Monday, December 31, 2007

Play Ayiti

This is a super fun and free socially conscious online game. This is the objective:

The Guinard family of five is struggling to get by in rural Haiti ("Ayiti" in Haitian Creole). The father, Jean, and mother, Marie are doing their best to give their teenage son and daughter, Patrick and Jacquline, and their little boy, Yves, the best life possible.

The family has a simple home and a farm that earns them a little money. Jean and Marie have very little education, but they're working to help their kids get an education and improve their chances for a comfortable life.

There are a few international NGOs (non-government organizations) trying to help members of the impoverished community, but they need volunteers to get any major project off the ground.

The Guinard family faces some difficult challenges resulting from poverty, severe weather, and even potential violence. But if they're careful and lucky, they may have a chance at a better life.

You have four years to help the Guinard family as they confront the "cost of life." Good luck!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Honey proven better than cough syrup

And I tried it last night, and I think it really works! http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article2994822.ece

I try to be a "granola girl" but when I get sick, all of this goes out the window and I become a slave to drugs such as NyQuil. So this was an encouraging article, and I think it did help my cough last night.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Foldschool = Coolschool

This looks great - it says it is for "children" but I don't know why that can't mean me, too!

http://foldschool.com/_about/about_start/about_start.html

Friday, December 21, 2007

This is fun

http://yugop.com/

Once again, we see that math is fun!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

O Holy Night

O Holy Night is my favorite Christmas song, it has wonderful lyrics. I was reading that the song was written from a French poem, Cantique de Noël (this is the english translation):

Midnight, Christians is the solemn hour
When God as Man descended unto us
To erase the original stain (sin)
And end the wrath of his Father.
The entire world trembles with expectation
In this night that gives to us a Savior.

Fall on your knees, await your deliverance.
Noel, Noel, here is the Redeemer,
Noel, Noel, here is the Redeemer!

The redeemer has broken every shackle
The earth is free, and heaven is open.
He sees a brother where there was once only a slave
Those who had been chained together by iron, love now unites.
Who will tell Him of our gratitude
It is for every one of us that he was born, suffered and died.

Stand on your feet, sing of your deliverance.
Noel, Noel, sing of the Redeemer,
Noel, Noel, sing of the Redeemer!

And now in French, in case you can read French, or like Joanna, at least live in a country with French street-signs:

Minuit, chrétiens, c'est l'heure solennelle,
Où l'Homme-Dieu descendit jusqu'à nous
Pour effacer la tache originelle
Et de Son Père arrêter le courroux.
Le monde entier tressaille d'espérance
En cette nuit qui lui donne un Sauveur.

Peuple à genoux, attends ta délivrance.
Noël, Noël, voici le Rédempteur,
Noël, Noël, voici le Rédempteur!

De notre foi que la lumière ardente
Nous guide tous au berceau de l'Enfant,
Comme autrefois une étoile brillante
Y conduisit les chefs de l'Orient.
Le Roi des rois naît dans une humble crèche:
Puissants du jour, fiers de votre grandeur,

A votre orgueil, c'est de là que Dieu prêche.
Courbez vos fronts devant le Rédempteur.
Courbez vos fronts devant le Rédempteur.

Le Rédempteur a brisé toute entrave:
La terre est libre, et le ciel est ouvert.
Il voit un frère où n'était qu'un esclave,
L'amour unit ceux qu'enchaînait le fer.
Qui Lui dira notre reconnaissance,
C'est pour nous tous qu'Il naît,
Qu'Il souffre et meurt.

Peuple debout! Chante ta délivrance,
Noël, Noël, chantons le Rédempteur,
Noël, Noël, chantons le Rédempteur!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Rommate Christmas

I love my roommates, they are wonderful. They gave me such lovely and thoughtful gifts for Christmas. My two favorites were (1) a handmade-paper journal (the paper actually has real rose pieces! And it comes with a matching pen!) and (2) my first ever action figure. I have never owned an action figure and never understood them, but now I do! It's perfect.

That's right - it is a librarian action figure! Her name is Nancy Pearl and she's a real librarian! She is holding a copy of a book she wrote called "Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason". I always thought being a librarian would be so cool! It's like a secret dream job. And now I have an action figure. Very exciting.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Upgraded!

I am so excited, I was asked to be a dear friend's personal attendant in her wedding next May (which I was very excited about), but today I have been upgraded to a bridesmaid! So I get to be a bridesmaid again. I love weddings.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Funny Quote of the Day

In an article from ChristianityToday about whether or not Christians should have cosmetic surgery:

I'm not sure why I thought this was so funny, but I am still laughing...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Word Puzzle of the Day

Eloping = Happiness?

(haha!  Sorry, for those of you who do not know, I am having a wonderful vacation this week helping my dear friend Joanna get married next weekend.  I think she would say "yes" to the above equation by today...)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

This is a motivating reason not to overeat at Thanksgiving...

From: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/20/health/nutrition/20well.html?ref=health
Ate Too Much? Tight Pants May Be the Smallest Worry

Top of Form 1

By TARA PARKER-POPE
Published: November 20, 2007
This week marks the beginning of the gluttony season, the time when even the most health-conscious diner succumbs to the temptations of the holiday buffet.

Daniel Horowitz
But is pigging out during the holidays a harmless indulgence or a real health worry? Indigestion, flatulence and the need to unbutton tight pants are the most common symptoms triggered by the Thanksgiving Day binge. But vast helpings of turkey, stuffing and candied sweet potatoes can take a more serious toll. Big meals can raise the risk for heart attack, gallbladder pain and dangerous drowsiness on the drive home.

Every bite of food, whether it’s part of a huge Thanksgiving meal or a weekday lunch, travels on its own fantastic journey through the body, touching off a simultaneous release of hormones, chemicals and digestive fluids. The average meal takes 1 to 3 hours to leave the stomach. But a large meal can take 8 to 12 hours, depending on the quantity and fat content.

The average American consumes about 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat throughout Thanksgiving Day, according to the Calorie Control Council, which represents makers of low-calorie foods. “It’s like a tsunami of fat coming into the body,” said Dr. Pamela Peeke, assistant clinical professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Average stomach capacity is about 8 cups, although it can range from 4 to 12, said Dr. Edward Saltzman, an assistant professor of medicine at Tufts University. A stretched stomach prompts the release of chemicals that tell the brain it’s full. But some holiday diners, faced with a sumptuous buffet of mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie, keep eating.

Experts say the ability to ignore satiety signals is an evolutionary adaptation that helped build fat stores during times of plenty. Even so, the body eventually puts a stop to the binge. After about 1,500 calories in one sitting, the gut releases a hormone that causes nausea, says Susan B. Roberts, director of the energy metabolism laboratory at Tufts.

Although your stomach may feel as if it will burst, gastric rupture is extremely rare, notes Dr. William Goldberg, a New York emergency room physician whose book “Why Do Men Have Nipples?” explores the issue. The problem is usually limited to people with major eating disorders; in a study of people who had died with Prader-Willi syndrome, which causes excessive overeating, about 3 percent of the deaths were due to stomach rupture, said Dr. David Stevenson, an assistant professor at the University of Utah.

