Wednesday, December 3, 2014

10 Quotes From Warren Buffett That Will Teach You How To Be A Successful Person

Avicii-The Days

Taken from Lifehack

(1) Know your stuff

(2) Think things through

(3) Tread Carefully in all matters

(4) If things are bad, don't make them worse

(5) Associate with the right people

(6) Don't be too trusting

(7) Appreciate what came before

(8) Know when to jump ship

(9) Habits are hard to break

Now, the most important one....

(10) Be certain of your success even when no one else is

Friday, November 28, 2014

Who doesn't love manatees?

Manatees are gorgeous, magnificent creatures. Take a look here!

Here are some fun manatee facts:

(1) These amazing sea bears are herbivores and can eat up to 1200 pounds of seaweed per day!

(2) There are 3 different manatee species: West Indian Manatee, West African Manatee, and Amazonian Manatee. How exotic!

(3) They have extremely low metabolic rates and the West Indian and West African require warm water (of at least 60 degrees).

(4) Elephants are the closest living relatives of manatees and their cousins (known as Dugongs).

(5) Manatees can continuously replace their teeth throughout their lives. 

(6) Manatees can learn basic tasks, are extremely sensitive to touch, and can distinguish colors.

(7) Manatees, along with tree sloths, are the only vertebrates that do not have 7 vertebrae. Manatees have 6.

(8) Manatees have no natural predators.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Today is a wonderful day. I'm enjoying myself today organizing my life, making dark chocolate brownies, and watching Wendy Williams. What more could a gal ask for? Well, on WW she has this thing where you pick a celebrity thanksgiving. Well, here's my list! Who would you have on yours?

(1) Barack and Michelle Obama + Bo Obama. (not so much celebrity as they are political leaders but I would love them over.)

(2) James Franco (I loves me some intellectuals!)

(3) Regis Philbin--I feel like he has the best personality and is so energetic and entertaining. It's impossible to not have a good time when Regis is around.

(4) Jake Gyllenhal--I think he could be friends with Franco, plus he's super hot and entertaining.

(5) Lisa Kudrow--she is ridiculously Hilarious

(6) Julia Louis-Dreyfus--she could be great friends with Lisa Kudrow and I just love her. She is so darn funny.

Have a wonderful Holiday!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Lessons Learned

Lee Moses-Bad Girl

(1) “If you still believe the same thing you believed 15 years ago, then you're a joke.” -Malcolm Gladwell
(2) Reinvention is so tremendously excruciating and so tremendously rewarding at the same time.
(3) Ennui is the worst.
(4) "Don't worry before you have to worry. Just wait and see."
(5) One day this will all make sense.
(6) I might just be an 80-year old soul in a very small package.
(7) I am tired, but gotta keep on movin'!
(8) I am also so grateful to have someone in my life that understands all the nuance.
(9) Sugar Cookie flavored Tea +Dark Chocolate brownies=scrumptious!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Lessons learned

Coldplay--Sky Full of Stars

(1) Ignore the chatter of the turtles (especially when you're a giraffe standing tall--lowering yourself to listen to it will only harm you).
(2) Some people are just toxic and, from time to time, it is necessary to detox.
(3) When people show you who they are believe it.
(4) It's unfair to yourself to keep trying to justify why you're holding on to toxicity. There are lessons in letting go and moving on.
(5) There is normalcy somewhere and I'm glad I found it. Now it's about learning how to let go of dysfunction.
(7) I<3 NY in the Fall!
(8) The way things are need to become the way things were.
(9) I LOVE my exercise ball!
(10) Emancipation needs to happen ASAP.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Open Letter to USDA: Please do not kill Mr. Beaver!

Dear United States Department of Agriculture,

I am alarmed to see that a busy beaver in Washington State (featured here) is wanted by the USDA in order to trap and euthanize. I understand the concerns of citizens of Kitsap County; the animal is causing complications in the man-made portions of the area and I sympathize that it must be an inconvenience to those citizens; however,  I firmly believe that  there is a better solution than to euthanize this beaver.

Beavers are magnificent creatures. According to this documentary, beavers are an integral part of the ecosystem. The dams they build allow water to collect into a pond that serves as a home for insects, fish, and ducks in the warmer seasons. They also create an environment that allows marshland vegetation to grow that allow for larger land mammals such as moose, elk, and even bears to eat. As you can see, beavers are at the center of the ecosystems they built and removing them can cause a butterfly effect of reactions that can be detrimental to the entire environment.

Additionally, beavers are very cute. We cannot deny this fact and they tirelessly work around the clock to build their dams, larders, and lodges. Here are some facts that might allow you to reconsider euthanization:
  • Did you know that beavers have both claws and webbed feet to allow them to walk, swim and grab branches?
  • Did you know that beaver husband and wife are monogamous? Here is a darling beaver couple from that site:
  • Did you know that beavers live as a family unit in these lodges and young beavers learn how to create dams by helping their parents? Here is beaver with baby beaver:
  • Did you know that beaver husband and wife work together as a team to build these dams?
  • Did you know that beavers contain an oil secreting gland that they groom and rub over their fur in order to remain water repellant and impervious to the cold winter water?
  • Did you know that beavers build their dams with sticks, stones to weigh down the sticks, and mud as an insulator to patch holes?
  • Did you know that beaver houses contain a ventilation system, several rooms including a kitchen, nursery, and bedroom/living room? Here is a photo:
  • Did you know that other animals like deer mice, muskrats etc also lodge in different rooms of the beaver homes to help survive the winter?
  • Did you know beavers eat or use almost every part of the tree? They store the leafy parts underwater by jabbing them into the mud. During the winter they will eat the branches and give the babies the leaves. They also like bark and tree pulp. Nothing goes to waste. Here is a cute beaver on Kelly and Michael:
 
Knowing all this, how can euthanization be the answer? Euthanizing this beaver not only affects the ecosystem, but also disrupts other species and an entire family. Let's wax empathetic a little here.How would you like it if someone thought your home was annoying and trapped you and took you away?

