Archive for May, 2006

One Crazy Mutha

A few nights ago, I went to a showing of Blue Velvet at the Belcourt Theater here in Nashville.  Wow.  I had seen it, in five minute increments, throughout my life but never in it’s entirety.  David Lynch is one freaky freaky man.  I have been having uncontrollable flashbacks for two days - mostly of Dennis Hopper’s bug eyes (”A love letter from me is a bullet from a gun!”) and Isabella Rosellini standing naked in the front yard of Kyle MacLachlan’s house.  The last two days have been weird - my sweet little life planting gardens and singing “This Old Man” intermingled with images from David Lynch’s psyche.  It’s been exhausting.

If you aren’t in the mood for Blue Velvet but still want to experience the brilliant filmmaking of Mr. Lynch, I highly recommend making a commitment to watching the entire collection of Twin Peaks.  By far, this has been the best program to ever grace cable television.  They sell the box set complete with the movie Fire Walk With Me.  It’s not Blue Velvet, but then, nothing is.

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Education for the Masses - or a few

As someone who is becoming increasingly disheartened by the public education system in our country (especially since my son has started public school) I get really excited when I find an example of a place that is perservering, despite the low status quo that is evasive in our culture.  I found an article about a small school (eleven kids!) in Death Valley, California.  It is proving that you don’t have to have fancy buildings or expensive equipment to foster intelligence and the love of learning in kids.  It is an encouragement, I think, to those schools that get left behind by “the system”, to have passion and compassion for the kids that it educates. 

Studies have shown that students who come from poorer communities like Death Valley have a lot to gain from attending a small school. In fact, a small school can make up for the factors that often stifle student achievement. Of the 11 students here, four speak Spanish at home, five are being raised by single mothers and all of them qualify for a free or reduced lunch. Still, nine of them are “high achieving,” working above grade level in some subjects.

Of course, having eleven students assists greatly in the “small class room” issue, but I still think that we can use this as an example of what kids need to learn effectively.

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New Study Suggests that One-Third of American Adults are Diabetic or Pre-Diabetic

Catherine Cowie, director of the diabetes epidemiology program at the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, released new research that suggests one-third of U.S. adults are either diabetic or pre-diabetic.

The researchers note that about 95 percent of all cases of diabetes in the United States fall under the category of type 2 disease — a gradual loss of insulin production and sensitivity that’s usually linked to overweight and obesity…

…There is a huge portion of the population who don’t know they have diabetes or who are at risk for diabetes, Cowie said.

“We aren’t doing a good enough job of diagnosing these one-in-three people who don’t know they have diabetes as well as people who have pre-diabetes,” Cowie said. “We really need to be a better job of convincing people that should be adopting healthy behaviors that will prevent these conditions.”

One expert thinks that the number of undiagnosed diabetics and pre-diabetics may be underestimated.

Read full story: One-Third of U.S. Adults Diabetic or Pre-Diabetic

Posted in Lifestyles, Health, Nutrition for Adults, Weight Management | No Comments »

One Shot Vaccine for Measles, Mumps and Rubella Feared to Cause Autism and Bowel Disease

A popular vaccine — often called MMR for measles, mumps and rubella — has been found to have a link to autism and bowel disease. Although the initial research was heavily scrutinized by other researchers and pharmaceuticals, new research is making those critics take a second look. Sally Beck of the Daily Mail reports:

The study appears to confirm the findings of British doctor Andrew Wakefield, who caused a storm in 1998 by suggesting a possible link.

Now a team from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina are examining 275 children with regressive autism and bowel disease - and of the 82 tested so far, 70 prove positive for the measles virus.

Last night the team’s leader, Dr Stephen Walker, said: ‘Of the handful of results we have in so far, all are vaccine strain and none are wild measles.

‘This research proves that in the gastrointestinal tract of a number of children who have been diagnosed with regressive autism, there is evidence of measles virus.

‘What it means is that Dr Wake-field’s implication is it may be coming study is correct. That study from the MMR vaccine. If that’s didn’t draw any conclusions about the case, and this live virus is specifically what it means to find residing in the gastrointestinal measles virus in the gut, but the tract of some children, and then they have GI inflammation and other problems, it may be related to MMR.’

Read the full story: Scientists fear MMR link to autism

Posted in Parenting, Health, Babies | No Comments »

Finding Nutrition Facts for Weight Watchers

Introducing Weight Watchers(R) TurnAround(TM)!WeightWatchers uses a tool called POINTS Tracker that helps you keep track of the food you’re eating each day. The idea is that you have a point range that you need to within in order to see weight loss results. Although their POINTS Tracker tool has a ton of foods in their database, they don’t have all of them. That’s where their POINTS Calculator comes in. If you can’t find the food in their database, they have a tool that will calculate points for a particular food based on calories, fat and fiber. But what happens when you can’t find the food in their database and you don’t have the nutrition facts for it? That’s where NutritionData’s Nutrition Facts Calorie Counter comes in.

