Tuesday, May 31, 2005

My Personal Anti-Cancer Protocol

Everyone should do what they can to maintain their health and fitness. One of my main tools of battle for fighting breast and ovarian cancer is to have as many babies as God has seen fit to bless us with.

And it looks like I was right!

According to studies done in Australia, having babies early and often offers protective benefits against ovarian, breast, and colorectal cancer.

So, toss those contraceptives, girls, and revel in the health-giving benefits of profound fecundity!

Thanks to Carmon for the article.

Monday, May 30, 2005

The Healing Possibilities of Electricity

Here is some cool stuff on the ways in which subtle levels of electrical current can be used to cause healing in the body

Spine doctors raise hope of electric cure

Robin McKie, science editor
Sunday May 29, 2005
The Observer

Scientists have found a startling way to heal serious wounds, including broken spinal cords: stimulating them with electric currents.

The technique has been used as the basis for an operation which, in newly completed clinical trials, produced dramatic improvements in patients paralysed by spinal injuries.

After inserting battery packs beside their broken spinal cords, many had feelings restored to their legs and arms after a few weeks' treatment. Feeling was also restored to their lower limbs.
'We have only just started working with this technique but it is going to have a major impact,' said Professor Colin McCaig, head of Aberdeen University's school of medical sciences. 'In a few years, everyone could have an electric device for speeding up wound-healing in their first aid box, a sort of electronic witch hazel'

The basic technology that underpins the battery packs, known as oscillating field stimulators, has been developed by McCaig who has grown human nerve cells in laboratory dishes. By placing them in a carefully controlled electrical field he found they could direct their growth in a particular direction.

'We have known for centuries that nerve and other cells respond to electrical stimulation,' McCaig told The Observer. 'However, in the 19th century, charlatans claimed they could do great things for patients by sitting them in the middle of electrical fields. It just made their hair stand on end. As a result, electrical fields fell into disrepute.'

By carefully introducing electrical fields around damaged tissues, McCaig and his team found they could improve the time taken for skin and cornea wounds to heal. The first experiments were carried out on cell cultures. McCaig then began working with Professor Richard Borgens, from the Centre for Paralysis Research at Purdue University in Indiana, on a device that could be implanted in humans. 'We realised that if we put the ends of the broken spinal cord together, we might be able to entice nerve cells to grow towards each other by using an electric current,' said Borgens.

There was a problem, however. Some nerve cells - the ones that carry signals from the brain - would need to grow down the spine, and some, which carry signals to the brain, would need to grow up the spine.

'You need a signal from your brain to tell your hand to move. Equally you need sensory signals from the body to the brain to tell you exactly where your hand is so you can move it to a new position,' said Borgens.

However, detailed research by McCaig then demonstrated that by oscillating the electrical field so that its direction switched every 30 minutes, nerve cells could be induced to move in both directions, up and down the spine.

Borgens's team then built a stimulator based on this principle and this was inserted in a small group of quadriplegic and paraplegic patients. The surgery was carried out by Professor Scott Shapiro of Indiana University.

'We were trying to see if there would be any unforeseen side effects. There weren't. However, we got a major surprise in the way patients responded. In one case, a patient who had lost all sensation in his body had it restored completely. Others - mainly the quadriplegics - noted significant improvements in their ability to move their limbs.'

A second, more detailed set of tests has now been launched. At present, only those with fresh injuries appear to respond to the technique. 'We have a long way to go: nevertheless, it is encouraging,' said Borgens.

Kei-Kei-Boo just chillin' with Auntie Elodie Posted by Hello

My grandson, Roggie-Bear Posted by Hello

Elodie -- Still Dainty After All These Years Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 29, 2005

How Do I Love Thee?

I finished the biography of that remarkable woman, Dorothy Leigh Sayers, last night. It is entitled, A Careless Rage for Life, by David Coomes. After I had read her novel, Gaudy Night, I just knew that eventually I would have to know more about the author who wrote not only an entertaining mystery, but also had such penetrating insight to life.

Dorothy was no "Prairie Muffin" and I suspect that Lady Lydia would be horrified at her mannerisms and way of living, not to mention Dorothy's self-confessed vulgarity and earthy approach to life. She lived with a man outside of marriage, bore an illegitimate son by another, and went on to endure an unhappy marriage to a man who refused to allow her to raise her son. Nevertheless, she remains a woman I admire and who exhibited what C.S. Lewis, one of her colleagues and correspondants, called, "...courage and honesty, for the richly feminine qualities which showed through a part and manner superficially masculine and even gleefully ogreish..." Dorothy exemplified the fact that a woman can be feminine in a truly feminine way without the use of crinolines, Victorian tea roses, and lace. And she exhibited a robust faith in God that grew through the trials of life and manifested in scholarly and intellectual pursuits.

The reason I chose the particular title for this post is because it asks the question "HOW" do I love Thee -- with the "thee" referring to God. Not everyone who loves God does so in a manner that is expressed as a "religious emotion." Some Christians are called "cold" in their religion, and indeed, coldness of heart can exist, and it is something we are warned against. At the same time, we must not believe that excess of emotion is the litmus test of sincerity of love and devotion to God. In the parts of the letter that Dorothy wrote to someone on this matter, I think she does a wonderful job in illustrating just how it is one can love God in a manner that is true, honest, and yet unlike how another experiences it. We are not cookie cutter figures made from clay, but individuals with our own expression, calling, and role to fill in life and each of those callings will have peculiar temptations attached to them in terms of the ways in which we can breach our own integrity in fulfilling them. But I'll let Dorothy speak now:

"...I am not by temperament an evangelist. If I were, my thirst for saving souls would overcome all secondary considerations, and my obvious and burning sincereity would at any rate prevent me from appearing smug, whatever else it exposed me to. Charity would cover many mistakes I made. But I have not the passionate love for my fellow-men; I find it very difficult to love them at all, though for the most part I like them and get on with them, and can live with them in kindness if not in charity. This is a defect in me, but it is no use pretending that it does not exist. Evangelism is something to which I do not feel myself called.

