Monday, May 23, 2011

Two articles

Two articles caught my attention this afternoon. The first addresses how Americans do not take vacations. It seems that we work all the time. It was on CNN.com. Why is America the "no vacation nation"? One man speaks about the culture in his office: "The running joke at Brock's company is that a vacation just means you work from somewhere else."

The article points out that this isn't the case in other countries where people actually take vacations and they leave their work behind. One of the findings of a study is that Americans get more satisfaction from work than they do from taking vacations. Yet, doing so, says another study cited in the article, doesn't make our economy more competitive than countries where workers take lots of time off for vacation, such as in Sweden, which mandates that workers take five weeks of vacation each year.

 The second article was also reported on CNN.com, Little people, lots of pills: Experts debate medicating kids. This article addresses the complicated issue of using behavioral drugs to manage kids. Some of the cases cites speak to severe cases, in which drugs appear to be life-saving. Other cases are about kids with mild behavioral issues. Of course, this is a news article and not a formal study. Yet, it raises awareness of what could be an important issue in our culture.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Thursday

Thursdays are "formal" day at St. Margaret's Episcopal School because the students attend chapel. I took these black and white photos using a Canon Rebel Ti 300v film camera. I used 400 ASA film.
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Sunday, May 15, 2011

UC Berkeley student walks with robotic exoskeleton to get diploma

Austin Whitney is a 2007 graduate of St. Margaret's Episcopal School in San Juan Capistrano, California, where he was one of the students I advised through the college process. Just a few weeks after his high school graduation, Austin slammed his car into a tree. He sustained severe injuries that resulted in losing use of his legs.

I was one of the people who kept vigil at the hospital in the days following the accident.

I continue to stay in touch with Austin and his family.

I saw this story on his university graduation yesterday afternoon while on a flight from the east coast.

Kathryn Schulz: On being wrong | Video on TED.com



Note #20 on my "ground rules" list: Admit when I'm wrong and own up to my screw-ups.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

When does change start?



I wrote earlier about my brother's medical incident on Mother's Day. I also mentioned that he is making lifestyle changes that will help him avoid future incidents of this sort.

Of course this entire incident is on my mind, and it's caused a fair amount of anxiety in our family this past week.

Today I thought about the concept of change. I thought that it's best to prepare for challenges in advance. It's a simple concept. For example, I change the oil in my car on a more frequent schedule than recommended because I feel that it's good to do so. I know when I'll have the air-conditioning in my car serviced so that I won't have a problem. Maybe the same principal can be applied to life. Preparing in advance might head off certain catastrophe or unnecessary complications.

When I had this thought, I made a first attempt to jot down some "ground rules" for life that can facilitate change for improving how I live,  and help avoid unnecessary crises.

Here goes:
  1. Realize that other people don’t have to live up to my standards of “perfection.”  Cut them some slack.
  2. Bullies make people feel badly. Don’t be a bully.
  3. Hydrate.
  4. Do good and thorough work because it’s the right thing to do; doing so makes best use of my gifts and talents.
  5. Exercise regularly and see my doctors (medical, eye and dentist) on schedule.
  6. De-clutter.
  7. Listen carefully before speaking.
  8. Make lists and use them.
  9. Eat more salads.
  10. Practice being generous.
  11. Follow through on commitments.
  12. Nurture good friendships.
  13. Read good books.
  14. Be spontaneous, loosen up and take risks.
  15. Pray.
  16. Think about things that matter.
  17. Live a life that reflects my belief in the eternal.
  18. Use my time at work well, and leave before I’m too tired to do things that are good for me, such as exercise, play, and spending time with family and friends.
  19.  Plan times to unplug and really do it.
  20. Admit when I'm wrong and own up to my screw-ups.
 I'll revisit these ground rules from time to time and edit them. But I think that this represents a good start.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

This week has been challenging

There's a reason I've not posted since Sunday.

This was a challenging week that is just now showing some light. I was taking pictures at the beach on Sunday afternoon when I got a call from my aunt that my brother was in the hospital in Houston for what was termed a "mini" stroke.

It all began Mother’s Day morning when he called our aunt to wish her "Happy Mother's Day" and he couldn't form the words. Later, he felt dizzy while standing. He did go to the hospital right away where a CT scan was done, which ruled out other possible concerns, such as a tumor. He had an MRI on Monday, which did not come up with damage to the brain. He had no paralysis, although he has somewhat slurred speech. On Monday morning he felt weak using his left arm. He was released from the hospital yesterday, and he has already begun therapy to strengthen his left arm and to rehabilitate his speech.

It seems that the use of over the counter cold medications might have contributed to this event.

Of course, the past few days have been challenging for my sister and me, and for our family. I was extremely anxious for the first part of this week.

While things are still unsettled, and it's difficult to hear the change in my brother's speech pattern, the prospects for his full recovery are very bright. Also, I think that this will be wake-up for him to make some changes in his lifestyle that will serve as preventative to this type of event happening again.

To be honest, it's also prompted me to review my lifestyle, which is also a good thing.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Does anyone else care about this?

Friends from the UK were in California last week. They connected the 4-day Easter holiday and the Royal Wedding holiday with a few vacation days and took a 10-day spring vacation.

I shared with them my post about ethical eating and lamented how difficult it is to find ethically raised food in the United States. I also complained about the difficulty in knowing how the food I buy is raised. Their comment was, simply, all the beef in the UK is grass-fed. That’s the norm.

I was left trying to figure out how those of us in the United States gave away decisions on how food is raised to corporations and government food programs. It doesn’t make sense to me. It makes even less sense when I think about the health crisis in the United States and health care costs. Isn’t anyone connecting this to how our food is raised?

I went to Henry’s Market yesterday. Henry’s is part of Whole Foods, the “healthy” alternative to the grocery market. Henry’s had one very small section of the meat section with grass-fed beef. And, even at Henry’s, it was difficult figuring out which of the chicken products were free-range raised.

I’m having a tough time with this.