May 31, 2006

The apple of his eye

A most unusual marriage proposal as the New York Apple Store opens

She sees the proposal’s existence on Apple’s website as an added bonus, as anyone can see it for themselves. “It’s like having the most unique, glamorous, and timeless proposal, with the whole world as our witness,” she said. “I can’t wait to say ‘I Do’!”

If you go to Apple's time lapse photography of its first 24 hours on Fifth Avenue and click on 5 am you can see it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:26 PM | Permalink

Signs and Wonders

Some would say it's only coincidence, me, I think signs and wonders better explain the mysteries of things too awesome to understand or explain.

Like the Rainbow over Birkenau, one of the death camps Pope Benedict visited on his trip to Poland.

  Pope, Rainbow Birkenau Nazi Death Camp

As the music of violins an a harp played, it rained and, some time later, a colorful rainbow appeared right over the chimney of a ruined crematorium. It was a beautiful and breath-stopping view, as if God himself made a sign of His Covenant with Israel. And in the slowly clearing up sky, an eagle flew over the former death camp, like a symbol of Poland. People gathered at this scene with bewilderment, and Benedict XVI, who apparently didn’t see it, turned back to the rainbow arch and began his address to a small crowd of people, gathered on the camp’s grounds.

David Daystch, the Polish journalist who wrote the piece, recalls an earlier visit he took to Auschwitz with a Japanese journalist.

On that particular day, in Auschwitz, in the dreadful underground of the Death Ward (Barrack 11), we stood together in front of Father Kolbe’s death cell. There was an inscription on the door, marking the date of his execution by a poison shot into his heart: August 14, 1941. I looked up at the date and froze: it was the date of my own birth! I told Yoshino. She put her hands around my neck and cried. Then she took a picture which is in her book, published in Japan. Many times I wondered what influence that scene had on my later life. A remembrance of Father Kolbe’s martyrdom made my imprisonment in a communist jail a lighter experience and my present life of an invalid with a broken spine more tolerable.

Father Kolbe is The Saint from Auschwitz.

When the Nazis selected 10 to die because one prisoner had escaped, one man cried "My wife! My children! I will never see them again! Kolbe, a Catholic priest, stepped forward and asked to die in his place. His request was granted. The man who was saved, Franciszek Gajowniczek, said later

'I could only thank him with my eyes. I was stunned and could hardly grasp what was going on. The immensity of it: I, the condemned, am to live and someone else willingly and voluntarily offers his life for me - a stranger. Is this some dream?

I was put back into my place without having had time to say anything to Maximilian Kolbe. I was saved. And I owe to him the fact that I could tell you all this. The news quickly spread all round the camp. It was the first and the last time that such an incident happened in the whole history of Auschwitz.

 Father Kolbe

Another survivor Jerzy Bielecki declared that Father Kolbe's death was
'a shock filled with hope, bringing new life and strength ... It was like a powerful shaft of light in the darkness of the camp.

Kolbe was canonized as a martyr by Pope John Paul II in 1981.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:11 PM | Permalink

You're on your own

People are still blase about hurricanes so

As Hurricane Season Looms, States Aim to Scare

Convinced that tough tactics are needed, officials in hurricane-prone states are trumpeting dire warnings about the storm season that starts on Thursday, preaching self-reliance and prodding the public to prepare early and well.

Cities are circulating storm-preparation checklists, counties are holding hurricane expositions at shopping malls and states are dangling carrots like free home inspections and tax-free storm supplies in hopes of conquering complacency.
----

Speaking of the tactics, Craig Fugate, Florida's emergency management director, said last week at a news conference in Tallahassee, "We're going to use a sledgehammer."

This save-yourselves approach comes after government agencies were overwhelmed by pleas for help after last year's storms and strongly criticized as not responding swiftly or thoroughly enough to the public need. Now, officials have said repeatedly,
only the elderly, the poor and the disabled should count on the government to help them escape a hurricane or endure its immediate aftermath.
____

Some communities are coaxing the public to prepare in a piecemeal way, like saving old milk jugs as emergency water containers and buying one extra can of food on every grocery trip. Escambia County, Fla., is publishing weekly shopping lists to try to get residents to stock up little by little. Martiza Vazquez of Miami said that approach had made preparing more manageable.


Only the elderly, the poor and the disabled should count on the government for help in enduring the aftermath of a hurricane. Everyone else can take care of themselves and should get ready to do so.

You're on your own.

At least you get to sleep in your own bed and eat your own food.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:05 PM | Permalink

Global Seed Vault

A backup vault is being built on a remote island off Norway to store the world's seeds from cataclysm.

Arctic vault to protect world's seeds.
Construction of the Global Seed Vault, in a mountainside on the island of Svalbard 1000km from the North Pole, would start in June with completion due in September 2007.

"Norway will by this contribute to the global system for ensuring the diversity of food plants. A Noah's Ark on Svalbard if you will," Norwegian Agriculture and Food Minister Terje Riis-Johansen said in a statement.
---

It would be a remote Arctic back-up for scores of other seed banks around the world, which may be more vulnerable to risks ranging from nuclear war to mundane power failures.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:50 AM | Permalink

May 30, 2006

Life Lessons from Joan Didion

From an interview with Joan Didion, Grief Becomes a Part of You.

What's magical thinking?
One of the things that happens to people in grief is they secretly think they're crazy, because they realize they are thinking things that don't make sense. For example they are thinking–I don't know how many people have told me this–that their husband or wife will come back. And I don't mean come back in terms of a resurrection; I mean simply walk into the room.
----
How little we control.

What happened to me in the year after John died was that I realized that we have very little of the control that we so prize. We can't control events; they are going to happen. In a way it allowed me to let go and not try to control things as obsessively as I had in the past.
---
From what do you draw your strength

I can't even think that I've had much strength. Strength is one of those things you're supposed to have. You don't feel that you have it at the time you're going through it. You feel as if you have none. Now obviously I had some because I got through it. The fact of the matter is that most people do get through it. It is, I guess, life's great learning experience, or one of them.
----
What did anyone do that especially comforted you?

