Category Archives: Adaptation

Save your Brain!

Sleep

A few decades ago, a talk show co-host  infamous for his temper bragged that he needed only four hours of sleep.  Current research has shown that the two are connected.  Inadequate levels of sleep lead to reduced willpower and increased inability to maintain an even temperament.  If you find your temper easily frays or that your thinking is sluggish, look to how much you sleep.  Sleep deprivation impairs glucose regulation which negatively impacts willpower. The result may be a frayed temper along with a series of poor decisions.

Reduced willpower and sluggish thinking as a result of inadequate sleep may be caused by deterioration of neurons in the brain. These neurons work hard when you are awake and can become over-stressed if there is not enough of a recovery period during sleep.   As neurons break down, so does your thinking.

Although the ideal number of hours of sleep vary by individual and by age, research at the National Sleep Foundation  suggests that the average adult needs 7 – 8 hours of sleep to achieve optimal physical and mental health results.  You can read more about the importance of sleep in the chapter ‘To Sleep…’  in Walking in Sunshine.

Download the Book!

Sun graphic2  Walking in Sunshine: LifeStyle Changes to Make for a Bright, Healthy Future, the book that can change your life, is now available for free download.  Click on  the link, download the PDF, and

Discover Why:

  • adaptations matter
  • walking is the best exercise
  • sunshine is necessary
  • proper diet = better health
  • natural parenting is effective parenting

Best Way to Begin the Day

8The best way to begin the day is awaking after having slept 7 to 9 hours.  I will discuss sleep in more detail in a later post, but for now it is important to know that a good night’s sleep is critical to your health and well being.

Once awake, you need to hydrate and stretch.  I drink a cup of fruit tea while doing a series of flexibilities.  The flexibilities keep my joints loose, get the blood flowing to my brain, and energize me.  Click here to access the PDF of the Flexibilities so that you can begin doing them yourself.

Once stretched and hydrated, it is time for a healthy breakfast. A good breakfast makes for a good day.  I suggest a two egg omelet (actual eggs, not egg whites) with tomato salsa.  I also eat a bowl of blueberries (frozen, but thawed) and a half grapefruit (in season).  Eggs provide high-quality protein and are good for the brain.  Breakfast must include high-quality protein.

Well-rested, hydrated, stretched, and well-fed: this is the best way to begin the day.

Organizing a Life Record

Journal (383x640)I’ve never been one to write in a diary or to journal, even though this is supposed to be a good way to better understand where you are and where you want to go in life.  I see the beautiful, blank-page books and think, “I’d like to own that.”  In fact, I do own a couple of these books.  But they are empty.  I display them as objets d’art on shelves.  They are empty in part because I like them pristine, but I also don’t want to commit my thoughts to those pages because I am sure I would want to make changes, erasures, etc.  The pages would be messy and, given my handwriting, unreadable.  The book would no longer be lovely.

Blogging is a better form of journaling since I can easily edit the ‘pages’.  However, since I publish these pages, I don’t wish to make the blog posts too personal.  But I would like to have a record of life events and, on occasion, my thoughts on those events.

My solution to this issue is to use Google Calendar as a sort of diary/journal.  I record events (an old man drove his car into my tree!), which I can later find (when did that happen?) by using key word search.  This is much better than a traditional diary or journal.  Another benefit is that I won’t lose this ‘diary’ since it exists in the ‘cloud.’

I also use the calendar for its intended purpose which is to schedule activities. Beyond that, I use the calendar as my To Do list: I schedule blocks of  time for each thing I need to do.  I’ve found I tend not to look at To Do lists after I write them.  But if I give the item a block of time on a particular day, it is more likely to be accomplished since I receive automatic reminders that also show up in my Gmail account.  This type of ‘list’ is also flexible.  If I find that I really cannot do that item at that time, it is easy to move it to a different day or time.  I am much more productive and organized when I schedule everything.

Different types of items/events can be  color coded, which can be useful to highlight when an activity is repeated over the course of the week or month.  For instance, I block out all the class periods I teach in one color, with the time I need to leave to make the drive to the college in another color.  I schedule those blocks at the beginning of the semester so that I will not accidentally plan a competing event.  As another example, when I realize I need to do laundry, I put it on the calendar.  I do the same with grocery shopping.  Everything is put on the calendar.  If I want to make sure I get a book read for book club, I schedule time for it on the calendar.

Some of you probably think I am over-scheduling, but I find that it actually simplifies my life.  Once it is on the calendar, I don’t have to worry that I will forget to do it.  My stress level is reduced.

When I work on something that was not originally on the calendar, I put it on the calendar so that I have a record of doing that particular job.  This is especially important if you do freelance work.  You can also make notes in the job block about the task. You can add hot links to the calendar block to provide further information on an event.  For instance, if you have a meeting with a new client, you can add the URL of their website to that time slot to provide a reminder to refresh your memory about that client.

This is obviously a personal calendar not meant to be shared.  Many of you will have a shared work calendar.  However, I know it is possible with Google Calendar to determine whether an item is public or private, so you should be able to use one calendar for both work and personal activities.

I have the calendar pin-tabbed in my browser so that it opens and stays open when I open the browser.  This makes it easy to add notes and new events.  The calendar is also synced with my phone and Nook so that I can stay on track.

As an organization tool and life record, Google Calendar really does make life run more smoothly and productively while reducing stress.  There is no need for a diary, a journal, or to do lists in addition to a calendar.  Everything can be done  on one screen that  is easily modified and won’t be lost.  Organize your life with Google Calendar.  Give it a try.

Note: Outlook’s Calendar probably can be used in a similar way.  I just prefer Google.