Lastly, let's not forget the past. There once was 60 million beavers and now the populations have dwindled to only 6-10 million. Why? The Hudson Bay fur trade. Let's not forget the important lesson that the passenger pigeons taught us 100 years ago. This land is just as much ours as it is the other beautiful creatures that inhabit it and keep the environment in balance. Please, USDA, I urge you to reconsider euthanization of this beaver and consider relocation, zoo, or sanctuary.

-Swimming

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Beaver building dam!

http://www.peoplepets.com/people/pets/article/0,,20858370,00.html

This has me a bit outraged as I am a firm believer that everything in nature has an order and its place and trapping and killing this poor creature is inhumane. Please don't kill this cute beaver! They have families and an entire ecosystem that depends on them.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Musings: On Empathy

I'm not going to dive into the definition since I believe most people have an understanding of what the word itself means; however, I want to discuss some aspects of empathy and how I've tried to cultivate it.

The New Yorker explores empathy from its many standpoints, but what struck me the most was that "empathy is what makes us human." What an interesting ontological phenomenon; we need to empathize in order to be human. The Guardian published a piece on Friday noting a difference between empathy and compassion.

Empathy is a prime component of the medical profession. Without acknowledging how a patient's symptoms affect their quality of life or why a patient is struggling adds an extra layer of complexity to diagnosing and treating a patient. In my Lifestyles of Medicine course, I am learning that part of being a physician is being mindful before you even enter a patient's exam room: reminding yourself again and again that you are here for them; it's your job to connect and understand the complexities of both the disease and the symptoms that brought the patient into your clinic on this day. I found this interesting blog from a medical actor (an actor that plays a patient for med students to examine and get scored on). She digs into how, at different periods during the interaction between a patient and their physician, empathy plays a pivotal role in helping the patient both clinically and personally.

I've always been hyper-aware of the feelings of other people. When I was 8 my fourth grade teacher was recently widowed and I scolded a classmate for obliviously asking her about her husband. As a kid, my parents worked so I grew up outside of the house mostly in school (I was put in school very very young). Thus, I had to use my ability to relate to others in order to compile a social circle for myself and make sure I didn't purposely alienate someone. This taught me many things, but I think the greatest gift it has bequeathed upon me is my ability to recognize potential suffering.

One time in high school, during lunch I noticed that a middle school girl (our girls middle school shared a cafeteria with half of the upper school) with bright red hair was sitting on a makeshift table by herself because her friends did not make room for her at the table. I told my friend Rachel that I wanted to invite this girl to sit at our table. Her name was Leisel (I remember it still because the only other time I had heard that name was from the Sound of Music) and I told her that who cares that her friends won't make room for her and that there's always room at our cool high schooler table for her any time.

So why is it that some can muster empathy quite naturally whereas for others it's an emotional mountain to climb? I think as adults it becomes a choice to exercise empathy or ignore it and it's a case-by-case situation. We all have our empathetic moments and some where we wished we had been more present to someone else's feelings. One can definitely cultivate empathy, but our society is not conducive to empathizing with others as easily it used to be. I do not participate in Facebook. I had one of the first accounts in college when only a select number of universities were granted accounts, but I've since realized that I'm better off without it. Primarily because I realize that having friends requires care, time, and effort and I'm glad to invest that in others. I have also noticed that this philosophy has positively impacted my friends as well. To be my friend you have to interact with me. There's no way around that. Phone or in-person communication allows each of us to realize when boundaries are being crossed and when to back off. The act of expressing words is not only therapeutic, but also adds the element of human-ness that is so lacking through technological communication. Talking allows us to release energy and read someone else's energy. You listen to inflection, tone, feeling of another person and that is how you relate to them. (I learned in class that the term is called 'affective listening' and an attribute that physicians should incorporate into their practice as well.)

So concrete ideas and practices of mine:
(1) I don't have facebook--like I stated before, if you want to be my friend and know things about me you have to interact with me. Sorry to be old-fashioned, but there's no way around that. I also would like to note that facebook has its place in society--my cousins in India use it and if I were on it I would perhaps get to follow up with them more than our frequent emails. I think things like social media becomes an issue when it's the prime medium through which we connect with others. In my opinion: in person>phone>email/text>social media relates to happiest>happier>happy>not so happy. There's actual studies about this (refer to 'How facebook makes us unhappy' from the New Yorker).
(2) I write emails, letters, and have phone calls with my friends followed up with in person-contact.
(3) I don't use my phone when I'm having a conversation with someone in front of me.
(4) I never talk or text while driving. Aside from being dangerous, I want whoever is talking to me to get my full attention.
(5) I try to stay off Gchat: Thanks to rescuetime.com I've noticed that it's a giant time soak. It does allow me to keep in touch with my friends from different states, but it's tough because even after a long conversation I somehow walk away unfulfilled; we don't react expressively in the same as we do in actual physical good company.
(6) I meditate!
(7) I always question my approach. I think science dictates that we must question our beliefs in order to progress.
(8) Do something. I like to write, but I also like to play piano and tennis and do yoga. It's quite difficult to be on the phone when you're actually doing a real activity; but, what I have also found is that these activities allow me to express myself in many other ways. In tennis, I have to understand and predict my opponent's next move. With piano, I try to go beyond the notes on a page and really see how I can make a piece emotive by the way I play it. This allows me to play a piece of music that can perhaps resonate with someone else that has the same feelings. Writing is pretty therapeutic and important because the ability to express oneself through the written word allows us to engrave on to paper an experience that is engrained in our hearts.
(9) When working, I try to keep my phone on 'do not disturb' mode. This allows me to control my phone, not the other way around. Thus, when I want to call or text someone or respond it is a deliberate act instead of an impulsive reaction.
(10) Here are some things from the Times on teaching children empathy
*I have more tactics. This is just a start!