There's a general impulse to distract the grieving person—as if you could. But there were a few friends who allowed me to talk about it, to just bring it up in the middle of dinner or something without disapproving or trying to change the subject or not to let me talk about it. People who were easy enough with the idea of death to let it come up in the course of an evening were the most helpful.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:44 PM | Permalink

May 29, 2006

Happy Dust

"A quick snort of happy dust, a mood boost." That's what those on the receiving end of charisma get.

Intangible, but powerful, charisma is what everyone is looking to get at least a measure of.

The 'it' factor

Charisma, by its nature, is elusive and difficult to study, but most experts agree that it involves a combination of enthusiasm, extroversion and good listening skills.

More specifically, they suggest that charismatic individuals have more variance in the pitch of their speech — that is, their speech pattern goes up and down — they are more likely to smile and initiate physical contact and, consciously or unconsciously, they tend to mimic the body language of their listener.

But there's something else too. Charismatic people appear to tune in to other people to the exclusion of all else, leaving the recipients of all this glorious attention believing that there has been an emotional connection. As a result of the contact, the recipients feel special and consequently good about themselves.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:00 AM | Permalink

May 28, 2006

Make it Quick

A recent AP poll found that Americans want just about everything in a New York minute. We get antsy after 5 minutes on hold and 15 minutes in a line.

That describes me, what about you?

The faster, faster culture has great impact on retailing and design. One man, Paco Underhill is making the most of it. Take a look at his clients.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:46 PM | Permalink

Man donates kidney to his rescuer

Man donates kidney to his rescuer

A man plucked from a raging torrent 20 years ago by a stranger has repaid the favour by donating a kidney to his rescuer.

Remzo Pivic, from the Bosnian town of Bosanski Brod, almost drowned when he fell into the icy water of the River Bosna two decades ago.

He was saved when passerby Ahmet Adulovic jumped in and pulled his lifeless body to safety.

The pair stayed in contact despite the fact that rescuer Adulovic emigrated to Canada, and when Pivic heard he was having kidney troubles he offered one of his own.

When doctors confirmed they were compatible, he flew to Ottawa to donate the organ.

He said: "I've finally been able to pay him back for saving my life 20 years ago."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:48 PM | Permalink

Another Quake in Indonesia

The Indonesian earthquake registering 6.2 on the Richter scale has killed more than 4000 people. near the royal city of Yogyakarta.

This is the third major earthquake in the densely populated country in 18 months that began with the terrible tsunami.   Indonesia Quake May 2006

The photo above is from the Washington Post which reports that the U.S. government is on standby to help the quake victims.

So much suffering for such gentle people. It's now a race against time to save those buried under rubble.

WHEN he chose to become a doctor, Azman Ibrahim never counted on having a day like yesterday — seeing 30 patients die before his eyes and racing against the clock to keep the number of dead from increasing.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:32 PM | Permalink

May 25, 2006

When women panicked.

A notorious Newsweek cover story in 1986 said, based on a Harvard-Yale study, 40 year old, educated, single women "were more likely to be killed by a terrorist" than land a mate.

Now we cringe at the thought of such a comparison. Hey, scare-mongering then and now always boosts sales at news-stands.

From the WSJ, An Iconic Report 20 Years Later: Many of Those Women Married After All by Jeff Zaslow. (subscription only)


A lot of us recall the hand wringing over that study, the countless articles and TV debates, the tearful conversations between single women and their mothers. The statistics were later challenged by U.S. Census Bureau demographer Jeanne Moorman, who calculated that those 30-year-olds actually had a 58% to 66% likelihood of finding a husband; for 40-year-olds it was 17% to 23%. But the Harvard-Yale study's core message -- that educated, career-focused women risk spending their lives alone -- still reverberates today.

--
Well, a new study suggests that new research suggests that highly educated women are actually MORE likely to find husbands.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:09 PM | Permalink

Intergenerational households

Grandparents head 62% of multi-generational households which are are growing faster than any other type.

Now 4% of all types, multi-generational households grew by 38% from 1990 to 2000.

Families Add 3rd Generation to Households
A variety of cultural factors also draw and keep relatives together. Multigenerational living, especially those in which grandparents care for their grandchildren, have long been common in Asian and Hispanic countries, and the arrangement is popular among immigrants from those nations. Also driving the trend are — who else? — active baby boomers who want to be involved in the lives of their offspring and who see little appeal in flying off to a Sun Belt retirement in isolation.

Are these helicopter parents just slightly older?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:28 AM | Permalink

Too goal oriented to help dying man

More than 40 climbers ascending Mt Everest passed a British mountaineer who lay dying and didn't stop to help.

Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to reach the summit said

"I think the whole attitude toward climbing Mount Everest has become rather horrifying. The people just want to get to the top," he told the newspaper.

Hillary told New Zealand Press Association he would have abandoned his own pioneering climb to save another's life.

"It was wrong if there was a man suffering altitude problems and was huddled under a rock, just to lift your hat, say 'good morning' and pass on by," he said.

He said that his expedition, "would never for a moment have left one of the members or a group of members just lie there and die while they plugged on towards the summit."

Too focused, too goal-oriented, too selfish to be authentically human.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:33 AM | Permalink

Aging with Grace and Grit--NOT

Aging with Grace and Grit--NOT

Two elderly women devised a complex plot in which they befriended homeless men, took out life insurance policies on them, and then killed the men in hit-and-run accidents in alleys around Los Angeles to collect $2.2 million in payments, police said Monday.

Said police spokesman Lt Paul Vernon,
"It is one of the most sinister, evil plots I've ever seen"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:23 AM | Permalink

May 24, 2006

Pot, chocolate and lemonade

Very good news for a lot of people. Heavy pot smoking doesn't increase lung cancer risk.

But heavy pot smoking can still make you fat and stupid.

More evidence that chocolate may boost brain power. Milk chocolate this time helps verbal and visual memory.

If you know of someone suffering with kidney stones, you can tell them that lemonade offers sweet relief.

