ideas to ponder

I hear people at work saying all the time that they do not know what they would do with themselves if they did not work.

REALLY? I know. I have a long list of things I would do...

But do I really? I mean, I have had days off where I have done nothing but sit in front of the damn TV. (After which I usually tell Brent we should get rid of the TV...but then we don't...anyway.)

The Boing posted an interview with this guy who I am not sure about, Ran Prieur. But he said something interesting in the interview:

"One of the points I make that people really seem to resonate with is that you get depressed for a few years if you're in a highly regulated system, highly regularized from the first time we started school. From kindergarten on, we're in this rigid structure where every minute is regulated, especially with the younger kids. When I was a kid, we still had unstructured time, play time in the afternoons. And now, people have everything planned for them.

When you quit that, and you have these vast blocks of time where there's nothing you're supposed to be doing, people get depressed. Even I got depressed, and I like unstructured time. What you're doing during that time is you're learning to self motivate. And it's not easy, you have to, it takes some time and you have to kind of go through a difficult time and almost hit bottom. I don't know why you say "you hit bottom." That's not a good phrase. But yes, you get depressed for a few years when the structure is removed and you have to learn to regulate yourself and motivate yourself in a life inside yourself."

The idea that self motivation is a learned ability really resonates with me. Or maybe we have that ability and then it is beaten out of us.

Maybe this is why I am obsessed with unstructured playtime...


great girls weekend

Jen and Carly just left...Laura could not come because of work and Amy decided not to come this year because of other reasons.

The three of us had a lovely time.

More soon.



so our friend, dave, says i should not blog about health issues...but i am ignoing him today.

i have a skin infection called cellulitis, caused by the car accident. the infection is caused either by a staph or strep infection. many of you know my dad came very close to dying from a staph infection, so this scares me.

i also distrust antibiotics, but today the doctor gave me a huge shot of them and i am taking them orally. erica and brent assure me and the baby will be fine.

i work up and worried i was having an allergic reaction to the drugs. i now think i am fine.

i got home from st. louis and called the ob. she said to be seen by my regular doctor right away. called him. he was on vacation this week, naturally, but the receptionist said to call the doctor on call for him. i called that office, and they sent me to get an ultrasound of both legs to rule out a blood clot. no blod cot, but the doctor at the ultrasound place said to go immediately to my doctor's office. so i did just that.

i walked in, with reading materails at the ready for a long wait, and told the receptionist what happened. she huffed and puffed, and said to wait a second. i sat down. the she comes back and says, " the doctor is in with a patient, but i just want you know this is not a walk in clinic."

that is when i lost my shit. i said fine and left. i was not a walk in patient. i had spoken to them this morning. i went downstairs crying to my normal doctor's office where the receptionis was in. she opened the door and there i am crying like a baby. she was super nice, and helped me. we went back upstairs. she said, "the know any of our patients are welcome anytime they need us, so i don'tknow why she said that."

the doctor himself was great. he could tell right away what it was, and had a plan.

later my ob's office called back, to check on me, which also made me feel good.

this sucks, but erica assures me it will be fine.





How does the body decide what to heal when there are multiple areas that need help?




brent and i, all dressed up



bag insert

So, I ordered this little bag insert from this woman in Switzerland. I love the concept. You put this inside your purse and when you change purses you can just move this thing rather than having to dump everything out of your bag.

I want to get her to make one properly sized for baby stuff: diapers, bottles, changing pads, etc.

Click here to go to the CouCou website and order one!
The package came quickly and was not very expensive. The black one is even on sale right now: 13.50 Euros rather than 19 Euros.


nothing like an accident

and being laid up on the couch for a week to drastically reduce your spending. I am just saying.


maybe i should be careful

I posted that PSA last about driving...and then we almost died driving up I95 from DC to NYC the next day.

We were just making fun of the fact that there was a Newark, Delaware and how that town should change its name. I pointed out that since Delaware was one of the first states, the Newark in Delaware was probably older than the one in New Jersey.

I looked to my right, and as if in a movie, this purple Honda Accord was on two tires. The driver had not checked his blind spot before moving lanes to his right. We were in the far left hand lane. He over corrected coming directly at us. I tried to get around him, and almost did. And then he hit us and we went into the Jersey Wall full on, almost perpendicular to the wall. We spun around, and to my surprise, after the airbag exploded, we were blind. The smoke did not allow us to see out. So as we careened across four lanes of traffic, I frantically asked Brent what we should do. He said there was nothing we could do. Before we hit the median on the other side of the four lanes, I used what was left of the brakes to stop us. We jumped out of the car.