I'll conclude this post with a clip that basically summarizes my sentiments on this front from comedian Louis CK. "You need to build an ability to just be with yourself."

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Air show!

Swimming enjoyed an airshow this past Labor Day weekend. Here are some Navy planes c/o the Navy Blue Angels!  It just so happens that they are Michigan colors, go maize and blue!



Monday, September 8, 2014

Food for thought: Food Safety

In honor of my 1-year anniversary of learning to cook chicken properly, I'll be posting some food safety tips:

(1) Did you know that you shouldn't leave freshly cooked food out for more than 2 hours or bacteria begins to grow?
http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/basics/chill/index.html

(2) Did you know that you shouldn't wash poultry before cooking?  Who knew?!
http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/basics/mistakes/

(3) Here are the minimum safety cooking temps of certain meats:
 http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/mintemp.html

(4) Here are food storage days. Who knew you're only supposed to keep cooked chicken 3-4 days?
http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/storagetimes.html 

(5) Here's something for fun. A quick lesson of what's the difference between certain foods/spices. Ever wonder what's the difference between Scallions adn green onions? or Paprika and Cayenne? Find out here:
http://www.all-food-considered.com/2012/09/culinary-lesson-9-whats-difference.html

(6) Here's a nice recipe I've been using lately. These avocado egg boats are delicious! You can dress them up with sauces and spices too!
http://www.theironyou.com/2014/04/eggs-baked-in-avocado-boats.html
http://thehealthyfoodie.com/eggs-avocado-boat/

(7) Here's some info on nuts: http://greatist.com/health/types-of-nut-infographic 

(8) For good measure, here's a nice Q&A on the low carb/fat diet that's been recently debated:
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/09/05/new-answers-about-carbs-and-fat/?action=click&contentCollection=Science&module=MostEmailed&version=Full&region=Marginalia&src=me&pgtype=article 

(9) Here are 26 ways to use apple cider vinegar: http://greatist.com/grow/ways-use-apple-cider-vinegar

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Depressed Rhino Befriends Donkey at zoo

How wonderful is this? I love it when animals make friends.

Also, posted this before, but I can't get enough of Mr. G and Jellybean. I can't believe how happy that goat is to see his long-lost buddy.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Swimming's Climate Series: Floods a-comin'

Lorde-Buzzcut Season

In light of last week's horrific flooding in Detroit and Swimming's sister having to save babies from car tops in the midst of a washed out roadway I am going to address increased flooding.

First off, this is another gruesome effect of climate change (along with the excess heat I discussed in the previous post in this series). Unfortunately, we can expect more of these events to come in the future too. How are the two related? At the most basic level, heavier rainfall and rising sea levels. Per the Times: "scientists have expected this effect for decades because more water is evaporating from a warming ocean surface, and the warmer atmosphere is able to hold the excess vapor, which then falls as rain or snow."

I can only speak secondhand as I don't live in Detroit, but my very close friends and family live there and I have heard their accounts. What irks me (and has irked me since I was at the United Nations and heard the accounts of countries across the world disclose how their citizens and communities are affected by climate change) is the gross injustice of inequality. It haunts me to think that without much warning and without much help afterwards a good deal of Southeast Detroit flooded. Unlike the storms out east last year or the Colorado/California wildfires nearly every year, there was no forewarning for the inhabitants. In the midst of disaster, the law enforcement/government aid was virtually absent leaving most of the citizens of Detroit to fend for themselves. What I want to bring to attention is the fact that climate change is affecting everyone; however, the help and the ability of cities and communities to deal with it is starkly different. Wealthy areas (like both coasts) have the city funding to send police and aid to help people and businesses even before disasters strike. What about the people in the midwest? They are also being affected, but how do those citizens that make up the heart of America get aid when places like Detroit can barely afford police to take care of homicides? Let's not forget about Katrina. These places house some of the poorest communities and these citizens cannot afford to simply uproot their lives. Some people have lost everything--what can be done? A lot in my opinion. Below are some links. I think first educating the masses on the science and the cause is a must. Secondly, preparing communities to deal with weather-related issues and illnesses. Lastly, I think it's time that prominent members of the community (politicians, lawyers, physicians, business people) band together to address this issue with local governments. 

(1) Here is excellent overview
-Explains how the US has already changed--temperature and precipitation-wise. (Apparently the East Coast is sinking...bummer.)

(2) A gorgeous website on Climate change in the US
-Please go here and interactively explore how climate change is occurring 

(3)Specific Info on Flooding via NRDC

(4)What to do during a flood-Be Prepared!
(Copied from website)
Prepare before a flood:
During a flood:
  • Listen to the radio or television for information.
  • Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
  • Be aware of stream, drainage channels, canyons and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without typical warnings such as rain clouds or heavy rain.
During flood evacuation:
  • Secure your home. If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture. Move essential items to an upper floor.
  • Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
When heading into flood weather (although avoid doing this at all costs):
  • Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas.
(5) Know the Nations Weather Flood terms (Copied from ready.gov website):

Flood Watch - Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.
Flash Flood Watch - Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.
Flood Warning - Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
Flash Flood Warning - A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground immediately.

