February 28, 2007

Patient Advocates - Your Attorneys in the Court of Medicine

Dr. Jonathan Fine is organizing some of his retired colleagues in a new venture called Bedside Advocates to provide one-on-one support and comfort to people in hospitals, an educated ombudsman as it were.

From retired caregivers, a spoonful of compassion.
The volunteers with Bedside Advocates will not practice medicine. Instead, they aim to provide comfort and compassion while helping fragile and elderly patients navigate the increasingly complex medical system by accompanying them to the doctor's office, the hospital, and the nursing home. They hope to help patients get better care by empowering them to ask questions, follow their medication regimes, and get prompt attention to problems.

And most of all, they plan to be there when no one else is, providing relief for tired caregivers and support for patients without families, according to Dr. Jonathan Fine, who is leading the effort.

Fine, 75, of Cambridge, envisions a cadre of retired doctors, nurses, physician's assistants, and trained lay people who would provide one-on-one support to thousands of patients, seeking to humanize healthcare while reducing medical errors, complications, and hospitalizations. He has already recruited about 20 doctors and secured some start-up funding from the Legislature, and he plans to launch the program in a pilot phase this spring. The organization expects to find needy patients through practicing doctors, senior centers, and people who call asking for help.

Said one man whom Dr. Fine helped deal with a "litany of specialists".

It's like having your own attorney in the court of medicine. A man like Jonathan, the US needs millions like him."

If it works, it could be a national model.  It's how I envision solving the health care crisis of  boomers getting older  - boomers helping each other.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:52 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 27, 2007

Killer Vitamins

If you're taking vitamins A, E or beta-carotene pills, you might want to reconsider after this report by the Copenhagen University that suggests such vitamins appear to raise, not lower, the risk of death.

Vitamins 'could shorten lifespan'

The Copenhagen team reviewed more than 815 clinical trials into the benefits of vitamins A, E, and C, alongside beta-carotene and selenium - all commonly-used supplements.

They selected 68 whose methods were more likely to produce an accurate picture of vitamin benefits, then added their results together to form one, large-scale study.
"Considering that 10% to 20% of the adult population in Europe and North America may consume the supplements, the public health consequences may be substantial."

They said there were several different explanations for this increase in risk - and suggested that knocking out 'free radicals' might actually interfere with a natural defence mechanism within the body.

Eating more fruits and vegetables, a more balanced diet in other words,  is a lot safer.  Drinking  coffee and eating  dark chocolate will also add anti-oxidants naturally.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:17 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Heading Back North

The close proximity of children and grandchildren is trumping the appeal of warm weather as the Elderly Head Back North.

For the first time since the Depression, more Americans ages 75 and older have been leaving the South than moving there, according to a New York Times analysis of Census Bureau data.

The reversal appears to be driven in part by older people who retired to the South in their 60s, but decided to return home to their children and grandchildren in the Northeast, Midwest and West after losing spouses or becoming less mobile.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:24 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

The Male Biological Clock

And you thought men could father babies at any age.  Seems as if the older they get, the more they face an increased risk of fathering children with abnormalities like autism and schizophrenia.

It Seems the Fertility Clock Ticks for Men Too

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:21 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 26, 2007

The Tin Noses Shop

Amid the horrors of World War I, a corps of artists brought hope to soldiers disfigured in the trenches.

Faces of War

Wounded tommies facetiously called it "The Tin Noses Shop." Located within the 3rd London General Hospital, its proper name was the "Masks for Facial Disfigurement Department"; either way, it represented one of the many acts of desperate improvisation borne of the Great War, which had overwhelmed all conventional strategies for dealing with trauma to body, mind and soul.

Trained as an artist, Francis Derwent Wood was 44 when he enlisted in the war and too old to fight in combat, he became an orderly in a London hospital where he  found meaning and purpose in creating masks for those for whom plastic surgery was not enough.

His new metallic masks, lightweight and more permanent than the rubber prosthetics previously issued, were custom designed to bear the prewar portrait of each wearer. Within the surgical and convalescent wards, it was grimly accepted that facial disfigurement was the most traumatic of the multitude of horrific damages the war inflicted. "Always look a man straight in the face," one resolute nun told her nurses. "Remember he's watching your face to see how you're going to react."

In Sidcup, England, the town that was home to Gillies' special facial hospital, some park benches were painted blue; a code that warned townspeople that any man sitting on one would be distressful to view. A more upsetting encounter, however, was often between the disfigured man and his own image. Mirrors were banned in most wards, and men who somehow managed an illicit peek had been known to collapse in shock. "The psychological effect on a man who must go through life, an object of horror to himself as well as to others, is beyond description," wrote Dr. Albee. "...It is a fairly common experience for the maladjusted person to feel like a stranger to his world. It must be unmitigated hell to feel like a stranger to yourself."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:54 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Research for Down Syndrome

This looks like a very promising line of research for children afflicted with Down syndrome.

Lab mice with the mental retardation of Down syndrome got smarter after being fed a drug that strengthened brain circuits involved in learning and memory, researchers reported Sunday.

