Sunday, May 12, 2013

Remembering the Newtown Kids on Mother's Day

On Mother's Day, I stumbled over a lovely essay by one of the Newtown Mothers...and it made me want to remember each of the kids. I would be especially angry if I were a Newtown mother, on Mother's Day. These kids should all still be with their parents and their schools. So, I tweeted about each of the kids on Mother's Day. Here's what I said:

  • Remembering Emilie Parker who would've been 7 on 5/12, wanted to be Hermionie Granger for her birthday. #newtown
  • Remembering Charlotte Bacon, in whose memory a Kindness Award was started. #newtown
  • Remembering Jesse Lewis who wrote "Nurturing Healing Love" on a chalkboard at home before he was murdered. #newtown
  • Remembering the rambunctious Noah Pozner whose twin sister was in another class. #newtown
  • The 1st Mother's Day after #newtown - we should remember the kids who were murdered that day, as a callous government doesn't care - WE DO!
  • Remembering red-headed Daniel Barden whose dad taught him Jingle Bells on the piano on his last morning. #newtown
  • Remembering Olivia Engel, who was a Daisy Girl Scout. #newtown
  • Remembering Josephine Gay, who loved the water and whose parents set up a fund for autistic children. #newtown
  • Remembering Dylan Hockley whose parents included a reading of Goodnight Moon at his memorial service. #newtown
  • Remembering Madeleine Hsu who loved dogs and wearing pink. #newtown
  • Remembering Catherine Hubbard who loved animals. Her parents asked for donations to an animal center. #newtown
  • Remembering Chase Kowalski who loved sports & played baseball. #newtown
  • Remembering Ana Marquez-Greene, who sang via video during her funeral. #newtown
  • Remembering James Mattioli who always loved to sing. #newtown
  • Remembering Grace McDonnell who loved the beach. #newtown
  • Remembering Jack Pinto who was buried in a NY Giants jersey. #newtown
  • Remembering Caroline Previdi whose favorite charity was The Toy Chest at her church. #newtown
  • Remembering Jessica Rekos who wanted cowboy boots for Christmas. #newtown
  • Remembering Avielle Richman whose Dad had been blogging about her adventures in 2012. #newtown
  • Remembering Jonathan Wheeler who wanted to be a paleontologist. #newtown
  • Remembering Allison Wyatt, an artistic girl who shared with strangers. #newtown
  • We should never forget the children of #newtown, particularly on Mother's Day. Write your representative - better gun laws save lives.
  • It took 9 months to create my child & a few secs for a tormented individual to destroy her with a gun. #newtown Mom

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Weighty Matters

I sometimes make surprisingly long posts in other people's blogs. I responded to a posting and some comments in the blog The Skeptical Scalpel: "Institute of Medicine: Obesity is not caused by lack of willpower" and thought I'd reprint them here. The quote that set me off was not made by the blogger, but was made by one of the commenters.
[[Fall 2012]]

"We are way too accepting of the obese. We should be sure to mock and scorn the obese more often. We should make fun of those who don't exercise or who frequent McDonald's. "

Harassment is never helpful (unless you're pulling a "Modest Proposal" here and I'm missing it).

I've been thin, fat, obese, morbidly obese, obese and now am merely fat. I've lost 65 pounds over the last 16 years, and have about 45 more pounds to go to be roughly average. I was harassed constantly about my weight in school, and, trust me, it did not help make me a thin person. It made me really pissed off. On the other hand, it did train me that most people's opinions do not matter. [[small clarification - I wrote most of this in the fall of 2012. I regained the 20 pounds after writing this.]]

I have a mixed viewpoint on the issue of obesity and health.

Genetics do matter, but they are not necessarily destiny. I come from a long line of fat people. Carbs and proteins taste great to me. While I've learned to eat some vegetables and fruits, I never, ever crave them, as much as I should. I'm still learning.

No matter what your weight is, you have to accept yourself, be reasonably active, and eat sensibly. There are a lot of self-hating thin and fat people out there.