"I am quite without the thing known as 'inner light' or 'spiritual experience.' I have never undergone conversion. Neither God, nor (for that matter) angel, devil, ghost or anything else speaks to me out of the depths of my psyche. I cannot go to people and say: 'I know the movements of the spirit from within...'

"It follows naturally, perhaps, from this that I am quite incapable of 'religious emotion'. This has its good as well as its bad side. I am not seriously liable to mistake an aesthetic pleasure in ritual or architecture for moral virtue, or to suppose that shedding a few tears over the pathos of the Crucifixion is the same thing as crucifying the old man in myself. Nor can I readily dismiss religion as a 'sublimation of sex' or anything of the kind, because I know perfectly well that it is nothing of the sort. But the lack of religious emotion in me makes me impatient of it in other people, and makes me appear cold and unsympathetic and impersonal. This is true. I am.

"I have a moral sense. I am not sure that this derives from religious belief... I do not enjoy it. If I ever do a disagreeable duty, it is in the spirit of the young man in the parable who said 'I go not', but afterwards (probably in a detestable temper went grumbling off and did the job. On consideration, I think that the existence andnature of the Christian God is the only rational sanction for the moral sense. But moral sense by itself is not religion -- or at any rate, not Christianity.

"Of all the presuppositions of Christianity , the only one I really have and can swear to from personal inward conviction is sin. About that I have no doubt whatever and never have had. Neither does any doctrine of determinism or psychological maladjustment convince me in the very least that when I do wrong it is not I who do it and that I could not, by some other means or other, do better. The other day I did find myself accounting for not having written a necessary letter to a sick person, thanking her for some feeble poems, on the ground that I had a 'thing' about not telling charitable lies in connection with poetry. In a sense it was true -- I have a 'thing' about that. But the 'inward monitor' said firmly that my behaviour arose from a mixture of sloth and cruelty. It also reminded me, horribly, that on at least two other occasions when I had done exactly the same thing, the sick person had died before my letter went. So (you will be glad to hear) I wrote the letter, which did not take five minutes. But the point is that when anything speaks out of my interior it speaks in the outmoded terms of scholastic theology and faculty psychology, and I do not really know how to establish communication with people who have modern insides.

"But since I cannot come at God through intuition, or through my emotions, or through my 'inner light'... there is only intellect left. And that is a very different matter. You said that I, and the rest of us, gave people the impression of caring only for a dogmatic pattern. That is quite true. I remember once saying to Charles Williams: 'I do not know whether I believe in Christ or whether I am only in love with the pattern.' And Charles said, with his usual prompt understanding, that he had exactly the same doubts about himself. But this you must try to accept: when we say 'in love with the pattern', we mean in love. (Though Charles was different, he did love people, and he was capable of romantic love and I think of a personal love for God in a way that I am not...) The thing is, however, that where the intellect is dominant it becomes the channel of all the other feelings. The 'passionate intellect' is really passionate. It is the only point at which ecstasy can enter. I do not know whether we can be saved through the intellect, but I do know that I can be saved by nothing else. I know that , if there is judgement, I shall have to be able t to say: 'This alone, Lord, in Thee and me, have I never betrayed, and may it suffice to know and love and choose Thee after this manner, for I have no other love, or knowledge, or choice in me'...

"Now if you have borne this far with this egotistical preamble, I will try and come to the point.

"The above is my equipment, as it were.

"By training, I am, more or less, a scholar; by vocation I am a writer of stories and plays. Now, for a persona of that training and equipment there is only one unforgivable sin -- I mean, literally unforgiveable, in that it will end by rotting away one's sense of right and wrong, and that is the falsification of one's 'proper truth'. You may murder your mother and commit adultery five nights a week and still keep a living conscience. But if once you begin to distort facts, or to write things for any purpose other than that of telling such truth as you know, or to affect emotions you do not possess -- then you will begin and slip and slide intio illlusion and into a living Hell, because you will be destroying the only instrument by which you make contact with reality. But it is very difficult-- I cannot tell you how difficult it is, or how insidiously all the good in the world as well as all the evil, conspires to push you into betrayal.

"Look what happens... I wrote detective novels harmlessly and profitably for about twenty years...Then, one day, I was asked to write a play for Canterbury about William of Sens... I liked the story, which could be handled as to deal with the 'proper truth' of the artist -- a thing on which I was then particularly keen. It had to be Christian, of course; and I could see -- indeed I knew well enough -- the besetting sin of the artist: to put himself above the work, which is his special temptation to 'make himself as God'. So I wrote the thing and enjoyed doing it. I never, so help me God , wanted to get entangled in religious apologetic, or to bear witness for Christ, or to proclaim my faith to the world, or anything of that kind. It was an honest piece of work about something I really knew. It was All Right. And still nobody bothered.

"When the show came to London, I couldn't escape the normal Press interviews... And as a result of one of them, I wrote the article 'The Greatest Drama ever Staged'... Well, that was all right too. It merely said that, whether you believed in Christ or not, it was ridiculous to call the story of the Incarnation and Redemption dull. I didn't say more: I could scarcely say less...