After receiving once-daily doses of pentylenetetrazole, or PTZ, for 17 days, the mice could recognize objects and navigate mazes as well as normal mice did, researchers said. The improvements lasted up to two months after the drug was discontinued, according to the report in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Patricia A. O'Brien White, ... said medical advances since the 1980s had more than doubled the life span of people with Down syndrome, to 56, increasing the likelihood that they would outlive the parents who cared for them. A small gain in cognition would allow a significant number of people with Down syndrome to hold jobs and live independently, she said.

"Typically the message that parents receive when the child is born is that nothing can be done," White said. "I think this study offers a different perspective."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:12 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Multitasking Teenagers

Most teen-agers multitask because they can and they have  the gadgets to do so.  Yet some neuroscientists are raising red flags that those teenagers may be harming their still developing brains.

Teens Can Multitask, But What Are Costs?
Here's Jordan Grafman, chief of cognitive neuroscience at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

"Introducing multitasking in younger kids in my opinion can be detrimental.  One of the biggest problems about multitasking is that it's almost impossible to gain a depth of knowledge of any of the tasks you do while you're multitasking. And if it becomes normal to do, you'll likely be satisfied with very surface-level investigation and knowledge."

Russell Poldrack, associate professor of psychology at UCLA, who did a study

Multitaskers "may not be building the same knowledge that they would be if they were focusing.  While multitasking makes them feel like they are being more efficient, research suggests that there's very little you can do that involves multitasking that you can be as good at when you're not multitasking."

But researchers don't know for sure.  David Meyer,  director of the Brain, Cognition and Action Laboratory at the University of Michigan. 

"The belief is they're getting good at this and that they're much better than the older generation at it and that there's no cost to their efficiency."

Seems to me, teenagers should learn both multitasking and deep concentration if they really what to prepared for becoming a fully-functioning grown-ups. 

Some jobs, like air traffic controllers, may demand multi-tasking, but others, like surgeons, demand absolute focus.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:51 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 22, 2007

Does Feminism Lead to the Oppression of Women?

Fjordman argues yes as he reports on what is happening in Scandinavia right now.  How Feminism Leads to the Oppression of Women.

Although countries such as Norway and Sweden like to portray themselves as havens of gender equality, I have heard visitors comment that the sexes are probably further apart here than anywhere else in the world.  Radical feminism has bred suspicion and hostility, not cooperation.
Scandinavians celebrate “gender equality” and travel to the other side of the world to find somebody actually worth marrying.

Norway and Sweden are countries with extremely high divorce rates. Boys grow up in an atmosphere where masculinity is demonized, attend a school system where they are viewed as deficient girls and are told by the media that men are obsolete and will soon be rendered extinct anyway.

A feminist culture will eventually end up being squashed, because the men have either become too demoralized and weakened to protect their women, or because they have become so fed-up with incessant ridicule that they just don't care anymore. If Western men are pigs and “just like the Taliban” no matter what we do, why bother? Western women will then be squashed by more aggressive men from other cultures, which is exactly what is happening in Western Europe now.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:03 PM | Permalink

Millions of "Missing Women" Lead to Social Instability

As many as 10 million female fetuses may have been aborted in India over the past 20 years according to a study in Lancet, the British medical journal.

India's lost daughters: Abortion toll in millions.

You can point to the cultural preference for males to secure a heir, the cost of raising a daughter who will eventually belong to her husband's family, and the very expensive cost of a dowry.

Yet, before ultrasound allowed the prenatal determination of sex, abortions were rare.

We are beginning to see the social costs of skewed gender ratios in China where the one-child policy has resulted in an estimated 40 million bachelors who can not find wives.  It's not pretty.

One Chinese official said in Facing the Future with 40 million bachelors
China faces a future of crime and instability as a generation of 40 million men is left frustrated by a lack of brides, thanks to the practice of selective abortion of female foetuses, a population official has warned.

Men left on the shelf would resort to prostitutes or pay huge prices for brides, while trafficking in women and girls kidnapped from rural areas and other countries would increase.

"Such serious gender disproportion poses a major threat to the healthy, harmonious and sustainable growth of the nation's population and would trigger such crimes and social problems as mercenary marriage, abduction of women and prostitution."

A UN official said the shortage of woman is creating a "huge societal issue", one of the three biggest challenges facing China along with HIV/AIDS and environmental degradation.

Young males who can't find wives are "low status" and prone to improve their situation through violent and criminal behavior.
The growing crime rate in China which is being linked to China's massive "floating" or transient population, some 80 million of which are low-status males

China is beginning to promote the Girl Care Project  while India plans to set up a series of orphanages to raise unwanted baby girls.

India To Raise Girls in Bid to Slow Abortions

Here in America, our culture has profoundly changed in the past 25 years.  The psychoanalyst Shrinkwrapped writes about the psychic costs on individuals and society in Reverberations and Vicissitudes of Abortion.

Part 1  Introduction
Part 2  Mothers and Fathers: When Does Life Begin?
Part 3  Children of Choice
The idea that  your parents have parents decided to abort a potential sibling is a significant issue, made more so when done in a perfunctory manner as a matter of course. Such a "choice" unavoidably conveys the message that a child’s life is hostage to the parent’s desires.
Children who experience themselves as commodities whose existence serves the needs of others, have a natural tendency to treat themselves and others as mere "need satisfying objects."

