If you don’t want to read all this post, at least scroll down and read the last two paragraphs. Unbelievable!
Friday, 08 August 2014
On August 5th, the NY Times published a story titled “Russian Hackers Amass Over a Billion Internet Passwords ” which was, in fact, a “Native Advertising” venture between this once respected newspaper and a relatively new computer company identified as Hold Security founded last year in Wisconsin by Alex Holden.
“Native Advertising”, is an online advertising method in which the advertiser attempts to gain attention by providing content in the context of the user’s experience. Native ad formats match both the form and function of the user experience in which they are placed.
The word “native” is used to refer to the formatting of the advertising materials to make them appear more consistent with other media in the recipient’s universe. In other words, paid advertisement is presented as “news”, even though it isn’t.
The New York Times began their “Native Advertising” program this past January, when…
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I knew there was a reason I loved coffee! A new report has come to light! According to an August 7, 2014 report in Clinicalnews.org, caffeine intake is associated with a lower incidence of tinnitus. (Say what?) According to this article, “Researchers observe that women with a higher intake of caffeine had a lower incidence of unexplained ear ringing.”
If you know me personally, then you know this is pretty funny coming from me. But I’m not laughing (as I turn up the volume on my hearing aids to hear the good news). Uh-uh. Coffee is serious business.
Not only is coffee good for your ears, but apparently it’s good for the rest of what ails you too:
“A study tracking the health and coffee consumption of more than 400,000 older adults for 13 years, and published earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that coffee drinkers reduced their risk of dying from heart disease, lung disease, pneumonia, stroke, diabetes, infections, and even injuries and accidents. (High blood caffeine levels in older adults linked to avoidance of Alzheimer’s disease, 8/5/14, Clinicalnews.org.)
Somebody call my doctor, quick! He apparently is misinformed into believing that caffeine raises your blood pressure. Silly man.
The above referenced Alzheimer’s study took place in Tampa, Fl, 6/4/12, (what better place to do it?), a collaboration between researchers from the University of South Florida and the University of Miami. They found that higher caffeine levels in the blood were associated with avoidance of, and perhaps protection from, developing Alzheimer’s disease. “Moreover, coffee appeared to be the major or only source of caffeine for these individuals”.
So, what exactly do they mean by “higher blood caffeine levels?” Well, that’s a good question.
According to the news article: “These intriguing results suggest that older adults with mild memory impairment who drink moderate levels of coffee — about 3 cups a day — will not convert to Alzheimer’s disease — or at least will experience a substantial delay before converting to Alzheimer’s,” said study lead author Dr. Chuanhai Cao, a neuroscientist at the USF College of Pharmacy (http://health.usf.edu/nocms/pharmacy/) and the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute (http://health.usf.edu/nocms/byrd/).
But then later in the article: “No one with MCI* who later developed Alzheimer’s had initial blood caffeine levels above a critical level of 1200 ng/ml – equivalent to drinking several cups of coffee a few hours before the blood sample was drawn. In contrast, many with stable MCI had blood caffeine levels higher than this critical level.” (*mild cognitive impairment)
Hmmm… so several cups of coffee is below the critical level? Then, does “several cups” mean 2 cups? Because it would have to, wouldn’t it, in order to jive with the statement that 3 cups a day will protect you from the disease? “… In contrast, many with stable MCI had blood caffeine levels higher than this critical level.”
I don’t know; these statements appearing conflicting to me. But I’m betting that whatever the “above critical level” is, I’ve got it covered.
This is the problem with news articles. This one is the journalists attempt to compile summaries of more than one study and cram as many references as possible into it in order to make it accurate and professional. Or at least appear accurate and professional. Not this journalists fault, I’m doing the same thing with this post. But the process does sometimes unintentionally drift into unclear territory.
(As a side note, I have to wonder if anyone’s ever done a study on the link between Alzheimer’s, increased caffeine consumption and Florida’s vehicular crash statistics.)
Nevertheless, the message coming across is consistent. If you want to head off Alzheimer’s, drink more coffee:
“Moderate daily consumption of caffeinated coffee appears to be the best dietary option for long-term protection against Alzheimer’s memory loss,” Dr. Arendash said. “Coffee is inexpensive, readily available, easily gets into the brain, and has few side-effects for most of us. Moreover, our studies show that caffeine and coffee appear to directly attack the Alzheimer’s disease process.”