"That did it. Apparently the spectacle of a middle-aged female detective-novelist admitting publicly that the judicial murder of God might compete in interest with the corpse in the Coal-Hole was the sensation for which the Christian world was waiting...

"Anyway, from that time... I suppose hardly a week has gone past without at least two demands... that I should write or say something on a religious question... And life become nothing but a desperate struggle to hold on to the rags of one's integrity...

"If you say that you have no knowledge of the subject, they say they quite realise how busy you are and may they ask you again later. If you say that you are a 'creative' writer, and that the writing of treatises and direct doctrinal admonitions saps your energy and ruins your sensitivity, they say that your play did so much good that everybody wants to hear you make a speech... They flatter and press and wheedle and invoke former acquaintance or mutual friends or the needs of the Church and the welfare of society, till to go on saying 'No' is impossible. One writes an article or appears on a platform or answers a letter -- and so one becomes involved, and if one is not desperately careful one finds one's self saying or writing things that are out of one's range or false to one's 'proper truth' -- or else putting together a series of hasty and second -hand commonplaces -- or, unconsciously or even deliberately, exploiting one's own personality. 'What Christ means to me' -- 'How my faith helps my work' -- 'The Life of Prayer' -- 'The Grace of God in Daily life ' -- it is obvious that my type must not write that kind of thing...

"And then there is the terrifying ease by which you may substitute yourself for God, encouraging people to follow you and not Christ. 'They will believe it if you tell them' -- but they must not -- they must believe it only if it is true. 'You can set them a Christian example' -- Yes, by living, not by talking -- and what do they or you know of me? 'They will listen to you when they would not listen to the priests' -- too true: but that is the priest's safeguard and theirs. 'What you say is so different from what the Church says' -- no, no, no! What I say is what the Church says -- only the language is different. Throw my accursed book out of the window: I have nothing to give you but the Creeds. 'But do you believe all these petrifying dogmas?' -- Listen: it does not matter to you whether I believe or how I believe, because my way of belief is probably not yours. But if you will only leave me in peace till some truth so takes hold of me that I can honestly show it to you through the right use of my own medium, then I will make a picture for you that will be the image of that truth: and that will be not the Creeds, but the substance of what is in the Creeds. But unless it is a living truth to me, I cannot make it truth to you: I should be damned, and you would see through it anyhow, bad work cannot be hid...

"I have written a great deal, and perhaps said nothing. But I should like somebody to understand the position of the 'intellectual' Christian when ... he gets caught up in the machine of apologetics. It is useless to blame him for being intellectual -- all his passion, all his sympathies, all his emotions, all his truth, all reality are mediated to him through the intellect, and if you force him out of his contact with reality, he can only deviate into falsehood -- and damning falsheood to his 'proper truth'. He is liable, like other men, to succumb to his own propaganda... but he has the advantage of knowing the danger he stands in. All the same, he is walking a tight-rope the moment you require him to bear a witness that is not absolutely spontaneous, and when he falls, he falls like Lucifer, because he has lost not only Beatrice but Virgil...

"Have I any more to add? Yes, just this. You complain that the books we write are all right for Christians, but not for the heathen, -- all right for highbrows, but no good for lowbrows. Again, that is largely true. But it is precisely the educated near-Christians or woolly Christians we write for. They are our people and the sheep of our pasture. We are not priests, dedicated to the service of all sorts and conditions of men, nor evangelists, called to labour in the foreign mission-field. Our religious writings have necessarily to be addressed to the same set of people who read our other books. That is all we are trained for. I think it very likely that the time has come when we ought to be superseded. I am not quite sure that we ought to be chastized by our even-Christians for not doing that which we are neither called nor fitted for...

"I think it comes to this: that, however urgently a thing may be needed, it can only be rightly demanded of those who can rightly give it. for the others are bound to falsify and so commit the greatest treason: to do the right thing for the wrong reason. And, by the time you have done it, you know it is no longer the right thing."

Friday, May 27, 2005

Dorothy Sayers on Christ's Attitude Towards Women

I originally quoted what follows on Alice's Evangelical Update blog, but I think it bears repeating:

"He [Christ -- CG] alone... among great religious teachers, had no whimsies about women... He never held them up either as a menace, or a snare, or an inspiration; never delimited their sphere of action, or told them to stick to the kitchen... or to take their ideas from their husbands and stop talking about what they did not understand. he treated them quite ordinarily as individual persons -- and seemed to look on them neither as 'Women, God help us!' nor 'The Ladies, God bless 'em!' but just as specimens of humanity, who happened to be female. I find this fact fortifying, and consider it as tending to clear the mind of cant."

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Your Birthdate: January 10
Your birth on the 10th day of the month adds a tone of independence and extra energy to your life.
The number 1 energy suggest more executive ability and leadership qualities than you path may have indicated.
A birthday on the 10th of any month gives greater will power and self-confidence, and very often a rather original approach.

This 1 energy may diminish your ability and desire to handle details, preferring instead to paint with a broad brush.
You are sensitive, but your feeling stay somewhat repressed.
You have a compelling manner that can be dominating in many situations.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


One of the vices our family enjoys is Breyers All Natural Ice Cream. It is one of the few indulgences we get that doesn't make us feel too decadent because it didn't have polysorbate 80 or any of the other unpronounceable ingredients you typically find in a tub of ice cream. Well all that has changed recently and they did it in a particularly sneaky way.