To realize just how far we've come, read Katherine in the comments to Part 3.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:53 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Brainy Women Marry Well but Still Hit a Dead Zone

Stephanie Coontz, a marriage historian,  (who knew there was such a thing), says brainy, highly educated women are now winners in the marriage game.

The Romantic Life of Brainiacs

Pity the overschooled old maid and the lonely career woman. Highly educated or high-achieving women are less likely to marry and have children than other women. If they do marry, they are more likely to divorce. Even if they don't divorce, their marriages will be less happy. And, oh, yes, they'll be sexually frustrated, too.
Conventional wisdom says the answer to both questions is yes. But a close look at the historical transformation of marriage in America suggests that educated women now have a surprising advantage when it comes to matrimony.
Educated men and women are more likely to marry and less likely to divorce than others . And guess what? They have better sex lives, too.
42 percent of college-educated married women who work out-earn their partners, and their marriages are just as stable as those in which the husband makes more than his wife.

But it's likely that at the end of the day, these women are just too tired to talk.  Sue Shellenberger talks about Dealing with the Dead Zone in the WSJ.

Too tired to talk after work? You're not alone. About 45% of high-earning managers enter a conversational dead zone after a long workday, when they're too pooped to say anything at all to their spouse or partner, says a December Harvard Business Review study of 975 global managers by Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Carolyn Buck Luce. Such strains are "wreaking havoc" on family and personal life, the study says.

I propose that at the end of the work day, everyone gets an hour of silence and quiet before coming together for dinner.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:17 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 21, 2007

George Washington, Whiskey Entrepreneur?

Who knew that our first president, George Washington, after retiring from office began another career as a whiskey entrepreneur and became probably the No. 1 whiskey producer in colonial America?

Mount Vernon is opening on March 31 a complete reconstruction of his distillery.

When it came to his own future career as a distiller, Washington paid careful attention to the business. Mount Vernon owns the original financial ledger for the operation. This was no retiree's hobby; the ledger shows many important local families were customers and made the distillery very successful. The good times ended after Washington's sudden death in 1799 at age 67. His distillery passed into the hands of other owners and by 1814 had been dismantled to provide construction materials for nearby homes.

But for all of Washington's commendable belief in moderate alcohol use, he very much appreciated its utility. Esther White, a Mount Vernon archaeologist, told me Washington once lost a 1755 campaign for the Virginia House of Delegates because he didn't treat prospective supporters to a drink. Two years later, he rolled out 144 gallons of refreshment. He won with 307 votes, a return on his investment of better than two votes per gallon. He never lost another campaign.


We could say he was First in War, First in Peace and First in Smooth Libations."

George Washington, Whiskey Entrepreneur

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:27 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 19, 2007

The Consequences of Relativism

This is an extraordinary figure via Kathy Shadie - Since the 1950s, teenage suicide has increased 5000% in North America.

More from Michael Coren in The Toronto Sun. in an article called "Sliding into an Abyss".

In 1958 a broad cross-section of school principals was asked what were the five most challenging problems they faced in dealing with students. The answers were as follows: Not doing homework; not respecting property, such as throwing books; leaving lights and/or doors and windows open; throwing spitballs in class; running in the halls.

In 1988 the same question was put to a similar group of teachers. This time the answers were a little different: Children having abortions; young people infected with AIDS; incidents of rape; widespread use of soft and increasingly hard drugs; a fear of murders and guns and knives in class.

I'm reading now Life at the Bottom The WorldView That Makes the Underclass by Theodore Dalrymple, .

The underclass he says is a specter that is haunting the Western world.  They are neither poor, by any historical standards nor are they politically oppressed, yet they live in squalid wretchedness  and meaninglessness.

Dalrymple is a British psychiatrist who treated the poor in a slum and at a nearby prison.   

Having previously worked as a doctor in some of the poorest countries in Africa, as well as in very poor countries in the Pacific and Latin America, I have little hesitation in saying that the mental, cultural, emotional and spiritual impoverishment of the Western underclass is the greatest of any large group of people I have encountered anywhere.
If anyone wants to see what sexual relations are like, freed of contractual and social obligations, let him look to the chaos of the personal lives of members of the underclass.

Here is the whole gamut of human folly, wickedness and misery may be perused at leisure ---in conditions, be it remembered of unprecedented prosperity.  Here are abortions procured by abdominal kung fu, children having children, in numbers unknown before the advent of chemical contraception and sex education; women abandoned by the father of their child a month before or a month after delivery, insensate jealousy, the reverse of the coin of general promiscuity, that results in the most hideous oppression and violence; serial step-fatherhood that leads to sexual and physical abuse of children on a mass scale; and every kind of loosening of the distinction between the sexually permissible and the impermissible.

So what does he see as the cause?  There is passivity, the unwillingness to take personal responsibility for the choices in their lives, but most of all, it's

The climate of moral, cultural, and intellectual relativism -- a relativism that began as a mere fashionable plaything for intellectuals --has been successfully communicated to those least able to resist its devastating practical effects.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:35 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

A Miracle Baby

   Amillia Taylor's Little Feet

Those little things that look like gummy candies are the feet of Amillia Taylor who was born weighing less than 10 oz just  22 weeks after she was conceived.

She is the youngest premature baby to survive and she just went home today weighing 4 lbs.

