November 30, 2007

Why English as Our National Language

A Spanish-speaking public school teacher on why bi-lingual education is not good for Hispanics.

It turns out that English immersion, which was mandated in California by Proposition 227, does not irreparably harm immigrant children. In the long run, it improves their confidence and ability to succeed academically.

Some argue that bilingual education is just as effective as English immersion, but I’ve seen firsthand that that’s not the case.


As Jose Martin Samano, TV Azteca’s U.S. anchor, has said, “Immigrants here in the U.S. can make up to 50% or 60% more if they speak both English and Spanish.” That’s bad news for the 10 percent of the population that can’t speak English well or at all, and one reason why four out of five Hispanics think it is “very important” that people are able to speak English in America.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:44 PM | Permalink

November 29, 2007

Walker Headlights

Why didn't someone think of this before? Lights on walkers may cut falls

Forget driving in the dark — sometimes it's dangerous just walking in the dark.

As the population ages, medical teams are responding to more calls from people who have fallen in the night. Many are from older adults who toppled over their walkers while reaching for a light switch on the way to the kitchen or

Credit Ron Olshwanger, director of the Creve Coeur Fire Protection District, whose own experience with his own mother ultimately led to his inspiration.

The lights (which are a lot like bicycle lights) cost $34 at Medical West, a medical supply firm that can install them on new or existing walkers.

Olshwanger emphasizes that he and the fire department won't make any profit off the headlights. His inspiration is his mother, Bernice Bormaster, who died five years ago. After breaking her hip, she called her son three times in the middle of the night for help getting back to bed.

"It's a perfect example of what can happen. A lot of these people, their minds are fine, their bodies are just a little weak." Olshwanger said. "These people want to live a normal life, and I think this will help."

HT bookofjoe

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:41 PM | Permalink

Accessory to statutory rape

How do you feel about an organization that gets mountains of taxpayer funds ($3.9 billion since 1987) and is found to have shielded child rapists and predators?

Jennifer Giroux finds Planned Parenthood in a 'Tangled Web', Aborting the Truth.

So much for protecting young women and giving them a chance at a decent future.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:29 PM | Permalink

The Holy Grail of Beers

The best beer in the world is brewed by Trappist monks in Westvleteren, Belgium. Despite the phenomenal demand for the "holy grail of beers", the monks are resisting pressure to increase production.

"It would interfere with our job of being a monk. We sell beer to live, and not vice versa."

Trappist Command: Thou Shalt Not Buy Too Much of Our Beer. (Wall St Journal subscribers only at least until Murdoch takes over)

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:32 PM | Permalink

Protecting Your Company Laptop

If you travel with a company computer that carries a lot of personal data of other people, you would be well advised to listen to Internet security expert Bruce Schneier who recommends a whole disk encryption program that runs in the background.

No one wants to be the schmuck who lost a disk filled with the personal data on 25 million British citizens or one who lost personal data of 26 million American veterans.

How Does Bruce Schneier Protect His Laptop Data? With His Fists ---and PGP

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:25 PM | Permalink

November 28, 2007

Stand Up and Putter

The body's ability to dispose of fat virtually shuts down when we're sitting down.

And most of us sit too much.

Scientists Say Just Standing Up May Be as Important as Exercise

Marc Hamilton, associate professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia leader of the research team that published its research this month in the peer-reviewed journal Diabetes.

The solution, Hamilton said, is to stand up and "putter."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:26 PM | Permalink

November 27, 2007

Faith-Based Science

Just where do the laws of gravity and physics come from?

Paul Davies on Taking Science on Faith

science has its own faith-based belief system. All science proceeds on the assumption that nature is ordered in a rational and intelligible way. You couldn’t be a scientist if you thought the universe was a meaningless jumble of odds and ends haphazardly juxtaposed. When physicists probe to a deeper level of subatomic structure, or astronomers extend the reach of their instruments, they expect to encounter additional elegant mathematical order. And so far this faith has been justified.


until science comes up with a testable theory of the laws of the universe, its claim to be free of faith is manifestly bogus.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:58 PM | Permalink

The Great Relearning - Part 2

Consider the latest news out of Chicago. Are we going through the Great Relearning**, Part 2?

Rickets returns as kids' bones weaker.

Rickets is a softening of the bones in children potentially leading to fractures and deformity.

Usually a disease seen only in developing countries, in most cases it can be easily cured with milk, sunshine and exercise. In the absence of vitamin D, either from sunshine or from supplements, calcium can not be absorbed by the body.

But cases of full-blown rickets are just the red flag: Bone specialists say possibly millions of seemingly healthy children aren't building as much strong bone as they should, a gap that may leave them more vulnerable to bone-cracking osteoporosis later.

''This potentially is a time-bomb,'' says Dr. Laura Tosi of Children's National Medical Center in Washington.

That means parents have to insist that their kids drink their fortified milk, turn off the TV or computer and go outside and play.

Otherwise, they will grow up fat, with bowed legs, frequent fractures, deformed chests or curved spines, like this poor 2-year-old with rickets. _2-year-old_with_rickets.jpg

***The Great Relearning comes from a brilliant essay by Tom Wolfe who observed that many social problems are the result of a large-scale rejection of well-established principles that were generally accepted by everyone until the 1960s.

In 1968, in San Francisco, I came across a curious footnote to the psychedelic movement. At the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic there were doctors who were treating diseases no living doctor had ever encountered before, diseases that had disappeared so long ago they had never even picked up Latin names, diseases such as the mange, the grunge, the itch, the twitch, the thrush, the scroff, the rot. And how was it that they had now returned? ... The hippies, as they became known, sought nothing less than to sweep aside all codes and restraints of the past and start out from zero... And now , in 1968, they were relearning... the laws of hygiene... by getting the mange, the grunge, the itch, the twitch, the thrush, the scroff, the rot.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:18 PM | Permalink

DNA Nebula

The image I couldn't post on How Are You Fixed for Spit? is this one of the newly-discovered DNA Nebula.

 DNA Nebula .jpg

Only last year did we first get a glimpse of this nebula which is 80 light years long and lies near the enormous black hole at the center of our Milky Way.

Mark Morris, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California said

Nobody has ever seen anything like that before in the cosmic realm.

