Thursday, August 31, 2006
  Help, My Skin is Aging!

I just want to jump in here and say something. I would say it is granola uncensored, but I'm not capable of writing without editing at least a little bit. I would say totally unresearched, but I couldn't control the urge to grab a picture and quote. But it is a rant, and it isn't really researched very well. So if I'm wrong, it's my misconceptions that are showing, and I won't mind if someone tells me to hike my slip up a bit.

I don't really like dermatologists very much. They are out to prey upon the insecurities of women. The local one here runs advertisements all the time about erasing the devastating effects of aging. Oh the horror, the absolute horror. What is this disease, this aging? I'm scared doc, make it stop!

Luckily, they quickly present us with a solution to that which stalks every poor woman out there: come in for dermabrasion.

Ever since this service came out, I've thought that dermabrasion was one of the silliest things. How can it do anything really lasting? All dermabrasion does, correct me if I'm wrong, is take off the dead skin cells. Maybe the treatment is a little better than a good facial scrub. But after a week, what has your 100 dollars purchased you? I would say, nothing much. But this comes to us from a source that should be respectable.

Alternative health sources really aren't any better.

I once had a Prickly Pear Facial, which is a cool name even if it says nothing but "naturally, this will irritate you". Most people aren't supposed to use it more than once a week, and some people (like me) should really keep usage down to two times a month. My face looked convincingly red for quite a while - longer really than they said it might on sensitive skin. The next day my skin looked pretty nice. Not "Wow, I'm a new me!" nice but not bad. And the next day it was normal. I have actually wondered if the effect of it was inflammation rather than anything restorative or protective or whatall the effect was supposed to be.

I recently found a good quality moisturizer at a big corporate arm bender retail store that gave me about the same effect. It lasted me about 6 weeks and cost a lot less than the facial. Plus, I didn't have to mess around with it for about 30 minutes, get all red faced (unless the Milk comes in to admire my deft skill at applying lotion), and I could use it every single day. Like all of my facial moisturizers have been since they came out with such products, it is SPF 15, but for some reason it seems to do an extra special job than the last stuff I had. Dove Deep Moisture Day Care.

At Bath and Body Works, there is this new Patricia Wexler MD line of products. Her picture and her name upon the product is one of the reasons I dermatologists kind of bother me. There is a lot of medicotechno garble that I haven't heard about anywhere else but in this line of products. Of course, I don't research the latest in "Trying to look 16 years old when you're really 60", so I might be wrong. They are going to give me a free sample of "Wexler MMPi*20(tm) Skin Regenerating Serum, Professional Strength" so I might try it. I wonder if it comes in any strengths other than professional? Maybe there is a "aphrodite strength" for the really rich woman, or a "too-pathetic-to-pay-for-professional regular strength" for regular gals like me. Anyway, at 27 bucks for a .5 oz jar, it is going to have to go really, really far to get me to give up my current favorite, which is only $7 for 1.69 oz (that's 50 ml to you sane metric users out there).

Of her prices, Wexler, who wants to be my 'daily dermatologist' says "I believe great skin shouldn't be a luxury." To which I ask, "Does this count towards my deductible? Or maybe even my cafeteria plan, that would be okay too." No? Hmmm.

Girls, we don't need anything fancy to keep our skin healthy. Just do all the things we should be doing to keep the rest of our body healthy, moisturize, and protect from the sun. Oh yeah, and remember to let a doctor give your skin the once over on occassion.

Wrinkles will come. Let them come. We're still strong and beautiful. Now, go out and compliment someone.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
  Journey to Belief (part 5)

(part 1)(part 2)(part3)(intermission)(part 4)

So far, except in replies to comments, I have only postulated a god or gods that exist and the benevolence of deity as the only state that matters. Up to this point, really, I haven't commented on if such deity resembles the Judeo-Christian god or is a pantheon of gods or something more like what Buddhism and other eastern religions describe.

To go any further, we must now deal the human experience. I have struggled to write this because frankly, I'm limited. I'm very limited. I really only understand part of what has gone on in western traditions. I really only understand what I, myself, have experienced.