A week or so ago I was in the supermarket picking up what I thought was a container of the All Natural Chocolate ice cream. I brought it home, and my dh, who has discerning taste, knew instantly that something was amiss. He picked up the container and saw, that not only was it now "double churned" in order to make it a creamier texture, but it no longer said "All Natural" but instead reads "Naturally Flavored". When he turned it over to look at the ingredients, he was astounded to see a bunch of chemicals that formerly was not there. In other words, they used the same sort of packaging as the original All Natural Line, still charged top dollar for it, but had the same sort of chemical crap as the cheaper line of Classic Breyers. I call that sneaky and deceitful!

I dutifully looked up Breyers Ice Cream on the internet and left them a comment on the supposed improvements.

Dear Sir or Madam,

Our family has been buying Breyer's All Natural ice creams for a number of years. Lately we have seen Breyer's "Naturally Flavored" double churned ice cream in similar packaging showing up in the freezer case, containing polysorbate 80 among other things and a diminished stock of the original. Is this line going to replace the All Natural line or are we going to be able to continue to buy the All Natural line? We would be very disappointed to see an end to the All Natural Line and will NOT be buying the naturally flavored line because of some of the ingredients listed in it.

Sincerely yours,

To which I received the following reply from Kathy Schwaller:

You are correct that our new Breyers Naturally Flavoured Ice Cream does taste different. A new process called double churning imparts a much creamier texture than what you experienced with our Breyers All Natural Ice Cream. We decided to adopt this new technology after conducting consumer research last year that showed the majority of Canadians prefer a creamier textured ice cream. In order to use the double churning process,however, we must use ingredients that cannot be labelled natural. In addition, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has increasingly been following a stricter definition of the word "natural," such that even our municipal water is not considered natural as it must be treated for our safety. Water is an integral part of the process used to manufacture ice cream, hence our inability to use the words "all natural."

Please be assured that we are continuing to use the highest quality ingredients and natural flavours in our Breyers Naturally Flavoured Ice Creams. We also think you will be pleased to know that the double churning process we are now using keeps our ice cream creamier and much less sensitive to the changes in temperature that can occur between the time the ice cream leaves our plant and is placed in your freezer. I will forward your comments to our Marketing Department. Thank you.

Well so far, everyone in our family has given the new ice cream the thumbs down and we have let them know. If you would like to protest the loss of the old line of ice cream, please join the revolution and let Unilever know. Ms. Schwaller informs me in a subsequent email that this is how changes are made.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Dorothy Sayers on the Advantages of Middle Age

"The golden age for all who live by their brains is the period from forty to sixty. They have learnt their technique and are ready to create freely in their chosen medium, and with wider knowledge they have gained wider interests... They have become more entertaining and easier to get on with, because they no longer take themselves with such agitated seriousness. The delight of middle-age is a paradox: that as one becomes more important to others one becomes less important to oneself... Only in middle age is it gloriously revealed to one that what one says and does makes little difference in the long run to anybody, and that therefore one may as well say and do what one likes."
Yesterday, in Which I Had a Nap

You might wonder why annoucing I had a nap is blog-worthy. It is because it happens so seldom. There just isn't time or enough cessation of noise around here for it to work. And one thing a pregnant lady really likes is her afternoon nap.

Yesterday Trista, my second daughter and mother to my beautiful grandchildren, came and picked up "Uncle Garnie" and "Aunt Elodie" to come and play with their niece and nephew for the day. Two gone, six to go.

My dh took the older boys with him to the dump. Four gone, four to go.

The neighbor kids called and asked for some of my kids to come and play: seven gone; one to go.

One was quiet enough and I was able to get a rest. But I didn't like it. When I awoke, it was to find everything in exactly the same place I had left it. Many might think this a cause for rejoicing, especially the way things go missing around here or get moved to mysterious places when my back is turned. However, it struck me that rather than being a cause for rejoicing, it was really a taste of what it would be like to be childless, or at least without some of the little critters who inhabit this house.

And I wanted my Elodie.

I think I figured out what that dream about driving over her means. You see, when you have a baby and are home with said baby every day, nursing it, tending to it, and seeing to all its needs and wants, a special bond develops between you and that nursling that is very close and intimate. As that baby grows up, they grow away from you as they begin to become more independant. But what really serves to sever that bond in a dramatic way is the appearance of yet another baby. You gain a new partner in intimacy, but you do lose that same closeness with the elder child, who, at least in this family, is still a baby. For myself, at least, the joy of a new baby is mixed with regret over the next milestone that the foregoing child has reached -- that of older sibling.

I know there are mothers out there who place all their dependance for emotional happiness on their children, and never allow the children to individuate. I think my older children will attest to the fact that I don't have this problem. Nevertheless, I think I am going to really miss that special close bond that you get with babies when my last baby grows up and away. I'm already missing Elodie.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Dorothy Sayers on Christ

"Christ himself was no household pet, for pale curates and pious old ladies, but God made flesh, a shattering personality... a dangerous firebrand... hero and victim...."

"True, He was tender to the unfortunate, patient with honest inquirers and humble before Heaven, but He insulted respectable clergymen by calling them hypocrites... He went to parties in disreputable company... He drove a coach-and-horses through a number of sacrosanct and hoary regulations; he cured disease by any means that came handy, with a shocking casualness in the matter of other people's pigs and property; He showed no proper deference for wealth or traps, he displayed a paradoxical humour that affronted disagreeably searching questions that could not be answered by rule of thumb..."

"I believe it to be a grave mistake to present Christianity as something charming and popular with no offense in it... we cannot blink the fact that gentle Jesus meek and milk was so stiff in His opinions and so inflammatory in His language that He was thrown out of church, stoned, hunted from place to place, and finally gibbeted as a firebrand and a public danger. Whatever His peace was, it was not the peace of an amiable indifference."