(6) The dangers of driving during floods: (Copied from ready.gov website)
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground, when water is not moving or not more than a few inches deep. You and the vehicle can be swept away quickly.  If your vehicle is trapped in rapidly moving water, stay in the vehicle. If the water is rising inside the vehicle, seek refuge on the roof.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams, rivers or creeks, particularly during threatening conditions. 
  • Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
  • A foot of water will float many vehicles
  • Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV’s) and pick-ups.
  • Do not attempt to drive through a flooded road. The depth of water is not always obvious. The road bed may be washed out under the water, and you could be stranded or trapped.
  • Do not drive around a barricade. Barricades are there for your protection. Turn around and go the other way.
  • Do not try to take short cuts. They may be blocked. Stick to designated evacuation routes.
  • Be especially cautious driving at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.

(7) From 'How to survive a flash-flood: In case you are trapped in a car' here are some great tips.
 Be very aware of your car's limitations. If you drive in water that's six inches deep or more, your car could stall or you could lose control of it. One foot of water is enough to float most cars, and two feet of rushing water can indeed carry away cars, SUVs and pick-ups.
  • Do not panic if your car becomes submerged by flood waters. Release your seat belt, roll down your window and get out of the car. If your windows won't open, let the car fill with water. Once that happens, you will be able to open the doors. Get out of the car immediately and swim to the surface. Do not stay in the car until it sinks.
  • If you are swept away in fast-moving water, try to make sure your feet are pointed downstream. 
  • If you are swept away, make every effort to direct your body over obstacles rather than under them.
  • If you can, try to avoid contact with any flood waters. The water may be contaminated with raw sewage, oil or gasoline, and may also be charged with electricity from down power lines. 
(8) What are the Health Risks?
Here's a few from the webiste
  • Drowning while driving
  • Waterborne diseases contaminating drinking water
  • Sewage back-up in plumbing or basements
  • Bacteria, sewage, and other contaminants in waterways:
  • Mold and dangerous indoor air quality    

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Heart Health!

Lorde-Glory and Gore

In light of Swimming's cholesterol, I'll be posting here some information on how to take control of your heart health. For ten years now, Swimming has controlled elevated LDL and overall cholesterol (genetic) through diet and exercise; each year being more active and healthier than the previous. Please note that if you have problematic H. pylori (the bacteria that is the cause of most duodenal ulcers--we all have it but certain cases it becomes out of control) can also increase LDL levels (due to inflammation that the bacteria causes in the intestines) and can also lead to  atherosclerosis. The literature is limited on this relation, however, it points to something interesting that might be occurring. As a side note: anyone dealing with GERD or ulcers that haven't subsided with short-term use of medication should also have their gastrin levels checked. 

(1) Several months ago the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology just released new guidelines for cholesterol levels and therapeutics:
Here's the reader's digest version.
Here's the longer Times summary. 
Here is the AHA's summary of their 4 new guidelines.  
Here's their online calculator to figure out your risk of heart disease and stroke.  
Lastly, here's AHA guideline resource center which has more info on CV disease, diabetes, obesity and the guidelines.
Here are the full guidelines (NB: both these organizations have industry disclosures.) 
-Anyone dealing with this or at risk read the guidelines and if you have questions ask (myself and I'll consult with my resources or your own physician.) The new guidelines account for the multitude of side-effects the may come with the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs. (FYI all drugs are not created equal. Unfortunately I've personally seen these drugs handed out like candy after a pharm rep dropped off a bunch of samples at a Cardiologist's office.) I personally have been incredibly vigilant about modifying lifestyle as much as possible so I can delay the use of medication by keeping my overall cholesterol to <200 and my LDL to around 100 or less (my earlier discussion reg. my ulcer has totally messed this up for me.) Statins are extremely effective at lowering cholesterol but for many the use of statins come at a high price. Anyone on the border that could avoid statin use with diet and exercise should strongly consider doing everything they can to delay their start of statins therapy (esp if you're like me and are in your 20s or 30s.) Statins are powerful at lowering the risk of Cardiovascular disease and this coupled with the other advancements (Stents etc...) in cardiology have collectively decreased cardiovascular deaths in the past 30 years tremendously and have also increased the life span of humans. With that said, please please please do your part to take care of your heart! How? read further! 

(2) Cooking for lower cholesterol 
and here's some more information on a low fat diet.
-This is really just good information. I have been on a low fat, low sodium, high fiber diet for some time now and the initial transition I had to make when I was 18 was difficult but well worth it. I haven't really had fast food in a very long time, I just don't even go for anything fried (this was easy to give up since fried foods also cause acid reflux). I love steamed veggies! Letting go of cookies and ice cream is just plain hard since I love both. I'm not fully there yet but I would say now every few months I allow myself these treats (mainly seasonal.) 

(3) Good background information on fats and cholesterol. 

(4) Warning: fish oil supplements have also been known to raise LDL.  

(5) Some last links--info and debate on statins (from the evidence I've read I see that they are beneficial, but I always think the first line of defense should be diet and exercise):
http://www.bmj.com/content/338/bmj.b2376
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/14/opinion/dont-give-more-patients-statins.html?_r=0
http://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f6123

Monday, August 11, 2014

Lessons learned


(1) to errr is human, to forgive is divine 
(2) it is my responsibility to free my mind.
(3) keep it up. Don't stop being great. 
(4) with mistakes we learn and gain 
(5) I am now finding solace in how life never remains still 
(6) “Stay away from what might have been and look at what can be.” ~Marsha Petrie Sue
(7) always remember the trichotomy of control
(8) Some things are up to us and some things are not up to us. – Epictetus
(9) when the stars align to offer something, by all means don't go against them. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Beloved Academia!