She's truly a miracle baby with an amazing spirit.  Congratulations to her doctors and her parents from Homestead, Florida.

You go, Amillia!

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:22 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Mind-mapping to Maximize the Power of Your Brain

If you've never heard of mind-mapping, this YouTube video will show you how to maximize the power of your brain.

Tony Buzan, a top lecturer in the brain and learning explains Mind-Mapping in 5 minutes.

A mind map is a thinking tool that reflects externally what goes on inside your  head. 

Mind-mapping is a Swiss army knife for the brain.

The brain is radiant, thinks centrally and explodes out in all directions.

The brain thinks by imagination and association.

Traditional note-taking in lists and lines is counter-productive  is because it doesn't have associations

If you don't have associations, you don't have connections. If you don't have connection, you don't have memory and you don't have thinking.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:33 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 18, 2007

Cyber Wisdom

In this digital age comes a new way of tapping into the wisdom of people with a great deal of life experience.

An Online Outlet for the Wisdom of the Aged.

600 seniors answer several thousand letters a month AND publish a weekly advice column in 22 newspapers.

Mayyasi purses her lips and goes to work, mauve fingernails clicking across the keyboard. At 73, she is restlessly retired. This is her volunteer work. People need her, and she is their cyber-grandmother, a virtual plate of fresh sugar cookies, warm and reassuring in lives full of cold rain.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:46 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 17, 2007

Post Nups on the Rise

Post-Nuptial Agreements on the Rise as couples work to avoid fights in the future over finances.

While some people use a post-nup because they think their marriage is on the rocks, it's not unusual to write one to update a prenup.
Indeed, one factor in the rising use of post-nups is that more couples are using prenups and post-nups, especially in a second marriage.

Post-nups also get written after a major life event such as receiving a large inheritance, taking a business public, or even winning the lottery. Some of the strangest uses of the agreements include limiting the future number of children and, in the event of a divorce, deciding pet visitation and divvying up cemetery plots.

While a post-nup "suggests a lack of trust in one another," said Debbie Cox, a wealth advisor with JPMorgan Private Bank in Dallas, "it's really about prudent management of assets."
Similarly, couples with "blended" families could use post-nups to ensure that the children from a previous marriage receive assets —such as a beloved family vacation home —in the event of a death or a divorce.

Cox said that while couples may not be thinking about a post-nup, a financial advisor should raise the issue to prepare for "a low-probability but high-impact event."

Ferro said that by setting forth expectations and obligations, the agreements actually can reduce everyday stress.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:54 PM | Permalink

As Descriptors,'Mom' and 'Dad' are 'Homophobic"

In a follow-up that rather proves the point of A "long march through the culture" comes news from Scotland, that nurses should avoid using the terms 'Mom' and 'Dad', 'husband' and 'wife' as they are homophobic and could be offensive to homosexual couples with children.

Instead, they should use the words 'carers' and 'couples', 'partners' and 'next of kin'.
Use of 'Mom' and "Dad' Too "Homophobic", Scottish Nurses Told.

via Pajamas Media

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:03 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 16, 2007

A "long march through the culture."

A great essay gives you a whole new perspective with which to make sense of a whole lot of seemingly disconnected phenomena - multiculturalism, political correctness and critical theory.

Such an essay is Cultural Marxism by Linda Kimball in The American Thinker.

Who knew that "pathologize what was to be destroyed" would be a way to gain power, elucidated by Marxist theorists.

In 1950, the Frankfurt School augmented Cultural Marxism with Theodor Adorno's idea of the ‘authoritarian personality.'  This concept is premised on the notion that Christianity, capitalism, and the traditional family create a character prone to racism and fascism.  Thus, anyone who upholds America's traditional moral values and institutions is both racist and fascist.
By extension, if fascism and racism are endemic to America's traditional culture, then everyone raised in the traditions of God, family, patriotism, gun ownership, or free markets is in need of psychological help.

A corresponding and diabolically crafted idea is political correctness.  The strong suggestion here is that in order for one not to be thought of as racist or fascist, then one must not only be nonjudgmental but must also embrace the ‘new' moral absolutes: diversity, choice, sensitivity, sexual orientation, and tolerance.  Political correctness is a Machiavellian psychological ‘command and control' device.  Its purpose is the imposition of uniformity in thought, speech, and behavior.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:52 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Kaiser Permanente - Mother of Medical Databases

Medpundit brings us the news of Kaiser Permanente's plan to put together the mother of all databases to study the interplay of genetics, environmental factors and common diseases.

First step  - detailed surveys to its 2 million adult members.
Second step - donated genetic material from same.
Third step - combine with their medical history records.

Mother of All HMOs

Like all blessings this seems mixed.  Information good, voluntary participation good, insurance company that sets premiums - well what do you think?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:33 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 14, 2007

Naps are Good for Your Heart

From the BBC: Afternoon nap 'is good for heart'

Taking 40 winks in the middle of the day may reduce the risk of death from heart disease, particularly in young healthy men, say researchers.

A six-year Greek study found that those who took a 30-minute siesta at least three times a week had a 37% lower risk of heart-related death.

Working men seem to benefit the most from a siesta with a 64% reduced risk of death.