Two studies presented at the American Urological Association said regular consumption of lemonade may increase urinary citrate, a chemical in the urine that prevents the formation of crystals that may build up to kidney stones.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:36 PM | Permalink

The Fat-Cancer Connection

More U.S. citizens know the correct number of judges on American Idol than know that being fat helps cause cancer.

According to a new poll of more than 2,000 adults for the American Cancer Society, just 8 percent were aware of the link between being overweight and cancer risk, but 65 percent knew how the popular TV show works.

Experts say the obesity-cancer connection needs a lot more press.

Most Americans Unaware of Fat-Cancer Connection.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:41 PM | Permalink

Sleeping pill wakes men from coma

From the Guardian, Sleeping pill wakes men in vegetative state.

A drug commonly used as a sleeping pill appears to have had a miraculous effect on brain-damaged patients who have been in a permanent vegetative state for years, arousing them to the point where some are able to speak to their families, scientists report today.

The dramatic improvement occurs within 20 minutes of taking the drug, Zolpidem, and wears off after around four hours - at which point the patients return to their permanent vegetative state, according to a paper published in the medical journal NeuroRehabilitation.

If they can be awakened, react and speak with their families, how can they be in a permanent vegetative state?

Ralf Clauss of the nuclear medicine department of the Royal Surrey County hospital, one of the authors, said that clinical trials were now needed. He said the drug could have uses in all kinds of brain damage, including Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:07 AM | Permalink

May 23, 2006

Botox May Ease Depression.

Bookofjoe calls it a "provocative study" in this month's Dermatologic Surgery. BehindTheMedspeak: Can Botox Cure Depression?

Provocative indeed.

In removing those frown lines, Botox looks as though it's also relieving depression.

The Washington Post reported Botox Appears to Ease Depression

Alastair Carruthers, president-elect of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, agreed that Finzi's study provides new insight into a phenomenon clinicians have noticed.

"Anyone who has injected much Botox into the frown area has had people come in and say they can't believe how they feel better as a result," said Carruthers, clinical professor in dermatology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, in an interview. "We've not really been able to put our fingers on why. . . . We have been doing research based on appearance, but it may be due to some mood-altering effect of Botox that we don't understand."
-----
Of the 10 depressed patients in the Washington area whom Finzi studied, nine recovered from their depressive symptoms, and one -- who turned out to have bipolar disorder, or manic depression -- showed an improvement in mood.
--

Finzi, who practices dermatology in Greenbelt and Chevy Chase, said his hunch was that Delano's facial muscles provided feedback to her brain.

"My theory on why this works is there is a feedback between the muscles of facial expression and the brain," said Finzi, who has applied for a patent on using Botox for depression. "With yoga, you focus on your breathing, and it has an effect on your mind. My hypothesis is the facial muscles . . . have an effect on depression."

Hey, what would smiling do?

Even if you're faking a smile, it releases endorphrins that make feel better.

Smile
Lyle Lovett

Smile, though your heart is aching.
Smile, even though it's breaking.
Though there are clouds in the sky,
You get by...

If you smile through your fears and sorrows.
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through.

If you just light up your face with gladness,
Hide every trace of sadness.
Although a tear may be ever, ever so near.

That's the time you must keep on trying.
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find life is worthwhile
If you'll just smile, come on and smile.

If you just smile.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:47 PM | Permalink

When rice is a luxury

The first rule of the Business of Life is to stay alive. We are now learning from the first North Korean defectors who arrived in Los Angles how difficult that can be.

Greeted by members of a church coalition that pressed for their safe passage, they tell of famine, enslavement, torture and repression.

One refugee
recalled his astonishment upon seeing the abundance of food even in the rural areas just across the river from North Korea. Dogs were being given rice porridge to eat, he recalls, "big bowls of it." Rice is a luxury in North Korea, he said, eaten only on one's birthday and New Year's.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:48 PM | Permalink

May 22, 2006

Middlescence

American researchers have coined a new term. Middlescents are those workers between 35 and 54 who have burned themselves out.

Work Stressful? You may be a middlescent

The middlescent is frustrated, confused and exasperated, finding themselves leaving work feeling "burned out, bottlenecked and bored".
--

"It is a critical time for people and they have to rethink their whole life. Should they be less ambitious? Should they spend more time with their family?

"The critical time for that used to be well into your 50s, now it's getting younger.

It's what used to be called a mid-life crisis, but it seems to be happening earlier now. I think highly educated people who live in this world of abundance we enjoy today have more opportunities for identity crises throughout their lives. That's a good thing because it's usually a crisis that forces you to assess your life and find new meaning and passion.

I came across this quote today from Peter Drucker and it's such a good question that it's worth asking repeatedly over time.

"What can you and only you do, that if done well, can make a real difference."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:19 PM | Permalink

Magic Realism

Wonderful images by Rob Gonsalves at Seamless Pictures. Nothing is quite what it seems.


  Seamless Ron Gonzales

You can buy prints at the Saper Gallery

  Seamless 2 Rob Gonsalves

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:18 PM | Permalink

May 18, 2006

Dorsal vs. ventral

Is this possible?

Brain Scans Get at the Roots of Prejudice.

The human brain may have a built-in mechanism for keeping racially or politically distinct groups apart, a new Harvard study suggests.

U.S. researchers observed the brain activity of liberal college students who were asked to think about Christian conservatives. As they did so, a brain region strongly linked to the self and to empathy with others nearly shut down, while another center -- perhaps linked to stereotypic thoughts -- swung into high gear.
---
It all takes part in the medial prefrontal cortex or the mPFC for you brain surgeons out there but in two distinct regions - the ventral vs. the dorsal.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:53 PM | Permalink

Raised Eyebrows

Just in case you're still in the game, here's how to interpret those signals someone may be sending you.

Everyone wants to know how to read sexual body language.

Here's one.