And since the study also points out that neurodegenerative diseases (like Alzheimer’s) actually start one or two decades before the symptoms become apparent, the sooner you start drinking that coffee the better.
Hey… I don’t need a light bulb over my head to do that! I heard that message a long time ago.
Many years ago I went to see a hypnotist to quit smoking. Afterward, an acquaintance commented to me that she’d heard some people were more pre-disposed to suggestions, making them easy subjects for hypnosis. She herself did not trust hypnotists and would never entertain thoughts of seeing one. She wasn’t cutting me down, rather she was expressing her own fears about the subject, afraid that that being hypnotized was the same as giving away free reign over her thoughts.
Actually, contrary to what you see in the movies, hypnosis doesn’t take away your free will or change your morals. There’s no flashing light or swinging crystal. You aren’t unconscious; nor are you a gullible, submissive person. If you wouldn’t normally stand up and take off your clothes in front of someone – just because they suggest it – then you wouldn’t do it under hypnotic suggestion either.
Likewise, if you resist being hypnotized, then you won’t be! Simple as that. It’s just a totally relaxed state where you decide to let yourself be open to the suggestion being made.
According to Dr. Ray from Penn State, “… good hypnotic subjects are active problem solvers”. (Reference: Penn State U website, “Does Hypnosis Work”) I don’t know about that, I just know that in my case I really, really wanted it to work.
I’d developed asthmatic problems as a result of smoking. Many attempts to stop on my own had proved unsuccessful. So I joined a stop-smoking class offered through my place of employment. The class met for 10 weeks, designed to gradually reduce our number of smokes per day. I was pinning my hopes on that class.
By the end of the program, the entire group graduated smoke free, but I quit smoking at the very first session.
You see, the very first meeting held a surprise: after initially getting acquainted, the instructor introduced a hypnotist and announced we were going to start the program with a hypnosis session. It was the only time we were hypnotized during the entire 10 weeks. Everyone else in class followed the weekly program and quit smoking gradually, but that first day – right after we came “out of hypnosis” – I stood up and threw my cigarettes in the garbage.
Everyone was surprised, including the instructor. But once I’d learned we were going to experience hypnosis, I made a conscious decision, before we “went under”.
I had decided hypnosis was going to work for me. It was a decision that drastically changed my health.
So just how do we make these decisions that determine the quality of our lives? Do our feelings make our decisions for us, or do we consciously decide?
Letting your feelings tell you what path to take is not the same thing as using your feelings to decide your path. When I decided to let hypnosis work for me, I used my feelings to make that decision. I desired to quit smoking. I was terrified of the asthmatic attacks I’d suffered and seriously afraid I couldn’t quit on own. I was actively seeking help.
But it was a definite decision. Not a reaction. I remember consciously thinking I was going to allow myself to be hypnotized and it was going to work. Come hell or high water.
Three months after the class ended, we had a class reunion to see how we were doing. With the exception of myself, every one of my classmates had returned to smoking. Yet, many years later, I am still smoke free.
Oh, that I could solve all my problems so completely! But in truth, I am painfully aware that many of the things I’ve done (and continue to do) are purely emotional, gut reactions. Decisions that my feelings make for me, not something that I consciously decide to do.
Sometimes that turns out well, but often it just throws me off kilter. Or at the very least, just keeps me in my “comfort zone”, even if that zone is actually uncomfortable for me, it’s less stressful than facing what I don’t know.
What I can say is that most of the best things I’ve done in my life have been the result of decisions consciously made, not reactions. Like quitting smoking, deciding to stay married (see How Walter Matthau Saved My Marriage), or changing jobs.
My best decision? Choosing to become a Christian: Light Gets In Your Eyes.
(You knew I was coming around to the “God part” sooner or later… right? I can’t help it. “I yam who I yam.”)
I’m one person, and we all have different strengths and ways of choosing the paths we take. I’d love to hear from others and hear how they’ve made the decisions in their life, what has determined the paths they’ve chosen.
