Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Fruits Of The Soul: My Arivale Sleep Experiment

"Be at War with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better person." - Benjamin Franklin 
Callery Pear trees in bloom on Witherspoon St. in Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.A. March, 2016

So true when it comes to personal habits. Somehow fighting your own demons, your shortcomings and vices, seem to be your hardest, most intractable and private challenges in life, ones that no one else but you can fight and win.

Since last August, I've been participating in a personalized gene sequencing project with Arivale, my blood draws, and microbiome and saliva tests. Yes, I've been traveling across the United States to Seattle from New Jersey three times a year for the tests (although my health is fine) to participate as an Arivale Pioneer in Dr. Leroy Hood's 4Ps of medicine Arivale program: Predictive, Preventive, Personalized, and Participatory, and I can now recommend joining this excellent new program if possible. Some results from the program seem to distill down to everyday actionable habits that improve general health, longevity, and well-being.

These habits are concerned with the pillars of optimal health for longevity and long term wellness. Your genes support you when you do this, almost as if your ancestors are reminding you to do it, because that's what makes people healthy and strong in the long run: good food, sound sleep, lots of motion and exercise, not smoking, living at a healthy weight, keeping an active mind, avoiding stress by meditating or praying for spiritual and emotional health. Just common sense, really, and how common is that?

One of these pillars is sleep. It's very important not to be sleep-deprived, and so there is one excellent habit I've tried at the suggestion of my Arivale coach to improve my sleep. The main idea is to sleep the minimum while having efficient sleeping hours. This is a sleep experiment I've been doing lately, and it seems to work better than expected. Even being able to fall asleep on an empty stomach seems to happen, a useful skill. Maybe people with regular hours are already good at this, but my sleep hours tend to go haywire if I'm not vigilant.

Here's how this special experiment works. The idea is to avoid screens--all screens, televisions, phones, iPads, computers, etc.--between 10 and 11 p.m. at night, having low lights around the house, and then resting by reading anywhere but the bedroom for an hour. Then sleep in bed for seven hours and awaken with an alarm. This schedule has to be followed seven days a week to be effective and it really works. Lately, I've taken to snoozing for an extra ten minutes after six, and sometimes going to sleep half an hour earlier, and it seems to be working extremely well. I've been extending the "experiment" because it's so efficient. 

In addition, I've been cutting back on my food intake to maintain a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, and increasing my exercise to improve muscle tone to achieve my personal goal of 10,000 steps a day on my FitBit synced with my Arivale coach (often after two hours of Jazzercise, Latin or Belly dancing). The Chinese have long taken to exercising in the morning for better health, so daily exercise is not exactly a new idea. 

For the first time in years, surprisingly, I haven't caught the flu this spring despite not doing anything special to avoid germs, traveling, and spending a lot of time around other people in gyms every day (and after a good flu shot last fall). Touch wood. My health is good enough that I didn't need to see a doctor all last year, except for a yearly eye exam and my twice yearly dental appointments. In addition, I've been keeping my weight around my high school and college level, which helps me feel better by looking better.

As I look around the world, for all of us, I hope for more of the healthy fruits of the soul: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Galations 5:22)

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Eminent Canadian Women Arise from Obscurity To Figure on Bank Note


Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau has just announced that:

"Today, on International Women's Day, the Bank of Canada is taking the first step by launching public consultations to select an iconic Canadian woman to be featured on this new bill" in the next series of bills expected in 2018.

The nominees can be any Canadian woman, either by birth or naturalization who has demonstrated leadership, achievement or distinction in any field, according to a release from the Bank of Canada, but they can't be fictional and must have died prior to April 15, 1991. 

Canadians are invited to make nominations until April 15, 2016 here.

So I had fun going through this timeline list of Canadian women and found a long list of names from widely disparate fields: Doctors and lawyers, scientists, politicians, activists, athletes, entertainers, publishers, writers, even flyers.

Here's a short list of perhaps the most famous, and only a few could be considered possibilities. There are many more to choose from since 1991 (and why stop that year?).