Raised eyebrows
. When we see a person that we consider attractive, we begin raising and lowering our eyebrows. If the person also feels drawn to you, his eyebrows will also start going up and down. This gesture lasts only 1/5 of a second but it takes place all the time, with people of both sexes and all ages. This "eye making" can be easily left unnoticed, but if you do notice it, you will certainly be given 100% of the person's attention.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:45 PM | Permalink

The Unlimited Capacity of a Mom's Heart

From Gifts of Motherhood in the Washington Post.

Before Michele Booth Cole walked her two daughters inside the Toys R Us that December morning two years ago, she made herself clear. They were there to buy a Christmas gift for a little girl at Mommy's job whose own mommy and daddy couldn't afford to get one, she explained to 5-year-old Grace and 3-year-old Madison.

"You will get gifts later on, but we're not getting anything for you. Do you understand?" The girls nodded. "Are you going to be okay?" They nodded again. "And we're not going to ask for anything," Cole stressed. More vigorous nodding.

They combed the colorful aisles of the huge Langley Park store, and the girls couldn't resist pointing to all the toys they liked but were careful not to ask for. They found the Bratz doll from the other little girl's wish list and stood in line. They looked at the games and dolls and dressy feather boas one more time. Hard to leave it all behind, but they did without a fuss, Cole recalls.

It was a small moment to reflect on sharing and selflessness, she says.
--
Part of good mothering "is to teach your children about the entire society, not just your own microcosm neighborhood of 10 square blocks,"
--
"Your heart doesn't have this limited, finite capacity," Cole says. "It has unlimited capacity, and you find out the more you share, the more you are able to do."

Now that's a good Mom.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:31 PM | Permalink

May 17, 2006

Helicopter Parents

Newsweek calls it The Fine Art of Letting Go. Can Boomers do it?
Let their children live their own lives?

Most boomers don't want to be "helicopter parents," hovering so long that their offspring never get a chance to grow up

---
Alarmed by these intrusions into what should be a period of increasing independence, colleges around the country have set up parent-liaison offices to limit angry phone calls to professors and deans. Parent orientations, usually held alongside the student sessions, teach how to step aside.
-
Letting go is the final frontier for boomer parents, who've made child rearing a major focus of their adult lives.
--

Try the quiz to see if you're a helicopter parent.

You're probably not if you remember the goal is not to raise a child, but to raise an adult

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:06 PM | Permalink

Is Having Children Worth It?

Glenn Reynolds says the fun has gone out of parenting even as the costs of raising a middle class child till age 18 is now $200,000 and that doesn't include the costs of college!

The Parent Trap

Parenting was always hard work, of course. But aside from the economic payoffs, parents used to get a lot of social benefits, too. But in recent decades, a collection of parenting "experts" and safety-fascist types have extinguished some of the benefits while raising the costs, to the point where what's amazing isn't that people are having fewer kids, but that people are having kids at all.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:10 PM | Permalink

The American Talent

Sissy Willis posts today about Bringing people together for the common good.

You've heard about the New England flood of 2006, the worst in 70 years with towns flooded, people evacuated, and old dams strained to the bursting point. and sewage running raw into the river every day.

Well, Sissy applauded our local cable channel (New England Cable News) for its coverage that has completely outstripped the local broadcast stations and now brings news of their Help Your Neighbor campaign. NECN is hosting free and discounted offers to help people clean up on its Help Your Neighbor blog.

She quotes a speech by the President last year on America's talent, "In a free society, the public good depends on private character" citing de Tocqueville's notion that the secret to America's success was our talent of bringing people together for the common good.

I often noted this talent in the past and of course I quoted de Tocqueville who remarked in 1983 that at the head of any new undertaking, you would find the government in France, a great lord in England and an association in America in Working Together on Borrowed Time.

In the end, everything is local and helping neighbors is the way to reinforce and practice our very American talent.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:41 PM | Permalink

Roses and Tomatoes

I don't know about you, but when I buy roses I want them to smell. I want to drown in their fragrance. While they are getting bigger, it's getting harder and harder to find roses with any smell at all.

Now scientists have found that the tomato gene that gives tomatoes their flavor, is the same gene that gives roses their wonderful scent.

Soon, I'll be able to find roses that smell, well like roses.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:02 PM | Permalink

10 extra years

Everyone's getting into blogs. Take a look at John Bogle, founder and former CEO of the Vanguard Group, who's now writing the Bogle Blog.
You can even boogy with Bogle and "Ask Jack."

I liked a linked piece of his called Some meanings of life from a second chance. Turns out he had a heart transplant 10 years ago, a miracle at any time.

What did he get from the extra 10 years? Delight, gratitude and the opportunity to help build a better world.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:58 AM | Permalink

May 16, 2006

A real civil defense

Peter Canellos, the Boston Globe's Washington bureau chief has an interesting idea . Those courses offered to military officers and war reporters on how to conduct themselves when faced with a terrorist, why not offer them to ordinary citizens in clubs, churches, even schools.

Ordinary people do fight terror.

But while the Department of Homeland Security has made efforts to help communities get ready for possible attacks -- including the creation of nearly 2,000 local Citizens Corps Councils -- they have focused mostly on FEMA-style preparedness; the Citizen Corps website offers advice on how to create a ''three-day disaster supply kit," but not what to do if confronted by a hijacker, a kidnapper, or a suspected terrorist.

Homeland Security officials did not return messages asking for further information on civil defense programs. But giving people a sense of when and how to fight back might do more than just prepare them for the unlikely chance that they'll be aboard another United 93
. It could rob the terrorists of their best weapon: the fear that nothing can stop them.

It would be real civil defense. I can think of a number of men and boys who would jump at the chance.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:13 PM | Permalink

A good laugh

I had one of those tough days yesterday, but when I read these, I felt much better. Wicked Thoughts to the rescue. Funny what a good laugh will do.