So what about you? How do you make your decisions?
One of the most amazing things I’ve learned about blogging is how international it is. My feedback stats tell me how many readers my blog gets every day, and it never ceases to amaze me when I see the myriad countries from which my readers hail. We all truly are an international community.
So, please, feel free to comment and share. Bring to light your brightest and darkest decisions with us. Anonymously if you prefer. It may look like no one cares, but actually, we’re listening.
For years we’ve all heard that one of the biggest future issues will be fighting over water. Water, the experts tell us, will be in short supply.
When I first read that, I remember thinking how awful it will be for people if they don’t have enough water. But of course you never think it will be you in that situation. You think of places like Africa. Until suddenly, you’re in a meeting room with over 1,000 other angry people, fighting over your water rights.
I recall a conversation I had with someone regarding how they felt about unwanted real estate ventures coming to their community. Such as low income housing, factories, strip malls and bars. These kinds of ventures always create uproar from residents that worry about things like property values, light and noise pollution, traffic increases or increased crime.
My conversational pal grew up someplace different than I did. He had seen terrible poverty before (although he didn’t personally experience it), and his impression was that the low income housing being considered in his community didn’t really qualify as poor.
He’s right, of course. Poor is defined differently by different people, and their fear levels are accordingly different, depending upon what they’ve experienced in their lifetime. It’s difficult to object to housing that you don’t see as markedly different from the community at large.
In referring to the people that opposed the development, he said, “I’m not one of those kind of people”. I took his meaning to be that he wasn’t a snob, or greedy, or someone who looked down on those less fortunate.
Well, he’s not a snob. I’ve known him quite a while, and I’ve never know him to be anything but compassionate and caring for others welfare. And I have to say, I agree with him. In theory.
In practice it’s another story.
We humans fight over who gets to live next door because we are scared of losing our safety. We’re trying to protect ourselves. Or, in the case of the angry meeting I referred to in the beginning of this post, because we don’t want a power plant to come into our neighborhood and draw 2,000 gallons of water a minute from our already endangered water supply.
Protection comes in many forms. It’s not just physical protection: like for your kids from the bully at school, or from break-in’s, crime, and gangs. There’s the protection we need for our health as well. Protection of basic supplies (like water). And like it or not, we also need financial protection in this life.
Fear of losing your financial security isn’t greed. It stems from our instincts of survival. Lose the property value in your home and maybe you can’t afford to move when you need to. If you’re young enough, you could take a loss on the house and maybe recoup down the road, although it will still be tough on you and your family. But what if you’re almost ready to retire and plan on moving when you do? Or a family crisis necessitates a move? Then, suddenly, you’re stuck with a house that no one wants, next to a power plant.
House payments are not like paying rent… you can’t just break your lease and move on. Renege on your mortgage and it will affect your ability to buy (or even rent) someplace else. It severely impacts your life.
The problem with making blanket statements against the “not in my backyard” mentality is that it places a moral value on an issue that rarely has any relation to the assumed morality. People oppose things like power plants and low-income housing, not because they are snobs, but because they are afraid. Maybe they have good reason to be afraid, and maybe they don’t. But it’s fear that’s driving them, not greed.
What wouldn’t you do to protect your family from perceived harm, real or imagined?
Every level of income feels the same way. The family living in that low-income housing is just as concerned about who (or what) moves in next door as the wealthy man is. Especially if they’ve pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. No one wants to lose financial ground. Everyone wants to feel safe.
My pal, and many like him, could afford the high moral road… the housing/power plant/bar wasn’t being built in his backyard. It wasn’t even being built across the street, or behind the yard behind his back neighbor. The more streets there are between where you live and the proposed building site, the more moral you can afford to become.
But what if it was? If the proposed site was right across the street from his kids school playground, or the traffic and pollution would necessitate his keeping his windows closed, or the realtor can’t find people willing to even look at his house now – I wonder – would he stick to his morals?
Given the choice between protecting his family or keeping his morals, I suspect he’d put his morals on the shelf.
In a perfect world, we’d all be safe. The wolf would live with the lamb (Isaiah 11:6), there would be no hunger or thirst, and we’d all live peacefully together. But we don’t live in that world yet. The world we live in is over-crowded, with limited resources. That’s our reality.
