October 3, 2017

Jordan Peterson's rules for being a man

Quora: If you could write a rule book for being a man, what "man law" would you write?  Jordan Peterson replied

  1. Encourage children through play.
  2. Promote the best in people.
  3. Keep the sacred fire burning.
  4. Guard the women and children from harm.
  5. Confront the eternal adversary.
  6. Build the crystal palace.
  7. Confront death with courage and return.
  8. Dare to cut down a tree.
  9. Offer your sons up as a sacrifice to God.
  10. Protect your daughters from exploitation.
  11. Store up wealth for the future.
  12. Consult the ancestral spirits.
  13. Read great books.
  14. Speak the truth about unpleasant things.
  15. Pay close attention.
  16. Make a worthy temple for the Lord.
  17. Keep the howling winds of winter at bay.
  18. Stand up for the oppressed.
  19. Be a prince of peace.
  20. Don’t be too civilized.
  21. Organize yourself with other men
  22. Be faithful to your wife.
  23. Be hospitable to friends and strangers.
  24. Rout the wolves and chase the lions so the shepherds can eat.
  25. Establish a destination – and a path.
  26. Bring heaven to earth.
  27. Take on the sins of the world.
  28. Dig the wells and mine the gold and copper.
  29. Gather everyone to the banquet.
  30. Grow up and take responsibility.
  31. Resist pride in all things.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:24 AM | Permalink

September 9, 2017

"Never shake a man’s hand sitting down"

Rules For My Son by Aaron Conrad

1. Never shake a man’s hand sitting down.

2. There are plenty of ways to enter a pool. The stairs ain’t one.

6. Request the late check-out.

7. When entrusted with a secret, keep it.

9. Return a borrowed car with a full tank of gas.

10. Don’t fill up on bread.

12. Don’t let a wishbone grow where a backbone should be.

13. If you need music on the beach, you’re missing the point.

14. Carry two handkerchiefs. The one in your back pocket is for you. The one in your breast pocket is for her.

15. You marry the girl, you marry her whole family.

25. Eat lunch with the new kid.

26. After writing an angry email, read it carefully. Then delete it.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:28 PM | Permalink

August 18, 2017

A Bout with Gout

The Pain Principle by Theodore Dalrymple

I know that the gratitude will not last, because gratitude can never be a chronic emotion. I will forget the pain within the week and take my painless toe for granted again. But still the episode illustrates the point that suffering is necessary for the full appreciation of life. Without some experience of it, we could hardly be aware that we were enjoying anything; and it is why it is so difficult to imagine heaven, where suffering does not and could not exist. We can all imagine, vividly, a thousand hells, but a single heaven is quite beyond our imagination to conceive. That is why the iconography of hell is varied and fascinating, that of heaven dull and boring.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:47 AM | Permalink

August 14, 2017

"Compliment your host, even if you strain the facts to do so."

Here are some selected maxims from “Teepee Etiquette" 


The Art of Manliness explains that they were published in 1912 as The Book of Woodcraft and Indian Lore.
The author Ernest Thompson Seton said he gathered these maxims on American Indian hospitality  “chiefly from observations of actual practice, but in many cases from formal precept.”

• Always assume that your guest is tired, cold, and hungry.
• Do not trouble your guest with many questions about himself; he will tell you what he wishes you to know.
• Always repay calls of courtesy; do not delay.
• Give your host a little present on leaving; little presents are little courtesies and never give offense.
• Say “Thank you” for every gift, however small.
• Compliment your host, even if you strain the facts to do so.
• In another man’s lodge follow his customs, not your own.
• Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, or even a stranger, if in a lonely place.
• Do not talk to your mother-in-law at any time, or let her talk to you.
• Show respect to all men, but grovel to none.
• Thank the Great Spirit for each meal.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:56 AM | Permalink

March 14, 2017

"If you count the tail as a leg, how many legs does a donkey have?”

In which a 100-year-old man gives advice to a 17-year-old Australian and teaches him the essential truth that objective truth exists.

Rudolfo spoke little to anyone but towards the end of the evening he approached me and said: “Stefano,” (35 years later and he remains the only person to have ever called me that) “Let me give you the same advice my father gave me as I set out on my path as a young man. He himself received the advice from his own father and it will aid you both as a lawyer and as a man.”

Rudolfo continued: “In all things in life be guided by the answer to the old riddle: If you count the tail as a leg, how many legs does a donkey have?” I  answered, “Five.”

The answer of course is not five, but four.

“It will always be four,” he said. “Calling a tail a leg does not make it one. Merely calling something or someone by a name or label does not make it so…things are what they are and the truth is always what it is. Pretending doesn’t change reality. Recognize all things for what they truly are and act according to that truth. “
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:19 PM | Permalink

July 20, 2016

Things I thought everyone knew

Reading helps us develop empathyReading a novel can help us understand other people's points of view 

Keith Oatley, a Professor Emeritus of the University of Toronto Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development in Canada, has conducted experiments on the effects of reading fiction.

‘Almost all human cultures create stories that, until now, have been rather dismissively called “entertainment....I think there is also something more important going on....Fiction can augment and help us understand our social experience....Narratives can even generate empathy for a race or culture that is dissimilar to one’s own.

‘What’s a piece of fiction, what’s a novel, what’s short story, what’s a play or movie or television series? It’s a piece of consciousness being passed from mind to mind.

Milk is the best drink to rehydrate and milk is the best way to soothe the pain of too-hot peppers     Holy cow! Researchers find drinking milk really does work best to extinguish the pain of a a red hot chili pepper

Experts say water and alcoholic drinks will only make the pain worse.  'Capsaicin is the chemical compound found in chile peppers that makes them taste hot,' said Paul Bosland, an NMSU Regents Professor and director of the Chile Pepper Institute. 'It turns out that milk has a protein in it that replaces the capsaicin on the receptors on your tongue.  It's really the quickest way to alleviate the burning feeling.'

Human beings resist being told what to do. Compulsory diversity training  appears to actually do more harm than good reports the Washington Post about a study from the Harvard Business School.  Women and minorities worst hit.

"If someone is supposed to sit there, psychologically they will be grumpy," she said. "They will not want to engage. This is what we do as human beings -- we resist control."

The authors point to a range of past social science studies that have shown that efforts to reduce prejudice can backfire -- actually increasing bias or leading to more hostility rather than less.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:41 PM | Permalink

May 6, 2016

Hilarious Ikea fail

Hilarious pictures show people butchering the most basic tasks

 Ikea Fail

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:24 PM | Permalink

January 6, 2016

Rules of Life for the rest of us

In the Guardian, Emer O'Toole tells us How to be a moderately successful person
"Practice these and you too can muddle along just fine."

Get up at a normal time
Only highly successful masochists get up before 7am by choice. I will accept 6.30am as an absolute limit for what constitutes a normal alarm setting. Similarly, try not to still be in bed at noon on Tuesdays.

Start every to-do list with “make a to-do list”
That way you can tick one thing off straightaway, which feels successful. I also find it helpful to lose the to-do list shortly after you make it, thus permitting yourself the illusion that you are getting things done, even if you are not. You can make a new list tomorrow.

Let yourself go a bit
I’m not talking caked vomit in your hair and jelly sandals. Just a healthy dollop of chill in the grooming department.

Eat normal things
Many of the moderately successful adhere to the following innovative diet plan: breakfast foods for breakfast, lunch foods for lunch, and dinner foods for dinner.

Practice obliviousness
Like mindfulness, except instead of acknowledging and accepting all your thoughts and emotions, you just ignore them and go about your day until something actually goes wrong.

Go places using your legs
After you get up at a normal time and eat your normal breakfast, perhaps you might consider going somewhere using your legs. It takes me 40 minutes to walk to work, and 25 minutes to get there on public transport. That’s an hour and 20 minutes of walking, but only 30 minutes out of my day. How’s that for time management, highly successful gym rats?

Be confused about what quality time means
If you cannot imagine a life in which you have to write your partner into your planner in case you forget to hang out with them, then you are well on the road to being moderately successful.

Accept your clutter
Some folks are messy. There’s worse things you could be. A serial killer for example, or one of those people who make their visitors use coasters.

The rule
This is the most important principle of any moderately successful person. Sometimes, when vicious deadlines are thundering towards you, your inbox is screaming, your phone is beeping like a rabid R2-D2, and it feels like the sky is about to come crashing down, you have to say: “Ah, fuck it.” Then, go for a bottle of wine with another moderately successful person, who is also saying “Ah, fuck it”, and talk about fun stuff like books and feminism and films and sex. Apply the “Ah, fuck it” rule and you can’t go too far wrong.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:11 PM | Permalink

July 30, 2015

Health Roundup: Longevity and Well-being

Want Great Longevity and Health? It Takes a Village in the Wall Street Journal
The secrets of the world’s longest-lived people include community, family, exercise and plenty of beans.

In a string of whitewashed villages in the mountains of the Italian island of Sardinia, there are 21 centenarians in a population of 10,000. Only about four in 10,000 Americans reach the 100-year mark. So what do the Sardinians know that our own diet-and-health obsessed country doesn’t?
The notion of a genetic advantage has been called into question. According to Dr. Pes, several studies have shown that the genetic markers of the centenarians—including markers associated with cardiovascular mortality, cancer and inflammation—don’t diverge significantly from those of the general population.
The cornerstone of every longevity diet in the world was the humble bean. One five-country study showed that beans were the only food that predicted a longer life—for each 20-gram serving (about two tablespoons) eaten a day, the chance of dying dropped by 8%. Fava beans in Sardinia, black beans in Costa Rica, lentils in Ikaria, soybeans in Okinawa. Seventh-Day Adventists, America’s longest-lived subculture, eat all kinds of beans, taking their cue from God’s injunction, in the book of Genesis, to eat the fruits of “seed-bearing plants.”
When it comes to longevity, the long-standing support of a community is significant. In the U.S., you’re likely to die eight years earlier if you’re lonely, compared with people who have strong social networks. In Sardinia, “One hand washes the other, and they both wash the face,” as Mr. Pinna told me, summing up the social symbiosis.
A fanatic zeal for family has also survived here. Neither work, hobbies, friends nor a sports team would ever divert serious attention away from a spouse or children. In turn, parents and grandparents move serenely into old age, secure in the knowledge that their children will care for them. There are no retirement homes here.
they lived in cultures that made the right decisions for them. They lived in places where fresh vegetables were cheap and accessible. Their kitchens were set up so that making healthy food was quick and easy. Almost every trip to the store, a friend’s house, work or school occasioned a walk. Their houses didn’t have mechanized conveniences to do house work, kitchen work or yard work; they did it by hand. People in the blue zones were nudged into physical activity every 20 minutes, my team estimated. This activity not only burned 500 to 1,000 calories a day; it also kept their metabolisms humming at a higher rate.

Drink tea.  Warm or iced Two cups of tea a day "dramatically increases longevity in women". It's the flavonoids that seem to protect against the ravages of heart disease and cancer.  Flavonoids are health-boosting plant compounds that are found in chocolate, fruit, red wine and coffee; however, tea made the biggest contribution to the flavonoid count in the 1000 women over 75 studied….Previous research has credited flavonoids a host of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, cutting the risk of dangerous blood clots and strengthening bones. 

Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation 'as bad as smoking'

Prof Russell Foster, a neuroscientist from the University of Oxford, said lack of sleep is damaging the health of the nation, with too many early risers trying to function with brain skills so damaged they could be drunk.
The comments follow studies which suggest that working night shifts speeds up the ageing process, and is linked to increasing risks of cancer, heart disease and type two diabetes.
“We see this too much with really senior people,” he said. “Lack of sleep damages a whole host of skills - empathy, processing information, ability to handle people, but right at the top of the chain you get overly impulsive, impaired thinking, because of this problem.”
Last year French research showed the brains of workers who had done night shifts for about 10 years had aged by an extra 6 and a half years…..Lack of sleep has been linked with factors such as disrupted metabolism and raised levels of the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol, all of which may lead to higher blood pressure and increased stroke risk.

Shape up .Unhealthy lifestyle can knock 23 years off lifespan

Suffering from heart disease, stroke and type two diabetes could knock 23 years off life and yet they are preventably for eight out of 10 people. It is estimated that around 80 per cent of cases could be prevented by keeping weight under control, exercising more, eating a healthy diet, and not smoking or drinking too much.

For a man in his 40s, suffering from all three conditions reduces life by 23 years. It means that a 40-year-old's life expectancy would drop from 78 to just 55. Likewise someone in their 60s could lose 15 years, meaning a 60-year-old man might have just three years of life left.

Drinking and smoking 'raises dementia risk'
Drinking and smoking may raise the risk of dementia in later life because they shrink key parts of the brain.
Obesity, diabetes, smoking and drinking are each associated with smaller volumes of grey matter in crucial parts of the brain linked to memory, the researchers found.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:37 PM | Permalink

May 15, 2015

Miscellany 13

The Uyuni Salt Flats:  Where Land is Indistinguishable from Sky.  Video at the link

 Uyuni Salt Flats

The most incredible treehouses in the world

It's Just Like Hogwarts! What makes Gothic architecture so magical?

 Christ Church Hall Oxford
Christ Church Hall at Oxford

Colorblind People See A Rainbow For The First Time With These Special Glasses

The Spy Among Us  A transcript of Steve Kroft's piece on 60 Minutes.  Jack Barsky held a job at some of the top corporations in the U.S. and lived a seemingly normal life -- all while spying for the Soviet Union.  So how did he quit the KGB without getting killed?

Barsky said: "There's three things I tell people that the Russians were afraid of. AIDS, Jewish people and Ronald Reagan." 

He wrote them a letter saying he had AIDS and the only place he could get treatment was in the U.S. And then the FBI moved next door.

The Curious Case of $2 Bills in Ecuador

They are in such demand that there is a black market where you can buy and sell them for double or triple their face value depending on the bill’s condition. Everyone wants them. Some stores have them on display underneath glass and discretely operate exchanges.

“They bring us good luck. If you keep a $2 bill with you it will bring more money,”

How to Drink Like a Saint  With moderation, gratitude, memory, merriment and ritual.

 Drinking Monk  Eduard Grutzner

Spiders fall from the sky in Australia leaving what enthusiasts call 'Angel Hair'

 Spiders Leave Angelhair

“What happens is that during a particular time of the year, particularly in May and August, young spiders in the Outback somewhere throw these threads of spiderwebs up in the air and use them as a parachute to detach themselves from the ground and move in large colonies through the sky,” Mr Basterfield explained.

“They fly through the sky and then we see these falls of spider webs that look almost as if it’s snowing.

In the Atlantic.  The Wedding Sting When a police department  lured all the drug dealers to one big party.

By 9:00 p.m. the party was in full swing, but behind the scenes was pure tension: Sweaty hands gripped weapons. Synchronized watches were checked. The band knew it was time to give the signal and began to play the song: “I Fought The Law (and the Law Won).”

Williams reached into her garter and felt for her revolver. Shooter jumped onto the stage, and grabbed the mic.

“Let’s have some fun,” he shouted. “Everybody here that’s a cop, stand up!”

A dozen undercover officers rose to their feet as uniformed detectives burst through the door.

“Okay!” Shooter yelled. “All the rest of you motherf***** put your hands on the table, because you’re under arrest! This is a bust!”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:40 PM | Permalink

March 13, 2015

Mind your manners

In the New York Times, A Manners Manifesto and a recipe for egg drop soup.

For 4,000 years, humans have implored one another to mind their manners. I am personally invested in the crusade for two reasons. First, my brother and I were raised by a man who, as a child, was sent from the table hungry if he so much as slouched. At my own table growing up, when we small savages a) failed to put our napkins in our laps; b) ate before everyone was served; c) served ourselves first; d) opened our mouths while chewing; e) moved our forks from the left to the right hand; f) ate with our hands; g) failed to say please, thank you or excuse me; h) put our elbows on the table; i) did not ask permission to stand; or j) failed to eat soup properly (a nearly impossible task, requiring always spooning away, sipping noiselessly while sitting bolt upright, obtaining any final spoonfuls by a discreet tip of the bowl), we were ordered to push back from the table and contemplate our philistinism for several monstrous minutes before we could return, rehabilitated, to try again.
In the democratic present, perhaps the way to distinguish useful etiquette from frippery is to discern which rules help us be good rather than seem good. Serving others first is plainly charitable. Filling companions’ glasses, waiting to eat, giving another the last of the stew, chewing with a closed mouth — each is a basic acknowledgment of togetherness. Perhaps the consequential lesson in the matter of holding your fork, etc., is that customs differ at different tables in different lands, and that there is a certain intelligence in doing as is done. In other words, whatever unites merits keeping, and what divides can be folded and stored away with the linen too old and ornamental to use.
True courtesy will instinctively check faddish manners at the door in the interest of kindness — which is the root from which the entire family tree of courteous behavior, from the noble Egyptian’s papyrus on, has sprung.

A few  quotes from Miss Manners

"The dinner table is the center for the teaching and practicing not just of table manners but of conversation, consideration, tolerance, family feeling, and just about all the other accomplishments of polite society except the minuet."

"The lack of agreement about manners results in an anger-ridden, chaotic society, where each trivial act is interpreted as a revelation of the moral philosophy of the individual actor…"

"Ideological differences are no excuse for rudeness."

In a 1995 interview by Virginia Shea, Miss Manners said,

“You can deny all you want that there is etiquette, and a lot of people do in everyday life.  But if you behave in a way that offends the people you're trying to deal with, they will stop dealing with you…There are plenty of people who say, 'We don't care about etiquette, but we can't stand the way so-and-so behaves, and we don't want him around!' Etiquette doesn't have the great sanctions that the law has.  But the main sanction we do have is in not dealing with these people and isolating them because their behavior is unbearable.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:45 PM | Permalink

March 12, 2015

Johnny Cash as an Icon for Lent

From The Catholic Gentleman - A Johnny Cash Lent
If I could go back eleven years ago and talk to my younger self I’d give a lot of advice; “See a therapist, don’t stop taking your medication, and try to go for a walk once-in-a-while.”  However, I think I’d more likely tell my young, idiot self, the wisdom of The Man in Black, “It takes a real man to live for God—a lot more man than to live for the devil.”

 Johnnie Cash
"I have tried drugs and a little of everything else, and there is nothing in the world more soul-satisfying
than having the kingdom of God building inside you and growing,"  Johnny Cash

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:41 PM | Permalink

February 9, 2015

"Key to financial success: cheap housing"

Jonathan Clements gives us his parting words of wisdom in the WSJ. How to Live a Happier Financial Life 

With my final 750 words, here are five notions that—I believe—are indispensable to a happier financial life.

Biggest time waster: commuting.  I have come to view the classic trade-off—accepting a long commute as the price of a big house in the ’burbs—as a pact with the devil. Indeed, research suggests commuting is terrible for happiness. One example: A study in Sweden found that a long commute increases the risk that a couple will separate by 40%.

Best investment attribute: humility.  ….If you want to notch decent returns, put your ego aside and put your money in broadly diversified index funds with rock-bottom annual expenses.

Key to financial success: cheap housing.  A third of the money spent by the typical household goes toward housing. Add car payments and other transportation costs, and you’re at more than half. My advice: Try to keep those two costs well below 50% of your income, especially in your early adult years.

The less you spend each month on housing, cars, utilities and other fixed costs, the less financial stress you’ll suffer. You’ll also have more money for discretionary “fun” spending, be in better shape if you lose your job, and need less income to sustain your standard of living once retired…..

Best way to spend money: experiences.  My advice: Use your spare cash for experiences, not possessions. Pay for the family vacation. Go to a concert. Head out to dinner with friends. This will strike many as counterintuitive. Possessions seem appealing, because they have lasting value, while experiences leave us with nothing tangible.

But this is also the reason experiences can bring more happiness: We have not only the event itself, but also the anticipation before and the fond memories after—and those memories aren’t soiled by the messy reality of some object that gets dirty, breaks down and is eventually discarded.

Top financial goal: not working for money.  Avoid the acquisition treadmill of bigger homes and better cars, and instead save like crazy in your 20s and 30s. Do that, and you could buy yourself the freedom to spend the rest of your life on your terms, rather than one dictated by car leases, credit-card bills and mortgage payments.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:16 PM | Permalink

February 2, 2015

Groundhog Day

Because Groundhog Day is one of my favorite movies of all time, I want to quote from Jonah Goldberg's classic column on A Movie for All Time Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, Groundhog Day scores.

A far more important one is why the day repeats itself and why it stops repeating at the end. Because the viewer is left to draw his own conclusions, we have what many believe is the best cinematic moral allegory popular culture has produced in decades — perhaps ever.

Interpretations of this central mystery vary. But central to all is a morally complicated and powerful story arc to the main character. When Phil Connors arrives in Punxsutawney, he’s a perfect representative of the Seinfeld generation: been-there-done-that. When he first realizes he’s not crazy and that he can, in effect, live forever without consequences — if there’s no tomorrow, how can you be punished? — he indulges his adolescent self. He shoves cigarettes and pastries into his face with no fear of love-handles or lung cancer. “I am not going to play by their rules any longer,” he declares as he goes for a drunk-driving spree. He uses his ability to glean intelligence about the locals to bed women with lies. When that no longer gratifies, he steals money and gets kinky, dressing up and play-acting. When Andie MacDowell sees him like this she quotes a poem by Sir Walter Scott: “The wretch, concentrated all in self / Living, shall forfeit fair renown / And, doubly dying, shall go down / To the vile dust, from whence he sprung / Unwept, unhonoured, and unsung.”

Connors cackles at her earnestness. “You don’t like poetry?” She asks. “I love poetry,” he replies, “I just thought that was Willard Scott.”

Still, Connors schemes to bed Rita with the same techniques he used on other women, and fails, time and again. When he realizes that his failures stem not from a lack of information about Rita’s desires but rather from his own basic hollowness, he grows suicidal.
The point is that Connors slowly realizes that what makes life worth living is not what you get from it, but what you put into it. He takes up the piano. He reads poetry — no longer to impress Rita, but for its own sake. He helps the locals in matters great and small, including catching a boy who falls from a tree every day. “You never thank me!” he yells at the fleeing brat. He also discovers that there are some things he cannot change, that he cannot be God. The homeless man whom Connors scorns at the beginning of the film becomes an obsession of his at the end because he dies every Groundhog Day. Calling him “pop” and “dad,” Connors tries to save him but never can.

By the end of the film, Connors is no longer obsessed with bedding Rita. He’s in love with her, without reservation and without hope of his affection being requited. Only in the end, when he completely gives up hope, does he in fact “get” the woman he loves. And with that, with her love, he finally wakes on February 3, the great wheel of life no longer stuck on Groundhog Day. As NR’s own Rick Brookhiser explains it, “The curse is lifted when Bill Murray blesses the day he has just lived. And his reward is that the day is taken from him. Loving life includes loving the fact that it goes.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:30 PM | Permalink

July 23, 2014

Advice from Andrei Tarkovsky, one of the greatest film-makers of all time

From Brainpickings, Tarkovsky’s Advice to the Young: Learn to Enjoy Your Own Company

 Andrei Tarkovsky  What would you like to tell people?

I don’t know… I think I’d like to say only that they should learn to be alone and try to spend as much time as possible by themselves. I think one of the faults of young people today is that they try to come together around events that are noisy, almost aggressive at times. This desire to be together in order to not feel alone is an unfortunate symptom, in my opinion. Every person needs to learn from childhood how to be spend time with oneself. That doesn’t mean he should be lonely, but that he shouldn’t grow bored with himself because people who grow bored in their own company seem to me in danger, from a self-esteem point of view.

From Wikipedia Andrei  Tarkovsky, a Russian film-maker is widely regarded as one of the greatest film-makers of all time.

His films include Ivan's Childhood, Andrei Rublev, Solaris, The Mirror, and Stalker. He directed the first five of his seven feature films in the Soviet Union; his last two films, Nostalgia and The Sacrifice, were produced in Italy and Sweden, respectively. ….Tarkovsky's films are characterized by metaphysical themes, extremely long takes, and memorable images of exceptional beauty….

Ingmar Bergman said,  "Tarkovsky for me is the greatest (director), the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream."

The only film of his I've seen is Andrei Rublev, about the famous Russian icon painter and it was an extraordinary experience.  The Guardian calls it  The best arthouse film of all time

Viewers and critics always have their personal favourites, but some films achieve a masterpiece status that becomes unanimously agreed upon – something that's undoubtedly true of Andrei Rublev, even though it's a film that people often feel they don't, or won't get. It is 205 minutes long (in its fullest version), in Russian, and in black and white. Few characters are clearly identified, little actually happens, and what does happen isn't necessarily in chronological order. Its subject is a 15th-century icon painter and national hero, yet we never see him paint, nor does he do anything heroic. In many of the film's episodes, he is not present at all, and in the latter stages, he takes a vow of silence. But in a sense, there is nothing to "get" about Andrei Rublev. It is not a film that needs to be processed or even understood, only experienced and wondered at.

From the first scene, following the flight of a rudimentary hot air balloon, we're whisked away by silken camera moves and stark compositions to a time and place where we're no less confused, amazed or terrified than Rublev himself. For the next three hours, we're down in the muck and chaos of medieval Russia, carried along on the tide of history through gruesome Tartar raids, bizarre pagan rituals, famine, torture and physical hardship. We experience life on every scale, from raindrops falling on a river to armies ransacking a town, often within the same, unbroken shot.

Despite its apparent formlessness, Andrei Rublev is precisely structured and entirely aesthetically coherent. Acts of creation are mirrored by acts of destruction, there are themes of flight, of vision, of presence and absence; the more you look, the more you see. And then there are the horses, Tarkovsky's perennial favourite: horses rolling over, horses charging into battle, swimming in the river, falling down stairs, dragging men out of churches. At times the screen resembles a vast Brueghel painting come to life, or a medieval tapestry unrolling. We're always conscious of life spilling out beyond the frame, and never conscious of the fact that this was made in 60s USSR…..

We don't necessarily know, or need to know, how Andrei Rublev works or what it's telling us, but by the end we're in no doubt it's succeeded. When in the final minutes, the film pulls off its most famous flourish: the screen bursts into colour and we're finally ready to see Rublev's paintings in extreme close-up – coming at the end of this epic journey, they can reduce a viewer to tears. As the camera pores over the details, the tiny jewels on the hem of a robe, the lines forming a pitiful expression on the face of an angel, the tarnished gilding of a halo, we feel like we understand everything that's gone into every brushstroke. We're reminded of what beauty is. It is as close to transcendence as cinema gets.

 Andrey Rublev Movie

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:37 PM | Permalink

July 21, 2014

Brandoli's law

Brandolini’s law

 Brandoli's Law

Attributed to Alberto Brandolini, an Italian independent software development consultant who tweeted on January 11, 2013

"The bullshit asymmetry: the amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it."

— ziobrando (@ziobrando)

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:00 PM | Permalink

July 7, 2014

Cheat at life. Game the system

4 Life Lessons That Lead to Happiness, Success and Longevity  Eric Barker asks

What do you learn about what makes a good life? About what makes us all happy? What makes us thrive? What leads to success? And what doesn’t?  This isn’t just a thought experiment.  The Grant Study followed a group of 268 men for 75 years. The Terman Study started in 1921 with 1528 children and is still ongoing.  So when we look at these studies, what life lessons can we learn to make sure our own lives are more fulfilling, happy and successful?

1.  "Happiness is love,  Full Stop"

George Valliant on the Grant Study.  Having a large social network and nurturing relationships adds years to your life…."That the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.” ….. From the Terman study :  Those with warm relationships made more money. . . Getting help from friends didn’t make you thrive. Giving help to friends is what led to a long life.

2) Being Laid-Back And Stress-Free… Will Kill You

People with low motivation actually die younger….People who are unpressured don’t thrive. The Terman Study found those who work hard are healthier and happier…..In fact a number of longitudinal studies agree on the quality most connected to a long and successful life: conscientiousness.

3) Be Optimistic… With A Little Bit Of Worrying

As a general rule, optimism increases life satisfaction….Happy people assume things will be okay — even when they won’t. Sometimes you need to face reality and address it.  The Grant Study confirms that being neurotic reduces life satisfaction. However, moderate worrying can extend your life….

4) There Is Always Hope.

Vaillant concludes that a loving childhood is one of the best predictors of mid and late-life riches: “We found that contentment in the late seventies was not even suggestively associated with parental social class or even the man’s own income. What it was significantly associated with was warmth of childhood environment, and it was very significantly associated with a man’s closeness to his father.”…..The Terman Study realized that “Parental divorce during childhood was the single strongest social predictor of early death.”

…. What both studies also show is that people can change, they can overcome and things missing in childhood can be gained later.
The Grant Study showed that happy marriages can repair the damage of difficult childhoods.

Barker concludes,  "Sometimes we feel cheated by life, now’s the chance to cheat at life. This is the closest thing we have to the answers to the test.  So game the system. Learn from the life stories of others and make sure your life story has a happy ending."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:21 PM | Permalink

June 20, 2014

"It is believed he will retire to private life"

20th December 1924: “Hitler Tamed By Prison”  via American Digest


Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:24 PM | Permalink

April 1, 2014

5. Watch 'Groundhog Day' Repeatedly

Charles Murray in the Wall Street Journal with Advice for a Happy Life

1. Consider Marrying Young

Merger marriages are what you tend to see on the weddings pages of the Sunday New York Times: highly educated couples in their 30s, both people well on their way to success. Lots of things can be said in favor of merger marriages. The bride and groom may be more mature, less likely to outgrow each other or to feel impelled, 10 years into the marriage, to make up for their lost youth.

What are the advantages of a startup marriage? For one thing, you will both have memories of your life together when it was all still up in the air. You'll have fun remembering the years when you went from being scared newcomers to the point at which you realized you were going to make it.

Even more important, you and your spouse will have made your way together. Whatever happens, you will have shared the experience. And each of you will know that you wouldn't have become the person you are without the other.

Many merger marriages are happy, but a certain kind of symbiosis, where two people become more than the sum of the individuals, is perhaps more common in startups.

2. Learn How to Recognize Your Soul Mate

Marry someone with similar tastes and preferences. Which tastes and preferences? The ones that will affect life almost every day…..What you see is what you're going to get. If something about your prospective spouse bothers you but you think that you can change your beloved after you're married, you're wrong. Be prepared to live with whatever bothers you—or forget it.
It is absolutely crucial that you really, really like your spouse. You hear it all the time from people who are in great marriages: "I'm married to my best friend." They are being literal. A good working definition of "soul mate" is "your closest friend, to whom you are also sexually attracted."…

A good marriage is the best thing that can ever happen to you. Above all else, realize that this cliché is true. The downside risks of marrying—and they are real—are nothing compared with what you will gain from a good one.

3. Eventually Stop Fretting About Fame and Fortune

Fame and wealth do accomplish something: They cure ambition anxiety. But that's all. It isn't much.

4. Take Religion Seriously

Start by jarring yourself out of unreflective atheism or agnosticism. A good way to do that is to read about contemporary cosmology. The universe isn't only stranger than we knew; it is stranger and vastly more unlikely than we could have imagined, and we aren't even close to discovering its last mysteries. That reading won't lead you to religion, but it may stop you from being unreflective.

Find ways to put yourself around people who are profoundly religious. You will encounter individuals whose intelligence, judgment and critical faculties are as impressive as those of your smartest atheist friends—and who also possess a disquieting confidence in an underlying reality behind the many religious dogmas.

They have learned to reconcile faith and reason, yes, but beyond that, they persuasively convey ways of knowing that transcend intellectual understanding. They exhibit in their own personae a kind of wisdom that goes beyond just having intelligence and good judgment.

5. Watch 'Groundhog Day' Repeatedly

The movie "Groundhog Day" was made more than two decades ago, but it is still smart and funny. It is also a brilliant moral fable that deals with the most fundamental issues of virtue and happiness, done with such subtlety that you really need to watch it several times.
Without the slightest bit of preaching, the movie shows the bumpy, unplanned evolution of his protagonist from a jerk to a fully realized human being—a person who has learned to experience deep, lasting and justified satisfaction with life even though he has only one day to work with.

You could learn the same truths by studying Aristotle's "Ethics" carefully, but watching "Groundhog Day" repeatedly is a lot more fun.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:27 PM | Permalink

December 18, 2013

Life lessons you learn in your twenties

27 Shocking And Unexpected Facts You Learn In Your Twenties
Spoiler alert for life: You were wrong about literally everything.

4. There is nothing in the world more annoying than teenagers, and you’re deeply apologetic for everything you did during the last decade of your life.

8. If you don’t do your dishes, they stay dirty. If you don’t do your laundry, you have no underwear.
It is shameful that this took over two decades to learn.

17. At some point you have to begrudgingly admit that keeping track of your finances is probably a good idea.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:23 PM | Permalink

November 22, 2013

Seven years of Brain Pickings

Brainpickings  Brain Pickings is a delightful, weekly and free "interestingness digest." that comes out on Sundays.

Maria Popova writes

On October 23, 2006, I sent a short email to a few friends at work — one of the four jobs I held while paying my way through college — with the subject line “brain pickings,” announcing my intention to start a weekly digest featuring five stimulating things to learn about each week, from a breakthrough in neuroscience to a timeless piece of poetry. “It should take no more than 4 minutes (hopefully much less) to read,” I promised. This was the inception of Brain Pickings. At the time, I neither planned nor anticipated that this tiny experiment would one day be included in the Library of Congress digital archive of “materials of historical importance” and the few friends would become millions of monthly readers all over the world…..

Happy Birthday, Brain Pickings: 7 Things I Learned in 7 Years of Reading, Writing, and Living  

Here are seven things I’ve learned in seven years of making those choices, of integrating “work” and life in such inextricable fusion, and in chronicling this journey of heart, mind and spirit — a journey that took, for whatever blessed and humbling reason, so many others along for the ride. I share these here not because they apply to every life and offer some sort of blueprint to existence, but in the hope that they might benefit your own journey in some small way, bring you closer to your own center, or even simply invite you to reflect on your own sense of purpose.

1.  Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind. 

2.  Do nothing for prestige or status or money or approval alone. 

3.  Be generous

4.  Build pockets of stillness into your life. 

5,  When people try to tell you who you are, don't believe them. 

6.  Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity. 

7.  Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.
………….As I’ve reflected elsewhere, the flower doesn’t go from bud to blossom in one spritely burst and yet, as a culture, we’re disinterested in the tedium of the blossoming. But that’s where all the real magic unfolds in the making of one’s character and destiny.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:08 PM | Permalink

September 9, 2013

Some good advice for college students

Walter Russell Mead gives some good advice for those college students heading Back to School

1.  The real world does not work like school.
Life in school is life in bureaucracy.  You follow the rules, do what you are told, and rewards follow.
….  You have to fight the tendency of the educational system to turn you into a timeserving baby bureaucrat, following the rules and waiting for the inevitable promotion.  As you go through college, think about ways you can fight the pressures of institutionalization.  Work or volunteer — not just for money, but to keep your hand in the real world.  Live off campus.  Start a business.  Shake things up.

2.  Most of your elders know very little about the world into which you are headed.
  In the old days, you got the right degree from the right school, got a job with a good employer and rose steadily through the ranks through a long and increasingly distinguished career.  At the end you had a safe pension.
Almost certainly, this is not going to happen to you.  At times, your career is going to feel like Eliza’s run for freedom across the half-frozen Ohio river — jumping from ice floe to ice floe with the hounds of hell behind you.  It won’t be all bad; there are rewards to this kind of life as well as risks, but you are going to need a different outlook on life and a different set of skills to cope.

3.  You are going to have to work much, much harder than you probably expect.
I’m sorry to bring you bad news, but your generation faces the toughest competition any American generation has ever known.
Your competition isn’t sitting in the next library carrel.  Your competition is in China and India – and your competition isn’t hanging out at frat parties or sitting around watching sitcoms with dorm-mates.  It isn’t getting stoned and it isn’t putting its energy into chasing the opposite (or apposite) sex.  Your competition isn’t taking lots of courses on gender studies; it isn’t majoring in ethnic studies, or (unless it is planning to go into movie making) the history of film.
Your competition is working hard, damned hard, and is deadly serious about learning.  There’s nothing written in the stars that guarantees Americans a higher standard of living than other people.  Those of you who spend your college years goofing off in the traditional American way are going to pay a much higher price for this than you think….

4. Choosing the right courses is more important than choosing the right college.
Your generation is going to have to scramble and you need every edge you can get.  Your generation can’t afford to throw these four years away; choose your courses carefully and seriously. Everybody has different needs; aspiring movie makers and aspiring physicists aren’t going to take all that many classes together, but there are some basic concepts that make sense….

5.  Get a traditional liberal education; it is the only thing that will do you any good.
In times of rapid change, it is paradoxically more useful to immerse yourself in the basics and the classics than to try to keep up with the latest developments and hottest trends.  You can be almost 100% sure that the hot theories making waves in academia today will be forgotten or superseded in twenty years — but fifty years from now people will still be reading and thinking about the classic texts that have shaped our world.  Use your college years to ground yourself in the basic great books and key ideas and values that will last.

For the same reason, don’t worry too much about getting specific skills at this stage.  You are going to keep learning new skills all your life and you are going to find many of your skills obsolete as time goes on (when I was a kid I was very good at operating something called a mimeograph machine).  What you want to do now is to develop your ability to learn…..First, getting a liberal education means you have to achieve literacy in math and at least in one science – and come to grips with the scientific method.  ……Second, study the basic ideas, debates, books, people and events of the western world – with special attention to the Anglo-American subset of the western tradition.  You can’t understand other people’s cultures and traditions until you understand the one that surrounds you.  Art, literature and music are part of this.  Don’t neglect them.
Third, study the United States: its history, regions, culture, politics, literature and economy.  You would be surprised how many highly educated people have never seriously studied (or traveled much in) their own country.  Don’t make that mistake – and study the parts of the US you don’t know.

Fourth, study at least one language and at least one culture that is alien to you.  Pick a language that opens the door to a big world: Mandarin, Hindi, Arabic, German, the Romance languages (if you get really good in one of these last you will have a surprisingly easy time dealing with others).  …

Fifth, learn to write well.  This paradoxically is going to be more important than ever for the next generation.  I can’t tell you how many editors at how many famous magazines have told me over the years that most professors and academics simply cannot write, and bemoan the immense amount of time they must devote to impose some kind of intellectual structure and comprehensible prose on the crabbed drafts they get from, often, fairly well known people.