More from the Boston Globe
"We all know that the three pillars of health are diet, exercise, and sleep, and, sometimes, people forget about the importance of sleep," said Dr. Alex Chediak , president-elect of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and a University of Miami researcher.

The study released yesterday is believed to be the largest ever to examine the link between napping and health. Napping, researchers believe, allows people a chance to reset their heart rates and blood pressure in the middle of the day.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:21 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

The State of Britain's Children

Even though Britain is the fourth wealthiest nation in the world, its children are the worst off in the world's 21 richest nations.

The Betrayal of a Generation is shocking and depressing.

The UNICEF report blames it on family breakdown, drink, drugs teenage sex and fear of violence.

The Government has stripped the last tax breaks from marriage while bringing in benefits like tax credits which help single parents rather than couples.

Yet Unicef linked single parent families and stepfamilies with poor education, poor health and poor quality jobs.

Robert Whelan of the Civitas think-tank said: 'I have seen the evidence piling up for 20 years that married families are better for children than single parents or stepfamilies. It has become impossible to ignore.

'The question is how long the Government can close its eyes to the reality.'

Teenagers blame the baby boomers.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:18 AM | Permalink

To Hell with Love

Seems that's what a lot of young women are saying about their aversion to emotional ties.

Love's Labor's Lost

"Love is constant effort," she sighs, settling herself into a couch at Tryst, a coffeehouse in Adams Morgan.

"It's so annoying," Carolyn McGee agrees.

"A waste of time," Alyx Ackerfield says.
A national survey of 18-to-29-year-olds by the Pew Research Center reported that almost 60 percent were not in committed relationships and the majority of those were not interested in being committed. Young women even have phrases for couples, frequently spoken with a touch of derision: They're "joined at the hip," or "married."

Absent old-fashioned dating, which has virtually disappeared, the alternative for these young women is hooking up, which can happen in any semi-private place and includes anything from kissing to intercourse. The beauty of hooking up is that it carries no commitment, and this is huge, for being emotionally dependent on a lover is what scares these young women the most.
"My generation -- actually, our society -- is into taking shortcuts. . . . Hookups are like the shortcut to intimacy, while dating is the long way around, the scenic route. We want to get there, wherever 'there' is, as quickly as possible, and I think we've lost the ability to enjoy the journey."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:43 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Aimless Love

If you're single and alone this Valentine's Day, it's time for some Aimless Love.

This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.

In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor’s window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.

This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone.

The love of the chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.

No lust, no slam of the door –
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida.

No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor –
just a twinge every now and then

for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit.

But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.

After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,

so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.

- Billy Collins

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:19 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

What women want

Women, it appears, aren't looking for the perfect man.  Highly attractive single men who earn a fortune are "too good to be true" and less likely to be faithful.  Women prefer the attractive man with the average kind of job.

Women shun "perfect man"

Maybe they're just sweatier.

Men's perspiration boosts sexual arousal in women

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:10 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 12, 2007

Sharia Fashion

  Sharia Fashion

It used to said that the height of women's skirts was the best indicator of Wall St.

If fashion can anticipate the market, what pray does this foretell in London.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:09 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Thoughts on Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln is one of my great heroes.  Today on his birthday, I pleased to share new things I learned about him this year.

  Young Lincoln -1

When Albert Kaplan bought this daguerreotype, Portrait of a Young Man in 1977, it reminded him of Lincoln somehow.    Years later, he appears to have proved that it is a portrait of a young Lincoln with authentication both scholarly and authoritative available at Lincolnportrait.com

As a young man, Lincoln was not particularly religious.  He never joined a church, was never baptized and never made any profession of belief.    Yet, something happened to change his mind.  In President Lincoln's Secret, Professor Allen Guelzo writes

Lincoln’s election to the presidency, just in time to see the country fall into civil war, presented him with a different set of challenges to his meager stock of religious belief. Lincoln expected a quick and direct restoration of the Union. But in battle after battle, the Union armies were handed humiliating defeats. The president could make no logical sense of this apparent contradiction of progress. After a year-and-a-half of seemingly fruitless bloodshed, he concluded that God had taken a direct hand in events to stymie the war’s progress so long as it was waged for purely political purposes, and to force Lincoln to recognize that the war must be turned in a moral direction that spoke directly to the crime of slavery.

This insight is what eventually drove Lincoln to depart from the policy direction with which he had begun the war, and to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. To the astonishment of his Cabinet, Lincoln explained that his decision to issue the Proclamation was a “vow” he had made “to myself, and...to my Maker.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:03 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Placebo, Exercise and Funerals

Well this is good news.  The mere belief that you're getting a workout affects physiology as much as an actual workout does.

Sharon Begley reports in the Wall St Journal about Ellen Langer's findings. Why Thinking You Got a Workout May Make Your Body Healthier
"If you can put the mind in a healthy place, you can have dramatic physiological consequences," says Prof. Langer, whose study will appear in the February issue of Psychological Science.

It's an Aerobic Placebo .

Who knew that the word placebo - I shall please - comes from the rite of Vespers for the Office of the Dead or that it's now obsolete meaning referred to someone who came to the funeral claiming a connection with the deceased to get a share of any food or drink handed out at the funeral?  In France, placebo singers were archetypical simulators.