Laura Secord (1775-1868) had iconic Canadian chocolates named after her so she became famous. Looks like she overheard American troops plotting at attack against the British. On June 22, 1812 (not the middle of winter), she walked 30 kilometers to sound a warning to a British colonel.

Elizabeth Bruyere (1818-1876) was founder of Grey Sisters of Ottawa, founder of schools, orphanage, and hospitals in Montreal and Ottawa.

Sister authors Catherine Parr Traill (1802-1899) and Susanna Moodie (1803-1885) published Canadian Wild Flowers and many other books to earn money to live on.

Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942) was the author of Anne of Green Gables and many other novels.

Florence Nightingale Graham (1878-1966), better known as Elizabeth Arden, borrowed $6,000.00 and opened the first beauty salon on New York's Fifth Avenue (that's hard to verify) in 1909.

Mary Pickford (1892-1979) by 1915 was receiving 500 fan mail letters each week. She was reportedly the highest paid woman in the world at the time.

Emily Carr (1871-1945) published Klee Wyck which won the Governor General's Award in literature and has become celebrated as perhaps the most historically significant female Canadian artist.

Mary Elizabeth Kinnear (1898-1991) was appointed to the Senate of Canada in 1967 (although the first female senator was Cairine Wilson (1895-1962) appointed in 1930), and retired from the Senate in 1973 and was the first woman appointed to be King's Counsel, the first female lawyer in Canada to appear as counsel before the Supreme Court of Canada.

With such a plethora of women to choose from, perhaps the old oxymoron of "famous" + "Canadian women" will become outdated, as I do hope. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Time To Get Your Genes Sequenced

An article in The Wall Street Journal called "More Medical Researchers Engage in Self-Experimentation" explores the value of self-experimentation for researchers, particularly regarding personal genome sequencing. 

There are soon going to be new apps for exome and genome sequencing, where you can download the results onto apps on the cellphone, just as you can now on your iPad and desk computer. This development will aid patients in doctors offices without strong internet access or wifi, and then allow patients to show their genetic test results to doctors. Doctors will therefore make more accurate diagnoses, have better results with patients who will work harder if they know they have certain predispositions, and better personalize healthcare with genetic results. Incidentally, patients who have been through this process have much more respect for doctors who have done this simple and easy homework, as the comments at the 23andMe website can attest. Doctors will give better service to patients if they've had their own genetic tests done, while patients who have had genetic tests might get better care than those who don't have them.

Sharing the results helps us understand ourselves and our families in more detail. The results have always been our own, from the inception of genetic research with the Personal Genome Project. More programs like Arivale and the Understand Your Genome project highlighted here at CNBC, some being offered through employement, should also give the genomic results to patients, following the principle that cells and genes are our own. Gene sequencing helps fundamental medical and biological research because the more people who participate numerically and share results, the better the research that can be done to find, for example, the correlations between non-invasive genetic results and invasive medical procedures and operations, for cancers, childbirth, heart disease, and immune system diseases. 

Cooperation in the medical field in the United States isn't what it could and should be, and all medical doctors who meet the general public should have their genomes tested. No one's genome is perfect, and we are all more alike than we are different. The perfect time to sequence your genome is now because a lot is already going on and there is so much to learn. Waiting for the perfect car, computer, or cellphone wouldn't make sense, and neither does waiting for perfect genetic results. Biologists who work in the field can help further research if they have a broader picture of their own health through genetic sequencing, and understand the consequences of their research.

I've had my genes sequenced at 23andMe, third-party programs, such as Promethease, Genetic Genie, Livewello, and Nutrahacker, and most recently have joined a program in Seattle called Arivale for further testing. Nearly everyone can and should get their genomes sequenced, particularly those in the fields of biology and medicine. There's not a valid excuse not to do so, except for the costs, which are falling rapidly for the average consumer (and the five dollars that Promethease charges won't hurt anyone's budget). It's an investment in your health and future. 