Instead of pointing fingers, I think we would be better served to remember that, in the end, our morals are only useful to us when we ourselves are prepared to live with their consequences, not just impose them on others.
In our over populated world, these conflicts of space and resources are unavoidable. Power plants have to be sited somewhere; people of all income levels have to live someplace. Someone’s going to win and someone’s going to lose.
These are issues that we can’t avoid, so let’s at least try to be kinder with each other, and leave the moral judgements to God.
For many people, the Memorial Day weekend meant BBQ’s, weddings, shopping and travel. Mine was a family intervention.
“My name is Debbie, and I am a recovering plantaholic.”
It started out innocently enough. We’d bought a new house and I just wanted to “plant a few flowers out front”. I’ve talked to many other plant-addicts, and this is how it usually starts. The yard starts to look pretty, adds to the neighborhood property values, and all that physical activity is helping you look pretty good too.
Happy. Family and friends are supportive. When it turns from hobby to obsession, you don’t even realize the transition.
I started adding more and more garden beds, digging myself deeper and deeper into denial. I spent thousands of dollars on “new introductions” and the latest shade of pinks. My beds overflowed with drooping rose colored bells, majestic purple spikes and fluffy white flower heads sparkling in the light.
The addiction took more and more of my time, until it dictated my schedule. At my most rampant phase I had 16 beds, ranging in size from tabletop to swimming pool. Every year, my tasks grew almost as fast as the weeds.
I’ve clipped and I’ve yanked. Pruned and pulled. Dug and filled. Split and transplanted. If my wheel barrel left those little white dashes they use to mark travel trails on a map, my entire yard would be white.
Gardening has many benefits. But like all behaviors taken to extremes, the costs have been many: pulled muscles, injury, wear and tear.
I’ve dragged plastic tarps laden with 20 years worth of autumn leaves, to spread over beloved plants, tucking them in for the winter. In spring, I’ve refreshed them with sweet-smelling compost, while I smelled of manure and analgesic rubs.
My joy in their shiny green splendor has filled megabytes of photos, bookcases filled with garden tips, a shed full of dirt encrusted tools and boxes overflowing with plant tags. If there’s a kitchen utensil missing from our house, you’ll probably find it in the garden supplies.
It was too much to maintain. My loss of control was becoming self-evident.
I tried to self-regulate. I started downsizing tasks, taking shortcuts here and there. Over the course of a few years I even grassed in that pool sized bed. Still, more has suffered than just my bruised and battered body. My remaining beds have suffered too, resulting in ever greater tasks.
A few weeks ago, when I hurt my knee, I bemoaned the situation to my sisters. How it hurts me to see weeds left unpulled while I stand there supported on my crutches! Despite my sorry state, I still yearned to add to my collection of 43 hosta varieties. I’m already dreaming of planting more tulips this October.
It was time for a family intervention. My sisters flew into action.
They brought their husbands and descended upon my gardens like archangels – slewing the destructive forces that wrought my sorry state. Since this past winter was so harsh, we all lost many more plants than normal, so it was an ideal time to downsize the gardens even more.
They extracted dead bushes, transplanted bluebells, divided the daylilies, and moved the sedum to another bed. It took the strength of all four of them to extract a large clump of ornamental grass, it’s roots clinging to the ground like concrete – but my family emerged victorious.
Once the ground was cleared, one brother-in-law used his cultivator to grind the dirt into a smooth powder, perfect for reseeding, while my other brother-in-law did odd fix-it jobs around my house and put together my garden bench.
They were tired and dirty. Red-faced from working all day in a full sun area. They went through 36 bottles of water and filled 11 bags with yard waste. The material they added to my compost pile measured 6 feet tall.
I shuffled back and forth on my crutches, feeling guilty and being able to offer little more than encouragement and water. I fed them breakfast – lunch – dinner.
I paid them in popsicles.
When they were done, they had removed my most challenging garden bed and turned it into a beautiful little alcove, surrounded by a bluebell path, rose bushes, daylilies and clematis vines.
What can you say to people that care for you so much? I promised to help them with their gardens this fall, when my knee is healed, but it hardly seems enough.