But while your stomach won’t burst after a big Thanksgiving meal, overeating will make your body work harder. The extra digestive workload demanded by a food binge requires the heart to pump more blood to the stomach and intestines. Heavy consumption of fatty foods can also lead to changes that cause blood to clot more easily, said Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, a researcher at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.

As a result, heart attack risk appears to surge. Dr. Lopez-Jimenez led one study of 2,000 people that showed a fourfold increase in heart attack risk in the two hours after eating a big meal. Israeli researchers reported a sevenfold risk. “Someone who eats three times the normal calories of a regular meal will have an extra workload for the stomach and intestines and therefore the heart,” Dr. Lopez-Jimenez said.

Dr. Goldberg says the digestive workout may also explain the “food coma” many people experience after a big meal. Although popular wisdom holds that Thanksgiving drowsiness is caused by tryptophan, an amino acid found in turkey, Dr. Goldberg notes that the amount isn’t significant enough to affect most people.

For most people, food fatigue just brings on the need for a nap, but for travelers it is also a safety risk. “A lot of families as soon as they are done eating say, ‘Let’s get back on the road,’” said Dr. Carol Ash, the medical director of Sleep for Life, a sleep disorders program in Hillsborough, N.J. Dr. Ash notes that food fatigue, along with holiday alcohol consumption, the monotony of driving and a natural circadian dip late in the day all make for a lethal combination behind the wheel.

As the stomach releases food into the intestines, the gallbladder begins to squeeze out bile to help with fat digestion. Like the rest of the body, it has to work harder after a big meal a frequent cause of gallstone attacks, which occur when clusters of solid material get stuck in the narrow duct that connects the organ to the intestine. These attacks are seldom fatal, but the pain mimics a heart attack and can be excruciating. Many people don’t know they have gallstones until an attack occurs.

Large meals increase the risk for flatulence, because bits of undigested food slip into the colon and begin to ferment. And people with existing health problems that require special diets have to be careful about their intake of salt, fat and calories at Thanksgiving.

Simple strategies can help minimize the gluttony. Keep the serving dishes in the kitchen, so you won’t take extra helpings mindlessly. Use smaller serving spoons and plates. In one study, Brian Wansink, a researcher at Cornell University, found that the bigger the bowl and serving spoon, the more ice cream people tended to eat.

Stick to foods that require utensils we eat finger foods faster than those that require a fork.
Finally, contribute to the dinnertime conversation. The more you talk, the less you’ll eat.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Math is Beautiful

Interesting Article

I found this fascinating.  From: http://www.henryinstitute.org/commentary_read.php?cid=412
An Anthill on Which to Die: What a Colony of Insects Could Teach Us About the Church
Sunday, November 18, 2007
A Princeton biologist has found Jesus in an anthill. No, he didn't discover a Last Supper scene made of bread crumbs. And, no, he wasn't the victim of a new coercive form of evangelism. In fact, I don't know if he's ever thought about Jesus at all. But he's found a laboratory-based, grant-funded way to say something quite old: "Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways and be wise" (Prov 6:5).

According to the International Herald Tribune, Princeton University mathematical biologist Iain Couzin is constructing a computer model to detail how army ants are able to move from colony to colony without "a mad, disorganized scramble." Couzin expresses awe that these tiny, relatively simple, organisms can build intricate highways and food-delivery systems without ever experiencing gridlock. Humans can learn a thing or two here, he suggests.

Now, at first glance, nothing seems further from the spiritual life of most Christians or from the mission of most churches than an Ivy League entomology study. But, what if our listening to this researcher will astound us even further about the wisdom of our Christ in the same way the Hubble telescope photographs cause us to gasp anew at the old truth that the heavens declare the glory of God?

Most Christians are familiar with Solomon's admonition to look to the ant (Prov 6:6-11). Our children sing songs about it. Our leadership manuals teach us to plan for retirement based on it. Most of us, however, tend to see this as helpful, homespun advice about good hard work. It makes sense to us, but it hits us with all the spiritual gravity of "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy and wealthy and wise." But there's much more here.

Solomon tells us that there is wisdom to be gained from looking at a mound of ants. And, for Solomon, as for Jesus and his apostles, wisdom isn't data. Wisdom is a way one walks, a voice one hears, a Person one knows. The way the Proverbs tell us about, the structure of the universe, the Scripture tells us is a Logos, through whom God made everything that was made. Jesus of Nazareth is, Paul tells us, "the wisdom of God and the power of God" (1 Cor 1:24).

This is why, as I've argued elsewhere, laziness, right along with discord, gluttony, gossip, lack of self-control and every other form of folly mentioned in Scripture is not just a character flaw. Our foolishness tells us whether or not we are walking in wisdom. Since we know the Wisdom of which Solomon spoke (Matt 12:42), our laziness or ineffectiveness or lack of foresight tells us much about how we are following Christ.

The ants show us a design God has placed in the structure of the cosmos, a grain we'll either work with or against, as we follow Jesus in assuming our stewardship of our callings in the world. Solomon's counsel to look to the ant is itself an indictment of a humanity in rebellion against its Creator. After all, God commanded Adam and Eve in the beginning to "work and keep" the Garden, and to exercise dominion over "every creeping thing that creeps on the earth" (Gen 1:26).

Now, a fallen humanity, turned away from their Creator, must be told to learn from the dominion exercised by one of the tiniest of all "creeping things": the ant. Solomon points to the foresight and effectiveness of the ant in storing food for winter (Prov 6:8). He admires the fact that the ant labors without coercion, or even direction from any chief officer or ruler (Prov 6:7).

Because we are future kings and queens of the universe in Christ, the Scripture has much to say about how we work in this time between the times. This is why so much of the Scripture is spent counseling Christians against idleness or insubordination. But, in this present age, the reign of Christ is seen in the church (Eph 1:20-22), a rule that is seen in His working through the Holy Spirit through gifts for the purpose of upbuilding the Kingdom community (Eph 4:1-16).

And that's where the ant research gets really interesting.
Couzin argues that the secret of ant effectiveness is the use of swarms. The insects are able, he says, to travel through any type of terrain without problem because they use their living bodies as bridges. "They build them up if they're required, and they dissolve if they're not being used," he concludes. But how do millions of ants know how to do this, without running all over each other?

While Couzin hasn't completely solved this one, he argues that chemical markers set forth "rules" that the ants follow, rules that wouldn't make sense for any individual ant, only for the swarm as a whole. "These rules allow thousands of relatively simple animals to form a collective brain able to make decisions and move as if they were a single organism," the Herald Tribune reports.

I stopped in mid-sentence when I read that line, and felt the hair on my arms stand on end.
Thousands of years ago, Solomon told us to look to the ants and be wise. It wasn't just, as we often suppose, that the ants work hard. It was that they are able to work effectively despite the very mystery this study seeks to unravel: they have no chief officer or ruler. The way they're able to do it, this study tells us, is through one body with many members, all keeping in step with a common instinct. In so doing, they become, though legion, one organism with a collective mind.