I did this as an activity, like flying somewhere (not an accomplishment), and enjoyed it very much not because I'm unwell, but because I'm interested in wellness and how to live a long, healthy life. Doing it became life-changing over a period of years, almost an obsession, and reinforced in me the importance of lessons gained from medical literature that medical doctors have long coached in patients, such as the importance of exercise, a healthy diet and weight (which can sometimes be related), and sufficient sleep, among other biggies. Incidentally, I get along better with my daughter who's had it done because when she acts a way I don't understand, but is like her father, I know she really can't help it; her genes are different in that way than mine and I can relax and accept these differences, not find fault or worse, correct her. Think of your genome as a future resource for your children. Get your genome sequenced for them.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Importance of Daily Exercise for Children

Here's an anecdote that should interest all parents of young children!

Child.


The Mail Online is reporting on:

"...the 'daily mile' completed for the past three years by pupils at St Ninian's primary school in Stirling. Every day, the children walk or run a mile - it takes them about 15 minutes. The benefits have been seen in their improved concentration as well as fitness. None of the children at St Ninian's is overweight."


If only this option had been available to my children when they were young. It wasn't offered but I can wish it for other schools to adopt in the future...Obesity is a global epidemic and yet teachers could help parents do this simple task that would benefit so many children worldwide. 

Children have such a lot of energy and, like adults, are energized by exercise. Often exercise is taken in the form of competitive sports in schools, but these aren't suitable or attractive to all children. Yet most children would apparently benefit from some form of exercise, and simply walking or running should be a regular part of their schooldays. Recess is important for recharging children's batteries, but maybe giving them goals to achieve such as this would help take some of the chaos and discomfort from the process for teachers and students alike.

This really should be a part of primary schoolteacher's everyday school agendas. In fact, I think more dancing should be more regularly offered and available year-round as a part of physical education routines as well. I know this because I've used dance routines to lose almost half my weight in the past couple of years. Such great comfort can be derived from familiar dance routines, as these high school students have found in this popular video of a Canadian high school teacher and her students at her retirement.





Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3376753/ASK-DOCTOR-sweet-tooth-ruined-liver.html#ixzz3wKryUuDb

Friday, December 18, 2015

Information is Power to the British Royal Family




Courtesy:  The Wall Street Journal

Some people, especially many in America it seems, have told me they think the Queen of England currently has a purely ornamental role and is not at all involved in political issues.

An answer to that delicate question is in an article in Daily Beast today, however, called "The Power Games of Prince Charles and Prince William." It very cogently explains how this is not so and concerns the royals' access to information.

Turns out the royal family, including the Queen, Prince Charles, and Prince William, and who knows how many others of them, have access to information otherwise shared only with the highest elected level of officials.

Is it likely the royals do nothing with their knowledge?

I don't suppose so. The monarchy wouldn't ignore a challenge because it's not expected of them. Britain isn't a democracy; it's a monarchy. Anyone who thinks it's a democracy is only speaking of certain specific issues.

Interestingly, the article claims a law passed in 2010 gave total exemptions to the royal family from freedom of information rules. It's surprising when you think about it that it hadn't been done earlier than five years ago. Not that I, for one, am at all in the least surprised. Britain hasn't ever been a true democracy.

These exemptions are just worth noting to those who stubbornly insist the Queen does nothing but dress up in fancy dresses for her dinners (and there are a surprising number of Americans who believe that of her) and for anyone who believes Britain is a democracy. But then, we saw Helen Mirren in "The Queen" ply the Prime Minister for information once a week. All that royal effort sounds to me so exhausting.

Queen Elizabeth II's reign has been remarkably peaceful for the country, just as it was for her long-lived female predecessor Queen Victoria, whom she has outlived. One has to wonder whether the winds of time will blow as charitably on her son and grandson as they did for her.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Futuristic Estate in California Enters the Market

Here's a beautiful house on 33 hilly acres in perenially sunny Rancho Santa Fe:

Architect Gus Dreier-designed and completed in 2008, it is now on the market for $60 million. Ooooh-la-la! Truly "Geometry meets the Jetsons" as The Wall Street Journal claims.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Gun Violence: A Peculiarly American Obsession

An article in Daily Beast called "Yes, They Want To Take Your Guns Away" has an intriguing title, and is a lengthy explanation of how Americans will not ever accept a government order to take away the guns of citizens.