God has indeed richly blessed me, with such wonderful family.
Yesterday, Hubby reseeded my newly recovered ground with grass seed. Heavenly, blessed grass – which only needs a simple cut once a week – instead of hours every day fighting back encroaching growth! In my mind’s eye I can already see what it will all look like when the grass grows in and the flowers bloom.
My garden bench, sitting serenely in front of the pink and white roses; light purple clematis blooms and the bright, cream colored daylilies to the side. A gorgeous swatch of bright green grass in front of the bench and my little deer lawn ornament.
It will be glorious.
I’ve decided to turn it into something more low-key. Something that doesn’t require weeding or pruning. A wind chime garden! I can hang them from shepherds hooks throughout the area.
Won’t that be grand? Can’t you just hear them now? Once I looked into it I found that wind chimes come in an amazing variety of beautiful designs.
I can’t wait! I’ve already bought six.
I’ve always told Hubby and some of my friends that if reincarnation exists, I hope I come back as a dandelion. I come by this type of thinking naturally, as I can remember a relative saying he wanted to come back as “Groshans dog”. (The implication was my dad’s dog had a better life than most people. It was true.)
People I’ve told this to usually chuckle and nod, and keep their thoughts to themselves (“she’s ’round the bend again!”), but Hubby thinks it’s a pretty cool idea.
Dandelion, as it turns out, is his favorite flower.
Yeah, we all know what Hubby is like, I’ve written about him before. (see The Light Of My Life.) I suppose, in the “strange” department, I’m the perfect match for him. But seriously, don’t we all have our quirks? I’m just admitting to mine.
I honestly don’t know how I feel about reincarnation. Part of me is disturbed by the idea of having to come back again and again until I get it right, since I can’t see myself ever getting it right!
Another part of me thinks the whole karma of having another chance is a nice thought, and can really take a load of pressure off you if you’re a control freak who is always trying to live up to your own expectations.
Some people would think that, because I say I’m a Christian, then I have no business even discussing the idea of reincarnation. Well, I realize the whole point of Christianity is that Christ covers those sins so you don’t need to come back. I have no argument there, but for this post I’m entertaining the idea of reincarnation anyway.
I guess you’d have to say my faith fits me, not any set of denominational standards or religious rules. I’m happy with it this way. We all do the best we can with how we interpret what we experience.
And then there’s the way I observe the natural world around me. I know that everything in the garden gets recycled. If nature recycles (and certainly we are part of nature), then why wouldn’t we? Someone is going to point out here that reincarnation refers to soul recycling, not our bodies, which do get recycled. But remember, I’m the person that believes plants have souls (see Ode To My Crocus).
It’s not just dead plants and clippings that recycle, most of the things we think are rot proof, really aren’t. Ever read that book The World Without Us by Alan Weisman?
So how can anyone say for sure that reincarnation does or does not belong in a person’s belief system, when life from death is all around us? No one has answers to these things, and as I said, I don’t even know if I believe in reincarnation.
But back to the dandelion thing….
My reason for being a dandelion is not because Hubby loves them, since I didn’t even know dandelion was his favorite flower until he pointed it out to me this Spring. Rather, the reason I think of “dandelion” comes from a purely logical standpoint. Logical to me, anyway.
I wouldn’t want to be just any dandelion. I’d want to be one of those dandelions in the parks, or hell strips by the side of the road.
Think about it.
The city isn’t going to bother spraying for weeds there. That’s wasted money, (Chicago Tribune – Park District dandelion policy). So you wouldn’t get “offed” by a systemic vegetation killer. And because dandelions spread like – well, weeds – you’d have lots of dandelions around you. Sort of like being with all your friends and relatives.
During your short life span you’d have the sun on your backs and the wind in your hair (er… leaves). Not to mention you and your friends would look downright gorgeous creating that beautiful swath of bright yellow. Imagine the cheery image you give the drivers as they pass!
The worst that would happen to you is you’d get your head cut off every so often when the city sent out the lawn crew. Is that so bad, as long as you can still live and grow?
Then, you’re off to your next reincarnation, having enjoyed a basically carefree “breather”, before you come back as a person again, with all their struggles and insecurities.