"He was executed by a corrupt church, a timid politician and a fickle proletariat... His executioners made vulgar jokes about Him... flogged Him with the cat, and hanged Him on the common gibbet... If you show people that, they are shocked. So they should be... If the mere representation of it has an air of irreverence, what is to be said about the deed? It is curious that people who are filled with horrified indignation whenever a cat kills a sparrow can hear the story of the killing of God... and not experience any shock at all."

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Snake Oil, Quackery, or a New Breakthrough in Medicine?

In a recent blog comment I left on someone's blog, I made mention of the Fisher Institute and some stuff on stem cell research. The owner of the blog said that the Fisher Institute was engaged in quackery because of its focus on carbohydrate technology. Someone should tell the World Health Organization, Massachuesetts Institute of Technology, or even the scientist in the linked article below about that.

Scientists race to outsmart clever bugs

A few quotes from the article:

"Around the world, six centres are approaching the problem using glycomics, the study of the biology and chemistry of carbohydrates or sugars in the body.

"It is not about particular foods, food groups or diets, but rather about what role these substances play in the body and how carbohydrate-based therapeutics can be designed to interfere in the biological process of disease.

"In 2003, glycomics was singled out by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's MIT Technology Review as "one of 10 emerging technologies that will have a significant influence in the near future".

"Of the six international centres where the possibilities are being explored, one is the Institute for Glycomics at Griffith's Gold Coast campus, of which Professor von Itzstein is the founder, executive director and a federation fellow.

"At 47, Professor von Itzstein has already established his credentials as one of the smartest scientists in Premier Peter Beattie's "Smart State". In 1996, while working at Monash University, he made the cover of TIME magazine and won the Australia Prize for his role in the discovery of the anti-influenza drug Relenza.

"With a number of his colleagues, he had achieved what many had thought too difficult. He had designed and synthesised a carbohydrate-based compound that acted as a plug to intervene effectively in the infection process associated with influenza.

"As well as being the first designer anti-viral drug discovered in Australia and approved for worldwide use, it was the first designer carbohydrate-based anti-flu drug to be brought to market anywhere across the globe.

"In 2000, Griffith University, Professor von Itzstein's alma mater, recruited him to establish a centre dedicated to the design of carbohydrate-based therapeutics, known as glycopharmaceuticals...

"...Glycopharmaceuticals hold the key to beating virulent new strains of viral and bacterial-induced diseases such as cholera, flu and tuberculosis, which have recently re-emerged as a series health threat.

"...What we are trying to do in one of our approaches is interrupt bacterial and viral infections and prevent them from progressing by manipulating carbohydrates that mimic the naturally-occurring carbohydrate glue and so block the bacteria or virus's interaction to our healthy cells," Professor von Itzstein said.

"The same principles, he and his colleagues recognise, are a promising new avenue in solving the mysteries of some cancers such as colorectal and breast and immune dysfunction such as multiple sclerosis.

"In a decade's time, should the science of glycomics live up to its promise, its impact is likely to equal or better the transformation wrought by penicillin less than a century ago."

End Quotes
This Gal has Guts

I say that because although I am occasionally involved in controversial topics, it isn't something I go looking for these days. Could be the baby hormones kicking in, or maybe I am just mellowing out in middle age.

Alice, of "Not Crunchy" fame has an interesting blog that I have been participating in sporadically. It is called Evangelical Update and is designed to help non-Christians, and in particular, liberals, get a better grasp on who and what Evangelicals (mostly of the Reformed stripe) are all about.

Rev-Ed has posted his interview with Alice here. It will give you a good feel for where she is coming from in all this.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

He's Home!

My Dearly Beloved is now home from his out-of-town work assignment that he's been on since February. This means I can collapse in bed at 9 pm when I am tired instead of having to wait for teens to wind down so I can lock everything up for the night. Now hubby can resume that responsibility for me.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Conflicts of Interest

The following article explains why I don't ever donate to things like the Canadian Diabetic Association, the Canadian Cancer Society or the Heart Foundation in anyone's memory or otherwise.
All Fall Down
By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

If you are wondering why Americans are losing the wars on cancer, heart
disease and diabetes, you might look at the funding sources of the major
public health groups.

Big corporations dump big money into these groups. And pretty soon, the groups start taking the line of the big corporations.

Case in point: the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

Earlier this month, the ADA cut a deal with candy and soda pop maker Cadbury Schweppes. Here's the deal -- Cadbury Schweppes kicks in a couple million dollars to the ADA. In return, the company gets to use the ADA label on its diet drinks --plus the positive publicity generated by the deal. Cadbury makes Dr. Pepper and such nutritious treats as Cadbury's Cream Egg. You would have to have your head buried deeply in the sand to deny that sugar-filled soda is fueling childhood obesity -- which in turn in is fueling type 2 diabetes.

Just this week, the Journal of Pediatrics published a study placing a good part of the blame for childhood diabetes on soda pop and sugared drinks.The study found that an average can of soda contains 165 calories andthat the typical teen consumes approximately two 12-ounce cans of softdrinks per day -- that's 20 teaspoons of sugar. Anyone who knows teenagers knows that this is true -- they drink a tonof soda.

The Cadbury/ADA deal came under immediate fire from Gary Ruskin at thePortland, Oregon-based Commercial Alert. Ruskin wants the ADA to return what he considers to be a "corrupt contribution" back to Cadbury Schweppes."Maybe the American Diabetes Association should rename itself theAmerican Junk Food Association," Ruskin said. "What will it do for an encore? Start selling candy bars for M&M/Mars?"