My wish is that at some point Americans (and it's mostly a national problem) could be persuaded that guns are a national quandary to solve, and impediments by themselves to a higher quality or standard of living, just as auto pollution and hate speech, as exemplified by the KKK are, as the writer, James Kirchick explains.

In a nutshell, Kirchick doesn't want to live with any more guns in America. But, he despairs, "If federal agents came to round up firearms, many gun owners would be prepared to shoot back."

Well, my view to that obstacle is: Maybe or maybe not. Why should Americans fear themselves so much? Isn't it even worth a try to combat guns with peaceful programs and the approval of federal officials who've been all too weak about mandating stricter gun control? Where's the courage and the conviction of Americans that they deserve to live safer and more secure lives and that this will only, ONLY, happen without guns?

America has a long way to go when it comes to safety and security for the populace, however, and it should be clear, although it oddly isn't to some extremist Americans, that guns come with a cost. That cost is alienating those who would otherwise be friends of America. I wish the government would just do what Australia did to achieve a safer country for all, and ask citizens to turn in their arms.

The truth is many foreigners wouldn't want their children to go to anyone's house in their own country if they owned a single gun. There are too many accidents where a gun has killed the wrong person by accident. This is also true for them in America. Many foreigners prefer not to socialize with gun owners, and generally don't have to.

A harmful and incorrect new argument I've recently heard circulating in favor of owning guns is that foreigners in foreign countries own guns, so why shouldn't Americans have them?

But this is grossly untrue of foreign countries. Guns are illegal in most countries. Probably there are pockets of gun owners in foreign countries, most likely those specifically at war. The point is that America hasn't ever aspired to mirror the very worst, most unattractive qualities of other countries. Shouldn't it aim for peace at home? America has supposedly been a land that tries to be better than other countries and have a higher standard of living.

Some Americans would be surprised to know that some foreigners won't visit America with its glut of guns (currently approximately one for every citizen according to the article) and lack of affordable healthcare, both of which decrease its attractiveness. Yet Americans don't have to worry about these dual concerns in other countries when they travel away themselves.

America may be the land of the free and home of the brave, but it should also ideally be an open nation abundant with peace and trust for all.



Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Portland's Newest Landmark: P.N.C.A.

It is internationally well accepted that college students of both sexes can be the energetic forces of economic revitalization. Through education, ideally, students learn to harness their powers of creativity, become problem solvers, and gain enough confidence to reinvent the world.


Exterior of P.N.C.A.

Pacific Northwest College of Art, P.N.C.A., is superbly well-located in the beautiful Pearl District of Portland, one of the most unique and creative cities in the world. First of all, I would like to stress that I love P.N.C.A. and think it is the very best College of Art in the Pacific Northwest in state of Oregon.

View of Mount Hood

According to the website of the President Tom Manley, a leading force behind the expansion of the college, along with financial support from, among others, the ubiquitous Schnitzer real estate family, PNCA is the oldest full-time art school in the Pacific Northwest. It was also notably the first college of art and design in the region to launch graduate programs after receiving an endowment from the Ford lumber estate. 

This welcoming art college in Portland, Oregon, where students can major in Studio Arts, Media Arts, Design Arts, or Liberal Arts, has moved a few blocks towards the east side of the Pearl District started its first classes in a spectacular new building this term in February, 2015. It is an historic Federal Building gutted and refigured by award-winning architect Brad Cloepfil (CLOP'-fil) to work with modern technology, while preserving the desirable, original artistically carved marble and metal and stonework features in the impressive stone structure that has an awesome location and setting in prime Portland real estate.

 View from P.N.C.A.