What do you think? By the way, anyone who’s brave enough to add comments to this off-beat, silly post, I salute you.
I’ve been thinking I need a recycler under my mailbox.
I could take a paper shredder, use drawer sliders to attach it to the top of a big plastic container, cut a big hole in the bottom of my mailbox, and screw in the whole shredder/container contraption to the mailbox. That way, when the mail person delivers the mail, it drops into the shredder and all I have to do is slide the container out and empty it once a week.
It would save me a lot of time and trouble.
Back when I first got married, 20 (ahem) or so years ago, it was during the peak, trendy period of hyphenating your paternal name with your husband’s. So I went from Deborah Groshans to Deborah Groshans-Marcussen.
Oh, trouble… if only I had known the chaos that would ensue!
Forget the (somewhat) tender feelings I tread on when I did this. In both my family and my husband’s:
Mom: Debbie Jean! That’s ridiculous. I am NOT going to explain your name to every person we know. Pick one or the other! Sometimes I think you have a hole in your head.
Mom-In-Law: “Hmph”. (Less wordy, but same mother-type message).
Forget the confusion that resulted when I could never remember which name I had used:
Veterinarian: “I’m sorry the state says your dog hasn’t been vaccinated, and our records don’t show we ever gave your dog a rabies shot.”
Me: “Yes, he has. Try looking under my other name.”
Veterinarian: “Hmmm. No, still no records.”
Me: “Try this combination….”
Veterinarian: “No, that didn’t work either. Any other name we could try?”
No, the real problem with hyphenating your name is in the increased junk mail. I end up on the same junk mail lists but with different names.
- Mail in only my maiden name.
- Mail addressed to me using my husband’s surname.
- Mail using every combination of the two names you can imagine.
- Groshans-Marc (keep adding letters as computer field lengths have increased)
Really, the combinations are too many to list here. You get the idea.
Then, of course, there’s junk mail in just my husband’s name… and let’s not forget the mailing lists that use your nickname, full name, middle initial, and misspelled versions!
Catalogs are the worst. Some of those catalogs come twice a week, under several different names. I mean, how many copies of the same catalog do you need?
I’ve tried sending back junk mail with a request to remove me from their mailing list. When I get up to the fourth request, I usually throw the word “harassment” into my message. That word seems to help more than “Please”.
Still, it’s an uphill battle to send “remove” requests, because:
- the location that sends the mail is usually outsourced from the company,
- they’ve gotten smarter over the years and now you have to pay return postage more often than not. They know you want to send it all back. (I’ll only put my stamp on a “remove” request for the worst offenders).
If there is a return envelope provided with “no postage required”, then it for sure goes back to them. NOT just with the tear off reply form either, but with every piece of their mailing I can fit in that envelope.
Let them pay the extra postage cost.
Sneaky as they are, many of those tear off forms are all that fit in the “no postage required” envelope. The additional filler they send you does not. It’s always conveniently just a smidgen too wide.
But hey, I’m nothing if not persistent. I trim the edges with my scissors and make them fit. Including all the hundreds of “free” personalized mailing labels I get.
I don’t need 1,000 return address stickers. I don’t care if they are free.
This is my tactic, and I faithfully do it, year after year on – what seems like – a daily basis. I will even call the catalogs and tell them I’m not 4 people – and I have to say it has all helped. Somewhat. Until the next month, when one of my “aliases” has gotten on some new mailing list.
I don’t even want to think about how many trees have died for me!
I really have no clue if it’s still the “in” thing to hyphenate your name now, when you marry. If it is – New Brides: Wait! Listen to the words of my mother! (Whom I’m sure is sitting up in heaven laughing at her foolish offspring).
The name you take, and all its versions, will be with you as long as you live. If you have children, they will likely bear the brunt of your actions as well.
And beyond…. especially now, when computers are programmed to listen to background noise when you answer the phone, track your preferences from multiple sources, and generate “personalized” mail automatically.
They really don’t care who receives the ads.
All the versions of your names will be generated and mailed somewhere for eternity.
All without any human intervention whatsoever.
Take heed… I’ve seen the future.
Infinity – Junk Mail is thy name.