I don't have much to say about this but there's been a lot of discussion lately about the future of academics here and here. I thought this study was interesting as well. Having had a very very small exposure (but exposure nonetheless) of what academia entails I can only conclude one thing: it's a very tough environment. The sequestering of funding is making it even harder and less appealing. The simple truth is that the limited tenured positions out there and the lack of funding have made it harder to establish oneself financially and as an academic, let alone establish one's body of knowledge, work, ideas etc...I already mourn the loss of the open forum of schools of thought (I'm referring to the lost art of learning rhetoric of a sort from a philosophical school.) Being able to ponder one's craft without being clouded by the nitty gritty (primarily funding) appears to be a lost art and immensely difficult when one is struggling to manage their own livelihood. I don't have a solution (yet) for this unfortunately, but if more individuals who are passionate about a field (any field) choose the industry over the academic route at some point progress will become stallwart. We need innovation in order progress ourselves and our society. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Swimming's Climate Series: Poverty and Climate Change

Greetings fair readers!

This will be a short post primarily to expand on what was published by the World Bank this week.

Per the World Bank this week “We will never end poverty if we don't tackle climate change.”
This is a startling truth that resonates deeply with my own concerns of how climate change affects our health. A reader's digest summary is this: as countries increase their carbon emissions, the planet gets warmer. This results in melting of the polar ice caps causing flooding, prolonged elevated temperatures causing droughts, and increased carbon dioxide in the oceans. What does this mean for poverty? Well the hardest hit countries are the poorest countries. Along with floods comes water-borne diseases. At the UN, I met Dr. Manoj Kurian (manager of the International AIDS Society) that put it best "Viruses don't need visas." Poor countries are already combatting their own health issues and are now becoming even more burdened with foreign vector-borne diseases from increased flooding that carry these critters across borders.

As far as droughts go, it's quite obvious that the hardest hit global regions are the ones where (1) the countries are affected more by droughts and (2) the countries' primary GDP stems from agriculture. Typically, countries whose primary GDP is coming from agriculture are also lacking another sustainable and dominant industry to add to the GDP. Droughts are affecting crops and the economy of these areas (ie India, Guatemala etc...) this results in malnourishment of the citizens. Another effect is increased suicide from depression. Droughts of crops are oftentimes the sole income/livelihood of farming families. After months and even years of droughts many of the farmers in these countries have an increased incidence of mental illness and suicide.

I've run out of time, but at some point I shall elaborate on this topic and include more references.  For now though, just chew on how you can decrease your carbon footprint and help not only yourself and your community, but also generate a global impact.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Last United Nations Photo!

A nice pic from the United Nations that I forgot to put up (Swimming is one of the people sitting up at the panel)

Disclaimer: The Assembly Hall was actually empty, so we all went up for a faux photo shoot--but for a minute I totally had ya! (One day I'll actually be invited to speak!)



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Swimming's Climate Series

After coming back from Europe an enlightened woman (well, sort of, my hair is still wild and out of control) I am starting a series of posts on Climate change called 'Swimming's Climate Series' where I will be confronting the health effects of climate change. At the World Health Assembly in the UN Geneva I attended a session that has completely opened my eyes to this issue. Especially because it was placed in the context of how climate change is affecting human health. My class project and paper are on this topic and I will be sharing fast facts and discussion on this in a series of posts in the hopes to educate someone, anyone out there reading this. Climate change really is occurring, think about the last time we had a string of 90+ degree weather growing up? Can't remember it? That's because global warming has escalated us to these increased heat waves in the past decade.

The heat is insane here and it is only getting hotter. How did this happen? To distill this down, cars/plants/transportation leads to pollution and carbon emissions which leads to destruction and deposition of the ozone and carbon. Carbon traps heat so that leads to increased global temperatures. For more details about the actual science and data see here.

How does climate change affect me? Because the integrity of the atmosphere  has been compromised there is now sustained presence of heat which can lead heat exhaustion and heat stroke which can lead to death.

Here are some of the hardest hit cities: http://www.medpagetoday.com/PublicHealthPolicy/EnvironmentalHealth/32887
Notice that they are some of the poorest cities in America. Again we stumble upon the issue of how corporate and congressional action ends up impacting the poor the hardest.

What does this mean for us? Not only is our environment affected and ecosystem disrupted, climate change is rapidly affecting human health. 

Here are basic ways to start becoming more educated on climate change as both an environmental and a medical issue:

(1) Know your heat terminology. Here's a website that will help you understand the differences in ky words used by both the National Weather Service and healthcare professionals. The major ones are:

Weather Terms:
Heat Wave - Prolonged period of excessive heat, often combined with excessive humidity.
Heat Index - A number in degrees Fahrenheit (F) that tells how hot it feels when relative humidity is added to the air temperature. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15 degrees.
Heat Advisory - Heat Index values are forecast to meet locally defined advisory criteria for 1 to 2 days (daytime highs=100-105° Fahrenheit).

Health Terms:
Heat Exhaustion - Typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim's condition will worsen. Body temperature will keep rising and the victim may suffer heat stroke.
Heat Stroke - A life-threatening condition. The victim's temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly.