Most nebulae are either spiral galaxies full of stars or formless, amorphous conglomerations of dust and gas—space weather. What we see indicates a high degree of order.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:05 PM | Permalink

Music of Life

The nature and power of music is grand, awesome and ultimately a mystery.

Dr. Oliver Sacks writes about people with "musical misalignments" that affect their professional and daily lives, like the composer of atonal music who has with "corny" and "tonal" musical hallucinations playing over and over in his brain,  what the Germans call earworm.

"Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain" (Oliver Sacks)

New York Times reviewer,Michiko Kakutani writes that Dr Sacks is able
to convey both the fathomless mysteries of the human brain and the equally profound mysteries of music: an art that is “completely abstract and profoundly emotional,” devoid of the power to “represent anything particular or external,” but endowed with the capacity to express powerful, inchoate moods and feelings.

Could it be that Life itself is a musical adventure as  Gagdad Bob writes in Songs in the Key of Jesus
each of us represents an unrepeatable melodic line that wends itself through the four great chords constituting the song of existence.

Believing that everything that exists can be explained in material terms is materialism and
Materialism is a philosophy by the tone-deaf and for the tin-eared.

He quotes his own book, "One Cosmos Under God: The Unification of Matter, Life, Mind & Spirit" to say
if you really want to know reality in its fullness, "it is no longer adequate to be just a materialistic banjo-picker sitting barefoot on a little bridge of dogma; rather, one must have at least a nodding acquaintance with a few other instruments in order to play the cosmic suite. The universe is like a holographic, multidimensional musical score that must be read, understood, and performed. Like the score of a symphony, it can support diverse interpretations, but surely one of them cannot be 'music does not exist.'"

No one understands the power of music better than Pope Benedict.
The Pope is considering a dramatic overhaul in order to force a return to sacred music.

The Second Vatican Council declared
The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even that that of any other art.The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy ... the Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy; therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services."

Young people who have never heard Gregorian chant are amazed to learn that it is the official music of the Catholic Church.  Australian Tony Vaughn says
The interest in Chant over the last four or five years has been amazing. Young people want to know more about this incredibly beautiful and spiritual music, and where they can experience and learn it.

At Mont Saint Michel, the beauty of the traditional liturgy is Making Pilgrims out of Tourists
for the tourists who visit, Father De Froberville explained that "the age of anti-clericalism seems to be over. .... those younger than 60 are open to Christianity in a way not seen for a long time. They think it's cool.
It is the richness of our liturgy that keeps them interested.

Wasn't it Albert Einstein who said

Everything is determined by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect as well as for the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust - we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:45 PM | Permalink

How Are You Fixed for Spit?

[Author's note. For some reason, this entry can't be published using ECTO, so I'm recreating the post on the Moveable Type interface which is a horror to use. I can't use color, upload the wonderful image I have, see the entire entry or make easy corrections. No wonder so many people are moving over to Wordpress. All I can say is Thank God for Ecto]

As a child, whenever I was scrambling around, asking my mother 'where is my whatever, trying to find all the things I was supposed to take, my mother would ask us, "How are you fixed for spit?"

If I take that spit and send it in a small vial to 23andMe, the first "personal genome service", they will unlock the secrets of my own DNA.

For $1000, 23andme will run a sample through their gene-reading microchip and identify nearly 600,000 data points on my genome.

Amy Harmon gave her spit and found she became addicted to googling her own DNA using 23andMe's "Genome Explorer."

My Genome, Myself, Seeking Clues in DNA

I had spent hours every day doing just that as new studies linking bits of DNA to diseases and aspects of appearance, temperament and behavior came out on an almost daily basis. At times, surfing my genome induced the same shock of recognition that comes when accidentally catching a glimpse of oneself in the mirror.

Nick Carr at the Guardian looks at 23andMe and another genemapping company in Iceland. Google gives new gene mapping service a bit of spit and polish.

He's a little leery of the fact Google owns a big stake of 23andMe and what's more co-founder Sergey Brin is married to 23andMe co-founder Anne Wojciki.

As people spit into the vial and sign up to have their genome read, Google

could end up with a database of extraordinary value to pharmaceutical firms, medical researchers and insurance companies.

The privacy statement acknowledges that they will grant outside groups access to their database and allow them to search for correlations between genetic variations and health conditions "without knowing the identities of the individuals involved."

You, however, will be able to connect with others who share your genetic traits in a social network, a sort of DNA Facebook.

Give up your spit and genetically-targeted advertising will follow you all the days of your life.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:44 AM | Permalink

November 25, 2007

Home Libraries a Biopsy of Power and Success

They love their own libraries, read philosophy, history and fiction and when they need a great manager, the call goes out, "Get me poets".

CEO Libraries Reveal Keys to Success
If there is a C.E.O. canon, its rule is this: “Don’t follow your mentors, follow your mentors’ mentors,” suggests David Leach, chief executive of the American Medical Association’s accreditation division. Mr. Leach has stocked his cabin in the woods of North Carolina with the collected works of Aristotle.

Forget finding the business best-seller list in these libraries. “I try to vary my reading diet and ensure that I read more fiction than nonfiction,
Personal libraries have always been a biopsy of power. The empire-loving Elizabeth I surrounded herself with the Roman historians, many of whom she translated, and kept one book under lock and key in her bedroom, in a French translation she alone of her court could read: Machiavelli’s treatise on how to overthrow republics, “The Prince.” Churchill retreated to his library to heal his wounds after being voted out of power in 1945 — and after reading for six years came back to power.

The National Endowment of the Arts reports that reading is declining especially for young Americans and so are their test scores in data said to be "simple, consistent and alarming".

The number of books at home correlates with academic achievement which makes sense to me. 
students who lived in homes with more than 100 books but whose parents only completed high school scored higher on math tests than those students whose parents held college degrees (and were therefore likely to earn higher incomes) but who lived in homes with fewer than 10 books.

Home libraries are predictors of success.

     Books In Winter Jessie Wilcox Smith

Print by Jessie Wilcox-Smith

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:42 AM | Permalink

Iridescent Cloud

 Iridescent Cloud

From Astronomy Picture of the Day

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:09 AM | Permalink

November 24, 2007

"History flows forward in rivers of beer."

It all started with beer.

Chocolate that is. 