But even that is a very tricky mess to tease out.

Most accounts are second or third hand at best.
Accounts suffer from misinterpreting because of cultural context.
Accounts suffer from transmission errors
They suffer from cultural contamination: mental illnesses, for instance, interpreted as heavenly visions that conform to cultural expectations of what those visions should be like.
Accounts may actually be stories misinterpreted as real events. Job, for instance, may very well be a parable rather than a real person.
Accounts may be purposefully deceptive, for whatever reason.

That's so much garbage to go through that some people, understandably enough, just throw their hands in the air, exclaim Occam's Razor and be done with it.

And then we have personal experience. How are we to interpret our own personal experience?

When I was pregnant once, the music from the end credits of a movie I had thought was stupid made me cry. It made me feel that tearful joy that many of my religious contemporaries have classified as the Holy Spirit testifying something, but it had no meaning to convey. There was no clarity in the emotion. It was merely an emotional reaction, probably because I was pregnant. My feelings had betrayed me. They were illogical. Except during that pregnancy and post partum period where hormones ruled, I didn't cry again, for good or ill, for two years. I let nothing touch me.
Monday, August 21, 2006
  I wish it was a vacation keeping me from posting.

Family stayed at my house this past weekend. The weekend before that I went to three social functions and entertained two different visitors I hadn't seen in years. This coming weekend we will have a friend from Japan staying.

You may have thought up until now that I was a rather nerdy introvert, not the social butterfly these occurances make me out to be. In this, you would be right. While I've been enjoying this contact a lot, when it is all over I think I'll find a closet somewhere to live in all by myself.

I have been working on the next post and thinking about comments. I hope to post something in the next couple of days, but may find myself unable to. My younger girls are in school, my oldest is starting school next monday, and I have a toddler.

I know there are very few of you out there, but still I feel obligated to say I haven't forgotten your very interesting questions and comments, or this series of posts, or this blog.

When I get done with the series, remind me to tell you of the chiropractor who sells himself with little yellow fliers headed by "A Doctor's Confession", with picture of his cute daughters and even testimony of prospective patients who go to him because of his cute little family. Gag.
Monday, August 14, 2006
  Journey to Belief (part 4)

(part 1)(part 2)(part3)(intermission)

I tried replying to the comments yesterday. In fact, I wrote for about an hour, stupidly doing my work in the comments window. Of course, blogger burped and I lost it. They are great questions, and some of it lead to what I wanted to discuss anyway.

Just because gods come into existence doesn't mean we must either worship them or follow their commandments. My idea that they must evolve from an infinite meta-universe makes no comment on just what they are. They could be any of the following things:

  1. indifferent - if this is true, there is no point. It is just as if there was no God.
  2. malevolent - if this is true, such a being does not deserve our worship or respect.
  3. benevolent - if this is true, we need to pay attention.

This doesn't even approach traditional definitions of God such as omniscient, omnipresent, omnibenevolent, omnipotent. Every single one of those characteristics are points of seperate discussion, and they have been argued for millenia.

The suggestion was made by ex utero that it is arrogant to believe that such beings as would evolve into gods would ever bother with us. It may be inappropriate to believe that all such beings would pay attention to us, but I do not think it egocentric to believe that some would, in much the same way that some of us pay attention to different species on this planet. Making such an assumption does not make humans a special case, because it does not exclude any other intelligent or even non-intelligent beings from the same attention.

Ex utero also proposed an interesting question: "Would I care to believe even if God were real and all the facts in the bible were historically accurate, but there was in fact no after-life and that death were final?"

The no afterlife god of this proposition is malevolent, for if this is truly the god of the bible and that god is lying to us about the afterlife, then that is not the only thing going on. For that god of the alledgedly historically true bible does have power great enough to create an afterlife even if there was no natural one, or is lying about the power he has. To not give us an afterlife and then lie about it is, in fact, not a god I could believe in or worship. However, the bible=historically true/there is a god/but no afterlife proposition has a variety of logical problems with it, and it has even more inconsistencies with the doctrine and facts of my own religion, such that I, myself, cannot consider it a sufficient reason to reject a belief or worship of God.