Wikipedia goes on to explore placebo in Chaucer , a Yes man character and its meaning a sycophant.

Today we know that many who get a placebo - a substance containing no drug and completely useless - often get better, a phenomenon known as the placebo effect. 

The FDA published an article on The Healing Power of Placebos

"Expectation is a powerful thing," says Robert DeLap, M.D., head of one of the Food and Drug Administration's Offices of Drug Evaluation. "The more you believe you're going to benefit from a treatment, the more likely it is that you will experience a benefit."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:33 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

How Kids See Grandparents

I love what these eight-year-olds have to say about grandparents via Jim Selman at Serene Ambition where he ponders getting older


• Grandparents are a lady and a man who have no little children of her own. They like other people's.
• A grandfather is a man grandmother.
• Grandparents don't have to do anything except be there when we come to see them. They are so old they shouldn't play hard or run. It is good if they drive us to the store and have lots of quarters for us.
• When they take us for walks, they slow down past things like pretty leaves and caterpillars.
• They show us and talk to us about the color of the flowers and also why we shouldn't step on cracks.
• They don't say, "Hurry up!" 
• Usually grandmothers are fat, but not too fat to tie your shoes. 
• They wear glasses and funny underwear.
• They can take their teeth and gums out.
• Grandparents don't have to be smart.
• They have to answer questions like, "Why isn't God married?" and "How come dogs chase cats?"
• When they read to us, they don't skip. They don't mind if we ask for the same story over again .
• Everybody should try to have a grandmother, especially if you don't have television, because they are the only grown ups who like to spend time with us. 
• They know we should have snack-time before bedtime and they say prayers with us every time, and kiss us even when we've acted bad. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:15 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 10, 2007

"Log on, subscribe, meet, marry"

A fascinating interview.  Waldorf is one entrepreneur who's not only made a lot of money by giving people what they really care about but has been transformed in the process.  But what caught me was the company's vision.

The Wall St Journal interviews The Matchmaker, Greg Waldorf, CEO of eHarmony.com, the online dating site that projects $200 million in revenues in 2007.

Consumers, Mr. Waldorf explains, are far more disposed to pay for goods rather than services on the Internet. "People expect things on the Internet to be free," he says. "So how have we built a business that will have nearly $200 million in revenue this year? We grew our subscriber base by about a third from 2005 to 2006. How? Because this is something that people care a lot about."

Mr. Waldorf, now 38, has been an entrepreneur since the age of 13, when he started his own software and consulting company in L.A. ...In 2000, Mr. Waldorf became a founding investor of eHarmony, joining forces with founders Greg Forgatch and Neil Clark Warren, a clinical psychologist with three decades of experience counseling married couples. Dr. Warren's research shaped the company's scientific approach: Compatible singles are matched based on their answers to an elaborate questionnaire. The site, with its relatively lengthy process and subscription rates of around $60 a month (almost twice the price of other dating sites) reaches out to users who are clearly looking for much more than just a date. It seemed like a good business idea," Mr. Waldorf explained. And also, "it seemed meaningful."
Yet now, Mr. Waldorf may have unexpectedly fallen into his own niche. "If you want to call it the dinner party test, people are fascinated by talking about relationships. It's an addictive business. Think about it from my point of view, I've been involved in a lot of companies, enterprise software, mobile application deployment . . . then all of a sudden you're involved in a business like this . . . How do you get involved with another business after this? What's the next thing to relationships in terms of involvement with the customer?"
The vision behind the company is not simply to create marriages, but to create happy marriages by using scientific research to unite compatible individuals. "I know it sounds corny when I'm talking about this," Mr. Waldorf says, but, "if you can lower the divorce rate by 1%, it could affect a million people in a generation. I don't know if that's an exact number, but it gives you a sense of how many people's lives are impacted."
The popularity of Internet dating is just one more sign that we're witnessing a fundamental change in the way people interact, a difference that can be particularly pronounced across generations. "I'm 38," Mr. Waldorf says. "I ask my friends' kids this: "If you had to give up email, text messaging or IM, which would you give up?' And I have yet to meet a person who's under 20 who would not give up email first. I find this fascinating. I find this unbelievable. . .

The very IM and texting that so enthralls the younger set often leads to high tech abuse.  A newly released survey shows that more than  one in three teens report  a boyfriend or girlfriend has harassed them with text messages, one in four reported insults, one in five had pressure for sex and one in ten was threatened with violence.    Nearly all were reluctant to tell their parents for fear of losing access to their phone or computer.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:55 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 8, 2007

The Insula, Integrating Mind and Body

You may not of heard of the insula before, but you'll hear more about this Small Part of the Brain and Its Profound Effects

According to neuroscientists who study it, the insula is a long-neglected brain region that has emerged as crucial to understanding what it feels like to be human.

They say it is the wellspring of social emotions, things like lust and disgust, pride and humiliation, guilt and atonement. It helps give rise to moral intuition, empathy and the capacity to respond emotionally to music.

Its anatomy and evolution shed light on the profound differences between humans and other animals.