Chocolate began as a status beer

THE chocolate enjoyed around the world today had its origins at least 3100 years ago in Central America not as the sweet treat people now crave but as a celebratory beer-like beverage and status symbol,

Anonymous said, "History flows forward in rivers of beer."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:14 PM | Permalink

November 22, 2007

My favorite Thanksgiving prayer

Happy Thanksgiving every one.

behold our family here assembled.
We thank Thee for this place in which we dwell;
for the love that unites us;
for the peace accorded us this day;
for the hope with which we expect the morrow;
for the health, the work, the food, and the bright skies,
that make our lives delightful;
and for our friends in all parts of the earth.
Let peace abound in our small company.

Purge out of every heart the lurking grudge.
Give us grace and strength to forbear and to persevere.
Give us the grace to accept and to forgive offenders.
Forgetful ourselves, help us to bear cheerfully
      the forgetfulness of others.
Give us courage and gaiety and the quiet mind.
Spare to us our friends, soften to us our enemies.

Bless us, if it may be, in all our innocent endeavors.
If it may not, give us the strength to encounter
      that which is to come,
that we be brave in peril, constant in tribulation,
      temperate in wrath,
and in all changes of fortune, and, down to the gates of death,
      loyal and loving one to another.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:12 AM | Permalink

November 20, 2007

Skin into stem cells

This is wonderful news.  New technology not only saves us from the moral abyss of commoditizing human life and promises us an easier, cheaper way to save levels through the reprogramming of mature human cells.

Researchers Create Stem Cells Without Destroying Embryos.

Two separate teams of researchers say they have sidestepped the cloning method and reprogrammed mature human cells into a primordial, embryonic-like state. Those cells were then transformed into other tissue types, such as heart cells. The long-term hope is that such freshly-created tissue may, for example, be used to heal a heart-attack patient.

Unlike cloning, "the wonderful thing about this approach is that it's easy. You're going to see lots and lots of labs give it a try," predicts Robert Blelloch, a stem cell biologist at the University of California, San Francisco, who has performed his own reprogramming experiments.

Even Professor Ian Wilmut, the creator of Dolly, the famous cloned sheep, now shuns cloning.

he has decided not to pursue a licence to clone human embryos, which he was awarded just two years ago, as part of a drive to find new treatments for the devastating degenerative condition, Motor Neuron disease.

Prof Wilmut, who works at Edinburgh University, believes a rival method pioneered in Japan has better potential for making human embryonic cells which can be used to grow a patient's own cells and tissues for a vast range of treatments, from treating strokes to heart attacks and Parkinson's, and will be less controversial than the Dolly method, known as "nuclear transfer

Most of his motivation is practical but he admits the Japanese approach is also "easier to accept socially."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:01 AM | Permalink

Greatest moments in food history

Dr. Helen gives some good advice for those for whom going home for the holidays is a bit of hell what with heated political discussions and what all.

May I add that you might argue over the Greatest moments in food history instead for a lot less heat and a lot more fun.

Hat tip  Althouse.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:37 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 18, 2007

Deterrent real in death penalty

Well, this is a surprise, the death penalty saves lives.  If so, the question than becomes only a moral one. 

Rethinking the Death Penalty in The New York Times

According to roughly a dozen recent studies, executions save lives. For each inmate put to death, the studies say, 3 to 18 murders are prevented.
“I personally am opposed to the death penalty,” said H. Naci Mocan, an economist at Louisiana State University and an author of a study finding that each execution saves five lives. “But my research shows that there is a deterrent effect.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:46 PM | Permalink

Beautiful Theory of Everything

  Meaning Of The Universe

Garrett Lisi, 39, has a doctorate, but doesn't teach because he spends most of his time in Hawaii surfing and in the winter snowboarding near Lake Tahoe.    He is also a physicist who has spent some time working out the complexities of the intricate, elegant shape pictured above.  It's called an E8, a complex, eight-dimensional mathematical pattern with 248 points.

Surfer dude stuns physicists with theory of everything

Lisi's breakthrough came when he noticed that some of the equations describing E8's structure matched his own. "My brain exploded with the implications and the beauty of the thing," he tells New Scientist. "I thought: 'Holy crap, that's it!'"

Unlike the Standard Model of everything that can weave together only three of the four fundamental forces of nature, Lisi's E8 theory can accommodate all four.  I know very little about physics, but the shape is very beautiful and looks like a mandala.  In Oriental Art, a mandala represent the cosmos.

Lisi believes that our universe is this beautiful shape.

"Some incredibly beautiful stuff falls out of Lisi's theory," adds David Ritz Finkelstein at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta. "This must be more than coincidence and he really is touching on something profound."

I believe what John Keats wrote long ago, "Beauty is truth, truth beauty."  So I'm placing my bet on E8 instead of a spaghetti universe of superstrings.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:00 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Old Love

Last week I wrote Life Imitates Art, this week there is a much finer piece in The Boston Globe about the situation facing Sandra Day O'Connor called A love supreme finds space in dementia.

So this, in the end, is what love is.

Former Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor's husband, suffering from Alzheimer's disease, has a romance with another woman, and the former justice is thrilled - even visits with the new couple while they hold hands on the porch swing - because it is a relief to see her husband of 55 years so content.

And despite the stereotypes, researchers who study emotions across the life span say that old love is in many ways more satisfying than young love - even as it is also more complex.
Researchers trying to understand aging and emotion performed brain scans on people across a range of ages, gauging their reactions to positive and negative scenes. Young people tended to respond to the negative scenes. Those in middle age took in a better balance of the positive. And older people responded only to the positive scenes.

"As people get older, they seem to naturally look at the world through positivity and be willing to accept things that when we're young we would find disturbing and vexing," said Dr. John Gabrieli, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at MIT and one of the researchers.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:34 AM | Permalink

November 16, 2007

If you ever need a laugh

I know I posted about this before years ago, but a friend just sent it to me again.  I think I laughed just as much.  It's impossible not to.

Texas accident

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:46 PM | Permalink

Coming and Going to Britain.

Would an advertisement of a tattooed skinhead urinating into a china teacup encourage you to visit London?

  Eurostar Advert

"It's fun, it's supposed to show how cosmopolitan London is. Yes, I really think it says London is cosmopolitan," insisted a spokeswoman for Eurostar about the ad designed to attract Belgians to hop on the new high-speed train to the English capital.

Personally, I think it explains why record numbers are emigrating from Britain, 207,000 Britons left last year .