The tall landmark main building of the College used to be the main Portland U.S. Post Office and the artists at P.N.C.A. can surely appreciate the effort that went into the beautiful building. In this era of obsolescence, it's heartening to find that an antique building can be revitalized with new life. It's a fine old building filled to the ceiling with marble walls and stairwells and a beautiful ceiling within the main front hallway.

P.N.C.A. has doubled the student body in the last seven years, tripled the faculty, preserved the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Craft, added seven new academic programs, and quadrupled the endowment. Each one of these is an achievement in an of itself. But these landmark changes serve to highlight this desirable college's growing and respected reputation in the northwest and the nation.

P.N.C.A. graduates are influential artists, entrepreneurs, entertainers, urban designers, and global citizens dedicated to exploring innovative ways of thinking, finding creative solutions and launching new businesses. PNCA has certainly made a difference to me.

Image result for interior of pnca
Interior Atrium of P.N.C.A.


Pacific Northwest College of Art (P.N.C.A.) currently offers Baccalaureate degree courses in Design Arts, Communcation Design, Illustration, Media Arts, Animated Arts, Studio Arts, Intermedia, Photography, Video & Sound, Painting, Printmaking, Sculpture, Liberal Arts, writing and others.

At the Graduate level, P.N.C.A. offers Master degrees (M.F.A.s) in Applied Craft & Design, Collaborative Design, Visual Studies, Critical Theory & Creative Research and has opportunities for Post-Baccalaureate Residencies.

The new main building of PNCA is called the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design and is located in a chic area at 511 Northwest Broadway, a short walk away from the bus and train stations. Here's a video by architect Brad Cloepfil of the firm Allied Works explaining that the college was not meant to be pristine (although it is at the current time) but a catalyst for creativity. The impressive first floor and marble staircases make this college a compelling winner of a college for students from everywhere.

Another video here shows an early pre-construction phase and the gutted interior, but I believe the promise of the architect has been realized and the space is as beautiful as envisioned from all the reports I have heard.


Portland's Rose Garden

PNCA has certainly made an enormous difference to me and members of my family. Many gifted students and educators I've met there on my visits have impressed me with their vitality and creativity. Check out this college. Better yet, sign up for Continuing Education courses.

Near Bend in the Beautiful State of Oregon

The American Healthcare System is Broken

You have skills, you have money and pay your bills on time, you have a history of being covered with health insurance in America. It couldn't happen to you that would ever NOT be covered for health insurance, correct?

WRONG.

It could, if you were in my situation. It has happened to me. I'm not covered for the month of June. I can't seem to make a payment for health insurance this month and can't find out how to, despite having spent over six hours on the phone since the beginning of the month.

How could this happen to a person who can afford to make the payments?

I have been covered through the Princeton University health insurance program since 1996 and through Paul's previous employer's insurance company up until now since 1979, a very long time, (decades, in fact).

When my divorce was finalized in March, I was able to make a payment for April and May, and the payments were debited from my bank account from United Healthcare at $679.85 each month. I have proof of this, which I would need (and is the least I deserve to have), and which I have in pdf. file form.

But I didn't get a medical card as proof of my payments, and luckily didn't need to have one, as I haven't been to any doctor in the last two months.

I applied for healthcare through the so-called Healthcare Exchange Marketplace (a.k.a. Obamacare) at Healthcare.gov. I applied more than once. I've made several phone calls. Most of the time, I've been hung up on. No one has ever returned my calls, although I did get a call from healthgapdirect.com (which may be a scam). There isn't any record of my payments, and no way that I can find to pay for another month.

The Trustees of Princeton Unversity finally sent me information on how to get healthcare through the COBRA program for divorced people (yes, COBRA is a horrible name, isn't it, unless you're one of the rare people who likes snakes). Kind of ironic, how after making dinners as an academic's wife for decades, I'm considered suitable for something that is another word for a snake. It's hideous. But the long letter from the Trustees was several months late (meaning that I had no choice but to try to join Obamacare), and I've been told by the company related to COBRA, called PayFlex, to pay double the premiums retroactively and then have the premia I deserve returned from United Healthcare (in the over two-thousand dollar range!). That sounds like pie-in-the-sky thinking. Who on earth would do that, pay double the premia retroactively? Yet, that's supposedly the solution to how to get covered for the next two years, and then I'll just get caught in this nightmare again.