"If Cadbury Schweppes really wanted to reduce the incidence of obesity and diabetes, it would stop advertising its high-sugar products, and remove them from our nation's schools. This is just another attempt by a major junk food corporation to obfuscate its responsibility in the epidemic of obesity and diabetes in the United States."

We called Richard Kahn, the ADA's chief medical and scientific officer to ask about this. It was a long conversation, and Kahn warned us a number of times not to take his comments "out of context" or he would never speak with us again. (The entire transcript of the interview is posted at www.corporatecrimereporter.com. You be the judge.) But on the whole, Kahn sounded like an industry apologist, rather than a public health official. Kahn says the type 2 diabetes problem in the United States is being driven by obesity. And weight is simply a function of the calories in and calories out. It doesn't matter whether the calories are sugar, or protein orcarbohydrates. We asked Kahn whether he thought it was appropriate to do as some states have done and impose a tax on soda. Kahn said he didn't think it was fair to single out soda. Why not tax donuts? Or candy? Or just tax overweight people?

Kahn said that there was no evidence that sugar or sugared sodas were driving the obesity problem. (The interview was conducted just before the Journal of Pediatrics released its findings, but according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, several previous studies have linked drinking sodas to weight gain. Duh.) We asked Kahn whether he thought it was appropriate to restrict access to junk food. He said that restricting access to junk food wouldn't work. We asked him why then the ADA was supporting legislation introduced by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) that would restrict access to junk food via vending machines to school children. "Because there is little to be lost and potentially some to be gained by limiting the foods sold in vending machines," Kahn said. And what is to be lost by taxing soda? He defended taking money from Cadbury -- he had to be reminded that it was a candy company -- saying that Cadbury was only allowed to use theADA label on its diet drinks. And that the money would be used for educational programs to encourage people to exercise more.

And it's not just Cadbury Schweppes. The ADA takes big money from a wide range of drug and food companies.The food companies include Cadbury, Kraft Foods, J.M. Smucker Company, General Mills, Inc., and H.J. Heinz Company. Of course, the ADA is not alone. A doctor friend of ours, Dr. Matt Hahn, who runs a community health center in Hancock, Maryland, recently received a carton of 100 samplesof Kellogg's Smart Start cereal. The carton was accompanied by a letter from Michael McBurney, who was identified as senior director of nutrition and regulatory affairs. But since his name and signature were placed directly over the name"American Heart Association" -- Dr. Hahn thought that McBurney was with the Heart Association. McBurney is actually with Kellogg's. The thing that surprised Dr. Hahn was that Kellogg's or the HeartAssociation expected him to give out the cereal, which contains transfats, to his patients. Dr. Hahn told us he wouldn't, since his patients can get cereals without trans fats. The American Heart Association says that it agrees with Dr. Hahn that people should limit their intake of trans fats. But it said that it certified Kellogg's Smart Start because it meets theAHA guidelines, including containing less than three grams of fat perserving."When it comes to Kellogg's Smart Start cereal, the nutritional label states that it contains zero grams of trans fat, which means that it contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat," said AHA's Carrie Thacker.

Wow -- zero is the same as less than .5. (Thacker says that Kellogg's gives no money to the AHA, although we later learned from the Center for Science in the Public Interest thatthe AHA charges companies $7,500 per certified product, and $4,500 per year thereafter -- plus certain other fees. And like the ADA, the AHA gets big money donations from a long list of drug and food companies.)

And then of course is the American Cancer Society. Don't get us started, except to say that we agree with Dr. Samuel Epstein when he points out that the Cancer Society has for years misguidedly taken millions from big corporations.The problem is that contributors have an interest in diverting attention away from environmental causes of cancer and focusing attention on pharmaceutical and other treatments.

As Dr. Epstein puts it:"There's a fixation on damage control -- screening, diagnosis and treatment -- with indifference to prevention -- which is compounded bylongstanding conflicts of interest with a wide range of industries, coupled with a systematic discrediting of evidence of avoidable causes of cancer."

Same for diabetes. Same for heart disease. All fall down.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate CrimeReporter, <http://www.corporatecrimereporter.com>. Robert Weissman iseditor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor,<http://www.multinationalmonitor.org>. Mokhiber and Weissman areco-authors of On the Rampage: Corporate Predators and the Destruction ofDemocracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press).

(c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman
This article is posted at:<http://lists.essential.org/pipermail/corp-focus/2005/000204.html>
First Weird Baby Dream

Ok, so it has finally happened. I had a weird baby dream last night. I dreamt I was getting ready to give birth and it was in a strange place, sort of outdoors. I had a midwife with me, who I didn't know, but that didn't seem to faze me a bit. I got down on the mattress, which was laid out on the ground, and started to deliver the baby on my hands and knees. Behind me, I heard the midwife gasp and then say something about "meconium." Now I know that if a baby aspirates meconium, this is not good. So without seeing what is going on, I can hear her suctioning out the baby, etc. Eventually, she hands the baby to me. He was completely cleaned up, dressed and HUGE -- like 15 lbs. big. Not only that, the baby's nose was a normal shape, but it was dark brown and of the bumpy sort of texture that a dog's nose has. Very weird. I remember gazing in astoundment at this nose and wondering if the meconium was what made it turn brown and if it was possible to operate and fix it somehow.

Now according to this article, our dreams serve the purpose of helping our subconscious mind sort out what we really feel/think about what is going on in our lives and we should examine our dreams for the messages we are trying to give ourselves.

Ok folks. What do you think my dream is trying to tell me? And what was the one about me backing up over Elodie about?