STORE MEMO Re: Mr. Bill Fenton - Complaints - 15 Things Mr. Bill Fenton has done while his spouse/partner is shopping:

1. June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in people's carts when they weren't looking.
2. July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5-minute intervals.
3. July 7: Made a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the rest rooms.
4. July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official tone, 'Code 3' in housewares..... and watched what happened.
5. August 4: Went to the Service Desk and asked to put a bag of M&Ms on layaway.
6. September 14: Moved a 'CAUTION - WET FLOOR' sign to a carpeted area.
7. September 15: Set up a tent in the camping department and told other shoppers he'd invite them in if they'll bring pillows from the bedding department.
8. September 23: When a clerk asks if they can help him, he begins to cry and asks, "Why can't you people just leave me alone?"
9. October 4: Looked right into the security camera; used it as a mirror, and picked his nose.
10. November 10: While handling guns in the hunting department, asked the clerk if he knows where the antidepressants are.
11. December 3: Darted around the store suspiciously loudly humming the "Mission Impossible" theme.
12. December 6: In the auto department, practiced his "Madonna look" using different size funnels.
13. December 18: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browsed through, yelled "PICK ME! PICK ME!"
14. December 21: When an announcement came over the loud speaker, he assumed the fetal position and screamed "NO! NO! It's those voices again!!!!"

And, last, but not least!
15. December 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door and waited a while; then yelled, very loudly, "There is no toilet paper in here!"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:05 PM | Permalink

Mr. Rogers, Ecstatic Ascetic

The Real Live Preacher thought he was over Mr. Rogers

Damn. She caught me, so I went ahead and put my hand under my glasses and wiped away the tears. I don’t like people seeing me cry. When I thought I was under control, I talked about Mr. Rogers some more.

I told her how speaking into the camera was his idea. He wanted to talk to children. I said that there were probably a lot of people out there who grew up pretending that Mr. Rogers was their dad. Some kids don’t have any grownups in their lives who will talk to them like that. I told her about the Emmy he won and how the audience grew quiet when he stepped to the microphone

I wonder how many people pretended Mr. Rogers was their dad, how many boys and girls learned important lessons, about being genuine and kind, from him. Always gentle, always courteous, always a role model.

I came across this absolutely wonderful piece by Tom Junod who wrote about Mr.Rogers -- somehow I just can't call him Fred. Can You Say...Hero? was his eulogy to Mr. Rogers, published in Esquire in 1998.

When Mr. Rogers accepted the Emmy for Lifetime Achievement, Junod writes

he went onstage to accept Emmy's Lifetime Achievement Award, and there, in front of all the soap-opera stars and talk-show sinceratrons, in front of all the jutting man-tanned jaws and jutting saltwater bosoms, he made his small bow and said into the microphone, "All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are….Ten seconds of silence." And then he lifted his wrist, and looked at the audience, and looked at his watch, and said softly, "I'll watch the time," and there was, at first, a small whoop from the crowd, a giddy, strangled hiccup of laughter, as people realized that he wasn't kidding, that Mister Rogers was not some convenient eunuch but rather a man, an authority figure who actually expected them to do what he asked…and so they did. One second, two seconds, three seconds…and now the jaws clenched, and the bosoms heaved, and the mascara ran, and the tears fell upon the beglittered gathering like rain leaking down a crystal chandelier, and Mister Rogers finally looked up from his watch and said, "May God be with you" to all his vanquished children.

Another snippet from Tom Junod's Can You Say ...Hero? that had me crying by the end.

ONCE UPON A TIME, Mister Rogers went to New York City and got caught in the rain. He didn't have an umbrella, and he couldn't find a taxi, either, so he ducked with a friend into the subway and got on one of the trains. It was late in the day, and the train was crowded with children who were going home from school. Though of all races, the schoolchildren were mostly black and Latino, and they didn't even approach Mister Rogers and ask him for his autograph. They just sang. They sang, all at once, all together, the song he sings at the start of his program, "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" and turned the clattering train into a single soft, runaway choir.

I am so happy that my friend Bob Berks, has been commissioned to create a sculpture of Mr. Rogers which I saw underway last summer. Bob Berks is the American sculptor whose "Biographies in Bronze" encompass some 300 portraits. You can see some of them at his official website including videos, made by his talented wife Tod, where Bob talks about sculpting the Albert Einstein now on the grounds of the National Academy of Sciences, Frank Sinatra and his quartet of Lincoln sculptures, one of which I gaze on every day on my desk, one of my most treasured possessions. I just know that his sculpture of Mr. Rogers will be treasured by millions who have a special place in their heart for that man who helped love them into being.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:45 PM | Permalink

May 15, 2006

What Mia Farrow's Learned

Interviewed for Esquire's What I've Learned column, Mia Farrow said

When I was nine, I got polio. And I was taken from the security of my family into another world, the Los Angeles General Hospital wing for contagious diseases. It was in the middle of the polio epidemic. I was shown sickness, and uncertainty, and pain, even death. Then I was released from that and dropped back into my life, and I never felt quite the same. It gave me a sense that I had to find a life that was meaningful, and that very definitely has shaped the family I have. I've adopted ten children, most of them with special needs, including one son who is paraplegic as a result of polio. Since this is my way of addressing that, sort of over and over.

It has by that which cannot be taken away that we can measure ourselves.

After the Maharishi, I started hitchhiking across India. I withdrew everything from my bank and just gave it all away. And that I thought, Well, how useless is this, 'cause now I'm poor, too. So I went back to work

You don't want your son's father married to your son's sister, you know? That's bad for family values.

What I would tell my daughters is: "Don't get involved with anyone who didn't respect his mother."

Find things that shine and move toward them.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:49 PM | Permalink

Impaired Fecundity

Is the drop in teen-age pregnancy attributable to education or is it the decreased fertility of boys?

Pesticides with estrogen-like effects have the strongest evidence for sperm reduction.