Brent's lips started turning blue. Two parole officers stopped to help us as did a nurse. I just wanted the ambulance to come. It took forever. Maybe it did not. I have no real sense of time. I texted Brent's mom and Erica. I tried to stay calm. I tried to avoid looking at Brent's mouth. Or thinking that he could have died.

I worried about the baby. A lot.

We went to the hospital, and luckily were fine. All three of us. We are bruised and sore and still out of sorts, but we are fine. Montana, Erin, and Ada came up to collect us and our stuff from the totaled car. We took the train to DC and then went to the hospital again to get double checked. Our doctor was on call so she took care of us. Montana drove down to collect us from yet another hospital and stayed with us until the next day when Carol, Brent's mom, flew in.

The car did a great job saving us. Some people think my driving is to be thanked. I kept wondering if I should have taken a different action: slowed down, moved to the left immediately, I don't know. But I have stopped this. No one died in the accident, so I am going to take solace in the idea that I took the best action in a situation that needed an immediate response. Analysis of the situation was not an option.

So, the bottom line: don't talk on the phone while driving, don't text in the car, look in your blind spot before changing lanes. If you are tempted, thinking you are a better driver than most, remember, killing someone would ruin your life and put the damn phone down. It can wait.


young driver: tell them these tips

The New York Times ran another article with tips for teenage drivers. Teenage drivers have 10 times as many accidents as older drivers.

There are 3 common mistakes young drivers make:

1. Failing to scan the road,
2. Misjudging driving conditions, or
3. Becoming distracted.

These mistakes come to us by way of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at Children's Hospital in Philly.

The mistakes above are actually abilities that you develop as a driver overtime, without noticing. So as a parent you need to reenforce these abilities when teaching. Kids tend to focus straight ahead, rather than scanning. Asking student drivers questions like, what color was that car we just passed? Or How many people were on the sidewalk? will help them begin scanning.

Again, as a parent you have to let your child try driving in poor conditions, so they know how to react.

Finally, distractions. No cell phones in the car. Put them in the trunk. I am just kidding...kind of.


cancer and sugar

I told Brent about my office selling cupcakes to raise money for breast cancer research and he reminded me of the New York Times article about sugar that came out a few weeks ago. Here is a link to the whole story, but I copied the important part about sugar and its link to cancer. He made the point that serving cupcakes to raise money for cancer rather like selling cigarettes to raise money for lung cancer. My boss, while saddened, said they would look into other fundraisers!

The excerpt below is from the end of the article about the link to cancer. The whole article is worth your time to read, but at least read the part I cut out below.

All the people I have lost to cancer and to think that by not eating sugar we could spare our loved ones this sadness...but damn that stuff is addictive...and in EVERYTHING.

Is Sugar Toxic?, by Gary Taubes, The New York Times

"One more question still needs to be asked, and this is what my wife, who has had to live with my journalistic obsession on this subject, calls the Grinch-trying-to-steal-Christmas problem. What are the chances that sugar is actually worse than Lustig says it is?

One of the diseases that increases in incidence with obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome is cancer. This is why I said earlier that insulin resistance may be a fundamental underlying defect in many cancers, as it is in type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The connection between obesity, diabetes and cancer was first reported in 2004 in large population studies by researchers from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. It is not controversial. What it means is that you are more likely to get cancer if you’re obese or diabetic than if you’re not, and you’re more likely to get cancer if you have metabolic syndrome than if you don’t.

This goes along with two other observations that have led to the well-accepted idea that some large percentage of cancers are caused by our Western diets and lifestyles. This means they could actually be prevented if we could pinpoint exactly what the problem is and prevent or avoid that.

One observation is that death rates from cancer, like those from diabetes, increased significantly in the second half of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th. As with diabetes, this observation was accompanied by a vigorous debate about whether those increases could be explained solely by the aging of the population and the use of new diagnostic techniques or whether it was really the incidence of cancer itself that was increasing. “By the 1930s,” as a 1997 report by the World Cancer Research Fund International and the American Institute for Cancer Research explained, “it was apparent that age-adjusted death rates from cancer were rising in the U.S.A.,” which meant that the likelihood of any particular 60-year-old, for instance, dying from cancer was increasing, even if there were indeed more 60-years-olds with each passing year.

