Defending the indefensible

Prop. 7 looks to change daylight saving time in California (CBS8.com)

I’ve become a convert to the Daylight Saving Time/Standard Time switch. Sure, it’s a problem for a couple of days – but it maximizes daylight for the maximum number of people. Year-round DST means kids going to school in the dark and getting hit by cars.

We should spend more of the year on standard time, though – six months of each, as used to be the case.

How to Get Better Sleep (and Need Less Every Night)

How to Get Better Sleep (and Need Less Every Night)

Reducing the amount of sleep you get is harmful. Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep a night. There’s no way around that.

But you can take steps to sleep better, and therefore spend less time in bed — including no screen time within an hour or two of bedtime (and that includes ebook readers), which will be hard for me.

By Alan Henry at Lifehacker.

What It Feels Like to Die

Science is just beginning to figure it out, writes Jennie Dear at The Atlantic:

“Roughly from the last two weeks until the last breath, somewhere in that interval, people become too sick, or too drowsy, or too unconscious, to tell us what they’re experiencing,” says Margaret Campbell, a professor of nursing at Wayne State University who has worked in palliative care for decades. The way death is talked about tends to be based on what family, friends, and medical professionals see, rather than accounts of what dying actually feels like.

James Hallenbeck, a palliative-care specialist at Stanford University, often compares dying to black holes. “We can see the effect of black holes, but it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to look inside them. They exert an increasingly strong gravitational pull the closer one gets to them. As one passes the ‘event horizon,’ apparently the laws of physics begin to change.”

What does dying feel like? Despite a growing body of research about death, the actual, physical experience of dying—the last few days or moments—remains shrouded in mystery. Medicine is just beginning to peek beyond the horizon.

What’s going on in the brains of people who don’t need much sleep?

Scientists study the brain activity of people who claim to be able to do just fine on five hours or less sleep per night. Research finds that these people might be more efficient than the rest of us at performing the memory consolidation that sleep provides. They might also be falling asleep for a minute or two at a time when things get boring. And maybe these short sleepers are just kidding themselves about how they function well on very little sleep.

I need more sleep than I’d like. Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights I got four to five hours of sleep per night, and suffered for it. By Thursday and Friday I was a wreck. Last night I slept eleven hours and today it feels like my brain is packed in cotton.

(David Pescovitz, Boing Boing.)

Going nuts

Husbands often go crazy when on business trips (see for example: Don Draper). I am no exception. Like, when I’m at home I stay away from diet soda because of its questionable health effects and because Julie says it makes me spacey. But right now I’m drinking a 20-ounce Diet Coke.

It’s just a short step from here to underwear on my head.

“I’m newly sober and dog-paddling through the booze all around me.”

Hellaciously excellent rant by Kristi Coulter, who says women need to drink to live in the world created by and for men:

Do you remember the Enjoli perfume commercial from the 1970s? The chick who could bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let you forget you’re a man?

I blame that bitch for a lot. For spreading the notion that women should have a career, keep house, and fuck their husbands, when the only sane thing to do is pick two and outsource the third. For making it seem glamorous. For suggesting it was going to be fun. And for the tagline she dragged around: “The 8-Hour Perfume for the 24-Hour Woman.” Just in case you thought you could get one fucking hour off the clock.

Plenty more where that came from.

I’m drinking less and less as I get older. It’s not a moral or health choice. I’m just more aware that I don’t like it most of the time. And I’m more aware that much of the time I used to drink, I was just drinking to fit in. Every now and then, I do like a nice beer or a glass of wine or a martini or Jameson’s rocks. But I often go weeks or months without partaking, and don’t miss it.

Matcha is an alternative for people who get too jittery on coffee

Shayla Love, The Washington Post:

Matcha is green tea leaves crushed into a fine, electric green powder. Whisk the powder into warm or hot water, and it dissolves into a frothy drink.

In a regular cup of tea, tea leaves are just steeped in water, but when you drink matcha, you actually consume the whole leaf and the nutrients it contains. Drinking the whole leaf provides the antioxidants and health benefits, Sheth says, at higher levels than other superfoods such as like acai berries or goji berries.

At the same time, another component of the leaf, the secret behind the mellow matcha buzz, helps prevent the shaky coffee feeling: L-theanine.

“L-theanine is an amino acid, and studies have shown it provides a stress relief; it produces a calm feeling in our body,” [dietician Vandana Sheth] said. “But it doesn’t make us sleepy. When you combine that with the caffeine that’s in the matcha, you’re feeling more focused, you’re feeling alertness but without that jittery feeling when you consume a lot of caffeine from coffee.”

Now I’m curious to try matcha. I’ll see if I can find a local source.

Sandra Bland died one year ago and since then at least 810 people lost their lives in jail

Dana Liebelson and Ryan J. Reilly investigate jailhouse suicides and other deaths for the Huffington Post:

Suicide has been the leading cause of death in jails in every year since 2000, according to the latest Justice Department data. This is not the case in prisons, where inmates are more likely to die of cancer, heart and liver disease. There’s a reason for this difference. People land in jail right after they’ve been arrested. They’re often angry, desperate or afraid. They may be intoxicated or have psychiatric conditions that officers have no way of knowing about.