(2) How does heat affect my health?
 Read here for more detailed info: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/heat-wave-health/

In a nutshell, our natural physiology allows us to keep our body temperature within a range (only a few degrees above/below 98 deg-F). Additionally, there are mechanisms such as sweating during exercise and a change in the set-point temperatures during fevers that allow the body to self-regulate its temperature. This is all contingent upon a stable environmental temperature. As the temperature in our environment climbs, our bodies will exchange heat (the physics of heat transfer from high to low areas). Thus, if we consistently have days that are in the 100s our bodies will consistently be stressed to absorb heat from the environment, but at a certain point this exceeds our capacity to self-regulate and leads to health complications such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Why is heat bad? Well many of our cellular and protein function rely on working at a stable body temperature. At elevated temperatures, enzymes/proteins that carry out body functions such as breaking down food into energy will denature. This leads to tissue and organ failure and eventual death.

(3) Here's a quick link to a clip from Real Time with Bill Maher. This clip is mainly for entertainment purposes but dapples in the debate over climate change from a different perspective. If you don't care about your health, the economy, the planet, then maybe you'll care that your beach house off the Florida coast is going to be under water very very soon.

Stay tuned, I will be tackling this from the ground up!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

This week's lessons learned

Ed Sheeran-I'm a mess

This week was quite crazy for Swimming, but in it I have learned some humongous lessons that will hopefully impel me to change and grow

(1) Emancipation is a rite of passage.
(2) Being an independent woman means managing my own stuff-even if it means living entirely differently.
(3) Retail therapy is NEVER the answer.
(4) Building my relationships with others has been time well-invested. I love the people in my life and even more so I appreciate my ability to get along with people from all walks of life. I have learned a great deal from so many different people. 
(5) I know the answer and I know what to do.
(6) Don't every let anyone's pessimism or negativity steer you in the wrong direction.
(7) Approval is unnecessary. 
(8) Trust yourself and your reasoning and your motivation.
(9) Some relationships are getting in the way of growth.
(10) At any given moment there are infinite possibilities. I just let one go, but there are infinite more and I will know when it's time to move on.
(11) It is time I changed the conversation and dynamic around my personal finances.
(12) Learn to sit with indecision and insecurity instead of panicking and frantically seeking answers.
(13) Never act in a space of panic, stress, or indecision.
(14) Sometimes the most dysfunctional relationships are the ones where it isn't immediately obvious that there is dysfunction.
(15) I need to take drastic action to tame my mind. A shout out to headspace.com for some much needed help on this front. I am extremely neurotic and compulsive.
(16) Nosce te ipsum (know thy self) and then listen.
(17) As long as I am dependent on someone else in such a basic way I am going to have problems building with other endeavors.
(18) PK has been, singlehandedly the best example of an independent woman who can manage her own sh*t and I am lucky that I have such a strong example to follow (THANK YOU)
(19) It is absolutely imperative for me to get my stuff together internally and personally in order to attract solid people in my life.
(20) I have extremely solid people in my life that have, undoubtedly, helped me tremendously in this insane process.
(21) I Have the power to stop myself from spiraling.
(22) I must focus on being truly independent and playing my part.
(23) From MB many years back (I think circa 2011--but goes to show that wise words will never be forgotten):  Protect yourself: protect your mind, the health of your mind, protect your integrity the strength of your character, don't let it go and always want the truth to win. Zealously fight for your self, and for others.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Fourth of July!---On Resilience

First off, Happy 4th of July! I've talked about this before, but one of the most pivotal books in my Comeback has been Dr. Alex Lickerman's The Undefeated Mind. I found that he wrote a fantastic Huff Post article on how we can learn resilience that I'm going to print an excerpt from here. (Here's the full version)


Sometimes such a victory requires a single dramatic intervention fraught with risk; at other times, a series of multiple, small interventions whose individual effects may be minor but whose collective power is vast...Learning to accept pain, for example, really does make pain easier to withstand, yet sometimes only slightly. But when added to a fierce determination to accomplish an important mission, as well as to an expectation that accomplishing that mission will require the feeling of even more pain, strength often appears that makes large problems seem abruptly small. Though the effort required to maintain a high life condition often seems great, in reality it only needs to be wise...sometimes we only need to pull a lever a few degrees to move our lives in a radically different direction.

For resilience really can be learned. As amorphous as the concept of "inner strength" often seems, our ability to survive and even thrive in the face of adversity, our ability to push on through disappointment and discouragement when obstacles arise in the pursuit of our goals, is as measurable a quantity as is the strength of our biceps. And like the strength of our biceps, it can also be increased.
This, then, is what it means to possess what I call an undefeated mind: not just to rebound quickly from adversity or to face it calmly, even confidently, without being pulled down by depression or anxiety, but also to get up day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade -- even over the course of an entire lifetime -- and attack the obstacles in front of us again and again and again until they fall, or we do. An undefeated mind isn't one that never feels discouraged or despairing; it's one that continues on in spite of it. Even when we can't find a smile to save us, even when we're tired beyond all endurance, possessing an undefeated mind means never forgetting that defeat comes not from failing but from giving up. An undefeated mind doesn't fill itself with false hope, but with hopes to find real solutions, even solutions it may not want or like. An undefeated mind is itself what grants us access to the creativity, strength, and courage necessary to find those real solutions, viewing obstacles not as distractions or detours off the main path of our lives but as the very means by which we can capture the lives we want. Victory may not be promised to any of us, but possessing an undefeated mind means behaving as though it is, as though to win we only need wage an all-out struggle and work harder than everyone else, trying everything we can, and when that fails trying everything we think we can't, in full understanding that we have no one on whom we can rely for victory but ourselves. Possessing an undefeated mind, we understand that there's no obstacle from which we can't create some kind of value. We view any such doubt as a delusion. Everyone -- absolutely everyone -- has the capacity to construct an undefeated mind, not just to withstand personal traumas, economic crises, or armed conflicts, but to triumph over them all.
Attaining this state may seem impossible, an ability granted only to an extraordinary few like Viktor Frankl or that great champion of freedom, Nelson Mandela. But the tools those luminaries used to achieve their goals are available to us all. Extraordinary people may be born, but they can also be made. We need only look around at the number of people in everyday life who demonstrate the same resilience as a Viktor Frankl or a Nelson Mandela for proof that an undefeated mind isn't nearly so rare a thing as we think.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Remaining France Pics because I'm in love with Paris

I must post these. I am obsessed with Paris and fall in love with the city more and more as I return. I shall live there one day, until then I always have fond memories of Paris!