Paul warned the church at Corinth that the mission of the congregation was jeopardized by a wisdom of this world that was, in fact, folly. The foolishness was a discord in the church, over leadership and spiritual gifts, that threatened to signal that Christ himself was divided (1 Cor 10-13). Paul, like Solomon points them to a hidden wisdom that is found not in the philosophers' writings but in the "low and despised" things of the universe (1 Cor 1:28).

The congregation shouldn't splinter apart into quarreling because, he tells us, "we have the mind of Christ" (1 Cor 2:16). There shouldn't be rivalry or jockeying for position because "you are the body of Christ and individually members in it," all various parts led by a central nervous system with a name, a birth date, and a manger he previously called home.

I wonder how often our ineffectiveness at our mission as congregations has less to do with a commitment to "excellence," and more to do with a refusal to see ourselves first ecclesially and only second personally. Perhaps our churches are so immature precisely because we see ourselves first in terms of our personal ambitions, our personal careers, our personal lives.

I wonder how much of the deadness and silliness in our churches has less to do with a laziness that refuses to toss aside individual glory for the unity of the church, a laziness that refuses to set aside one's preferences to discern the mind of Christ. I wonder if we really get that we are all individually tiny components of a vast, multinational organism, one that spans the globe and the centuries?

Maybe the first step to wisdom is to recognize that the church itself, even with all of our flaws and foibles and fallibilities, reveals the "manifold wisdom of God" (Eph 3:10), a wisdom so awesome that our Maker designed an entire universe embedded with likenesses of it?

Yes, our highways are gridlocked, but our churches are often more so. Maybe what we need isn't to sit through one more corporate leadership seminar. Maybe what we need is to stop the Wednesday business meeting and walk outside to turn over an anthill.

And maybe, just maybe, if we have eyes to see, we'll find Jesus there.
All Scripture references are from the English Standard Version (ESV).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A New Journal

I am quite excited, it is nearly time to begin a new journal. A new journal is always a momentous occasion, as it signifies a new season in my life, new blank pages to fill! And my new journal is especially pretty, so this is a major part of my new excitement.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Tempting

This item fulfills so many of my non-logical desires: it's a miniature working version of something real, it runs on USB (!) and it is useful. See the excitement for yourself!!

http://www.containerstore.com/browse/Product.jhtml?CATID=77339&PRODID=10015577

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Track your finances: Use Expensr!

I have been looking for an online, free and easy-to-use personal expense site, and thanks to great find from Sam P., I think it has been found!!

https://www.expensr.com/

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Canadian Adventure 2007

This is a picture of the exciting adventure I will be taking in 22 days! I will be using FOUR types of transportation to get from Iowa to Grand Manan Island, Canada.
Drive: Iowa to Chicago (to stay with Rachna!)
Fly: Chicago to Maine
Bus: Maine to Saint John
?: Saint John to near island
Ferry: to island!

Monday, November 05, 2007

It's Snowing!

I actually am not a big fan of the "seasons of death" (a.k.a. Fall and Winter), but I figure, as long as it is ridiculously cold, it might as well snow! So I am a little happy.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Friday, November 02, 2007

Favorite Quote of the Week

"Suppose, I said, a couple of you students, Jason and Sarah, were walking to McDonald’s after dark. And suppose a man with a knife jumped out of the bushes and threatened you. And suppose Jason knows that Sarah has a black belt in karate and could probably disarm the assailant better than he could. Should he step back and tell her to do it? No. He should step in front of her and be ready to lay down his life to protect her, irrespective of competency. It is written on his soul. That is what manhood does.

And collectively that is what society doesunless the men have all been emasculated by the suicidal songs of egalitarian folly. "

- John Piper, writing on Co-ed Combat and Cultural Cowardice (http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/TasteAndSee/ByDate/2007/2475_Coed_Combat_and_Cultural_Cowardice/)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Kayak Adventure 2007!

Today I went kayaking for the first time ever! It was great. The weather was great and the river was beautiful. I went with my dear friend Dianna and a new friend, Sarah. We went on the Iowa river (blue squiggly line below):




























Dianna and I























































Sunday, October 28, 2007

"I am a hairdresser, I heal people"

That wonderful line is from a good movie I watched with my roommates this evening, "The Beauty Academy of Kabul" which is about some women from the US who went to Afghanistan to start a beauty school. It is actually a great movie, but some of the US women were interesting...and funny.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Beautiful Beans!


I ordered some exciting and exotic beans last week! And tonight I am making cow-bean soup, here is a picture of some red/white and black/white cow beans. Where did I order these wonderful beans? Here: http://www.purcellmountainfarms.com/Heirloom%20Beans.htm

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Detroit Adventure 2007!



Here are some semi-exciting pictures:




Sunset from the plane and Detroit at night from the plane:











And then some shopping at a cool grocery store that isn't in Iowa. The conference food is bad and expensive, so we bought lunch + exciting treats.































Wednesday, October 03, 2007

God Loves Energy Conservation

Ok, I'm not sure if I can support this from the Bible, but if I could figure how to do this without grossing out my roommates, I would totally try it:

http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20070922/note15.asp

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Weekend Fall Pictures

I took some fall pictures this weekend! Perhaps you are wondering what this picture is (of the little building) - this one is the most exciting of all! My community group built a "sukkot" on Friday night - I will write more soon.

I think my fall pictures from last year were more exciting...though I think I took them later in the year when there was more color.

Friday, September 28, 2007

"Tact Filters"

I thought this was funny - now the question is: what am I?!

On 'nerds', 'normal people', and 'tact filters'

All people have a "tact filter", which applies tact in one direction to everything that passes through it. Most "normal people" have the tact filter positioned to apply tact in the outgoing direction. Thus whatever normal people say gets the appropriate amount of tact applied to it before they say it. This is because when they were growing up, their parents continually drilled into their heads statements like, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all!"

"Nerds," on the other hand, have their tact filter positioned to apply tact in the incoming direction. Thus, whatever anyone says to them gets the appropriate amount of tact added when they hear it. This is because when nerds were growing up, they continually got picked on, and their parents continually drilled into their heads statements like, "They're just saying those mean things because they're jealous. They don't really mean it."

When normal people talk to each other, both people usually apply the appropriate amount of tact to everything they say, and no one's feelings get hurt. When nerds talk to each other, both people usually apply the appropriate amount of tact to everything they hear, and no one's feelings get hurt. However, when normal people talk to nerds, the nerds often get frustrated because the normal people seem to be dodging the real issues and not saying what they really mean. Worse yet, when nerds talk to normal people, the normal people's feelings often get hurt because the nerds don't apply tact, assuming the normal person will take their blunt statements and apply whatever tact is necessary.