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:00 AM | Permalink

Thanksgiving Comes First

It was Miss Kelly who tipped me to "Thanksgiving First".  And I could not agree with her more.

Suldog is leading the way with Thanksgiving Comes First urging letters and boycotts of stores saying that we've had enough.

I'm a Christian, so I have more than an annoyance factor at work here. I think that cheapening the holiday, by expanding it beyond reasonable bounds, does a world of disservice to my religion. It gives people a false view of it, by making it a greed-fest. However, if you aren’t a Christian, your take on matters is still important; maybe even more so than mine. If you're Jewish, for instance, I'm sure it makes you mad to see your religion's holy days buried beneath this overkill. If you're an atheist, it must truly make you seethe. Let it out. Tell the world that you've had enough.

The Christmas wars are tracked at The Christmas Watch which has its own naughty and nice list.  Naughty are the stores that don't mention Christmas on their websites, substituting 'winter holiday' or forbidding their employees from greeting customers with a Merry Christmas.  Nice ones mention Christmas often.

Then there are the benighted fools who tell store Santas not to "Ho, Ho, Ho" because it could be seen as derogatory to women.  Instead, they are urged to use "Ha Ha Ha" to which Instapundit says "Heh, Heh, Heh".  He is an unlikely revolutionary, but this Christmas, Santa is a rebel with a claus.

Meanwhile Ruth Marcus asks What 'War on Christmas?"

to the extent that the war-on-Christmas crowd is simply reacting to knee-jerk political correctness, I'm with them. It's idiotic to call the Capitol conifer a Holiday Tree -- as it has been for the past several years, until it was re-, um, christened this year.
But there is an ugly, bullying aspect to this dispute, in which the pro-Christmas forces are not only asking, reasonably, that their religion be treated with equal status and respect but in which they are attacking legitimate efforts at inclusivity. It's this sense of aggrieved victimhood that confuses me: What, exactly, is so threatening about calling the school holiday a winter break rather than Christmas vacation?

I'm with Mark Krikorian who noted the other day,
"Ah, remember the good old days when the War on Christmas didn't start until after Thanksgiving?

And sticking with Thanksgiving comes first

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:47 AM | Permalink

19 terrorist attacks thwarted

I think this is rather good news.

US thwarts 19 terrorist attacks against America since 9/11.

Especially since Islamic terrorists have carried out more than 10,009 deadly terror attacks since that same date, mainly against other Muslims.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:17 AM | Permalink

Sick of the Sixties

I was in Miami for the Republican convention and later in Chicago for the Democrat convention, and a year later, I was at Woodstock, all stories for another day.

1968 was war, race riots, assassinations.  I lived through 1968 and I never want to go back there again which is why I turn away from Boomer nostalgia that attempts to glorify times that were profoundly anxious and disheartening. 

1968 was indeed the jackhammer that rent our civic culture as Daniel Henninger writes in 1968: The Long Goodbye

Whatever civic culture the U.S. had until the 1960s, it was now transformed. After '68, we had a new kind of political and social culture, pounding like a jackhammer into the older bedrock. The country cracked. Look at those 1968 popular vote numbers; half the country went left and half went right.

Goodbye and good riddance I say, so I agree with Senator Obama who said
Senator Clinton and others, they have been fighting some of the same fights since the '60s. And it makes it very difficult for them to bring the country together to get things done."

I'm so sick of the sixties that when I picked up the latest copy of Newsweek

 Newseek Cover 1968

I yawned.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:39 AM | Permalink

Gang rape victim punished with 200 lashes

Another horrifying example of the frighteningly intolerant kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Saudi punished gang rape victim with 200 lashes and six months in jail.

She was 19 and in a car with an unrelated male when she was set upon by six armed attackers.

Because she attempted to "aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media" after her original sentence of 90 lashes, her physical punishment was doubled to 200 lashes.

After her lawyer challenged the verdict, the court withdraw his license to practice law and he must appear before a disciplinary committee in December.

And what can we do but pray for this poor woman and be thankful for our own legal system?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:07 AM | Permalink

November 15, 2007

A shadowy and dangerous world for young teens

A real person, a real death is one of the sadder,  more disturbing stories I've read in a long time.

Megan Meier, a young girl, overweight and shy, killed herself after being ridiculed by a young man who had led her to believe he was interested in her but who turned out to be a fraud created by two people in her neighborhood.

Not only did a young girl needlessly die, but her parents are marked by guilt and pain for letting her on MySpace in the first place and are now divorcing.

The Internet and especially MySpace can be a shadowy and dangerous world for young teens who are not emotionally equipped to deal with what is in essence a virtual lawless world where people under the cloak of anonymity can be vicious and cruel.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:33 AM | Permalink

Disaboom - Live Forward

"So I just ran over it with my wheelchair until she apologized"

I am quite impressed with Disaboom which I happened upon yesterday, a site that delivers on the promise of the Internet.

For anyone who is living with a disability, this is the place to find others like you, to learn from their experiences and find resources available to help like a career center as well as the "largest collection of accessibility reviews on everything from restaurants to travel hot spots".

For those who have been paralyzed by an accident, the videos showing adaptive sky diving and may be especially inspiring.

Founder Dr. J. Glen House knows whereof he speaks because he specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation and is also a quadriplegic.  His mission
to create the first comprehensive, evolving source of information, insight, and personal engagement for the disability community.

Two of its core beliefs are close to my own.
Expertise comes in many forms. Often the best advice comes not just from medical experts but also from “peers” – others who’ve walked the path you’re on. That’s why in addition to providing solid medical expertise, we’ve also put together the largest online network of individuals to share their personal experiences with you, providing honest, practical answers to hard questions.

Knowledge is power – and so is community. strives to provide you the tools and guidance you need to live active, engaged lives. But when it comes to sharing stories and personal insights, there’s nothing stronger than the power of community – which is why we’re connecting the millions touched by disability to both information and each other.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:21 AM | Permalink

November 14, 2007

Reverse Mortgages Hot

If you or your aging parents are considering a reverse mortgage, you'll be happy to learn that the choices are expanding.

Reports the Wall St Journal

Now, nearly a dozen large banks and mortgage lenders have launched reverse-mortgage products with lower fees and larger payouts. One lender has reduced the minimum age requirement to 60; others are making loans on second homes and vacation rentals. "Jumbo" reverse mortgages -- for houses valued at as much as $10 million -- are becoming more common.