Finally, unless you are following up on an interest that is already a deep and passionate one, try to take courses taught by great teachers.  The main purpose of an undergraduate education isn’t to polish up your knowledge and finish your learning.  It is to launch you on a lifetime quest for wisdom and understanding.  You want professors who can help you fall in love with new subjects, new ideas, new ways of investigating the world.  The courses that end up mattering the most to you will be the ones that start you on a lifetime of reading and reflection.

6.  Character counts; so do good habits.
One of the weaknesses in contemporary college education is that many teachers and administrators don’t think enough about the need that students have for moral education: reflection on right and wrong, the development of good habits that make good decisions easier to make and easier to stick with, a healthy spiritual grounding that can see you through the storms of life, and the kind of self knowledge that can only come from a life of serious moral engagement and thoughtful reflection.

Character and spiritual grounding are going to count much more in the tumultuous, uncertain environment that is approaching than in the more stable and bureaucratic world of the past.  ……There may be chaplains at your school who can help you with this side of life.  There may be courses on personal ethics; there may be faculty who you feel have something to teach as mentors and role models.  There are other students who have qualities that you wish you had — and there are student groups who read, pray, meditate and act together to help their members grow.  Seek out the people, the communities, the experiences that can help you grow.  College should be a time of spiritual as well as intellectual and career development and growth and you will be missing an essential element of your education if you do not engage with the world of faith and religion during your college years.

7.  Relax.
If you take this advice, you may still come out of school with too much debt — and the fields that interest you may be hard to break into, and the financial rewards less than you may have expected.  But you will be able to cope: you will have the education, the habits and the character traits that will enable to you find new opportunities and new careers even as old ones fade away.  And whatever happens to your bank account, your journey through life will be a rich and rewarding one if you come out of college with a good liberal education and a lifelong love of learning.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:12 AM | Permalink

August 19, 2013

Workers spill the dark secrets of their industries UPDATED

From Business Insider, Workers Spill The Dark Secrets Of Their Industries That Companies Don't Want You To Know About


Big chain bookstores throw massive amounts of books away…..
I almost cried the first time I had to rip up a load of kid's books (in a city with high child poverty rates and underfunded schools).


"I work on a farm. When they say you should wash your produce thoroughly at home, they're not joking."


"I work for a UPS store. Here is a few things I have learned since working here…Writing fragile on your package means nothing…..Your package WILL get thrown around, dropped, and beaten up.

Fine dining

"Fine dining cook here. 30% of your meal is butter. That's why it's so good."

UPDATE from Quora, What's something that is common knowledge at your work place, but will be mind blowing to the rest of us?

Movie theaters

Movie theaters are not in movie business they are in Candy Business.  More than 85% and in some cases 100% of the revenue from ticket sales goes to the movie producers. The real profit for the movie theater comes from the largely overpriced popcorn and coke that is sold.

Car Insurance

Most people are shocked when I tell them that your credit score is BY FAR the most predictive of car insurance claims

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:42 PM | Permalink

August 10, 2013

Techno-brain clutter

How Clutter Affects Your Brain and What You Can Do About It

Clutter Isn’t Just Physical

Files on your computer, notifications from your Twitter and Facebook accounts, and anything that goes “ping” in the night competes for your attention. This creates a digital form of clutter that erodes your ability to focus and perform creative tasks. Mark Hurst, author of Bit Literacy, a New York Times best seller on controlling the flow of information in the digital age, put it best when he said:

When you have to-do items constantly floating around in your head or you hear a ping or vibrate every few minutes from your phone, your brain doesn’t get a chance to fully enter creative flow or process experiences. When your brain has too much on its plate, it splits its power up. The result? You become awful at: filtering information, switching quickly between tasks and keeping a strong working memory.

The overconsumption of digital stuff has the same effect on your brain as physical clutter.

 Brain Clutter

Cluttered brain, too much on your mind

David Somers, an associate psychology professor who researches in the BU Center for Neuroscience, pointed to brain clutter as a larger public health concern. 

“Brain clutter is responsible for many of the things we forget – either because we didn’t fully pay attention or because we got distracted when we were supposed to remember,” he said. “Brain clutter is responsible for car accidents and many other sorts of mistakes that we make. These problems are much more severe in clinical populations – ADHD, schizophrenia, OCD, Alzheimer’s – all have major attentional components.”

Somers also identified habits such as compulsively checking one’s Facebook or reading text messages as a self-generated, technological form of brain clutter.  Even in the absence of a cue that we’ve got new mail or texts, we obsessively check,” he said. “This really cuts into our productivity. This techno-brain clutter is a learned phenomena, it is rather like an addiction, and frequently interrupts us with little conscious awareness that we’ve stopped our tasks.

There are drugs like Adderall to deal with this, but, by far, the most effective treatment for distraction is developing the habit of spending time daily in meditation or prayer.  I've found both clears the mind, settles it down and brings peace.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:22 AM | Permalink

July 25, 2013

What the rich do and the poor don't

From Dave Ramsey  20 Things The Rich Do Every Day

1. 70% of wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calories per day. 97% of poor people eat more than 300 junk food calories per day. 23% of wealthy gamble. 52% of poor people gamble. 

2. 80% of wealthy are focused on accomplishing some single goal. Only 12% of the poor do this.

3. 76% of wealthy exercise aerobically 4 days a week. 23% of poor do this. 

4. 63% of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5% for poor people.

5. 81% of wealthy maintain a to-do list vs. 19% for poor. 

6. 63% of wealthy parents make their children read 2 or more non-fiction books a month vs. 3% for poor.

7. 70% of wealthy parents make their children volunteer 10 hours or more a month vs. 3% for poor.

8. 80% of wealthy make hbd (Happy Birthday) calls vs. 11% of poor

9. 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% for poor
17. 84% of wealthy believe good habits create opportunity luck vs. 4% for poor.

18. 76% of wealthy believe bad habits create detrimental luck vs. 9% for poor.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:30 AM | Permalink

April 13, 2013

Ennobling the art of practice

The surprising secrets of great master coaches in Great Teaching and Great Learning

Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code, is known for propagating the thesis that the brain substance myelin -- rather than genes or an undefinable innate talent -- is responsible for exceptional human performance. He believes that myelin production -- and consequent excellence, be it in music, sport, writing, or indeed any human endeavor -- can be stimulated by the application of three elements: what he calls "deep practice" (extreme repetition), "ignition" (passionate desire), and "master coaching."

But how to recognize a master coach?

  1. Master teachers love detail. They worship precision. They relish the small, careful, everyday move.
  2. They devise spectacularly repetitive exercises to help develop that detail — and make those exercises seem not just worthwhile, but magical. As Denk writes, “Imagine that you are scrubbing the grout in your bathroom and are told that  removing every last particle of mildew will somehow enable you to deliver the Gettysburg Address.”
  3. They spend 90 percent of their time directing students toward what is plainly obvious. They spend the other 10 percent igniting imagination as to what is possible.
  4. They walk a thin line between challenging and supporting. They destroy complacency without destroying confidence. This is tricky territory, and requires empathy and understanding on both sides — particularly when it comes to understanding the moment when it’s time to move on.
  5. They do not teach lessons; they teach how to work. As Denk writes, they “ennoble the art of practice.” (Isn’t that a fantastic phrase?)
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:50 AM | Permalink

April 8, 2013

"What are the most important lessons you have learned over your life?”

In the Harvard Gazette,  Karl Pillemer of Cornell University offers Lessons from the long-lived

Pillemer is a gerontologist who had a revelation when he realized his research was “entirely focused on older people as problems.”

But Pillemer, who is also a professor of human development at Cornell University, remembered that his job also engages him with “vibrant, engaged, healthy, exciting, and active older people.”

The paradox intrigued him, as did the countless surveys conducted over the past 10 years revealing that the elderly tend to be significantly happier than people decades younger. That knowledge, combined with what he called a “disturbing sense that we lost an age-old and time-honored activity of not just asking older people for stories, but asking for their actual advice for living,” led him to create the Legacy Project, a study of almost 1,500 people, ranging from their 70s to over 100, who shared their wisdom about life. His work resulted in the 2011 book “30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans.”

Karl Pillemer's research began with a simple question: "What are the most important lessons you have learned over your life?”

His insights neatly summarized at Business Insider

1) Remember that life is short.
...One unanimous refrain included just three simple words: Life is short.

2) For career? Do what you enjoy.
…...“Based on this extremely acute awareness of the shortness of life, everybody argued you should find work you love; work ought to be chosen for its intrinsic value, and for its sense of enjoyment, sense of purpose. And life was much too short to spend doing something you don’t like, even for a few years.”

3) Healthy living?Treat your body like you’re going to need it for 100 years.” …..…The elderly, he added, understand that modern medical technology means people with unhealthy lifestyles are “sentencing themselves to 20 or 30 or 40 years of chronic illness.”

4) Biggest regret? Pointless worrying.
Similarly, respondents surprised Pillemer when he asked them to name their biggest regrets. Instead of listing concerns like affairs, addictions, or shady business dealings, almost unanimously they answered: “I wish I had not spent so much time worrying.”

5) Happiness? Don’t make your happiness contingent. Be happy in spite of bad times.
Younger people tend to be happy ‘if only’. … Their view from later life is that this has to morph into being happy in spite of things.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:20 AM | Permalink

March 16, 2013

Now this is an idea I like

What Congress could learn from the papal conclave

If you want a budget, lock up the Congress, take away their cellphones and Internet, don't let them go to fund raisers, and if necessary put them on bread and water until they pass a budget. It has worked for hundreds of years in the Catholic Church, it might even work in Washington.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:12 PM | Permalink

January 29, 2013

Five "Good Habits" that you can do without

Food for thought Five Good Habits You Need to Unlearn

Stop Thinking So Positively

Stop Trying to Fill Every Hour of Your Day

Stop Caring What the Internet Thinks About You

Stop Equating Rejection with Failure

Stop Spending More Time on Your Work
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:56 PM | Permalink

January 15, 2013

News you can use

Literature has therapeutic value, and the more challenging it is, the better.  We're better for verse.

Penelope Trunk on How to pick a husband if you want to have kids

Why a glass of red wine with your steak can LOWER cholesterol

Red wine helps to prevent release of damaging compounds in dark meat that can raise cholesterol….researchers, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, found that after eating red or dark meat, compounds called malondialdehyde accumulate in the blood stream. These can help to form the type of cholesterol that can raise the risk of heart disease.

But when volunteers drank red wine, these compounds were not absorbed into the blood stream. The researchers say this is because antioxidants in the wine - known as polyphenols - prevented these harmful compounds from being absorbed.

Proven: Pruney Fingers Give You a Better Grip 

Hacking the Hyperlinked Heart.  She found her husband online but only after she learned not to be too stuffy and professional in her profile.

In the Huffington Post, 10 Things Happy People Do Differently

What is the Secret to Aging Gracefully and Happily

From research in psychology and other fields–and from the work Cole is doing–the key to aging gracefully and happily seems to lie in at least three factors:
1) working into old age rather than retiring
2) finding love and community and
3) accepting old age.

13 Amazing Uses for WD-40
Protecting a bird feeder, separating stuck glassware, exterminating roaches, repelling insects and keeping wasps from building nests.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:01 PM | Permalink

December 11, 2012

Smorgasbord of delightful links

"Aid is just a stop-gap. Commerce [and] entrepreneurial capitalism takes more people out of poverty than aid." said U2's Bono in a speech at Georgetown.

I hope he makes a mint.  Pet owner invents a doggie doorbell after his pooch kept scratching door to be let outside

Santa lulls a fussy newborn back to sleep

 Santa's Baby


It seemed like nobody in New York had gasoline during Sandy, but all the union men in Brooklyn mysteriously had three full cans in their garage. If you want tickets to a sold-out show or you want to see a closed exhibit at the Met, it’s not a problem. They drink for free, eat for free, and renovate their homes with supplies stolen from a building site. In a multicultural metropolis revolving around money, this strange sect has maintained a century-old monoculture that exists under the radar and thrives on the barter system. It seems archaic when you first encounter it, but a quick glance at where America is headed makes it clear the Brooklyn way is our future. So instead of putting them on some nostalgic pedestal, go meet them. You could learn a lot from dese fuggin’ idiots.

In 2010 I posted what Theodore Dalyrmple wrote about Political Correctness and I post again because it bears repeating

Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.

Another astonishing medical breakthrough Turning urine into brain cells. 

A new method for generating brain cells from urine samples could be useful for research into neurodegenerative diseases and for screening for new drugs.

It was a babysitting experience that turned out into a fatal attraction

 Monkey In Ikea-1

Noah's Ark Great Flood may have happened, says Robert Ballard, the underwater archaeologist who found the Titanic.

In an interview with ABC News's Christiane Amanpour, Mr Ballard explains that he investigated a theory proposed by two scientists from Columbia University that there was a massive flood in the Black Sea region. They believe that the Black Sea was once an isolated freshwater lake surrounded by farmland until it was flooded by a torrent of water.

"We went in there to look for the flood," he told ABC News. "Not just a slow moving, advancing rise of sea level, but a really big flood that then stayed … The land that went under stayed under."

Although they did not find the Ark, they found an ancient shoreline which Mr Ballard believes is proof such an event did take place. He believes that, by using carbon dating shells found along the shoreline, it took place around 5,000 BC.

"It probably was a bad day," he said. "At some magic moment, it broke through and flooded this place violently, and a lot of real estate, 150,000 square kilometers of land, went under."

Why compete with your neighbor's Christmas lights?

 Ditto Lights

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:53 PM | Permalink

December 1, 2012

What older people know about life that we don't

Karl Pillemer, professor of human development and gerontology at the Weill Cornell Medical College, author of Lessons for Living,  gathers advice about what older people know about life that the rest of us don't  in the Washington Post slideshow, 12 Ways to Live a Better Life.

2. Act as if you will need your body for 100 years.. Don't worry about dying. Worry about chronic disease. . . . The smokers, overeaters and coach potatoes among us are too focused on the comforting thought that the worst that can happen is dropping dead one day . . . You need to change your lifestyle early in life, not to live longer, but to live better in your 70s, 80s and beyond. Matt McClain / For The Washington Post

4. Be able to look everyone in the eye. To avoid later-life remorse, one word was repeated again and again: "Honesty.'' . . . With a consistency that surprised me, they advise us unconditionally to be honest, to have integrity, to be someone others can trust. . . . If not, we will regret it.

7. Send flowers to the living.. Hal Phipps, 81, was married for 55 years until his wife's death. "I regret that I didn't tell her how much I loved her as much as I should have. And I didn't really realize that until I lost her.'' Who knows why it is so hard, even in the closest relationships, to say what needs to be said until it is too late.

12. Don't waste time worrying about growing old.  Many experts described later life as embodying a serenity, a "lightness of being,'' a sense of calm and easiness in daily life that was both unexpected and somewhat difficult to describe. . . . They acknowledge that growing old is uncharted territory. . . but many experts described it with a sense of exploring a new land.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:07 PM | Permalink

November 30, 2012

'Mordar, gaydar, even crimidar' yes; but, emotions aren't all in the face

What's in a Face 

Several years ago, a woman named Brook White appeared on the reality TV competition show American Idol. White was 24 years old, blond, and strikingly pretty. When she sang her song, "Like a Star," she struck a familiar chord among some viewers. White said nothing about her religion, but Mormons, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, were certain that she was one of their own.

"She has the Mormon Glow," one blogger wrote, referring to the belief that the faithful radiate the Holy Spirit. White mentioned that she never drank a cup of coffee or watched an R-rated movie—signs of a Mormon-like squeaky-clean lifestyle. But the "glow" clinched it, and it turned out that her fans were right. "I didn't know I was setting off the Mormon radar," White remarked later in an interview with The Arizona Republic.

 White Idol Mormon

Soon after, psychologists Nalini Ambady, then at Tufts University, and Nicholas Rule, at the University of Toronto, set out to test the Mormon glow. One way to do this is to see if even non-Mormons can detect it. The psychologists began their experiment by cropping head shots of Mormons and non-Mormons and asking undergraduate volunteers whether they could pick out the Mormons.

They certainly could—and in just a glance. While random guessing would yield 50 percent accuracy, as in a coin toss, the volunteers accurately identified Mormon men and women 60 percent of the time. (Mormons themselves were only slightly more accurate.) This means that "Mordar" isn't foolproof, but it's statistically significant—about as accurate as the ability to tell if a face looks envious or anxious.

"Thin-slicing" is the term that Ambady and her colleague, Richard Rosenthal, coined in 1992 to describe the ability to infer something about a person's personality, character, or other traits after a very brief exposure. Thin-slicing relies on a brain network that includes the fusiform gyrus, which perceives faces, and the amygdala, which filters that information for anything that might be useful or threatening to survival.
Over evolutionary time, the ability to quickly extract information from faces has given us an edge in predicting character and behavior. It helps us to discern who's sick and whom to trust, who's flirt worthy, and who might blow up at a moment's notice. To get a sense of others' religiosity, sexual orientation, promiscuity, aggressiveness, competence, intelligence, and even trustworthiness, you might think that you should focus on how they act, not how they look. But then you'd neglect your swiftest insights.

via Ace who remarked "Mordar, gaydar, even crimidar"

But emotions aren't all in the face reports NPR.

Photos of athletes in their moment of victory or defeat usually show faces contorted with intense emotion. But a new study suggests that people actually don't use those kinds of extreme facial expressions to judge how a person is feeling.

Instead, surprisingly, people rely on body cues.
To test this in another way, he manipulated the photographs. He'd take the face of a winner and paste it onto the body of a loser, or vice versa.    What he found was that the exact same face would be interpreted as showing a positive or negative emotion, depending on which body it was on. These results are reported in the journal Science.

"I think that many people will find this very surprising," says Lisa Feldman Barrett, a scientist at Northeastern University who studies emotions. These studies challenge long-held assumptions about the importance of facial expressions, she says.
These findings add to a growing body of evidence that when we're trying to figure out another person's emotional state, we rely on a lot more than just the face.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:58 AM | Permalink

October 11, 2012

"Drive the biggest vehicle you can afford to drive"

An emergency room physician who has more than many of us can imagine lays out his Dirty Dozen for Black Swan Avoidance. 

Below are the first six:

1. Drive the biggest vehicle you can afford to drive. Your greatest risk of death comes from a motor vehicle accident.
2. Never get on a 4-wheeler ATV. These are the most dangerous vehicle that I know of. ATV’s have produced more quadriplegics than anything else I have seen.
3. Do not road cycle or jog on public roads/roadsides. This is self-evident.
4. Do not fly a plane or helicopter unless you are a full-time professional pilot. If you are a doctor, lawyer, actor, athlete, stockbroker or other well-to-do professional do not get a pilot’s license. Expertise in one area of life does not transfer to piloting, often with fatal results.
5. If you are walking down a sidewalk and are approaching a group of loud and apparently intoxicated males, cross to the other side of the street immediately. If anyone tries to start a fight with you, the first step should be “choke them with heel dust”.
6. If your gas grill won’t start….walk away. Never throw gas (or other accelerant) on a fire.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:46 PM | Permalink

October 10, 2012

40 Things to Say Before You Die

From Forbes and Jessica Hagy, 40 Things to Say Before You Die  Funny and true with terrific visuals

39  “Today was good.”  If you can say it once, you can say it again. And again. And again.

35 “That’s enough.”  Food. Drink. Episodes of Law & Order. Pairs of shoes. Overtime. Articulating your own limits is powerful.

23 “Isn’t this beautiful?” The more often you notice the gorgeous world around you, the happier you’ll be.

21 “Damn, I look good.”   You come from a long line of people who convinced others to sleep with them. Remember that.

13 “This is my favorite thing.”  Enjoy what you love and say this as often as you can.

12  “I earned this.”  There’s a layer of proud ownership over everything you possess that wasn’t merely given to you.

6  “I don’t know how to do this.” It’s better to admit it and learn than to fake it and embarrass yourself.

2  “I love you.” We all want to say this, and we all want it said to us.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:38 AM | Permalink

October 5, 2012

Fifteen Things We can Learn from Dogs

Monsignor Pope republishes an oldie and I'm busy,  so I will too.

Fifteen Things We can Learn from Dogs:

1. Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joy ride.
2. Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
3. When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
4. Let others know when they’ve invaded your territory.
5. Take naps and stretch before rising.
6. Run, romp, and play daily.
7. Eat with gusto and enthusiasm.
8. Be loyal.
9. If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
10. When someone is having a bad day, be silent. Sit close by and nuzzle them gently.
11. Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
12. Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
13. When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
14. No matter how often you’re scolded, don’t buy into the guilt thing and pout…. run right back and make friends
15. Delight in the simple joys of a long walk.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:00 PM | Permalink

August 22, 2012

"If you do not cheat life, it won't cheat you."

Good advice from Surabhi Surendra .  5 Truths that will transform your life

We all prefer to live by our own rules. These are often trial and error methods. We make mistakes, learn a lesson from them and avoid them in future. A wise way to live life is by learning from others’ mistakes. With eons of wisdom and experience, there are some golden rules that hold good for every one.

I'm summarized them here, but read the whole thing to get the full impact.

1. No decision is good or bad, it is the end result that matters.
2. 90% of us have the same level of talent. It is the attitude that determines our altitude.
3. Never think of problems, think of solutions.
4. Honesty is always the best policy.
5. Only keep the essentials, cut the unnecessary and you will achieve more.

Or as one commenter said, "If you do not cheat life, it won't cheat you."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:54 PM | Permalink

June 13, 2012

The Mastery of Rescue

Atul Gawande on Failure and Rescue

In commencement addresses like this, people admonish us: take risks; be willing to fail. But this has always puzzled me. Do you want a surgeon whose motto is “I like taking risks”? We do in fact want people to take risks, to strive for difficult goals even when the possibility of failure looms. Progress cannot happen otherwise. But how they do it is what seems to matter. The key to reducing death after surgery was the introduction of ways to reduce the risk of things going wrong—through specialization, better planning, and technology. They have produced a remarkable transformation in the field. Not that long ago, surgery was so inherently dangerous that you would only consider it as a last resort. Large numbers of patients developed serious infections afterward, bleeding, and other deadly problems we euphemistically called “complications.” Now surgery has become so safe and routine that most is day surgery—you go home right afterward.
Researchers at the University of Michigan discovered the answer recently, and it has a twist I didn’t expect. I thought that the best places simply did a better job at controlling and minimizing risks—that they did a better job of preventing things from going wrong. But, to my surprise, they didn’t. Their complication rates after surgery were almost the same as others. Instead, what they proved to be really great at was rescuing people when they had a complication, preventing failures from becoming a catastrophe.
So you will take risks, and you will have failures. But it’s what happens afterward that is defining. A failure often does not have to be a failure at all. However, you have to be ready for it—will you admit when things go wrong? Will you take steps to set them right?—because the difference between triumph and defeat, you’ll find, isn’t about willingness to take risks. It’s about mastery of rescue.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:36 AM | Permalink

May 9, 2012

Advice for graduates of "the least knowledgeable graduating class in history" "

Seems to me that commencement addresses this year aren't as lyrical as in years past, but more hard-hitting and with better advice.

Bret Stephens:  Attention graduates: Tone down your egos, shape up your minds

Many of you have been reared on the cliché that the purpose of education isn't to stuff your head with facts but to teach you how to think. Wrong. I routinely interview college students, mostly from top schools, and I notice that their brains are like old maps, with lots of blank spaces for the uncharted terrain. It's not that they lack for motivation or IQ. It's that they can't connect the dots when they don't know where the dots are in the first place.
Fact One is that, in our "knowledge-based" economy, knowledge counts. Yet here you are, probably the least knowledgeable graduating class in history.
Fact Two: Your competition is global. Shape up
Fact Three: Your prospective employers can smell BS from miles away. And most of you don't even know how badly you stink.
if you can just manage to tone down your egos, shape up your minds, and think unfashionable thoughts, you just might be able to do something worthy with your lives. And even get a job. Good luck!

Remember that 80% of seniors from fifty-five of the country's most prestigious colleges received a D or F when asked basic questions about American history like identifying the Gettysburg address or recognizing fundamental constitutional principles

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:29 AM | Permalink

May 4, 2012

Break-ups and the 'love myth'

I think is probably hardest for those in their 20s and 30s.  Settling on the right mate and right career is not easy.  Nor is losing friends which is what happens when people break up.

 Breaking Up Couple

The REAL cost of a break-up: We lose EIGHT friends when a long-term relationship ends

A typical adult loses eight friends when a long-term relationship ends, a study found today.

Researchers found the taking of sides and the rights and wrongs of the circumstances of the split are the biggest reasons for broken friendships.

Around one in ten people said their fed-up friends had stopped speaking to both them and their former partner after the break-up.

More than 27 per cent of people even admitted to staying in a relationship longer than they really wanted to because of their fears about the impact it would have on their friendships.

The eight friends who will be lost are likely to be three friends of the ex-partner and three mutual friends made during the relationship.

The other two were known before the relationship even started, but either ended up siding with the other half - or got fed up hearing about the conflict.

Of the 2,000 people polled - who have recently split from a partner - 31 per cent now regret their actions during the break-up because of the effect it had on their friendships.

Could all these false starts and break-ups have something to do with The 'Love Myth' in Pop Culture?

[There is]  a deeply embedded belief in our pop culture that the experience of being in love must meet a very specific set of criteria. This is the "love myth."

Haidt explains:

As I see it, the modern myth of true love involves these beliefs: True love is passionate love that never fades; if you are in true love, you should marry that person; if love ends, you should leave that person because it was not true love; and if you can find the right person, you will have true love forever. You might not believe this myth yourself, particularly if you are older than thirty; but many young people in Western nations are raised on it, and it acts as an ideal that they unconsciously carry with them even if they scoff at it. (It’s not just Hollywood that perpetrates the myth; Bollywood, the Indian film industry, is even more romanticized.)
Companionate love is less exciting, but more lasting: “the affection we feel for those with whom our lives are deeply intertwined.”

The problem with passionate love is that it eventually fades. And that creates major problems for the person who decides to marry someone based on the expectation that passionate love will last forever--the most major of the problems being, of course, divorce.
So does true love exist? Haidt thinks that it does:

True love exists, I believe, but it is not—cannot be—passion that lasts forever. True love, the love that undergirds strong marriages, is simply strong companionate love, with some added passion, between two people who are firmly committed to each other.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:12 AM | Permalink

May 3, 2012

"Don't try to be great"

Commencement season begins with Charles Whelan writing in the Wall St Journal about the 10 Things Your Commencement Speaker Won't Tell You

6. Read obituaries. They are just like biographies, only shorter. They remind us that interesting, successful people rarely lead orderly, linear lives.

7. Your parents don't want what is best for you. They want what is good for you, which isn't always the same thing. There is a natural instinct to protect our children from risk and discomfort, and therefore to urge safe choices. Theodore Roosevelt—soldier, explorer, president—once remarked, "It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed." Great quote, but I am willing to bet that Teddy's mother wanted him to be a doctor or a lawyer.
10. Don't try to be great. Being great involves luck and other circumstances beyond your control. The less you think about being great, the more likely it is to happen. And if it doesn't, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being solid.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:51 PM | Permalink

April 18, 2012

“Opening up yet another fragment of the frontier of beauty.” “Opening up yet another fragment of the frontier of beauty.”

You don't want to miss this, The Night I Met Einstein by Jerome Weidman

Apparently I was in for an evening of chamber music….

After a while, becoming aware that the people around me were applauding, I concluded it was safe to unplug my ears. At once I heard a gentle but surprisingly penetrating voice on my right: “You are fond of Bach?”

I knew as much about Bach as I know about nuclear fission. But I did know one of the most famous faces in the world, with the renowned shock of untidy white hair and the ever-present pipe between the teeth. I was sitting next to Albert Einstein….

“I don’t know anything about Bach,” I said awkwardly. “I’ve never heard any of his music.”

A look of perplexed astonishment washed across Einstein’s mobile face.

“You have never heard Bach?”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:46 AM | Permalink

April 16, 2012

"You never know what you are going to face when you open that exam room door'

What doctors discover: You never know what's behind the exam room door

There is much monotony to being a physician. I have seen more variations of the common cold than I ever thought possible during medical school. But the foibles of the human body are often surprising.
You never know what you are going to face when you open that exam room door. Sometimes it’s chest pain. Others it’s a runny nose.

And occasionally it’s a middle aged woman trapped in the closet with a dead baby in one hand and rosary beads in the other. Decades later she is still mourning …

… and begging for self forgiveness.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:07 PM | Permalink

February 28, 2012

Advil for a broken heart

Who would that Advil would help a broken heart or any type of emotional pain.

The pill that could mend a broken heart: Scientists claim simple painkillers could dull the pain of rejection

Pain killers could be used to dull the emotional pain of rejection in the future, scientists have claimed.

Researchers have discovered that emotional and physical pain cause similar reactions in the brain and are so similar that some studies have shown that taking painkillers can actually dull emotional pain, the authors claim.

Social rejection or being dumped can produce such a strong reaction that it is processed in the part of the brain that normally deals with physical pain.
One study that was examined even found that people who took a pain killer for three weeks reported less hurt feelings than people who took a placebo.

The scientists saw a correlation in the brain activity of people who had experienced social rejection and physical pain

Expressing her surprise at the findings Professor Eisenberger said: 'It follows in a logical way from the argument that the physical and social pain systems overlap, but it’s still kind of hard to imagine.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:31 PM | Permalink

February 24, 2012

Install this privacy plug-in right now

Are you at all concerned about your privacy?  If so then recent stories about how Google and others track your every move is very worrisome.  Even if you thought you had enabled privacy options on your browser, turns out that Google tricked Apple's Safari in order to track users.

The cover story in last week's New York Times Magazine shows you just How Companies Learn Your Secrets.

Beginning March 1, Google will implement its new privacy policy that will allow them to build a permanent profile on you including age, gender and locality.    The Daily Mail shows you three simple steps to delete your Google browsing history before it's too late.

Last week, I read Vodkapundit's post on Somebody's Watching Me.

I took his advice and installed Do Not Track, a free browser extension from a young Massachusetts company, Albine

He reported on his experience in  Somebody's (Not) Watching

Just a quick update to Monday’s item about Do Not Track Plus.  In 48 hours, this thing has killed off more than 5,200 attempts to track my browsing. I look at websites as a big part of my job, so a big number didn’t come as a surprise. But that big? I had no idea.  But that’s nothing compared to how much easier life is for my CPU. I keep Apple’s Activity Monitor up and running all the time, just because I’m a bit of a geek like that. Under a typical browser workload — which for me is a lot of open windows and tabs — my browser web content could be eating up anywhere from an eighth to a quarter of my CPU cycles. That’s been cut down by about 80%.  In other words, web trackers might be quadrupling the processor load of your web browser, slowing down your whole system.  As I said the other day, just go and download it right now.

My experience was very like his.  In eight days, the Do Not Track software I installed blocked 17,652 attempts to track me online.
My computer had been very slow much too often and often seized up so I had to restart. Now it  speeds along the way it should.  I've never been so happy with a plug-in since Adblock.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:46 PM | Permalink

February 19, 2012

"When neither doctor nor patient can make the right decision, it is vital to have a caring family member advocate on your behalf.'

How a diagnosis of stage III stomach cancer profoundly changes an oncologist

By the reckoning of my physicians, survival was a percentage, and a horrible one — fifteen to seventy percent if I completed the treatment regimen.  That seemed to be an incredibly wide spread.  More and more I found myself thinking about percentages. If I completed the regimen and the disease returned, there were seemingly no other viable treatment options. It was morphine and palliative care. I was 39 years old. Death was a 100 percent certainty, eventually. So did it matter?

During one particularly desperate moment, I decided that I had had enough. I refused further treatment. I lay in my bed without anxiety, comfortable that I had made the correct decision. I watched the events around me, including the distress of my husband, Brian.

My doctors couldn’t override it or persuade me to change my mind, but, luckily, my husband, Brian, could and did. From my mental cocoon, Brian was by my side convincing me to finish treatment.

My dreams of dying were not the products of anxious moments of terror. I was simply incapable of making the right decision for myself. My doctors were professional but ultimately could not decide for me. When neither doctor nor patient can make the right decision, it is vital to have a caring family member advocate on your behalf. Without Brian, and his tireless commitment to my recovery, I wouldn’t be here today.

While I am still battling cancer and have not yet returned to work nor am I leading a normal life, my illness has changed me profoundly as a physician. No amount of doctoring can prepare you for being a patient.  During the past year, I have endured multiple treatment methods, metastasis, and most recently the discovery of a brain tumor that threatens my eyesight.  The past year has been full of the most vulnerable moments in my life.

If anything, it’s that recognition of vulnerability as well as expertise that makes me a better doctor today.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:39 PM | Permalink

February 13, 2012

Life advice from Osama Bin Laden

'Do not follow me down the road to jihad. Go and get a good education in the West': Osama Bin Laden’s extraordinary instructions to his young children

Osama Bin Laden told his children to live peacefully in the West where they would get a good education, his brother-in-law has revealed.

Zakaria al-Sadah, whose sister is the fifth wife of the Al-Qaeda leader, said Bin Laden did not want his children and grandchildren following in the same path of terrorism like him.

'He told his own children and grandchildren, go to Europe and America and get a good education,' according to an interview with Sadah in The Sunday Times.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:52 AM | Permalink

January 21, 2012

What makes a good coach?

He had seen enough coaching to break even their performance down into its components. Good coaches, he said, speak with credibility, make a personal connection, and focus little on themselves. Hobson and Harding “listened more than they talked,” Knight said. “They were one hundred per cent present in the conversation.” They also parcelled out their observations carefully. “It’s not a normal way of communicating—watching what your words are doing,” he said. They had discomfiting information to convey, and they did it directly but respectfully.

Coaches are not teachers, but they teach. They’re not your boss—in professional tennis, golf, and skating, the athlete hires and fires the coach—but they can be bossy. They don’t even have to be good at the sport. The famous Olympic gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi couldn’t do a split if his life depended on it. Mainly, they observe, they judge, and they guide.

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/10/03/111003fa_fact_gawande?printable=true&currentPage=all#ixzz1k3G1zGEH

Atul Gawande on Coaching a Surgeon: What Makes Top Performers Better in The New Yorker

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:37 AM | Permalink

January 13, 2012

Elderly 'Experts' Share Life Advice in Cornell Project

Jane Brody on Advice from Life's Graying Edge on Finishing with No Regrets

Eventually, most of us learn valuable lessons about how to conduct a successful and satisfying life. But for far too many people, the learning comes too late to help them avoid painful mistakes and decades of wasted time and effort.

Enter an invaluable source of help, if anyone is willing to listen while there is still time to take corrective action. It is a new book called “30 Lessons for Living” (Hudson Street Press) that offers practical advice from more than 1,000 older Americans from different economic, educational and occupational strata who were interviewed as part of the ongoing Cornell Legacy Project.

Its author, Karl Pillemer, a professor of human development at the College of Human Ecology at Cornell and a gerontologist at the Weill Cornell Medical College, calls his subjects “the experts,” and their advice is based on what they did right and wrong in their long lives. Many of the interviews can be viewed at legacyproject.human.cornell.edu.

An 89-year-old woman who was glad she stayed in her marriage even though her young husband’s behavior was adversely affected by his military service said, “Too many young people now are giving up too early, too soon.”
ON AGING “Embrace it. Don’t fight it. Growing older is both an attitude and a process,” an 80-year-old man said. The experts’ advice to the young: “Don’t waste your time worrying about getting old.”

Most found that old age vastly exceeded their expectations. Even those with serious chronic illnesses enjoyed a sense of calm and contentment.
ON REGRETS “Always be honest” was the elders’ advice to avoid late-in-life remorse. Take advantage of opportunities and embrace new challenges. And travel more when you’re young rather than wait until the children are grown or you are retired.
ON HAPPINESS Almost to a person, the elders viewed happiness as a choice, not the result of how life treats you.
Even if their lives were nine decades long, the elders saw life as too short to waste on pessimism, boredom and disillusionment.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:14 AM | Permalink

December 7, 2011

Things Every 18-Year-Old Should Know but Doesn't

50 Things every 18-year-old should know.

18) Lefty loosey, righty tighty. Turn it to the left to loosen it and to the right to tighten it.

20) Here are 3 keys to keeping a reasonably clean house: don't leave any dishes in the sink overnight; every time you have a full load of clothes, wash 'em, and take out the trash every time the can is full. You do those things, wipe up your messes, and vacuum when the floor gets filthy, and you'll keep things reasonably neat.

48) You beat 50% of the people by just showing up. You beat another 40% by working hard. The last 10% is a dogfight in the free enterprise system.

And 40 more

6) Write an advance medical directive, a will, and plan for your funeral. Your family will be eternally grateful if something happens.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:05 AM | Permalink

October 30, 2011

Remarkable story of redemption

The white supremacist gang leader who turned back time: Remarkable results after heavily tattooed criminal went through 16 months of agonizing laser surgery

The tattoos that covered a man's face show the hate that was once in his heart.

Bryon Widner was one of America's most violent and well known white supremacists, and his heavily-tattooed face displayed it proudly.

After shunning his racist beliefs, he was still unable to hold work because of his facial scarring, and went through a long and complicated journey to have the tattoos removed, in hopes of truly starting his life anew.

 Widner Tattoo Redemption

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:34 PM | Permalink

October 24, 2011

Doing good versus doing nothing

The opportunities to make grand heroic gestures are rare while we can, if we choose, do simple acts of kindness everyday.

A good rule of life.  Always Go to the Funeral

By the time I was 16, I had been to five or six funerals. I remember two things from the funeral circuit: bottomless dishes of free mints and my father saying on the ride home, “You can’t come in without going out, kids. Always go to the funeral.”

Sounds simple — when someone dies, get in your car and go to calling hours or the funeral. That, I can do. But I think a personal philosophy of going to funerals means more than that.

Always go to the funeral” means that I have to do the right thing when I really, really don’t feel like it. I have to remind myself of it when I could make some small gesture, but I don’t really have to and I definitely don’t want to. I’m talking about those things that represent only inconvenience to me, but the world to the other guy. You know, the painfully under-attended birthday party. The hospital visit during happy hour. The Shiva call for one of my ex’s uncles. In my humdrum life, the daily battle hasn’t been good versus evil. It’s hardly so epic. Most days, my real battle is doing good versus doing nothing.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:15 PM | Permalink

October 5, 2011


If you are embarrassed by how often you turn red-faced, consider this: Don't be bashful about blushing

it seems, we should be proud of our red faces. A new study has found people who blush easily are more generous, trustworthy and virtuous than those who don’t.
The author of the study, Matthew Feinberg, says: ‘Moderate levels of embarrassment are signs of virtue. You want to affiliate with embarrassed people more. You feel comfortable trusting them.’