The experts we spoke with emphasized that entering jail is an instantly dehumanizing process. “You get clothes that don’t fit you, you get strip-searched, you lose any semblance of privacy, you don’t get to make many decisions that we all take for granted,” said Jeffrey Metzner, a psychiatrist at the University of Colorado in Denver who specializes in inmate mental health. “I don’t think most of us realize just how frightening that experience is,” added Steve J. Martin, a corrections expert who is monitoring reforms at Rikers Island Correctional Facility in New York City. “You have a total and absolute loss—immediate loss—of control over your being, over your physical being.”

Under these circumstances, people can deteriorate at an alarming speed. About two weeks after Bland’s death, 20-year-old Brissa Lopez was arrested for allegedly fighting with her boyfriend, and arrived at a Texas jail around 4:47 a.m. She was “very cooperative” and “chuckled as she removed her tongue and lip ring,” according to a sergeant who admitted her. Staff checked on her at 6:15 a.m. Some 40 minutes later, she was found hanging from a fire alarm cage by a bedsheet.

Idiots

Trump makes it easy to forget what a dumpster fire all the other GOP nomination hopefuls were

Rick Santorum said pregnancy from rape is a “gift from God” and compared gay relationships to “man-on-dog” sex — and he signed a pledge saying that African-Americans had it better during slavery.

He’s not an aberration, either. The whole cadre of GOP presidential nomination hopefuls were a bumper-crop of absolute terribleness: Rick Perry’s summer hunting camp is called “Niggerhead” and he pledged to eliminate three cabinet-level government agencies, but couldn’t remember which ones. He is a young-Earth Creationist, an anonymous GOP governor once said that Perry was “like George W Bush, but without the brains.”

Bobby Jindal named himself after a character on the Brady Bunch and bankrupted Louisiana by cutting taxes on the wealthy. Carly Fiorina is a climate-change denier who tanked HP and thinks Planned Parenthood sells foetal organs. Rand Paul wants to eliminate environmental and civil rights legislation and eliminate welfare. Scott Walker said he could be trusted to fight Isis because he’d defeated Wisconsin’s teachers’ unions. Chris Christie is basically a mafia don, but not a competent one. Jeb Bush thinks that health insurance can be eliminated by giving people Apple watches and that poverty can be solved by everyone “working longer hours.”

Source: Boing Boing (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0). Thanks, Cory!

Anti-vaccers are going to court to block California’s strict vaccination law

Soumya Karlamangla at the LA Times reports:

The new law, which took effect Friday, bars parents from citing religion or other personal beliefs as reasons to not vaccinate their kids. SB 277 is one of the toughest mandatory vaccination laws in the country and drew many protesters when it was debated in Sacramento.

A group of parents and the nonprofit Education 4 All filed a suitFriday to overturn the law in U.S. District Court in San Diego. The suit claims that the law violates California children’s right to an education under the state’s constitution.

“SB 277 has made second class citizens out of children who for very compelling reasons are not vaccinated according to the CDC schedule,” the plaintiffs’ attorney, Robert T. Moxley, said in a statement.

 

It’s hard work being The Rock

Here’s What Happened When Some Dude Ate Like The Rock For A Month

The Rock eats more than 5,000 calories a day, more than twice the recommended calories for the typical American man.

That’s 10 pounds a food a day, eaten in seven daily meals that take an hour and a half every two days to prepare and two hours twenty minutes a day to eat. And the Rock does two and a half hours a day of hard exercise.

Sweet potatoes are the closest thing to a sweet that The Rock eats. (Not even fruit? Apparently not.) The Rock hasn’t eaten candy since 1989.

[Walt Hickey/FiveThirtyEight]

 

My scary cancer scare

You may recall not too long ago I was going on at great TMI length about my colonoscopy.

Today I went in for a follow-up consultation. The doctor said that he found two “precancerous” polyps, which he cut out. 

 And that means (says the doctor) I would have gotten cancer if I had put the procedure off any longer. Colon cancer. Not one of the good cancers. But I did not. They caught it in time. No cancer. Yay me. 

He’s going to have me in for a few additional tests over the course of the next year. I have a family history of cancer, and between that and the polyps, he wants to be extra-careful. Which I think is a dandy idea.

If you’re over 50, and you haven’t gotten a colonoscopy, do it. And do whatever else you need to do to take care of yourself. Because cancer is even worse than sitting through a “Two and a Half Men” marathon. 

The past two hours have been emotionally fraught. Something awful almost happened to me. But it didn’t. So now I guess I’ll finish posting this and have lunch.

 

I give this study a standing ovation

Standing desks boost productivity, not just health, study finds [Megan McDonough – The Washington Post]

I’ve been using a standing desk more than five years. My set-up – and all standing desks that I’m aware of – should really be called a standing/sitting desk, because I do spend a lot of the day sitting at it. I’m sitting right now. I use a tall stool. But I spend more than half my time standing at the desk.

