the blogging light.

One hospital in High Point, N.C., started devoting space to patients' blogs on its Web site....The project has been so successful -- both as a marketing tool for the hospital and a form of group therapy for patients who get feedback from their readers -- that High Point is considering adding video blogs, said Eric Fletcher, a spokesman for the hospital.
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said Bill Schreiner, vice president for AOL's community programming. "It's like they're writing the novel of their lives, and [public] participation adds truth to their story."

Blogging combines two recommended techniques for people to work through problems: writing in a journal and using a computer to type out thoughts. Some bloggers say the extra dimension of posting thoughts on the Web enables them to broach difficult subjects with loved ones, as well as reap support from a virtual community of people they don't know.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:08 AM | Permalink

October 11, 2005

Sexual Russian Roulette

A new Zogby poll reveals that only 39% of respondents always ask a new lover if they are infected with HIV.

It might be embarrassing, but really folks, not asking is asking for trouble and it's just stupid.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:37 PM | Permalink

New SIDS policy

Nothing is more heart-breaking than the sudden death of an infant especially when the parents thought the infant was sleeping.

SIDS, the sudden infant death syndrome, is mysterious and remains unexplained even after an autopsy and examination of the death scene and it kills more than 2000 each year.

Monday, at the annual meeting of the american Academy of Pediatrics, new guidelines to prevent SIDS were released.

In a nutshell, they recommend giving infants over one month a pacifier at bedtime and letting infants sleep in their parents' room but not in their parents' bed.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:32 PM | Permalink

October 10, 2005

When Professionalism is a Net Loss

Here's a very interesting essay by Paul Graham on what business can learn from open source. via Daily Dose of Optimism.

Workplaces
Another thing blogs and open source software have in common is that they're often made by people working at home. That may not seem surprising. But it should be. It's the architectural equivalent of a home-made aircraft shooting down an F-18. Companies spend millions to build office buildings for a single purpose: to be a place to work. And yet people working in their own homes, which aren't even designed to be workplaces, end up being more productive.
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The atmosphere of the average workplace is to productivity what flames painted on the side of a car are to speed. And it's not just the way offices look that's bleak. The way people act is just as bad.

Things are different in a startup. Often as not a startup begins in an apartment. Instead of matching beige cubicles they have an assortment of furniture they bought used. They work odd hours, wearing the most casual of clothing. They look at whatever they want online without worrying whether it's "work safe." The cheery, bland language of the office is replaced by wicked humor. And you know what? The company at this stage is probably the most productive it's ever going to be.

Maybe it's not a coincidence. Maybe some aspects of professionalism are actually a net loss.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:37 PM | Permalink

October 8, 2005

The Last Frontier - the Dishwasher?

From the Washington Post

A couple of months ago, in the privacy of his Reston townhouse, Alan Chien made a final break from cultural tradition, a guilt-filled decision he has yet to share with his parents.
He used his dishwasher. He knows his parents will not understand.

"They don't believe in it," said Chien, 35, an engineer who emigrated with his family from Taiwan when he was a toddler. "Just because they never used it, I never used it, so it was just a mysterious thing to me."

In many immigrant homes, the automatic dishwasher is the last frontier.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:17 PM | Permalink

100% Prevention of Cervical Cancer

This is the first I've heard of a vaccine for cancer AND the first that showed in preliminary tests that it prevented 100% of cervical pre-cancers and non-invasive cervical cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).

It's called Gardasil by Merck who is seeking FDA approval of the vaccine before the end of the year.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:37 AM | Permalink

October 7, 2005

USB Gets Best Rankings by Customers

In a recent survey of affluent customers, USB scored the best in customer rankings of the 9 leading financial service firms.

The nine firms profiled in the report are Bank of America, Charles Schwab, Fidelity, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Smith Barney, UBS Financial Services, Washington Mutual, and Wells Fargo.
UBS scored tops as a full service provider, a personal service provider, results-oriented provider and low-cost provider.

Well, the Swiss have been doing this for a far longer time.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:08 PM | Permalink

Next Five Disasters

You wouldn't believe that I'm a whole-hearted optimist when I keep writing about disasters, but I am squarely in the "expect the best, prepare for the worst" school.

So what will be The Next Five Disasters post Katrina? Chris Bushnell in Wave magazine explores potential disasters in the continental US that scientists agree 100% that they will eventually happen. Bet you never worried before about a Tsunami coming at us from the Canary Islands.

Pacific Northwest: Mount Rainier Awakens

A big chunk of this western flank will just one day suddenly let go. And this would be totally without warning,” says Pierson. “There would be no precursor that we could pick up on and [the collapse] has the potential for sending a massive lahar down to populated valleys where upwards of 60,000 people now live. … This will definitely happen someday, we just don’t know when.”

Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas: Downtown Tornado Cluster

“The objective was to determine, if we had a major tornado outbreak like that in North Texas, what sort of impact we would see. The numbers were quite staggering. We saw anywhere from 17,000 to 18,000 homes impacted, between 3,000 to 9,000 apartment units that were impacted, and damages anywhere from $811 million up to $2.8 billion, depending on what areas the tornados hit.”


