Be Impeccable with your Word

While waiting for my car to be serviced yesterday morning, I watched a few minutes of a CBS News feature on how patients in the early stages of ALS are preparing (to the extent that’s possible) for the later stages of the disease.

“Before her speech becomes severely impaired, Hubner turned to speech pathologist John Costello at Boston Children’s Hospital. He gives patients a voice recorder and tells them to think of phrases that reflect who they are.”

As I watched the woman making notes and recording simple statements I found myself thinking about all the things I say during the course of a day (“Hey, Lucy. You want to go outside?” “Hattie! Come sit to the couch and get some loving’” “Have I told you today how much I love you?”) and what it would be like if I could no longer say those things.

In the CBS piece they entered the patient’s recordings into a computer so she could play them back with a keystroke. As I watched I wondered what would I want to say if I could no longer speak the words. Whew.

A list of things I take for granted would be too long to list here, but the simple act of speaking would be high on the list. How many spoken thoughts have I wasted? What would I say if today was my last day to speak?

The woman in the news story was writing down things she wanted to record. Not a lot of negative or mean things on that list, if I had to guess. Probably not a lot of political comments or complaints about waiting in line.

In an ancient blog post I imagined getting a printed transcript of every word I uttered in during the course of the day. With a red pencil I crossed out everything that didn’t need to be said. What would I be left with? If I could say only 20 things tomorrow, what would I choose?

Brain shape linked to personality differences

“Florida State University College of Medicine Associate Professor Antonio Terracciano joined a team of researchers from the United States, United Kingdom and Italy to examine the connection between personality traits and brain structure. […] The traits include neuroticism, the tendency to be in a negative emotional state; extraversion, the tendency to be sociable and enthusiastic; openness, how open-minded a person is; agreeableness, a measure of altruism and cooperativeness; and conscientiousness, a measure of self-control and determination. As people get older, neuroticism goes down — people become better at handling emotions — while conscientiousness and agreeableness go up — people become progressively more responsible and less antagonistic.”

Science News

PlasticSurgery.com

Missouri highways are encrusted with nasty-ass billboards from border to border. Our claim to shame. Yesterday we spotted a board for PlasticSurgery.com When I got home I got curious and clicked around a bit until I found a list of procedures. A few that caught my eye:

  • Body Contouring – Removes loose, hanging skin from the body, after gastric bypass surgery, stomach stapling or gastric banding (gastric bypass).
  • Buttocks Augmentation – This procedure is designed to enhance the size of the buttocks. Buttock augmentation can be done by using silicone implants or fat from a person’s body, known as fat transfer (or “fat grafting“).
  • Eyebrow Lift (for the person who questions everything)
  • Fat Grafting – This procedure will remove a patient’s own fat to re-implant it where needed.
  • Jaw Implant – sounds painful
  • Forehead Lift – This procedure softens the angry or tired look caused by a wrinkled brow. Most forehead lift patients are between ages 40 and 60 years old.
  • Threadlift – Although a threadlift can raise droopy areas of the brow, cheeks, jowls, and neck, it will not produce the same dramatic results as a facelift or brow lift.

Five most restful activities

“The survey asked people to choose the activities that they find the most restful. The results show that the top five most restful activities are those often done alone:”

  • Reading (58 per cent)
  • Being in the natural environment (53.1 per cent)
  • Being on their own (52.1 per cent)
  • Listening to music (40.6 per cent)
  • Doing nothing in particular (40 per cent)

More than 18,000 people from 134 different countries took part in the Rest Test, an online survey to investigate the public’s resting habits and their attitudes towards relaxation and busyness.

Meditation: 271 Days

After 271 consecutive days of meditation practice, I missed on Saturday. I was attending my 50th high school class reunion and just spaced it off. My previous streak of 371 days (starting on December 4, 2014) ended during a bout with pneumonia (December 5, 2015). I don’t get hung up on the quality of my practice or the duration but I do try to be consistent in sitting every day, if only for 10 minutes. Which is the only reason I keep track of my sessions. As I’ve noted previously, missing once a year might not be a bad thing if it keeps me from focusing on the string instead of today’s session. So today is two in a row!

Silence

In the future, people will be prepared to pay for the experience of silence.

I extremely fortunate in this regard. I have a lot of silence in my life. I live at the end of a gravel road, surrounded by woods. No screaming children in my life (at least none I can’t avoid). Barb doesn’t need me to entertain her so I can experience hours of silence if I choose. I don’t take this for granted. The flip side is I have less tolerance for noise than I once did. From the article below (This Is Your Brain On Silence):

“Two hours of silence per day prompted cell development in the hippocampus, the brain region related to the formation of memory, involving the senses. […] The growth of new cells in the brain doesn’t always have health benefits. But in this case, Kirste says that the cells seemed to become functioning neurons.”

“There isn’t really such a thing as silence,” says Robert Zatorre, an expert on the neurology of sound. “In the absence of sound, the brain often tends to produce internal representations of sound.

“If you want to know yourself you have to be with yourself, and discuss with yourself, be able to talk with yourself.”

I do a good bit of this kind of introspection and, occasionally, wonder if it’s good for me. The article says yes. Shhh.

How LSD affects consciousness

Researchers have published the first images showing the effects of LSD on the human brain, as part of a series of studies that are examining how the drug causes its characteristic hallucinogenic effects. (More at Nature)

“Within some important brain networks, such as the neuronal networks that normally fire together when the brain is at rest, which is sometimes called the ‘default mode’ network, we saw reduced blood flow — something we’ve also seen with psilocybin — and that neurons that normally fire together lost synchronization. That correlated with our volunteers reporting a disintegration of their sense of self, or ego. This known effect is called ‘ego dissolution’: the sense that you are less a singular entity, and more melded with people and things around you.”

Physician population aging faster than patients

“The physician population is aging even faster than their patients, a lot faster, in fact. Fifty-two percent of orthopedists, 54% of cardiologists, 60% of psychiatrists, and two-thirds of oncologists are 55 or older. This will be the first year that more doctors retire than start practicing. […] The Association of American Medical Colleges projects that by 2025, the U.S. will face a shortage of up to 90,000 doctors, and a dearth of specialists will account for most of the shortage.”

“On average, family doctors got a $27,000 raise in the past year, from $198,000 to $225,000, for a 13% increase. Doctors in the two other primary care categories, internal medicine and pediatrics, also had great years. Each garnered 15% bumps to $237,000 and $224,000 respectively.”

Full story at Fortune Magazine

Third anniversary of plant-based diet

Lettuce leaf and tomato on a plateIn Meathooked: The History and Science of Our 2.5-Million-Year Obsession with Meat, science writer Marta Zaraska does a great job of exposing these claims as myths.

“Vegetarian animals ranging from gorillas to water deer, she reports, have bigger, sharper canines than we do; our canines aren’t specially meant for processing meat. What we lack dentally is more important, in fact, than what we have. Gently open a (calm) dog’s jaw, and there at the back will be the carnassial teeth, “blade-like and sharp and perfect for slicing meat.” Lions and tigers, racoons and house cats — all carnivores — have them too. We don’t. All the high-quality amino acid proteins we require are readily available in plants, Zaraska says, listing soy, buckwheat, quinoa and potatoes as examples.”

“Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine even notes that when people switch from meat-eating to plant-eating, their intake of vitamins and other nutrients improves.”

Full story from NPR