Not only are blushing people viewed as more trustworthy, they actually are more trustworthy, according to this study, because of what the researchers call their ‘pro-sociability’ or positive behaviour towards others. What’s more, researchers found that blushers make better romantic partners, because those who were easily embarrassed reported higher levels of monogamy, according to the study.
But this new research might finally give us the answer: blushing, while uncomfortable for those of us who do it, is simply there as ‘part of the social glue that fosters trust and cooperation in every day life’.
Women have a greater tendency to blush, which scientists suspect evolved as a way to prove to men that they were virtuous — ergo the phrase ‘the blushing bride’ which refers to the belief that young women who flush easily are the picture of virginal innocence.
Blushing still shows endearing vulnerability — so much so that, even today, researchers say blushing can help us when we are dating, or even trying to do a business deal.

They’ve also concluded that when we blush after doing something socially embarrassing — such as accidentally standing on someone’s toe — it’s like an non-verbal apology and therefore diffuses any aggression.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:10 AM | Permalink

September 24, 2011

They even stole from the king

From Daniel Hannan, A cautionary tale from George I, King of the Hellenes

Here's a little story for those who are tempted to place too much trust in Greek politicians. It is recounted in the Duke of Edinburgh's biography.

Shortly after George I – since Philip's grandfather – had ascended to the Hellenic throne, he called a Cabinet meeting. Around the table were the patriarchs of Greek politics, men whose surnames still dominate contemporary administrations. During the discussion, the young monarch rose from the table in order to illustrate his point on a wall map. When he returned to his chair, his gold fountain pen was missing.

The king asked for the pen to be returned, but no one moved. He asked again. Nothing. Eventually, he declared:

'Gentlemen, this joke has gone far enough. I shall now turn off the lights. If, when I switch them back on, the pen is back in its place, we shall say no more about it'.

He switched off the lights. When they came back on, his silver inkstand had vanished too.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:51 PM | Permalink

September 14, 2011

Dealing with Regret

 Regret Statue

James Altucher regrets a lot

I regret losing all of my money and then losing my house. I regret not spending  more time with my kids when they were little and I regret not saving the life of my dad when I could’ve. 

And much, much more.

Here are his 20 Ways to Deal with Regret

A)    Ask yourself, “What am I doing TODAY?” Today is the day we care about. Where we can improve ourselves, help people. Move forwards. What are you doing today?  This is a good mental discipline. WHEN Regret comes up about yesterday, ASK yourself,  “What am I doing TODAY?” Practice this. Then practice it again.
F)      Honesty.  Honesty can lead to wealth.  Being honest also helps you avoid denial about your regrets. Stop blaming others. It’s important to realize that both Most things don’t work out AND most of the time, It’s Your Fault.  I was often in denial about both of those things. They are both truths.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:00 PM | Permalink

September 1, 2011

Back to school advice

Walter Russell Mead very good Back to School advice to returning students and to their parents.

And so, dear students, welcome back!  Your generation is going to have dig its own way out of the hole my generation has dug for you (thanks for the Medicare, kids, and sorry about the deficit!), but here are a few tips that may help you get the best out of your college years.

1.  The real world does not work like school.
2.  Most of your elders know very little about the world into which you are headed.
3.  You are going to have to work much, much harder than you probably expect.
4.  Choosing the right courses is more important than choosing the right college.
5.  Get a traditional liberal education; it is the only thing that will do you any good.
6.  Character counts; so do good habits.
7.  Relax.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:42 PM | Permalink

August 24, 2011

Need wise counsel? Try a philosophical counselor

Going through a difficult transition? Need some life advice?  Not satisfied with what your therapist can give you?  Don't need or want medication?  You just want wise counsel?

You may want to consider a philosophical counselor, one who relies on the eternal wisdom of great thinkers.

Patricia Anne Murphy is a philosopher with a real-world mission.

 Patricia Anne Murphy

Murphy is one of an increasing number of philosophical counselors, practitioners who are putting their esoteric learning to practical use helping people with some of life’s persistent afflictions. Though they help clients cope with many of the same issues that conventional therapists do — divorce, job stress, the economic downturn, parenting woes, chronic illness and matters of the heart — their methods are very different.

They’re like intellectual life coaches.
Not everyone needs to be medicated,” said Murphy, a thin woman with long, gray hair. “Whereas drugs can treat the body,” she said, “there may be other things that the soul needs.”

in her snug Takoma Park bungalow, she’s helping a broken-hearted patient struggle through a divorce.  Instead of offering the wounded wife a prescription for Effexor — which she’s not licensed to do anyway — she instructs her to read Epictetus, the original cognitive therapist, who argued that humans often mistake their feelings for facts and suffer as a result.
In 2010, the philosophy department at City College approved the creation of a master of arts degree in applied philosophy, which will include a specialization in philosophical counseling. It will be at least a year before the program starts accepting students. It is the first such program in the United States and the second in the world; the University of Sevilla in Spain instituted the first master of arts degree in philosophical counseling.
One 35-year-old District woman, who sought treatment because she was trapped in a tortured marriage and having an affair, described herself as the perfect patient for Marinoff’s band of philosophers.

“I wasn’t depressed or fighting bipolar disorder. I didn’t need Paxil. I just needed the skills to think clearly about what went wrong, said the woman, who works in graphic art. “I heard online about these shrink-thinker types who used John Milton, Adam Smith and Socrates, and I called right away. I wanted to know how our greatest minds would see my situation.”
“You can go on the Internet and find 100 people who are giving you advice,” Barnhill said. “But there are thinkers who are recognized for their knowledge, and ignoring them in our generation just seems like such a loss.”

Sean Holland, 37, is a self-described “philosopher in pinstripes” who has a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and now works for a corporation based in New York. His focus is on ethical issues for companies. He also hopes to one day be a philosophical counselor.

“I was trying to find a decent job in this economy, and I found that philosophy is actually back as a respected profession,” Holland said. “We are trained problem-solvers and, in a way, we can launch a return to an old set of skills that are very much needed today.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:36 PM | Permalink

Turning a generation of young people into debtors

Student loan debt is approaching $1 trillion, more than what all households owe on their credit cards.  This is disastrous for students who may not find  a job or take the job they really love instead of the one that pays the most or buy their first house.    They will be "hounded for life" and may  never be able to pay back all that they owe. 

Nathan Harden on The next debt bubble: college loans 

Moody’s rating agency recently issued a report that should be a wake-up call to every student now considering taking out large loans to pay for college.

Total student debt is at an all-time high -- and may top $1 trillion this year. Meanwhile, default rates are rising alarmingly. Skyrocketing tuition, lax lending standards and high rates of unemployment have created the perfect financial storm.

Some advice to college students: Learn from our government’s mistakes and avoid borrowing your way into a hole.

The Student Loan Bubble: Only Stupid People Will Be Surprised When It Bursts

Today we have more evidence that the student loan market is headed for disaster. We live in a world where the cost of education has become completely disassociated from the value that the education provides. The tuition is too damn high, and there aren’t enough high paying jobs available for all of the young people with enormous debt.  For many recent college graduates, default is inevitable.

Huffington Post

Outstanding student debt has climbed 25 percent since the start of the financial crisis in 2008, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York — an increase from $440 billion then to $550 billion now. By contrast, every other major category of consumer debt, including mortgage debt, credit card debt, auto loans and home equity loans, is lower today than it was in the fall of 2008.
Not only has student debt risen precipitously, but more and more of those loans aren’t getting paid off on time.
The problems of student-loan delinquency and default are only expected to get worse. Salaries and employment rates for recent college graduates have dropped, 

The Atlantic has a good article on The Debt Crisis at American Colleges, calling it a "pernicious trend that the colleges themselves are encouraging."

How do colleges manage it? Kenyon has erected a $70 million sports palace featuring a 20-lane olympic pool. Stanford's professors now get paid sabbaticals every fourth year, handing them $115,000 for not teaching. Vanderbilt pays its president $2.4 million. Alumni gifts and endowment earnings help with the costs. But a major source is tuition payments, which at private schools are breaking the $40,000 barrier, more than many families earn. Sadly, there's more to the story. Most students have to take out loans to remit what colleges demand. At colleges lacking rich endowments, budgeting is based on turning a generation of young people into debtors.

Worse still is that college loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

So even if you file for bankruptcy, the payments continue due. Hence these stern word from Barmak Nassirian of the American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers. "You will be hounded for life," he warns. "They will garnish your wages. They will intercept your tax refunds. You become ineligible for federal employment." He adds that any professional license can be revoked and Social Security checks docked when you retire. We can't think of any other statute with such sadistic provisions.

At Inside Higher Ed, James Miller advises professors, Get Out While You Can

Tenure won’t save us from a higher education collapse. Start making alternative career contingency plans now because this collapse could be sudden and catastrophic.

Biggest college regrets

The day that I signed on the dotted line of my promissory note, I didn’t even understand what it would mean to have to pay back more than $40,000 in student loans. I’ll tell you what it means: living in a crappy apartment in Queens well into my 30s. I vaguely remember my dad trying to get the message through to me, but I must have had cotton in my teenage ears.

via Instapundit who said "As stories like this spread, the higher education bubble will deflate.

He says, "Something that can’t go on forever, won’t. This can’t go on forever."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:26 AM | Permalink

August 20, 2011

Muphry's Law

 Muphry's Law

Muphry’s Law

Muphry’s Law is the editorial application of the better-known Murphy’s Law. Muphry’s Law dictates that:

if you write anything criticising editing or proofreading, there will be a fault in what you have written;
if an author thanks you in a book for your editing or proofreading, there will be mistakes in the book;
the stronger the sentiment in (a) and (b), the greater the fault; and
any book devoted to editing or style will be internally inconsistent.

Muphry’s Law also dictates that, if a mistake is as plain as the nose on your face, everyone can see it but you. Your readers will always notice errors in a title, in headings, in the first paragraph of anything, and in the top lines of a new page. These are the very places where authors, editors and proofreaders are most likely to make mistakes.

It always pays to allow for Muphry in anything you write, or anything you are checking.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:29 AM | Permalink

June 21, 2011

Introverts don't like to talk and other myths

Ten myths about introverts via Jason Kottke.

The full list

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.

Myth #8 –
Introverts are aloof nerds.
Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:47 AM | Permalink

June 6, 2011

The most worrisome thing about cell phones

Will your mobile turn you into a hunchback?

How many people do you see walking down the street with their head held high these days? The answer is virtually none.

Whether they’re choosing a song on their iPod, tapping out a text message on their phone or checking an email on their Blackberry, you’re more likely to see the top of their head than their eyes.

New technology might make communication easier — but is it turning us into hunchbacks? In a word ‘Yes’, says Kirsten Lord, managing director of the Edinburgh Physiotherapy Centre and a chartered physiotherapist.

Our bodies are a product of what we do on a daily basis and the change in lifestyles is definitely changing our bodies,’ she says.

‘If you’re constantly looking down, you develop a forward curvature that rounds the whole spine.

‘Your shoulders come forward and become more rounded, and standing upright and lengthening the neck may feel abnormal because the muscles you need to use have become shortened through lack of use.’

I've increasingly noticed this especially among younger people. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:33 PM | Permalink

June 4, 2011

Unintended Consequences

1985 Live Aid - Bob Geldorf organizes rock stars from around the world to raise money to help starving children in Ethiopia.

Wikipedia: It was one of the largest-scale satellite link-ups and television broadcasts of all time: an estimated global audience of 1.9 billion, across 150 nations, watched the live broadcast

The corrosive legacy of Live Aid

The event was an amazing feat of organisation and an astonishing spectacle.  But tragically for an event born out of heartfelt concern for people suffering in a foreign land, it has had a negative impact. The more time passes, the more clearly we see the corrosive legacy of Live Aid.
The signs were there from the start.
To begin with, there was the lack of African artists invited to perform at an event that urged the world not to ignore Africa.
Another critic was Baaba Maal, Grammy-winning Senegalese singer and a widely-respected campaigner on education and health.

'If African artists aren't given a chance, how are they going to sell records and take the message back to Africa?' he asked, adding that Africans were tired of people using the name of their continent without understanding their needs--
So, what about the issue that sparked the event — the heart-wrenching pictures of those starving children in Ethiopia?

There was a terrible famine, indeed, but what we were not told was there was surplus food elsewhere in the country.
The problems were largely man-made, the legacy of civil war and brutal policies pursued by a ruthless Marxist government.

The programmes of forced resettlement and agricultural collectivisation were similar to those pursued by Stalin in Ukraine in the Thirties and the result was the same — death, destruction and mass hunger.
Just imagine how much more tourism — and trade — there would be for such countries without the long shadow cast by Live Aid.

Instead, too many people view Africa as one country, a festering swamp of torment and trouble, rather than the vibrant, diverse, resourceful and increasingly-successful continent that it is, home to several of the world's fastest-growing economies.

This is the tragic legacy of Live Aid.

The harsh truth is that for all those good intentions, these concerts have scarred a generation, distorted political priorities, dislocated our view of the world and disrupted attempts to provide genuine and productive help.

But they have been very good for a few western pop stars.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:42 PM | Permalink

May 18, 2011

"Humility, patience, and faith – the raw material of hard work and sacrifice"

It's the season of commencement speeches when the famous, the powerful and the honored give advice and share  their wisdom with new graduates beginning their new adult lives.   

John Boehner, Speaker of the House, gave the commencement speech to the Catholic University of America, and Kathryn Jean Lopez was there

There is something powerful about the practical spiritual witness of a political leader, a powerful man. ...Commencement speeches should be about sharing a little wisdom. Here you have the most basic and essential. Delivered with not just talk of humility, but a demonstration of it — in speaking of the source of real power, in speaking of one of his own political falls.

John Boehner said

Of course, to whom much is given, much is expected.  That’s why each of you must be willing to work hard and make the sacrifices necessary to succeed. 

What does “hard work” and “sacrifice” entail? 

First and foremost,
humility. If you remember one word I’ve said today, it should be ‘humility.’ 
Tony Snow, a great public servant and former White House press secretary who lost his life to cancer, stood at this lectern and told the class of 2007 that “to love is to acknowledge that life is not about you.” 

“I want you to remember that,” he said, “It’s not about you.  It’s a hard lesson, a lot of people go through life and never learn it.  It’s to submit willingly, heart and soul, to things that matter.”  Tony’s wisdom is timeless. 

Recently, I was asked if there’s a special prayer I say before going into meetings with the president.  Well, I always ask God for the courage and wisdom to do his will and not mine.  Serving others – that’s not just how I lead in the Congress, it’s how I lead my life. 

You’re also going to need some
patience along the way too.  Trust me on this. 

I know that’s not a word you’d typically associate with an occasion wrapped in pomp, but patience is how we come closer to knowing God’s will.  “In your patience possess you your souls,” according to Luke.
You know, a journalist once asked Mother Teresa how she persevered in the face of all the despair she had seen.  Mother replied, “God has not called me to be successful.  He has called me to be faithful.”   

Over the years, I’ve carried in my heart a similar code my parents taught me:  you do the right thing for the right reasons, and good things will happen. 

So there you have it:
humility, patience, and faith – the raw material of hard work and sacrifice.  They will take you as far as you want to go.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:33 AM | Permalink

April 28, 2011

"You’ve got brilliance down. Now give competence a try" "

One year into the real world, Brian Bolduc gives advice to Harvard grads-to-be.

As you cogitate on your entrance into the real world, let me be the first to say, “Come on in! The water’s cold and unforgiving.”

Sobriety aside, I’m sorry to inform you that your diploma won’t give you the one thing necessary to survival: common sense.
College is a holiday from history, during which you have few real responsibilities—that is, the kind you can’t talk your way out of. After four years of it, you get to be a little spoiled. Because when you spend all our time thinking about mortgage-backed securities or the Arab Spring, you forget that eventually, you have to pay the rent. You start to think you don’t have time for the little things. You start to think you’re above them.

Thankfully, some real-world experience will teach you otherwise. No, it won’t teach you “what you want out of grad school.” (You already knew the answer to that: money.) Rather, it will teach you that life isn’t just about thinking big ideas and making big moves. It’s also about paying the bills and washing the dishes. It’s about being responsible for yourself and cognizant of others. It’s about humility.
So cheer up, Harvard grads-to-be. You’re about to enter adult life. You’ve got brilliance down. Now give competence a try.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:21 AM | Permalink

April 18, 2011

"Never be afraid to die. Because you're born to die"

Walter Breuning, the world's oldest man, died of natural causes at the age of 114 in Great Falls, Montana.

He remembered his grandfather's stories about killing southerners in the Civil War.

That first decade of the 1900s was literally a dark age for his family. They had no electricity or running water. A bath for young Walter would require his mother to fetch water from the well outside and heat it on the coal-burning stove. When they wanted to get around, they had three options: train, horse and foot.

His parents split up and Breuning moved back to Minnesota in 1912. The following year, the teenager got a low-level job with the Great Northern Railway in Melrose.

"I'm 16 years old, had to go to work on account of breakup of the family," he said.
"Everybody got laid off in the '30s," Breuning said. "Nobody had any money at all."

People began to arrive in Great Falls searching for work. He recalled transplants from North Dakota telling tales of desperate families pulling weeds from the ground and cooking them up for food.

Work was a constant in Breuning's life, what he did to get through the hard times and what he used to keep his mind active. One of the worst things a person can do is retire young, Breuning said.

"I remember we had a worker in the First National Bank one time retired early. He wanted to go fishing and hunting so bad. Two months (later) and he went back to the bank. He got his fishing and hunting all done and he wanted to go back to work," Breuning said.

"Don't retire until you're darn sure that you can't work anymore. Keep on working as long as you can work and you'll find that it's good for you," he added.

 Walter Breuning 244X183

In interviews in the years before his death, Walter Breuning passed on what he had learned from life.

Embrace change, even when the change slaps you in the face. ("Every change is good.")

Eat two meals a day ("That's all you need.")

Work as long as you can ("That money's going to come in handy.")

Help others ("The more you do for others, the better shape you're in.")

Then there's the hardest part. It's a lesson Breuning said he learned from his grandfather: Accept death.

"We're going to die. Some people are scared of dying. Never be afraid to die. Because you're born to die," he said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:01 AM | Permalink

March 18, 2011

The most dangerous fallout at Chernobyl was fear

Just how bad was Chernobyl anyway?  Real Clear Science puts Chernobyl in Perspective.

In 2006, 20 years after the accident, a group of eight UN agencies, including the International Atomic Energy Agency and the World Health Organization, assessed the damage in a study incorporating the work of hundreds of scientists and health experts from around the world.

It turns out that two decades after the fact, the death toll had not reached the tens of thousands that were predicted.  In fact,
fewer than 50 deaths could be directly attributable to radiation from the disaster, almost all of them among rescue workers who had been exposed to massive amounts of radiation on the disaster site at the time of the fire and its immediate aftermath.  In addition, nine children in the area died of thyroid cancer that is thought to have been caused by radioactive contamination, but even among the nearby population, there was neither evidence of decreased fertility nor of congenital malformations that could be attributed to radiation exposure.

It is worth putting even the UN’s low casualty figures in perspective. As the report notes, over 1,000 onsite reactor staff and emergency workers received heavy exposure to high levels of radiation on the first day of the accident, and some 200,000 workers were exposed in recovery operations from 1986-1987.  But only 50 had died of cancer 20 years later.

Exposed children are more at risk from thyroid cancer, but the recovery rate – even in the Soviet Ukraine – was 99 percent. The health experts could find no evidence of increased rates of leukemia or other cancers among the affected residents.

The largest public health problem created by the accident the UN study concludes  was the crippling “mental health impact” caused by widespread misinformation

In other words, the most dangerous fallout from the accident was fear.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:39 AM | Permalink

February 4, 2011

Political correctness kills

String of failures' cited in Fort Hood attack - warning signs unheeded

The report says evidence of Mr. Hasan‘s radicalization to violent Islamist extremism was on “full display to his superiors and colleagues during his military medical training” and that an instructor and a colleague each referred to him as a “ticking time bomb.” Not only was no action taken to discipline or discharge him, the report says, but also his officer evaluation reports sanitized his obsession with violent Islamist extremism into praiseworthy research on counterterrorism.

The Senate Investigation just adds details to what we already knew. Political correctness kills.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:43 AM | Permalink

January 28, 2011

Adult Truths

My favorite Adult Truths from Ka-ching

1. Part of a best friend’s job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die

3. I totally take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I’m pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren’t going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blu Ray? I don’t want to have to restart my collection…again.

14. I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

15. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:43 AM | Permalink

January 19, 2011

Lessons from a Grifter

A terrific memoir by Pat Jordan, What I Learned from My Father, the Grifter

He was a gambler and con man, and as such he had a unique sensibility about money. It still awes, confounds, and influences me to this day.

Just before he went under the knife, my father told me, “I have no regrets. I did everything the way I wanted to.”

By that he meant that he never worked for a corporation in an airless office for 40 years, never worked for anyone, really, never cashed a salary check, a stock option, a pension check. He never invested money in the stock market, an annuity, a savings account. He never had a credit card. He believed only in the cash in his hand and in his ability, his wits, to make more money out of that cash, or maybe lose it all, he didn’t care, as long as he didn’t entrust that money to forces and people beyond his control.


My father’s life was devoted to the pursuit of money, which is an odd thing to say about a man who was so disdainful of it that when he actually had it he couldn’t get rid of it fast enough. He never spent it on himself, though, except every 20 years or so to buy a new navy blazer with brass buttons from J. Press Clothiers in New Haven. My father always dressed shabby Ivy League, like an absentminded professor, which was part of his con. His cronies even called him “Ivy League.”


In many ways, I am my father’s son. once, in my 60s, I told my father, in his 90s, that I was not much like him. “How so?” he asked. I said, “I never gamble.” He laughed, a dismissive laugh, and said, “You? A freelance writer for 40 years?”


He taught me so many things that became a part of my life, that determined how I lived my life. He taught me that only a fool believes in perfect justice. “There’s no such thing as an accident,” he said. “You’re supposed to know the other guy always runs the stop sign.” He taught me that a man never quits no matter how defeated he feels, that a man always has to have the courage of his suffering. And most important, he taught me that “there are only three vices in this world, kid: broads, booze, and gambling, and if you’re gonna do it right, pick one and stick to it.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:48 PM | Permalink

January 18, 2011

Losing your sense of smell

New evidence that losing your sense of smell when you are older could mean your time is nigh.

How your sense of smell could predict when you're going to die

Scientists from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that the more everyday odours a person can identify, the more likely they are to be alive several years later.

The team gave more than 1,000 volunteers, aged between 53 and 100, a standard 12-item smell test.

Study leader Dr Robert Wilson told Mail Online: 'We used a scratch and sniff test for each odour where the participant had a choice of four options. 'The odours were fairly familiar such as smoke, lemon, black pepper, chocolate and cinnamon.'

The researchers then followed the participants, none of whom had dementia or Parkinson's disease at the time, for four years. During this period, 321 individuals or 27.6 per cent died. Amazingly, they found that the risk of death was 36 per cent higher for those who only got six of the answers correct compared to those who managed to identify 11 out of 12.

This association was true even when age, disability, depression, brain dysfunction and leisure activity was taken into account.

Smell the roses while you can, but don't worry if the roses at your florist/market have no smell. It's been breed out of them. You have to find old-fashioned roses - look in backyards - to understand what roses smell like.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:39 AM | Permalink

Best hangover cure

Still champ. Coffee and an aspirin the best hangover cure of all.

Scientists have confirmed what millions have suspected for years if you want to soothe a tired head - simply take some caffeine and a painkiller.

They found the caffeine in coffee and the anti-inflammatory ingredients of aspirin and other painkillers reacted against the chemical compounds of ethanol, or pure alcohol.

Ethanol brings on headaches thanks to a chemical acetate it can produce and even low doses can affect some people more than others, said the study.

Professor Michael Oshinsky, of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, induced headaches in rats using small amounts of ethanol. He then gave them doses of caffeine and anti-inflammatories to find it blocked the acetate and relieved the headaches.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:59 AM | Permalink

January 14, 2011

Blood Libel

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach in the Wall Street Journal, Sarah Palin Is Right About 'Blood Libel'.

Despite the strong association of the term with collective Jewish guilt and concomitant slaughter, Sarah Palin has every right to use it. The expression may be used whenever an amorphous mass is collectively accused of being murderers or accessories to murder.

The abominable element of the blood libel is not that it was used to accuse Jews, but that it was used to accuse innocent Jews—their innocence, rather than their Jewishness, being the operative point. Had the Jews been guilty of any of these heinous acts, the charge would not have been a libel.

--If Jews have learned anything in their long history, it is that a false indictment of murder against any group threatens every group.

--How unfortunate that some have chosen to compound a national tragedy by politicizing the murder of six innocent lives and the attempted assassination of a congresswoman.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:20 PM | Permalink

January 7, 2011

Slightly harder to read

A team of Princeton psychologists just released a new study that shows The Educational Benefit of Ugly Fonts

Numerous studies have found that making material harder to learn — what the researchers call disfluency — can actually improve long-term learning and retention:

There is strong theoretical justification to believe that disfluency could lead to improved retention and classroom performance. Disfluency has been shown to lead people to process information more deeply, more abstractly, more carefully, and yield better comprehension, all of which are critical to effective learning.


This study demonstrated that student retention of material across a wide range of subjects ... and difficulty levels ....can be significantly improved in naturalistic settings by presenting reading material in a format that is slightly harder to read….

If a simple change of font can significantly increase student performance, one can only imagine the number of beneficial cognitive interventions waiting to be discovered. Fluency demonstrates how we have the potential to make big improvements in the performance of our students and education system as a whole.

We all respond to a challenge by increasing our focus and attention.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:28 PM | Permalink

January 2, 2011

One Secret to a Happy Marriage

A social study confirms what all societies have believed up and down the centuries.

Want the secret to a happy marriage? Don't have sex before the wedding

But, according to a new study, it is couples who delay sex until after the wedding that enjoy a stronger relationship later in life.

Scientists at the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University, in Utah interviewed 2,035 married people about when they first had sex with their partner.

Analysis of the results showed that couples who waited until marriage before having sex enjoyed a much healthier relationship with their partner than those who started having sex in the early part of their relationship.

----In particular, relationship stability was rated 22 per cent higher, relationship satisfaction was 20 per cent higher, quality of sex was 15 per cent better and even communication between partners was 12 per cent better.

For couples who became sexually involved later in their relationship, but before marriage, the benefits were about half as strong.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:27 PM | Permalink

Digital Detox

Of course, she's writing a book about it

The mother who banned TV, internet and games consoles for six months and transformed her family's lives

initiated ‘The Experiment’, as it became known, because over a period of years I had watched and worried as the plethora of electronic gadgets in our home began to create a force field — separating my children from what my son, only half ironically, called ‘RL’ (Real Life). For much of the time we were sitting in separate rooms of the house, hunched over our devices, barely communicating. It had to be unhealthy.

___Anni has taken up cooking. She made beautiful banana muffins ... and an entire meal for friends and family last night. She has announced her intention to compile a personal cook book and has started writing down recipes. I was surprised by her tidy handwriting — I don’t think I’ve seen it since she was ten.

Bill has recently fished his old saxophone out of the toy cupboard. Listening to him playing Summertime after dinner was a moment of pure joy. It had been ages since I’d heard him play anything that didn’t involve a joystick or a mouse ----

__The children worried that life would be ‘boring’ without technology, but I think they are slowly starting to realise it was actually much more tedious when our lives were dominated by media.

_digital_detox_family.jpg -

As a long-term strategy, technology blackouts like the one we undertook are probably as effective as the Three-Day Lemon Detox Diet is for lifelong weight control. But as a consciousness-raising exercise, it really did work. No amount of talk (let alone yelling) could ever have persuaded my children of the extent of their media dependencies — and the value of time spent away from them — as eloquently as even a week of information abstinence. As The Experiment went on, I watched as my children awoke slowly to become more focused, logical thinkers.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:26 AM | Permalink

December 31, 2010

One or two things that may help

On the occasion of his 50th birthday, Father James Martin tweeted the 12 things he wished he had known when he was 25.

1. First up: Stop worrying so much! It's useless. (I.e. Jesus was right.)

2. Being a saint means being yourself. Stop trying to be someone else and just be your best self. Saves you heartache.

3. There's no right way to pray, any more than there's a right way to be a friend. What's "best" is what works best for you.

4. Remember three things and save yourself lots of unneeded heartache: You're not God. This ain't heaven. Don't act like a jerk.

5. Your deepest, most heartfelt desires are God's desires for you. And vice versa. Listen. And follow them.

6. Within you is the idea of your best self. Act as if you were that person and you will become that person, with God's grace.

7. Don't worry too much about the worst that can happen. Even if it happens, God is with you, and you can handle it. Really.

8. You can't force people to approve of you, agree with you, be impressed with you, love you or even like you. Stop trying.

9. When we compare, we are usually imagining someone else's life falsely. So our real-life loses out. I.e. Compare and despair.

10. Even when you finally realized the right thing, or the Christian thing, to do, it can still be hard to do. Do it anyway.

11. Seven things to say frequently: I love you. Thank you. Thank you, God. Forgive me. I'm so happy for you! Why not? Yes.

12. Peace and joy come after asking God to free you -- from anything that keeps you from being loving and compassionate.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:05 PM | Permalink

December 16, 2010

"Inadvertently, indirectly, infertility has become the Pill’s primary side effect."

Unexpected result

New York magazine looks at the impact of the Pill after 50 years. Waking Up from the Pill

The fact is that the Pill, while giving women control of their bodies for the first time in history, allowed them to forget about the biological realities of being female until it was, in some cases, too late. It changed the narrative of women’s lives, so that it was much easier to put off having children until all the fun had been had (or financial pressures lessened). Until the past couple of decades, even most die-hard feminists were still married at 25 and pregnant by 28, so they never had to deal with fertility problems, since a tiny percentage of women experience problems conceiving before the age of 28. Now many New York women have shifted their attempts at conception back about ten years. And the experience of trying to get pregnant at that age amounts to a new stage in women’s lives, a kind of second adolescence. For many, this passage into childbearing—a Gail Sheehy–esque one, with its own secrets and rituals—is as fraught a time as the one before was carefree.

Suddenly, one anxiety—Am I pregnant?—is replaced by another: Can I get pregnant? The days of gobbling down the Pill and running out to CVS at 3 a.m. for a pregnancy test recede in the distance, replaced by a new set of obsessions. The Pill didn’t create the field of infertility medicine, but it turned it into an enormous industry. Inadvertently, indirectly, infertility has become the Pill’s primary side effect.

And ironically, this most basic of women’s issues is one that traditional feminism has a very hard time processing—the notion that this freedom might have a cost is thought to be so dangerous it shouldn’t be mentioned.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:41 PM | Permalink

November 27, 2010

Upper Class Twits

Upper-Class People Have Trouble Recognizing Others' Emotions from Science Daily

Upper-class people have more educational opportunities, greater financial security, and better job prospects than people from lower social classes, but that doesn't mean they're more skilled at everything. A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds surprisingly, that lower-class people are better at reading the emotions of others.

How can they be so emotionally unintelligent? I suggest they are Our Ruling Class as Angelo Codevilla describes them:

Today's ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints.
Its attitude is key to understanding our bipartisan ruling class. Its first tenet is that "we" are the best and brightest while the rest of Americans are retrograde, racist, and dysfunctional unless properly constrained. How did this replace the Founding generation's paradigm that "all men are created equal"?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:50 AM | Permalink

October 25, 2010

Too much money

He won the lottery in 2005, quit his job and began drinking.  Two years his wife divorced him and he drank more 'out of boredom'.  While being treated for alcohol dependency, he met a fraudster who conned him out of more than a million dollars. Finally, the 'Bored' £9million lottery winner drank himself to death

Keith Gough, 58, said in an interview last year that his life had been 'ruined' by his lottery win.

He said: 'Without routine in my life I started to spend, spend, spend. In the end I was just bored.

'Before the win all I would drink was some wine with a meal. I used to be popular but I've driven away all my friends. I don't trust anyone any more.

'When I see someone going in to a newsagent, I advise them not to buy a lottery ticket.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:00 AM | Permalink

Telemarketing scheme exploits Make-A-Wish, targets elderly

ABC spent 6 months tracking down an ugly telemarketing scheme, exploiting the good name of the Make-A-Wish Foundation and aimed at the elderly.

Swindlers pretending to be calling from such government agencies as the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Trade Commission have put a new twist on an old con. They are hiding offshore, thousands of miles away, but they're using internet phone technology to disguise their location. Victims see a 202 area code on their phones when the calls come in, and dial seemingly authentic U.S. phone numbers to call the scammers back. "Unlike the standard telemarketing frauds & these weren't people hiding behind a phone number you couldn't call -- a voice you couldn't recreate. These were people who left telephone numbers and would talk to you," said Paul Allvin, a vice president of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, who became alarmed when he started hearing from multiple victims a week about the fraudulent calls.
During a six-month investigation, ABC News obtained never-before published recordings of the phone calls and tracked down two fugitives who have been hiding in Costa Rica. The two men, Roberto Fields Curtis and Andreas Leimer, both Americans formerly of Florida, have been indicted in the scheme but avoided extradition because they also held Costa Rican citizenship.
But among those most alarmed have been the officials who lead the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which relies on the trust of the public for its funding. Earlier this year, the non profit organization posted a fraud alert on its website. But Allvin said the volume of calls from victims only increased.

"We've never seen something so despicable," Allvin said. "These people around hiding offshore -- willingly destroying people's lives by taking every nickel they can suck out of them. And they're using the good name of the Make-A-Wish Foundation to do it. I'm not sure how much more you can pile on top of that collection of underhanded tactics just to line your own pockets."

ABC video here.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:37 AM | Permalink

October 7, 2010

On the same page

I knew people in sync mirrored each other's body posture, but I didn't realize that it goes even further.    People in sync mirror each other's style of language.  Interesting

Happy Couples Are On the Same Page - Literally

A new study finds that people match each other's language styles more during happier periods of their relationship. Even famous poets who were married exhibited this effect in their poetry, the study found.

The tendency to mirror our voice to that of our conversation partners is called "language style matching."

"When two people start a conversation, they usually begin talking alike within a matter of seconds," said James Pennebaker, a psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin and an author of the new study published in the September issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. "This also happens when people read a book or watch a movie. As soon as the credits roll, they find themselves talking like the author or the central characters."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:14 AM | Permalink

October 5, 2010


I've been meaning to post about What we can learn from procrastination by James Surowiecki in The New Yorker, but I just didn't get around to it.

The subhead is What does procrastination tell us about ourselves?

I guess I'm just like everyone else who procrastinates because it's mysterious to me except as evidence of our divided selves.

Philosophers are interested in procrastination for another reason. It’s a powerful example of what the Greeks called akrasia—doing something against one’s own better judgment. Piers Steel defines procrastination as willingly deferring something even though you expect the delay to make you worse off.

Lack of confidence, sometimes alternating with unrealistic dreams of heroic success, often leads to procrastination, and many studies suggest that procrastinators are self-handicappers: rather than risk failure, they prefer to create conditions that make success impossible, a reflex that of course creates a vicious cycle.

The first step to dealing with procrastination isn’t admitting that you have a problem. It’s admitting that your “you”s have a problem.

You can use external tools to get you going (Hasslebot is  a good one.

Beyond self-binding, there are other ways to avoid dragging your feet, most of which depend on what psychologists might call reframing the task in front of you.

You know, dividing up the open-ended task or goal into smaller steps.

Another way of making procrastination less likely is to reduce the amount of choice we have: often when people are afraid of making the wrong choice they end up doing nothing. So companies might be better off offering their employees fewer investment choices in their 401(k) plans, and making signing up for the plan the default option.

Then again, maybe what you are putting off doing, isn't worth doing anyway.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:39 PM | Permalink

September 25, 2010

Maine Family Robinson

My wife and I noticed the utter breakdown of enormous parts of the lives of average Americans, the destruction or subversion of many formerly useful institutions, and a general retreat to barbarism masquerading as progress. We decided to change our lives a while ago, and not unlike the Swiss Family, the last three or four years took even the last lifeboat we found ourselves in and smashed it on the rocks. We have reinvented ourselves, and we'll tell you how we're doing it, if you're interested.

Greg Sullivan who  "hurls essays at the Internet like gigantic curses"  at Sippican Cottage, now "happily stranded" in  Western Maine is telling his story of Maine Family Robinson  and I'm not going to miss a chapter of it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:59 PM | Permalink

September 7, 2010

Thinking of study as packing a neural suitcase

Some good and surprising advice for young and old on how to study.

Research Upends Traditional Thinking on Study Habits.

Cognitive scientists do not deny that honest-to-goodness cramming can lead to a better grade on a given exam. But hurriedly jam-packing a brain is akin to speed-packing a cheap suitcase, as most students quickly learn — it holds its new load for a while, then most everything falls out.

“With many students, it’s not like they can’t remember the material” when they move to a more advanced class, said Henry L. Roediger III, a psychologist at Washington University in St. Louis. “It’s like they’ve never seen it before.”

When the neural suitcase is packed carefully and gradually, it holds its contents for far, far longer. An hour of study tonight, an hour on the weekend, another session a week from now: such so-called spacing improves later recall, without requiring students to put in more overall study effort or pay more attention, dozens of studies have found.

No one knows for sure why. It may be that the brain, when it revisits material at a later time, has to relearn some of what it has absorbed before adding new stuff — and that that process is itself self-reinforcing.
That’s one reason cognitive scientists see
testing itself — or practice tests and quizzes — as a powerful tool of learning, rather than merely assessment. The process of retrieving an idea is not like pulling a book from a shelf; it seems to fundamentally alter the way the information is subsequently stored, making it far more accessible in the future.
“Testing has such bad connotation; people think of standardized testing or teaching to the test,” Dr. Roediger said. “Maybe we need to call it something else, but this is one of the most powerful learning tools we have.”
The more mental sweat it takes to dig it out, the more securely it will be subsequently anchored.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:31 AM | Permalink

When to disclose how much you owe

There's a whole new obstacle to marriage these days - debt.  Especially if you don't know how big it really is.