I had a very similar question I proposed to myself once: Would I regret having lived my life believing something false and basing a lifestyle on that if, in the end, death were final?

My answer was different from ex utero's. I decided I would not regret it. Why? Because my lifestyle had honor and goodness, the standards it held up to me were worthy to keep me always striving to become better than I am, and the philosophy it was based on had pure love at its core. In short, I do not act in order to gain heaven by divine decree after I die; I act in order to create heaven where I am. I have been, and I will be, but where I am now is the only thing that can be acted upon. This is true with or without an afterlife.

It is clear that the difference in our approach may have something to do with the religious backgrounds we came from, but I do not want to address that right now.

When I wrote of my "careful construction" that bothered Sarabeth, I did wonder if I should refer to it in this way or not, and opted to go ahead despite cultural references such as 'house of cards'.

We all construct our beliefs using our experiences and knowledge. Some of us humans take no thought to the process; letting 'memes' (for lack of a better term) and our reactions lay where they fall, unquestioned, their construction being a pile of whatever came by. Others attempt to put this information together to create coherancy, but may lay bad foundations or no foundation at all, or use poor materials, or do not measure properly. And others may be very exacting, but still find that a material they used was defective, so that they must now go in and replace it throughout their construction. We will always find new technologies, better methods, and better things to build with, so that our construction should never be considered complete. Of course, I couldn't get all of that information in, but that was basically my idea.

And finally, MommaTN, thanks for the kind words.

Next, separating emotional motives for belief or lack thereof from reasonable motives.

  Journey to Belief (Intermission)

A lot of interesting points have come up in my comments. Ones that I hadn't thought about addressing originally as I detailed how I came to my beliefs. As I always do, I'm also questioning why I wanted to share these thoughts, making them open for discussion, and then questioning why I wouldn't want to share them.

It all comes down to being human. Like all of us social creatures, I want to be understood and accepted. I guess I feel the need to explain how I can be skeptical, and still believe in God and be deeply religious. Perhaps I am still fighting the ridicule of that fellow student from all those years ago. Do our insecurities ever really change? But also, I always wonder if my thinking has been clear, logical and precise enough to pass a rigorous test. Will some large oversight be pointed out to me, wreaking havoc in my carefully constructed set of arguments, causing me to start over again? Will I ever, ever be satisfied?

Probably not. Not until the bright flash of death reveals or does not reveal the ultimate answer. But then, isn't that how we should approach knowledge? Never satisfied that we are Knowledgable. Willing to give up what we thought was true in exchange for something that is more true, and yet making this exchange conservatively, unwilling to let our opinions drift with the prevailing breeze.

C'est la vie.

(part 1)(part 2)(part3)
Sunday, August 13, 2006
  It's a Test! PGR is up.

So, I decided to take the test over at Unintelligent Design.

1. Which of the following is a new indication for breastfeeding?

A. Breasts can’t be confiscated by airport security.

2. You arrive to work at a Level 3 neonatal intensive care unit(NICU) to find that you will be caring for a set of three day old triplets. The mother of the infants wishes to discuss kangaroo care for her children. Which of the following is the most appropriate way of handling this situation?

A. I'm sorry but there are no animals allowed in the NICU.

3. When can dietary improvements have the most impact on our risk of coronary artery disease?

D. Hmmmmmm jelly donuts. Purple is a fruit right?

4. Which of the following potential long term benefits of breastfeeding has recently been studied?

A. Xray vision.

Really. It helps if the mom already has X-ray vision. I think it is so like, the babies can just look at mom and see how much milk is in.

5. Which illness can result in exercise intolerance and periodic bouts of coughing in children and adults?

C. Hand, Foot in Mouth Disease

I had my foot in my mouth once during yoga. It was really gross, so I started coughing a lot.