Liza Mundy writes in Sperm counts and teen pregnancy rates

The great sperm-count debate began in 1992, when a group of Danish scientist published a study suggesting that sperm counts declined globally by about 1 percent a year between 1938 and 1990. This study postulated that "environmental influences," particularly widely used chemical compounds with an impact like that of the female hormone estrogen, might be contributing to a drop in fertility among males. If true, this was obviously an alarming development, particularly given that human sperm counts are already strikingly low compared to almost any other species. "Humans have the worst sperm except for gorillas and ganders of any animal on the planet,"

At a conference at Stanford
the evidence presented are several trends that seem to point to a subtle feminization of male babies: a worldwide rise in hypospadias, a birth defect in which the urethral opening is located on the shaft of the penis rather than at the tip; a rise in cryptorchidism, or undescended testicles; and experiments Swan has done showing that in male babies with high exposure to compounds called phthalates, something called the anogenital distance is decreasing. If you measure the distance from a baby's anus to the genitals, the distance in these males is shorter, more like that of … girls.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:21 PM | Permalink

May 13, 2006

I always leave the window open

A nurse writes I have seen people die.

The most sobering thing about doing what I do for a living is this: it means that I have done something that, as far as I know, the rest of my immediate family has not. I've done it enough that it's become, at least in the outlines, fairly routine.

.... I've answered the call bell or the person who comes out into the hall with *that tone of voice* or *that look* that means that the person in the bed has quit breathing. I've caught up another nurse on the way to the room to verify the lack of a heartbeat. I've called more residents than I care to think about to verify our verification and chart time of death. I've walked them through the paperwork and told them where to sign.

And, more than that, I've been alone with a number of dead people. The dead are peaceful; they don't ask for cups of coffee when they're NPO or talk politics. I've bathed bodies, removed tubes and wires and IVs, wiped off things I couldn't identify and would rather not think about. I've talked to those people as I've done it, hoping that maybe my persistence in treating them as a living person would speed their souls on to wherever souls go.

I always leave the window open when I do this, no matter the weather. If I have a soul, and if it leaves my body after I die, I do not want to have to work to get outside and fly away. No elevators for me; give me an open window. Supersitious, yes, but part of the private ritual I have.
--
Those of us who midwife the dying are a weird group; we're not generally skeeved out or frightened by the thing that is most taboo in our culture. Most of us have dissected at least portions of bodies; all of us have talked to those still living about the process of dying. It's hard work, as hard as having a baby, and with much the same rhythm as birthing.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:20 PM | Permalink

May 12, 2006

When you're posing for photos

Whether you're in front or behind the camera, here are some good tips on how to pose like a pro

Don't want any hint of a double chin to show up on an important photo?

Try this Hollywood trick for camouflaging the extra skin: Ask the subject to drop her shoulders and stretch the neck upward. Then ask her to jut her head forward just a bit and drop her chin down creating a large space for a shadow under the jaw line that will help to diminish any extra rolls of skin. The photographer should be standing slightly higher than the subject. The arrangement will leave the subject looking and feeling like she is doing an impression of a turkey, but the resulting two-dimensional final image will be well worth the silliness.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:50 AM | Permalink

Getting Things Done

It seems like we're in the middle of an epidemic of ADT or attention deficit trait according to Dr. Edward Hallowell and it's making us dumber.

Why can't you pay attention anymore?
the constant and relentless chatter coming from our computers, phones and other high-tech devices is diluting our mental powers....you've become so busy attending to so many inputs and outputs that you become increasingly distracted, irritable, impulsive, restless and, over the long term, underachieving.

Multitasking doesn't work either though the attempt to do so can get your adrenaline going. Hallowell says no one really multitasks. You just spend less time on any one thing.

It's the great seduction of the information age. You can create the illusion of doing work and of being productive and creative when you're not. You're just treading water.

Remember frazzing? That's the frantic, ineffective multitasking, typically with the delusion that you're getting a lot done.

The brain doesn't multitask, it toggles among tasks rather than processing all tasks simultaneously.

Says Hallowell
We need to preserve time to stop and think.

If you don't allow yourself to stop and think, you're not getting the best of your brain. What your brain is best equipped to do is to think, to analyze, to dissect and create. And if you're simply responding to bits of stimulation, you won't ever go deep.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:34 AM | Permalink

9/11 widows in Afghanistan

Two 9/11 widows from Massachusetts decided to use the financial support they received to help war widows in Afghanistan.

Quigley and Retik were both pregnant when hijacked jets carrying their husbands crashed into the World Trade Center in 2001, and met after the attacks. Retik saw an Oprah Winfrey show on Afghan women soon after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, and the two widows decided to help Afghan women.
---

''The way that I see it mostly is that she and Susan get so much support from their family and their community, and they saw that other women weren't getting the same thing," .....

The women made what they characterize as a ''substantial" donation of seed money for the Afghan programs from the financial support they received after the attacks -- money from strangers, their husbands' companies, and from insurance.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:31 AM | Permalink

May 11, 2006

Moving Seniors

A whole new business has emerged that helps seniors relocate from longtime homes to smaller spaces.

In Moving on Down, The Washington Post features this senior move service offering help with the physical task and the emotional strain.

"For someone who has a lifetime's worth of accumulation, think of the volume and physical task of doing it. There are the emotions of our things: a woman giving up dining room furniture that she has served holidays meals on, her china closet with all her pretty things," said Martinko. "A lot of the losses are revisited. Often they have lost a spouse, they have lost their mobility. Maybe they are giving up driving, losing their vision, their hearing, their home."

Sometimes it is easier to let a stranger take charge.

National Association of Senior Move Managers here

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:59 AM | Permalink

May 10, 2006

Keeping Up

There is no possible way any of us can keep up. Nobody can keep up. There's just too much stuff.

So throw out all those unread magazines you have in a pile to read some day, take a deep breath and read some tips from Kathy Sierra.

The Myth of "Keeping Up"

• Use an aggregator
• Get summaries
• Cut redundancy
• Unsubscribe to as many things as possible

If you need something, you can always Google it or ask someone who knows.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:48 PM | Permalink

Random Act of Daffodils

Along the roadside in Charlemont and Shelburne Falls where the Mohawk Trail winds through western Massachusetts, thousands of daffodils were planted secretly. When they bloomed, local newspapers were rife with speculation about the secret planter and this random act of beauty.