With a reverse mortgage, instead of the borrower making payments to the lender, the lender makes a payment or payments to the borrower. The borrower keeps control of the house and doesn't have to pay back the money as long as he or she lives there. When the homeowner dies or moves out, the loan is typically paid off by selling the house, and any money left over goes to the homeowner or the homeowner's estate.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:17 PM | Permalink

Females Joining the Hunt, Doom Follows

Not only were some of them pale-skinned and red-headed  but females hunted the big beasts alongside the men. 

Of course, they were doomed, the Stone Age Feminists.  You don't put women of fertile age in a position of being easily killed if you want your race of Neanderthals to survive. 

The University of Arizona's Steven L. Kuhn and Mary C. Stiner, use archeological evidence ..argue that Neanderthal females - unlike Homo sapien women of the Upper Paleolithic period - joined men in hunts at a time when stabbing giant beasts with a sharpish stone affixed to a stick represented the cutting edge of technology.

"Putting the reproductive core of the population - pregnant women, mothers of infants, children themselves - at such danger could have put Neanderthals as a whole at serious demographic disadvantage," he said.

Homo sapiens, it appears, possessed the evolutionary advantage of keeping women away from the hunt.

From early days, human women appear to have sewed hide clothing, tended fires, and gathered vegetables rather than risking their lives on the hunt.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:20 AM | Permalink

November 13, 2007

Americans at Serious Play

In his apocalyptic nonfiction book Bowling Alone, Harvard-based political scientist Robert Putnam lays out in detail how, since the 1970s, American civic life has died like a sackful of puppies thrown onto a rush-hour freeway. He amassed a mountain of hard data showing that we're going on fewer church picnics, joining fewer bowling leagues, and taking fewer pies to our neighbors every year, and, as a result, community bonds are crumbling. We're not voting, we're not volunteering, we're not taking care of our kids; America has become a nation of demented shut-ins, dying all alone in houses full of moldering TV Guides and stray cats. One solution is to do what our parents nagged us to do on gorgeous summer days when we just wanted to sit around watching Family Feud: Turn off the TV, get out of the house, and go play with our friends.

Feel the Sting of My Foam Sword

Grady Hendrix says this is a must-see documentary about how Americans play in a meat-space Dungeons & Dragons called 'larping'.

9 pm tonight on IFC

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:45 PM | Permalink

Signs of the Times - 1

  Bible Hotel Room

So long, Gideons.  For decades, hotels have provided bibles in their guest rooms that they have gotten free from Gideon International. Many hotels are no longer providing bibles in their guest rooms as they have for decades, the edgier ones replacing them with "intimacy kits".

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:23 PM | Permalink

Life Imitates Art

Or maybe creative people have a greater sense about what's in the air.

Justice O'Connor's husband forms romance with fellow Alzheimer's patient.

Last week I watched Away From Her, a movie starring Julie Christie as Fiona who, suffering from Alzheimer's disease,  decides she would be better off in a retirement home than with her husband of fifty years whom she dearly loves, despite some troubled spots that they never discuss.

New patients at the retirement home are not allowed visitors for thirty days so they can adjust more quickly.  When the husband finally is allowed to visit his wife he finds Fiona has fallen in love with a fellow patient.   

The movie is a brilliant adaption by Sarah Polley of an Alice Munro short story, "The Bear Came Over the Mountain."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:09 PM | Permalink

Under the weather

It's a bright, sunny day but I'm a little under the weather, so light posting for a day or two.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:42 PM | Permalink

November 12, 2007

They'll Grow Out of It

My mother used to counsel younger mothers nervous with a rambunctious child, 'Don't worry, they'll grow out of it."

Apparently that's the case with most kids with  attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. 

ADHD Kids Can Get Better.

researchers found that some areas in the ADHD brain — particularly those involved in thinking, attention and planning — matured an average of three years later than "healthy" brains, but otherwise followed normal patterns of development.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:50 PM | Permalink

November 9, 2007

Good things come to those who wait

It's the best Rube Goldberg contraption I've ever seen.

I wish I could embed it but I can't so click on the link.

  Guiness Rube Goldberg

Good things come to those who wait.

Especially if they love their Guinness.

via Scribal Terror

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:03 AM | Permalink

Family businesses doing great, except...

A recent study finds that family businesses are increasingly led by women and expect robust growth, yet many will likely face financial problems because they have not prepared for managerial and ownership succession, nor have they prepared an personal estate plan.

Family businesses, increasingly led by women, need succession and financial planning.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:48 AM | Permalink

"We need our bacteria"

Who would have thought that most infections ensure our health instead of compromise it.

Humans have 10 times more bacterial cells in their bodies than human cells. Without bacteria, there would not be humans.

Human life depends on certain infections.

Mitochondria are bacteria-like components of cells that take fats and sugars and make adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. Every action that distinguishes a living human being from a dead human being is dependent on ATP.

"We need our bacteria," Callahan said.

Infections, Bacteria 'Critical for Healthy Living'

Other research shows that sheltering a child from bacterial infections increases his or her chances of developing asthma and allergies. In fact, recent studies show that the more educated parents are, the more likely their children are to develop asthma and allergies possibly because these parents are more likely to worry about bacterial infections.

Of course, parents want to protect children from infectious diseases. Callahan draws an analogy between how parents teach their children to recognize unsavory characters and how society must differentiate good from bad bacteria and infectious microorganisms.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:06 AM | Permalink

November 8, 2007

"All the people in Iraq, Muslim and Christian, is brother"

Michael Yon, embedded with the troops for the past three years posts this photograph and calls it Thanks and Praise as men and women, both Christian and Muslim, place a cross atop St. John's Church in Bagdad, a church that had been bombed and burned in 2004 but has since been restored with the cross, the crowning touch.

The Iraqis asked me to convey a message of thanks to the American people. ” Thank you, thank you,” the people were saying. One man said, “Thank you for peace.” Another man, a Muslim, said “All the people, all the people in Iraq, Muslim and Christian, is brother.” The men and women were holding bells, and for the first time in memory freedom rang over the ravaged land between two rivers.

  Yon Thanks And Praise

Iraqpundit welcomes the recent changes in Baghdad and writes.

Frankly, I don't understand why so many mock us for wanting a future for Iraq. Is your hatred for George Bush so great that you prefer to see millions of civilians suffer just to prove him wrong?