6. What has recent study shown to be a potential link to increased sexual activity in teens?

D. Music with degrading lyrics.

7. Other than family, who should be involved in making decisions about the medical care of a child?

D. Brittney Spears

Dr. Bartram has clued us in to how very, very smart she is.

8. What statement does 43% of the American public agree with?

A. There's always room for Jello.

Purple Jello, of course.

9. What has led to the dramatic decrease in pediatric Hemophilus influenza type B (HiB) infections over the past decade?

There wasn't a right answer listed for this one, because it is obvious that the energy vibration of the earth's atmosphere is not harmonious with HiB, or I guess I should say that HiB has evolved into disharmony with that vibration and so is no longer flourishing.

10. What should be taken into account when deciding to resuscitate a premature infant?

A. The gestational age.
B. Parental wishes.
C. Medical condition.
D. All of the above.

11. Which child focused strip mall establishments do the American Institute of Ultrasound Medicine think you should avoid?

A. Timmy Tobacco's Wacky Shack
B. Chucky Cheese After Dark
C. Lead Based Pottery By You
D. Prenatal Portraits with 4D ultrasound.

All of these are bad institutions to be sure, but Clark forgot to mention the worst of them all: Sanrio (The Hello Kitty store).

12. What popular strategies were not supported as effective means of reducing the incidence of allergic disease and asthma in a recent study?

A. House dust mite avoidance.
B. Stress Management
C. Increased dietary Omega-3 intake.
D. Both A and C.

See, now I was stumped on this, until I came across Clark's use of the plural, because I'm a word geek. That's what I am. And my geekiness revealed to me that if he used strategies in plural, there must be more than one strategy, and there was only one answer that involved more than one strategy: D.

Hmph... I only got 8 wrong. Smarter than I thought. I guess I should go read the posts, and so should you if you want the real answers.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
  Journey to Belief (part 3)

(part 2)

After an experience that I may relate someday, I found myself questioning again. My personal "pascal's wager" was all well and good, but it what about embracing truth? Had I really made the right choice, the choice to believe in God? So I crawled back through everything I knew, and I found yet again that black box of science: the beginnings of the universe.

It's a troublesome place, really, a gap filled with anthropic principles, quantum fluxuations, spaghetti monsters, and other philosophical bogeymen. And that is the problem, really. There is no evidence for anything before 10−33 seconds had passed. That is an incomprehsibly short time for us mortals, but it is still not the instant of coming into being.

To imagine that this instance happened one single time, with all the special qualities of the universe that make intelligence possible seems so beyond probability as to be ridiculous. The odds are worse than winning any lottery. It makes us special in a way that, philosophically, leaves a bad taste in our mouths after Galileo and Copernicus. And it screams intelligent intervention.

The other option is to imagine it has happened enough times for a universe like ours to occur. And if it has happened that many times, then there is probably more than one universe in which some form of complexity has occurred that resulted in intelligent information processing. Can we impose a limit on the number of universes created? Because if we can't, then it is infinite, such that even the that miniscule fraction of universes that contain intelligence is infinite. And if that is so, the deity must have evolved.

But what of the nature of that deity?

To be continued
Monday, August 07, 2006
  Journey to Belief (part 2)

(part 1)

This encounter was not the beginning of doubt or questioning. That was a process that had already begun. But it was a sort of touching stone for me. I must, above all, I thought, base my beliefs on logic and reason rather than emotionalism.

The problem was, I wanted to just plain believe in God, desperately. I wanted the simple faith that so many of my fellow Saints (Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons) and Christians had. In a way, I hated over thinking things. It got in the way of just living. This 'rebelliousness' kept my development on hold for many years.

But after a while, I found I could no longer coast along in life. I began to question if I lead my lifestyle simply because it was what I'd been taught as a child. Our religion expected others to convert. What if I found out it was false and there was a truth out there I had to grab on to, convert myself to? Could I do it? Could I do what we Mormons wanted, even expected non-members of my church to do? Am I afraid to do what is right because I fear what those around me will think of me?