How Debt Can Destroy a Budding Relationship.

Nobody likes unpleasant surprises, but when Allison Brooke Eastman’s fiancé found out four months ago just how high her student loan debt was, he had a particularly strong reaction: he broke off the engagement within three days.

Still, all of this raises the question: At what point do you have a moral obligation to disclose your indebtedness during courtship? On the eighth date? When you get to third base? In your eHarmony online dating profile?
Ms. Eastman in San Francisco says she knows that now. “What would I have done differently, besides bringing a copy of my credit report on the first date?” she said, with a rueful chuckle. “I would have been more responsible.”

And while she hasn’t dated anyone seriously enough in recent months to get to the point of disclosure, she says it’s probably necessary by the eighth or 10th date. “I know that now,” she said. “But it had never occurred to me that this is something that might end up being a deal-breaker.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:22 AM | Permalink

September 1, 2010

Back to School Advice

If you have a child or two  going to college this fall, tuck a copy of Walter Mead's essay Back to School into their luggage so they will take his very good advice with them.

And so, dear students, welcome back!  Your generation is going to have dig its own way out of the hole my generation has dug for you (thanks for the Medicare, kids, and sorry about the deficit!), but here are a few tips that may help you get the best out of your college years.
1. The real world does not work like school.

2. Most of your elders know very little about the world into which you are headed.

3. You are going to have to work much, much harder than you probably expect.

4. Choosing the right courses is more important than choosing the right college.

5. Get a traditional liberal education; it is the only thing that will do you any good.

6. Character counts; so do good habits.

7. Relax.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:13 PM | Permalink

August 26, 2010

Lessons from three years around the world

Back from a three year trip around the world with only a backpack and laptop Gary Arndt tells us the 20 Things I Learned.

People are usually good; the media lies; the world is boring; people don't hate Americans; Americans aren't as ignorant as you might think; Americans don't travel; the rest of the world isn't full of germs; you don't need a lot of stuff; traveling doesn't have to be expensive; culture matters; culture changes; everyone is proud of where they are from; America and Canada share a common culture; most people have a deep desire to travel around the world; you can find the internet almost everywhere; in developing countries, government is usually the problem; English is becoming universal; modernization is not Westernization; we view other nations by a different set of criteria than we view ourselves; and finally, everyone should travel

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:38 PM | Permalink

Are you losing control of your digital selves?

What's online can hurt you as many job applicants have found to their dismay.

Remember the New York Times Magazine piece from a few weeks ago? The Web Means the End of Forgetting.

When historians of the future look back on the perils of the early digital age, Stacy Snyder may well be an icon. The problem she faced is only one example of a challenge that, in big and small ways, is confronting millions of people around the globe: how best to live our lives in a world where the Internet records everything and forgets nothing — where every online photo, status update, Twitter post and blog entry by and about us can be stored forever. With Web sites like LOL Facebook Moments, which collects and shares embarrassing personal revelations from Facebook users, ill-advised photos and online chatter are coming back to haunt people months or years after the fact.

In a recent book, “Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age,” the cyberscholar Viktor Mayer-Schönberger cites Stacy Snyder’s case as a reminder of the importance of “societal forgetting.” By “erasing external memories,” he says in the book, “our society accepts that human beings evolve over time, that we have the capacity to learn from past experiences and adjust our behavior.” In traditional societies, where missteps are observed but not necessarily recorded, the limits of human memory ensure that people’s sins are eventually forgotten. By contrast, Mayer-Schönberger notes, a society in which everything is recorded “will forever tether us to all our past actions, making it impossible, in practice, to escape them.” He concludes that “without some form of forgetting, forgiving becomes a difficult undertaking.”

Luckily a few entrepreneurs have seized the opportunity to fill a need that was unimaginable thirty years ago.

For a fee, digital dirt can be buried

Michael Fertik knows all about how online searches can damage reputations. The 2005 Harvard Law School graduate founded ReputationDefender four years ago because he didn’t like how young people’s online behavior could be permanently recorded on the Internet and haunt them later.

For a fee that ranges between $10 a month and $1,000 a year, the Redwood City, Calif.-based company works to counteract negative reviews, comments, or blog entries for clients.

“People were losing control of their digital selves, and there was something fundamentally un-American about that,’’ said Fertik, 31. “I don’t think the random product of a Google machine needs to define your life.’’

The company promotes more “positive factual’’ or “neutral news’’ by using multiple profile pages and social media links so that they will surface higher on search results.

ReputationDefender, the foremost company in the growing field, recently raised $15 million in new venture capital.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:34 PM | Permalink

LIfe 101

Doing Good and Doing Well - teaching virtue to a skeptical generation

After a few years of teaching the course, I’ve begun to think of it as lessons in “Life 101” — how to boost your well-being through a modern understanding of virtue. Many young adults are struggling with the ethical challenges of the real world not because they aren’t good people, but because they need a refresher course on how to live an honest, successful, and productive life. The motto of my high school was “not for school, but for life we learn.” That’s how I see my course on the Sociology of Everyday Life.   ---------

Some might argue that I'm devaluing the intrinsic truth of the virtues by focusing on their instrumental benefits — that is, conflating what’s good with what works. But teaching students the practical benefits of living virtuously is the most realistic first step to inculcating them with virtue. We all know that it’s good to be honest, generous, self-controlled, tenacious, and thrifty, but it’s the doing that dogs us.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit - Aristotle
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:05 AM | Permalink

August 24, 2010

AA: The Power of the Group

From Wired, Secret of AA: After 75 Years, We Don’t Know How It Works

“Doesn’t matter how much snow we get—a foot, 10 feet piled up in front of the door,” he says. “I will leave my apartment tomorrow and go find a meeting.”

He clasps his hands together and draws them to his heart: “You understand me? I need this.” Daily meetings, the man says, are all that prevent him from winding up dead in the gutter, shoes gone because he sold them for booze or crack. And he hasn’t had a drink in more than a decade.

The resolve is striking, though not entirely surprising. AA has been inspiring this sort of ardent devotionfor 75 years.

------It’s all quite an achievement for a onetime broken-down drunk. And Wilson’s success is even more impressive when you consider that AA and its steps have become ubiquitous despite the fact that no one is quite sure how—or, for that matter, how well—they work. The organization is notoriously difficult to study, thanks to its insistence on anonymity and its fluid membership. And AA’s method, which requires “surrender” to a vaguely defined “higher power,” involves the kind of spiritual revelations that neuroscientists have only begun to explore.

What we do know, however, is that despite all we’ve learned over the past few decades about psychology, neurology, and human behavior, contemporary medicine has yet to devise anything that works markedly better. “In my 20 years of treating addicts, I’ve never seen anything else that comes close to the 12 steps,” says Drew Pinsky, the addiction-medicine specialist who hosts VH1’s Celebrity Rehab. “In my world, if someone says they don’t want to do the 12 steps, I know they aren’t going to get better.”

------One thing is certain, though: AA doesn’t work for everybody. In fact, it doesn’t work for the vast majority of people who try it. And understanding more about who it does help, and why, is likely our best shot at finally developing a system that improves on Wilson’s amateur scheme for living without the bottle.

___There’s no doubt that when AA works, it can be transformative. But what aspect of the program deserves most of the credit? Is it the act of surrendering to a higher power? The making of amends to people a drinker has wronged? The simple admission that you have a problem? Stunningly, even the most highly regarded AA experts have no idea.


There is evidence that a big part of AA’s effectiveness may have nothing to do with the actual steps. It may derive from something more fundamental: the power of the group....after a review of nearly 200 articles on group therapy, a pair of Stanford University researchers pinpointed why the approach works so well: “Members find the group to be a compelling emotional experience; they develop close bonds with the other members and are deeply influenced by their acceptance and feedback.”

Lots more at the link.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:40 PM | Permalink

August 7, 2010

It will be a while before I look for a new gym

I cancelled my gym membership a few months back when my favorite yoga teacher, Michael Preston, a politically incorrect fifty-year-old male who not only understood what aging bodies could do and couldn't do and made laugh at once in every session, moved away.    With him gone, the gym just seemed boring and  I just go very much once Spring arrived and I could begin working in my garden and taking long walks.

Just as well after reading in the New York Times the ease with which, even at the best gyms, one can pick up serious skin diseases and irritating, even horrific, infections.      In sum, one in three people have a skin disease that is communicable.

The advice one athletic trainer and co-author of the report gives may be good advice, but it sure takes the steam out of any desire I might have had to find a new gym.

If you plan to work out in a gym or use a locker room, Mr. Foley suggested that before choosing a facility, you quiz the management about the cleaning agents used (they should be approved by the Environmental Protection Agency) and daily cleaning schedule for all surfaces and equipment. If exercise mats are not cleaned between classes, he suggested bringing your own. Antibacterial wipes or spray bottles should be provided and used by everyone to clean equipment after a workout.

Be Sure Exercise is All You Get at the Gym

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:16 PM | Permalink

July 27, 2010

"Your joy is bigger than the universe and contains all the sorrow of a lifetime"

When Gerard Vanderleun calls the "most moving, terrible and wonderful essay on the world wide web today...Something rare and something of great power",  I clicked right over to For Jessica


The sky has fallen down many times in your daughter's short life, the sky with all the stars in it, and you have picked up the pieces more times than you can remember, and you have climbed the ladder and put them back in place, where you think they should go, and you get things in backwards and out of sequence, but you do the best you can, and you climb down off the ladder, and you're at peace with your work. You wish it could be better, but there's only one of you, and the sky is so vast, it takes a while to put it back together again, and you did the best you could.

She’s accustomed to your moods, so she nods, and she turns on the radio. “It’s your favorite song!” she says.  “Isn’t that lucky?”

And you hug her hard, but she’s used to that, too, and she lets you, and even lets you sing along without complaining (“this time only, mom!”), and you are lucky, probably the luckiest woman living, and happier than you have ever been, but not in any way an academic would understand, or even conceive.  Your joy is bigger than the universe and contains all the sorrow of a lifetime, and has nothing whatsoever to do with feeling sufficiently rewarded for your work.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:49 PM | Permalink

July 23, 2010

Intervention. "What the hell is this show doing right?"

Well, isn't this a refreshing bit of news, a reality show that can really teach us something.

The A&E reality-TV show Intervention has a 71 percent success rate in rehabbing the most determined, hardened addicts.

here is the obvious question: How has a 45-minute reality show that airs during summer on basic cable succeeded where so many other treatment regimes have failed? Why does a camera crew filming a determined drug addict hitting bottom convince someone to go into recovery? Does it merely take a united family leveling threats all at once to exorcise some of the demonic powers of addiction? In other words, what the hell is this show doing right?
Intervention offers real drama—drama in the Greek sense of the word: It’s all fear and pity and pathos. Instead of just documenting the annals of addiction and the humiliation people put themselves through in order to maintain it, the show instead focuses on the complicated ecosystems that sustain addiction: families.
So what role do the cameras play in this road to recovery? Is that another element in the show’s successful treatment rate? According to VanVonderen, no. "It's not because of the show that people have broken through their addiction—I think it's because of the intervention. People are more likely to go to treatment if there’s an intervention, they’re more likely to stay in treatment, they’re more likely to do better afterward, because everything’s changed. Not just, they went to treatment. The family’s gonna get well without you, and that comes through in the intervention.”

In other words, VanVonderen says the real power of the intervention comes through when addicts learn, “Now the jig is up, it’s not gonna work like it did before. That strikes fear into their hearts.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:40 PM | Permalink

July 19, 2010

"The heart of the farming technique was the compost pit"

I found  My Grandfather's Earthworm Farm absolutely fascinating and compelling in practicality of the picture of order and harmony with nature it draws when I read it for the first time several years ago.  Reading it again, I feel the same awe.

And now enters the earthworm. For more than sixty years these 160 acres had been farmed without a single crop failure. My grandfather was known far and wide for the unequalled excellence of his corn and other grain, and a large part of his surplus was disposed of at top prices for seed purposes. The farm combined general farming and stock raising; my grandfather's hobby, for pleasure and profit, was the breeding and training of fine saddle horses and matched Hambletonian teams. He maintained a herd of about fifty horses, including stud, brood mares, and colts in all stages of development. In addition to horses, he had cattle, sheep, hogs, and a variety of fowl, including a flock of about five hundred chickens which had the run of the barnyard,with a flock of ducks. Usually about three hundred head of stock were wintered. The hired help consisted of three or four men, according to the season, with additional help at rush seasons. This establishment was maintained in prosperity and plenty, and my grandfather attributed his unvarying success as a farmer to his utilization of earthworms in maintaining and rebuilding the fertility of the soil in an unbroken cycle. The heart of the farming technique was the compost pit.

Thanks to Maggie's Farm for the repost

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:00 AM | Permalink

Business School Lessons Applied to Real Life

The innovative and highly respected author of The Innovator's Dilemma, Clayton Christensen asked his graduating students at the Harvard Business School three questions.

First, how can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career? Second, how can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness? Third, how can I be sure I’ll stay out of jail?

Then he used his own life as a case study so that his students could see how he applied his own theories to guide his life decisions. 

Here are some snippets from How Will You Measure Your Life?

More and more MBA students come to school thinking that a career in business means buying, selling, and investing in companies. That’s unfortunate. Doing deals doesn’t yield the deep rewards that come from building up people.
The choice and successful pursuit of a profession is but one tool for achieving your purpose. But without a purpose, life can become hollow.
If you study the root causes of business disasters, over and over you’ll find this predisposition toward endeavors that offer immediate gratification. If you look at personal lives through that lens, you’ll see the same stunning and sobering pattern: people allocating fewer and fewer resources to the things they would have once said mattered most.
Like employees, children build self-esteem by doing things that are hard and learning what works.
The lesson I learned from this is that it’s easier to hold to your principles 100% of the time than it is to hold to them 98% of the time. If you give in to “just this once,” based on a marginal cost analysis, as some of my former classmates have done, you’ll regret where you end up. You’ve got to define for yourself what you stand for and draw the line in a safe place.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:44 AM | Permalink

May 9, 2010

Things my mother taught me

A passalong for all moms everywhere.  Happy Mothers' Day


1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL  DONE. 

"If you're going to kill each other, do it  outside.  I just finished cleaning." 

2. My mother  taught me RELIGION. 

"You better pray that will come  out of the carpet."

3. My mother taught me about  TIME TRAVEL. 

"If you don't straighten up, I'm going to  knock you into the middle of next week!"

4. My  mother taught me LOGIC.   

"Because I said so, that's  why." 

5. My mother taught me MORE  LOGIC. 

"If you fall out of that swing and break your neck,  you're not going to the store with me."

6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT. 

"Make sure you wear clean  underwear, in case you're in an accident."

7. My  mother taught me IRONY. 

"Keep crying, and I'll give  you something to cry about."

8. My mother taught me  about the science of OSMOSIS. 

"Shut your mouth and eat  your supper." 

9. My mother taught me about  CONTORTIONISM. 

"Will you look at that dirt on the back  of your neck!" 

10. My mother taught me about STAMINA.   

"You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone." 

11. My mother taught me about  WEATHER. 

"This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it." 

12. My mother taught me about  HYPOCRISY.   

"If I told you once, I've told you a million times.  Don't exaggerate!"

13. My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE.   

"I brought you into this world,  and I can take you out."

14. My mother taught me about  BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION.   

"Stop acting like your  father!"

15. My mother taught me about  ENVY. 

"There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do."

16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.   

"Just wait until we get home"

17. My mother taught me about RECEIVING   

"You  are going to get it when you get home!"

18. My mother  taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.   

"If you don't stop crossing  your eyes, they are going to freeze that way."

19. My  mother taught me ESP.   

"Put your sweater on; don't you  think  I know when you are cold?"

20. My mother taught me  HUMOR.   

"When that lawn mower cuts off your toes,mdon't  come running to me."

21. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT. 

"If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll  never grow up."

22. My mother taught me  GENETICS. 
You're just like your father."

23. My mother taught me about my ROOTS.   

"Shut  that door behind you.  Do you think you were born in a barn?"

24. My mother taught me  WISDOM.   

"When you get to be my age, you'll understand."

And my favorite:

25.  My mother taught  me about JUSTICE.     

"One day you'll have kids        and I hope they turn out just like you!"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:13 AM | Permalink

April 28, 2010

Council of Dads

When Bruce Feller was told he had a rare and serious form of bone cancer, he immediately worried about his twin daughters.  How would they live without him?  How best to pass on his life lessons to his daughters at their different stages of life?

“Would they wonder who I was? Would they wonder what I thought? Would they lack for my approval, my discipline, my voice?”

Then he realized how he could give that to them even if he wasn’t there. He appointed a
Council of Dads, men from different stages of his life who would try to fill his role. He reached out to these men in a letter that spelled out his wishes.

“I believe my daughters will have plenty of opportunities in their lives,” he wrote. “They’ll have loving families. They’ll have welcoming homes. They’ll have each other. But they may not have their dad. Will you be their dad?”
Feiler set some early rules for his council: no family, only friends. No women, only men. He wanted council members to represent different elements of his personality. He wanted a dad to take his girls to a sporting event, a dad to buy them a ridiculous future gadget we can’t even fathom, a dad who would sit through the dance recitals.

He found six men to fill his many roles: a nature-loving dad, a travel dad, camp counselor dad. He also wanted them to come from different times his life: the childhood pal, the book agent, the college friend. They all accepted the challenge, sometimes poignantly. Feiler writes that one council member, who lost his own father when he was a child, said, “The most important thing a parent can do, I believe, is water a child profusely with love. I would water your children with love.”

Another told Feiler that by creating a council, he had ensured that his voice would never be forgotten because his girls would be surrounded “with voices that will, in the totality of symphony, create sounds of their father.”


Reading more about Bruce at his website, Bruce says the Council of Dads turns out to be less about parenting and more about friendship and closing the divide between close friends and children.

Now he wants to take his concept worldwide.  He's encouraging others to set up their own councils via his website
Council of Dads

He has partnered with the National Fatherhood Initiative and is working to put how-to pamphlets on 1,500 military bases for members of the armed forces.

“It resonates with them because they spend time away from their children and it’s a professional hazard that they might die,” he said.

USA Weekend interviews the six friends to learn what they have to share. It takes a village of dads.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:45 AM | Permalink

March 2, 2010

Prozac and God

Studies: Belief in God relieves depression

University of Toronto psychologists reported last year that "believing in God can help block anxiety and minimize stress," their research showcasing "distinct brain differences" between believers and nonbelievers.

A new study released Wednesday by Rush University Medical Center in Chicago took the idea a step further.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:43 AM | Permalink

January 2, 2010

Happy Apocalypse: Repent and recycle

Loved the graphic and the article by Denis Dutton


It's Always the End of the World as We Know It.

Apocalyptic scenarios are a diversion from real problems — poverty, terrorism, broken financial systems — needing intelligent attention. Even something as down-to-earth as the swine-flu scare has seemed at moments to be less about testing our health care system and its emergency readiness than about the fate of a diseased civilization drowning in its own fluids. We wallow in the idea that one day everything might change in, as St. Paul put it, the “twinkling of an eye” — that a calamity might prove to be the longed-for transformation. But turning practical problems into cosmic cataclysms takes us further away from actual solutions.

This applies, in my view, to the towering seas, storms, droughts and mass extinctions of popular climate catastrophism. Such entertaining visions owe less to scientific climatology than to eschatology, and that familiar sense that modernity and its wasteful comforts are bringing us closer to a biblical day of judgment. As that headline put it for Y2K, predictions of the end of the world are often intertwined with condemnations of human “folly, greed and denial.” Repent and recycle!

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:47 PM | Permalink

November 4, 2009

Five Hard Truths

Five Hard Truths That Will Set You Free

1. Life is hard.
2. Your life is not about you.
3. You are not in control
4. You are not that important
5. You are going to die.

-Hoag's Object

Hoag's object

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:22 AM | Permalink

October 15, 2009

"If your gas grill won’t start….walk away."

With the perspective of an ER physician, Dr. McGuff offers advice to  help prevent you from "offing yourself prematurely".

1. Drive the biggest vehicle you can afford to drive. Your greatest risk of death comes from a motor vehicle accident... It goes without saying to wear your seatbelts, and you should be engulfed by as many air bags as possible. If we were truly rational about risk, all seat belts would be 5-point restraints and we would wear helmets while driving.

2. Never get on a 4-wheeler ATV. These are the most dangerous vehicle that I know of. ATV’s have produced more quadriplegics than anything else I have seen.

3. Do not road cycle or jog on public roads/roadsides. This is self-evident.

4. Do not fly a plane or helicopter unless you are a full-time professional pilot. If you are a doctor, lawyer, actor, athlete, stockbroker or other well-to-do professional do not get a pilot’s license. Expertise in one area of life does not transfer to piloting, often with fatal results.

5. If you are walking down a sidewalk and are approaching a group of loud and apparently intoxicated males, cross to the other side of the street immediately. If anyone tries to start a fight with you, the first step should be “choke them with heel dust”.

6. If your gas grill won’t start….walk away. Never throw gas (or other accelerant) on a fire.

7. Never dive into a pool or body of water (except in a pool diving area marked 9 feet or deeper after you have checked in out feet-first).

8. Never get on a ladder to clean your gutters, or on your roof to hang Christmas lights. Do not cut down trees with a chainsaw. I have seen too many middle age males (with a bug up their ass to get something done) die from these activities. In general, any house or lawn work that you can hire for an amount equal to or less than your own hourly wage is money well spent.

9. If you are retirement age and plan on moving to a new home…think twice. The stress pushes many seniors over the edge. If you do, buy an existing house. I have lost count of the number of retirees that have died of heart attacks while going through the stress of custom-building their retirement dream home.

10. If anyone tries to force you into your car or car trunk at gun point, don’t cooperate. Fight and scream all you can even if you risk getting shot in the parking lot. If you get in the car, you will most likely die (or worse).

11. If you are in any personal or professional relationship that exhausts you or otherwise causes your recurrent distress, then end the relationship immediately.

12. Don’t play the lottery…you might win. Any unearned wealth, or wealth that is disproportionate to the objective value you provide will destroy you. Lottery winners and Sports/Movie stars share a common bond of disproportionate rates of depression, addiction, and suicide.

Via First Thoughts

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:26 AM | Permalink

October 12, 2009

Michael Pollan's food rules

Well, actually, they are not his, but his readers. The top 20 from 2500 received.  Here's one I follow.

 Food Rule-1

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:20 PM | Permalink

October 6, 2009

A Man of Faith

I never heard of Jack Rushton who, some 20 years ago while body surfing with his son was picked up by a wave and thrown onto a rock breaking his neck and injuring his spinal cord. 

"I learned within days after my accident that any quality of life I would have from that point on would be centered in the mind and the spirit," he said.

Rushton compared it to leaving mortality and entering the spirit world -- having to, in essence, leave his functioning physical body behind.

"Yet my mind was consumed by cherished truths I think maybe I had taken for granted for much of my life," he said. "They brought great peace of mind to me and helped me to deal with a future that looked black and almost impossible to comprehend."

But when I saw his YouTube video, I couldn't believe how funny he was and how inspiring. 

He writes the blog Observations to leave behind for his 6 children and 17 grandchildren.  Here he writes about the enormous effect of receiving loving kindness from others.

There was an African American nurse that worked the night shift from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. about three nights each week. She radiated a spirit of love and light that penetrated my dark world every time she was with me. Every morning before she would leave to go home, knowing that with the shift change I would probably not see another nurse for at least an hour, she would get a basin full of hot water and with a washcloth she would wash and massage my face in a most loving and caring way. It was not doctor's orders and no other nurse ever thought to do it... but she did, and she did it every morning she was there. No one can know how good that felt, especially when you can't feel anything in your entire body except your face and the top of your head. But as good as it felt physically it even felt better emotionally to have someone, really a stranger, show that kind of love and concern.

Another flash of light that always brought hope and made the worst of times a good time was the care given to me by an African-American nurse's aide. He was a big man, muscular, an Afro hairdo, ear rings, various tattoos, and a loud voice. You wouldn't want to meet him in a dark alley late at night. Poor Jo Anne was afraid to leave the hospital that first night that he was to be a participant in my care. How true it is that looks can be deceiving. I was never treated with such respect, kindness, and tenderness by anyone at Rancho than by him. He couldn't do enough for me. I always rejoiced when I realized he was to be my helper during a 12 hour period. It was obvious to me that what he was doing was not being done out of a sense of duty but out of love and deep concern for me and the other young men in our spinal cord injury unit. He had a great sense of humor and made me feel good in spite of myself and the trauma I was going through.

The power of faith is quite extraordinary.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:48 PM | Permalink

'Time management is a myth'

What every Super Achiever Knows About Time Management  from the Field Guide for Real Estate Investors

Yet, the super achievers seem to have all the time they need. They must know the secrets of time management the rest of us don't. In December of 2007 and January of 2008 I interviewed a sampling of the really high achievers here at the Field Guide and I learned an amazing time management revelation.

They do know a secret but it is not the one you might expect. The super achievers know that time management is a myth. They focus not on managing their time but on managing their achievements
They know a to do list is often used as an excuse to avoid the difficult, yet critical, task.
Super achievers don't manage their time, they create, manage and maximize their opportunities. At any given time they know the one critical, must complete, task and they work on that task

HT Instapundit

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:07 PM | Permalink

September 24, 2009

Get More Sleep

Sleeping  Polar Bear

Sleep boosts the immune system and Lack of Sleep Increases the Risk of Catching a Cold

Sleep and immunity, it seems, are tightly linked. Studies have found that mammals that require the most sleep also produce greater levels of disease-fighting white blood cells — but not red blood cells, even though both are produced in bone marrow and stem from the same precursor. And researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology have shown that species that sleep more have greater resistance against pathogens.

“Species that have evolved longer sleep durations,” the Planck scientists wrote, “appear to be able to increase investment in their immune systems and be better protected.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:09 AM | Permalink

September 1, 2009

Don't help digital criminals

It's obvious to some of us, but not others that Digital criminals can use Twitter and Facebook to find targets.

Identity Opener

Don't post your vacation plans and dates until after you return home.

Don't post personal information on any website unless you wouldn't mind seeing it on the front page of your local newspaper

Don't friend people you don't know.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:29 AM | Permalink

August 11, 2009

Unlikely life advice

Life advice you're unlikely to hear at a commencement address unless P.J. O'Rourke shows up.

1. Go out an make a bunch of money
2. Don't be an idealist
3. Get politically uninvolved
4. Forget about fairness
5. Be a religious extremist
6. Don't listen to your elders

Pj O'rourke Photo - Credit James Kegley-72Dpi  Now read why he says what he says.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:43 AM | Permalink

August 2, 2009

"Grit, it turns out, is an essential (and often overlooked) component of success"

Jonah Lehrer tells us The Truth about Grit in today's Boston Globe

In recent years, psychologists have come up with a term to describe this mental trait: grit. Although the idea itself isn’t new - “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration,” Thomas Edison famously remarked - the researchers are quick to point out that grit isn’t simply about the willingness to work hard. Instead, it’s about setting a specific long-term goal and doing whatever it takes until the goal has been reached. It’s always much easier to give up, but people with grit can keep going.
Grit, it turns out, is an essential (and often overlooked) component of success.
The new focus on grit is part of a larger scientific attempt to study the personality traits that best predict achievement in the real world. While researchers have long focused on measurements of intelligence, such as the IQ test, as the crucial marker of future success, these scientists point out that most of the variation in individual achievement - what makes one person successful, while another might struggle - has nothing to do with being smart. Instead, it largely depends on personality traits such as grit and conscientiousness. It’s not that intelligence isn’t really important - Newton was clearly a genius - but that having a high IQ is not nearly enough.

Grit meaning "pluck"  and "spirit" in addition to perseverance is an American word describing a certain American type we don't see much of anymore,

 True Grit

What happened?

Lewis Terman, the inventor of the Stanford-Binet IQ test, ...spent decades following a large sample of “gifted” students, searching for evidence that his measurement of intelligence was linked to real world success. ... Terman also found that other traits, such as “perseverance,” were much more pertinent.  Terman concluded that one of the most fundamental tasks of modern psychology was to figure out why intelligence is not a more important part of achievement: “Why this is so, and what circumstances affect the fruition of human talent, are questions of such transcendent importance that they should be investigated by every method that promises the slightest reduction of our present ignorance.”
Unfortunately, in the decades following Terman’s declaration, little progress was made on the subject. Because intelligence was so easy to measure - the IQ test could be given to schoolchildren, and often took less than an hour - it continued to dominate research on individual achievement.

The end result, says James J. Heckman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist at the University of Chicago, is that “there was a generation of social scientists who focused almost exclusively on trying to raise IQ and academic test scores. The assumption was that intelligence is what mattered and what could be measured, and so everything else, all these non-cognitive traits like grit and self-control, shouldn’t be bothered with.”

Angela Duckworth, a psychologist at UPenn is a pioneer in the study of grit says

“I’d bet that there isn’t a single highly successful person who hasn’t depended on grit.  Nobody is talented enough to not have to work hard, and that’s what grit allows you to do.”

But grit isn’t just about stubborn perseverance - it’s also about finding a goal that can sustain our interest for years at a time. Consider two children learning to play the piano, each with the same level of raw talent and each expending the same effort toward musical training. However, while one child focuses on the piano, the other child experiments with the saxophone and cello. “The kid who sticks with one instrument is demonstrating grit,” Duckworth says. “Maybe it’s more fun to try something new, but high levels of achievement require a certain single-mindedness.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:14 PM | Permalink

Shine your shoes

One of Six Manly Ways to Settle Your Mind

Shining your shoes can seem like a chore, but as many of you discovered during our 30 Days to a Better Man Challenge, the task can actually be quite therapeutic. There’s something about the smell, the tools, and the technique that makes the job really satisfying. Seeing your dingy shoes transformed into shiny masterpieces acts as a nice metaphor for life; a little elbow grease can turn any mess around.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:52 PM | Permalink

July 24, 2009

Priceless moments quantified

Count your blessings (you could be rich)

According to a new book, You Are Really Rich, You Just Don't Know It Yet, this is the monetary value of those little moments that were previously considered to be priceless. Shrewdly tapping into the mood of recessionary re-evaluation that has seen many of us question what's truly important now that our bank accounts are rattling empty, a team of researchers asked a thousand British people what made them happy.
But the figures here are less important than the sentiments, namely the reassurance that, as a nation, deep down we prioritise human interactions above commercial transactions. Shopping wasn't cited as a life-enhancing activity, although we do it constantly; whereas being part of a community was pegged at £33,698, something many of us take for granted.

"You are Really Rich: You Just Don't Know it Yet" (Steve Henry)

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:21 PM | Permalink

Ten Lessons in Leadership from a Janitor

Unknown to the cadets at the US Air Force Academy, their janitor William "Bill" Crawford was a medal of honor winner

While we cadets busied ourselves preparing for academic exams, athletic events, Saturday morning parades and room inspections, or never-ending leadership classes, Bill quietly moved about the squadron mopping and buffing floors, emptying trash cans, cleaning toilets, or just tidying up the mess 100 college-age kids can leave in a dormitory.

Sadly, and for many years, few of us gave him much notice, rendering little more than a passing nod or throwing a curt, “G’morning!” in his direction as we hurried off to our daily duties.

Why? Perhaps it was because of the way he did his job-he always kept the squadron area spotlessly clean, even the toilets and showers gleamed.  Frankly, he did his job so well, none of us had to notice or get involved.  After all, cleaning toilets was his job, not ours.

What happened when they learned the truth

Word spread like wildfire among the cadets that we had a hero in our midst-Mr. Crawford, our janitor, had won the Medal!  Cadets who had once passed by Bill with hardly a glance, now greeted him with a smile and a respectful, “Good morning, Mr. Crawford.”

Those who had before left a mess for the “janitor” to clean up started taking it upon themselves to put things in order.  Most cadets routinely stopped to talk to Bill throughout the day and we even began inviting him to our formal squadron functions.  He’d show up dressed in a conservative dark suit and quietly talk to those who approached him, the only sign of his heroics being a simple blue, star-spangled lapel pin.  Almost overnight, Bill went from being a simple fixture in our squadron to one of our teammates.

Ten Lessons in Leadership from a Janitor

While I haven’t seen Mr. Crawford in over twenty years, he’d probably be surprised to know I think of him often. Bill Crawford, our janitor, taught me many valuable, unforgettable leadership lessons. Here are ten I’d like to share with you.

Be Cautious of Labels.  Labels you place on people may define your relationship to them and bound their potential. Sadly, and for a long time, we labeled Bill as just a janitor, but he was so much more. Therefore, be cautious of a leader who callously says, “Hey, he’s just an Airman.”  Likewise, don’t tolerate the O-1, who says, “I can’t do that, I’m just a lieutenant.”

Everyone Deserves Respect.
  Because we hung the “janitor” label on Mr. Crawford, we often wrongly treated him with less respect than others around us.  He deserved much more, and not just because he was a Medal of Honor winner.  Bill deserved respect because he was a janitor, walked among us, and was a part of our team.

Courtesy Makes a Difference.  Be courteous to all around you, regardless of rank or position.  Military customs, as well as common courtesies, help bond a team.  When our daily words to Mr. Crawford turned from perfunctory “hellos” to heartfelt greetings, his demeanor and personality outwardly changed.  It made a difference for all of us.

Take Time to Know Your People.  Life in the military is hectic, but that’s no excuse for not knowing the people you work for and with.  For years a hero walked among us at the Academy and we never knew it.  Who are the heroes that walk in your midst?

Anyone Can Be a Hero.  Mr. Crawford certainly didn’t fit anyone’s standard definition of a hero.  Moreover, he was just a private on the day he won his Medal.  Don’t sell your people short, for any one of them may be the hero who rises to the occasion when duty calls.  On the other hand, it’s easy to turn to your proven performers when the chips are down, but don’t ignore the rest of the team.  Today’s rookie could and should be tomorrow’s superstar.

Leaders Should Be Humble.  Most modern day heroes and some leaders are anything but humble, especially if you calibrate your “hero meter” on today’s athletic fields.  End zone celebrations and self-aggrandizement are what we’ve come to expect from sports greats.  Not Mr. Crawford-he was too busy working to celebrate his past heroics.  Leaders would be well-served to do the same.

Life Won’t Always Hand You What You Think You Deserve.  We in the military work hard and, dang it, we deserve recognition, right?  However, sometimes you just have to persevere, even when accolades don’t come your way.  Perhaps you weren’t nominated for junior officer or airman of the quarter as you thought you should-don’t let that stop you.  Don’t pursue glory; pursue excellence.  Private Bill Crawford didn’t pursue glory; he did his duty and then swept floors for a living.

No Job is Beneath a Leader.
  If Bill Crawford, a Medal of Honor winner, could clean latrines and smile, is there a job beneath your dignity?  Think about it.

Pursue Excellence. No matter what task life hands you, do it well.  Dr. Martin Luther King said, “If life makes you a street sweeper, be the best street sweeper you can be.”  Mr. Crawford modeled that philosophy and helped make our dormitory area a home.

Life is a Leadership Laboratory.  All too often we look to some school or PME class to teach us about leadership when, in fact, life is a leadership laboratory.  Those you meet everyday will teach you enduring lessons if you just take time to stop, look and listen.  I spent four years at the Air Force Academy, took dozens of classes, read hundreds of books, and met thousands of great people.  I gleaned leadership skills from all of them, but one of the people I remember most is Mr. Bill Crawford and the lessons he unknowingly taught.  Don’t miss your opportunity to learn.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:00 PM | Permalink

July 15, 2009

Zoning Out

Thus is good news for those who daydream.

Stop Paying Attention: Zoning Out Is a Crucial Mental State

Researchers say a wandering mind may be important to setting goals, making discoveries, and living a balanced life.

The fact that both of these important brain networks become active together suggests that mind wandering is not useless mental static. Instead, Schooler proposes, mind wandering allows us to work through some important thinking. Our brains process information to reach goals, but some of those goals are immediate while others are distant. Somehow we have evolved a way to switch between handling the here and now and contemplating long-term objectives. It may be no coincidence that most of the thoughts that people have during mind wandering have to do with the future.

Even more telling is the discovery that zoning out may be the most fruitful type of mind wandering....In their fMRI study, Schooler and his colleagues found that the default network and executive control systems are even more active during zoning out than they are during the less extreme mind wandering with awareness. When we are no longer even aware that our minds are wandering, we may be able to think most deeply about the big picture.

All of which brought to mind one of my very first posts in 2004. Does Daydreaming Make You Happy?

After finding that about one child in 30 is brilliant and happy, (Harvard psychologist Burton) White did a great deal of research to determine what demographic or psychological characteristics distinguished those children. But the children came from a wide variety of backgrounds -- rich and poor, small families and large, broken and stable homes, poorly and well-educated parents -- and from all parts of the U.S. Finally, through extensive questioning, he determined that the bright and happy children had only one thing in common: All of them spent noticeable amounts of time staring peacefully and wordlessly into space." -- Michael Ray and Rochelle Myers (from Creativity in Business)

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:18 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

July 7, 2009

Ecce Home

Xavier Le Pichon has a remarkable article up (Speaking of Faith @American Public Media), Ecce Home (Behold Humanity)

A geophysicist, Le Pichon writes of the fragility and evolution of our humanity beginning with a small child dying in Calcutta through the poignant tale of his father taking care of his mother through her long and painful decline.

Who is this child that the tidal wave of human misery has deposited among the dozens of other “dying destitutes”, as announced on the board at the entrance: “Home for dying destitutes”. Why did I have to travel over ten thousand kilometers to meet him so that he would completely reorient my life?

Suffering has suddenly swept my soul: it has washed away everything in me. How so much suffering that I had not even noticed could be present next to me? As I had been standing on the crest of the advancing wave of our scientific and technologic civilization, I did not even glance at the debris left over by its flow. I was looking ahead. And suddenly, among the debris of my civilization, this child becomes for me a person, the most important person in my life.