Mary Potter writes more in the Boston Globe

Everyone agreed that the daffodils brought beauty to the roadside; after a seemingly endless winter, we are all truly starved for color. But it was the secrecy, the surprise of it, that turned it into a story.
Whenever I was in Shelburne Falls, I did what I suppose those who live there did every day -- I scrutinized each face....Every single person old enough to have some measure of independence seemed a possibility.
---
It was more important for me to believe that we all have a streak of royalty, the capacity to be generous, to bring beauty to others, to show kindnesses not just to our families and friends but to those we don't even know. I didn't want to know because I was -- as I think most of us are -- starved not just for color but for the belief that we can tap into our better selves. In a time when ostentation and extravagance pass for substance, when what we own or what we buy passes for who we are, when spin passes for truth and bluster passes for action, a simple flower, planted in kindness and secrecy, speaks. It tells us to give of ourselves.

As far as anyone knows, they come up forever.

The Daffodil Principle - one bulb at a time and start tomorrow.
A Bit of a Runner survived on daffodils.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:43 PM | Permalink

May 9, 2006

Allah's in the Church

Even though I've been following the Islamization of Europe closely, I found While Europe Slept by Bruce Bawer chilling.

From Publishers Weekly
Having recently published an indictment of Christian fundamentalist intolerance in the U.S. (Stealing Jesus), New York native Bawer relocated to Europe with his Norwegian partner in 1998 and found an even more dangerous strain of religious and cultural bigotry ensnaring Western Europe. A swarming menace called radical Islam, he writes, rings Europe's cities in smoldering Muslim ghettos, provoking everything from so-called honor killings and political assassinations to the Madrid subway bombings and the massacre of school children in Beslan. Worse, the Taliban-like theocracy Bawer sees looming inside backward immigrant populations resistant to integration flourishes under the protective wing of Western Europe's America-bashing, multicultural, liberal establishment. The latter correspond to the appeasers of Nazi Germany, in Bawer's view, since he believes that radical Islamism is every bit the threat to Western civilization that Nazism was.

About the murder of Swedish Prime Minister Anna Lindh who was stabbed to death in a busy Stockholm department store in the presence of many witnesses none of whom came to her aid or attempted to detain her attacker, he writes

Onlookers just stood there, waiting for the authorities to do something. It was as if the very capacity for useful response had been breed out of them...There does seem to exist in Western Europe a deadly pattern of passivity that derives from a habit--born of life in a welfare state--of expecting the government to take care of things.

I thought of that when I read the story of how Belgian bishops have opened their churches to illegal Muslim immigrants who now live there as squatters in their tents with radios, television sets and computers provided them by Catholic relief services. They are turning the churches into mosques, moving the altar, covering the statues of the Blessed Virgin Mother and holding Islamic prayer services in the church.

 Brussels Church

I'm all for providing services to people in need no matter what their faith or lack of it, but turning over churches to Muslims when there are already 380 mosques in Belgium supported by the government seems to me to be a striking example of the European reflexive inclination to appease a growing minority that is determined not to integrate into the society of their host country nor to show that society the respect they demand for themselves.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:15 PM | Permalink

ABC's Bird Flu movie

Some experts say ABC's made-for-television movie tonight - Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America - could cause panic.

Being a movie -ABC calls it the "thinking man's disaster movie." - of course, it takes the worst case scenario, what with 2 million dead in the U.S. and 40% work absenteeism.

Tom Shales in The Washington Post says

Plagues, of course, are not something to be made light of, but the movie is so brutally relentless in depicting the effects of the disease -- replete with shots of mass graves, blood-soaked human organs and "CSI''-like close-ups of germs -- that it becomes more numbing than alarming. It's a cautionary tale with no recommendations on what precautions to take.

No surprise that it's showing during May "sweeps."

Still, it may inspire people to prepare themselves and their loved ones for the days, even weeks, they may have to spend at home if a pandemic breaks out.

Do you have enough food, water, medicines and other essentials to last for a good period of time?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:38 PM | Permalink

May 8, 2006

The Best of Aging

Dr. Stephen Ruppenthal has eight ways to see growing older is full of possibilities and adventure.

1. Cultivate your relationships
2. Connect with your spirituality
3. Make a difference
4. Protect your health
5. Exercise your intellect
6. Nurture your creativity
7. Rejoice in nature
8. Build your legacy

Age matters less when we pour ourselves into people and things that will in their own way continue us.

We are fortunate to have about 20 "bonus years" to do all of these. I wrote in What's the Point of Aging - expect the best of aging and you will have it.

A great relief indeed, to become more like ourselves. Better still, our better selves.

Ronni Bennett echoes that thought in Becoming Who We Are

Now I believe I was too quick, at 50, to have set myself in stone. It is unlikely that we change our bedrock natures, but it a rare individual who can avoid gaining new knowledge, understanding and perhaps a little wisdom as the years pass - and that alters our perspectives and therefore who we are....

we are all, unto our deathbeds, in the process of becoming. Sometimes I entertain the notion that that's what our “job” is while we’re on Earth.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:11 PM | Permalink

May 6, 2006

The Upgradable You

Redefining what it is to be be human, Popular Mechanics looks at The Upgradable You.

How about nanobots powered by glucose to clean your arteries for decades?
Or living islet cells inside microscopic chips releasing just the right amount of insulin at the right time?
Or superbones that merge with your real bones?

This is way beyond Cyborgs. It's Homo Technicus.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:34 PM | Permalink

May 5, 2006

Boarding Passes and Identity Theft

You know those boarding passes you would just toss after you got off a flight? Well, don't. Wait till you get home or at least tear it into little pieces.

Take a look at what one reporter from the Guardian was able to find out from one boarding pass. Q. What could this boarding pass tell an identity fraudster about you. A. Way too much.

The traveller's name was Mark Broer. I know this because the paper - actually a flimsy piece of card - was a discarded British Airways boarding-pass stub, the small section of the pass displaying your name and seat number.
---

We logged on to the BA website, bought a ticket in Broer's name and then, using the frequent flyer number on his boarding pass stub, without typing in a password, were given full access to all his personal details - including his passport number, the date it expired, his nationality (he is Dutch, living in the UK) and his date of birth. The system even allowed us to change the information.