So, nerds need to understand that normal people have to apply tact to everything they say; they become really uncomfortable if they can't do this. Normal people need to understand that despite the fact that nerds are usually tactless, things they say are almost never meant personally and shouldn't be taken that way. Both types of people need to be extra patient when dealing with someone whose tact filter is backwards relative to their own.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Super Fun Web Site!

Move your mouse up and down to change the time of day in Hong Kong! Yea!

http://61226.com/share/hk.swf

Monday, September 24, 2007

Book Report: The Giver

I am thankful to have a 3rd/4th grade teacher as one of my roommates, and she recommends new children's books to me. So, this Sunday I read "The Giver" by Lois Lawry. It is set in a future dystopic (anti-utopic) society where a society has done away with feelings, emotion, pain and strife for safety, but this has also removed any emotional depth from their life too (along with pain and suffering, love and joy are taken away too). Anyway, it was an interesting book!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Strange but True

http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,22439156-5012895,00.html

This is a strange/wild story, but it made me think that adultery really does begin in the heart. I found it interesting that the two people wanted a divorce, even though some would say they didn't "actually commit adultery" - but really, they did.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Liberals are smarter :)

I thought this was interesting. It also has a funny elephant picture. It is from here: http://www.slate.com/id/2173965/fr/flyout

Liberal InterpretationRigging a study to make conservatives look stupid.Illustration by Rob Donnelly. Click image to expand.

Are liberals smarter than conservatives?

It looks that way, according to a study published this week in Nature Neuroscience. In a rapid response test—you press a button if you're given one signal, but not if you're given a different signal—the authors found that conservatives were "more likely to make errors of commission," whereas "stronger liberalism was correlated with greater accuracy." They concluded that "a more conservative orientation is related to greater persistence in a habitual response pattern, despite signals that this response pattern should change."

Does this mean liberal brains are fitter? Apparently. "Liberals are more responsive to informational complexity, ambiguity and novelty," the authors wrote. New York University, which helped fund the study, concluded, "Liberals are more likely than are conservatives to respond to cues signaling the need to change habitual responses." The study's lead author, NYU professor David Amodio, told London's Daily Telegraph that "liberals tended to be more sensitive and responsive to information that might conflict with their habitual way of thinking."

Habitual way of thinking. Informational complexity. Need to change. Those are sweeping terms. They imply that conservatives, on average, are adaptively weaker at thinking, not just button-pushing. And that implication has permeated the press. The Los Angeles Times told readers that the study "suggests that liberals are more adaptable than conservatives" and "might be better judges of the facts." Agence France Presse reported that conservatives in the study "were less flexible, refusing to deviate from old habits 'despite signals that this ... should be changed.' " The Guardian asserted, "Scientists have found that the brains of people calling themselves liberals are more able to handle conflicting and unexpected information."

These reports convey four interwoven claims. First, conservatives cling more inflexibly to old ways of thinking. Second, they're less responsive to information. Third, they're more obtuse to complexity and ambiguity. Fourth, they're less likely to change when the evidence says they should.

Let's take the claims one by one.

1. Habitual ways of thinking. Here's what the experiment actually entailed, according to the authors' supplementary document:

[E]ither the letter "M" or "W" was presented in the center of a computer monitor screen. … Half of the participants were instructed to make a "Go" response when they saw "M" but to make no response when they saw "W"; the remaining participants completed a version in which "W" was the Go stimulus and "M" was the No–Go stimulus. … Responses were registered on a computer keyboard placed in the participants' laps. … Participants received a two-minute break halfway through the task, which took approximately 15 minutes to complete.

Fifteen minutes is a habit? Tapping a keyboard is a way of thinking? Come on. You can make a case for conservative inflexibility, but not with this study.

2. Responsiveness to information. Again, let's consult the supplementary document:

Each trial began with a fixation point, presented for 500 ms. The target then appeared for 100 ms, followed by a blank screen. Participants were instructed to respond within 500 ms of target onset. A "Too slow!" warning message appeared after responses that exceeded this deadline, and "Incorrect" feedback was given after erroneous responses.

An "ms"—millisecond—is one-thousandth of a second. That means participants had one-tenth of a second to look at the letter and another four-tenths of a second to hit the button. One letter, one-tenth of a second. This is "information"?


3. Complexity and ambiguity. Go back and look at the first word of the excerpt from the supplementary document. The word is either. Participants were shown an M or a W. No complexity, no ambiguity. You could argue that showing them a series of M's and then surprising them with a W injects some complexity and ambiguity. But that complexity is crushed by the simplicity of the letter choice and the split-second deadline. As Amodio explained to the Sacramento Bee, "It's too quick for you to think consciously about what you're doing." So, why did he impose such a brutal deadline? "It needs to be hard enough that people make a lot of errors," he argued, since—in the Bee's paraphrase of his remarks—"the errors are the most interesting thing to study."

In other words, complexity and ambiguity weren't tested; they were excluded. The study was designed to prevent them—and conscious thought in general—because, for the authors' purposes, such lifelike complications would have made the results less interesting. Personally, I'd be more interested in a study that invited such complications—examining, for instance, whether conservatives, having resisted doubts about the wisdom of the status quo, are more likely than liberals to doubt the wisdom of change.

4. Maladaptiveness. The scientific core of the study is a hypothesized brain function called "conflict monitoring." The reason why liberals scored better than conservatives, the authors argued, is that the brain area responsible for this function was, by electrical measurement, more active in them than in conservatives.

The authors described CM as "a general mechanism for detecting when one's habitual response tendency is mismatched with responses required by the current situation." NYU's press release called it "a mechanism for detecting when a habitual response is not appropriate for a new situation." Amodio told the press that CM was "the process of detecting conflict between an ongoing pattern of behavior and a signal that says that something's wrong with that behavior and you need to change it."

The indictment sounds scientific: CM spots errors; conservatives are less sensitive to CM; therefore, conservatives make more errors. But the original definition of CM, written six years ago by the researchers who hypothesized it, didn't presume that the habitual response was wrong, inappropriate, or objectively mismatched with current requirements. It presumed only that a stimulus had challenged the habit. According to the original definition, CM is "a system that monitors for the occurrence of conflicts in information processing." It "evaluates current levels of conflict, then passes this information on to centers responsible for control, triggering them to adjust the strength of their influence on processing."

In experiments such as Amodio's, the habit is objectively wrong: You tapped the button, and the researcher knows that what you saw was a W. But real life is seldom that simple. Maybe what you saw—what you think you saw—will turn out to require a different response from the one that has hitherto served you well. Maybe it won't. Maybe, on average, extra sensitivity to such conflicting cues will lead to better decisions. Maybe it won't. Extra CM sensitivity does make you more likely to depart from your habit. But that doesn't prove it's more adaptive.