Contrarily to what is often assumed, the weak and imperfect parts are often those that allow the evolution to occur without any revolution. This is true for the evolution of life, which is in great part based on the occurrence of coding errors during the duplication of the genetic information. One can ask whether it is not also true of our societies. We tend to dissociate the individuals who are well adapted to our social life from those that have difficulties to follow the pace that is imposed on them by our life style. Yet a society that separates the producers from the others considered as dead weight, even as marginal or excluded individuals, is a hard society, characterized by conflicts and often by complete rejection of minorities. It is sad and pessimistic. On the contrary a society where all are well integrated has a much more adaptable structure, with a different, easier and more conciliatory mode of life. It is often happier and more optimistic

He finds that even Neanderthals fed and looked after severely handicapped members of their communities who were too disabled to contribute to the quest for food. 

this experience of welcoming the suffering of our neighbor is at the very heart of our identity of humans since the origin.
Thus human societies have reorganized themselves about a new pole governed by the presence of suffering and death, which is related to the realization of the fragility and vulnerability of its members. Actually, we tend to judge the degree of humanity of a society through the way in which it takes into account in its organization the presence of suffering and death.
Taking care of fragile and vulnerable individuals has revealed to humans their own fragility and vulnerability. It has forced them to enter this dark world of fear in order to learn to live with it. They have realized that the human individual is a unique reality that keeps its unity under widely changing aspects from the fetus to the aged person at the end of his life.
Father Thomas Philippe co-founder of L’Arche with Jean Vanier said: “If we take away from someone who is suffering, any meaning to his suffering, if we make him feel even indirectly that his suffering is useless and is a burden to the community, what is left for him? Despair.” We must welcome each person in such a way that she retains her full dignity and still have a sense of having something to offer to the community.

He learned from the deep transformation of his father's heart and the suffering humanity of his mother a deep mystery

What my mother and father experienced together during her long and painful illness helps us to understand a little better the nature of this mysterious transformation of relationships which comes when we welcome handicap, suffering and illness. If this welcome is made with dignity and love, the person we welcome becomes the one who leads us into a new deepening of our true humanity. That person changes us deeply as she also changes the nature of the community around them. My mother who had played such an important role during her active life to form the bonds that unified our family had at the end of her painful life an even greater influence in maintaining our unity and in deepening the heart of my father while she appeared to be utterly powerless. One can say that she radiated much more love than what she had received. She had revealed to those who had welcomed her with love a new depth of their humanity. They now better understood that they had a heart and could only find happiness in love.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:21 PM | Permalink

June 30, 2009

Breitbart's laws

Richard Fernandez, Carnival of grotesques

My first reactions to Andrew Breitbart’s article were a) that the lines between the serious and bizarre in modern culture have drawn dangerously near each other; and b) who heck makes up rules like “Black beats white. Gay beats white. Black beats gay.” I’m sure that Breitbart is right in perceiving them - in fact we should call them Breitbart’s Laws.
If Poets were the unacknowledged legislators of Shelley’s world, then who are unacknowledged legislators of ours? If Shelley’s commentary remains valid then the true authors of Breitbart’s Laws are the Carnival of Grotesques collectively referred to as popular culture. They make the rules to which we subconsciously conform.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:39 PM | Permalink

Bungee Dating

When you can learn an important lesson from the experience of others, count yourself lucky.  In Bungee Dating in New York City, Gerard Vanderleun tells the story of his friend last night and it's not to be missed.

Bottom line, when you're going out on a 'non-date' with a girl you like who's under a lot a stress, a mutual massage spa salon is not the best idea for reasons you will find out.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:36 PM | Permalink

May 14, 2009

The Predictive Power of Marshmallows

IN The New Yorker this week, an insightful article by Johan Lehrer on the secret of self-control, DON'T.

What, then, determined self-control? Mischel’s conclusion, based on hundreds of hours of observation, was that the crucial skill was the “strategic allocation of attention.” Instead of getting obsessed with the marshmallow—the “hot stimulus”—the patient children distracted themselves by covering their eyes, pretending to play hide-and-seek underneath the desk, or singing songs from “Sesame Street.” Their desire wasn’t defeated—it was merely forgotten. “If you’re thinking about the marshmallow and how delicious it is, then you’re going to eat it,” Mischel says. “The key is to avoid thinking about it in the first place.”
According to Mischel, this view of will power also helps explain why the marshmallow task is such a powerfully predictive test. “If you can deal with hot emotions, then you can study for the S.A.T. instead of watching television,” Mischel says. “And you can save more money for retirement. It’s not just about marshmallows.”

 Children Marshmallows

But Mischel has found a shortcut. When he and his colleagues taught children a simple set of mental tricks—such as pretending that the candy is only a picture, surrounded by an imaginary frame—he dramatically improved their self-control. The kids who hadn’t been able to wait sixty seconds could now wait fifteen minutes. “All I’ve done is given them some tips from their mental user manual,” Mischel says. “Once you realize that will power is just a matter of learning how to control your attention and thoughts, you can really begin to increase it.”

Another researcher, Angela Duckworth found that the ability to delay gratification, was a far better predictor of academic performance than I.Q.
She said that her study shows that “intelligence is really important, but it’s still not as important as self-control.”
According to Mischel, even the most mundane routines of childhood—such as not snacking before dinner, or saving up your allowance, or holding out until Christmas morning—are really sly exercises in cognitive training: we’re teaching ourselves how to think so that we can outsmart our desires

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:44 AM | Permalink

May 13, 2009

The importance of a horse's ass

Karen Hall in This Explains Everything talks about railroad tracks and Roman war chariots .


So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse's ass. And you thought being a horse's ass wasn't important? Ancient horse's asses control almost everything...

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:43 PM | Permalink

Life is on your side

Most people think life is against them, trying to piss them off, that they are unlucky, that things don't work out for them. Einstein said that "the most important decision we will ever make in our lives is whether we believe we live in a friendly or an unfriendly universe." If you want to get good at change, you must believe life is your partner, on your side, conspiring for greater good coming into your life -- despite the apparent immediate loss it might appear to be. Change isn't there to hurt, anger or annoy you. It's there to bring new things, people, jobs, opportunities. Always.

Ariane de Bonvoisin in Principles of Change

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:14 PM | Permalink

May 2, 2009

"Don't Make LIfe So Damn Complicated"

From the 7 Lessons in Manliness from the Greatest Generation

Lesson #7 Don't Make Life So Damn Complicated

If there’s a common thread in these lessons, it’s having a common sense and a level-headed approach to life. In our day, when men are obsessing about finding themselves, their holy grail of a woman, and their “passion,” the Greatest Generation’s uncomplicated approach to life is refreshing. They didn’t go on a diet, they simply ate whole food; they didn’t exercise, they worked around the house; they didn’t obsess about their relationships, they just found a gal they loved and married her. They always looked sharp, but never fussed with fashion trends. They didn’t mull over which appliance better suited their personality and image, they just bought the machine that worked the best. They didn’t think about how to get things done, they just got em’ done. When Joe Foss, a celebrated and daring WWII pilot and then governor of South Dakota was asked if he missed his younger days, he said, “Oh no. I’m not a guy who missed anything from anywhere. I’ve always been a guy who just gets up and goes.” Instead of spending you time navel gazing your life away, just get up and go!

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:51 AM | Permalink

April 7, 2009

"Just don't hurry"

Wise Counsel at Unexpected Times

As I was moving my widowed mother from a retirement community in Alabama to a nursing home near me in New Jersey, there was a particularly awkward moment on our flight when, somewhere over Philadelphia, she had to use the bathroom.

My mother, then 78, had dementia and balance problems and couldn’t walk without help. Arm in arm, we inched up the aisle, lurching with the turbulence. Somehow, I steered her into the tiny stall and onto the toilet seat, then squeezed myself inside so as to close the door and give her some privacy. Suffice it to say that it’s a lot easier to change a baby’s diaper than a mother’s Depends in an airplane bathroom.

A flight attendant caught my eye as we returned to our seats and gave me a knowing, sympathetic smile. On the ground in Newark, as I settled my mother into a wheelchair for the ride down the jetway into an uncharted stage of her life (and mine), that flight attendant touched my shoulder and said one sentence that I remember to this day: “Just don’t hurry.”

Just don't hurry

 Bird In Hand Victor Schrager-1

Still, I was often the first target for her frustration, and one night my mother lashed out at me in front of her brother and his wife, who were visiting from New Mexico. I don’t remember what triggered this, but I do recall my Aunt Sherry saying softly from behind me, “Be a duck.”

Be a duck

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:36 PM | Permalink

March 27, 2009

Try hard, work hard

Sometimes you need scientific research to remind people what everyone used to take for granted. 

The Secret to Raising Smart Kids

Many people assume that superior intelligence or ability is a key to success. But more than three decades of research shows that an overemphasis on intellect or talent—and the implication that such traits are innate and fixed—leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unmotivated to learn.

Teaching people to have a “growth mind-set,” which encourages a focus on effort rather than on intelligence or talent, produces high achievers in school and in life.

Parents and teachers can engender a growth mind-set in children by praising them for their effort or persistence (rather than for their intelligence), by telling success stories that emphasize hard work and love of learning, and by teaching them about the brain as a learning machine.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:04 AM | Permalink

March 24, 2009

"Never refuse to receive an apology"

From the Art of Manliness comes The Unclassified Laws of Etiquette excerpted from a book published in 1880.

My favorites

Never point at another.

Never leave home with unkind words.

Never neglect to call upon your friends.

Never make yourself the hero of your own story.

Never pick the teeth or clean the nails in company.

Never fail to give a polite answer to a civil question.

Never appear to notice a scar, deformity, or defect of anyone present.

Never punish your child for a fault to which you are addicted yourself.

Never exhibit too great familiarity with the new acquaintance, you may give offense.

Never write to another asking for information, or a favor of any kind, without enclosing a postage stamp for the reply.

Never fail to say kind and encouraging words to those whom you meet in distress. Your kindness may lift them out of their despair.

Never refuse to receive an apology. You may not receive friendship, but courtesy will require, when a apology is offered, that you accept it.

Never fail to answer an invitation, either personally or by letter, within a week after the invitation is received.

Never give all your pleasant words and smile to strangers. The kindest words and the sweetest smiles should be reserved for home. Home should be our heaven.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:51 PM | Permalink

March 12, 2009

Bad News for Botox Users

From Science News If your face is too tight to show disgust, you won't be able to get rid of the emotion.


One of the most recognizable facial expressions is disgust: the expression displayed by an individual who is exposed to a nauseating image or horrifying story. But what happens when this emotion is not expressed? When the person keeps a straight face – either intentionally or unintentionally – and pretends that nothing is wrong?

As Judith Grob discovered, such people experience more negative emotions. ‘They look at the world with negative eyes because they cannot get rid of their feelings of disgust by expressing them. A botox treatment also has an effect on emotional experience, therefore, and not on wrinkles alone’.

Subjects who were asked to suppress their disgust when shown images of, for example, a dirty toilet or a film depicting an amputation were able to do so. ‘But the emotion then found its way into the open through other channels’, says Grob. ‘At the cognitive level, they began to think about disgusting things much more often and also felt much more negatively about other issues. The same phenomenon occurs in a situation where you are not allowed to think of something, say a white bear. Precisely because you are trying to suppress that thought, it becomes hyperaccessible’.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:12 PM | Permalink

Not just for men

A guest post at The Art of Manliness by J.D. Roth gives us Great Lessons from Great Men.

Now more than ever, we need to remember the importance of the character traits that have always been in good stead  and not just for men.

Read the whole thing to get the full .

Be tenacious
Exercise self-control
Do the right thing
Embrace the Golden Rule
Pay Yourself First
Avoid Debt
Keep Well
Do Not Covet
Live Modestly
Practice Patience
Give Generously
Learn from the Average Joe

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:58 PM | Permalink

January 30, 2009

PMS alerts

Hey guys,  never be blindsided again.  Sign up for PMSbuddy alerts for "those times when things can get intense for what may seem to be no reason at all.

It all started with a 28-year-old bloke in Australia. 

Soon to be an app for the iPhone.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:40 AM | Permalink

January 20, 2009

Surviving a Plane Crash with 'Deliberate Calm"

One in ninety million.  That's your odds of dying in a plane crash.  Even if you are in a plane crash, your chance of survival is 95.7%.

Yet many people believe "if this plane goes down, we're all dead and there's nothing we can do about it."

Why do people perceive the danger to be so great? Barnett studied the front page of The New York Times and found the answer. Page-one coverage of airplane accidents was sixty times greater than reporting on HIV/AIDs; fifteen hundred times greater than auto hazards; and six thousand times greater than cancer, the second leading killer in America after heart disease.

Ben Sherwood explains in The Great Plane Crash Myth.

One dangerous consequence of the Myth of Hopelessness is that when people believe there’s nothing they can do to save themselves, they put themselves in even greater peril.

The crew of the US Airways Flight 1549 behaved quite differently

'Deliberate calm' guided crew

In recent years, neuroscientists have been able to see what happens inside the brain when people, like Sullenberger, are forced to make decisions under pressure. Though the typical assumption is that some people don't feel fear -- that they are somehow less scared than the rest of us -- that assumption turns out to be false. The fear circuits in the brain, such as the amygdala, generate their response automatically; it's almost certain that everyone on board Flight 1549 was terrified.

What, then, allows people like Sullenberger to make effective decisions in harrowing circumstances? How do they keep their fear from turning into panic? Scientists have found that the crucial variable is the ability to balance visceral emotions against a more rational and deliberate thought process, which is centered in the prefrontal cortex. This balancing act is known as metacognition -- a sort of thinking about thinking.

Pilots have a different name for this skill: They call it "deliberate calm," because staying calm under fraught circumstances requires both conscious effort and regular practice.

The important lesson of US Airways Flight 1549, however, is that no matter how difficult or unprecedented the problem, we have the ability to look past our primal emotions and carefully think about how we need to think. Metacognition allows a person to remain calm when every bone in his body is telling him to panic. It

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:35 AM | Permalink

January 9, 2009

Just how big is a trillion?

Everett Dirksen, one time Minority Leader of the Senate from 1959 to 1969, may be most famous for the quote, "A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you're talking real money"

That's back when they were talking billions.  Now that President-elect Obama warned us that we may be looking at "trillion-dollar deficits for years to come,"  I wondered just how big is a trillion compared to a billion in a way that I could grasp the difference.

Just how big is one trillion  Thomas Sowell writes

One way to get some idea of the magnitude of a trillion is to ask: How long ago was a trillion seconds?

A trillion seconds ago, no one on this planet could read and write. Neither the Roman Empire nor the ancient Chinese dynasties had yet come into existence. None of the founders of the world's great religions today had yet been born.

That's what a trillion means. Put a dollar sign in front of it and that's what the current bailout may cost.

Let's look at that again  How Big is 1 Million, Billion, Trillion

A million seconds is 13 days.
A billion seconds is 31 years.
A trillion seconds is 31,688 years.

A million minutes ago was – 1 year, 329 days, 10 hours and 40 minutes ago.
A billion minutes ago was just after the time of Christ.

A million hours ago was in 1885.
A billion hours ago man had not yet walked on earth.

A million dollars ago was five (5) seconds ago at the U.S. Treasury.
A billion dollars ago was late yesterday afternoon at the U.S. Treasury.

The country has not existed for a trillion seconds.
Western civilization has not been around a trillion seconds.
One trillion seconds ago – 31,688 years – Neanderthals stalked the plains of Europe.

These trillions and trillions are  real money that will have to be paid back.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:44 PM | Permalink

January 6, 2009

Mom, Dad and God, the City and the Wilderness

After catching up on the Internet, here are some articles that caught my eye.

Girls Need a Dad and Boys Need a Mom  by Janice Shaw Crouse. 

The latest issue of The Journal of Communication and Religion (November 2008, Volume 31, Number 2) contains an excellent analysis of the importance of opposite-sex parent relationships.  The common sense conclusion is backed up with social science data and affirmed by a peer-reviewed scholarly article: girls need a dad, and boys need a mom. 
The authors cited numerous studies that link religious beliefs and practices to a strong family unit and noted the fact that the most noticeable impact of religiosity is during adolescence.  The majority of studies found an inverse relationship between religiosity and high-risk adolescent behaviors (drinking, drug use, sexual activity, depression, etc.).  Other studies indicate a strong relationship between the family's religious belief and practice and a teen's emotional health and family well-being.  This is especially true of teenage boys.

While family communication and interaction is critical to high-quality relationships for children and adolescents, this study suggests that the opposite-sex parent is especially important in making children feel validated and encouraged.  This is true of boys as well as girls, but it is especially true of daughters.  Fathers have the greatest impact on their daughters' vitality as an adolescent college student.  Daughters with a strong relationship with their father are more self-confident, self-reliant, and are more successful in school and career than those who have distant or absent father

The nondenominational evangelist group known as the Gideons have given out 76.9 million free Bibles in 85 languages in 187 countries to hotels, hospitals, schools, prisons, and the military.  This year the Gideons celebrate 100 years of Bible distribution.

"This is not a church-sponsored, clergy-led effort," said Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, an umbrella group for evangelical churches and organizations. "It's individuals that go around and distribute Bibles. It's an astonishing accomplishment."  "What it's done is actually changed our culture. People expect there to be a Bible in a hotel room. There's hardly anything that's parallel to it."

Power of Wilderness Experiences As a Catalyst for Change in Young Offenders.

The researchers monitored the young people’s psychological health before and after the two wilderness trips, as well as during the months in between. At the outset behaviour was described as disruptive, disrespectful and undisciplined. However, as the programme progressed, the frequency of negative events reduced, criminal activity and substance abuse declined and the young people displayed less anti-social behaviour.

Findings of the self-reported measures of self-confidence, trust, belonging and connectedness to nature showed that after each wilderness experience, feelings increased and during the months in between levels fell, as participants had less contact with nature.

No wonder if the City hurts your brain.

Now scientists have begun to examine how the city affects the brain, and the results are chastening. Just being in an urban environment, they have found, impairs our basic mental processes. After spending a few minutes on a crowded city street, the brain is less able to hold things in memory, and suffers from reduced self-control.
One of the main forces at work is a stark lack of nature, which is surprisingly beneficial for the brain. Studies have demonstrated, for instance, that hospital patients recover more quickly when they can see trees from their windows, and that women living in public housing are better able to focus when their apartment overlooks a grassy courtyard. Even these fleeting glimpses of nature improve brain performance, it seems, because they provide a mental break from the urban roil.

An atheist,  Matthew Parris writes I truly believe Africa needs God.

Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.
Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.

First, then, the observation. We had friends who were missionaries, and as a child I stayed often with them; I also stayed, alone with my little brother, in a traditional rural African village. In the city we had working for us Africans who had converted and were strong believers. The Christians were always different. Far from having cowed or confined its converts, their faith appeared to have liberated and relaxed them. There was a liveliness, a curiosity, an engagement with the world - a directness in their dealings with others - that seemed to be missing in traditional African life. They stood tall.
Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:48 AM | Permalink

December 18, 2008

Talking About Money

In The Madoff Inheritance, Daniel Henninger of the Wall St. Journal says

A big lesson of the past year is that we all should be talking more about money. One reason we don't talk about money is we are afraid of what we might learn.
Though living in an era of fantastic money tales, it is remarkable how little serious literature is written about money in business or money in politics. In fiction or drama characters can be made to say truths real people would never tell a journalist.

That's what he found in The Vosey Inheritance, a 1914 British play adapted by David Mamet that played off Broadway last year.

One answer emerges from the Voysey drama when Edward tells wealthy family friend George Booth and Vicar Colpus that he plans to admit the fraud and face justice (Mr. Voysey having conveniently died). They try to talk him out of it. They want Edward to continue the scheme. For them, at least, the scheme seems to work. They want to believe it can still work. Edward demurs, and they are outraged that he will not continue business as usual.

 Vosey Inheritance

From the New York Times review of The Vosey Inheritance

Edward Voysey ( Michael Stuhlbarg), who has just inherited the reins of the firm and breaks the bad news, is the only member of the family moved to shame at the discovery that the just-deceased paterfamilias had been bilking clients to support his brood in style. Edward is determined to call in the law, come clean, and face the consequences.
The wonderful Fritz Weaver plays Voysey père, whose casual admission, in the first scene, that he has been monkeying with the business sets Edward on his voyage of disillusionment. (The business is a firm of solicitors, which translates, practically speaking, to personal bankers or brokers.)

Coolly explaining to his perturbed son the practice of borrowing from one client’s account to pay dividends due to another, he sighs, “Oh, why is it so hard for a man to see clearly beyond the letter of the law!”

It is not so hard, if such double vision serves a man’s personal interest. After their father’s sudden death and the revelation of his free-form accounting, Edward’s brothers profess perfunctory shock and dismay. But they also begin bringing him around to the idea that little good will come from airing dirty laundry that had, after all, been kept from public view for 30 years with little injury to any of the parties involved.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:06 AM | Permalink

November 13, 2008

Learning lessons from the S&L Debacle

Nicolas Gelinas finds comfort in Treasury Secretary Paulson's decision not to use any of the $700 billion financial bailout money to purchase troubled assets from financial institutions in Paulson Bails Out the Bailout

Marano is not an aberration. He’s a representative of a dangerous way of thinking. Much of the financial industry still refuses to acknowledge that its business-model failure is permanent. Far too many people seem to consider that failure the result of temporary, extraordinary market conditions that are—to use a phrase that’s now become an unintentionally humorous cliché—worse than anticipated. But the notion that complex financial engineering could make any long-term security always instantly salable and nearly risk-free was one of the roots of this crisis. Acknowledging its absurdity isn’t a matter of punishment or demonization; it’s a matter of making sure that failed ideas stay dead, so that they don’t come back stronger than before.

But the government has been doing just the opposite. Further, by promising to buy mortgage-related assets, it has given companies like Rescap an incentive to hang on to their bad debt for as long as possible, rather than sell it to those annoying investors offering prices that are too low. And that has delayed what is already likely to be a long, painful recovery.
To learn why, consider what got us out of our last major banking debacle, the savings and loan crisis of the late eighties and early nineties. William Seidman headed the FDIC in the eighties and later, as head of the federal Resolution Trust Corporation, handled the S&L aftermath. During that crisis, the U.S. government closed down failed S&L institutions and had to sell off their holdings. These holdings consisted of $600 billion in diverse assets, including office buildings, hotels, golf courses, and apartment complexes. “There was no real market” for such assets, Seidman said at Monday’s conference. “We decided we had to create a market. We said, we’re going to start selling these properties at whatever price we could get.”

What Seidman sensibly dismissed back then—holding on to assets to “get prices up”—was, until Paulson’s announcement today, a key part of the government’s working plan to fix the current crisis. But it’s only when holdouts and their creditors capitulate and start selling assets to private investors at distressed values that the market can begin to find its way to recovery, just as happened in the early nineties.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:09 AM | Permalink

October 27, 2008

Aggressive and Angry Drivers

Why you don't want anyone who has bumper stickers on your jury. 

The Secret Message in Every Bumper Sticker

Writing in the June issue of the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Colorado State University researchers suggest that people with bumper stickers are more likely to be aggressive and angry people, or at least aggressive and angry drivers.

The amazing thing is that the aggression didn't change with the sticker's message.  Drivers who chose peaceful messages like "Visualize World Peace" were just as obnoxious on the road as those who slapped "My Kid Beat Up Your Honor Student" on their bumpers.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:11 AM | Permalink

October 16, 2008

Why Not Your Best?

How a high school history and psychology teacher passed on his most important life lesson.

Why Not Your Best?

The concept of always giving your best was obviously new to my students. They found it hard to believe that there were millions of people, including me, who always gave their best. Most of them equated giving your best with struggle, superhuman effort, stress, exhaustion, and being too serious all the time.

I explained that life is far more rewarding when we do the best we can, no matter where we are, whom we're with, or what we're doing -- even if we're resting or having fun. It's a matter of being in the moment and making the most out of it. An example I always used was teaching. It requires very hard work, but it can be fun at the same time. In fact, the harder I worked at it, the more fun I had and the more rewarding it was.

I asked them if they wanted me to give my best every time they came to my class. The answer was always yes, along with this lit le addition: "You're supposed to give your best because you're getting paid."

That always brought a smile to my face. I responded that I was paid to teach, not to give my best. There's a big difference. I chose to give my best because it made my teaching so much more enjoyable and fulfilling. They were starting to get it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:38 PM | Permalink

September 22, 2008

Who's most susceptible to superstition?

The most religious appear to be the least  superstitious according to a recent study from Baylor University conducted by the Gallup organization.

Look Who's Irrational Now

The reality is that the New Atheist campaign, by discouraging religion, won't create a new group of intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. Far from it: It might actually encourage new levels of mass superstition. And that's not a conclusion to take on faith -- it's what the empirical data tell us.

"What Americans Really Believe," a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.

This is not a new finding. In his 1983 book "The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener," skeptic and science writer Martin Gardner cited the decline of traditional religious belief among the better educated as one of the causes for an increase in pseudoscience, cults and superstition. He referenced a 1980 study published in the magazine Skeptical Inquirer that showed irreligious college students to be by far the most likely to embrace paranormal beliefs, while born-again Christian college students were the least likely.

G. K. Chesterton says it best, "When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing - -they believe in anything,"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:55 PM | Permalink

June 16, 2008

When is Your Sleep Gate?

Having always been a proponent of naps even as other people scoffed, I welcome the solid, scientific evidence that midday naps benefit your mental acuity and your overall health.

 Nap Little Girl

We are biologically programmed to get sleepy twice a day with "an afternoon quiescent phase in our physiology which diminishes our reaction time, memory, coordination, mood and alertness."

 Nap Two Guys

But when is the best time to nap?  Depends on whether you're a lark or an owl.

Larks who get up early have a sleep gate at about 1 pm.  Owls who stay up late find their sleep gate at 2:30 or 3.

 Power Nap

Or if you're like me, it's whenever I feel like it. 

If you've forgotten how, and it's alarming how many people have, the Boston Globe has printed a pull-out guide How to Nap

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:02 PM | Permalink

June 7, 2008

"Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life"

J. K. Rowling was the commencement speaker at Harvard this week and her most important lesson learned in life she could give to the new graduates was the benefits of failure.

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above rubies.

The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more to me than any qualification I ever earned.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:40 PM | Permalink

April 28, 2008

Left ear for love

The way to a man's heart?  Through his left ear

New research suggests that declarations of love, jokes, or words of anger are best remembered when they are heard through the left ear, while instructions, directions and non-emotional messages have more impact on the right side.

It is all to do with how our brains process information. Although the left and right hemispheres, or sides, of the brain are similar structures, they have specialised functions. The left side, it is suggested, is more logic-based and dominant, while the right is the more imaginative side, more visual, intuitive, emotional and spatially aware. Because the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body, the left ear has been shown in some research to be the route to the emotional side of the brain, and the right ear to the non-emotional, logical side.

The news that left and right ears process sound differently is not so new.  A 2004 article in Science found that the left ear of a baby was more attuned to music and the right better at picking up speech-like sounds.

Speak to my right ear, sing to my left

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:56 PM | Permalink

April 25, 2008

Lie older

Danielle Crittenden has fine advice on how to age without pressure.

In sum: Add on 5 years to your real age  and people will say how great you look.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:41 PM | Permalink

Doing Good with Menstrual Blood

If this is true, it's astonishing.

Menstrual  Blood: A Valuable Source of Multipotential Stem Cells
Researchers seeking new and more abundant sources of stem cells for use in regenerative medicine have identified a potentially unlimited, noncontroversial, easily collectable, and inexpensive source -- menstrual blood.
Stromal stem cells derived from menstrual blood exhibit stem cell properties, such as the capacity for self-renewal and multipotency," said Amit N. Patel, MD, MS, Director of Cardiac Cell Therapy at the University of Pittsburgh's McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine. "Uterine stromal cells have similar multipotent markers found in bone marrow stem cells and originate in part from bone marrow."

A day later, a Japanese study shows that cells from menstrual blood may be useful in repairing heart damage.

The success rate is 100 times higher than the 0.2 to 0.3 percent for stem cells taken from human bone marrow, researcher Shunichiro Miyoshi, a cardiologist at Keio University's school of medicine, told French news agency AFP.

There's even a company that's begun menstrual blood banking!

It wasn't so long ago that the public and scientific consensus was that stem cells could only be harvested from human embryos. 

I'm not the only one who remembers the hysteria that surrounded President  Bush's decision not to allow federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. 

Charles Krauthammer does in Technology Vindicates Morality.    So does the Anchoress who reminds us that embryonic stem cells have produced nightmarish results in the lab and never had a successful application.

So far there have been 73 successful treatments using adult stem cells and none for embryonic stem cells.

Doing good by doing no harm works.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:18 PM | Permalink

April 12, 2008

How JFK quit drugs

From the London Times comes an article on The drug abuse of John F. Kennedy.

Basically a review of a new book "In Sickness and in Power: Illnesses in Heads of Government during the Last 100 Years" (David Owen), former Foreign Secretary and medic David Owen reviews the health and medication of world leaders in the past century.

The chapter on Kennedy is jaw-dropping.

Owen starts by convincingly asserting that Kennedy was much sicker than is commonly appreciated and certainly much sicker than was appreciated at the time. His Addison's disease was very debilitating and needed constant attention.

And there were other health troubles. During the Bay of Pigs fiasco Owen writes that Kennedy had:

Constant and acute diarrhoea and a recurrence of his urinary tract infection.

Central to Owen's account is the idea that the administration of drugs to Kennedy for these various ailments was out of control.

In particular, without the knowledge of his other doctors and at the same time as they were giving him other drugs, he was being tended to by Max Jacobson, a doctor known as "Dr Feelgood" because of his reputation as a provider of amphetamines and pep pills. In time Jacobson's drug treatment became almost a recreational drug for Kennedy.

Dr. Hans Kaus took control of Kennedy's medication and ended his drug abuse later that year .

He demanded total control and began using massage rather than injections to treat the President. He also got rid of Jacobson, telling Kennedy:

If I ever heard he took another shot, I'd make sure it was known. No President with his finger on the red button has any business taking stuff like that.

By the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy was back on an even keel.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:01 PM | Permalink

March 19, 2008

Clever people are easier to con

Clever people 'are easier to con' says a report carried out by Ultrascan, an IT fraud agency based in the Netherlands.

Other people who are particularly vulnerable are those who have suffered a bereavement or a recent or life-changing trauma.

The agency said that poorly educated or financially inexperienced people were not so desirable to scammers because they did not trust their own judgment and soon realised that they had been duped.

Frank Engelsman, Ultrascan’s specialist in advance-fee fraud, said that doctors were especially vulnerable to scams that encouraged them to do good. “They very often fall for a scam that starts with a request to help the less fortunate in the world through good causes,” he said. “To do the bigger scams you need the victims to trust their own capabilities and experience.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:26 PM | Permalink

February 18, 2008

George Washington

Lest we forget the greatness of George Washington, Richard Brookheiser reminds us in First in Politics   wherein we learn how Washington learned how to back out of a bad situation and how to flip an enemy.

And Gleaves Whitney reminds us how often Washington put service above self.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:17 PM | Permalink

George Washington

Lest we forget the greatness of George Washington, Richard Brookheiser reminds us in First in Politics   wherein we learn how Washington learned how to back out of a bad situation and how to flip an enemy.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:16 PM | Permalink

February 11, 2008

Break into your car, save your life

If you are hiking in the woods and come back to your car only to find that your keys are locked inside, pick up a stone and break the window so you can drive away alive.

Sandra Order didn't. She locked her keys in her SUV and died next to it in the cold and the rain of hypothermia.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:11 AM | Permalink

January 29, 2008

For Colorado, an invitation to AA

Best colleges, best doctors, best places to live, I love all these lists even if I sometimes wonder at the presumption and bias of the writer.

This list seems to include more objective factors.
We looked at annual death rates due to alcoholic liver disease, as well as who's headed there by regularly downing five or more drinks in a sitting (CDC). Next, we factored in drunk-driving arrests (FBI) and the percentage of fatal accidents involving intoxicated motorists (U.S. Department of Transportation). Then, after tallying the MADD report card of state efforts to cut down on excessive drinking, we had our ranking and, for the state of Colorado, an invitation to AA.

The Drunkest Cities
The drunkest is Denver, CO.  The least dangerously drunk is Durham, NC with Miami in second place.    Go figure.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:34 AM | Permalink

December 17, 2007

Leslie's Rules of Life

I never knew Leslie Harpold who died about just about a year ago, but her friends do.    In a sign of the digital age, where she was one of the first adventurers on the web at  Usenet community and by all accounts, a kind and generous soul, when she died, a number of her friends published reminiscenses on del.icio.us.

The shame is her blog is no longer online.  A year is not long enough.  When you leave directions about what should be done with your blog when you die,  leave it online for more than 1 year.  Five years would be good.

Merlin Mann at 43 folders asked Lance Arthur What Would Leslie Do?  WWLD then became an exercise in extracting her life lessons from her opinions voiced and advice given over the years to her many friends

Living Your Life
1. Enjoy your vices.
2. Treat yourself to flowers
3. Art is important
4. Take a break, often.

Clothing Optionals
1. When trying anything new, always ask yourself "Is this going to make me more or less likely to get laid?"
2. Everyone looks good in boots
3. When you find the perfect bag, buy it.

Keeping Connected
1. When you come across something you know wold be perfect for someone else, buy it for them.
2. Send Thank You notes.
(Her post on How to write a thank you note for anyone who doesn't know the six points by heart).
3. Don't rely on your cell phone to keep track of your phone numbers.
4. An instant message is not a phone call.

Organizing your environment
1. A place for everything
2. Make your bed
3. Schedule the simple tasks.
4. Empty the kitchen sink.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:02 PM | Permalink

December 12, 2007

The Art of Managing Extreme Complexity in the ICU

Another brilliant article by Atul Gawande called The  Checklist in the New Yorker's Annals of Medicine.

Intensive-care medicine has become the art of managing extreme complexity—and a test of whether such complexity can, in fact, be humanly mastered.

On any given day in the United States, some ninety thousand people are in intensive care. Over a year, an estimated five million Americans will be, and over a normal lifetime nearly all of us will come to know the glassed bay of an I.C.U. from the inside.

Wide swaths of medicine now depend on the lifesupport systems that I.C.U.s provide: care for premature infants; victims of trauma, strokes, and heart attacks; patients who have had surgery on their brain, heart, lungs, or major blood vessels.

Critical care has become an increasingly large portion of what hospitals do. Fifty years ago, I.C.U.s barely existed. ...The average stay of an I.C.U. patient is four days, and the survival rate is eighty-six per cent. Going into an I.C.U., being put on a mechanical ventilator, having tubes and wires run into and out of you, is not a sentence of death. But the days will be the most precarious of your life.

They are precarious because the average patient requires 178  individual actions per day and every one involves risks.  One of the biggest risks is that of a line infection, infections that are so common they are considered a routine complication.  80,000 people get line infections each year and of those between 5 and 28% die.

The I.C.U., with its spectacular successes and frequent failures, therefore poses a distinctive challenge: what do you do when expertise is not enough?

Intensive care is now too complex for clinicians to carry out reliably fro memory alone.  Taking a page from the pilot checklists, designed to help pilots fly planes too complicated to fly from memory alone, Peter Pronovost, a critical care specialist at John Hopkins, designed a checklist to take care of the problem of line infections.

Pronovost and his colleagues monitored what happened for a year afterward. The results were so dramatic that they weren’t sure whether to believe them: the ten-day line-infection rate went from eleven per cent to zero. So they followed patients for fifteen more months. Only two line infections occurred during the entire period. They calculated that, in this one hospital, the checklist had prevented forty-three infections and eight deaths, and saved two million dollars in costs.

Checklists help people with memory recall and make explicit the minimum, expected steps in complex processes.

As the tagline on the New Yorker article says, If something so simple can transform intensive care, what else can it do?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:24 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

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 20, 2007

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 1, 2007

"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

October 25, 2007

Defying zombiism, David Warren quit school at 16

David Warren quit school at 16 and hit the road.

In retrospect, it was the best personal decision I ever made, and I recommend it wholeheartedly to the young of today; at least, to those whose minds are not already imprisoned. Get out of that education “system” while you still can, and before it has made you into a spiritual corpse, mouthing politically-correct clichés along with all the other zombies. Get yourself a real education, in what you can find of the world, and see what you can accomplish without participating in the credentials racket. Make your “core relationship” with God, rather than with some Kafkaesque bureaucracy. Discover a vocation in which you can advance the cause of the good, the true, and the beautiful. And raise children -- in poverty, if necessary -- who will also defy the zombism of our post-modern age.

Education reform

UPDATE:  Gaghdad Bob points out that Joseph Campbell did the same thing. 

".... So I said to hell with it. I went up into the woods and spent five years reading.... It was from 1929 to 1934, five years. I went up to a little shack in Woodstock, New York, and just dug in. All I did was read, read, read, and take notes. It was during the Great Depression. I didn't have any money...."

Importantly, this wasn't just aimless reading, but what someone else once called the "mystery school of individuation." Perhaps you're familiar with the concept. You find one book that speaks directly to your soul, which tips you to another one that does the same. Pretty soon you're embarked on a wild nous chase, not for any "exterior" purpose, but for the purpose of trying to articulate the idiom of your own soul. The end result -- among other things -- is that 1) you know you have a soul, 2) you are aware that your soul is very specifically yours (i.e., it has its own language, so to speak), and 3) you don't want to do anything in life that would interfere with the intrinsic joy of living from your soul.

So did he.  Wandering, Wondering and Blundering into the Mystery

I can relate to Campbell's story, because in my case I quit college in my junior year (before they could expel me), and spent the next five or six years wandering, but not idly. Rather, it was a period of intense non-doodling, as if my soul were on fire and I was looking for water. By the time I entered graduate school in 1982, I was an utterly different person than I would have been had I spent all those years in the idiot factory. In short, I never would have become me. Whether it was luck or destiny, I cannot say.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:43 AM | Permalink

September 20, 2007

Beloved Professor delivers "Last Lecture"

Jeffrey Zaslow writes A Beloved Professor Delivers The Lecture of a Lifetime in the Wall St. Journal.  Watch this  short video of Randy Pausch, a vibrant, handsome man who has only weeks or months to live, but can do one-handed pushups.

 Randy Pausch

They had come to see him give what was billed as his "last lecture." This is a common title for talks on college campuses today. Schools such as Stanford and the University of Alabama have mounted "Last Lecture Series," in which top professors are asked to think deeply about what matters to them and to give hypothetical final talks. For the audience, the question to be mulled is this: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance?