Gym classes in school need to be dramatically rethought. When I was in school in the '60s and '70s, they focused on sports. Some of us were and have always been wretched at sports. They ought to be focused more on activities and health. They should expose kids to sports, but if the kids happier walking the track than trying to hit a baseball, that should be considered an acceptable gym activity.

The interaction of obesity and the medical community is, frankly, awkward. During the 90s, I remember being shocked by being asked "do you mind if we weigh you?" While people need to be respected by clinicians no matter what their weight, information like their weight, height, cholesterol, blood sugar (and so on) need to be recorded. Fat people should not be harassed, but they do need to be reminded about good eating habits and activity no matter what their weight is.

I think the thing that made me finally start to lose weight was the introduction of gastric bypass. While I eat less than I used to and do exercise more, I love a good meal. I still find eating very pleasurable, despite its potential dangers. I was at the point where gastric bypass was an option, and I knew I didn't want to have eating be that unpleasant.

I opted to start walking. I just did little things at first, like parking across a parking lot from my work or a store. Right now, I'm unemployed and am walking 3-4 miles a day.

I think one of the other big problems with attitudes towards obesity and dieting is this idea that loosing weight can be easy and fast. It isn't. Relearning how to eat is hard. But, the more we can non-medicalize loosing weight (focusing on diet and exercise rather than drugs and surgery), but better we all be in the long run.

I don't think there is "a" solution. Obesity/anorexia are tricky conditions and relate to upbringing, education, community planning, marketing...there are many unrelated pieces to a person's size. Medical personnel need to be respectful (and generally are), but need to have good information about nutrition available. And I understand nutrition isn't generally taught in med school.

[[Spring 2013]]

I don't really agree with the anonymous poster who said "it has to do with hunger." It has to do with our REACTIONS to hunger.

At some times of the day (morning), if I'm hungry I'll have a glass of water and feel fine with it. At other times of the day (afternoon), I need something to eat. It used to be junk food...and sometimes, it still is. But, generally, my afternoon snack is hummus and crackers or some peanuts.

Last year, I lost 20 pounds, but most of that was due to illness. However, in the fall, I went off of one medication, and noticed I was really craving carbs badly, which meant I was again eating more carbs. Also, it seemed like I was gaining weight no matter what I did (I walked 90 miles one month last fall and still gained 5 pounds that month). So I gained back the 20 pounds in 5 months.

I realized the obvious thing (beyond I was eating more than I should) - I'm now through menopause, so of course I'm going to gain weight a little more easily. I am being more careful again, am not craving carbs quite so much, and am back to really slow weight loss.

For many people, maintaining an average weight is easy. You're VERY lucky. For many of us, it's hard. To blame JUST the individual or JUST the environment is wrong-headed - weight is a very awkward combination of personal and societal.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Petition to Oppose Politics in National Science Foundation (NSF) Funding and a Letter to the White House Petition Site

On April 29, I was disgusted (though not surprised) to read that a Republican Congressional Representative wanted to do away with using peer-review to determine National Science Foundation funding of projects. So, I started a White House petition and asked people to sign it.

Even though I publicized it as I had an earlier petition, I got almost no response. So, I wrote to the petition site.

To: White House Petition Site:

I'm sad that this petition site seems to be going the way of many other Obama policies - it's a good idea, it's talked about and then it's ignored.

Several of us started petitions about the Westboro Baptist Church last year. Mine was the request to investigate its tax exempt status. I got the then-required 25,000 signatures in a couple of days. The petition is still up and has over 96,000 signatures.

No response from the administration.

With the later increase to 100,000 signatures, people clearly see that starting a petition here is a waste of time. I started a petition about the fact that a Republican Congressional representative is trying to do away with peer-review for NSF grants. I have many friends into science, and publicized this petition the same way I had the Westboro Baptist Church petition.

I've gotten almost no response. After 2 days, I'm up to 29 signatures.

This is sad, but, clearly, people don't want to waste their time with petitions that the administration will then completely ignore.

It's true we got very used to being lied to during the Bush administration. It's sad the Obama administration seems to be going in the same direction. If you have to lie about the little things (and, I know, the petition site is a "little thing"), how can we trust you about the big things?