Health

December 31, 2015

Culture: Black-Eyed Peas

I was delighted to read in yesterday’s NY Times Food section writer Kim Severson’s ode to the lowly black-eyed pea.   Severson explains that in the U.S. South, revelers put black-eyed peas (also known as “field peas” and “cow peas”) on their New Year’s menus to ensure luck and wealth.  She rightly noted that the Southern tradition has roots in West Africa and African American foodways.

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May 16, 2012

Aging Gracefully

For my 49th birthday last year, Mark rented me a cello. He also gave me a music stand and a beginner’s book. I drew the bow inexpertly across the strings and made a commitment to this hour-glass shaped beauty. Sound waves rumbled up my arms.

The summer passed before I managed to find a teacher and schedule lessons. Everything I’d been doing to coax sound out of my instrument was wrong. I’d been sitting wrong, holding the bow wrong. Even the size of the instrument was wrong. I rented a different-sized cello. And I practiced. Twenty minutes a day. < more >

July 11, 2010

Swapping Desk Chairs for Treadmills

I’m glad I haven’t figured out how to use the camera feature on this computer, because, boy, you wouldn’t want to see me. I still haven’t showered today. But I have a good reason. < more >

April 9, 2010

Taking Issue with Judith Warner’s WE’VE GOT ISSUES

I was predisposed to like Judith Warner’s new book, We’ve Got Issues: Children and Parents in the Age of Medication (New York: Riverhead Books, 2010). I read it and had a visceral, negative reaction. I couldn’t put my finger on what bugged me. Two weeks passed, and I still couldn’t sort out my thoughts. I sat down with the book again yesterday, and now I can explain.

Like the more than 60 families Warner interviewed in We’ve Got Issues, my family has children who have needed medication.  I, like so many of these parents, have struggled to come to terms with the implications of medicating kids for diagnoses that 30 years ago would have gone unseen, let alone untreated. In fact, they did go unseen and undiagnosed in my extended family, and the attendant wreckage and dysfunction have been profound. My mantra concerning medicating children for mental illness has evolved to this: it is far scarier to contemplate what things will be like if the meds don’t work than if they do. Hence my predisposition to read Warner’s book with a favorable eye. < more >

April 4, 2009

Pre-Existing Conditions

Two articles in this morning’s newspapers speak to one another — but they don’t know it.

One is a fascinating piece in today’s Boston Globe focusing on the genetics of an aggressive form ofcolon cancer. 

Another in The New York Times’ Business section counsels readers how to get health insurance when they’re already dealing with pre-existing conditions.

The Globe piece highlights genetic research linking descendants of one almost-Mayflower family who suffer from a deadly form of colon cancer.  Scientists combed genealogical archives to piece together the puzzle linking families in New York and Utah.  Now that they’ve isolated the genetic mutation giving carriers a 2 in 3 lifetime chance of developing the cancer, scientists can offer aggressive screening practices in hopes of helping carriers catch nascent tumors before they’ve spread. < more >

November 5, 2008

My Right Knee Thanks You

There are so many reasons to celebrate President-Elect Barack Obama’s victory last night: what it means for upcoming appointments to the Supreme Court, the significance to our ability to interact with the rest of the world in positive ways, exiting gracefully from Iraq and < more >