At Carnegie Mellon, however, Dr. Pausch's speech was more than just an academic exercise. The 46-year-old father of three has pancreatic cancer and expects to live for just a few months. His lecture, using images on a giant screen, turned out to be a rollicking and riveting journey through the lessons of his life.

He began by showing his CT scans, revealing 10 tumors on his liver. But after that, he talked about living. If anyone expected him to be morose, he said, "I'm sorry to disappoint you." He then dropped to the floor and did one-handed pushups.
He paid tribute to his techie background. "I've experienced a deathbed conversion," he said, smiling. "I just bought a Macintosh." Flashing his rejection letters on the screen, he talked about setbacks in his career, repeating:
"Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things." He encouraged us to be patient with others. "Wait long enough, and people will surprise and impress you." After showing photos of his childhood bedroom, decorated with mathematical notations he'd drawn on the walls, he said: "If your kids want to paint their bedrooms, as a favor to me, let 'em do it."
He then spoke about his legacy. Considered one of the nation's foremost teachers of videogame and virtual-reality technology, he helped develop "Alice," a Carnegie Mellon software project that allows people to easily create 3-D animations. It had one million downloads in the past year, and usage is expected to soar.

"Like Moses, I get to see the Promised Land, but I don't get to step foot in it," Dr. Pausch said. "That's OK. I will live on in Alice."

Dr. Pausch's speech was taped so his children, ages 5, 2 and 1, can watch it when they're older. His last words in his last lecture were simple: "This was for my kids." Then those of us in the audience rose for one last standing ovation.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:14 AM | Permalink

August 13, 2007

Life Lessons from the Army

I love to collect people's life lessons and some are better than others. 

When the veteran who blogs anonymously at walterreed.blogspot posted his Ten Life Lessons the Army Taught him, he didn't expect them to be so popular that Tim Rick, military correspondent for the  Washington Post would reprint them all, but that's how I found them.

1. Always have a notepad, pen, watch, knife, and flashlight on hand.
2. Have a copy of everything. If its important have two copies.

If it has your name on it, then you need a copy. If it affects your health, paycheck, or other element of well-being, then you need two copies. Records get lost, computers crash, and sometimes people just need to see a piece of 80 bond under their noses to get anything done.

3. Make friends wherever you go.

It doesn't matter if you are there for 20 minutes or 20 months, make friends. Inevitably, you will see them again. You will go to where they are. They will go to where you will be. And at the end of the day friends are the only ones covering the front of your position.

4. Make an SOP. Know the SOP. Work the SOP.

Civilian. Military. It doesn't matter. There should be a Standard Operating Procedure for daily life. .... Routine accomplishes this, and we accomplish more when we have a routine.

5. Sleep.

Sleep is one of the things in life we don't appreciate until we aren't getting it.... If it was bad when you went to sleep and its still bad when you wake up, well then I guess you weren't missing anything. If by chance its better when you wake up, then apparently the world doesn't rest upon your shoulders. So take a nap Atlas.

6. Don't go cheap.

7. Find humor everywhere.

8. Don't tolerate oppression.

Stand up for what you think is right. In the end if you were wrong, so be it.

9. Tell your Story.

Battles are not merely lost by the Soldiers on the field, the armament, or the weather. They are one and lost by the lessons learned of prior battles. We learn these lessons because someone told their story.... Older Soldiers told their stories in hopes that a single silver strand of wisdom would be gleamed and be passed on. It is part of what we contribute to society. When one can gleam wisdom from the lessons others have learned we have possible prevented the hardship by which the another person gained that knowledge. And by sharing our lessons we are helping someone else. That is one of our greatest contributions to humanity.

10. Never forget.

Never forget who you are. Never forget what you have done. Never forget where you are. Never forget what it is you want from this one life we have. Never forget the people that stood behind you in support, beside you in camaraderie, or in front of you in adversity. Never forget to write home. Never forget that someone is missing you. Never forget what you have learned. Never forget to share what you have learned. Never forget anything; lest you forget everything.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:45 AM | Permalink

July 23, 2007

"Laughter is simply how we connect"

After reading What's So Friggin' Funny by Steven Johnson, a fascinating article, I think I want one of those Tickle Me Elmo dolls.    I've never seen them and they sound hilarious.

Sometimes you need to "laugh and let go" of mental or emotional tensions.  Laughter feels great and does a body good.

Saturday-Review editor Norman Cousins wrote his best-selling "ANATOMY OF AN ILLNESS AS PEREIVED BY THE PATIENT" in 1979 about how he recovered from an incurable, terminal condition  with laughter, rest and vitamin C and  brought to the country's attention to the reality of the mind-body connection in  what he called the "biology of hope."

The revelation that your mental attitude could affect your physical recovery,  that laughter really was the best medicine,  affected millions.  When Cousins "made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anaesthetic effect that would give me at least two-hours of pain-free sleep," sales of videotapes of Groucho Marx and The Three Stooges soared.

Now neuro-scientist Robert Provine is teaching us even more about laughter as he investigates its source and purpose. 

As his research progressed, Provine began to suspect that laughter was in fact about something else—not humor or gags or incongruity but our social interactions. He found support for this assumption in a study that had already been conducted, one analyzing people’s laughing patterns in social and solitary contexts. “You’re 30 times more likely to laugh when you’re with other people than you are when you’re alone—if you don’t count simulated social environments like laugh tracks on television,” Provine says. Think how rarely you’ll laugh out loud at a funny passage in a book but how quick you’ll be to give a friendly laugh when greeting an old acquaintance. Laughing is not an instinctive physical response to humor, the way a flinch is a response to pain or a shiver to cold. Humor is crafted to exploit a form of instinctive. social bonding.

Laughter is simply how we connect in good cheer.

"The human race has only one really effective weapon, and that's laughter. The moment it arises, all our hardnesses yield, all our irritations and resentments slip away, and a sunny spirit takes their place,"
Mark Twain.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:22 PM | Permalink

July 5, 2007

Free loaders

I find this very disturbing, another example of a fraying social contract among citizens.

Around 1 in 6 Americans Do Not Pay Their Taxes.

This is evading taxes, not paying your fair share, not carrying your load.  And every single one of those evaders will have an excuse as to why the law does not apply to them.

It's simple.  Pay no more than what you owe.  Even be aggressive in taking tax deductions,
but pay your taxes.   

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:52 PM | Permalink

June 21, 2007

"He remembers everything that was going on around him."

I found the story of the 'Living Corpse' who woke up after a 19-year Coma, an inspiring one, a Rip Van Winkle tale of our time.

Hats off to the wife who cared for him for 19 years at home with great love and devotion, changing his position every hour to prevent bedsores.

"I would fly into a rage every time someone would say that people like him should be euthanized, so they don't suffer," she told the local daily paper. "I believed Janek would recover," she said, using an affectionate version of his name.

"This is my great reward for all the care, faith and love," she told the AP, weeping.

"He remembers everything that was going on around him," she said. "He talks about it and remembers the wedding of our children. He had fever around the time of the weddings, so he knew something big was taking place."

Jan Grzebska fell into a coma following in communist Poland and awoke to find democracy and a market economy.

"The world is prettier now" than it was under communism he told his wife.

Jan spoke to Polish television

When I went into a coma there was only tea and vinegar in the shops, meat was rationed and huge petrol queues were everywhere. What amazes me today is all these people who walk around with their mobile phones and never stop moaning. I've got nothing to complain about.

Apart from the miracle of his reawakening, we should take note that comatose often can hear and remember what's said around them.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:54 PM | Permalink

April 21, 2007

Twenty years in a Chinese prison

An extraordinary story of Jack Downey and Richard Fecteau, lured by a double agent and jailed secretly, The lost 20 years of CIA spies caught in a China trap

The capture, imprisonment and eventual release of these two CIA agents is one of the most extraordinary and poignant tales in the history of espionage. Some of the material relating to their captivity remains classified but 34 years after Downey stumbled to freedom the CIA has finally allowed an official agency historian access to its most secret files.

The Downey-Fecteau case, revealed last week in the CIA’s Journal of the American Intelligence Professional, is a story of suffering, endurance and ordinary individuals trapped and manipulated by geopolitics. With the recent Iranian hostage drama, the story has remarkable contemporary resonance, but with one signal difference. The British soldiers were held in Iran for 13 days, and some made a small fortune by selling their stories after their release. Downey and Fecteau — both of whom are still living —never told their story to the media, and never made a penny out of it.

They were 22 and 24 when they were caught.

The men lived in draughty cells, on a diet of maggoty rice and vegetables. Sometimes they were allowed books and magazines. Then, with refined psychological cruelty, these would be arbitrarily removed.

The Americans developed survival strategies: daily exercise, writing, learning Chinese, and training their minds to explore the world they had once known.

Fecteau became an “expert daydreamer”, Dujmovic reports, and made an imaginary world by recalling every child in his school classes, and the sights in the Massachusetts town where he grew up.

Their prison experience has become a case study in surviving captivity.

Awarding Downey and Fecteau belated medals in 1998, George Tenet, then CIA director, observed: “Your story, simply put, is one of the most remarkable in the history of the CIA.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:14 AM | Permalink

April 20, 2007

"Crazy Campuses"

Victor Davis Hanson had a crazy,  volatile roommate his first year of college, so he has real empathy for students who might find themselves in a similar, scary situation.  His advice

I don’t believe that the university can protect any of them. Its mentality is therapeutic. And in the age of law-suits, and fourth-chances officials always err in the direction of the accused’s rights. I say that not in hindsight or criticism, but in sadness that the best advice one could give a child going to the university would be something like: “You will meet very eccentric people there, with all sorts of problems and strong passions, most of them antithetical to your own. Don’t expect moral guidance necessarily from your professors, or physical protection from your colleagues or the administration. Ask for such help, but don’t count on it. Instead keep you eyes open and at all times expect the worse.”

I am sorry if that sounds pessimistic, but I find it better advice than something like the college brochures’ promises of four years of intellectual and lifestyle stimulation in a cordial tolerant environment.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:43 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Still Learning from her Mother

In a lovely piece, Jane Plitt writes about her mother in The Lessons of Alzheimer's, the unexpected gifts of a terrible disease.

Among them
1. Be in the Moment
2. Touch Connects
3. Choose your Memories
4. Meet and Greet
5. Use things Up

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:07 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 18, 2007

Rule #1 Always Wear a Seatbelt

I have three rules of life that have stood me in good stead.

1. Always wear a seatbelt.
2. Put the milk back in the refrigerator.
3. Be kind.

I became convinced of the first as a student in law school when a guest lecturer, a medical examiner, showed us photographs of people killed because of the forward motion of a body when a car hits theirs, even if it was going only 5 miles an hour, propelled them through a window or impaled them on a steering column.  Most car accidents take place within a few miles of home when people 'just running to the store to get a few things' don't think they need a seatbelt.  Then and there I vowed to always wear a seatbelt even if I was just going the block. 

To be killed because of not wearing a seatbelt seems to me to be an especially stupid way to die.

So when N.J. Governor Corzine, is gravely injured because  he was "thrown within the vehicle during the impact" because didn't  buckle-up in his car GOING 91 MILES AN HOUR IN A 65 MPH ZONE, I just have to think he's stupid or arrogant and thinking the rules don't apply to him. Everyone else in the car was buckled up.

Now I'm sorry he's so seriously injured, I don't wish any ill to happen to him, but what stupid behavior from a public official, and especially hypocritical since he proposed a mandatory seat belt law while a U.S. senator.

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

April 13, 2007

How to pare down too many possessions

"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful"

William Morris in an 1880 lecture on The Beauty of LIfe.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:42 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 7, 2007

Ignoring Lessons Learned from Heart Disease

A serious heart attack is as much of an emergency as being shot.

“We deal with it as if it is a gunshot wound to the heart,” Dr. Antman said.

Cardiologists call it the golden hour, that window of time when they have a chance to save most of the heart muscle when an artery is blocked.

Don't think of a clutching your heart pain like you see in the movies.  Consider pressure, a feeling of heaviness, shortness of breath.

Most patients describe something like Mr. Orr’s symptoms — discomfort in the chest that may, or may not, radiate into the arms or neck, the back, the jaw, or the stomach. Many also have nausea or shortness of breath. Or they break out in a cold sweat, or have a feeling of anxiety or impending doom, or have blue lips or hands or feet, or feel a sudden exhaustion.

But symptoms often are less distinctive in elderly patients, especially women. Their only sign may be
a sudden feeling of exhaustion just walking across a room. Some say they broke out in a sweat. Afterward, they may recall a feeling of pressure in their chest or pain radiating from their chest but at the time, they say, they paid little attention.

The time in getting to an emergency room in time for treatment hasn't changed in 10 years - it's still 110 minutes,  one hour and 50 minutes.

People drive themselves to the ER or get a friend to do so. And then they wait to get triaged.  They don't come in with sirens blazing, treatment already started, and jump to the head of the line.

They don't call 911 because of embarrassment.  Said Dr. Skopp
“But it is better to be checked out and find out it’s not a problem than to have a problem and not have the therapy,” he said.

The ideal treatment you want is angioplasty, the ideal treatment.

Second best is  a clot-dissolving drug like tPA even though it opens up only 60-70%  of blocked arteries and kills 1 out of 200 patients with a stroke to the brain.

Dr. Antman has a message for patients: With a disease as serious as heart disease, those who take responsibility are often the ones who survive.

Having a heart attack, even if it turns out well, as his did, is a life-altering experience, Mr. Orr said.

The New York Times follows Keith Orr, 44, who thought he was doing great, what with his improved diet and exercise and all,  so he stopped taking his medications. Luckily,  he was in Boston.  Lessons of Heart Disease, Learned and Ignored.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:50 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

March 26, 2007

The Attraction of War

From a remarkable essay by Brian Mockenhaupt,

I miss Iraq.  I miss my gun.  I miss my war

Yet even at its lowest points, war is like nothing else. Our culture craves experience, and that is war's strong suit. War peels back the skin, and you live with a layer of nerves exposed, overdosing on your surroundings, when everything seems all wrong and just right, in a way that makes perfect sense. And then you almost die but don't, and are born again, stoned on life and mocking death. The explosions and gunfire fry your nerves, but you want to hear them all the same. Something's going down.

For those who know, this is the open secret: War is exciting. Sometimes I was in awe of this, and sometimes I felt low and mean for loving it, but I loved it still. Even in its quiet moments, war is brighter, louder, brasher, more fun, more tragic, more wasteful. More. More of everything.

Mortal danger heightens the senses. That is simple animal instinct. We're more aware of how our world smells and sounds and tastes. This distorts and enriches experiences. Now I can have everything, but it's not as good as when I could have none of it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:37 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

March 25, 2007

"You see people you like, you go there"

Antonio Pierro is 110.  This is some of what he's learned.

If you're going to make wine by stepping on grapes, make sure to wash your feet.

Steal with your eyes, not with your hands.

It's good to have a garden.

There's too much to remember. Sometimes you gotta forget about the past.

You see people you like, you go there.

We were married 47 years. Kindness in giving creates love.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:47 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

March 5, 2007

The Happiness Project

She calls them My Secrets of Adulthood.  I call them practical tips and life lessons.

Gretchen Rubin says each one changed her life, once she figured them out.

She also has her own 12 commandments.

1. Be Gretchen.
2. Let it go.
3. Act as I would feel.
4. Do it now.
5. Be polite and be fair.
6. Enjoy the process.
7. Spend out.
8. Identify the problem.
9. Lighten up.
10. Do what ought to be done.
11. No calculation.
12. There is only love.

The Happiness Project is a  site to bookmark.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:28 PM | 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.

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January 31, 2007

Get your tinfoil hats on

Putting it all together, What I learned from 9-11 Conspiracy Theories.

Hat tip Kathy Shaidle

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January 30, 2007

Get the initial conditions right

Robert Paterson on Nature's Big Idea - Trusted Space.

Get the initial conditions right .

Mother Nature does not micromanage an entity throughout its life cycle. She uses leverage.

She allows for the best beginning to set the best course for the best potential. An entity that has enjoyed the best Initial Conditions will, all on its own, have a high probability of fulfilling its ideal potential.

Conversely, if an entity has suffered from poor Initial Conditions, there is little chance of getting back on track let alone meeting the full potential. Nature is neutral. She just sets the rules.

You have to read the whole thing to see how he applies this theory to families and organizations.

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Pithy eating advice

Michael Pollan, author of the Omnivore's Dilemma, wrote Unhappy Meals in the New York Times Magazine that begins with the shortest, pithiest and best advice on eating you will ever get.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.   

He expands on this advice for 3000 words

More tidbits:
And you’re much better off eating whole fresh foods than processed food products. ....Don’t eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.

if you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid food products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a good indication that it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat.

Nuturionism is not nutrition, it's a religion.

No one likes to admit that his or her best efforts at understanding and solving a problem have actually made the problem worse, but that’s exactly what has happened in the case of nutritionism. Scientists operating with the best of intentions, using the best tools at their disposal, have taught us to look at food in a way that has diminished our pleasure in eating it while doing little or nothing to improve our health.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:36 PM | Permalink

January 27, 2007

Peter O Toole

What I've Learned, Peter O'Toole

Six years: 1939 to 1945. It was life. One's literacy was newspapers, bombs, Germans. We didn't have a childhood. We had the war.

From both my mother and father I learned endurance. Things were pretty tough. But things could be tougher.
Everything you hear about the true American spirit -- the matriarchy and the femininity and the toughness -- you find in Kate Hepburn. She was funny as hell and brave and dotty. Kate! I gave my daughter her name.

Years later, in Ireland, daughter Kate, then nine or ten, said, "Daddy, there's an old Gypsy woman at the door!" We had a Gypsy nearby who would pinch our flowers. I went to the door and said, "No, thank you, we don't -- oh, hello, Kate." She had four jackets on. One belonged to Barrymore, one to Spencer Tracy, one to me, and one to Humphrey Bogart. Khaki trousers and boots -- this was her uniform.

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January 15, 2007

Free Love Boomer Recants

Blogging as the Dawn Patrol,  Dawn Eden, author of The Thrill of the Chaste, writes in the London Sunday Times,  Casual Sex is a con: women just aren't like men.

Whatever Greer and her ilk might say I’ve tried their philosophy — that a woman can shag like a man — and it doesn’t work. We’re not built like that. Women are built for bonding. We are vessels and we seek to be filled. For that reason, however much we try and convince ourselves that it isn’t so, sex will always leave us feeling empty unless we are certain that we are loved, that the act is part of a bigger picture that we are loved for our whole selves not just our bodies.

It took me a long time to realise this.
It left me with a brittle facade incapable of real intimacy.

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December 7, 2006

Work is your real life

Hugh MacLeod at The Gaping Void is encouraging readers to send in their brief manifestos.  He has his down to four words.

This one on Work by Pamela Slim who posts at Escape from Cubicle Nation is so good, I'm going to post it in its entirety. 

1. Work is your real life
. It is the way you translate your feelings, your thoughts, your hopes and your desires into something valuable, tangible and useful every day. You can choose to make work into a dreaded, necessary evil that you can't wait to finish so that you can get busy with your "real life." Why not just do work you love?

2. Good work will improve your sex life. Frustrated employees desperately long for excitement and release in the form of fantasy football, internet surfing, porn, and the affections of their stressed and overworked spouses. No superhero could fill the gigantic void of a passionless man or woman in a 15-minute tryst in bed. Express your passion through your work every day, all day, and find that you will be less needy, more attentive, open, giving and loving to your partner. Which makes for better sex.

3. Your secret desire holds the clue to your best work. You say that you would love to do meaningful work, but don't know how to find it. What is your secret desire? What idea are you a little embarrassed to share with someone because it is so delicate or bold or crazy or exciting? You often claim to not know what you want to do, but in fact censor yourself from what you know you want for fear of appearing ridiculous.

4. You can't fool your kids. Many of you claim passionless, dull and frustrating careers with the excuse that you must provide for your family. Providing for your family is noble; using it as an excuse to hide from your own greatness is a bad example for your kids. If you want them to grow up motivated, creative, free and enterprising, be that yourself. They are watching and emulating your every move.

5. Fear is the great inhibitor. All of the excuses that you find for not doing work you love have solutions. You do not enact them because you are afraid: of showing up too big in the world; of failing; of appearing as an imposter; of living in poverty. There is nothing wrong with fear. Feel it, talk to it, examine it and walk with it. Then step out and let yourself show up, warts and all. It will liberate you.

6. Owning is better than renting. While you may feel "safer" renting out your skills for a paycheck and benefits, you often sell all your energy this way and have nothing left at the end of the day. If you don't get what you need in this employment arrangement in terms of money, recognition, power or responsibility, you feel angry and frustrated. Own the means of production and the factory, and at least your glorious disasters will be your disasters. Accountability breeds passion and desire.

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November 30, 2006

The Power of Thank You Notes

If you think about writing a thank you note and don't or if you write a note and don't send it or if you think that if you write a thank you note to someone you've never met, you have to read 

From Eight Letters, A Life-Afirming Note

via Book of Joe

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November 23, 2006

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

Thanksgiving Turkey Drop from WKRP.

Thanks Hugh Hewitt for a great laugh.

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November 4, 2006

Nazi "baby farm" children meet after 60+ years.

A living tragedy of an insane idea of racial purity, Secret Nazi 'baby farm' children meet.

Children born on Nazi baby farms who were intended to be the germseed for Hitler's Ayran master race are meeting in public to break a taboo that has lasted more than 60 years.

They are the product of the Lebensborn programme of the S.S., the 'Fountain of Life' scheme that turned racially and idealogically pure S.S. men into studs and blonde, blue-eyed single girls into child-rearing machines for the Fuehrer.

Thousands of such children were born in Lebensborn camps across Europe. They were immediately seperated from their mothers to be brought up in homes where the only religion was Nazism and qualities like mercy and kindness were frowned upon.

Hitler and his S.S. chief Heinrich Himmler believed they were creating a superrace: instead the lack of affection and poor education besides Nazi indoctrination led many to be educationally backward and emotionally crippled.

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October 9, 2006

Life lessons for Halloween

Just in time for Halloween.

Here are ten life lessons, illustrated by coffins. 

We spend so much time avoiding the hard facts in our lives. It's much more productive to invest the energy you would spend avoiding unpleasant things to preparing for them. If you stop denying that bad things happen and just start facing their inevitability, you may be able to find a clever way to take advantage of the things that are going to happen in your life.

For example, if you buy a coffin window seat, then you can use it throughout your life to take off your shoes. At the same time, you will have a handy place to store a dead body if you ever kill anyone. Now you're really thinking ahead! Think of all the ways your life would be better if you just planned ahead.

I liked the gold leaf ecopod the best.  It looks like Paloma Picasso's bean jewelry though she preferred silver.

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October 3, 2006

Statistics predict True Love

Playing the Odds on True Love

TRUE LOVE is like a kick in the head. No, really. It's not just that it comes out of nowhere, knocks you sideways and changes your life forever. It's statistically like a kick in the head.
Love, here as everywhere, is different. True love is rare; we can only hope to find it once in a lifetime, and maybe not even then. The curve that charts love is very narrow — more like a steeple than a bell. It's called a Poisson curve, and its classic exemplar was the chance of being kicked to death by a horse while serving in the Prussian cavalry.
While the bell curve describes things we can expect; Poisson's formula predicts things we fear or hope for — things that, though rare, could happen at any time.
True love is such an event. It could be today; it could be never. All we know is that it happens to some people, sometimes. This makes me believe that the hope of meeting the love of your life is also governed by the Poisson curve. If so, it suggests some interesting conclusions.

This implies that your best chances come from seeking out and sustaining friendships with the people you already like most, rather than devoting too much time to the exotic alternatives. Rare things become near-impossible once you compound their rarity — say, by buying a lottery ticket only on your birthday.

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Bernard Baruch

“One of the secrets of a long and fruitful life is to forgive everybody everything every night before going to bed.” 
Bernard Baruch, financier

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September 16, 2006

On Simplicity

John Maeda is called the Master of Simplicity.    A computer scientist, a graphic designer, and a professor at the MIT Media Lab, he's begun a blog called, what else, Simplicity.

His philosophy of life is an example. 

When you're younger: 
Do More. Think Less.
When you're older: 
Do Less. Think More.

Hat tip to 37 signals who excerpts segments from Maeda's new book, The Laws of Simplicity.

Complexity implies the feeling of being lost; simplicity implies the feeling of being found.

Nobody wants to have only simplicity. Without the counterpoint of complexity, we could not recognize simplicity when we see it…Simplicity and complexity need each other.

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September 11, 2006

Advice to College Freshman

The Old Professor gives this advice to college freshmen at Tom McMahon's, who is better known as the creator of the s "damaged and brilliant" 4 square world.

On the first day of class he asks them a question. "What would you be doing if you were not in College?" They reply that they would be working in a retail store, construction, or at the paper mill in their hometown. "So you would be working 40 hours a week? Is that correct?" he says. They answer in the affirmative. He then goes on to guarantee that if they will work a 40-hour week in college, they will be successful. He asks them to "work" in their academic pursuits 8 hours a day, five days a week, with evenings and weekends off. The 40 hours must be spent either in class or in study time. He explains that if they would get up at 7 a.m., eat breakfast, and either attend class or study from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with an hour off for lunch, they would have every evening off to socialize. They would also have their weekends free. He knows that this will work. He also knows that they won't take his advice.

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August 27, 2006

Rules of Life from Katie Paine

As a breast cancer survivor, Katie Paine knows what it's like.  With that and what she learned from two friends who succumbed, Katie's learned more than a few life lessons.  So when she lays down some rules for life,  you want to pay attention

She calls them the  The Paine Manifesto.

Here are just the first ten.

1. Staying Alive comes first – run, exercise, do something to keep yourself healthy
2. Relationships are next. Without friends, you are nothing. A friend, or a connection extends your lifespan by a decade. Put your friends first. The pain of losing a friend is the worst you’ll ever experience. Spend time with the friends you have while you have them. They might be gone tomorrow or next week, you never know.
3. No one ever lay on their death bed and wished they’d spent more time vacuuming, or at work, or asleep
4. Make a difference. There are millions of people on the planet that just take up oxygen. Do you want to be one of them, or do you want to make a difference.?
5. Be who  you are and see who is pleased, stop trying to make everyone happy. You can’t.
6. If you decide that who you are is someone who wants to make a difference, your life will never be the same. You will experience more joy, more exhilaration, every single day.
7. You don’t have to make a difference on the whole while world. Make a difference in  your community, in your family, in your neighborhood. It’s just as important.
8. After breathing, the most important thing in life is caring.
9. If you don’t build a values based business, your business has no true value
10. Be true to your values, your beliefs, your vision, your soul. Nothing else matters.

HT Shel Israel at Naked Conversations

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No need to rush

Granddaughter Tracy Templeton said Bob Irwin will be especially missed in part because of the life lessons he imparted to her family.
“My grandpa taught us things in life that are really worth something there’s no need to rush through them, whether it be a book, a meal, a life. That to me is his legacy.”

Debbie Brownfield said the Grays Harbor Raceway is a lasting tribute to her husband,  Fred Brownfield's dreams and vision.

"It shows he was dedicated to getting things done," she said. "He cared about the racers and the fans. He wanted them all to have a good experience. He took things he liked at other tracks and worked to make (Elma) a place to be proud to race at or attend. He was diligent. He was definitely a go-getter. When something needed to get done, he would go through all kinds of obstacles. He was like a little bulldog.

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August 21, 2006

Get Over It

From an interview of Nora Ephron in the Wall St Journal (subscribers only I think)

I was just with someone complaining about his mother. He's 70 and his mother is dead. I sat there thinking, 'This is unbelievable.' He was complaining about things she did to him when he was a kid. There are also a lot of divorced people who five years later are still walking around angry when they should be grateful. They love being victims. You get to a certain point in life where if you were younger you'd say, 'Think about getting a shrink.' Then you get older and want to say, 'Pull up your socks. Get over it.'

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August 20, 2006

The Dark Side of the Sixties

Art critic Robert Hughes reveals how his life was deeply scarred by the Sixties.

The curse of free love

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August 8, 2006

No Marijuana for Would-be Mommas

If you want to get pregnant, lay off the funny stuff.

Marijuana May Sabotage Pregnancy.

 Mona Lisa Marijuana

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August 4, 2006

What's Better When You're Younger

Interesting comments at Lifehacker's post on what's easier when you're younger. 

Mornings after the night before.
Getting arrested.  If you're not dealt with as a juvenile, people will call it a youthful indiscretion.
Quitting your job and driving around the country with your friends.
Getting laid.
Falling back on a safety net.
Crying your way out of problems.
Still experiencing the feeling of invulnerability.

I would add:

eating anything you want and not gaining weight.
believing that life is fair
believing that you're entitled.
biking 50 miles one day and 50 miles the next and not needing Advil.
thinking that you're always going to love your tatoos.
having summers off to do whatever you want.
believing you won't survive a break-up.

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July 31, 2006

Life Lessons from Tony Bennett

Mitch Albom interviewed Tony Bennett in this week's Parade magazine  to find out what makes him so satisfied.

1. He loves what he does.
"A certain contentment has settled over me."

2. He is not a "things" person.
He doesn't own a car, a boat, nor a house.
"I'm one a perpetual vacation.  I stay in a perpetual creative zone at all times."

3. He's held firm to his ideals.
"When you do something greedily, you might make a lot of money, but in no way makes you happy.  When you do something well and with care...when you hit the pillow at night, you can say, 'At least I did it right.'"

4. He never forgets where he came from.
"Life is a gift, a magnificent gift."

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July 30, 2006

Lessons from Felix

Felix Dennis, a publishing tycoon, is filthy rich.  What  with about $400m -$900m in net worth, five homes, three estates, private jets and so on, he's written a book saying If You Want to be Rich, First Stop Being So Frightened. 

Making money was, and still is, fun, but at one time it wreaked chaos upon my private life. It consumed my waking hours. It led me into a lifestyle of narcotics, high-class whores, drink and consolatory debauchery. As a philosopher might have put it, all the usual dreary afflictions of the seeker after wealth.
After a lifetime of making money and observing better men and women than me fall by the wayside, I am convinced that fear of failing in the eyes of the world is the single biggest impediment to amassing wealth. Trust me on this.

Becoming rich does not guarantee happiness. In fact, it is almost certain to impose the opposite condition — if not from the stresses and strains of protecting it, then from the guilt that inevitably accompanies its arrival.

If I had my time again, I would dedicate myself to making just enough to live comfortably (say £30m or £40m) as quickly as I could, hopefully by the time I was 35. I would then cash out immediately and retire to write poetry and plant trees.

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July 26, 2006

Ten Stages of Breast Cancer

Katie Paine, a serial entrepreneur, battled and survived breast cancer.

From her blog, True Survivor, comes The Ten Stages of Breast Cancer

1. Denial
2. Fear
3. Information addiction
4. Decision shock coupled with analysis paralysis
5. Organizational compulsion
6. Fear of baldness
7. Everything is just peachy
8. You survived, boo hoo
9. I'm a survivor, now how can I give back
10. The fear is still there, but there's a lock on the door

This list doesn't do justice to all that she has to say.

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July 15, 2006

Colossal Achievement and Born American

Gutzon Borglum was 60 years old when he began to carve Mount Rushmore. 

Fourteen years later he died and his son completed the finishing touches on his 'colossal achievement'  - four Presidential portraits of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt carved in granite.  Another

A lot of people shrink from Mt. Rushmore.  They say it's too big, too schmaltzy.  It's not politically or environmentally correct. 

They don't experience the "little frisson of excitement and uncomplicated patriotism" that Judith Dobryznski  did and writes about  in A Monumental Achievement  (Wall St Journal, subscribers only)

Borglum consented only to do something bigger. He wanted to create a monument to the American philosophy, a celebration of the American spirit. That, he said, could be done only by portraying the nation's greatest presidents, picked by him.

Granite is a blunt medium, not given to nuance. Yet these portraits do seem to capture the essence of each man.

Less than a year before he died, Borglum talked of the pleasure he experienced at Rushmore. "This is the work I love most, this intimate contact with the four men," he told the New York Times in August 1940. "As I became engrossed in the features and personalities of each man, I felt myself growing in stature, just as they did when their characters grew and developed."

Borglum believed in the bigness of America -- in growth, dreams, abilities.

Peter Schramm, an Hungarian immigrant who now teaches American history to Americans at Ashland University, describes something similar to Borglum's intimacy with these men as he encounters the real words  and meaning of the founding fathers.   

Why had I put all of this effort into studying so much of European history and politics? There was nothing wrong with it, in itself. But these most important questions - What is freedom? What is justice? What is equality?  -these were not answered in the history books I had been devouring. These were questions tackled by men like Jefferson, Madison, Washington and Lincoln and contemplated before by men like Plato, Aristotle, Locke, and many others. This is where I could get a true education. So I started anew.
It was here that I began to see what it meant to try to establish a Novus Ordo Seclorum. I began to see that all governments previous to ours had been established on accident and force, and now these American Founders insisted on establishing one on universal principles applicable to all men at all times, one established on reflection and choice. In America, human beings could prove to the world that they had the capacity to govern themselves. The Founders, according to Lincoln, proclaimed equality and freedom to "the whole world of men." It was here that I came to understand what Lincoln meant by the Declaration of Independence being the "electric cord" that linked all of us together, as though we were "blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh, of the men who wrote that Declaration." This is what it meant to be an American, and it wasn't all that far from being a man.

His piece  Born American, but in the Wrong Place is a stellar piece of writing and a view of America you have not heard before.

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July 14, 2006

Celebrity Takedown

Have you ever wondered about those celebrity global ambassadors? 

Do they really do any good besides attracting reporters and photographers?  Does it change them for the better? 

Joshua Trevino  accompanied Ashley Judd on a Youth Aids tour
to South Africa and tells all in Whom the gods would destroy....

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July 7, 2006

Nasty, brutish and short

It's hard to believe but overall, we really are getting better.

According to anthropologist, Lawrence Keeley, if modern societies suffered the same casualty rates as primitive people, we would have had an additional two billion war deaths in the 20th century. His book

"War before Civilization" (Lawrence H. Keeley)

You can forget too the myth of the noble savage. The lives of primitive people were nasty, brutish and short.

The Fraud of Primitive Authenticity

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June 14, 2006

Who owns the lottery ticket?

Kevin buys a lottery ticket and mistakenly throws it away at the White Hen Pantry convenience store where he bought it. John, an elderly man who regularly goes through the trash there, finds the lottery ticket that's worth $1 million. He shows it to the store owner who remembers Kevin and calls him up.

Kevin dies a month later.

Who owns the ticket. Kevin's heirs or John?

Sounds like a law school question, doesn't it.

Well, the court ruled that lottery ticket is like cash. Possession is all that's required to prove ownership.

Now John calls up the heirs and offers them a third. That's $333,333.

They refuse saying they want half. They have nothing, the court has ruled against them, they turn down $333,3333. They want to appeal.

Some people never know when to call it a win.

"I told my lawyers to take my offer off the table and they get exactly zero," he said. "I'm not going to pay them one penny. They had their opportunity before and they were greedy."

Family Sues Lottery Ticket Finder

They would rather hire lawyers.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:25 PM | Permalink

May 30, 2006

Life Lessons from Joan Didion

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:44 PM | Permalink

May 17, 2006

10 extra years

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

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

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

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:58 AM | Permalink

May 16, 2006

Mr. Rogers, Ecstatic Ascetic

The Real Live Preacher thought he was over Mr. Rogers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:45 PM | Permalink

May 15, 2006

What Mia Farrow's Learned

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find things that shine and move toward them.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:49 PM | Permalink

April 24, 2006

Life Lessons Collection

What do these "life lessons" have in common.

Just because you like it doesn't mean she will.

Your kid doesn't care that it's fourth and goal.

Children will repeat every single thing you say.

Not everyone's dying to see your baby pictures.

There are better rewards than food.

The all-you-can-eat buffet is not a challenge

Merlot and email don't mix.

They all have their own figurines you can customize with hair, skin and eye color at the The Learning Channel's Life Lessons Collection.

  Merlot And Email Don't Mix

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:30 PM | Permalink

April 20, 2006

The Waiter Rule

CEOs say how you treat the waiter says a lot about your character.

12 out of 12 CEOs agree.

They acknowledge that CEOs live in a Lake Wobegon world where every dinner or lunch partner is above average in their deference. How others treat the CEO says nothing, they say. But how others treat the waiter is like a magical window into the soul.

Take a look at Swanson's Unwritten Rules in the sidebar.

32: A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter, or to others, is not a nice person. (This rule never fails).

Swanson is Raytheon CEO Bill Swanson. Raytheon has given away 250,000 copies of the booklet with his unwritten rules of management.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:35 PM | Permalink

Never Underestimate the power of giving a girl flowers

Some life lessons, what the Waiter Rant calls bits of wisdom

“Never make a decision when you’re high in the sky or down in the dumps.” – my high school principal.

(On relationships) “If it isn’t fun in the beginning – forget it.” – female coworker

“When you first get married you should be having sex in every room of the house.” - same female coworker

“The biggest asshole in a community is the guy who doesn’t change the toilet paper.” – a Trappist monk

“I never trusted a man who never smoked or drank.” – Abraham Lincoln.

“It’s easy to love people in China. It’s tougher to love the person living next door.” – I heard that one in confession

“Sometimes pathology matures into ability.” - a psychiatrist

“Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” - Yoda

“It’s just a feeling. You don’t have to act on it.” – spiritual director

“Sex isn’t life. But life’s impossible with out it.” - unknown

Fighting should always be the last resort. But sometimes you just have to punch a guy in the nose.” – Unknown.

“No amount of money in the world is worth not being able to look at yourself in the mirror.” – Dad

“Some times the right thing is the terrible thing.” - unknown

“Love isn’t a feeling. It’s an act of will.” – spiritual director

“Count to ten.” – Mom

“Never underestimate the power of giving a girl flowers.” – Unknown.

“When you’re young you want to change the world. When you’re older you just want to understand it.” - Unknown

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:25 PM | Permalink

April 18, 2006

Max Headroom Creator made Roswell alien

People believe in all sorts of crazy things and nefarious conspiracies for reasons far beyond me. .

Today at least, we can put to rest any question that aliens crashed a UFO in Roswell N.M. in 1948.