The insula also reads body states like hunger and craving and helps push people into reaching for the next sandwich, cigarette or line of cocaine. So insula research offers new ways to think about treating drug addiction, alcoholism, anxiety and eating disorders.
The bottom line, according to Dr. Paulus and others, is that mind and body are integrated in the insula. It provides unprecedented insight into the anatomy of human emotions.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:09 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Making Up Words

Who hasn't used many of the words or phrases listed below?

forever and a day
all corners of the world
it's Greek to me
short shrift
household words
thin air
seen better days,
good riddance,
charmed life,
for goodness sake,
didn't sleep a wink,
in a pickle
heart of gold.

All first came from the mind of William Shakespeare.  A Way with Words.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:01 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 6, 2007

Married Mother of Three Also an Astronaut Wearing Diapers Drives 900 miles to Kill Her Romantic Rival for the Affections of Space Shuttle Pilot.

Diapers!  That's all anyone is talking about.  Astronauts wear diapers!

Is this a great story or what? 

Just when everyone is spiraling down from what the Anchoress calls the "diabolical disorientation" of too much spin and politics, comes a story just so delicious in its every detail that  it lifts everyone up and brings smiles to millions of faces.

Did I mention the wig, trench coat, BB gun, pepper spray?

Says Ed Morrissey in The Really Wrong Stuff
NASA will have some work to do to deconstruct all of the ways in which this trio managed to embarrass the program in such a tawdry way. They'd better be quick about it, though, because this is the most eligible story for TV moviedom since a cheerleader's mom tried to find a hitman for the mother of a rival.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:38 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Making Up Your Career As You Go Along

Why career planning is a waste of time

Or why your best guess beats careful planning.

In reality, people frequently don't know what they want and psychology has proved it. 

We are very poor at what will make us happy in the future, We "miswant."

The argument about miswanting applies to any area of our lives which involves making a prediction about what we might like in the future. Career planning becomes painful precisely because it's such an important decision and we come to understand that we have only very limited useful information.

Maybe the Chaos Theory of Career Development makes more sense.
if you ask people about their career decisions, almost 70% report that they have been significantly influenced by chance events.

This seems to tie in with Purposive Drift: Making it Up as We Go Along by Richard Oliver at Change This

Your life is not a project plan.  Nobody knows where they will be in five years time.

Life is more open, much messier, more ambiguous, more complex, more mysterious, more surprising and filled with more possibilities for good or for ill than we can possibly imagine.

He argues that we revert to "machine-like' thinking because it promises a world of predictability and certainty to mask the frightening thought of our own fragility.

He says we are all more ignorant than we know and smarter than we think and believes our real compass point  is our sense of well-being.

Making it up as you go along, he calls Purposive Drift and that's a perfectly reasonable, responsible and realistic approach to life.

Seems to be the one I took.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:22 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Paucity of Intimacy

Women seem to prefer new clothes to sex  and would give up sex for 15 months if they could get a closet full of new clothes according to this survey of 1000 women between 18 and 54.

Another survey
says most adults, especially women,  would prefer to cuddle up with a good book than make love to their partner.

Americans, 65% of us, are spending more time with their computers than with their spouses according to this survey.   

We develop significant relationships with cars, trucks and other machines but  most of us are increasingly  dependent on our tech gadgets, our cellphones, iPods and  Blackberrys and lust over the ones we don't have. 

Are you surprised  that 1 in 8 blokes would swap their girlfriend for an iPod?

We get addicted to the power, the connection, the feedback and immediate response.  Crackberries sound familiar?

And when we have trouble, we feel angry, sad or lonely/alienated.

Not that long ago I was told that the reason humans have such big brains or more exactly,  large pre-frontal cortexes, was to handle the complexity of language and social relationships. Actually size doesn't matter as much as the number of folds that give more surface area, say to organizing large groups for hunting, that gave humans the evolutionary edge. 

Today, we are more socially isolated and have fewer friends, two not three to confide in.  About a quarter of us have no one to confide in, no opportunities for intimate social ties. 

No wonder we're turning to machines and the Internet for emotional sustenance.

The steep decline in social ties is evident in other modern, aging countries.  In Japan as increasing numbers of men retire and stay-at-home, some Japanese men apparently need lessons in calling their wives by their first names, helping with housework and saying I love you.

It seems to me we're becoming less human.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:14 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 5, 2007

Where's Pop?

A good round-up in the New York Times of the technological tools that allow older people to live on their own yet  still under the watchful, loving eye of their adult children.

That's a lot of people, some 19 million Americans who are caring for someone over the age of 75.

Remember the old public service spot, It's ten o'clock, Do you know where your children are?

Today, Barry Jacobson has a button on his browser, Where's Pop?, to track the whereabouts of his father with Alzheimer's.

In Elder Care, Signing On Becomes a Way to Drop By

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:44 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 2, 2007

Change or Die

From Fast Company comes The Three Keys to Change, an excerpt from Alan Deutschman's new book  Change or Die

This isn't a another self-help book, but a serious explanation why people don't or can't change, why heart attack victims don't take their medicines or why prisoners once released commit crimes again and go back to prison.

Why is it so hard to change?

Facts don't seem to help.
Fear doesn't either.
Few can change and transform themselves on their own.

Alan writes the keys to change are relate, repeat and reframe.

The first key - Relate

You form a new, emotional relationship with a person or community that inspires and sustains hope....you need the influence of seemingly "unreasonable" people to restore your hope--to make you believe that you can change and expect that you will change.