Fountain/courtyard with Notre Dame in the distance

Notre Dame-up close and gorgeous. That architecture and detail is amazing

More Gargoyles!

The Pont des Arts Bridge: Where lovers go and place locks to symbolize love--Paris really is romantic except that the following week it collapsed under the weight of all the locks!

A down under view of the tour Eiffel

L'Hôtel national des Invalides (old hospital turned French 
Military museum) with Mansart's dome in the backdrop.

One last view of the grande Notre Dame

Place de la Bastille

Lingering photo of Chamonix

Saturday, June 28, 2014

And more from Geneva!

Here are some more pics from Geneva/UN:

United Nations Front Entrance

United Nations Flags

The Main United Nations Assembly Hall

Geneva Flower Clock-it actually moves!

Delicious savory crepe!

UN Courtyard

A Peacock-a little known fact is that the lady who donated the land for the UN building in Geneva did so under the condition that her pet peacocks be allowed to roam the property freely.

Rainbow at the fountain!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Europe Lessons Learned

(1) Climate change is real and if we do not do something to deter the rate at which we are destroying our planet we will be all gone very very soon.

(2) Eating well is very important to me. More important than any luxury or frivolity. You are what you eat!

(3) I'm big in Europe. I mean really big. I think my use of broken french was found to be endearing. Au revoir Geneve! (Clearly this is sarcastic, but lesson learned is that in a foreign country at least try to make an effort to use the language.)

(4) Traveling with different people and big groups of people is very difficult.

(5) Take responsibility to make things happen and get things done. I'm so glad that I avoided the stress of losing my luggage by making sure I got my things on my own.

(6) I'm excited to be a vocal person now. I'm glad I made lots of new buddies at the UN!

(7) WE are so lucky to be living in a country that has a stable infrastructure. Let's do our parts to make sure that we don't destroy this world.

(8) Some people are totally ok with not showering for 2 weeks. I cannot relate to this but had to live with the ramifications of this and it was smelly.

(9) If you want to do something, there is nothing in this world that can stop you. Take ownership of your own future and make it happen!

(10) Having the ability to empathize with people starkly different than me is something I pride myself in and treasure.

(11) Take responsibility for your own happiness!

(12) Paris is and probably always will be my absolute most favorite place in the world. Paris, I will return!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Swimming climbs mountain

Here are some spectacular views from Mont Blanc!

The Alps from a distance:

On the way up:

Ice Cave

Among the Clouds:

Beautiful town of Chamonix:

And one last Paris one for good measure,  we were there during the French Open! (Hence the obnoxious Roland Garros tennis ball hanging from the Eiffel Tower)

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Paris, je vais revenir!

J'adore Paris et je suis très reconnaissant que j'ai vu Notre Dame cette temps. Alors, Paris au revoir, je dois retournèe au Gèneve!



Notre Dame Gargoyles!

La Seine!

La tour Eiffel avec le cercle lumineux nuage

Friday, May 30, 2014

Goat reunites with best friend

ok, I know that as I'm currently in Paris I ought to post something amazing, but this is simply the best thing I've witnessed all week!

http://www.peoplepets.com/people/pets/article/0,,20820530,00.html

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Bonjour de Genève!

Je passé un bon moment en Genève et en Annecy! Ici des photos!

À bientôt!

Here is beautiful Geneva!


Melinda Gates at the UN!

Beautiful Annecy!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Musings!

And Swimming is already off to a much much much delayed trip Switzerland. Hopefully I'll be awake enough to update the blog across the pond. In the mean time, here are some musings:

(1)I am totally obsessed with George Clooney's new fiancee

(2) How adorable! Couple Married 70 Years Die 15 Hours Apart

(3) Oh Oprah, I'm sure this tea will be amazing. 

(4) Never saw Frozen, but this Marine's video is awesome. 

(5) Yikes! Here are the world's deadliest creatures!

(6) Save the pandas--excited to see that MSU is taking up the cause!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Carrots, Eggs, Coffee

Arianna Grande-Problem
Here is a wonderful metaphor:
http://www.soulcast.com/post/show/59487/A-carrot,-an-egg,-and-a-cup-of-coffee


A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.
Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners . She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl.
Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what you see."
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.
Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.
Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, mother?"
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?
Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?


“In life, things happen to us and things happen around us, but the only thing that truly matters is what happens within us."
"What Lies Behind Us and What Lies Before Us are Tiny Matters Compared to What Lies Within Us" ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, April 25, 2014

Swimming's Safari Adventures!

Simon & Garfunkel-At The Zoo

Someone told me it's all happening at the zoo....
What a peculiar day it was for Swimming this past Sunday. Easter Sunday coincided with Swimming's Birthday! To celebrate, she and some buddies decided to head out for a little safari at the zoo. Oh my ears and whiskers the things we saw! I must admit that I am very impressed with the high-profile animals that are staying at Cleveland Zoo. They don't give many facts about them so I decided to look up some facts and posted some below. Here are some pictures of the amazing creatures. Disclaimer: all pictures are zoomed, I was not actually that close to the animals.