And then I read something that inspired me, in an odd way. It was an idea I gleaned from physics. I've since tracked it down to Einstein when he spoke of his theory of relativity as being "too beautiful to be false." Physics has a lot of this idea that the truth will naturally be beautiful. That concept rang in my head. It felt right, but that kind of thing is not enough for rigorous truth. It was a feeling, after all. A feeling and concept that supported what I wanted it to support. What it did was cause me to ask, "Is that really enough?"

To which question, this thought replied:

We can't know if there is or is not a god. I would not be able to find any absolutes on this search.

There is only one way for a person to know that he is correct in regard to the existence of an afterlife and God. That is if he believes in those things and they turn out to be true. If he believes and it is not true, he will never know that he has been wrong. If he doesn't believe and it is not true, he will never know that he has been right. And if he doesn't believe and it is true, then he will find out that he has been wrong.

This is actually a version of Pascal's Wager.

It isn't a fear of God thing, as Pascal's hedging of the bets seems to be, unless you desperately fear being wrong or simply going to the grave not knowing a thing. It is simply a statement of what we can and cannot eventually come to know with absolute certainty regarding God. It is a statement that makes a leap of faith towards the existence of God at least a reasonable proposition to pursue.

Because, no matter what view we take on the world, we make an assumption that is the foundation of our philosophy. It is an assumption that will rule our emotional responses and our motivations. It is an assumption about something that we cannot possibly know, which makes that assumption a leap of faith.

To be continued
Sunday, August 06, 2006
  Journey to Belief (Part 1)

When I was 17, I participated in a regional science fair. During the banquet, I got into a conversation with one of my 'colleagues' about evolution, God, and creation. I noted a particular speculation I had at the time that God intervened during those 'punctuated' events of Gould's punctuated equilibrium theory.

"Well, what did he do, bring them up to his lab in the sky and genetically alter them?" my acquaintance mocked.

"I don't know, but God has a bit more finesse and power than that," I replied. "He doesn't need a lab."

It was my first experience talking to a skeptic about creation, but certainly not my last. I was angry, upset, and felt ridiculed. I deeply wanted to be accepted by those around me at the time. These were the people I felt most comfortable with. I find it ironic that if I had followed the course my feelings pushed me to, that professors and science colleagues alike would have congratulated me on freeing myself from the shackles of my religious delusions. But I could not have been considered a free thinker or a critical thinker, despite their accolades. Instead I would have been a follower of social pressure.

But that also meant I could not believe in God because of social pressure.

To be continued
Thursday, August 03, 2006
  Book Meme

Clark Bartram of Unintelligent Design has tagged me, with a very cool meme, I might add. I love books. I love stories. I love reading. I hadn't had time to read enough lately. My dear milk man, seeing my predicament, bought me a subscription to with an Ipod. I think this qualifies as just about the best gift I've ever been given.

1) One book that changed your life? Ender's Game. It isn't that the story radically altered my outlook, or that I love that story in particular (I enjoy Speaker for the Dead more) but what it brought into my life: an appreciation for the author that lead to several encounters that have changed my life. Sounds like I'm a fan chick, and on a level that's true. I mean, I helped found and continue to pay for a site in honor of Ender's Game. But I've seen a lot of people far more intense about Orson Scott Card than I, and who've read the book over 20 times.

No, what happened is that OSC told me two different things at two different times that made me yearn for the craft of writing. One: We need more voices that speak the truth. Two: I am a good writer. I'm going to have to admit to feeling scared about it, and sometimes thinking it makes me an arrogant little bit of cereal to even think I can aspire to what I want.

2) One book you have read more than once? Lord of the Rings. I never wanted to leave that place.

3) One book you would want on a desert island? Some big History of the World that is chock full of biographies.

4) One book that made you laugh? I haven't read many humorous books in my adulthood, not because I don't like to laugh. I enjoy comedies a lot. I don't know why. Anyway, I read Cheaper by the Dozen way back when I was a kid and loved it. So I was excited to see it come out, with none other than Steve Martin playing the inventor dad who is obsessed with making things more efficient not because he wants it done fast but because, at his core, he is lazy. Hmmm, I think I ended up marrying that guy... Unfortunately, the movie disappointed me a lot.