Sunday, May 15, 2005

A Poet's Inspiration

Today I was handed a poem after church. I think this is the first known instance in which I have been the inspiration of a poet...

Of my mom
There's much to say
Of the telling,
It would take all day
She's been through it all
Thick and thin,
She's been there to correct
Me whenever I sin
Of a bike or car
She never has bought me
But the love and self-sacrifice
Has always been free
Our point of view
Isn't always the same
(But she's always right
cause she gave me my name)
My 11 siblings
She's cheerfully raised:
And even after th is
She still isn't fazed.

All this and more
Are things you've done
And that's why I tell all
That your my mom.

xoxo Nathanael
Happy Belated Mother's Day

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Don't forward this at your own peril! You have been warned....

One of the stones frequently cast at me is how there is a large body of studies done on drugs using the "Christian" scientific method of studies, compared with studies done on herbs and alternative therapies thus somehow proving that modern medicine is a more Christian and reasonable way to look after your health.

One of the things that the casters of these stones typically fail to note is that there are a lot of drugs that doctors are allowed to use in an off-label way. Off label means that the drug is being used in a way that was never studied or tested for safety or efficacy. In fact, an estimated 70% of procedures used in modern medical practice have not been tested for safety or efficacy! Given the fact that properly prescribed drugs are the third leading cause of death in US hosptials (not counting out of hospital deaths and deaths caused by human error in prescribing or dosing), compared to people who are harmed by non-invasive alternative therapies and herbs (statistics are negligible if they exist), we should be a lot more cautious about what we are doing to ourselves when we blindly put our lives and trust in the hands of the medical profession.

Please do not interpret the above to mean that there is never a place for drugs or allopathic medicine. I use the system myself when it is warranted, but I am a judicial consumer of said services.

Ok, here is the warning I wanted you all to see since this is a common drug that has been used on laboring women for many years and for a great number, in a disastrous way:

Misoprostol (marketed as Cytotec) Information

FDA ALERT – Risks of Use in Labor and Delivery

This Patient Information Sheet is for pregnant women who may receive misoprostol to soften their cervix or induce contractions to begin labor. Misoprostol is sometimes used to decrease blood loss after delivery of a baby. These uses are not approved by the FDA. No company has sent the FDA scientific proof that misoprostol is safe and effective for these uses.
There can be serious side effects, including a torn uterus (womb), when misoprostol is used for labor and delivery. A torn uterus may result in severe bleeding, having the uterus removed (hysterectomy), and death of the mother or baby. These side effects are more likely in women who have had previous uterine surgery, a previous Cesarean delivery (C-section), or several previous births.

This information reflects FDA’s preliminary analysis of data concerning this drug. FDA is considering, but has not reached a final conclusion about, this information. FDA intends to update this sheet when additional information or analyses become available.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Importance of Mothering ~ Part Two

(See post for 4/21/2005 for Part One)

I could blog about my end of pregnancy physical discomforts, but it hardly makes for uplifting or interesting reading. Instead, I want to focus on more of what I have been learning about the importance of attachment and attunement in raising well adjusted and happy children, as I find this something that personally encourages me to continue in the Mommy track.

When babies are first born, the only part of their brain that is fully functional is the brain stem, which is responsible for things like breathing, heartrate, and other necessary functions for life to exist. If the first nine months in the womb are for the gestation of a baby's body, the second nine months following birth constitute a continuance of gestation, neurologically speaking. Human babies experience a tremendous amount of brain growth in this time, and a large part of that growth is dependant upon the amount and type of stimulation that babies receive from their mothers or primary caregivers at this time.

The areas of the cortex responsible for attention, long-range planning, impulse control, attention, and self-regulation develop in response to the emotional interaction with the person we'll call the mothering figure. The formation of the baby's brain circuits is influenced by the emotional state of the mother. If mother is stressed by internal and external pressures, her ability to be attached and attuned to her infant are impaired.

Since babies can't decipher the meanings of words, most of the communication that takes place between an infant and his/her mother is on the emotional level. The mother's conscious and unconscious emotional state is conveyed by her tone of voice, her body language, and her eyes.

When babies are first born, one of the first things that stimulates the branching of millions of brain cells within minutes of birth, is the scent of the mother's body. Studies have shown that a six day old infant can already distinguish the scent of his mother from that of other women. Over weeks, the infant shifts to visual imputs via the mother's face. A baby between 2-7 weeks old will orient to its mother's face in preference to a stranger, or even its own father. By 7 weeks, the focus becomes the mother's eyes in preference to her mouth movements, thereby fixating on the visible portion of the mother's central nervous system. In essence, the baby is able to read what is going on in the right brain of the mother, which is responsible for our unconscious emotional reactions during intense eye to eye mutual gaze interactions. Our eyes are truly a window to the soul in that embryologically and anatomically, the eye is an extension of the brain in plain sight. Kind of gives a whole new meaning to what the Bible says about the eye being the light of the soul, doesn't it?

One of the means of communication that takes place at the eye level has to do with the size of the pupil. An enlarged pupil indicates interest and pleasure. Studies have demonstrated that women's eyes dilate in response to a picture of a baby. But even more interestingly, viewing enlarge dilated pupils elicits larger pupils in the eyes of the observer so you have a positive feedback loop of emotion that occurs between the gazer and gazee. Babies will smile more when their mothers' eyes are dilated rather than constricted.

We have all probably experienced the intense emotional rush that can come when you suddenly lock your gaze with another person. The feeling can be one of intense pleasure or intensely uncomfortable. The effect of the gaze can alter the electrical brain pattern as registered by an EEG and cause physiological changes to occur in the body. Infants are highly susceptible to such influences, with a direct impact on the maturation of the brain.