Here are some lions. Did you know that Males with darker manes are more likely to attract female lions (lionesses)? Also, they only live to about 12 years old in the wild. I used to think that lions might be my spirit animal and like this woman they'd see me and want to give me a hug. From these ones, however, it does not seem like they want much to do with me other than to eat me.

How good-looking are these elephants? The African Elephant is the largest land mammal. Did you know that an elephant calf often sucks its trunk for comfort like a human baby sucks its thumb?

A Malayan Sun Bear and little baby bear. They have gorgeous long fur and really like honey! They are the smallest of all bear species. These folks are mainly living in Southeast Asia.

Here is Sir Tiger. Most tigers have yellow eyes except the White Tiger which has blue eyes. Also apparently their urine smells like popcorn!

Here is a Giraffe Family. Giraffes usually sleep for 1-12 minutes! They also have very pretty eyelashes. Surprisingly, I felt these creatures were very serene and could easily slide into first place as my new spirit animal.

I'll end with sleeping Koala. Koalas have two thumbs to help climb trees and eat eucalyptus. Along with the kangroos, their babies are also known as Joeys! Here's a great Koala survival story. Apparently they have the best insulating back fur among all other marsupials. This fur is highly resilient to wind and rain and their belly fur can reflect solar radiation. Amazing!

Lastly, as a Birthday present, I've adopted a panda from the WWF. Here is the photo I received--I like how my panda is posing, so chic! In keeping with ancient Chinese tradition I will be naming my panda after 100 days, but look how pretty it is!

All-in-all, Swimming had a very interesting birthday, filled with fun and a few mishaps and a wonderful video card from one of her best buddies playing one of my favorite tunes on the violin! After noticing that I've sprouted a few new gray hairs I've also come to embrace becoming older and transforming into a Golden Girl. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Wisdom

This post is entirely inspired by a friend who is participating in Landmark. I'd like to share two interesting facts: Antidepressants and antianxiety med users are the fastest growing population in our country. The fastest growing age group of antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds are preschoolers. Yes. I've fact-checked this one from multiple reliable sources.

First I'd like to point this discussion to some interesting and thought-provoking articles:
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303649504577493112618709108
in particular this sentence "Learning how exercise, diet and sleep bear on mood gives us tools to use in caring for ourselves." (This is part of the mission I'm taking on when I become a doctor and have already geared an entire segment on this blog towards helping others get all those aspects in tune.) I also definitely agree that confronting pain is a vital part of the human experience that allows us to connect to each other.

Here are some fast facts.

http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1914604,00.html

I am only going to comment on the use of these meds in minors. I went to a grade school where a fairly good amount of students were on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication. Most of them turned out to have successful careers. Whether the meds made the difference I don't know. What I do know is that no matter what the good effects may be one can never fully understand every single biochemical side effect of a drug long term or short term. There is absolutely a place for these prescriptions in medicine, but there is also no doubt that they are over-prescribed as an easy fix.

I was blessed and lucky to have had parents that sincerely tried to give me the world. As a child I relentlessly journaled and I now have several diaries that document my life and all the emotional ups and downs. If I were to change one thing from my upbringing it would be that for whatever reason I wish I had been passionate about one or two things or causes or activities and that I had followed through on those passions back then. I wish there was more of a push or urgency for me to find and follow that passion when I was younger (and not jaded by the real world.) It took me a while to figure out that medicine was something I was really passionate about. I do believe in fatalism and that the road I took to get here was required. I had to experience the different things I experienced in order to recognize that I wanted to be a doctor. I can't help but wonder what it would have felt like to have had that feeling back in high school. To have been as passionate about a cause bigger than myself back then would've given me the perspective that school was just the vehicle to allow me to do what I wanted to do; my daily toils weren't a big deal since school would've only been a fragment of my life.

I feel that parents are the ones who become the final decider to allow their children to be placed on these meds when they are minors. I don't know the back-stories and I don't want to criticize parents who have made this choice. I do want to inspire parents, with all their wisdom and experiences, to also not entirely rely on these medications to fix a problem that they may feel helpless about. If I was a high schooler and I had the meaning in my life as I do now, I would definitely have felt more empowered and less narcissistic (as evident by the pages and pages where I poured my heart out about what really was trivial problems.) As parents, it should be their job to aid their progeny to becoming a fully-functional human being. I feel that can only occur by exposing children to the possibility that they can do anything and helping their children connect to their higher purpose or a greater cause that's beyond the hallowed halls of high school. High school, no doubt, is tougher now with social media and technology. But the classmates of mine that are settled were those that were truly committed to things beyond just high school at the time (whether it be excelling and truly dedicating themselves to a sport or to music or to a human rights cause or to anything really like art or science or the humanities.)

I've definitely felt a great deal of pain and sorrow myself throughout the years, but I forced myself to engage with something higher and that's when real growth came. As an example, in what I consider my darkest hour is also when I chose to become a hospice volunteer. I also want to take a minute and point out that health, sleep, exercise, and sprituality/philosophy are crucial aspects of ones existence. If these aren't all in tune for adults who are parents it becomes extremely difficult to raise children who are also well-rounded. Just some food for thought.

Lastly, I'm going to close this post by pointing out that my friend has created an acronym out of wisdom to jumpstart this movement: Wisdom IS Doing me.

Here is another article:

The Anti-depressant Generation: "We need a greater focus on building resilience in emerging adults."

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Patriot's Day!

Bastille-Pompeii

So glad the Marathon was successful! A little bummed I missed Patriot's Day in Boston, but I'm most positive that it was fantastic. #BostonStrong!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014