Using this information and surfing publicly available databases, we were able - within 15 minutes - to find out where Broer lived, who lived there with him, where he worked, which universities he had attended and even how much his house was worth when he bought it two years ago.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:49 PM | Permalink

Mobile Addiction and Phantom Phone Rings

The science is catching up to our cell phone use.

One study in Australia found that mobiles can be addictive as smoking with users displaying the typical signs of withdrawal - anxiety, restlessness, even panic - when parted from their phones.

The Queensland study analysed people under 45 to establish the emotional, psychological, financial and social impact of their use of mobiles. It found some suffered low self-esteem if they were not free to receive calls and text messages and the phone appeared to be a kind of "security blanket" which improved feelings of self-worth. Other users appeared "obsessive" in their need to be near a mobile phone and became deeply agitated when parted from it.

Meanwhile there's the audio illusion of "phantom phone" rings. The ubiquity of mobile phones means people live in a constant state of "phone vigilance."

Reports the New York Times in I Hear Ringing and There's No One There, people are particularly sensitive to sounds of 1000 to 6000 hertz

"Your brain is conditioned to respond to a phone ring just as it is to a baby crying,"

Some sound experts think the high-pitched tones are being used in ads to manipulate our emotions to get our attention and make us call that 800 number right now.

It seems that technology designed to improve our lives is also creating greater stress.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:08 PM | Permalink

May 3, 2006

How Experts Differ from Novices

From How Experts Differ from Novices

1. Experts notice features and meaningful patterns of information that are not noticed by novices.

2. Experts have acquired a great deal of content knowledge that is organized in ways that reflect a deep understanding of their subject matter.

3. Experts' knowledge cannot be reduced to sets of isolated facts or propositions but, instead, reflects contexts of applicability: that is, the knowledge is "conditionalized" on a set of circumstances.

4. Experts are able to flexibly retrieve important aspects of their knowledge with little attentional effort.

5. Though experts know their disciplines thoroughly, this does not guarantee that they are able to teach others.

6. Experts have varying levels of flexibility in their approach to new situations.

Complex areas where mistakes can be devastating like investing, legal advice or medical knowledge are better dealt with by the experts of your choice. Since you're the expert on your own life and what you like, want you wang and what you are willing to risk, consider your relationship with them a collaboration of experts AND novices.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:33 PM | Permalink

How much are mothers worth?

Just in time for Mother's Day is the news that work-at-home Moms would earn $134,121 a year if they were paid for all their work.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:45 PM | Permalink

Children gain weight as they watch TV

Why children who watch too much TV get fat.

They consume the equivalent of a package of potato chips every hour they sit in front of the tube.

Parents, tell your kids, Go outside and play.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:43 PM | Permalink

Down and Out in Palm Springs

The poor in America are richer than the poor anywhere else. And the homeless in Palm Springs live better than the homeless anywhere else in the U.S.

Down and Out in Palm Springs

 Down And Out In Palm Springs

Via Boing Boing

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:32 PM | Permalink

Americans far sicker than English

At first the results were so implausible, the researchers didn't believe them.

Middle-aged Americans are in much worse health than their British counterparts with diabetes twice as common, cancer 70% more prevalent and heart disease 50% more widespread.

Americans far sicker than English

People in the healthiest, high-income and education bracket in the United States have comparable rates of heart disease and diabetes as those in the sickest, low-income group in England, the study shows.
---
The explanation doesn't seem to be down to the facts that Americans are fatter or that the British drink more alcohol, the researchers say. When they ran their health data through a model to make both groups have equivalent levels of obesity, smoking and drinking, the health differences only lessened slightly.

It's either poor childhood health or adult stress.

I'm betting on the stress.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:50 PM | Permalink

From Samuri to CD producer

Robert Brady, an American who's lived in Japan for many years and posts at Pure Land Mountain is guest blogging at Ronni Bennett's blog Time Goes By, What it's really like to get older

Yesterday he wrote about his father-in-law who is descended from a long line of samuri, Keiji Kodaira who graduated from college at 80

Accomplished and still accomplishing, Kodaira just released his first CD at 91. He wrote the traditional Japanese songs over 50 years while he was a teacher and later about his life, but he and his brother produced the CD themselves and did all the illustrations as well as a songbook in the past year on a computer.

That’s another great thing well-spent elders do: besides setting examples as they lead the way, they raise the bar.

Asians have far more positive images of an active and vital old age that result in a far happier old age. Because of that they are far happier as they grow older.

It may be that as the sun sets, we turn West for role models, towards those societies with great expectations for the elders among them.

Hell, I want to release a CD when I'm 91. I expect that as we grow older and more digitally fluent, we will have many more opportunities to develop our own creativity than we can imagine.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:45 AM | Permalink

May 2, 2006

Better in Groups

When it comes to complex problem solving, groups of three, four or five perform better working together than the same number of people working alone.

Groups Perform Better than the Best Individuals At Solving Complex Problems.

"We found that groups of size three, four, and five outperformed the best individuals and attribute this performance to the ability of people to work together to generate and adopt correct responses, reject erroneous responses, and effectively process information," said lead author Patrick Laughlin, PhD., of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Moreover, groups of two performed at the same level as the best of two individuals, suggesting that this group size was too small to introduce the necessary dynamics for optimal problem-solving.

This has important implications not just for scientific research and class room performance but also for the more complex issues in your own life.

You are much better off if you get your financial advisor and lawyer to work together and with you.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:11 PM | Permalink

User Manuals and Guides

Here's a great site to bookmark just in case you might need it someday. That is if you don't already have all your user manual guides in one place that you always remember and don't want to waste time looking for the manual you need to fix the problem you have.

UsersManualGuide

For all sorts of equipment such as mobile phone, cameras, monitors, software, TV, DVD.

Via bookofjoe

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:09 PM | Permalink