It really comes down to this: you are determined to see Iraq become a permanent hellhole because you hate Bush. And we are determined to see Iraq become a success, because we want to live.

Sometimes, it takes a fresh eye to see America as it was and is.  French President Nicolas Sarkozy in his speech before a joint session of Congress did just that.

Fathers took their sons to see the vast cemeteries where, under thousands of white crosses so far from home, thousands of young American soldiers lay who had fallen not to defend their own freedom but the freedom of all others, not to defend their own families, their own homeland, but to defend humanity as a whole.
And as they listened to their fathers, watched movies, read history books and the letters of soldiers who died on the beaches of Normandy and Provence, as they visited the cemeteries where the star-spangled banner flies, the children of my generation understood that these young Americans, 20 years old, were true heroes to whom they owed the fact that they were free people and not slaves. France will never forget the sacrifice of your children.

To those 20-year-old heroes who gave us everything, to the families of those who never returned, to the children who mourned fathers they barely got a chance to know, I want to express France's eternal gratitude.

Now and in the years to come, I hope and trust the Iraqis will feel the same way towards the treasure of American blood and money expended there.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:58 AM | Permalink

Hell disappeared

“At some point in the nineteen-sixties, Hell disappeared. No one could say for certain when this happened. First it was there, then it wasn’t.

The Catholic Novel is Alive and Well in England by Marian Crowe explores Catholic novels in First Things.

Why Catholic Novels?

They provide an experience somewhat akin to reading those weighty Victorian novels, imbued with moral seriousness and ethical concern, in which human acts had momentous import in a meaningful universe. Christian readers have a special interest in these novels, however, for they bring to life doctrines rendered insipid and prosaic due to long familiarity and frequent repetition in creeds and liturgy.
At this point I need to define what I mean by the term Catholic novel. I do not mean simply a novel by a Catholic or one with some Catholic material, but a work of substantial literary merit in which Catholic theology and thought have a significant presence within the narrative, with genuine attention to the inner spiritual life, often drawing on Catholicism’s rich liturgical and sacramental symbolism and enriched by the analogical Catholic imagination.

The Catholic imagination, says Andrew Greeley, is one that is sacramental, that “sees created reality as a ‘sacrament,’ that is, a revelation of the presence of God.” Some novels are deeply engaged with Catholic material, but almost exclusively in a negative or hostile sense. Such novels are sometimes considered Catholic novels, and some Catholics find it bracing and expansive to enter a fictional space that confronts them with the shadow side of the Church. Yet the Catholic novels that most engage my interest are those that include some kind of sense that Catholicism, no matter how flawed the institutional Church and no matter how weak and sinful individual Catholics, is a locus of truth.

If you know about the English Catholic novelists like Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh and probably about the American Catholic novelists like Flannery O’Connor, J.F. Powers, and Walker Percy,  Crowe's piece will give you many new authors to explore.

Last week, I read and quite enjoyed the character of
"Cardinal Galsworthy" (Edward R. F. Sheehan), a book by a former reporter for The New York Times  that's become a minor cult classic.  That I had the chance to have dinner with the author last week has nothing to do with my hearty recommendation.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:18 AM | Permalink

November 7, 2007

Seen by more than 5 billion people

The most watched movie in history is the Jesus film, having been seen by more than 2 billion people and translated into more than 760 languages and dialects.  By July 1, 2007, it's been seen by 5 billion people.

          Jesus Film

With that success, it's not a surprise that talking bibles and cellphone bibles are being used by Christian missionaries to expand the audience and influence of the world's largest religion.  The Washington Post tells the story of Plugging the Planet into the Word.

In Cambodia, flooded with missionaries since the early 1990s after a decade of war and the Khmer Rouge left the country devastated with almost 2 million killed or dead of starvation, the director of the National Buddhist Institute said

We are getting used to globalization, but it is important to maintain our identity.  For centuries and centuries we have been Buddhists.

But, he added, people have a right to choose their religion, and the government is grateful for the medicine, food and manpower that Christian groups are bringing. As for the Christian literacy program, he said, "If Buddhists worry about it, they should teach children to read, too."

Im's father, Sum Tel Thoen, 37, a fisherman, said he didn't care that Christians were teaching his daughter. "It doesn't matter if my daughter is Christian. My focus is education," he said. "I can't read or write. I want my daughter to."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:28 AM | Permalink

"What do you give a man who gave you your sight?"

Blind since he was six with only partial sight before that, James Elleyby  met his wife at a school for the blind, has two young children both blind but never gave up on trying to regain his sight.

Six corneal transplants had failed when he and a sighted friend googled for doctors and came up with the name of Dr. Claes Dohlman, a doctor at Massachusetts Eye and Ear who developed a technique to use artificial corneas.

Man with restored sight has no time for tears.
James reached out and Dohlman reached back.

Last January, after surgery, Dohlman ripped the patch off and James instinctively covered his face with his hands. Then he blinked and pulled his hands away and realized he could see his fingers. He looked around the room and saw colors, the names of which he hadn't a clue.

He took the bus back to New York and found that Ivory and his little girls were more beautiful than he had imagined.
He got a job - telemarketing, working with computers. He wants to go to law school. He wants to do everything. He believes he can do anything.

Invited back to Boston for a dinner organized for his doctor, James asked

"I don't have any money," James said. "What do you give a man who gave you your sight?"

A few weeks ago, James stepped outside his home in the Bronx. He looked up into the sky and saw something twinkling. He didn't know what it was and asked a neighbor. The neighbor thought James was kidding.

"It's a star, James," the man said. "It's a star."

As he gazed upon a star for the first time, James decided that the best way to show his gratitude was to rent a car and drive 200 miles to Boston, because he could.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:22 AM | Permalink

November 6, 2007

Beer after exercise

Just so you know

A pint of beer is better for you after a workout than water, say scientists

If you can't have beer,  chocolate milk is the best choice.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:02 AM | Permalink

November 5, 2007

Orienting towards parents

With data from 24 colleges and universities, the National Survey of Student Engagement releases a study that gives hovering college parents extra credit.

"Compared with their counterparts, children of helicopter parents were more satisfied with every aspect of their college experience, gained more in such areas as writing and critical thinking, and were more likely to talk with faculty and peers about substantive topics," said survey director George D. Kuh, an Indiana University professor.