It’s perfectly comfortable and I don’t plan to ever go back to a sitting desk.

Do not spend hundreds of dollars on a convertible standing desk. All you need to do is elevate your desktop by about 18″. Putting a coffee table on top of your desk works nicely. I think the piece of furniture I’m using started life as as console for a widescreen TV. And get a tall stool for when you want to sit.

Growing up fat

Confessions of a Former Fat Kid– Isaac Fitzgerald, BuzzFeed

Hell of a read.

Fitzgerald and I have led very different lives. Being former fat kids is nearly all we have in common.

Ironically, when I look at pictures of myself as a child and teen-ager, I don’t look fat. I didn’t get fat until I was an adult. I was terrible at sports, always picked last in gym class, and yet I and my friends rode our bikes everywhere, miles every day. It was the only way to get around.

Keeping it off

“I’m an obesity doctor. I’ve seen long-term weight loss work. Here’s how.”– Yoni Freedhoff, Vox

Making yourself suffer to lose weight is a sure way to fail, Freedhoff says. On the other hand, “liking the life you’re living while you’re losing weight is the key to keeping it off.”

That means you should enjoy the foods you eat and the exercise you’re doing.

That’s been my formula for success. It’s the most important weight loss and fitness tip I know.

Also, if you set out to lose 50 pounds, and lose 30 – that’s success. Don’t think of yourself as a failure for that. If you gain 10 pounds back later, count yourself a success for losing 20. Indeed, middle-class middle-aged Americans tend to gain weight as they get older, so if you keep your weight the same, that’s success too.

Why so many Labrador retrievers are so fat

A gene, also present in humans, makes those Labs insatiably hungry. No matter how much or how recently they’ve eaten, they always want more.

I used to think all dogs were that way until we got Minnie. We free-feed her. She eats just enough to maintain her weight, and leaves some uneaten food in her bowl. We put out food for her twice a day, and she almost always skips the morning meal.

This Is Why So Many Labrador Retrievers Are So Very Fat – Melissa Dahl, The New Yorker

 

Fraying at the edges: 67-year-old Geri Taylor navigates Alzheimer’s early years

“A withered person with a scrambled mind [and] memories sealed away [is] the familiar face of Alzheimer’s. But there is also the waiting period, which Geri Taylor has been navigating with prudence, grace and hope.”

N.R. Kleinfield tells Taylor’s story, in depth, with respect and gentle dignity, at The New York Times:

Fraying at the Edges: Her Fight to Live With Alzheimer’s

During a ruminant moment, Geri Taylor sat and, as an exercise, wrote down how she had changed. She called it: “Things I Do Differently as a Result of Diminished Capacity.”

The bulletinlike inspection report clarified for her who she now was. She found it sobering, for it caused her to realize just how reliant on others the slow drip of betrayals had made her, and that wounded her hard pride.

The log was two full pages. There were the expected entries, like not driving, not traveling alone (except by subway, bus or Metro-North train), simplifying her book choices, planning very carefully for outside activities (“always carry the same ‘highway bag,’” “constantly checking my things when I am out — have lost my vest, boots, watch and glasses in past nine months — very unusual”).

The list also contained some upbeat aspects. For instance, she put down how she cherished friends and family more than ever: “Daily call, email and text family and friends at a rate of 2-3 daily.”

And she listed something unexpected: “Do take housework more seriously and spend more time.” She cited the elements of housework as “an escape to simpler things” and how they were “time away from people and restful.” The dust and laundry, after all, didn’t judge her limitations, her spotty memory. So she found delight and gratification, even intoxication, in her triumphs over specks of dust and blemished counters.

“I can’t manage the bills, and I can’t manage the schedule,” she said. “But this is something I can do, and I can do well. So I’ve embraced it more. It’s identity. It’s a role I can still assume.”

She pointed out, “And most of the time, you can sing!”

As she wiped down counters and vacuumed the floor and changed bedsheets, she liked to sing whatever drifted through her mind (“Sometimes it’s disturbing what goes through my mind”).

They were old hymns. Show tunes. “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.” “Amazing Grace.” A favorite was “Barbara Allen,” an English ballad about a man dying as he pined for the love of a woman. Grim, all right, but she liked it just fine for the tune, which suited her voice, a second soprano alto. So she cleaned with gusto and great pleasure. And she sang.

Taylor relies on her iPhone for reminders throughout the day. It helps her keep her independence.

Dave Barry shares his colonoscopy experience

A few friends shared this column with me after I had my colonoscopy a few days ago.

OK. You turned 50. You know you’re supposed to get a colonoscopy. But you haven’t. Here are your reasons:

1. You’ve been busy.

2. You don’t have a history of cancer in your family.

3. You haven’t noticed any problems.

4. You don’t want a doctor to stick a tube 17,000 feet up your butt.

Let’s examine these reasons one at a time. No, wait, let’s not. Because you and I both know that the only real reason is No. 4. This is natural. The idea of having another human, even a medical human, becoming deeply involved in what is technically known as your ”behindular zone” gives you the creeping willies.

Hilarious.