Their website has Nutrition Facts for most fast food restaurants and for other food like produce, meats and poultry. The thing I like about NutritionData’s website is that they go beyond the typical Nutrition Facts. They also display the moisture content, Caloric Ratio Pyramid, Nutrient Balance Indicator and Nutritional Target Map. However, most of the time, it’s just a good place to get the calories, fat and fiber numbers to plug into the the WeightWatchers’ POINTS Calculator.

Posted in Health, Healthy Eating, Nutrition for Adults, Weight Management | 1 Comment »

Uncommon Goods

One of my closest friend has started showing up to my house in really great, unique jewelry… She has a necklace with a typewriter key as a pendant among many, many other cute little accesories. I asked her were she found these - her husband buys them for her at UncommonGoods.com. They have some really out of the ordinary stuff - from kids stuff to household stuff to jewelry.

Another interesting place to find unique and wonderful (and expensive) goods is Anthropologie.com. This is my favorite place to indulge- it is rare that I can ever afford anything, but it is fun (just the same) to look at the site and get ideas and inspiration for things that I might be able to find cheaper elsewhere or make on my own. It is primarily a women’s clothing line but they also have fantastic household goods (especially the linen for the kitchen) and furniture. If you are looking to treat yourself or your special lady friend, this is the place to go.

Posted in Lifestyles | 1 Comment »

And So Summer Begins…..

Well, we are not yet three hours into our first day of summer (Joseph’s last day of school was yesterday) and we have already had three time outs, two injuries (due to my son thrashing about on his bed like a rabid monkey - it is his idea of fun, for some reason) and me, at 9:30am, already giving serious thought to that bottle of wine sitting on the kitchen counter. Yikes.

Of course, I will save the wine till tonight to enjoy with my husband but what to do about the other calamities. I want, desperately, to initiate our summer together in a positive way - I want to be thankful for this time with both of my kids… But it is so out of our routine to all be home together all day long, I can’t quite work out how we change ten months of scheduling and timing. I suppose it will take some time (I figure, just enough time to get us to the beginning of the school year where we will, again, have to rearrange our schedule… whew…). I just have to remember to keep my cool, be patient. It’s not all bad, though. We did have a mean dance party to Ray Charles this morning.. I’ll take the good with the bad - because the good is oh’ so good when it comes.

Happy summertime!

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The Power of Music

Many people enjoy listening to music, because it can affect or enhance an emotional state. For example, if someone wants to relax, they will often listen to music that’s soft. The same goes for people who are in a high energy mood and want to maintain it — listening to techno music can help any jogger maintain a good pace.

Now new research is suggesting that listening to music can help reduce pain and depression. RINF Alternative News reported:

Listening to music can reduce chronic pain by up to 21 per cent and depression by up to 25 per cent, according to a paper in the latest UK-based Journal of Advanced Nursing.

It can also make people feel more in control of their pain and less disabled by their condition.

Researchers carried out a controlled clinical trial with sixty people, dividing them into two music groups and a control group.

Read the full story: Listening To Music Can Reduce Pain And Depression

Posted in Chronic Illness, Mental Health, Stress Management | No Comments »

That New Car Smell

Our big goal this summer is to buy a new car.  We have always loved our little econo-sized cars - both for the ecoresponsibility factor as well as for the affordabilty of them.  But, now, as a family of four with an old dog that likes to go for rides with us, we are in desperate need of a larger, more family friendly auto.  But, we can’t affford to put gas in an SUV or minivan, nor do we feel good about how unfriendly they are to our environment. 

Here’s what I have found that is helping me to make my decision a bit easier:

With cars becoming more efficient, you might think oil companies are hurting for profits. Ha, yeah, right! Companies like Exxon Mobil and Chevron have never been stronger, thanks in part to chumps (like us) paying record prices and continuing to drive inefficient vehicles.

The good news is you don’t have to be a chump. These days, plenty of cars minimize fuel usage as well as pollution. According to this site on fuel economy from the U.S. Department of Energy, of all the cars available, the Honda Insight gets the most miles per gallon. The two-seater (with manual transmission) achieves 66 mpg on the highway and 60 in the city.

Of course, two-seaters aren’t for everyone. The Toyota Prius is the most fuel-efficient mid-sized car, with mileage well above the national average. We recommend checking out the EPA’s official site. It lists the fuel economy, pollution rating, and vehicle specs of just about every car available. If you’re thirsty for even more choices, this page on renewable energy explains the benefits of various alternative fuels like ethanol and natural gas.

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Women Aren’t the Only Ones With a Biological Clock

It’s well known in the scientific community that a woman’s ability to conceive fades after the age of 35. However, recent research has suggested that men also have a biological clock for their fertility. News in Science reports:

A man’s fertility appears to decline after the age of 40, in much the same way that a woman’s ability to conceive fades after 35, say French researchers.

Dr Elise de La Rochebrochard and team, from the French national health institute INSERM, report their findings in the May issue of the journal Fertility and Sterility.

Their study, of nearly 2,000 couples undergoing fertility treatment, found that pregnancy attempts were 70% more likely to fail when the man was age 40 or older than if he were younger than 30, regardless of his wife’s age.

Read the full story: Male biological clock probed

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