I may get coverage for next month, July, through the Healthcare Exchange, but can't seem to get it for this month. A caseworker will decide whether or not I deserve coverage with insurance, and I know I won't qualify for Obamacare.

A friend said to apply through my insurance agent. But, that office when I called says to "apply to Obamacare"...

What a circle, and not a virtuous one at all. I've had trouble communicating on weak telephone lines to people around the world that I can barely hear and who can barely understand my English. It's making me sick. I have the advantage of speaking English, but what about those who don't speak it, or for whom it's a second language? I have enough to make payments, but what about someone for whom that is an issue and needs health coverage immediately? Good luck.


Friday, March 27, 2015

TEN DISTINGUISHING FEATURES

Of a High Performing Doctor
and Medical Practice

1. Accessibility: same day appointments and walk-ins, evening and weekend hours.

2. Care is individualized to suit the needs of patients. Tests are completed and accomplished.

3. Patient feedback is important and acted upon.

4. Certain procedures and tests are done in house e.g. insulin initiation and stabilization, suturing.

5. Doctors stay connected with patients to assure that treatment plans respect patient preferences.

6. Patients are seen rapidly after hospital discharges; medications are sometimes prescribed or specialists referred. It's called closing the loop.

7. Staff members provide support that enables doctors to work harder, i.e. take care of more patients.

8. Staff work together without regard to hierarchy.

9. Compensation is balanced by concerns about patient care and experience, and improvements to practice-wide activities and resource utilization.

10. They rent modest offices and don't need to order expensive tests to generate more income.

This dream list should be in the offices of every practicing primary physician, and many specialists.

This information is taken from an article about primary care sites that Stanford University identified in a summary along with shared characteristic features. 

These points about patient care appear common sense, but at the same time, are idealistic and often ignored to some extent in America. In my own experience, patient feedback is rarely requested, nor are patients seen rapidly after hospital discharge or by request. Staff working together and cooperating is not just important but essential in this computer age. Doctors will have work hard to achieve all the points on this list.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Learning About Your Genealogy Can Help You Live Better Now

Genealogy is the most popular hobby in the world, or so I read last week. Why? If true, maybe it's because we all want to know where we came from, what chain of life we belong to, how we connect to the past, how to divine our future from the actions of our ancestors. Who knows? What I do know is that learning about ancestors is satisfying and fun. 

Finding Your Roots, now showing on PBS once a week here in the United States, must easily be the best ever produced about genealogy. Incredibly impressive efforts and extravagant expenses have gone into the creation of each segment. 

Tracing ancestors can be a fascinating hobby that can extend to the far reaches of the world. Getting names, dates, and locations where they lived can be extremely fascinating and unexpectedly time-consuming and expensive. 

The television show used the latest genetic technology to extend what could be found hounding paper evidence and graveyards for clues. Taking the time to make lengthy searches used to be the only method for finding our ancestors, but now we can each discover much more lengthy family histories, whatever our personal circumstances. In other words, even if we know nothing even about our parents, or beyond our grandparents, whatever we know, we can find out more than we could dream about our ethnic histories by sending spit (incredibly for only $99) to genealogy websites, my favorite of which is 23andMe as I written about herehere and here. Fascinating and geeky sites, such as my personal favorites, Promethease which I wrote about here, and Livewello, are coming online where (for as little as $5) dozens of pages of genealogy and health advice can appear in your email, protected for privacy. 

Improving current health and anticipating future health challenges can be a motivation for finding out more about ancestors. Some of these sites cross the line between health and genealogy to help us connect the dots between the recessive and dominant genes our ancestors had that we share with them. Being conscious and aware of health issues can help when visiting the doctor if the doctor has a better idea of the individual health risks we might have and it's on a personal printout that we can make and keep to ourselves. Our bodies are our own responsibilities and we should know everything we can about our own health before we have medical emergencies.