Infants are also quite good at sorting out genuine emotion from a forced effort.

It is known that depression will cause a decrease in electrical activity in the left hemisphere of the brain. A study conducted at the University of Washington in Seattle compared the infants of mothers who suffered from postpartum depression with those of mothers in a happy state of mind. During playful interactions with their mothers, the infants of the happy moms showed a greater left than right brain activation. The infants of depressed mothers failed to show a difference in frontal brain activation meanting that the left side brain activity did not occur, despite the mothers' best efforts. These frontal areas of the brain are responsible for the self-regulation of emotion. The infants of depressed mothers also exhibited decreased activity levels, gaze aversion, more irritability, and less positive emotion.

Why would this be? Because the element of attunement is missing in most of the interactions between the mother and her child. Attunement is a subtle process whereby an infant initiates an interaction or withdraws from it according to its own rhythms, while the mother regulates her behavior to mesh with the baby's. She lets the baby call the tune, as the weaker vessel and skillfully interweaves her own responses with his to create an intimate dialogue which, in effect, shuts out the world and locks mom and baby in a special emotional realm that no one else has access to for that moment.

In attunement interaction, the mother follows the baby's cues and allows baby to not only initiate interaction, but also allows the baby to break the interaction off when it reaches a certain stage of intensity of uncomfortably high arousal. Mothers who are not attuned to their infants or sensitive to their lead may try to stimulate the baby to draw him or her back into interaction. Then the baby's nervous system is not allowed to "cool down" which hampers the relationship.

At the other extreme of the attunement dysfunction is the mother who is too stressed to give the necessary attunement interaction because she is emotionally isolated from others, or else has learned a philosophy of child rearing such as the Ezzo parenting techniques which actually place children in an adversarial position from which the parent must defend themselves lest they be "manipulated" by the child. Another contributing factor that impairs attachment and attunement is the notion that too much interaction based on baby's cues will cause a child to be "spoiled." So babies are allowed to cry it out in their cribs by themselves all in the name of not spoiling them.

When you listen to popular music, watch tv shows, movies or videos, or even read popular fiction, take note of how much of it is devoted to the joys or sorrows that flow from our satisfaction or disappointment with our attachment relationships. This exercise will give you an idea of how big a driving force attachment is for humans.

Thus, the role of a mother in nurturing and becoming attached and attuned to her infants is a vitally important one not only in the neurological development of her child, but also because some of their future happiness and contentment in life rests upon this foundation.

More to come...

Monday, May 09, 2005

Bad Dreams and Other Things

This has been an unusual pregnancy in more than one way. One of the things that has been unusual is the almost complete lack of baby dreams I have had. Usually I have all kinds of dreams about giving birth in odd situations to odd things. That hasn't happened this time. Maybe it is because down deep I don't have any issues about this baby, when it is going to happen, where or under which circumstances. I know in the past these have all been things I have fretted over, but not this time.

I hate it when I have bad dreams. I had one early this morning when I woke up and the flavor of it is still affecting me nine hours later. This dream was inspired by an entry that Carmon had on her blog several months ago about a homeschool mother who accidentally backed the family van over her two year old and killed it. I just about had hysterics when I read that one and I know it was in the back of my mind when I was dreaming early this morning. In my dream, I was in the old blue 15 passenger van we used to own and I backing it up down a snowy driveway. In my mirror I could see my daughter Hannah with my youngest daughter, Elodie who were running alongside the driveway. At a certain point I felt the van go over something with a bump and heard Hannah's shriek of horror. I remember telling myself to wake up so I wouldn't have to see Elodie's lifeless body under the van. And I did. Elodie was snuggled up safely beside me in bed, having snuck in earlier. It was a relief to see her there, but that dream still haunts me.

On a happier note, my office is finally back together. I no longer have rather battered looking white walls and disorganized and stuffed bookcases. Instead I have a deep warm golden color on my walls that provides a sharp but pleasing contrast to the navy blue curtains at the windows. It took me two days to put back all the books, and I sorted out a number of them to go to the attic in rubbermaid tubs so that they are no longer stacked three deep in my bookshelves. I was also able to get rid of the extra computer and computer desk and all the unsightly wires and rearrange the office furniture in a more pleasing way. I now have a functional and attractive work and study space. One of these days I'll take a picture and post it.

Monday, May 02, 2005


So here I am in Quesnel. I left in a leisurely manner this morning after Trista arrived with her kids in tow. I spent an hour holding my grandson, baby Rogan, and folded laundry and packed and left an hour later than I planned. But I didn't sweat it. After all, my intention is to relax, not stress about getting out on my self-imposed deadline.

I drove to Quesnel, and it was a job to stay alert while I was driving. The first thing I did after I arrived and unloaded was to lay down with a book and read for a few minutes and then I had a 2 hour nap. Woo Hoo! If you only knew. Naps have been few, far between, and sparse in the amount of time alloted. Lots of kids and wooden floors make for a lot of noise and difficulty in relaxing for a nap on any day. It was nice to be able to just let myself go and not have to worry about being awakened or wonder what the kids are getting into while I am unconscious.

I drove out later, met a business associate for a few minutes and then had a leisurely lunch/supper before picking up a few things at the local grocery store. Then it was back to the motel to run a hot bath, give myself a pedicure and buff my cellulite with body scrub. I am nearly finished one book and tomorrow will start on another and chill out some more. I definintely need to do this more often! Thanks to my hard-working hubby for making this happen!

Only 38 days to due date!