Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Blessings to All

I have a great many things to give thanks for and I won't enumerate them all here.  But I have family and friends, a job, a roof over my head, social friends and closer friends, people who care about me and about whom I care.  We all have our trials and problems, but we all can find something to be thankful for.

On this Thanksgiving Day, my wish and hope for you is that you have or can find something to be thankful for in your life.  If not, then reach out to another and wish them a thankful day; maybe your blessing will come back to you in some way.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Diabetes Prevention

As I promised earlier this month, a few tips on diabetes prevention.  There is such a wealth of good information on the web on this topic that I will only hit the highlights.  There are plenty of links to reputable sites for you to follow to get more in-depth information.

For Type One Diabetes, which affects about 5%-10% of people with diabetes, there is no prevention at this time.  Because it is usually diagnosed early in life, it used to be called Juvenile Diabetes.  With Type One Diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin to process glucose into energy.  Treatment typically involves some type of insulin therapy and other treatments to replace the missing insulin and help convert glucose into energy.

Type Two Diabetes is most common, affecting  more than 23.6 million Americans. Some estimate that 57million Americans have diabetes, many not yet knowing it.  In Type Two Diabetes, the body may not produce enough insulin or it may ignore the insulin that's there-- the insulin doesn't do its job, so to speak. While in my youth I often heard this referred to as adult onset diabetes, I no longer hear that phrase.  This is because Type Two Diabetes is affecting children and young adults in far greater numbers than ever before.

Risk Factors for Diabetes
The American Diabetes Foundation (ADA) states that both forms of diabetes have two factors:
  • a genetic predisposition to diabetes; someone in your immediate or close family has/had diabetes;
  • a triggering environmental incident or situation; lifestyle--food choices, activity/exercise level, what part of world you live in, etc.

Type Two Diabetes has the higher correlation to environmental factors and lifestyle.  What the ADA finds interesting is that, while lifestyle--high fat, too little carbohydrate and fiber, and lack of exercise--are strong risk factors, these play out for those living a Western lifestyle (European and American).  The same factors do not correlate to getting the disease for people living in other parts of the world.

Some racial and ethnic groups and the elderly have a higher incidence of Type Two Diabetes.  If you are African-American,  Latino/Latina, Native American, Asian American, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, or you are elderly, your risk is higher. 

Diabetes Prevention 
The result of either type of diabetes is too much blood glucose in the body, which the body cannot process into energy.  The cells are starving while their "food" is all around them.

A Simple Demonstration
Earlier this month, our Hunger Network had a brief presentation where the presenter pulled a clear, plastic canister out of a bag.  In it were a group of white ping pong balls, representing cells in the body.  They were partly surrounded by a red liquid representing blood in the body. 
  • Liquid in the first canister rolled smoothly around the balls when she rotated it; this represented a body with normal glucose levels; the "cells" had no difficulty  moving.  
  • She pulled out a second canister; the liquid was a bit thicker and didn't roll quite as quickly around the cells.  This represented an elevated blood glucose level.  It was more difficult for the cells to move.
  • She pulled out a third canister; the liquid was quite thick and the cells barely moved.  This represented a high glucose level that could be found in someone with diabetes, even if undiagnosed! 
The Mayo Clinic has this article on tips to prevent Type Two Diabetes.  As with all programs for diabetes prevention and control, it recommends
  • physical activity, 
  • more fiber, 
  • whole grains, 
  • losing weight, and 
  • making healthier food choices rather than going on fad diets.
WebMD provides similar advice, and adds that you should stop smoking.  This is recommend to mitigate the effects of diabetes on the body.  Diabetes often leads to heart disease as does smoking; the combination is, quite literally, a killer.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) points to a study on diabetes prevention (see next paragraph) which demonstrated that "people can delay and possibly prevent the disease by losing a small amount of weight (5 to 7 percent of total body weight) through 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days a week and healthier eating."

For readers who want a more clinical resource, The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse has a Diabetes Prevention section you may want to read.  Their study is mentioned in the previous paragraph. 

The UC Berkeley (University of California at Berkeley) newsletter issue on diabetes prevention, Wellness Letter, has a good one-page summary that may prove helpful.  You can subscribe to their newsletter which informs you on a variety of wellness topics. 