Being worried negatively (to the point of being paralyzed into inaction) about an identity being stolen is counterproductive and unrealistic. Being anonymously cloned for commercial purposes is impossible scientifically for humans. Such negativity is unhelpful because scientists aren't interested in putting together clones of any particular one of us any more than one particular peanut is interesting to a scientist when the overwhelming popular demand is for more peanut butter. And at this point we're all peanuts and probably will be forever. None of us knows if our particular skeleton will become the most important find of the century for a future archeologist. 

Scientists of many disciplines need to have aggregate collected information that will help all of us. Researchers have made new discoveries, based on saliva samples, donated by thousands of people around the world for the purpose of understanding historical migration and advancing medical research and the area is exploding from the possibilities created by combining information from the precious samples of thousands of people. 

Learning about your own personal history can be an entryway increasing understanding of the histories of people around the world, and that is the value of Finding Your Roots that is extremely helpful. Genealogy is helping motivate a better understanding of history because as always, if the commercial is served, the recreational will be improved as well.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Bachata Fever


Music therapists recommend creating a relaxation playlist because healing music helps fight stress, find comfort, and manage pain as does exercise. On a deep level, music can make us feel understood and provide us with a release that allows us to move on. Counterintuitively, sad music has been shown in a study to have numerous positive health benefits according to a recently popular study published in the Journal of Consumer Research. Music preferences can show how social we are, remind us of the people we would most like to be with, and are influenced by how we've been treated by other people, said the study author Chan Jean Lee, PhD of KAIST Business School in Seoul, South Korea. 

Bachata is urban Latin music for dancing, very sensual and loving, originally from the Dominican Republic, a bit slower than Merengue, and a cousin of Salsa, Mango, Cha-cha, and Tango. It's grown on me lately so I've decided to share with you, my precious reader, the names of a few of my favorite dance tunes.

Try playing this music while you read or when you're with friends as it makes excellent background music:

La Amo a Morir https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FynPQvVgro0

Bachata is danced with a partner, but not necessarily always. I've been enjoying learning it in a gym class (partnerless and in front of mirrors in rows) from a Uruguyan Zumba teacher who is passionate about Latin dance, and especially Bachata. Little wonder it's enormously popular. It's stretching credibility for this little Canadian girl (me) to learn this form of dance, but the music is beautiful when listened to over and over again. I'm trying to imagine myself sashaying around tropical cafes to this music. Okay, dreaming of that now that our New Jersey weather is chilling.

Here are a few more tunes. Just to give you fair warning: they will seep into your subconscious the more you listen to them, and can make them slow down (if you know how to do that):

If only more people around the world would listen to music and dance more for business and recreation instead of fighting useless, harmful political power struggles. Enjoy listening to this wonderful form of dance, and as hippies in the 60s used to say: make love not war.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences

A theory of seven multiple intelligences described by Howard Gardner of Harvard University in his 1983 book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences.

Here are the seven summarized:

1) Visual-spatial architects and interior designers are aware of their environments and think in terms of physical space and learn well with images and imagery.
2) Bodily kinesthetic dancers and surgeons have a keen sense of body awareness and language, learn hands on, acting out, role playing. 
3) Musicians show sensitivity to rhythm and sound in their environments, might learn better with music in the background. 
4) Interpersonal students learn through interaction, have many friends, empathy for others, street smarts, and have been shown to learn well with time and attention from instructors and audio conferencing, group activities, seminars, and dialogues.
5) Intrapersonal students tend to shy away from others, are in tune with their inner feelings, have wisdom, intuition and motivation, a strong will, confidence, and opinions, are best taught through independent study, appreciate privacy, and are the most independent of learners. 
6) Verbal-linguistic students use words effectively, like playing word games, and using computers for word games, listen well to lectures and multimedia presentations.
7) Logical-mathematical thinkers think conceptually, abstractly, and see patterns, solve puzzles, ask cosmic questions, learn through investigations and mysteries, and need to learn and form concepts before they can deal with details.