The study found no evidence that helicopter parenting produces better grades. In fact, students with very-involved parents had lower grades than those whose parents were not so involved, but the authors suggest that "perhaps the reason some parents intervened was to support a student who was having academic difficulties."

Why shouldn't parents stay engaged with their children?

Keeping children primarily oriented towards their parents as "their guide for discovering their identity, morals and virtues"  keeps them
attached to more mature and civilized principles and values.  They still can attach to peers, but not as a primary source of orientation.

Jennifer F. posts on The Lost Children and quotes the authors Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate

As children grow, they have an increasing need to orient: to have a sense of who they are, of what is real, why things happen, what is good, what things mean. To fail to orient is lost psychologically -- a state our brains our programmed to do almost anything to avoid. [...]

What children fear more than anything, including physical harm, is getting lost. To them, being lost means losing contact with their compass point. Orienting voids, situations where we find nothing or no one to orient by, are absolutely intolerable to the human brain.

Peer bonds have come to replace relationships with adults as children's primary sources of orientation...Children have become the dominant influence on one another's development.
In the separate tribe many of our children have joined, the transmission of values and culture flows horizontally, from one unlearned and immature person to another. This eroding one of the underpinnings of civilized social activity. [...]
No wonder, then, that "cool" is the governing ethic in peer culture, the ultimate virtue...It connotates an air of invulnerability. Where peer orientation is intense, there is no sign of vulnerability in the talk, in the walk, in the dress, or in the attitudes. [...]

Peer-oriented kids will do anything to avoid the human feelings of aloneness, suffering, and pain, and to escape feeling hurt, exposed, alarmed, insecure, inadequate, or self-conscious. The older and more peer-oriented the kids, the more drugs seem to be an inherent part of their lifestyle. Peer orientation creates an appetite for anything that would reduce vulnerability. Drugs are emotional painkillers.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:35 AM | Permalink

November 4, 2007


A wonderful story about the twin who desire for life was so great, he survived several attempts on his life while still in the womb.

We're twinseparable! Happy with his brother, the boy who refused to die.

 Twins Brother Refused To Die

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:47 AM | Permalink

Radio waves targeting cancer

They diagnosed him with leukemia and told him he had nine months to live.  John Kanzlus, weakened by his chemotherapy treatments, drew on his lifetime of working with radio waves to devise a machine that targets cancer cells.

The miracle: It works.

Kanzlus got his hands on come nanoparticles from another cancer patient, Nobel Prize winning chemist Richard Smalley.

"John asked, 'Is this what you expected?' For the first time in my life, I realized that a smile starts behind the eyes before it starts at the mouth, for Steve responded, 'This is much more than I expected.' I watched his smile engulf his entire face."

Marianne finally realized: "Could what John's working on be real?" Curley phoned Smalley to tell him the news.

He remembered Smalley's response: "Holy God."

At 63, Kanzius is still receiving treatment for his cancer, which has recurred. He knows the process he developed may not be ready in time to save his life, but the project was never about him. "I want to see the treatment work," he said. "That would be my thanks."

Sending his cancer a signal

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:40 AM | Permalink

November 3, 2007

Photographing Fairy Tales

Annie Liebowitz was commissioned to create new images for the Disney company's Year of a Million Dreams promotion.

Here is Rachel Weisz as Snow White.

 Rachel Weisz, Annie Liebowitz Snow White

Scarlett Johanssen as Cinderella

 Scarlett Johanssen As Cinderella

Julie Andrews as a fairy godmother

 Julie Andrews Fairy Godmother

See them all in their full glory at the Disney gallery

Iain Gray delivers
some delicious snark to Rachel Weisz's comment, "I think you always want to be Snow White."

Really? What, having one’s mother die in childbirth, being despised by your new stepmother to the point where she repeatedly tries to brutally murder you and then spending your days with a bunch of emotionally-stunted gold-diggers who immediately put you to work cleaning and cooking before insisting that you share their beds with them?

It truly is every little girl’s dream…

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:24 AM | Permalink

November 2, 2007

Charles McCarry, Hiroshima and the Firebombing of Tokoyo

Charles McCarry is one of my favorite writers and his espionage novels are extraordinary.  If you haven't read any of them, you're in for a treat.  The Boston Globe calls him "the best writer of intelligence and political novels in the world."

Many had gone out of print until brought back and republished by the Overlook Press.  Wrote one reviewer of the Tears of Autumn in 2005
I approached this handsome new edition of Charles McCarry's masterpiece, "The Tears of Autumn," with trepidation. The novel was first published in 1974, and it has been more than 20 years since I last read it. I had only a hazy memory that (1) it was beautifully written, (2) it offered a plausible theory of the Kennedy assassination and (3) it was a classic. My concern was that, given a new reading, the novel might not hold up, but my fear was groundless. "The Tears of Autumn" is beautifully written, its conspiracy theory still intrigues and it most assuredly is a classic.

I've reread many of them several times over in the past two decades and everyone is a classic in my opinion.  I write about him today because of the death of Paul Tibbets, pilot of the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.    In a talk before the New York Public Library, McCarry tells an extraordinary story about the head man of a  Japanese village who had never met an American and invited  McCarry who was hiking with his wife in the Japan Alps to have lunch with him.

The story which I've printed verbatim is below the fold, so you have to click to read it.  I found it at Jonathan Delacour's Consequences.

Robert Birnbaum interviews McCarry here.    And below are some of McCarry's books to get you started.

"Tears of Autumn" (Charles McCarry)

"The Secret Lovers: A Paul Christopher Novel (Paul Christopher Novels)" (Charles McCarry)

"The Last Supper" (Charles McCarry)

"Second Sight: A Paul Christopher Novel" (Charles McCarry)

"Old Boys" (Charles McCarry)

"Christopher's Ghosts" (Charles McCarry)

Charles McCarry in an essay called A Strip of Exposed Film (based on a talk given at the New York Public Library and published in Paths of Resistance: The Art and Craft of the Political Novel). .

Charles McCarry had been climbing in the Japan Alps when he and his wife were invited to visit the head man of a village called Nodaira.

His name was Toyomi Yamagishi. The same twenty families had been living in this very remote village since the twelfth century; the first road had been built only thirty years earlier. Before that everything that went into the village and came out of the village went in or came out on the back of a human being.