Speaking Personally
On a personal note, my brother lived all over the world over 35+ years.  He was often assigned to "lesser developed" nations.  He would always drop weight after living for a time in one of these countries and he swears that it's because they don't over-process their grains and other foods.  And when he'd return to the US for a time, the weight would come right back.  I think he's onto something and I'm now buying items such as stone ground corn meal when I can find them.

Friday, November 12, 2010

World Diabetes Day & the Big Blue Test - View Video by Nov 14, 2010

Act quickly - November 14 is this Sunday! 
Here's the scoop.

World Diabetes Day  -- Sunday, November 14, 2010 -- is also a deadline for viewing a video linked to a unique opportunity to help a child with diabetes get insulin.

  1. Check out the websites linked in this post for additional information.
  2. View this short (less than 2 minutes) video from Diabetes Hands Foundation, Diabetes Daily, and Diabetes Stories.  View the video by Sunday, November 14, 2010 and Roche Diabetes Care, makers of ACCU-Check(c) diabetes products and services, will make a donation to support Life for a Child and Insulin for Life
  3. Take part in the Big Blue Test on Sunday, November 14, 2010.  (Don't worry; it won't take long.)
  4. Share your experience!
The Big Blue Test is an eye-opener for many people.  I won't spoil it for you.  Check out the link for the test and just do it; it doesn't take long and it is something you can share to help inform others.  While it is designed for people with diabetes, if you don't have diabetes - or don't know that you have diabetes - you can do the 2nd part and make your body feel better! 

I'll follow up on Jeff Hansell's request to post some diabetes prevention care in another post.  The deadline of this Sunday to have a donation made based on just viewing a video pushed that other topic back a bit.

Until next post...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans' Day 2010 - Honor our Veterans

Today is Veterans' Day; the day we set aside to remember and honor our nation's veterans.  We sometimes forget that the freedoms we have in this country are due to the efforts of a great many people, past and present, who sacrificed to help us retain these freedoms.  And they have sometimes sacrificed to bring freedom to other nations as well.

Whether or not you support the conflicts we are engaged in currently, our military members are serving their country and following the orders that are part of that service.  We must honor that when we meet them.

Like many others, I have veterans in my family.  My dad served on the USS Nelson (a Gleaves-class destroyer) in WWII.  The Nelson was torpedoed in half  in the Atlantic Ocean by a German E-boat near Normandy.  My dad had just walked from the stern to the other end of the ship when it happened -- had he not done that -- well, 24 died and 9 were wounded.  They managed to do enough repairs to get themselves to Ireland for more watertight repairs, then towed to Gibraltar to lead a convey of "sick ships" back to Boston.  In Boston they replaced the stern that had been lost in the ocean and the Neslon was returned to duty.  I believe my Dad had completed his duty by then because the Nelson went on to serve in the Pacific but I don't believe my dad served there -- at least, he never talked about it. In fact, he never talked much about WWII; it was a hard time for both those in service and their families left home to cope.

Today, it's really not much different.  Some of the things our servicemen and servicewomen see, hear, and do change them considerably.  Sometimes they cannot cope with the "real" world after being in the surreal world of fighting, killing, living under constant threat of losing life or limb. 

Some of my dad's story I learned from him, and some I read in the book, Tin Cans and Other Ships, which gave a detailed account of a great many ships from World War II.  And there are a great many links to sites today that have a good deal of information. 
My dad wasn't the only family member serving in WWII.  My Aunt Winnie and Uncle Bob met when Bob was in the hospital recovering from injuries.  She was an Army Nurse and he was an Air Force pilot.   He served in the Atlantic and later was stationed in Japan as part of the recovery effort after we bombed Hiroshima.  My uncle Bill served but I forget in which branch.  I'll have to ask my brother, Bill, and edit this later.  That brother served at least two tours in Vietnam.

My nephew Dan is currently serving in the Navy, like my dad.  He spent more than a year off the coast of Japan and later served in Afghanistan.  Yes, I know there isn't much ocean in Afghanistan but the Navy does a lot of the supply management for the Army, so they sometimes get land duty.  Another Nephew, Bill, served in Afghanistan.  Gee, can you see that Bill is a common name in my family?  At holidays we'd usually have at least 6 Bills in the house for dinner; it could get confusing!   (And my dad's name was Bill also!)...