The second key - Repeat

The new relationship helps you learn, practice, and master the new habits and skills that you'll need. It takes a lot of repetition over time before new patterns of behavior become automatic and seem natural--until you act the new way without even thinking about it. It helps tremendously to have a good teacher, coach, or mentor to give you guidance, encouragement, and direction along the way.

The third key - Reframe

The new relationship helps you learn new ways of thinking about your situation and your life. Ultimately, you look at the world in a way that would have been so foreign to you that it wouldn't have made any sense before you changed.

New hope, new skills, new thinking.

Robert Paterson calls it a revelatory book with the key to change to be found in the human heart.

Alan has reviewed the vast body of literature on what works in therapy to help people confront and then move through their belief barriers to a better life. There seems to be many different approaches that work. One on one. Groups etc. But the one thing that the successful paths had in common was a person who truly, sincerely believed in the capability of the other to make the change. This open hearted person often knew this before the subject did. The magic that crossed over was that truth of the feeling that this person loves me for whom I am now in all my misery. He loves me for me now not for what I should be. He sees in me the person that I can and could be. He gives me the gift of hope.

I would add only that the change in the heart takes place only in relationship, be it another person like a football coach, a group like AA or God.  In that relationship you are not only loved for who you are,  you are given the support to become what you can be.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:45 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Giving What Normal Children Can't

I happened upon this article in the New Oxford Journal, called American Genocide. 

What struck me was after the experience of raising and living with a child with Down's Syndrome, none of the families would, even if they could, go back and correct the abnormal gene. 

Recently, attending a Down Syndrome League dinner, I asked the families at my table the following question:
"If you could go back and correct the genetic abnormality in your baby, would you do it?" Everyone said "No." They all said that they would not change their families at all. I then asked them if they would choose to have the same child, but without the genetic abnormality. They all said "No." They explained that the Down syndrome child is a unique individual and that Down syndrome defines the child as uniquely as any other genome (genetic pattern). I was amazed. Here were middle- to upper-class Americans who are accustomed to having everything they want, and they were telling me that what the world may call abnormal they call normal. But more than this, they told me that their child was an untold blessing to their families, bringing to it what their "normal" children could not provide. Moreover, the overwhelming number of people with Down syndrome will tell you that their life is good and that they experience happiness.

In the U.S. today 85 to 90 percent of Down syndrome babies are selectively put to death. They are selectively aborted by their own mothers, usually on the advice of their physician.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:33 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 1, 2007

On Saints and Resilience

Last week the Pope said the saints have not 'fallen from heaven'. 

"They are men like us, with complicated problems. Holiness does not consist in not making mistakes or never sinning," Benedict XVI continued. "Holiness grows with the capacity for conversion, repentance, willingness to begin again, and above all with the capacity for reconciliation and forgiveness.

Saints Weren't Perfect, Pope Says

Today in the Wall St Journal, Jeff Zaslow tells the stories of three people and the lessons they learned from the losses they've endured.

Former Army Staff Sgt. Robbie Doughty lost his legs to a roadside bomb in Iraq. Thomas Sullivan lost 96 colleagues in the Sept. 11 attacks. Laurie Johnson lost her husband and young son in a small plane crash that left her seriously injured.

And yet today, all three of them remain positive about life. They even seem upbeat.

Mr. Doughty, 32, will host a grand opening today of his new Little Caesars pizza franchise in Paducah, Ky. Since his 2004 injury, "I've done so many things, even skiing," he says. "If there's something I can't do, there's always a way to work around it."

Plane-crash survivor Laurie Johnson sells stylish crutches.
Mr. Sullivan, 35, is now an Army Reserve captain in Iraq. In 2001, as a Fiduciary Trust employee, he worked on the 95th floor of the World Trade Center's South Tower, and escaped minutes before it collapsed. Yes, he feels survivor's guilt, but serving as a wartime officer helps to ease that.

Ms. Johnson, 46, is now an entrepreneur. That 2002 plane crash left her on crutches for two years. Since then, she has created LemonAid Crutches, which sells "designer crutches" with comfortable fabrics. It was her way of "turning lemons into lemonade," she says.

Are there lessons for us in these people's experiences? Researchers say yes, because the root of resilience is an ability to keep adversities in perspective, while making peace with things that can't be changed.

Being creative with what life deals you is key.

Dr. Zausner says that her own greatest achievements came after surviving ovarian cancer. "We don't know how strong we are until we have the occasion to find out. Our strengths are like icebergs, mostly hidden." Her new book, "When Walls Become Doorways," details her research into artists "who turned setbacks into launching pads."

Key too is  pressing on, helping others and finding purpose.

Sounds something like saints-in-the-making doesn't it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:15 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Looking forward

If I never see another “special” about Ku Klux Klan cross burnings or black and white film footage of firehoses mowing down black people in the streets, it’ll be too soon.

At the start of Black History month, La Shawn Barber writes pointedly, How About Strengthening Black Families Month?"

We can reflect on the importance and necessity of strong families to the well-being of black children, the black community, and the entire nation.

She's right of course.  Nothing can be more important to the black community looking forward and not just looking back.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:28 PM | Permalink | TrackBack