The second observation was that malignant cancer, like diabetes, was a relatively rare disease in populations that didn’t eat Western diets, and in some of these populations it appeared to be virtually nonexistent. In the 1950s, malignant cancer among the Inuit, for instance, was still deemed sufficiently rare that physicians working in northern Canada would publish case reports in medical journals when they did diagnose a case.

In 1984, Canadian physicians published an analysis of 30 years of cancer incidence among Inuit in the western and central Arctic. While there had been a “striking increase in the incidence of cancers of modern societies” including lung and cervical cancer, they reported, there were still “conspicuous deficits” in breast-cancer rates. They could not find a single case in an Inuit patient before 1966; they could find only two cases between 1967 and 1980. Since then, as their diet became more like ours, breast cancer incidence has steadily increased among the Inuit, although it’s still significantly lower than it is in other North American ethnic groups. Diabetes rates in the Inuit have also gone from vanishingly low in the mid-20th century to high today.

Now most researchers will agree that the link between Western diet or lifestyle and cancer manifests itself through this association with obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome — i.e., insulin resistance. This was the conclusion, for instance, of a 2007 report published by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research — “Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer.”

So how does it work? Cancer researchers now consider that the problem with insulin resistance is that it leads us to secrete more insulin, and insulin (as well as a related hormone known as insulin-like growth factor) actually promotes tumor growth. As it was explained to me by Craig Thompson, who has done much of this research and is now president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the cells of many human cancers come to depend on insulin to provide the fuel (blood sugar) and materials they need to grow and multiply. Insulin and insulin-like growth factor (and related growth factors) also provide the signal, in effect, to do it. The more insulin, the better they do. Some cancers develop mutations that serve the purpose of increasing the influence of insulin on the cell; others take advantage of the elevated insulin levels that are common to metabolic syndrome, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Some do both. Thompson believes that many pre-cancerous cells would never acquire the mutations that turn them into malignant tumors if they weren’t being driven by insulin to take up more and more blood sugar and metabolize it.

What these researchers call elevated insulin (or insulin-like growth factor) signaling appears to be a necessary step in many human cancers, particularly cancers like breast and colon cancer. Lewis Cantley, director of the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School, says that up to 80 percent of all human cancers are driven by either mutations or environmental factors that work to enhance or mimic the effect of insulin on the incipient tumor cells. Cantley is now the leader of one of five scientific “dream teams,” financed by a national coalition called Stand Up to Cancer, to study, in the case of Cantley’s team, precisely this link between a specific insulin-signaling gene (known technically as PI3K) and tumor development in breast and other cancers common to women.

Most of the researchers studying this insulin/cancer link seem concerned primarily with finding a drug that might work to suppress insulin signaling in incipient cancer cells and so, they hope, inhibit or prevent their growth entirely. Many of the experts writing about the insulin/cancer link from a public health perspective — as in the 2007 report from the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research — work from the assumption that chronically elevated insulin levels and insulin resistance are both caused by being fat or by getting fatter. They recommend, as the 2007 report did, that we should all work to be lean and more physically active, and that in turn will help us prevent cancer.

But some researchers will make the case, as Cantley and Thompson do, that if something other than just being fatter is causing insulin resistance to begin with, that’s quite likely the dietary cause of many cancers. If it’s sugar that causes insulin resistance, they say, then the conclusion is hard to avoid that sugar causes cancer — some cancers, at least — radical as this may seem and despite the fact that this suggestion has rarely if ever been voiced before publicly. For just this reason, neither of these men will eat sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, if they can avoid it.

“I have eliminated refined sugar from my diet and eat as little as I possibly can,” Thompson told me, “because I believe ultimately it’s something I can do to decrease my risk of cancer.” Cantley put it this way: “Sugar scares me.”

Sugar scares me too, obviously. I’d like to eat it in moderation. I’d certainly like my two sons to be able to eat it in moderation, to not overconsume it, but I don’t actually know what that means, and I’ve been reporting on this subject and studying it for more than a decade. If sugar just makes us fatter, that’s one thing. We start gaining weight, we eat less of it. But we are also talking about things we can’t see — fatty liver, insulin resistance and all that follows. Officially I’m not supposed to worry because the evidence isn’t conclusive, but I do."