Frank Sulloway, a Berkeley professor who co-authored a damning psychological analysis of conservatism four years ago, illustrates the problem. Appearing in the Times as a researcher "not connected to the study"—despite having co-written his similar 2003 analysis with one of its authors—Sulloway endorsed the study and pointed out, "There is ample data from the history of science showing that social and political liberals indeed do tend to support major revolutions in science." That's true: When new ideas turn out to be right, liberals are vindicated. But when new ideas turn out to be wrong, they cease to be "revolutions in science," so it's hard to keep score of liberalism's net results. And that's in science, where errors, being relatively factual, are easiest to prove and correct. In culture and politics, errors can be unrecoverable.

The conservative case against this study is easy to make. Sure, we're fonder of old ways than you are. That's in our definition. Some of our people are obtuse; so are some of yours. If you studied the rest of us in real life, you'd find that while we second-guess the status quo less than you do, we second-guess putative reforms more than you do, so in terms of complexity, ambiguity, and critical thinking, it's probably a wash. Also, our standard of "information" is a bit tougher than the blips and fads you fall for. Sometimes, these inclinations lead us astray. But over the long run, they've served us and society pretty well. It's just that you notice all the times we were wrong and ignore all the times we were right.

In fact, that's exactly what you've done in this study: You've manufactured a tiny world of letters, half-seconds, and button-pushing, so you can catch us in clear errors and keep out the part of life where our tendencies correct yours. And now you feel great about yourselves. Congratulations. You haven't told us much about our way of thinking. But you've told us a lot about yours.



Friday, September 14, 2007

The joy of men and community

I am so happy right now - three men from the Lampost just came to my house and (1) fixed our garage door opener (the garage wouldn't shut right), (2) fixed my timer-light outside of the garage (we have been fumbling for our keys in the dark for a long time now!) and (3) found a cool old typewriter in our garage!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Global Warming?

This is an interesting study of temperature data measurements that are (apparently) used for the national weather database. It's funny! And horrible science if it is true. http://www.norcalblogs.com/watts/weather_stations/

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Super Site!

http://www.rhettandlink.com/

So many exciting things here! These are the authors of the 'facebook' song! Thank you to Forrest for the good find!

My favorite so far is this one, it speaks to my heart and thoughts I have had while in the airport

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Great Scientific Find

From: http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20070908/bob9.asp

"Closer examination of the full human genome is now causing scientists to return to some questions they thought they had settled. For one, they're revisiting the very notion of what a gene is. Rather than being distinct segments of code amid otherwise empty stretches of DNA—like houses along a barren country road—single genes are proving to be fragmented, intertwined with other genes, and scattered across the whole genome. Even more surprisingly, the junk DNA may not be junk after all. "

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Super Cool

I learned this yesterday and I am not sure I can quite comprehend the coolness of it yet - did you know that you can text message google, and google will text message you back!? Yes! It will give you driving directions and answers to simple queries!

http://www.google.com/intl/en_us/mobile/sms/

Friday, August 31, 2007

Ride Across the Lake!

In honor of Forrest being in Japan and my enjoyment of cycling, I thought this was nice:

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Choices

Valley of Vision wins again for expressing what I have been thinking lately, but much more eloquently.

O God,
Though I am allowed to approach thee
I am not unmindful of my sins,
I do not deny my guilt,
I confess my wickedness, and earnestly plead forgiveness

May I with Moses choose affliction rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin.
Help me to place myself always under thy guiding and guardian care,
to take firmer hold of the sure covenant that binds me to thee,
to feel more of the purifying, dignifying, softening influence of the religion I profess,
to have more compassion, love, pity, courtesy,
to deem it an honour to be employed by thee
as an instrument in thy hands,
ready to seize every opportunity of usefulness,
and willing to offer all my talents to thy service.

Thou hast done for me all things well,
has remembered, distinguished, indulged me.
All my desires have not been gratified,
but thy love denied them to me
when fulfillment of my wishes would have
proved my ruin or injury.
My trials have been fewer than my sins,
and when I have kissed the rod it has fallen from thy hands.
Thou has often wiped away my tears,
restored peace to my mourning heart,
chastened me for my profit.
All thy work for me is perfect,
and I praise thee.

Things I wanted to buy today

Why am I fascinated by USB products? I don't know, but I am!


http://usb.brando.com.hk/prod_detail.php?prod_id=00339&cat_id=035&dept_id=015

http://usb.brando.com.hk/prod_detail.php?prod_id=00332

Monday, August 27, 2007

Eternity

This is from one of my favorite books, "A Severe Mercy" by Sheldon Vanauken.  I find it a compelling (though not complete by any means) argument that humans were created for eternity, and not just for this world.

    How strange that we cannot love time. It spoils our loveliest moments. Nothing quite comes up to expectations because of it. We alone: animals, so far as we can see, are unaware of time, untroubled. Time is their natural environment. Why do we sense that it is not ours? C. S. Lewis…asked how it was that I, as a product of a materialistic universe, was not at home there. "Do fish complain of the sea for being wet? Or if they did, would that fact itself not strongly suggest that they had not always been, or would not always be, purely aquatic creatures?" Then, if we complain of time and take such joy in the seemingly timeless moment, what does that suggest? It suggests that we have not always been or will not always be purely temporal creatures. It suggest that we were created for eternity. Not only are we harried by time, we seem unable, despite a thousand generations, even to get used to it. We are always amazed at it - how fast it goes, how slowly it goes, how much of it is gone. Where, we cry, has the time gone? We aren't adapted to it, not at home in it. If that is so, it may appear as a proof, or at least a powerful suggestion, that eternity exists and is our home.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

NutritionData.com

Another favorite website - www.NutritionData.com - it is so cool! It gives not only the calories and other basic nutritional content information, but minerals and all sorts of information you never wanted to even think about!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Facebook Song

A song all about Facebook! Very catchy.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Favorite Site: www.MapMyRun.com

I have decided I need to fill out a "favorite links" section on my page, so I will give a review of why each link is my favorite. www.mapmyrun.com has to be one of the coolest things I have found in a long time. Reasons why:

(1) You can map (using google maps/satellite images) your walk/run/bike ride and
(a) Know how far your route is!
(b) Save your route (so you can use it again!)
(c) Log your route to your 'training log'

This picture is one of my favorite routes!










(2) The aforementioned 'training log' - it keeps track of what you have done! And you can make graphs! And charts! This is what August looks like so far for me:

Monday, August 06, 2007

Books: A Severe Mercy

Since I have apparently stopped finishing books (no new LibraryThings for quite some time), I have decided to start adding older favorite books to my online library. A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken is one of my most favorite books, I highly recommend it. It is the story of the author's passionate relationship with his wife and their search for spiritual truth. I should read it again soon.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Segway: A Pedestrian Friend or Foe?

I say foe! If you are not aware of the evil known as "Segway" see here. No, I am being too dramatic, as Segways are not evil, but it seems strange to me that many cities are purchasing them for their police forces rather than bicycles. See the stats below - bikes just seem so much cheaper, faster, and more efficient! My comments are in red. I am not sure why I have such antipathy towards Segways. Please know that I am only against Segways or other motorized vehicles for able-bodied and healthy persons.