Max Headroom Creator Made Roswell Alien

THE creator of Max Headroom, a 1980s television cyber-presenter, has claimed he was one of the hoaxers behind the Roswell film, the grainy black and white footage supposedly showing a dead alien being dissected by American government scientists after a UFO crash.

John Humphreys, a sculptor and consultant on Alien Autopsy who has also worked on special effects for Doctor Who, said it was he who made the models for the alien dissected in the original fake footage.

Rather than being shot in 1947 near Roswell in the New Mexico desert as previously claimed, the film was actually made at a flat in Camden, north London, in 1995.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:55 PM | Permalink

April 10, 2006

Postcards to yourself

What do you do if you've fallen in the habit of defining yourself in terms of who you are to other people and what they expect of you?

Her children grown, Alice Steinbach decided to take a year off from her job as a reporter with the Baltimore Sun, leave her friends and family and head off for Europe Without Reservations. That's the title of her book she ended up writing about her adventures in Paris, Oxford, Milan, Venice and London.

In so doing, she gives the single best travel tip I've ever seen: Write postcards to yourself to remind you not just of what you saw, but what you felt and thought. So much easier than keeping a travel journal. Plus, you have the stamps, the thoughts and the context to propel you back to another time.

I must say she's awakened a new travel lust in me.

"Without Reservations : The Travels of an Independent Woman" (Alice Steinbach)

She also has some marvelous quotes that will resonate with many women of a certain age.
From Colette, "that lightheartedness that comes to a woman when the peril of men has left her." The peril of men being those times when women needed men more than they needed their own independent identities.

I liked this one too, by Walter Berry in his advice to those about to enter the wilderness.
"Always in the big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place, there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the Unknown, and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into."

In preparation for the journey ahead of her, Alice's mother took this quote with her in her handbag to the hospital where she later died.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:11 PM | Permalink

March 13, 2006

The Child is Father to the Man

A fascinating thread on Metafilter. "Can you point to a single experience in your life, as a child" which you can define as having contributed to the person you are today?"

The contributions are moving and heartfelt. What struck me the most is how often a single action by a parent or a stranger can affect a whole life. Almost as striking is the number of people who found a home in books when their own was abusive or belittling.

Here are some selected responses:

1. Wayne Arnold let me hold the trumpet he just got from school (I was in kindergarten) and at that moment, I knew that I would have to play. 32 years later, I still play.ntinual process of lifelong learning.
I was taken on a visit to a newspaper office when I was seven. Stood on the floor of the press hall and just knew.
Parents' divorce and alcoholism. I learned these lessons early: I trust few people, never think about the future (in a fatalistic sense, not a live-for-today sense), and err on the side of caution every time. Life is a long series of hazards to be avoided and inescapable heartbreak.
I won't talk about specific instances, but the abuse and neglect I experienced as a child has shaped the adult I am. I'm shy, withdrawn and have an extremely low sense of self-esteem. It has been, and will continue to be, a lifelong struggle to overcome my childhood.
12 years old, just beginning to take those "career aptitude inventory" tests they give you, I share with my father my interest in one day becoming a computer engineer. His response, "How the hell are you ever gonna help anybody doing that!?" leads me to completely devalue my own interests and goals for the next four years or so in favor of what I think other people think I should be doing. Later I get my head on straight and realize he was being a complete jerk, but the damage is still done.
My father had a serious heart attack the day before my twelfth birthday, and was not expected to survive. A very good cardiac surgeon completed the bypass operation on my birthday, and he survived for the next 18 years.

It was definitely an eye-opener about doctors, how important they were and how they sometimes did world-shaking things. I don't know if it's fair to say it's why I became a doctor, but it definitely got me thinking.
When I was 16, our house burned down while our family was away. We had spent the last 6 years building it. We lost essentially all of our possessions. I lost a stamp collection and an Atari 400 that I'd worked an entire summer to earn. My father lost negatives and equipment from a 20-year photography career.

Building the house taught me and my siblings what hard work was, how to face it and thrive in it. Losing it, and all our possessions, taught me that things are just objects, not the center or my life or cause for deep, abiding emotional attachments.
My father's childhood was one of those horrorshow ones about which others have written.

My deepest respect for him is that as a young man, he swore that he would never be like his father. And to his credit, he broke the cycle of violence. That took a lot, I'm sure.
The short and easy answer would be the death of my father when I was five.

The better answer would be the time when I was probably 12, at a church father/son event of some sort, with a neighbor. I won the door prize -- for the third year in a row. It struck me that the contest was rigged, and I was being given some consideration for the fact that my father was dead. I decided to not let on that I had figured this out.

There were many adults I knew as a child who, in a quiet way, tried to help me out in whatever ways they could. I doubt I was ever grateful enough at the time, but as an adult and a father, their efforts, even the feeble and transparent ones, are always on my mind, and I do believe that I have a responsibility to do the same for the kids I know.
We moved every year from the time I was born until I left home. I have no ties to anyone and no old friends. I joined the service, moved some more then went to college and moved twice more for a graduate then a doctorate program. I don't know anyone and have no idea how to maintain a friendship. But, I make a hell of a first impression.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:48 PM | Permalink

March 2, 2006

Couple Overcome

If you're going to have sex in a car, don't turn on the engine to warm it up particularly in a closed garage.

Carbon monoxide makes you dizzy, sleepy and then it's over.

Couple found dead in car in garage still embracing.

Condolences to the families.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:34 PM | Permalink

Tom McMahon's life lessons

Caring for a son who suffered a brain injury and who is unable to walk, talk or feed himself, Tom McMahon learned many things, a few of which are:

  • Some run away
  • Big companies don't help
  • Just muddle through can be the best advice
  • Everyone wants to help save the Earth, but nobody wants to help Mom do the dishes

Tom shows us what it is to be a man, to do his duty, to learn that everyone has a story and his is not the worst.

He reminds me of what Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, "If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we would find in each man's life a sorrow and a suffering enough to disarm all hostility.

You don't want to miss What I have learned in 15 years by Tom McMahon, and once you look around, you'll want to bookmark his blog.

Very funny and sometimes profound, Tom doesn't rant and rage. He wears well that Tom.

  Tom Mcmahon

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:18 AM | Permalink

February 28, 2006

Best story from Olympics

The best story I've read about the Winter Olympics is by Tom Wise in the Washington, Honorable Move Made in a Snap. One of the reasons the Olympics remains so compelling is that there are moments when a person's character is revealed before all the world.

Clarity can be found at the Games if you look hard, a clarity that can distill someone's character better than most life experiences. U.S. goalie Chanda Gunn, refusing to shake hands with the Swedish women's hockey team after the Americans' stunning semifinal loss. France's Pierre-Emmanuel Dalcin, raising his middle finger after he failed to complete the Super-G. A pair of Austrian Nordic skiers, bolting the Games after Italian authorities began a drug investigation.

But character also comes out at the Games in ways that touch and inspire. Joey Cheek, the U.S. speedskater who donated the $40,000 he earned for winning gold and silver medals to the children of Darfur. Zhang Dan, the Chinese pairs figure skater who slid violently to the boards after being dropped by her partner, but got up, finished in pain and captured the silver medal.

Yet Hakensmoen proved there is still an abundance of human majesty at the Olympics.

Hakensmoen is the mystery man below

Sara Renner was skiing the cross-country race of her life when she looked down at her pole and saw it had snapped.

She flailed and struggled uphill as the field passed her in seconds. And then something happened, maybe the most serendipitous, skin-tingling moment of the 20th Winter Games.

Another pole.

Out of nowhere.

Given to her by a person she would call "my mystery man.

The poor behavior on the part of some American athletes has the head of the USOC saying "significant" efforts will be made to improve deportment among US athletes.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:31 AM | Permalink

February 25, 2006

She's been there

From Pamela Bone, one year after being diagnosed with myeloma, cancer of the bone marrow, and retiring.

The best advice to people suffering a terminal illness I've read was this: 'Yes, you are going to die, but until you do, you are alive.' So that's what I'm doing: being alive.

And goes on to talk about the butter, the Danes and Prince Fredrik.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:55 AM | Permalink

February 17, 2006

Are You a Player?

This is just great.

You thought you learned everything in kindergarten but you were never tested. The test comes later on in life. Are you a player?

Example: Me at a well-known company to pick up copies of a manuscript, I am visibly annoyed - this is my third trip to get what was promised yesterday. The anxious clerk, Miss Saucer-eyes, is obviously new to the herd behind the counter and doesn't know what to do with me or for me. The work is still not done, despite promises. Getting mad at her won't help.

"OK, I won't make any trouble," I say, "Just give me a really clever, off-the-wall creative excuse - the wildest thing you can think of. Make me laugh and I'll go away."

Miss Saucer-eyes is mute. This situation was not covered in training school last week. She whispers: "I'll speak to my manager."
Not a player.

Miss Saucer-eyes retreats to the back of the shop and consults with her manager, a high-energy, sharply-dressed woman. The manager marches briskly up to the counter, gives me a steely look, leans over the counter, and explains:

"Sir, you may not know this, but this store has been a front for the Irish Republican Army for years. We're supposed to be turning in our firearms, and it seems a bazooka is missing from the inventory. When we find the bazooka, things will get back to normal. If I were you, I wouldn't make any trouble - just come back tomorrow, OK?”
A player.

I'm so glad Gerard Van de Leun is back at American Digest and the white hole is now just a memory. Otherwise I would never have checked in on

Robert Fulgrum

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:17 PM | Permalink

Follow your gut

You know how experts say you should weigh all the pros and cons before any major decision?

I tried once or twice, but it always seemed false and forced. I usually opt for the easier, more natural gut decisions.

Turns out, that's a smarter thing to do.

A study today published in Science says "Follow your gut.

However, as the decisions become complex (more expensive items with many characteristics, such as cars), better decisions and happier ones come from not attending to the choices but allowing one's unconscious to sift through the many permutations for the optimal combination.

The Boston Globe reports

In a series of studies with shoppers and students, researchers found that people who face a decision with many considerations, such as what house to buy, often do not choose wisely if they spend a lot of time consciously weighing the pros and cons. Instead, the scientists conclude, the best strategy is to gather all of the relevant information -- such as the price, the number of bathrooms, the age of the roof -- and then put the decision out of mind for a while.

Then, when the time comes to decide, go with what feels right. ''It is much better to follow your gut," said Ap Dijksterhuis, a professor of psychology at the University of Amsterdam, who led the research.

For relatively simple decisions, he said, it is better to use the rational approach. But the conscious mind can consider only a few facts at a time. And so with complex decisions, he said, the unconscious appears to do a better job of weighing the factors and arriving at a sound conclusion.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:18 PM | Permalink

February 16, 2006


From the U.K. where the elf and safety racket has knocked the stuffing out of us. or why the Japanese Takeshi's Castle is so entrancing to English children

My children watch it with complete rapture, because it is so alien to our culture. There are real teeth being knocked out here, surely; there are ligaments being torn, ankles sprained, ribs bruised, and still the sons and daughters of Nippon queue up for more.

I do not think my children are being more than normally sadistic; it is just that Takeshi's Castle responds to a deep and unmet need in modern British life.

It is the need to see real risk, real danger, real humiliation, and of course real failure: all the things that are so expensively and so ingeniously airbrushed out of our mollycoddled and over-regulated lives.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:07 AM | Permalink

February 14, 2006

Trusting sources for the truth

They are invisible, unappreciated, and unremarked. As delicate and as strong as a spider's we depend upon networks of trust around us, that food will come to the store, that electricity will be delivered, that the money is good and the bank will give us some back.

We also depend on the accuracy of accounts by reporters and historians. For the latter, we should be more skeptical. Or better still, trust but verify, like Richard Evan, scholar and hero, did.

Neo-neo con brings us the remarkable tale of popular writer Clifford Irving who along the way became anti-Semitic and a liar, falsifier and Holocaust denier.

Undone by his own hand, it began when he chose to sue Deborah Libstadt for libel in her book Lying About Hitler whose legal team and she was ably defended by her publisher Penguin, hired Richard Evan, an historian, whose " remarkable scholarship and persistence" exposed Irving's manipulation and exploitation of the network of trust that allows historians to depend on the truth of what other historians write.

It's one of those stories that is very satisfying in its denouement: it turns out that Irving's own desire to silence his critics started a process in motion that ended up discrediting him in a comprehensive way that most likely would never have occurred had he not started the lawsuit. The wheels of historical justice grind slow, but they grind exceedingly fine.

Irving's game, unfortunately. He had an almost perfect m.o.: he choose arcane and difficult-to-find sources, and quoted them in ways that made them doubly difficult to trace. He became suspect, but no one had the actual goods on him until classic hubris drove Irving to push the envelope and sue someone who was accusing him of doing exactly what he was in fact doing.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:45 AM | Permalink

February 7, 2006

Beautify All Things

As I was writing a post this morning on a Fallen Indian Warrior, I found this wonderful quote from Chief Tecumseh, Shawnee. Suffused with wisdom, it stands for the ages.

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and
Demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life,
Beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and
Its purpose in the service of your people.

Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,
Even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and
Bow to none. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the food and
For the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks,
The fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and nothing,
For abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts
Are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes
They weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again
In a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home."

The three things I most admire and respect about American Indians are their spirituality, their fearlessness of death and the way they seek to fill their lives with beauty. They cultivate an appreciation of beauty above, below, before, behind, all around and within.

From the Navajo night chant

May it be beautiful before me.
May it be beautiful behind me.
May it be beautiful below me.
May it be beautiful above me.
May it be beautiful all around me.
In beauty it is finished.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:00 PM | Permalink

February 6, 2006

Give What You Want to Keep

Hearty congratulations to 37 days which has just won the most inspirational blog award from The Best of Blogs. and deservedly so.

To see why, read her latest post Open your hand.

“To receive everything, one must open one's hands and give.” –Taisen Deshimaru

There are people in life who hold their hand open, and there are those whose hands are shut. Which am I, I wonder? Which are you? What does it take to have a generous nature, to hold your hand open, to live a life in which you give when you don’t have, when you give rather than hold? What is a sacrifice and a true gift—when you have the money or time to give, or when you don’t?

With each post, she challenges us to Do it Now

Give the Buddha
, where the Buddha is not only what you have, but what you are.
Carve the chop. Extend yourself for someone else. Give what you want to keep.
[Don’t rely too much on words.]
Open your hand.

I've talked in the past about the importance of making life lessons open source. Patricia Digh has done that with the stories from her life, sharing with us what she's learned, what she's thought and challenging us to aim higher and live deeper. in prose that makes me flat out jealous, Patti invites us all to live today as if we only had 37 days left of our "wild and precious life".

Why 37 days?

UPDATE: Seems to me we spend a good deal of the first part of our lives getting. What makes the second half of our lives successful is how much we give. That, of course, is our legacy

"What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and for the world remains and is immortal"

Albert Pine, English author who died in 1851

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:35 PM | Permalink

Guy Kawaski's Rules of Life

Guy Kawasaki, has a wonderful post on Hindsights, what he now knows with the 20-20 vision that hindsight brings. With the benefit of experience and lessons learned, he has some very good advice for those just starting out. Read the whole thing.

#10 Live off your parents as long as possible
#9 Pursue Joy, not happiness
#8 Challenge the known and embrace the unknown
#7 Learn to speak a foreign language, play a musical instrument and play non-contact sports.
#6 Continue to learn
#5 Learn to like yourself or change yourself until you can like yourself
#4 Don't get married too soon
#3 Play to win and win to play
#2 Obey the absolutes
#1 Enjoy your family and friends before they are gone.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:54 PM | Permalink

January 30, 2006

Taking "Roots" to the DNA level

If you're old enough, you'll remember 29 years back when Roots first came on the air and the country was captivated.

This February, PBS will air a four part series "African American Lives" in which DNA testing is used to trace the African ancestry of nine famous Americans.

Chairman and producer of the series Henry Louis Gates, Chairman of Harvard's Department of African and African American studies was shocked to learn that he was half-European.

''Everybody knew their grandparents, but getting beyond that was quite a voyage for people," he says. ''I cried. I found out my fifth great-grandfather fought in the American Revolution. I didn't know he existed. I now have a real family tree going back to 1750. That's amazing."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:24 PM | Permalink

January 26, 2006

Her Instinct Saved a Young Girl

One good woman, following her instinct, forged ahead when the police ignored her and was instrumental in tracking down the rapist of a 3 year old girl. Instinct told her something was wrong.

Traci Lee Dean said she felt like she was acting crazy but her heart told her to keep going.

Dean said the young girl is still on her mind. "There is no happy ending to this story," she said. "A 3-year-old girl getting raped does not have a happy ending. It may be a better ending, but not a happy ending."

It was not just her heart, but her training in sales.

"In sales, you have to meet eight 'No's' to meet a 'Yes,'" Dean said.
She got her "Yes." And now, she hopes, the little girl will have a chance at life.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:06 PM | Permalink

January 25, 2006

How to Break in Your Husband

Real Simple on how to break in your husband or boyfriend

Enforce the lessons you learned with siblings and college roommates:
Respect personal space,
do your share of the dishes, and
take good phone messages, says Carolyn Hax, a syndicated advice columnist for the Washington Post."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:38 PM | Permalink

January 24, 2006

Parental Blood Surge

Im reading Zadie Smith's On Beauty and came across this passage

He was having an odd parental rush, a blood surge that was also above blood and was presently hunting through Howard's expansive intelligence to find words that would more effectively express something like

don't walk in front of cars take care and be good and don't hurt or be hurt and don't live in a way that make you feel dead and don't betray anybody or yourself and take care of what matters and please don't and please remember and make sure.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:10 AM | Permalink

January 23, 2006

Life Gets Better

Overall, Life is definitely getting better.

Households earning > $75,000:
890: 1 %; 2000: 23 %

Hours of work needed to buy McDonalds cheeseburger:
1956: 1/2 hour; 2000: 3 minutes

Home ownership:
1900: 20 %; 2000: 70 %

Hours of work needed to buy each 100 square feet of housing:
1956: 16 hours; 2000: 14 hours

Rooms per person:

Europe: ~1; United States: 2.1

Dwellings with central heat:

1930: 15 %; 2002: 78 %

High school graduates:
1940: <50 %; 2000: >80 %

Food spending in restaurants:
1955: 25 %; 2000: 46 %

"White collar" employment:
1900: 21 % men, 20 % women; 2000: 58 % men, 52 % women

Workweek (men only):
1850: 66 hours; 1900: 53 hours; 2000: 42 hours

Women spending 4+ hours/day at housework:
1900: 90 %; 2000: 14 %

Weekly leisure time (men only):
1880: 11 hours; 2000: 40 hours

Waking hours spent working over lifetime:
1850: 50 %; 2000: 20 %

Life expectancy difference between upper and lower class Briton:
1870: 17 years; 2000: 2 years

HT to Carl Frank who took statistics from Gregg Easterbrook's The Progress Paradox who asks if life is getting better why are people feeling worse.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:04 PM | Permalink

January 3, 2006

Why Cute Rules

It's why everyone loves babies, puppies, pandas and penguins.

The New York Times on The Cute Factor .

Scientists who study the evolution of visual signaling have identified a wide and still expanding assortment of features and behaviors that make something look cute: bright forward-facing eyes set low on a big round face, a pair of big round ears, floppy limbs and a side-to-side, teeter-totter gait, among many others.

Cute cues are those that indicate extreme youth, vulnerability, harmlessness and need, scientists say, and attending to them closely makes good Darwinian sense. As a species whose youngest members are so pathetically helpless they can't lift their heads to suckle without adult supervision, human beings must be wired to respond quickly and gamely to any and all signs of infantile desire.

The human cuteness detector is set at such a low bar, researchers said, that it sweeps in and deems cute practically anything remotely resembling a human baby or a part thereof, and so ends up including the young of virtually every mammalian species,

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:50 PM | Permalink

November 25, 2005

Marilyn's Lesson Plan

Here's some life lessons from Marilyn at California Fever who calls it Lesson Plan

The most powerful transformations can begin by doing just one kind or compassionate thing a day. Do one nice thing today for someone you really dislike...not for them, for you.

~ An attitude of gratitude will lead to plenitude.

~ Fear is a great motivator...if I get up off the couch long enough to allow it to be.

~ Pity parties don't get the credit they deserve. I think of them as a celebration of bottom dwelling. If I've reached the point where I'm throwing myself a pity party, there's nowhere to go but up.

~ Once I stopped thinking of depression as the enemy, it began to lose its power over me. That doesn't mean I stopped getting depressed--it just means I reframed it. Now I'm able to experience it without the accompanying fear. I've lived with depressive cycles long enough to understand that they're just that--cycles. I'll tumble down again...but I'll rise again, too.

~ When I spend just one day being fully aware of every single word I say, I'm always shocked at what comes out of my mouth.

- Most people think they crave fame...when what they really crave is to be known.

- We are extraordinarily resilient creatures...we just often forget that.

- The only person I need to impress is myself.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:28 AM | Permalink

November 18, 2005

Hurrah for Haider Sediqi

A round of applause for Los Angeles cab driver, Afghan immigrant Haider Sediqi, who handed over a pouch of diamonds he found in the back seat of his cab to the police. Shortly after dropping off a fare at LAX, he found the small brown pouch, opened it only to find the diamonds worth some $350,000 and immediately called the police.

The haul was returned to its relieved and grateful owner, New York jewellery trader Eric Austein, airport police said.
Other people's jewels are "not what you earned," Sediqi told the Los Angeles Times. "Someone else earned that."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:59 PM | Permalink

November 10, 2005

Life is too short to be little

Millie Garfield saved this newspaper clipping so she could share these rules of life because they are things she wished she had known.

1. Any and all compliments can be handled by saying, "Why, thank you!" It helps if you have a Southern accent.

2. Never give yourself a haircut after three margaritas.

3. Never continue to date anyone who is rude to the waiter or doesn't like cats or dogs.

4. The five most essential words for a healthy, long-lasting relationship are, "I apologize," and "You are right."

5. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

6. When you make a mistake, make amends immediately. It's easier to eat crow while it's still warm.

7. The best advice my mother gave me was, "Go! You might meet somebody!"

8. Pick your battles. Will this matter one year from now? One month? One day? Don't sweat the small stuff.

9. Never pass up an opportunity to use the bathroom. It may be your last chance for a long time.

10. Never underestimate the kindness of your fellow man. Most people are better than you think.

11. Work is necessary, but it's not the most important thing.

12. Be nice to your friends. Some day you might want them to visit you in a nursing home.

She adds

13. Nothing is forever

But the very best is her last addition

14. Life is too short to be little.

I also like 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:31 PM | Permalink

It's Never Too Late

Jean Marotta never could forget the dream she had of being a nurse and she learned it's never too late

In 1998 my daughter had a baby. She invited me to be in the delivery room with her. Her nurse was a wonderful woman my age who gave me tiny tasks to do while my daughter was in labor. She asked if I was a nurse. When I answered no, she asked, "Do you work in the health-care field?" Again, I answered no. She told me, "You're a natural," and I admitted, "I've always dreamed of being a nurse."

"It's never too late," she said. "Go to school now."

The very next day I went to Maria College in Albany, New York, to talk with an admissions officer.
That was the beginning of a three-year odyssey that ended in my graduation as a registered nurse from Maria College in May 2002. At the graduation ceremony, I won an award for the highest average in my class (3.9). Walking across the stage I wanted to shout, "If I can do this, anyone can!" It was the most satisfying, wonderful, ecstatic experience of my life.

Now she knows the power of meaning and purpose and how it can create not just your future but your legacy.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:37 AM | Permalink

November 4, 2005

He Asked His Mom

He was only 14 when Blake Ross began working at Netscape. By 19 he had co-created Firefox, an open-source browser that has been downloaded 100 million times and garnered 10% of Internet Explorer's market share.

New York Times technology columnist David Pogue interviewed him in One Teen's Gigantic Contribution to the Internet.

My absolutely favorite part:

DP: And how were you, a bunch of volunteers, able to do this when the best and the brightest, highest paid programmers from Microsoft could not?

BR: First of all, they dropped the ball. Internet Explorer hasn't been updated since 2001. And so when Microsoft basically disbanded the Internet Explorer team, the Web started to outpace the Web browser.

We guide our development by what our users want, not by the dollar. You know, no other factors come into play except these features that people are asking for. So basically I go home and I say, "Hey, Mom, you know, what's still wrong with the internet? What's bothering you?" And she tells me.

DP: You ask your mom?

BR: Well, she'll yell at me. And I'll say, "Mom, calm down. What's wrong?" And then I'll fix that.

DP: I wonder why Bill Gates's mom couldn't do the same thing?

BR: Yeah (laughs).

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:29 PM | Permalink

October 26, 2005


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

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

Thanks to Jeremy of Lifestylism

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:18 AM | Permalink

September 24, 2005

Third Age Blog

I'm one voice in a group of talented people each with a distinctive voice, experience and expertise: Connie Goldman, Jacqueline Marcell, Jed Diamond, Lisa Haneberg, Rinatte Paries, Ronni Bennett, Sharon Whiteley, Susan Anderson, Susan Mitchell, Tom Blake and Yvonne Divita.

I write about many of the same things I do on Business of Life and Legacy Matters but often in a more personal way.

Until I can get me on of those doohickies that signifies a new post on another blog, I'm just going to periodically round-up a group of posts and link them here in reverse chronological order.

Rules of Life
Responding to Suffering
Make Haste for a Neighborhood Barbecue
Lessons of Katrina
Afraid to Get Prepared?
Intensely Alive While Dying
Why Can't We Talk About the Important Things?
A Gift of Stories
Good enough is good enough
Learning from Life

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:43 PM | Permalink

August 23, 2005

A Moment of Grace

Five teenagers stole a credit card, used it to buy DVDs and video games, a turkey and other groceries.  One boy, a college freshman, threw the turkey from the backseat of a moving car.

Victoria Ruvolo didn't know what happened when a frozen turkey came crashing through her windshield.  Every bone on her face was shattered requiring five weeks in a hospital and many surgeries.

Ryan Cushing, 19, faced 25 years in prison when he walked into the Long Island courtroom for sentencing.

Then, a moment of grace, what the New York Times called "something startling and luminous"

Victoria Ruvolo met Ryan Cushing for the first time.  He said he was sorry and begged her to forgive him.    Victoria did.   

She cradled his head as he sobbed. She stroked his face and patted his back. "It's O.K.; it's O.K.," she said. "I just want you to make your life the best it can be."

The prosecutor denounced the crime as heedless and brutal, but at Ms Ruvolo's insistence, they gave him a plea bargain: six months in jail and five years' probation.

Given the opportunity for retribution, Ms. Ruvolo gave and got something better: the dissipation of anger and the restoration of hope, in a gesture as cleansing as the tears washing down her damaged face, and the face of the foolish, miserable boy whose life she single-handedly restored.

William Keahon, the defendant's lawyer, said,

This woman's spirituality must be incredible to have this forgiveness. I've never seen this in 32 years of practicing law.

Every day we make a difference in the way we live and deal with other people.    Victoria Ruvulo restored her life, Ryan's life, and immeasurably affected for the better the lives of everyone in that courtroom and everyone who reads her story and who can understand the power of forgiveness.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:25 PM | Permalink

August 18, 2005


I can't resist blogging this - it had me laughing out loud and it's more than 30 years old! 

The Harvard Lampoon's takeoff Detoriata on the famous Desiderata by Max Ehrmann (in the extended entry)

Go placidly amid the noise & waste, & remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
Avoid quiet & passive persons unless you are in need of sleep.
Rotate your tires. 
Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself and heed well their advice even though they be turkeys; know what to kiss and when. 
Consider that two wrongs never make a right but that three do.
Wherever possible, put people on hold.
Be comforted that in the face of all aridity & disillusionment and despite the changing fortunes of time, there will always be a big future in computer maintenance. 
Remember the Pueblo.
Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle, & mutilate.
Know yourself; if you need help, call the FBI.
Exercise caution in your daily affairs, especially with those persons closest to you. That lemon on your left, for instance.
Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls would scarcely get your feet wet.
Fall not in love therefore; it will stick to your face. 
Gracefully surrender the things of youth, birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan; and let not the sands of time get in your lunch. 
Hire people with hooks. 
For a good time, call 606-4311; ask for Ken.
Take heart amid the deepening gloom that your dog is finally getting enough cheese; and reflect that whatever misfortune may be your lot, it could only be worse in Milwaukee.
You are a fluke of the universe; you have no right to be here, and whether you can hear it or not, the universe is laughing behind your back. 
Therefore make peace with your God whatever you conceive Him to be: Hairy Thunderer or Cosmic Muffin. 
With all its hopes, dreams, promises & urban renewal, the world continues to deteriorate. 
Give up.

By Tony Hendra - 1972

Tony Hendra was the editor of the Harvard Lampoon for many years. He's also the author of "Father Joe : The Man Who Saved My Soul"

Hilarious, profound and spiritual, the book begins, "How I met Father Joe.  I was fourteen and having an affair with a married woman."

Desiderata - by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.
Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:27 PM | Permalink

August 12, 2005

Good underpants

Another for the compendium of  rules of life. 

Always wear your good underpants when you travel.

Stephanie tells why.

via Happy Catholic

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:32 PM | Permalink

July 25, 2005

A True Champion

What a true champion  Lance Armstrong is with his 7th victory in the Tour de France. 

   Lance Armstrong-4

He praises the tour itself, his competitors and then turns to the journalists.

Then, in a pointed message to the journalists who have worked overtime to prove that he has won his races by using drugs, he also had a direct message: "To the cynics and sceptics, I say I am sorry that they can't live a dream, or believe in miracles, as there are no secrets to my success. Vive le Tour."

He's humble.

Sheryl Crow shed a tear. Cancer survivors praised his inspirational tale. Rivals and fans fondly bade farewell to a cycling great.
On the day of his last ride in the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong absorbed all of the accolades with a calm smile.
The seven-time champion began the final stage in humble fashion, posing for photographs in front of a chalkboard scribbled with "merci et au revoir" — thanks and goodbye.

He donates his share of the prize money to his team.

Did I say his girlfriend is Sheryl Crow?

   Sheryl Crow-2

No wonder cancer patients around the world look to him as their model of how you can Live Strong.


"It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life" (Lance  Armstrong, Sally  Jenkins)

The Lance Armstrong Foundation believes that in the battle with cancer, unity is strength, knowledge is power and attitude is everything.  A great place to go when first diagnosed, its website provides practical information and the tools need to LIVE STRONG.
Knowledge is Power.

Of course there's his remarkable story of recovering from testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and his brain. 

Cancer revealed  his great strengths and purpose in life.
Cancer left him scarred physically and emotionally, but he now maintains it was "… the best thing that ever happened to me," This new perspective allowed him to think beyond cycling and focus on his debt to the cancer community. He formed the Lance Armstrong Foundation within months of his diagnosis to help others with their cancer struggles.

His story, his inspiring example and his foundation is his Great Legacy to all of us.

He knows "that every day is precious and that every step matters."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:36 AM | Permalink

July 22, 2005

Slavery, what you didn't know

From the things I never knew department, these shocking numbers.

A.  11 million Africans were transported across the Atlantic during the days of the slave trade.  95% went to South and Central America, only 5% of the slaves went to the United States.

B.  At least 28 million Africans were enslaved in the Muslim Middle East.  At least 80% of those captured by Muslim slave traders were estimated to have died in treks across the desert.  The death toll from 14 centuries of Muslim slave traded into Africa could have been over 112 million.  Add that toll to the number sold in slave markets and the total number of victims of the Trans Saharan and East African slave trade could be higher than 140 million people!

This must be one of history's best kept secrets.

From The scourge of slavery, the rest of the story which was highly recommended by Joe Katzman at Winds of Change

Katzman points out that in the U.S, we had the great fortune of the 18 and 19th century Abolitionists.  Just a few dedicated people, inspired by their Christian faith, opposed slavery, crusaded against it and changed the world.

No such abolitionists arose in the Muslim world where slavery still exists in many places, albeit secretly.  In my hometown, a suburb of Boston, the wife of a Saudi prince was arrested earlier this year for keeping slaves!


Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:51 PM | Permalink

Life Matters

Today, I started as a contributor to the Third Age Blog where I will post every Thursday.  I'm honored to be included as part of a group of talented and accomplished people, each a different third age voice, that will become even more interesting as time goes by and as people get in the groove.

My first piece called Learning from Life, all about how you learn your most important lessons.

Today, there's an extraordinary piece by Cicero at Winds of Change that is a must read if you are like I am fascinated by the dramatic stories of when peoples' lives changed, by near death or otherwise.

When you hear or read such a story, you know you are touching the essence of an other who could be yourself.

So, July 21st is the day I went to the bottom of the cold sea. It's the day I almost slipped away, where the Visitor would've taken my hand and led me into oblivion. It was the quietest day of my life. Quiet like the grave under a starry winter sky. July 21st was also the beginning of my recovery. I'm convinced that a normal hospital might have misdiagnosed my illness. I am blessed.

Near death experiences change people. It changed me.

The fact is, I'm not fully recovered. You wouldn't know it if you knew me, because I make do. I'm well enough. I can tire easily, and I have storms of twitches and cramps. I've never felt the same, as though I was 100 years old once, and pulled out of it. But I came out of this experience renewed, with a fresh mission. I'll call it
Cicero's Imperatives:

Living matters. Life matters. Adding something positive to the world is imperative. Do not squander life.

Everyday I ask myself: Am I wasting time? Is what I'm doing making a difference? Will it matter? Will it heal? Am I building something better?

These are questions you can ask yourself at any time.  They become more insistent in the Third Age

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:45 AM | Permalink

July 15, 2005

Lessons from the Light

I just came across this summary of interviews of people who have had near death experiences by Ken Ring.  What's remarkable to me is how close these insights are to those of the great wisdom traditions of the world's religions. 

1. There is a reason for everything that happens.
2. Find your own purpose in life.
3. Do not be a slave to time.
4. Appreciate things for what they are.
5. Do not allow yourself to be dominated by the thoughts or expectations of others.
6. Do not be concerned with what others think of you.
7. Remember, you are not your body.
8. Don't fear pain or death.
9. Be open to life and live it to its fullest.
10. Money and material things are not particularly important in the scheme of things.
11. Helping others is what counts in life.
12. Do not trouble yourself with competition - just enjoy the show.

Ken Ring, "Lessons from the Light: What We Can Learn from the Near-Death Experience"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:01 PM | Permalink

July 11, 2005

J. K.Rowling, Worst Advice not Taken

J.K. Rowling's first editor told her that she wouldn't make any money at children's books and that she should get a day job.

She never took that advice and today, she's richer than the Queen of England ($1 billion vs. $440 million). 

She turns 40 on July 31st, sharing the same birthday as Harry Potter and two weeks after the publication of her sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

The way Rowling has tended to her writing and personal life over the years impresses Levine: "It's a testament to her character, more than anything else, that she's remained true to herself. She has managed to maintain her perspective. I think that takes a great deal of effort."
As for Rowling, on jkrowling .com, she tells fans this about her good fortune: "Probably the very best thing my earnings have given me, though, is absence of worry. I have not forgotten what it feels like to worry whether you'll have enough money to pay the bills. Not to have to think about that any more is the biggest luxury in the world."

And she has the coolest desk in the world.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:56 AM | Permalink

The Salvation of Delay

The next time you are late or delayed somewhere, it may save your life writes the Mac Ranger.

Since that day I've been a firm believer that "seconds" can make the difference between life and death. I don't know "why them" and "not us", that's in God's hands. But when I think of that day I am in awe of the difference a slight change can make. Now when I'm delayed in traffic, or especially now that I fly frequently, and I get delayed or bumped from the flight, I remember that day. Since that day, I've never really been in a hurry. Today's article simply reminds me of the brevity of life and the "salvation of delay".

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:49 AM | Permalink

July 10, 2005

Let's Start in 1665

Stand out of the way when Sheila O'Malley gives a history lesson

Dear Terrorists

if you think for one second that the Brits are a people who crumble easily, I have got to say: You are out of your goddamned mind.

There's this thing? It's called History? Maybe you should check it out.

If you haven't seen this tribute, you've missed the 935 comments to date expressing the countless ways we Yanks appreciate Our British Friends

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:42 AM | Permalink

June 29, 2005

"I must die or be better"

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

Generosity of Spirit
Sense of Balance
A Social Conscience

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:54 PM | Permalink

June 28, 2005

Bob Parson's Rules for Survival

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

He has sixteen rules.  Here's a taste.

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

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:51 AM | Permalink

June 15, 2005

Find what you love

Remarkably good life advice from Steve Jobs.

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:17 AM | Permalink

June 13, 2005

Hilarious advice

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

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

In his report of the funeral, he writes

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

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:34 PM | Permalink

June 6, 2005

My new role model

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

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

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

He got a whuppin' instead.

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

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

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

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:25 PM | Permalink

June 1, 2005

Dust-off -a scary story

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:08 PM | Permalink

May 20, 2005

Learning from Experience

He was not a brilliant strategist or tactician, not a gifted orator, not an intellectual.  At several crucial moments he had shown marked indecisiveness.  He had  made serious mistakes in judgment.  But experience had been his great teacher from boyhood, and in this his greatest test, he learned steadily from experience.

This description is from David McCullough's soon-to-be published biography of George Washington, "1776,"  parts of which are excerpted in Newsweek.

Learning from experience can be very hard.  Just look at how many of us keep making the same mistakes over and over again.  You've heard it said that each of us is given certain lessons of life to learn. 

How do you know when? 

Whenever you feel victimized, annoyed, frustrated or stuck, you could ask yourself the question what am I supposed to learn here?

Surprisingly, you'll always come up with an answer.  That's learning from experience.

I'm so looking forward to rethinking Washington with this new biography.  I want to understand better how this rich, vain slaveholder  became such a stunning leader of men.  Fearless,  hopeful and persevering, he would lead a rag tag group of rebels with his sheer commanding and compelling physical presence to defeat the most powerful army in the world.  What was it about him?


McCullough writes:
If you know history, you know there is no such thing as a self-made man or self-made woman.  We are shaped by people we have never met.

That's certainly true of Washington, our founding father.  Every American alive today owes at least an occasional moment of gratitude and appreciation to those long ago who in 1776

carried the fight for independence forward a year of all-too-few victories, of sustained suffering, disease, hunger, desertion, cowardice, disillusionment, defeat, terrible discouragement, and fear, as they would never forget, but also of phenomenal courage and bedrock devotion to country, and that, too, they would never forget.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:54 PM | Permalink

May 12, 2005

I'm sorry Mom

Sometimes people just don't know what to do or how to take care of a sick mother.  They resent what they are called upon to do, especially if they are young with their character still mostly unformed.

