Recently I discovered Li’l Writer Guy living in my head.

That sentence is enough to make half the readers of this blog think I’m insane, and the other half think I’m possessed. Be that as it may, it’s the best way I know to explain the way I think. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, March 4, 2005 at 10:21 pm | Edit
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Category Random Musings: [first] [previous] [next] [newest] Everyday Life: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]
So, I know I don't have time to spend posting to the blog, but over lunch I read quite a strange article in today's paper. Here is a link, I hope. (This is my first post to the blog and out of our family I know the least about computers - well, I may know more than Jonathan, but not for long!) Anyway, about the article. It is about devices that a Rochester woman sells to keep belly button holes from closing up when women are pregnant and the ring won't fit anymore (though it took me to the end to actually figure that out). It is interesting how the article is worded as if to sound that this is a need that has no other options. Women speak of this device as life-saving because they don't want to HAVE to be pierced again, and it's so great because it's safer than the do-it-yourself methods. As one bright woman observed: "'I took a piece of string and tied it together like a ring,' she recounts. 'It didn't look professional, and people looked at me funny'." Okay, since when did showing your belly ever look professional?
Posted by harp on Wednesday, March 2, 2005 at 11:23 am | Edit
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American Sign Language to the rescue! In New York, a choking woman dialed 911, but was unable to speak. Her three year old daugher, whom she had taught some basic sign language, conveyed her mother's signed plea for help to the operator. This recent news story illustrates just one of many good reasons for teaching your baby as much ASL as you can manage.

Learning another language and culture is a huge benefit. Not only does it broaden your understanding and appreciation, it also increases your brainpower! It would be best, certainly, to teach your children (and yourself) to the point of fluency in ASL—and in several other languages as well. Even a little is much better than none, however. Children can sign before they can speak, and anyone who has experienced the frustration of not know what a screaming baby wants will appreciate this means of communication. Signing does not slow down speech acquisition, but rather accelerates it. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, March 1, 2005 at 12:00 pm | Edit
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Category Education: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]
The whole world is now following what once was just a Florida story: the tragedy of Terri Schiavo, the woman who collapsed 15 years ago and suffered severe brain injury due to lack of oxygen to her brain. She continues to survive—it's hard to call this "living"—in a nursing home, breathing on her own, but dependant on a feeding tube. Doctors say she is completely brain dead, her brain has atrophied, and what looks like reaction to stimulus is really only reflexive movement. Terri has no living will nor other end-of-life directive. Her husband insists that she would not wish to linger in this state, and is trying to have her feeding tube removed. Terri's parents, on the other hand, believe there is hope, and are fighting for their daughter's life. I do not presume to be able to judge either Terri's neurological state nor her desires, but wish to emphasize an aspect of this mess that has always seemed of primary importance, but which has been generally ignored. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, February 25, 2005 at 9:10 am | Edit
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Category Health: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]
In the Presence of My Enemies, by Gracia Burnham with Dean Merrill (Tyndale House, Wheaton, Illinois, 2003)

In May of 2001, Martin and Gracia Burnham took a one-day holiday from their busy work in the Philippines for the New Tribes Mission, celebrating their 28th anniversary at the Dos Palmas Resort in Palawan, a Philippine island province in the South China Sea. Their 29th anniversary would mark a year’s captivity among the Abu Sayyaf, a Filipino Muslim terrorist organization with ties to Osama bin Laden. They would not reach their 30th anniversary. Kidnapped from their beds along with several other people at Dos Palmas, the Burnhams were held for ransom under horrific conditions until a less-than-successful rescue attempt by the Filipino army on June 7, 2002. Gracia, wounded, was the only hostage to survive the rescue. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, February 24, 2005 at 12:52 pm | Edit
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It's not news that tea (Camellia sinensis) can be good for our health, offering benefits related to heart disease, cancer, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, dental health, and even weight loss. However, good things in excess do not always remain good, as in the case of the woman who drank one to two gallons of double-strength iced tea per day. Tea contains naturally elevated levels of fluoride, which is part of its contribution to good dental health. Too much fluoride in the diet can cause skeletal fluorosis, a painful condition in which bones become both more dense and more brittle. Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis tested regular strength preparations, in fluoride-free water, of several commercially available instant teas. Fluoride concentrations ranged from 1.0 to 6.5 parts per million. The maximum level allowed in drinking water is 4 ppm (Environmental Protection Agency), in bottled water and beverages the limit is 2.4 ppm (U. S. Food and Drug Administration), and the U.S. Public Health Service recommends a concentration in drinking water of no more than 1.2 ppm. Brewed and bottled teas were not included in this study.
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 at 11:13 am | Edit
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The Virus and the Vaccine: The True Story of a Cancer-Causing Monkey Virus, Contaminated Polio Vaccine, and the Millions of Americans Exposed, by Debbie Bookchin & Jim Schumacher (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2004)

Let me state at the outset that I am in favor of vaccinations. I’m very grateful to all those folks whose work has given us some measure of victory over so many horrible diseases. (And to the animals involved, whose sacrifices are usually even greater.) That said, it needs to be more clear that those little jabs to which we subject ourselves, our babies, and our soldiers, are neither miracle nor magic. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 at 7:30 am | Edit
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Category Reviews: [first] [previous] [next] [newest] Health: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]

When you walk into Heather and Jon's house, you can't miss the Periodic Table that takes up most of one wall. It was an extraordinary gift to Heather years ago from an extraordinary friend.