Article from: http://www.planetizen.com/node/50

The Segway: A Pedestrian Friend or Foe?

6 May 2002 - 12:00am
Author: Andy Clarke
What are the major planning issues involved in the use of the Segway, and should motorized transporters be allowed on sidewalks?

Andy ClarkeWhat is the Segway?
The Segway Human Transporter (SHT) is described as "the first self-balancing, electric-powered transportation device." The rider stands on a small platform supported 6 to 8 inches off the ground by two parallel wheels; holds onto handlebars that are used to steer the device; when the rider leans forward the SHT moves forward and when the rider leans back the SHT moves back or stops.

How big is the Segway?
The SHT comes in three models. The personal transport model is 16 inches long, 21 inches wide, and weighs 69 pounds. Slightly larger models are available for commercial/industrial use; they are 19 inches long, 25 inches wide and weigh up to 95 pounds. The heaviest bikes usually weigh less than 35 pounds.

How fast is the Segway?
The Segway is capable of speeds up to 20 miles per hour. A speed-governing key is used to limit the speed of the personal transport model to 10 miles per hour, or "three times faster than the average walker." The commercial/industrial models are set with a top speed of 12.5 miles per hour. Bicycles can go faster than 20 miles per hour and also have a built-in speed governing system (your legs).

How far can the Segway go?
The personal transport model will go between 9 and 14 miles on single charge; the commercial/industrial model will go up to 17 miles per charge. Need I say more?

How much weight can the Segway carry?
The SHT is designed to carry a person up to 250 pounds. The cargo version has an additional capacity to carry 75 pounds and a trailer is under development that will have a further capacity of 300 pounds or more.

When will the SHT be available?
Demonstration models are currently being tested and used at trade shows and other venues. The personal transport model is expected to be available in late 2002.

Where can I get more information?
www.segway.com has a lot of additional promotional and technical information.

Why has the Segway become a legislative/public policy issue?
Segway Human TransporterThe manufacturers of the Segway have launched an aggressive lobbying campaign to amend state and Federal law to ensure that the device is not regulated as a motorized vehicle and that it is able to operate on sidewalks and trails rather than the road. Legislation to achieve these goals has been introduced in the US Senate and most states.

What is being proposed at the Federal level?
Senate Bill 2024, introduced by Senator Bob Smith (R-NH), would allow the use of the Segway on federally funded sidewalks and trails, when state or local regulations permit.

What is being proposed at the state level?
While the specific legislative proposals are slightly different in every state, the general goal of the legislative campaign is to classify the Segway as a pedestrian and permit use of the sidewalk unless a local jurisdiction specifically bans them. The bills also typically restrict the Segway to streets with a speed limit of 25 miles per hour or less if a sidewalk is not available.

The March 8 issue of Urban Transportation Monitor reported that "the [Segway] company has provided model bills and testified before 45 state legislatures…Of those 45, 21 states have legislation pending and 5 states (NH, NJ, NM, NC, and SD) have passed legislation regarding how and where the EPAMD can be used."


What are the concerns/objections to the Segway being treated as a pedestrian?

  • The impact of collisions with pedestrians
  • The impact of collisions between Segway users (especially operating in limited space)
  • The threat and discomfort felt by pedestrians which may discourage walking and use of sidewalks
  • Competition for already limited space on the sidewalk
  • Likelihood of crashes between Segway users and motorists (the two most common causes of bicycle/motor vehicle crashes are bicyclists riding against traffic the wrong way, and riding on the sidewalk, both of which the Segway would presumably be doing. At every driveway and intersection, bicyclists/segway riders must negotiate drivers who are not looking for them or expecting them to be going so fast)
  • This sets a precedent for other motorized vehicles such as scooters which may be even less appropriate to use on sidewalks
  • There is no way to enforce speed limits set by state/Federal law
  • The speed governing mechanism on the Segway can be easily over-ridden
  • We have no research on the operating characteristics of the vehicle or the rider
  • The social justice impacts of allowing an expensive device available to a limited population to dominate public space
  • Sidewalks have been designed for use at walking speeds, not "three times faster than normal walking speed"
  • What happens where sidewalks don't exist or come to a stop and the road has speeds in excess of 25mph?


What are some other concerns about the Segway?

  • Promotes a more sedentary lifestyle when we should be promoting walking as healthy physical activity
  • Promotion of the Segway has been disingenuous:
    • it is a motorized device even if the phrase "electric personal assistive mobility device" seems designed to disguise this
    • we don't know if it can be safely integrated into the pedestrian environment as the makers claim
    • use of the phrase "assistive mobility device" may incorrectly suggest that it serves people with disabilities in the same way a wheelchair does
    • the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was persuaded not to treat the Segway as a motorized vehicle, leaving regulation in the hands of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, even though the Segway has a motor
  • Promotion of the Segway legislative campaign has not considered or included those most affected: pedestrians and bicyclists
  • Promotion of the Segway distracts from serious issues of bicycle and pedestrian safety and access
  • The current crop of legislative proposals will result in inconsistent and confusing treatment of the device from one state to another and from one community to another
  • The legal status of the user is unclear or is inappropriate: should a Segway user follow the rules of the road?
  • The current legislative campaign usurps local control over the use of the device and places the onus on localities to prohibit use of the device rather than make a positive decision to permit use of the device where appropriate
  • Operation of the Segway in the roadway may be problematic with the speed differential between motor vehicles and the Segway
  • There are unanswered questions about the licensing, training, and regulation of Segway users, and regulation of the equipment that should be required for the operation of the device (e.g. helmets, lights and reflectors, DUI)


What are the positive aspects of the Segway?

  • The Segway will provide mobility assistance to some people unable to walk or walk very far or fast
  • There are practical and valuable commercial uses for the device
  • If the Segway is used on streets it may help make more use of bike lanes and reclaim space from motor vehicles
  • Any car trip that is replaced by another mode benefits bicyclists and pedestrians
  • Segway users and the manufacturer may become an ally in the quest for better bicycling and walking conditions
  • Anything that gets people outside and into the fresh air is positive
  • It is an emerging and fascinating technology that should be supported
  • Public trails and sidewalks are for everyone's use and to ban or limit one type of user smacks of elitism

After weighing all these factors, the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals believes that the Segway ought to be regulated and managed more akin to a bicyclist than a pedestrian. The presumption should be against their use on the sidewalk.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

New Online Photo Album

I think I like Picasa better than Fliker (I should have known, Google owns Picasa!), and my photo album is here.

Friday, August 03, 2007

More On Suffering

This is from John Piper concerning his response to the tragedy that happened in Minnesota this week:

At about 6 PM tonight the bridge of Interstate 35W over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed. I am writing this about three hours after the bridge fell. The bridge is located within sight of Bethlehem Baptist Church. Most of us who minister at the church cross this bridge several times a week. At this point I don’t know if any staff was on the bridge. Desiring God offices are about a mile from the bridge.