I have some friends who've served in the Reserves (hi Dawn!) and some in regular military service even though they saw no conflict.  But they were ready to be called.

Sometimes you don't even know that the person you're with is a veteran.  I had a client earlier this week whom I discovered is a Vietnam Veteran.  As he put it, he "served too long there."  Today, he is just coming out of having been homeless, but has no job, no money, and needs food stamps.  His story is all too common.

As we honor our veterans today, in whatever manner suits us best, let us also remember those who are living in pain or poverty -- or both.  When we vote, when we talk with politicians, when we make decisions about giving or donating, keep them in mind and remember that the person on the street you don't even know could be a veteran.  Treat them well.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

Diabetes: Could You Have It But Not Know It?
Diabetes can be a silent killer.  It's scary. 

Two Types of Diabetes 

Type One Diabetes occurs when the body cannot produce sufficient insulin to convert starches and sugar into energy for the body to use.  This typically gets diagnosed in childhood/youth and is not preventable - you often hear it referred to as Juvenile Diabetes, but that's because it gets diagnosed early; it continues to affect you throughout life.  The body just cannot produce enough insulin.  Type One Diabetes is treated through insulin therapy and other strategies.  It can be a fatal disease, but is usually manageable with proper treatment. 

Type Two Diabetes can be caused by the body not producing enough insulin, or by the cells ignoring the insulin the body produces.  Type Two Diabetes affects the majority of people with diabetes and is both preventable and manageable.  Exercise and diet are the major factors in preventing Type Two Diabetes.  Type Two Diabetes was typically seen in adults. Unfortunately, today we see more and more children diagnosed with it.  That is part of the reason behind the current effort to reduce sugary products in schools. 

Because diabetes is such a big risk to our health, I've decided to join the campaign to blog regularly thoughout November on this topic.  I'll add more content every few days (I will try for every day) and add links to help you learn more about this health problem.

Why Do I Care?

Diabetes is part of my family.  My grandfather had Type Two Diabetes and lived to the ripe age of 96.  He walked every day, outlived most of his doctors, and lived by the "apple a day" prescription common to his generation.  He was insulin-dependent (depended on insulin shots to help regulate the amount of insulin in his body so it could process sugars properly) but had few complications.  He was lucky. 

My cousin had Type One Diabetes and died from complications in her early 30s.  It was a shock to us.  This was nearly 30 years ago and we know that treatments today have improved.  But it's still a serious disease that requires careful treatment.  Her body had great difficulty processing insulin and even with proper management, she had a great many complications.  I remember my mother cooking dinners for her and bringing them to her in the Joslin Clinic, right down to china plates and a small vase with a rose, so she could feel somewhat at home even in the hospital.  She was there for amputation of one of her toes.  You see, poor circulation is one of common complications of diabetes.  Poor circulation and neuropathy - nerve damage with resulting loss of sensation - means that even a small cut in the foot can lead to serious infections.

One uncle died from complication from Type Two Diabetes.  Although he was in his later 70s and we had the benefit of having him around for many years, tell that to his wife and children who miss him.  Another uncle was diagnosed just a few years ago.  In his 80s, he is managing it.

It just seems as if it runs in our family.  So it is important to me and to everyone else in my family.   One of my four brothers has hypoglycemia - which is caused when the body uses up glucose (sugar) too quickly, glucose is released by the body too slowly, or the body produces too much insulin for the body to process properly.  Hypoglycemia can occur in people with diabetes, but there is condition called Idopathic Hypoglycemia where the cause of this imbalance is unknown and the person does not have diabetes. 