 

You Can Be a Vaccination Hero

SedonaAHThe United States is in the midst of a widespread flu epidemic. Every year, thousands die from the flu and flu-related complications, not to mention the millions of hours of lost productivity resulting from those who are ill from the flu.

Having lived through the Flu Pandemic of 1968-1969 (it knocked me out of school for two weeks and took many more weeks for me to fully recover; around 34,000 died in the US), I cannot understand why anyone would not get vaccinated against the flu.  Yes, it is not foolproof, but the probability is much higher that you will be able to avoid the flu if you are vaccinated than if you are not.

Last year, the CDC Report stated that “90 percent of children who died from flu this season [2013] [were] not vaccinated.”   The CDC reported that , as of January 18, 2014, 20 children had died of the flu, at least two of whom had not been vaccinated.  It is probable that the other children were not vaccinated, but that the parents were reluctant to admit that.

Perhaps many of those who do not get vaccinated are relying (consciously or not) on herd/community immunity: they hope that enough other people get vaccinated to reduce flu transmission so that they won’t get the flu.  However, herd/community immunity only works if most of the population is vaccinated.  Freeloading may get you ill or dead.  Freeloading may also mean that you cause illness (or even death) in individuals who cannot be vaccinated due to underlying health issues.  I suggest you view getting  vaccinated as something you can do to help your community.  Vaccination saves lives.   You will be a quiet hero.

The Homunculus and Personhood Laws

The other day in my Physical Anthropology class, I was showing a video on genetics that I’d shown in prior semesters, but this time one portion of it struck me in a new way.  I believe I have figured out some of the ‘reasoning’ used by those legislators who are pushing personhood bills which declare the zygote (fertilized egg) to be a person who is entitled to all the rights of an actual person.

In Medieval Christian Europe, there was little understanding of biological processes and even less effort made to rectify the situation. The views of the ancient Greeks, especially Aristotle, were taken as the ‘gospel truth’.  Unfortunately, Aristotle and other Greeks, such as the physician Galen, did not understand the mechanisms of sexual reproduction in humans.

The ancient Greeks and, therefore, the Medieval Christians, believed that the man provided everything that was needed for a new human, except for a place to grow that new human.  The woman was essentially just an incubator.  Furthermore, they believed that a tiny person, the homunculus, lived in the head of the sperm.  They knew nothing about the ovum/egg.

The man ejaculated this tiny person into the woman and about nine months later, the ‘incubator’ produced a baby.  Other than providing a womb for growth, the baby did not belong to the woman.  The baby was solely generated, and therefore owned, by the man.  Of course, women were also owned (chattel) by men, further diminishing the female contribution to the baby.

As we have seen from the comments made by many of the personhood legislators, their understanding of biology and human reproduction has not progressed beyond that of the Medieval Christians.  A belief in the homunculus, whether or not it is articulated, clearly underlies the concept of giving personhood to a zygote and the subsequent ball of cells.  Anyone who believes in the homunculus must view a zygote as a miniature person.  Following from this, their ‘logic’ leads them to wish to protect this miniature person.

Awarding full personhood rights to a zygote while ignoring the rights of the woman in whom the zygote exists also follows from the Medieval Christian view that women are just incubators who contribute nothing to the embryo/fetus.  Since a pregnant woman is an incubator, she has no rights to do anything to the zygote/embryo/fetus.  Only men can decide this for her since only men truly ‘generate’ offspring.

These same legislators want contraception/birth control outlawed because it prevents a man from generating more offspring.  In their Medieval Christian view, any sperm that is prevented from implanting in the womb results in killing a person since the head of the sperm contains the homunculus.  Life doesn’t begin at conception.  Life begins in the sperm.  Every sperm is a potential life because every sperm has a miniscule person residing in it.  This would also explain why masturbation is a sin.  Think of all the ‘lives’ that are being wasted/lost!

Since, in this Medieval Christian view, the man is the sole generator of life, and the woman merely an incubator, even rapists deserve to have rights to any resulting offspring.  If a woman becomes pregnant despite being raped, then that embryo/fetus is meant to be born.  Women (or even young girls impregnated by their fathers) must carry to term all results of sexual activity whether consensual or not.  After the birth, the woman has fewer rights over the offspring than does the genitor (man), even if that individual is a rapist.  After all, the offspring is more truly his than it is hers since her major role is as an incubator while he was the genitor.

The anti-contraception, anti-abortion, pro-personhood legislation now coursing through state legislatures can be understood if we realize that those pushing this legislation are operating under the Medieval Christian and Aristotlean view of human reproduction: the male is the genitor while the woman is the incubator.  Their ‘knowledge’ is stuck in the 11th century.  It is little wonder that those of us who live in the 21st century are shocked, amazed, and horrified by these legislators who have no understanding of human reproduction, but who are trying to control women and their reproduction.

International Day of the Girl

On October 11, 2012, we will celebrate the 1st International Day of the Girl.  This past week (10/1/12 and 10/2/12), PBS aired a two-night, four-hour documentary entitled “Half the Sky” which highlighted the work being done to help girls in several different countries.  This help includes escaping sex slavery, dealing with rape, obtaining an education, and improving healthcare.  As stated on the Half the Sky Movement website, their goal is “Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.” If you missed “Half the Sky” on PBS, you can view it online until October 8 (Part 1) and October 9 (Part 2).

Women and girls form 50% of the world’s population.  Ignoring their needs imperils the future of us all.  One of the biggest issues for girls is being forced into marriage when they are still children.  This ends their education, increases the probability that they and their children will be and will remain in poverty, and also exacerbates healthcare issues. President Bill Clinton has called child marriage a form of slavery. Another website that gets to the heart of the issue on why education for girls matters is The Girl Effect.

I hope that you will celebrate the International Day of the Girl by making sure that the girls in your lives have the full range of education and opportunities that they need to become successful women.