There are no firm facts at this point about the total number of injuries and fatalities. When we crossed the bridge Tuesday on our way out of town, there was extensive repair work happening on the surface of the bridge with single lane traffic. One speculates about the unusual stresses on the bridge with jackhammers and other surface replacement equipment. This was the fortieth anniversary of the bridge.

Tonight for our family devotions our appointed reading was Luke 13:1-9. It was not my choice. This is surely no coincidence. O that all of the Twin Cities, in shock at this major calamity, would hear what Jesus has to say about it from Luke 13:1-5. People came to Jesus with heart-wrenching news about the slaughter of worshipers by Pilate. Here is what he said.

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."

Jesus implies that those who brought him this news thought he would say that those who died, deserved to die, and that those who didn’t die did not deserve to die. That is not what he said. He said, everyone deserves to die. And if you and I don’t repent, we too will perish. This is a stunning response. It only makes sense from a view of reality that is radically oriented on God.

All of us have sinned against God, not just against man. This is an outrage ten thousand times worse than the collapse of the 35W bridge. That any human is breathing at this minute on this planet is sheer mercy from God. God makes the sun rise and the rain fall on those who do not treasure him above all else. He causes the heart to beat and the lungs to work for millions of people who deserve his wrath. This is a view of reality that desperately needs to be taught in our churches, so that we are prepared for the calamities of the world.

The meaning of the collapse of this bridge is that John Piper is a sinner and should repent or forfeit his life forever. That means I should turn from the silly preoccupations of my life and focus my mind’s attention and my heart’s affection on God and embrace Jesus Christ as my only hope for the forgiveness of my sins and for the hope of eternal life. That is God’s message in the collapse of this bridge. That is his most merciful message: there is still time to turn from sin and unbelief and destruction for those of us who live. If we could see the eternal calamity from which he is offering escape we would hear this as the most precious message in the world.

We prayed during our family devotions. Talitha (11 years old) and Noel and I prayed earnestly for the families affected by the calamity and for the others in our city. Talitha prayed “Please don’t let anyone blame God for this but give thanks that they were saved.” When I sat on her bed and tucked her in and blessed her and sang over her a few minutes ago, I said, “You know, Talitha, that was a good prayer, because when people ‘blame’ God for something, they are angry with him, and they are saying that he has done something wrong. That’s what “blame” means: accuse somebody of wrongdoing. But you and I know that God did not do anything wrong. God always does what is wise. And you and I know that God could have held up that bridge with one hand.” Talitha said, “With his pinky.” “Yes,” I said, “with his pinky. Which means that God had a purpose for not holding up that bridge, knowing all that would happen, and he is infinitely wise in all that he wills.”

Talitha said, “Maybe he let it fall because he wanted all the people of Minneapolis to fear him.” “Yes, Talitha,” I said, “I am sure that is one of the reasons God let the bridge fall.”

I sang to her the song I always sing,

Come rest your head and nestle gently
And do not fear the dark of night.
Almighty God keeps watch intently,
And guards your life with all his might.
Doubt not his love, nor power to keep,
He never fails, nor does he sleep.

I said, “You know, Talitha, that is true whether you die in a bridge collapse, or in a car accident, or from cancer, or terrorism, or old age. God always keeps you, even when you die. So you don’t need to be afraid, do you.” “No,” she shook her head. I leaned down and kissed her. “Good night. I love you.”

Tonight across the Twin Cities families are wondering if they will ever kiss a loved one good night again. Some will not. I am praying that they will find Jesus Christ to be their Rock and Refuge in these agonizing hours of uncertainty and even loss.

The word “bridge” does not occur in the Bible. There may be two reasons. One is that God doesn’t build bridges, he divides seas. The other is that usually his people must pass through the deadly currents of suffering and death, not simply ride over them. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you” (Isaiah 43:2). They may drown you. But I will be with you in life and death.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life . . . will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-38)

Killed all day long. But not separated from Christ. We go through the river. Not over it. He went before us, crucified. He came out on the other side. He knows the way through. With him we will make it. That is the message we have for the precious sinners in the Twin Cities. He died for your sins. He rose again. He saves all who trust him. We die, but because of him, we do not die.

Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” (John 11:25)

Talitha is sleeping now. But one day she will die. I teach her this. I will not always be there to bless her. But Jesus is alive and is the same yesterday today and forever. He will be with her because she trusts him. And she will make it through the river.

Weeping with those who weep, and those who should,

Pastor John

Psalm 71:20 You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

My Favorite Bike Path

This is one of my favorite bike paths near by house. I have had the idea of mounting my camera to my bike for some time, and I am quite excited that it seems to have worked quite well. This is also my first YouTube video! It's not really that exciting, hopefully in the future my bike-videos will improve...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

"Oh My God" - Jars of Clay

I have been thinking about suffering and pain lately, and my conclusion continues to be that there is suffering in this world because of sin - we are all broken, and capable of any wrongdoing, and our only hope, only way to ever experience joy and true change from our brokenness is Jesus. This song's lyrics better expresses my thoughts (I wish you could hear it though):

Jars Of Clay - Oh My God Lyrics

Oh my God, look around this place
Your fingers reach around the bone
You set the break and set the tone
Flights of grace, and future falls
In present pain
All fools say, "Oh my God"

Oh my God, Why are we so afraid?
We make it worse when we don't bleed
There is no cure for our disease
Turn a phrase, and rise again
Or fake your death and only tell your closest friend
Oh my God.

Oh my God, can I complain?
You take away my firm belief and graft my soul upon your grief
Weddings, boats and alibis
All drift away, and a mother cries

Liars and fools; sons and failures
Thieves will always say
Lost and found; ailing wanderers
Healers always say
Whores and angels; men with problems
Leavers always say
Broken hearted; separated
Orphans always say
War creators; racial haters
Preachers always say
Distant fathers; fallen warriors
Givers always say
Pilgrim saints; lonely widows
Users always say
Fearful mothers; watchful doubters
Saviors always say

Sometimes I cannot forgive
And these days, mercy cuts so deep
If the world was how it should be, maybe I could get some sleep
While I lay, I dream we're better,
Scales were gone and faces light
When we wake, we hate our brother
We still move to hurt each other
Sometimes I can close my eyes,
And all the fear that keeps me silent falls below my heavy breathing,
What makes me so badly bent?
We all have a chance to murder
We all feel the need for wonder
We still want to be reminded that the pain is worth the thunder

Sometimes when I lose my grip, I wonder what to make of heaven
All the times I thought to reach up
All the times I had to give
Babies underneath their beds
Hospitals that cannot treat all the wounds that money causes,
All the comforts of cathedrals
All the cries of thirsty children - this is our inheritance
All the rage of watching mothers - this is our greatest offense

Oh my God
Oh my God
Oh my God

Good news for fair-skinned coffee-addicts! (me)

From: http://www.boston.com/yourlife/health/diseases/articles/2007/07/31/exercise_caffeine_fight_skin_cancer
Exercise, caffeine fight skin cancer
By Randolph E. Schmid, AP Science Writer | July 31, 2007
WASHINGTON --Can adding a cup or two of coffee to the exercise routine increase protection from skin cancer? New research indicates that just might be the case.