Eastern Seaboard:
Mega-Landslide / Tsunami

Ward’s prediction is dire. A mega-landslide off the Canary Islands, which Ward calls “one of the steepest places on earth,” would result in a wave that is still more than 100 feet tall when it hits the eastern seaboard of the United States.

Boulder, Colorado: Flash Flood

On May 30, 1894, the then-fledgling city of Boulder, Colorado was nearly wiped out by a massive flash flood. It took only two days of rain – about six inches in all – to mix with that year’s snow melt to produce a sudden, enormous river that ripped through the city, wiping out bridges, buildings, trees and anything else in its path. Miraculously, no one was killed. Today, however, Boulder is a growing metropolis – and the threat of a repeat flood is always one big storm away.

Entire United States: Avian Flu Pandemic
Last month, eyebrows were raised when Dr. Hitoshi Oshitani, a communicable disease expert for the World Health Organization and a frontline warrior in the battle against H5N1 (a.k.a. The Hong Kong Bird Flu), said that it was only a matter of time before avian flu becomes communicable between humans and a worldwide pandemic erupts. Oshitani, who successfully led the effort to contain SARS in 2003, added that “it would take four to six months to develop and produce a vaccine and that might not be fast enough.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:05 PM | Permalink

October 6, 2005

Leaders - Journalists and Warriors

I am enthralled with Michael Yon's Dispatches from Iraq. Michael is an independent journalist, with no ties to any organization and who depends on reader contributions to support his dispatches. He comes from my state of Massachusetts, takes his own photographs, travels with units in the army, and delivers the best war reporting I've ever seen from his own blog.

He is a now and present journalist star.

If you have only been reading the main stream media about how bad the war is going, you will be surprised to learn from Michael that the Coalition is winning because of the quality of our leadership present in our officers and men.

These units are models of leadership development—senior officers lead from the front, seek out and reward excellence, and isolate and eliminate bad performance. The Zayd letter exclaims what captured enemies have been telling us for the past six months: the insurgency uses a very different, and clearly inferior, system for leading their fighters. They recruit foreign fighters—forcing them at times—to do the worst of their fighting. They intoxicate youth with drugs, and force them to drive their car bombs. As one officer succinctly put it: “If they believed their own bullshit, they would strap the bomb to themselves.”
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It bears repeating that the Coalition IS winning in Mosul. Here’s why: while the enemy commander Abu Zayd was hiding in and around Mosul, and complaining about his fellow terrorists squandering money on phones and cars, American and Iraqi commanders were physically fighting alongside their men, instilling confidence in the mission, sharing the risks.
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In some wars, it’s about the resources. In other wars, it’s about the equipment or manpower. In some, the weather turns out to be the Great Decider. This one is about the expectations, philosophies and individuals who wear the mantle of leadership. As for these individuals, from the young sergeants to the senior officers, the Coalition simply has superior leaders, and they are mentoring the best Iraqi leaders, and the results are transparent.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:17 PM | Permalink

October 5, 2005

Exercise good for the brain

Exercise for a half an hour twice a week during midlife can significantly cut a person's risk for dementia later, say researchers.

People in their late 40s and early 50s who do this could reduce their risk of dementia by about 50%, according to a study reported in Lancet Neurology.

Those who are genetically prone to Alzheimer's disease could see a reduction of about 60%, it adds.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:32 PM | Permalink

Dolphins sing 'Batman' theme

  Dolphin


Scientists have taught dolphins to combine both rhythm and vocalisations to produce music,
resulting in an extremely high-pitched, short version of the Batman theme song.

The findings, outlined in two studies, are the first time that nonhuman mammals have demonstrated they can recognise rhythms and reproduce them vocally

If they were going to all that trouble, couldn't they have picked a better song? Whoever picked the theme from Batman?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:43 PM | Permalink

October 4, 2005

Real Men Know How to Iron

I couldn't pass this one up. One day courses to teach men how to iron are being set up across Austria with the tag line, "A real man knows how to iron."

I know some men who need that course, even if it costs $200.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:29 PM | Permalink

Health Links Round-Up

Blogging is lighter than usual as I'm in the last throughs of finishing my book. Here are some interesting healthy links I've come across in the past week.

Everyone knows that depression is common but who would think it was hitting Baby Boomers in the prime of their lives particularly hard?

Beauty is bone-deep. Bones are to blame for an aging face. They shrink as the years go by and the process is faster in women. Got milk?

If you're a senior, depression may be as much a risk factor for death as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Unexplained weight loss may herald Alzheimer's. The brain's weight centers might be affected before memory.

This is not good for babies to come. Fewer women, only 33%, are taking folic acid supplements to prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine.

Pathological liars have different brains.

First things first. When the Red Sox are hot, ER visits cool.

Compulsive shopping is linked to insecurity and it's on the rise.

Personally customized medical treatment is beginning as researchers find that gene profiling may improve breast cancer care. At least patients won't have to endure painful and unsuccessful therapies.

A new Diet Site leveraging social networking launches today called PEERtrainer. Users can connect with each other and offer support, encouragement and criticism. Buddy up and slim down.

To find the best match if you're changing doctors because you've moved or are changing insurance carriers, first check their credentials then, on your first visit, be prepared to talk about your medical history, your family history, your lifestyle and the medications you're on.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:14 PM | Permalink