Jeff Harrell tells the painful story, one of guilt and still burning shame.   

Funny, how character is formed, how the gold is uncovered, the dross burned off in fire. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:49 AM | Permalink

May 1, 2005

Fill Our Lives with Beauty

While looking for something to illustrate the last post, I came across this beautiful image of a lotus and a far more powerful rule of life, Paint Our Days with Colors, Fill Our Lives with Beauty.    Actually, there were two and I couldn't decide between youth and experience.

      Lilies -Youth And Experience

I wanted to give credit to the artist, now I want to tell his story.  From Earth to Sky is a gallery featuring the watercolor works of Zen (aka C-C) Chuang who's not only an artist but a physician as well.  His motto( a too small a word, and I'll be damned before I call it a mission statement, maybe it's a banner or a gonfalon) is Paint Our Days with Colors, Fill Our Lives with Beauty.

Born in Taiwan where he began painting watercolors, by way of Argentina where he spent his teens before making the US his home, Zen graduated from Brown with a degree in biochemistry and studio art and then, a medical degree from Yale School of Medicine.  While in medical school  he wrote and illustrated a children's book Gee-Chi about a little bird who finally finds his voice and a friend.  Take the time to leaf through Gee-Chi on his website (that Zen created and manages).  It hasn't been published  because he's not certain the story is just right yet.

      Little Bird Gee-Chi

A profile in January's ArtBusiness News reveals that he takes his easel and brushes wherever he goes and he has gone through much of the United States, treating people in medically underserved areas  "from the Painted Desert of Arizona to the arctic tundra in Alaska; from the foothills of the Maine mountains to the countryside in the Carolinas."

He begins his morning with a brush in hand, painting as meditation what he calls the "coins in life"  - the visual delights he can share through the wonder of his watercolors.  He paints the "essence" of peaches, of an autumn leaf, of a butterfly, approaching more closely the nature of things.  Clearly his study of biochemistry informs his art.  He's quoted in the profile, "What’s underneath a brilliant leaf shining in the sun are billions of cells operating on the microscopic level."

      Sugar Maple

Then it's off to a busy, solo family practice in Taunton, Mass, treating newborns, the dying and everyone in between.  It's the human condition up close and Chuang relishes his opportunity to "watch the life cycle every day." 

Another feature in Yale Medicine captures his sensibility,  "He tries to see each day as a gift. “There is so much adversity. … But most of us go through daily life without any big problems. That in itself is a miracle. That’s something we take for granted, like the air.”

Rounding out his day may be the course he teaches to first year medical students at Brown, "Art and Medicine," designed to enhance their observation skills and encouraging them to become more creative and humanistic doctors.

He's living an integral life and now he's putting all in one place - a colonial house with offices on the first floor, a studio upstairs, a gallery in the garage, and a healing garden where this spring it blooms with thousands of bulbs planted by Brown University students, part of the web of relationships that support his life.

Doesn't he look like a happy man?  He really understands the Business of Life.

                        Zen Chuang

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:32 PM | Permalink

April 30, 2005

Not Tony Robbins Rules of Life

I happen to hate those emails that say if you don't pass on this message within 20 minutes YOU WILL have a VERY Unpleasant surprise.  I never pass them on.  If they are really good, I'll post them, like now.  Supposedly, it originated from Anthony Robbins. described on his website as the "world leader in personal and professional coaching" and certainly one of the most successful self-help speakers around.  But it's not from Tony Robbins.  Originally called Lotus Totus, someone apparently broke the chain and it's now called Lotus Touts which means exactly nothing.  People have been breaking this chain since 2002.

ONE. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
TWO. Marry a man/woman  you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as  important as any other.
THREE. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.
FOUR. When you say, "I love you," mean  it.
FIVE. When you say, "I'm sorry," look the person in the  eye.
SIX. Be engaged at least six months before you get  married.
SEVEN. Believe in love at first sight.
EIGHT. Never laugh  at anyone's dreams. People who don't have dreams don't have much.
NINE.  Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only way to live life completely.
TEN.. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.
ELEVEN. Don't judge people by their relatives.
TWELVE.  Talk slowly but think quickly.
THIRTEEN. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, "Why do you want to  know?"
FOURTEEN. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
FIFTEEN. Say "bless you" when you hear someone  sneeze.
SIXTEEN. When you lose, don't lose the lesson
SEVENTEEN.  Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; and responsibility  for all your actions.
EIGHTEEN. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
NINETEEN. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
TWENTY. Smile when picking up the phone.  The caller will hear it in your voice.
TWENTY-ONE. Spend some time alone.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:08 PM | Permalink

April 29, 2005

My favorite Italian joke

It takes an Italian man to make a woman feel like a woman

On a recent transatlantic flight, a plane passes through a severe storm..The  turbulence is awful, and things go from bad to worse when one wing is struck by lightning. One woman in particular loses it. Screaming, she stands up in the front of the plane. "I'm too young to die," she wails. Then she yells,

"Well, if I'm going to die, I want my last minutes on earth to be memorable! Is there ANYONE on this plane who can make me feel like a WOMAN?"

For a moment there is silence. Everyone has forgotten their own peril.  They all stared, riveted, at the desperate woman in the front of the plane. Then an Italian man stands up in the rear of the plane. He is gorgeous: tall, well built, with dark brown hair and hazel eyes. He starts to walk slowly up the aisle, unbuttoning his shirt.
....one button at a time.
........No one moves.
........He removes his shirt.
.......Muscles ripple across his chest.

.......She gasps... ........

He whispers: "Iron this, and get me something to eat...."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:19 PM | Permalink

April 22, 2005

Back Home

It's really quite extraordinary how dependent we all have become on our computers and the free and easy availability of the Internet.  What was only imagined twenty years ago has become essential.  It really came home this past week when I've been without my laptop.  It began freezing just as I was about to finish a long and lengthy post. 

(To reboot, I lost the post, which was a shame because it was a REALLY good one on Blink, the new book by Malcolm Gladwell.  A great book, a delightful read and if you knew all the other really smart and incisive things I had to say about it you'd be impressed, but I've forgotten them now.)

Time for my back-up laptop.  WHAT!  I never turned it off, the battery is completely drained, it won't boot up.  So there I was two dead laptops. Luckily, I back up files every week to Firelight, a separate disk drive, so I knew my files were safe.  But you can't access them without a computer. Fortunately, there's an Apple store nearby and they took both, packed them up, shipped them out, and both came back working yesterday.

Having my powerbook working is like coming home after a long trip.  A sigh of relief, instant relaxation, a new appreciation of all that I've come to take for granted, and hours and hours just surfing and catching up on all the news, opinion and blogs I've missed in this past week.

So what did I learn?

I'm real happy that I do regular back-ups. 
Turn-off the back-up laptop until you need it. 
I wish I had kept my current working files on a USB stick
The local library - bless them - has computers you can use for 45 minutes to check important email.
Mail piles up.  I've hundreds to go through.  A lot of deleting today.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:49 PM | Permalink

April 6, 2005

Guys' Rules

A passalong well worth reading -  Rules of Guys

We always hear "the rules" from the female side. Now here are the rules from the male side. These are our rules! Please note... these are all numbered "1" ON PURPOSE!

1. Learn to work the toilet seat.
You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down. We need it up, you need it down. You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.

1. Sunday sports. It's like the full moon or the changing of the tides. Let it be.

1. Shopping is NOT a sport. And no, we are never going to think of it that way.

1. Crying is blackmail.

1. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one: Subtle hints do not work!
Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it!

1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

1. A headache that lasts for 17 months is a problem. See a doctor.

1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become null and void after 7 days.

1. If you won't dress like the Victoria's Secret girls, don't expect us to act like soap opera guys.

1. If you think you're fat, you probably are. Don't ask us.

1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.

1. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done. Not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.

1. Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials.

1. Christopher Columbus did not need directions and neither do we.

1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.

1. If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that.

1. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing," we will act like nothing's wrong.  We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.

1. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, expect an answer you don't want to hear.

1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine...Really.

1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as baseball, the shotgun formation, or monster trucks.

1. You have enough clothes.

1. You have too many shoes.

1. I am in shape. Round is a shape.

1. Thank you for reading this. Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight; but did you know men really don't mind that? It's like camping.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:18 PM | Permalink

March 29, 2005

More April Fools

When Pope Gregory declared his adoption of the Gregorian calendar to replace the Julian calendar, he also officially changed New Year's Day from April 1st to January 1st.  Since this was 1582, it took a long time to get the word around, and some people in France refused to accept the new calendar and continued to celebrate New Year's Day on the first of April, earning them the name April fools.

There are a lot more of them today than ever before. And they operate all year round.  They send around chain mail letters, sometimes with powerpoint illustrations purportedly from the Dalai Lama  with his "Instructions for Life".    No matter how preposterous the image of this great spiritual leader and head of state for the Tibetan people actually writing, "approach love and cooking with reckless abandon", these April fools send it out year after year, following the instructions to


0- 4 people: Your life will improve slightly.
5- 9 people: Your life will improve to your liking.
9-14 people: You will have at least 5 surprises in the next 3 weeks.
15 people and above: Your life will improve drastically and everything you ever dreamed of will begin to take shape.

The latest foolishness I've gotten is an email touting

Cancer News from Johns Hopkins
No plastics in microwave
No water bottles in freezer
No plastic wrap in microwave

Johns Hopkins has recently sent this out in their newsletters.  This information is being circulated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Dioxin Carcinogens cause cancer, especially breast cancer.  Don't freeze your plastic water bottles with water as this also releases dioxin in the plastic 

Of course, it's a hoax.  As anyone could find out using Google in 20 seconds. This is what John Hopkins really has to say on its official website by one good-looking, if I may say so myself,  Rolf Halden, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences and the Center for Water and Health at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  Halden received his masters and doctoral degrees researching dioxin contamination in the environment.

People who send such nonsense are no different from the French back in the 16th century who refused to get with the program.  When anyone sends you stuff like this, don't be another April Fool, too lazy to find out if it's true.  Look to the source. At minimum, check it out with
Snopes  or Hoax Slayer   Or use Google. 

And remember to use paper towels when you microwave.  Just in case.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:22 PM | Permalink

March 28, 2005

Feel like an Outsider?

Julie Leung first felt like an outsider in high school and then reflects on why we all do.  The Outsider:why high school never ends.
My teacher revealed truth to me. In his simple but unbelievable statement, he told me that everyone feels like an outsider. Everyone has moments of loneliness. Everyone worries whether she fits or whether he is odd. "In" and "out" are illusions. Inside, we are all outsiders.....

The truth is we are all outsiders. Our secret fears are real and revealed. We are each random points, outliers, misfits, rejects and strangers. We are alone. We are all different. Yet we are all the same.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:55 AM | Permalink

March 8, 2005

Milton Glaser on 10 things he's learned

If you don't know who Milton Glaser is, you certainly know his graphic work.  Perhaps his most famous is the Dylan poster from the 1960s or maybe it's his logo for New York

  Dylan        I Love Ny

Here's 10 things he's learned  about design, but they work for life as well.

1. You can only work for people that you like.
2. If you have a choice, never have a job in which he quotes John Cage, ‘Never have a job, because if you have a job someday someone will take it away from you and then you will be unprepared for your old age.'
3. Some people are toxic, avoid them. Here's a quick test: After spending time with them, are  you tired or exhilarated,  If you are more tired then you have been poisoned.  If you have more energy you have been nourished.  The test is almost infallible.
4. Professionalism is not enough or the Good is the enemy of the Great
5. Less is not necessarily more.
6. Style is not to be trusted
7. How you live changes your brain.
8. Doubt is better than certainty
9. Solving the problem is more important than being right.
10. Tell the truth.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:58 PM | Permalink

Manolo's words of wisdom

Did you know that Manolo has a blog?  Well, he does and he says some surprisingly smart things, especially in the Interview with the Micuccia.

It's what I say all the time to my girls in the office here: The more they dress for sex, the less they will have love or sex.  These girls throw away so much energy in this search for beauty and sexiness. I think that the old rules were much more clever and better than the rules now. The trouble is, most people are not so generous. Everybody wants love for themselves. I hear this all the time from the women I work with. I hear them say, "I want, I want." I never hear them saying what they want to give.
The grown up peoples they require the grown up clothes.

Do not denigrate the importance of looking "normal". Fashion it is about looking good, not seeking out the look of the abnormal, or the outre, or the purposely ridiculous.

Manolo says, the true radical in the serious well-cut, well-tailored clothes is the one whose thoughts, talents, and actions will change the world. The attention-seeking adolescent in the motley clothes of the fool, this person is merely the comedic sideshow.

Hat tip to Instapundit who not only writes more than any other blogger, but apparently surfs more too.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:22 AM | Permalink

February 28, 2005

Tim Russert's Rule of Life.

Via the Anchoress, this from Tim Russert

Russert said. "Who are our children? How do we get into their hearts and minds," Russert asked, "to get them to see the value of our values?"    In dealing with his own son, Luke, Russert added that he tells him, "You are always, always loved, but you are never entitled."

You are always loved, but you are never entitled.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:13 AM | Permalink

February 25, 2005

Mom in Texas

Passalong lessons learned from a Mom in Texas.

Things I have learned from my boys (honest and not kidding):

1.) A king size waterbed holds enough water to fill a 2,000 sq. ft. house 4 inches deep.

2.) If you spray hair spray on dust bunnies and run over them with roller blades, they can ignite.

3.) A 3-year old boy's voice is louder than 200 adults in a crowded restaurant.

4.) If you hook a dog leash over a ceiling fan, the motor is not strong enough to rotate a 42-pound boy wearing Batman underwear and a Superman cape. It is strong enough, however, if tied to a paint can, to spread paint on all four walls of a 20x20 ft. room.

5.) You should not throw baseballs up when the ceiling fan is on. When using a ceiling fan as a bat, you have to throw the ball up a few times before you get a hit. A ceiling fan can hit a baseball a long way.

6.) The window panes (even double-panes) do not stop a baseball hit by a ceiling fan.

7.) When you hear the toilet flush and the words "uh oh", it is already too late.

8.) Brake fluid mixed with Clorox makes smoke, and lots of it.

9.) A six-year old boy can start a fire with a flint rock even though a 36-year old man says they can only do it in the movies.

10.) Certain Lego's will pass through the digestive tract of a 4-year old Boy.

12.) No matter how much Jell-O you put in a swimming pool you still can't walk on water.

14.) Pool filters do not like Jell-O.

15). VCR's do not eject "PB & J" sandwiches even though TV commercials show they do.

16.) Garbage bags do not make good parachutes.

17.) Marbles in gas tanks make lots of noise when driving.

18.) You probably do NOT want to know what that odor is.

19.) Always look in the oven before you turn it on. Plastic toys do not like ovens (and vice versa).

21.) The spin cycle on the washing machine does not make earthworms dizzy.

22.) It will, however, make cats dizzy.

23.) Cats throw up twice their body weight when dizzy.

24.) Most  of the men who read this will try mixing the Clorox and brake fluid.

25.) Almost all of the  women will pass this on to almost all of their friends, with or without kids.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:06 PM | Permalink

February 2, 2005

Guide to Effective Complaining

She ran a consumer complaint handling service called Rent-A-Kvetch.  She had trouble with her Dell computer and after posting to her blog, Dell Computer showed up at her door.  It's B.L.Ochman's Guide to Effective Complaining. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:19 PM | Permalink

Lessons from a Billionaire

So you get to spend six hours with Warren Buffett whose worth $40 billion and what do you learn?  It was not what Darren Johnson, a 23-year-old entrepreneur expected.  These are his headlines in his post The Wisdom of Warren Buffett, and to get the true flavor you have to read the whole thing

  1. Be Grateful
  2. Be Ethical and Fair
  3. Be Trustworthy
  4. Invest in Your Circle of Competence
  5. Do What You Love

So he came not thinking what a great investor Warren Buffett is,  he came away hoping that he could "mirror the image of humility, charity, intelligence, optimism and justice that Warren Buffett represents." 

That's the impact of a man who understands  that personal and social capital matter more in the end than financial capital.

Update:  Oops. Forgot to give a hat tip to Jason Kottke

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:34 PM | Permalink

February 1, 2005

How Vodka Saved a Democracy

This is just too good not to pass it on and to file  under lessons learned.  How Alcohol Saved a Democracy or  Democracy, Vodka, Sexy?. 

A stone cold brilliant intelligence move.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:22 PM | Permalink

January 31, 2005

The Business of their Lives

These people took care of the most important business of their lives with such great courage in the face of death as to make our little fears about doing what we know we should do to take care of the business of our own lives seem mean and paltry. 

This is what Mohammed on iraqthemodel said after voting.

We had all kinds of feelings in our minds while we were on our way to the ballot box except one feeling that never came to us, that was fear.  We could smell pride in the atmosphere this morning; everyone we saw was holding up his blue tipped finger with broad smiles on the faces while walking out of the center.

I couldn't think of a scene more beautiful than that. From the early hours of the morning, People filled the street to the voting center in my neighborhood; youths, elders, women and men. Women's turn out was higher by the way. And by 11 am the boxes where I live were almost full! Anyone watching that scene cannot but have tears of happiness, hope, pride and triumph.

How can I describe it!? Take my eyes and look through them my friends, you have supported the day of Iraq's freedom and today, Iraqis have proven that they're not going to disappoint their country or their friends. Is there a bigger victory than this? I believe not.

I walked forward to my station, cast my vote and then headed to the box, where I wanted to stand as long as I could, then I moved to mark my finger with ink, I dipped it deep as if I was poking the eyes of all the world's tyrants.  I put the paper in the box and with it, there were tears that I couldn't hold; I was trembling with joy and I felt like I wanted to hug the box but the supervisor smiled at me and said "brother, would you please move ahead, the people are waiting for their turn".

Yes brothers, proceed and fill the box! These are stories that will be written on the brightest pages of history.

It was hard for us to leave the center but we were happy because we were sure that we will stand here in front of the box again and again and again.
Today, there's no voice louder than that of freedom.

  Long Line Iraq

  Man Being Carried To Polls

   Iraqi Voter

  Woman Finger Ink Drying

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:59 PM | Permalink

January 29, 2005

Learning Goodness

The most moving piece I've read on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz is by Aharon Applefeld in the Guardian. which I wouldn't have read had not Norman Geras written an outstanding post about this outstanding piece. 

To put this in some context, Applefeld was deported to a concentration camp when he was eight.

In January 1945, 60 years ago, the wheels of destruction in Auschwitz stood still. The few people left alive describe the prevailing silence as the silence of death. Those who came out of hiding after the war, out of the forests and monasteries, also describe the shock of liberation as freezing, crippling silence. Nobody was happy. The survivors stood at the fences in amazement. Human language, with all its nuances, turned into a mute tongue.... 

....But most survivors - myself, and especially the young - were outside the realm of faith, and from the first stages of the liberation we were engaged with the question of how to go on living a life with meaning. The temptation to forget and be forgotten, and to assimilate back into normal life, lurked for every survivor... 

How to live a life of meaning is the question we all face as we mature.  But where is meaning in the presence of evil?

......A doctor who survived, from a religious background, who sailed to Israel with us in June 1946, told us: "We didn't see God when we expected him, so we have no choice but to do what he was supposed to do: we will protect the weak, we will love, we will comfort. From now on, the responsibility is all ours."

Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun, writes: Be the Light in A Short History of Good and Evil and the Good You Can Do. I was particularly struck her summary of Hannah Arendt's interviews with Eichmann.

Hannah Arendt, in her groundbreaking book, Eichmann in Jerusalem, discovered what she least expected and least wanted to face.  During multiple interviews with Eichmann, the German Jewish author discovered that he was not a monster. He was not even an anti-Semitic maniac or a twisted, distorted demon of a man.  Eichmann, she said, was a man who simply wanted to get ahead, to succeed in his life, to please his superiors, to be respected by his peers, to do his job well, to be patriotic, devoted, and responsible. Indeed, he had good intentions and he had learned obedience. 
Somehow, though, he had not learned goodness. 

He was not a monster, he had just not learned goodness.  Chittister continues:

If the banality of evil in this time is to be confronted, you and I must come to understand that what the world is really missing is us. The banality of evil rests on our bland unawareness that we are the only thing between it and success. The fact is that every holocaust begins or ends with me and you.

The good in evil is not an argument that evil is good. The good in evil is only the good we bring to it, the good we do in the face of it.

Mahatma Gandhi reduced this to its very essence.  We have to be what we want to see.
That's something every one of us can do.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:27 PM | Permalink

January 28, 2005

When Beer Can Save Your Life

If you are ever in a car and trapped by an avalanche, check your available resources.
You may be able to escape death like this man did.

Man peed way out of avalanche
A Slovak man trapped in his car under an avalanche freed himself by drinking 60 bottles of beer and urinating on the snow to melt it. Rescue teams found Richard Kral drunk and staggering along a mountain path four days after his Audi car was buried in the Slovak Tatra mountains.

He told them that after the avalanche, he had opened his car window and tried to dig his way out. But as he dug with his hands, he realised the snow would fill his car before he managed to break through.

He had 60 half-litre bottles of beer in his car as he was going on holiday, and after cracking one open to think about the problem he realised he could urinate on the snow to melt it.

Rule: carry lots of beer in your car when driving in the mountains during wintertime.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:18 PM | Permalink

Lessons from the Snow

Henry James who came from Boston once said that "summer afternoon" were the most beautiful words in the English language. I used to think "snow day" was  - until this week.

  Boston Blizzardphoto via Drudge

I'm in Boston which in case you don't know is experiencing record snowfalls this year.  Since Monday, I've spent hours shoveling every day and lifting literally tons of snow from the back porch and walkway and driveway to ever taller piles on either side.  I feel as though I've done nothing else this week.  So what lessons have I learned?

1. It's quiet when it snows and you can marvel at its beauty which you should do pretty quickly because soon enough it's just that white sh*!.
2. The first thing you must do is shovel a path for the dog.
3. No matter which way the winds blow, the biggest drifts are always just where you must shovel.  6 feet of drifts against the back door and garage.  You have to figure out how to get out of the house.
4. The more you shovel, the harder it gets.  That's because you are lifting 20-25 lbs of snow ever higher on to the growing piles.
5. I now understand what "hemmed in" really means.  Walking anywhere means are being surrounded by towering piles of snow.  The walkways get narrower and narrower as the piles get higher. 
6. When walkways or driveways get encrusted with piles of ice, you have to use an ice chipper to chip around the edges where the ice is most vulnerable.  While using ice-melting crystals can speed this up, the chipper is an indispensable tool to get the whole thing done faster. 
7. Nobody below the Mason Dixon line has ever heard of an ice chipper that you use on the driveway.
8. Every time the town plow comes by, you have to shovel again.  And that's the hardest, heaviest snow, impossible to drive over.  This can happen two or three times a day
9. Shoveling is never over until the spring comes.  Just when you think you're all done, snow will fall off the roof with terrifying thuds to remind you that snow, that white sh*! can kill.  I don't even want to talk about the dagger-like icicles .
10. It helps a lot to have a neighbor who, when she's home, let's you borrow her snowblower.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:20 AM | Permalink

Faces of Meth

Never have I seen such dramatic evidence of the damage drugs can do as can be seen in the faces of meth photo gallery.
Faced with an epidemic of metaphetamine abuse, in a state where meth use is becoming increasingly deadly, reporter Joseph Rose  wrote about the faces of meth in a special report for the Oregonian. 

In 2003, the state medical examiner recorded 78 meth-related deaths, a 20 percent jump from the year before, and 56 percent higher than in 2001. Only heroin, with 100 deaths, claimed more lives last year.

Jail Deputy Bret King started collecting through jailhouse photos and mug shots  to show the before and after effects of the drug on its users.  On the left  is Theresa Baxter's mug shot when she was arrested for identity theft and fraud,  On the right is Theresa 3 1/2 years later, a meth addict, in her words like a zombie, one of the living dead.

  Before And After

Don't ever try it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:28 AM | Permalink

January 25, 2005

The Four Agreements

Don Ruiz wrote The Four Agreements which are his rules for life

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word- Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don't Take Anything Personally - Nothing others do is because of you. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don't Make Assumptions - Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best- Your best is going to change from moment to moment / it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstances, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:45 PM | Permalink

The Four Agreements

Don Ruiz wrote The Four Agreements which are his rules for life

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word- Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don't Take Anything Personally - Nothing others do is because of you. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don't Make Assumptions - Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best- Your best is going to change from moment to moment / it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstances, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:44 PM | Permalink

January 21, 2005

Little Opportunity in Crisis

You've all heard the saying that the Chinese word for crisis means danger + opportunity.  Well,  it doesn't according to one sinologist and never did.    Victor Mair, professor of Chinese language and literature at the University of Pennsylvania says

There is a widespread public misperception, particularly among  the New Age sector, that the Chinese word for "crisis" is  composed of elements that signify "danger" and "opportunity." I  first encountered this curious specimen of oriental wisdom about  ten years ago at an altitude of 35,000 feet sitting next to an  American executive. He was intently studying a bound volume that  had adopted this notorious formulation as the basic premise of  its method for making increased profits even when the market is  falling. At that moment, I didn't have the heart to disappoint my gullible neighbor who was blissfully imbibing what he assumed  were the gems of Far Eastern sagacity enshrined within the pages  of his workbook. Now, however, the damage from this kind of  pseudo-profundity has reached such gross proportions that I feel  obliged, as a responsible Sinologist, to take counteraction....

...Thus, a wēijī is  indeed a genuine crisis, a dangerous moment, a time when things  start to go awry. A wēijī indicates a perilous situation when one should be especially  wary. It is  a juncture when one goes looking for  advantages and benefits. In a crisis, one wants above all to save  one's skin and neck! Any would-be guru who advocates opportunism  in the face of crisis should be run out of town on a rail, for  his / her advice will only compound the danger of the crisis.

Via  Asymmetrical Information

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:47 AM | Permalink

January 20, 2005

Don't Be a Jerk and Flirt with Death

I've long operated with only three rules of life:

1. Wear your seatbelt. - In my second year of law school, the Suffolk County Medical Examiner came and showed us autopsy photos including one of someone who died in a parking lot driving at 5 mph because he wasn't wearing a seat belt.  I have never forgotten the power of that lecture.
2. Don't leave the carton of milk on the table - this is from my mother who somehow thought that any milk not refrigerated could grow lethal micro-organisms in just minutes. Somehow this admonition settled in my very core and I'm acutely uncomfortable if any milk carton is out in the open air for more than 20 seconds, just slightly longer than the rule that states food-that's- dropped- on-the-rule-is-okay-if- you-pick-it-up-rightaway.
3. Be kind.  This from my father  who encapsulated much of the world's wisdom in these two words.  We could do anything we wanted so long as we were kind.

I'm sad to report that Derek Kieper didn't follow the first rule and this 21 year student last fall wrote an editorial arguing against the Nebraska mandatory seat-belt law. 

And if I want to be the jerk that flirts with death and rides around with my seat belt off, I should be able to do that, too.

Sadly, this "smart, funny, intense young man" was killed yesterday when the Ford Explorer he was riding in fell off an icy interstate and rolled over several times before landing in a ditch.  Kieper wasn't wearing a seatbelt.  The other two passengers in the car were and they survived.  I'm so sorry for his family.

via Best of the Web.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:39 AM | Permalink

January 18, 2005

Screening for Distress/ I will survive

One problem that doctors often overlook when treating patients with cancer is the anxiety and depression patients feel.    While distress at a diagnosis of cancer is normal, certain types of distress or undue distress can interfere with treatment. 

As Amy Marcus writes in the Wall St Journal

Patients may find it difficult to even get out of bed, much less attend appointments and chemotherapy sessions. Some distraught patients avoid acknowledging their disease and cancel appointments. And distress can cause sleeplessness and confusion that may result in failure to take their medication properly, potentially lowering their chances of a cure.

The American Cancer Society along with 19 major cancer centers have released guidelines for evaluating a patient's sense of distress with a simple, rapid  screening test.    The guidelines are free and can be found at the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. They are designed to be self-administered, helping patients and their families help themselves.

According to the NCCN, red flags for undue distress include 

  • Excessive worries
  • Fear
  • Sadness
  • Confused thinking
  • Despair or loss of hope,
  • Severe family problems (marriage crisis; child having problems in school)
  • Spiritual crisis (loss of faith, feeling life has no meaning)
  • Severe financial problems

Those who score highly are urged to consider seeing a counselor, joining  a support group, trying meditation, exploring spiritual beliefs, keeping a journal,  or creating a support group of family and friends.  To see how blogs can help create that support network, check out Sandee's blog Day Without Rain.

Sandee who has breast cancer writes so well and movingly about her battle that she was a finalist in the Best of Blogs for 2004.  Here's a sample:

Cancer continues to be such a wild ride,  When they said the word “cancer" back in 1998, within one second, the next word in my head was” death”, the life I knew was instantly gone & where I had a future, I now had a question mark." So many emotions … I felt like my body failed me because I had cancer. I tried to remove myself from everyone that I loved, because I figured if I did that, I wouldn't hurt anyone. I was wrong! Cancer has thought me so much ...
I've learned that...
~If I didn't have the friends & family I have, I wouldn't have been able to get through the treatment. ~I need to trust people especially my doctors.
~Priorities get crystal clean, you don't sweat the small stuff & everything is small stuff compared to cancer.
~I was able to find hope and strength in the worst of times.
~Beauty is in the simplest things.
~I came out of it a different person -- stronger, better & not bitter.
~Love is what gets you through
… And I keep learning every single second of the day!  So I guess having cancer has changed me for the better, I wish I could have changed a different way, but I'll take this way if necessary. Cancer is a disease of LIFE, not just a disease of the body. And though others want you back to normal, normal is different now. It’s not about being strong; it’s about being grateful for every second. My only wish is that I am a glimmer of hope to all those that think that cancer means “death” it doesn’t!
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:59 PM | Permalink

January 12, 2005

Cottage Rules of Life

For some time now, I've begun to visualize the next stage of my life.  I've been fantasizing about cozy cottages with fireplaces,  porches and plenty of room for books and guests.  I guess I'm not the only aging boomer who thinks about retiring part-time to the country.  Witness Cottage Living a new magazine  which has some wonderful cottage floor plans and other yummy stuff.

There's a definite southern focus which makes sense since the company also publishes Southern Living.  Is it just me or do southerners and the English understand cottages the best.  I found Autumn Cottage, one of those engaging l sites by Roz Cawley who lives in a  300 year old cottage in Hampshire.  Roz  wants to share her delight in the English countryside, her passion for miniature houses and some collected rules of life. 

1. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
2. Memorize your favorite poem.
3. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.
4. When you say, "I love you", mean it.
5. When you say, "I'm sorry", look the person in the eye.
6. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.
7. Believe in love at first sight.
8. Never laugh at anyone's dreams.
9. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only  way to live life completely.
10. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.
11. Don't judge people by their relatives. -- We are NOT all alike......
12. Talk slow but think quick.
13. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and  ask, "Why do you want to know?".
14. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
15. Call your mom. Or some one you love
16. Say "bless you" when you hear someone sneeze.
17. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
18. Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; Responsibility for all your actions.
19. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
20. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to  correct it. SAY I'M SORRY MORE.......
21. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.
22. Marry a man you love to talk to. As you get older, his  conversational skills will be as important as any other.
23. Spend some time alone.
24. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.
25. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
26. Read more books and watch less TV.
27. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back,  you'll get to enjoy it a second time.
28. Trust in God but lock your car.
29. A loving atmosphere in your home is so important. Do all you can to  create a tranquil harmonious home.
30. In disagreements with loved ones, deal with the current situation.  Don't bring up the past.
31. Read between the lines.
32. Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.
33. Be gentle with the earth.
34. Pray, there's immeasurable power in it.
35. Never interrupt when you are being flattered.
36. Mind your own business.
37. Don't trust a man who doesn't close his eyes when you kiss him.
38. Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.
39. If you make a lot of money, put it to use helping others while you  are living. That is wealth's greatest satisfaction.
40. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a stroke of luck.
41. Learn the rules then break some.
42. Remember that the best relationship is one where your love for each  other is greater than your need for each other.
43. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
44. Remember that your character is your destiny.
45. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:48 AM | Permalink

January 1, 2005

If you could live your life over

People over 65 were asked, 'If you could live your life over, what  would you do differently?'  They said three things:  'I'd take time to stop and ask the big questions.  I'd be more courageous and take more risks in work and love.  I'd try to live with purpose--to make a difference.'

Richard Leider, founding partner of the Inventure Group

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:28 AM | Permalink

December 24, 2004

Cowgirl Smarts

When I was young, I wanted to be a cowgirl when I grew up, so am I ever happy that I learned about Cowgirl Smarts.

Gutsy, brave, and undaunted they set out to lasso more out of life. These cowgirls were more than boots and spurs. They were women with inner strength and trailblazing attitudes, women who lived life on their own terms.
“Please excuse the pants,” some cowgirls said as they unashamedly traded their shirtwaists for flannel and their sidesaddles for riding astride. They were initially starred at, poked fun of and some even banned from town. By choosing to assume lifestyles and jobs normally reserved exclusively for cowboys, and quietly proving their equality, these cowgirls unintentionally moved women from suffrage rallies to voting booths. They did it by burning their sidesaddles—not their bras. They are the Americana spirit that sets American women apart from any other nationality.

Here are some Cowgirl rules of life from Ellen Reid Smith:

1. Sometimes you have to buck the norms to pursue your dreams
2. Adventure and Excitement Beat Housework
3. Be tough, but revel in your femininity
4. When life throws you to the ground, get back on the horse
5. Don’t let others belittle your achievements
6. Accept the nature of things
7. Work hard and look after other cowpokes
8. Never steal another cowgirl’s horse or thunder
9. Attack life like it’s a 1000 pound steer
10. Act on your beliefs rather than protesting for them
11. Use common sense, if you don’t, the cattle will knock it into you
12. Let the land rejuvenate your soul
13. Walk beside your pardner, not in front
14. When cow poking doesn’t pay, be resourceful
15. Embrace urban cowgirls

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:33 AM | Permalink

August 27, 2004

Insider Trade Secrets

Matthew Baldwin has ferreted out some of the secrets of many trade that only insiders know. If you check out his piece in in The Morning News, you'll be sure to know more than you do right now.

Here are just a few of the secrets Matthew's uncovered:

Do whatever it takes to fit your contracts onto a single page: Format with single-spacing, use a 10- or 9-point font, and reduce the margins to less than an inch. Most people assume any contract that fits on one page will be simple and straightforward, and even sophisticated negotiators can be charmed by the lack of a staple.

If you have to change a light bulb where the glass is broken, you can press a potato into the metal base to unscrew the remains of the bulb from the fixture.

Patients will occasionally pretend to be unconscious. A surefire way to find them out is to pick up their hand, hold it above their face, and let go. If they smack themselves, they’re most likely unconscious; if not, they’re faking.

When taking family portraits that include a dog, don’t use the dog’s name or say “doggie, doggie” to get its attention, because it might trot over to you. Instead, call out “kitty, kitty, kitty.” The dog will perk up and look around for a cat, and you can get a great shot if you time it right.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:12 PM | Permalink

Why Men are Happier People

This from the Internet and anonymous but too good not to share

    Your last name stays put. The garage is all yours. Wedding plans take care of themselves. You can be president. You can never be pregnant. You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park. Car mechanics tell you the truth. The world is your urinal. You never have to drive to another petrol station restroom because this one is just too icky. You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt. Wrinkles add character. The occasional well-rendered belch is practically expected. New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet. One mood -- all the time. A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase. You can open all your own jars. You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness. Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack. Three pairs of shoes are more than enough. You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes. The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades. You only have to shave your face and neck. You can play with toys all your life. Your belly usually hides your big hips. One wallet and one pair of shoes one colour for all seasons. You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look. You can "do" your nails with a pocket-knife. You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:59 AM | Permalink

July 15, 2004

Rules of the Living Room

Ian Frazier is one of the funniest writers around. Yet, I had missed reading his Laws Concerning Food and Drink which I just happened to find serendipitously via Rebecca's pocket

    Ofthe beasts of the field, and of the fishes of the sea, and of all foods that are acceptable in my sight you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the hoofed animals, broiled or ground into burgers, you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the cloven-hoofed animal, plain or with cheese, you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the cereal grains, of the corn and of the wheat and of the oats, and of all the cereals that are of bright color and unknown provenance you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the quiescently frozen dessert and of all frozen after-meal treats you may eat, but absolutely not in the living room. Of the juices and other beverages, yes, even of those in sippy-cups, you may drink, but not in the living room, neither may you carry such therein. Indeed, when you reach the place where the living room carpet begins, of any food or beverage there you may not eat, neither may you drink.

    But if you are sick, and are lying down and watching something, then may you eat in the living room.

His Complaints and Lamentations

    O my children, you are disobedient. For when I tell you what you must do, you argue and dispute hotly even to the littlest detail; and when I do not accede, you cry out, and hit and kick. Yes, and even sometimes do you spit, and shout "stupid-head" and other blasphemies, and hit and kick the wall and the molding thereof when you are sent to the corner. And though the law teaches that no one shall be sent to the corner for more minutes than he has years of age, yet I would leave you there all day, so mighty am I in anger. But upon being sent to the corner you ask straightaway, "Can I come out?" and I reply, "No, you may not come out." And again you ask, and again I give the same reply. But when you ask again a third time, then you may come out.

    Hear me, O my children, for the bills they kill me. I pay and pay again, even to the twelfth time in a year, and yet again they mount higher than before. For our health, that we may be covered, I give six hundred and twenty talents twelve times in a year; but even this covers not the fifteen hundred deductible for each member of the family within a calendar year. And yet for ordinary visits we still are not covered, nor for many medicines, nor for the teeth within our mouths. Guess not at what rage is in my mind, for surely you cannot know.

    For I will come to you at the first of the month and at the fifteenth of the month with the bills and a great whining and moan. And when the month of taxes comes, I will decry the wrong and unfairness of it, and mourn with wine and ashtrays, and rend my receipts. And you shall remember that I am that I am: before, after, and until you are twenty-one. Hear me then, and avoid me in my wrath, O children of me.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:57 PM | Permalink