The visit took place at ten in the morning, “the usual Japanese hour for such affairs. They all sat around the kotatsu, a table with a blanket draped over it and a charcoal brazier underneath, “so that your lower body was warm enough and you warmed your upper body by drinking whiskey and sake at ten in the morning.” After they had eaten and been served green tea, Yamagishi began to speak.

He spoke in a recitative style, somewhat like the narration of a Noh play or a Bunraku puppet theater performance, except that he was speaking modern Japanese so that we could understand what he was saying.

He said he had invited us to his house because he had never met an American and had wanted to ever since World War II. We chatted a little about the history of the village and about the life that he and the other villagers had led before the war. He said it had been a life of ceaseless toil. As a child he had only rarely seen the faces of his parents because they worked every day from dark to dark, leaving the hut before he woke and returning after he was asleep. He had had no children of his own because he wanted to avoid this sadness in his own life. I remarked that I had grown up on a farm and knew how hard that life could be. “I’m sorry,” he said, “but you do not know. Human beings are not beasts of burden in America.”

Yamagishi then told us about his life during the war. He had been drafted in 1944, at the age of forty, and sent to Osaka to guard the emperor’s forest. Then the Americans took Saipan and the B-29s came. “The Americans burned the forest with incendiary bombs, so it was not necessary to guard it any longer,” he said. “I became a firefighter. The Americans would drop incendiary bombs to set the city on fire, and when we went to fight the fires they would wait until we were very busy and then they would come over with other B-29s and drop antipersonnel bombs and kill the firemen. I thought, ‘The Americans are very clever.’ Then, after the whole city had been destroyed, a single B-29 flew over Osaka and dropped not bombs but hundreds of little parachutes. When these parachutes landed we saw that a gift was tied to each—a mirror, a harmonica, a fountain pen. The Japanese people had lost nearly everything in the bombing and they were very glad to have these gifts from the Americans. They ran to get them, and when they touched them they exploded in their hands, blowing off fingers and blinding people. I thought, ‘The Americans are not only clever; they are ruthless. We have lost the war.’”

Yamagishi said, “Your ships came and shelled us. The bombers kept on also, every day. I was assigned to train people to fight the Americans when they invaded. We showed women and children how to make spears from bamboo. Every Japanese was prepared to die defending the homeland. Then the atom bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The emperor’s voice came over loudspeakers in the streets. He told us we must surrender. No one had ever heard his voice before, and to us it was the voice of God. But our commanding officer said, ‘No! We must kill the Americans! He is no true emperor if he tells the Japanese to surrender.’ Nevertheless we obeyed the emperor, and I came back to this village. All the younger sons of every family—all twenty families—had been killed in the war. Only old men and women were left to do the work. I thought we would starve to death. But as you see, we did not.

“Now,” the old Japanese said, “I will tell you why I invited you here. It is because I have something to say to you, and to all Americans.” He was out of breath and his face was full of color from the whiskey he had drunk, and I thought, “Well, here it comes.”

Yamagishi said, “Thank you. Thank you for defeating Japan. If you Americans had not done so, this village would be as it always was. The militarists would never have let us have democracy. But the Americans built the road; my nephews and nieces have cars and television sets, and they see their children every day. And because they have eaten American things like milk and vegetables and fruit, instead of the millet and pickles we had to eat, they are tall and beautiful like Americans instead of short and homely like me and my wife.” He bowed and said, “Thank you.” I realized, to my surprise, and in spite of everything I believed about the morality of bombing civilians, that the U.S. Air Force had won Yamagishi’s heart and mind by pitilessly destroying Osaka, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In one of my novels a political idealist asks Paul Christopher what he believes in. Christopher replies, “I believe in consequences.” In the novel, as in politics and in life itself, you can’t know what the consequences of any act will be until you come to the end.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:56 PM | Permalink

November 1, 2007

Myths about War

Ralph Peters believes that too many of us know too little history and so believe whatever's comfortable.  We've lived in safety and comfort too long to grasp what war means and instead believe in myths.

How many of the 12 Myths about 21st Century War  he writes about do you believe because you never really thought it  through?

Myth No. 1 War doesn't change anything.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:16 PM | Permalink

Making the Most of Doctor Visits

Too many people don't know how to go about Making the Most of Doctor Visits

Though medical information has never been more accessible to consumers, many patients still don't have the skills to talk to their doctors and cram all the questions they have about their health into a brief visit. They often ignore what they don't understand, or leave delicate but important issues to the end and then run out of time. So to help patients get answers, health-care officials are offering new discussion aids, providing sample questions patients can ask, and offering advice ranging from making a list of your drugs, to starting with the biggest questions first, to checking that a doctor has your lab results before going to an appointment.

Laura Landro who writes The Informed Patient column for The Wall Street Journal has put together some good practical tips.

1. Write down questions/issues for the doctor beforehand, in order of priority.
If it's a diagnostic visit, prepare a detailed list of symptoms
Bring a list of current medications and dosages.
Ask for decision-support aids, and print or reliable web-based information about condition and treatments.
Make sure before the visit that the doctor has received test results/reports from other labs or doctors.
If you're unsure whether you can effectively interact with the doctor, bring a family member or friend.
Take notes and/or ask the doctor if you can record the session for later review.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:14 AM | Permalink

"Unsuccessful Aging is Dying"

Ronni Bennett over at Time Goes By has posted a two-part interview with Dr. William Thomas, a young geriatrician and author of What are Old People For?

"What Are Old People For?: How Elders Will Save the World" (William H. Thomas)

Here is one excerpt.

We human beings live a long time after our reproductive peak. This is no accident. Our species took the necessity of aging and, from that, refined the virtues of elderhood. Elders are an integral, biologically determined element of the human cultural fabric and it is time they understood this role and begin to play their part.

And another on the two most important things he's learned from elders.

1. Wisdom lies in knowing what to overlook. 2. In the end, no one gets out alive and so, for the time we are here, it is all about relationships. Nothing else really matters.

Part One
Part Two

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:36 AM | Permalink

100 Huzzahs for Peggy

  Peggy 100 Paragliding

Grandmother celebrates 100th birthday by becoming world's oldest paraglider.

"I  was sitting in a chair floating above the mountains. I'm not scared at all.

"I love heights, I love climbing, I love getting up in the air. I hope to do this again when I am 105, but this might be my final goodbye to all my flying escapades," she said.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:01 AM | Permalink