Science museums around the world should hope to have such extraordinary friends of their own so that they can acquire the new interactive Periodic Table displays produced through a partnership of Theodore Gray and the Red Green and Blue Company. If you can't wait until the exhibit is available at your local science museum, check it out online. If you can be deal with the relatively long download times, you can click on the individual elements and get a glimpse of how wonderful the physical display must be. I was most fascinated by how many of what I thought were unusual elements turn up in common use, something I first learned from The Radioactive Boy Scout(More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, February 21, 2005 at 7:46 am | Edit
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Category Education: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]
Government got it wrong on advice to pregnant women

Folic acid advice has had little impact on birth defects

Recommendations for women planning a pregnancy to take folic acid supplements have had no impact on the number of babies born with neural tube defects, says an international team of researchers.

Recommendations on use of folic acid consumption have had no detectable impact on the incidence of neural tube defects, according to an international study.

Upon reading these headlines and summaries, wouldn't you, as a pregnant woman taking folic acid supplements on the recommendation of your doctor, begin to think that you had been misled and might as well throw away your remaining pills? Doesn't it sound as if the relationship between folic acid deficiency and birth defects has been disproved? Not so! (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, February 18, 2005 at 9:02 am | Edit
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Category Health: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]
Having made so much of the Red Sox for their World Series win, I must also congratulate the Patriots for their Super Bowl performance. Not quite so heartily, however. For one thing, for the Patriots to win the big one is not quite so rare as for the Sox; for another, half my heart was also given to the Eagles. I care even less about professional football than about professional baseball, but I have pleasant associations with both teams' cities. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, February 7, 2005 at 6:51 am | Edit
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Category Everyday Life: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]
The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness, by Stephen R. Covey (Free Press, 2004)

Strictly speaking, this is not a review of Stephen Covey’s new book. The 8th Habit is in great demand at our library, so all I have done is read through it, making little attempt to think about the concepts, much less apply them. (I still have a long way to go in applying the concepts from Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and First Things First.) I will, however, allow myself a few comments: (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, February 3, 2005 at 9:08 am | Edit
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The Virus Within: A Coming Epidemic, by Nicholas Regush (Dutton, 2000)

I know that my brother had roseola when he was 14 months old, because I found mention of the episode in one of my father’s journals. Although it was not documented, I assume the rest of us also contracted the disease. Most children do, before they are two years old, often with symptoms so mild they evade diagnosis.

Although roseola was officially described in 1910, and studies in the early 1950’s led scientists to believe that it was caused by a virus, it was not until the 1980’s that the virus was isolated and named: Human Herpes Virus-6 (HHV-6). What was being discovered about this virus would have roused great concern, had not the attention of the scientific and medical communities, and the media, been overwhelmed by the more obvious medical problem of the time: AIDS. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, January 30, 2005 at 9:35 pm | Edit
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The Orlando Sentinel recently published a letter by a local community college professor expressing his disgust over a new Florida law that requires an American flag to be displayed in the classroom in which he teaches. I took issue with some of his points, and wrote a letter to the Sentinel in response. When the editor called to let me know that they would be publishing my letter, she very kindly said, "We haven't heard from you in a while." It's nice to be missed! You can read Professor Scolaro's letter and my response on the Sentinel website. I'm also putting mine below, in case the Sentinel link breaks, which it's bound to do eventually. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, January 27, 2005 at 9:49 pm | Edit
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Category Politics: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]
My friend knew she would get a reaction from me when she sent a page from the Kenyon College Alumni Bulletin. She might not have expected a blog entry, but she knew I would be upset. Amy Blumenthal's Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Read should disturb every parent. As many children do, Ms. Blumenthal's daughter suddenly discovered, in the middle of her kindergarten year, that she could read. Initially thrilled, she suddenly stopped, saying, "I don't want to read." When asked the reason, she replied, "Because my teacher doesn't want me to." (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, January 24, 2005 at 4:52 pm | Edit
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Category Education: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]
It seems ludicrous, with the thermometer reading a very pleasant 72 degrees, and the rest of our family enduring subzero temperatures and the prospect of up to two feet of snow, but we, too, are under a winter weather advisory. Conditions are expected to change rapidly tomorrow, bringing in the coldest temperatures of the season and the possibility of several hours of hard freeze. Where we live does not usually get the worst of what is predicted, but we'll have to keep a weather eye out. I hope we don't have to pick all the grapefruit off our tree at once!
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, January 22, 2005 at 5:54 pm | Edit
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Category Hurricanes and Such: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]
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