5) One book that made you cry? The Yearling. A lot of books have made me cry, but that is the definitive answer for me. It's the book that I immediately think of when I think of books that make me cry.

6) One book you wish had been written? If I tell you that, then someone will take my idea and write it before I get around to it. But this blog doesn't have much of an audience just now, does it? Okay. Imagine a girl raised by monsters, now out and about in the real world. There is some pretty cool magic involved, but I'll let you discover that someday yourself :)

7) One book you wish had never had been written? Nothing really came to mind as being so very awful that, as Clark said, free speech should be curtailed. But maybe it isn't the writing that should count. Maybe if Mien Kampf wasn't written, Hitler would have drowned in his own hell rather than make so many other people suffer.

8) One book you are currently reading? The Stand. This is not a second read, but the first time I've read it and it is the first book I've ever read by Stephen King. I got it after listening to his book, "On Writing" and gaining a lot of respect for the man and the stories he must write. I was never a fan of horror, and even his good movies didn't entice me enough to pick up the books. I did read Lawnmower Man and thought: wow, the movie has almost nothing to do with the short story and Hmmm, he is pretty good, if a bit gory. If he wasn't writing horror I might like him. But alas, he is a Best Seller and very popular and I don't want to be just another tag along reader. It wasn't a huge barrier. Just enough so that when I went into the bookstore I tended to pick up other authors. He's still gory, though.

9) One book you have been meaning to read? A whole lifetime of books, but Will in the World is next in my audiobook library. Scratch that, this post has taken so long that I'm listening to it now.

10) Now tag five people. My mom, my sisters MommaT and deafkik, Dr. Charles, and the Fine Art Doctor, Jordan Grummet
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
  Bad Run Beats Ephedra

My run was horrible today. It was so bad that, for the first time since I began running, I stopped running in the middle of it and started walking instead. Even my walking was just about the slowest ever, since I recovered from last year's giving birth and later surgery.

Part of me is very irritated with myself, disappointed.

The other way to see it is that:

a)I got out there.
b) I stayed out there, and kept on walking at least, for the full half hour.
c)I was recovering from a small bit of food poisoning the day before.
d)I was listening to Stephen King's On Writing and learning good stuff
e)I'd stayed up late the night before, writing a story.

So I guess it isn't all that bad, really.

It is much, much better than taking Ephedra.

Also known as Ma huang, selling this herb was prohibited in the US a couple of years ago, with good reason. What I knew of it was that there had been several deaths from heart valve problems in otherwise healthy women, some sports guy had died, and the radio was splattered with "if you've ever taken phen-phen, call Cha Ching Lawyer firm for a free test to see if you've suffered heart valve damage".

Which was why I was surprised to see signs popping up in front of the local herb places. "Ma huang sold here, while supplies last." and "Ephedra is here!". It appears that in 2005, Utah courts ruled that lower doses of the herb were okay.

I've gotten some spam email with headers like "That drug ephedra that was banned because it was too effective." A short search reveals that, in fact, this is the claim that sellers of the product are touting: that ephedra was banned by evil pharm because it worked too well. Of course, this goes against the studies that showed that it worked very poorly at the higher doses supposedly effective while stressing the circulatory system too much.

I'm not going to get into the fact that lawyers overstated the problem, or that the supplement companies are understating the problems and vastly overstating the benefits, especially overstating the benefits of the lower dose (It wouldn't suprise me that though it is being sold now in lower doses, people are taking it at the higher "more effective" dose). It's just frustrating how short a memory people have, or how much they are willing to risk to lose weight 'effortlessly'.

There is no substitute for effort, people. No diet, no pill will provide all the benefits exercise can provide, even on bad run days.
A Mormon housewife who loves truth, science, rational thought, and reasonable action.

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Location: Utah

Granola is a mix of things: grains, nuts, bits of dried fruit, maybe some coconut. There's some fat in it, and it's a good source of fiber to keep those arteries and colons clean.

June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / April 2007 /


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