Also suggested as alternative intelligences are: Naturalistic tendencies (sensitivity to nature), "Existential" or spiritual intelligence, and Moral intelligence (having to do with ethics of right and wrong).

Isn't it likely we are mixes of many of these? Gardner believes we're each a unique mixture of these intelligences. 

However many intelligences there are, schools should allow students to study in a way that works best, whether it's allowing stuents to research independent studies with minimal supervision, or enjoying a lecture, physical education class or coffee break with classmates, or a mix of both. I believe test results would probably improve substantially, even if students pick and choose how they learn, and teachers allow space for that to change for various tasks or over time. Teachers and students would feel less frustrated with each other, if only each could play to the strength of the other.

There is value and truth in the idea that intelligence isn't etched in stone, and shouldn't be believed from a single test if one bad day can make or break a test-taker. Being late, hungry, tired, or feeling ambushed by life's demands can hijack some hapless test-taker's attention, and thus ruin intelligence test results with disastrous long-term consequences.

Here is a quiz you can take to find out your area of intellectual strength.

Myself, I think I'm a mix of musical intrapersonal linguist. Choosing one I'd say intrapersonal, and that was how I tested. I've always liked personal instruction the most and group instruction least. If asking an instructor a question in a group setting isn't possible, I feel frustrated. Yet often, questions aren't permitted and my questions must go unanswered forever. Isn't it frustrating to be in a lecture auditorium and have the lecturer take questions that can't be generally heard and not repeat them? It's usually impossible to guess a question, and extremely frustrating for listeners. I also think it's necessary for someone in that position to repeat a question that not everyone in a room can hear. It's good manners not to waste anyone's time. Try the quiz.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The More We Get Together, The Happier We'll Be

Have you been to a family reunion or important wedding this summer and perhaps shared folklore of distinguishing features of your ancestors and health information? Worldwide, there is a huge thirst for names of ancestors and many of us are interested in filling in quenching it and filling in those family trees. Yet sometimes even after names have been filled in on the charts, mysteries of personality quirks and health issues remain, and require interest in pursuing them further. Genetic genealogy is a way to fill in many of gaping holes, and changing the ways families enlarge conjectures they hold of their family heritage.

The first meeting of the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) happened last weekend in beautiful Chevy Chase, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C. 

ISOGG logo
From nearby National Geographic Society, Spencer Wells gave the keynote address with a video illustrating the history of the Human Genome Project. Dr. Wells had written a paper with Oleg Balanovsky, Head of the Research Center for Medical Genetics at the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences in Moscow, and Dr. Balanovsky then described Russian efforts to trace human migrations and languages.

Genetic genealogist CeCe Moore gave an entertaining talk about her own family history in genetic detail, about how hard it is to get people to donate their spit in a humorous way, and tips on how to carry out the necessary detective work with genetic information when the paper trail goes cold and results in research brick walls.

Representatives from companies such as 23andMe, Ancestry.com, and a few others associated with the new field of genetic genealogy gave talks and explained how to research ancestors. It was a fascinating gathering, and I was privileged to attend this inaugural meeting of an entirely new discipline made possibly by the internet and advances in DNA technology.

Apart from the standard genealogical bread and butter advice to have family reunions and share information, genealogists can confirm (and sometimes) deny family relationships. Sometimes, the results can actually cause people to deny they have half-siblings they didn't know they had. CeCe Moore gave proof of this and described in detail how she discovered the Heming family relationship with the former American President Thomas Jefferson.

To find out more about health risks, inherited conditions, drug responses and distinguishing traits, 23andMe stands head and shoulders over other data providers. 

Once you have data, you can do a lot with it, and the most fascinating sites for me now are Promethease and SNPedia which I described here. I'm fascinated by any health information I can get that concern my children and ancestors. That's my primary motivation for researching my own ancestry further.