The combination of exercise and caffeine increased destruction of precancerous cells that had been damaged by the sun's ultraviolet-B radiation, according to a team of researchers at Rutgers University.

Americans suffer a million new cases of skin cancer every year, according to the National Cancer Institute.
In mice there is a protective effect from both caffeine and voluntary exercise, and when both are provided -- not necessarily at the same time -- protection is even more than the sum of the two, said Dr. Allan H. Conney of the laboratory for cancer research at Rutgers.

"We think it likely that this will extrapolate to humans, but that has to be tested," Conney said in a telephone interview.

Nonetheless, he added, people should continue to use sunscreen.
Exposing the mice to ultraviolet-B light causes some skin cells to become precancerous.
Cells with damaged DNA are programmed to self-destruct, a process called apoptosis, but not all do that, and damaged cells can become cancerous.

The researchers report in Tuesday's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they studied hairless mice in four groups. Some were fed water containing caffeine, some had wheels on which they could run, some had both and a control group had neither.

"The most dramatic and obvious difference between the groups came from the caffeine-drinking runners, a difference that can likely be attributed to some kind of synergy," Conney said.

Compared with the control animals, those drinking caffeine had a 95 percent increase in apoptosis in damaged cells. The exercisers showed a 120 percent increase, and the mice that were both drinking and running showed a nearly 400 percent increase.

Just what is causing that to happen is not yet clear, though the researchers have several theories.
"We need to dig deeper into how the combination of caffeine and exercise is exerting its influence at the cellular and molecular levels, identifying the underlying mechanisms," Conney said.

"With an understanding of these mechanisms we can then take this to the next level, going beyond mice in the lab to human trials," he said. "With the stronger levels of UVB radiation evident today and an upward trend in the incidence of skin cancer among Americans, there is a premium on finding novel ways to protect our bodies from sun damage."

Conney said the researchers were originally interested in the effects of green tea in preventing skin cancer and were doing tests on regular and decaffeinated teas.

They found the regular tea had an effect, but not the decaffeinated brew.
And, he said, researchers also observed that mice drinking caffeine were more active than those that didn't get it, so they decided to study the effects of exercise too.

They put running wheels into some of the cages. The mice "love to go on it," he said, and will jump on the wheels and run for several minutes, then get off for a while, and then get on and run some more.

And they found that both caffeine and exercise helped eliminate damaged skin cells, but the combination worked better than either alone.

"What we would like to see next is a clinical trial in people," Conney said.
Dr. Michael H. Gold, a Nashville, Tenn., dermatologist and a spokesman for the Skin Cancer Foundation, said he believes "the concept of systemic caffeine should be addressed further."

"I think the concept potentially has a lot of merit," he said in a telephone interview. But mice and humans are different and studies need to be done to be sure this also applies to people.

In the meantime, he said: "If you go outside, you have to wear a sunscreen ... it has to be caffeine and exercise with your sunscreen."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Song for Today

Every Little Thing (by Delirious)

Everything must change
There’s a mirror showing me the ugly truth
These bones they ache with holy fire
But I’ve got nothing to give, just a life to live
If your world is without colour
I will carry you, if you carry me

Every little thing’s gonna be alright
Every little thing’s gonna be alright [x2]

There’s no-one else to blame
I live my life between the fire and the flame
I’ve built my house where the ocean meets the land
It’s time to live again, pull my dreams out of the sand
Let your world be full of colour
I will carry you, if you carry me

When it’s all falling down on you
You’re crying out but you’re breaking in two
When it’s all crashing down on you
When there’s nothing you can do
There is someone who can carry you

Written by Martin Smith/Stuart Garrard ©2003 Curious? Music UK

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Human Tetris!

Tetris was the game of choice for my sister and I for many summers in my childhood. So, I was delighted to find that the Japanese have a human tetris television show! Thank you http://blazingcenter.blogspot.com for this excellent find.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Joy

Yesterday was a very interesting day, I went for a wonderful run and experienced a terrific thunderstorm (golf-ball sized hail!), and the topic of joy was on my mind. This is an old poem about joy.

From "The Valley of Vision"

O Christ,
All thy ways of mercy tend to and end in my delight.
Thou didst weep, sorrow, suffer that I might rejoice.
For my joy thou hast sent the Comforter,
multiplied thy promises,
shown me my future happiness,
given me a living fountain.
Thou art preparing joy for me and me for joy;
I pray for joy, wait for joy, long for joy;;
give me more than I can hold, desire, or think of.
Measure out to me my times and degrees of joy,
at my work, business, duties.
If I weep at night, give me joy in the morning.
Let me rest in the thought of thy love,
pardon for sin, my title to heaven,
my future unspotted state.
I am unworthy recipient of thy grace.
I often disesteem thy blood and slight thy love,
but can in repentance draw water
from the wells of thy joyous forgiveness.
Let my heart leap towards the eternal sabbath,
where the work of redemption, sanctification,
preservation, glorification is finished
and perfected for ever,
where thou wilt rejoice over me with joy.
There is no joy like the joy of heaven,
for in that state are no sad divisions,
unchristian quarrels,
contentions, evil designs,
weariness, hunger, cold,
sadness, sin, suffering,
persecutions, toils of duty.
O healthful place where none are sick!
O happy land where all are kings!
O holy assembly where all are priests!
How free a state where none are servants
except to Thee!
Bring me speedily to the land of joy.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Wonderful Movie: Joyeux Noël

I watched a movie with my roommate tonight called Joyeux Noël, it was wonderful. It is a true story about German, French and Scottish soldiers had a cease-fire on Christmas eve in WWI.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Des Moines Adventure!

This weekend I went to Des Moines (Iowa) to visit my friend Andrea. We went walking around a beautiful lake and also went to a fun new grocery store (I bought some black rice).















And, I fufilled a life-long dream - I was able to ride in a paddle-boat! You pedal like a recumbant bicycle, and it's very fun!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Julia = Abulia?

I learned a new word today from 'word of the day' at www.yourdictionary.com: abulia.  It sounds suspiciously like me, as I really dislike decision-making...

Word of the Day: Abulia (Noun)

Pronunciation: [ê-'bu-li-yê]
Definition: A loss of volition or the ability to make decisions.
Usage: The adjective is "abulic," also used to refer to a person suffering from this dysfunction.




Monday, July 09, 2007

Minnesotan Adventure Pictures

Here are the pictures of my Minnesotan adventure. It was so much fun! I did two first-time-ever new things:

(1) rode in a pontoon boat and and (2) swung from a rope into the lake

And one second-time ever thing: went caneoing!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

This weekend I went to visit my dear friend Joanna at her grandparent's cabin in Minnesota. It was the furthest I have ever driven by myself! It was wonderful - more pictures to follow!


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Rose Petals

This Jewish Synagogue was across the street from our hotel in Paris. I could not decide if I like the picture with or without the blue door...