Growing up with this so much a part of my family, especially my grandfather and cousin, I learned from my mother to cook with about half the sugar called for in any recipe and always use less salt than stated.  I don't even add salt after cooking.  I watch in wonder as I see people in restaurants pick up the salt and pour it on food they haven't even tasted yet!  People often don't seem to know how to appreciate the taste of the actual food they're eating.  Salt can flavor food, but it also helps regulate fluids in the body.  Too much salt, however, can cause health complications such as high blood pressure (hypertension)

Consider this: every french fry from that fast food place is loaded with salt!  Some places actually add sugar to the cooking oil.  Would you sit down and pour sugar on your french fries?  If we start considering how much sugar and salt are in the preprocessed or precooked foods we eat, we might find that we are killing ourselves through ignorance.  If we can cook more at home and bring that home cooking to work for lunch, we can cut a huge chunk out of our poor food choices. 

Speaking of work - I've got to go!  See you in a day or two with another post on Diabetes -- or whatever else is On My Mind.

Monday, November 8, 2010

How do you find inspiration for your blog posts?

This morning I read this question raised by Colin Welch on LinkedIn.  Colin referenced an article that gives bloggers tips for posting regularly and keeping your blog interesting.  Here's that article, Blog Post Ideas - 10 Tips for Blog Inspiration, by Heather Buckley.  Both Colin and Heather work for Silicon Beach Training.

Another reader, Andrew, responded to the discussion stating that bloggers who get "blocked" shouldn't be blogging.  My response is below...

"I have to disagree with Andrew about "bloggers block" indicating the person shouldn't be writing at all.  That thinking would have meant that many of our most famous novelists throughout time shouldn't have ever written.  Bloggers blog for a wide variety of reasons and not every blogger has a product or service to sell.

I know people who are quite good in their field and believe strongly in what they are doing.  But they cannot blog.  They have tried, but their personal characteristics interfere with their ability to say it and let it go.  So they spend weeks rewriting and crafting such a "perfect" article that will never get published because they'll never consider it "done."  They need to use a ghostwriter so their work gets published.  I know because I've been a ghostwriter on blogs and in print! 

Writing is a process.  Good writing takes time, patience, and persistence.  Many blogs are well written and some are not.  While content is what is important, and many people will forgive a poorly written blog that has good content, good writing makes good content easier to read and understand.  So a lot of people exercise good writing skills when writing their blogs.  That sometimes leads to a "block" because the writer, in trying to convey a message that is clearly understood with the writer's meaning, wants to ensure the quality of the article(s). 

Heather's article, Carl, is well written and a very good guide for bloggers.  Even when we really already know these things, it's good to get them in a guide that pinpoints what we already know.  And, it demonstrates what she is writing: use a list, ask for ideas, link to other posts, etc.

I've decided that this response merits a blog post, so it will be my post for today, with a brief intro on the topic you raised, Carl, and link to your public profile.  Thanks for raising the topic! "

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Love it When Things Come Together!

I get really excited when I've been able to figure out the answer (or an answer) to a problem that's been bugging me.  When it comes to technology, figuring out those answers usually means I've learned the tool at a deeper level of understanding than I had before -- and that's a good thing. 

So I was really excited this morning when I made one change to a website I've been working on and the "fix" did exactly what I hoped it would do.  I had figured out the answer a few days ago but didn't have time until today to actually test it out.  Now I can tell the client to take a look and we can move on from here.

I've been using the Joomla! web development tool for a while now, but don't get to work with it all the time.  I have to do it early in the morning (before my day job) and on the weekend.  But I've gradually grown to understand it at a much deeper level and can often figure something out fairly quickly.  I'm not a coder, but know enough html, and now even a bit of css, to work with it and set things up to work the way I want. 

But every once in a while I get stumped.  And I was stumped for about a week with this last problem.  I use the same template on another site, so started to look at the css files of both, comparing what was different between and found the "offending" plugin that was stumping me.  Turning that off cleared up my problem and I have decided I don't want/need that plugin.  Next step is to uninstall it so my site stays clean and only has features and plugins installed that I want or need. 

I think that my many years of fixing computers (hardware and software) have helped me be a good troubleshooter.  And this skill transfers to non-technology projects and problems.  I find I can look at the problem fairly dispassionately and review the surrounding environment (circumstances, issues, players involved, etc.) and localize the source.  That's essential in good problem-solving.  Too many people put band-aides on problems rather than taking the time to figure out the source.  Problem is -- the problem keeps coming back if you don't get to the source and eliminate it!

That's my thought for this morning.  I think it's a great way to start my day.