Saturday, January 30, 2010

Patent Pending

Ideas float around constantly.  Most of these ideas fall by the wayside but some turn into something.  Recently I read an interesting article in the February 2010 issue of Inc., the magazine for growing companies.  The article was titled Saul’s House of Cool Ideas by Josh Dean.  I learned how Saul Griffith, a fellow thinker, turns his ideas into something.  This is his job and he is good at his job.  He is an inventrepreneur. 

I had no idea such a job existed.  Inventrepreneur.  It just sounds cool. 

Basically Griffith takes his ideas, however crazy they may seem, and creates a tangible product.  From the article I learned that he was the mastermind behind OptiOpia, a company that mass-produces cheap corrective lenses for the developing world, and Howtoons, educational science cartoons.  He started Makani Power which builds robotic kites that produce electricity.  This guy is amazing.  He’s so good at what he does that his company, Other Lab, has been asked to build Terminator 2.  I have never seen the Terminator movies.  I was interested to learn from the article that Terminator 2 is a kind of silver goo that looks like mercury and can turn itself into any form it comes across.  Other Lab is interested in working on it.  They think it would be great if our soldiers had a screwdriver that became a wrench that became an airplane. 

Over the course of my life I have had a few ideas.  I hesitate to even share these ideas since they are not patent pending.  Perhaps they should be.  If someone is serious about trying to figure out how to make Terminator 2, maybe I have something! 

  • Car magnets

Imagine driving along, minding your own business.  The car in front of you seems extra sluggish, panting up the hill on the freeway.  Or maybe it gets caught in some invisible time warp that prevents it from accelerating through a left turn with a notoriously short protected left turn arrow.  You push a button on your steering column.  Your car attaches itself to the car in front of you.  Thonk.  With your front bumper securely attached to the back bumper of the other car, you are able to gently guide the other car through the obstacle. 

Think that’s pretty incredible?  Picture this.  An aerial view of the freeway shows a car driving along in the center of, what appears to be, a hole in traffic.  There are no other vehicles within a 20 foot radius on any given side of the car.  How is that possible you ask.  The driver of the car has enabled the negative magnetism gage.  The magnet is quite literally keeping all other vehicles at a safe distance so all may drive in peace. 

Heavy traffic tracks would be the ultimate mind blowing future of driving.  Think of all those times you were caught in a parking lot of slow moving traffic.  To make matters worse, car blinkers are blinking like a bad case of Turrets Syndrome.  Some cars don’t even bother blinkering.  Optional feature of their car, supposedly.  Either way, cars are drifting across lanes only to slam on brakes, and begin the process of lane shopping again.  As you putter along mesmerized by the lane changing synchronized car dance, you have the thought that traffic would move forward if people would spend less time moving laterally.  And you’re right.  Which is why air traffic control, the guys who allegedly clocked you speeding even though the ticket shows the wrong color for your vehicle, not that I have experience in this!  Anyway, the air traffic control people flip a switch that turns on the heavy traffic tracks.  Like the tracks at amusement parks, these heavy traffic tracks keep all cars in their original lane on a track until the bottle neck of traffic is relieved. 

Car magnets could be the future of driving as we know it.  Inventrepreneurs could very easily make this a reality.  I would have to work on the logistics a little more.  Unfortunately, some may find my invention unethical because it takes away people’s choices.  But couldn’t it be argued that some people could use less choices?  Like mandatory parenting surveys where if you don’t pass you are automatically sterilized at no cost.  That could be my next invention!  Not a good parenting candidate?  No choice in accidentally reproducing.  Think of the money society could save!  I am of course kidding. 

Car magnets could still be an interesting invention.  It wouldn’t take away freedom of choice any more than a Prius does with it’s electronic stability control.  Or stopping when the driver has not paid any attention to the fact that they are about to ram into the car ahead of them.  It can also parallel park on its own.  A car is making these decisions for people already.  Magnets would just be another welcome safety measure.  

  • Telepatienting

Jobs are being outsourced all the time.  More and more employees have the option of telecommuting.  Why not pick your favorite endocrinologist and create a telepatient relationship online?  If Kaiser Permanente is going to pride themselves on paperless files for patients because they are moving patient care into the digital age, then let’s take it one step further.  It’s not just Kaiser Permanente making this switch from paper files to electronic digital files.  Most doctor’s offices are doing this now.  Telepatienting is not that far fetched an idea.

The majority of Americans do not visit the doctor unless they feel something is wrong.  Usually this realization is brought on by such stellar programs as The Doctors or Dr. Oz since we all know the information these programs provide is so accurate and reliable.   Americans also self diagnose using Web MD.  When this site gets to the point that it either can’t help anymore or it has frightened people into action, that’s when people choose to go see a real doctor.  Endocrinologists are slightly different from the average doctor.  They specialize in care of patients who need more monitoring than the once in a blue moon type of patient/doctor relationship most non hypochondriac Americans have.  I see one for my Type 1 diabetes. 

Endocrinologists can be as close as a 10 minute drive away or as far as a 4 hour drive away depending on where you live.  While it’s nice to not have to sit on crinkly paper with your half naked body being poorly shielded by a cloth or paper gown gaping open in the back, visiting an endocrinologist for monitoring purposes can feel very superfluous.  Especially when your endocrinologist has a way of making you feel like your best efforts will never be good enough and you must be stupid to not have your body under better control. 

Imagine visiting your endocrinologist via the Internet as you sit in your pajamas.  You upload all your blood sugars and other pertinent info to the server and he/she/it sends feedback.  Through Skype you and your doctor can talk face to face in real time if needs be.  The endocrinologist can upload forms for lab work which you can print out and get taken care of at your convenience.  The results can be emailed to you.  This should be the future of medicine. 

I really think I have something with these ideas.  As a resident of San Francisco, Saul Griffith is pretty local for me.  Maybe I should give him a call.  And when that doesn’t pan out I can always launch my other great idea. 

  • Reality TV game show for writers and poets

We seem to have a reality show for virtually every other obscure job, creative passion, or disability.  It’s only a matter of time before one of the major TV networks picks up my pitch. 

Contestants will be under the clock to produce an original essay, short story, or poem.  This will be determined by the episode.  There can be a panel of judges.  At least one blunt British judge, one bleeding heart female judge, and some other judge.  Contestants will be voted off.  America can even be involved with the voting off part.  Cash is on the line of course.  In the end there will be one clear winner.  America’s favorite writer!  Let the games begin.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Spring Fever or Winter Doldrums

Spring fever always comes with such excitement for me.  The sun peeks out and my heart immediately starts to race.  All I want to do is play outside.  To end each day with the smell of sunshine on my kids’ hair and feeling invigorated by the fresh air in my lungs. 

For me spring fever comes sometime in January.  Doesn’t matter where I live.  My body is aching for it now.  But there is no such feeling yet. 

The rain has been pounding every day for a good week or more now.  I love rain.  I love nothing more than to be cozy in my house, maybe curled up on the couch with a blanket in front of a crackling fire, watching Nature’s rain dance outside my window.  I would hate to think this pervasive feeling of blah is because I’m bored of the rain. 

Wally Weatherman is urging Californians to have emergency supplies on hand – food storage, water, etc – because he is predicting more rain.  Not just more rain but a Frankenstorm.  A storm unlike anything we have seen since 1861 and 1862, where California measured 8 ft of rain in 3 weeks.  Holy that’s a lot of rain!  This scares me and fascinates me all at the same time.  Rain is amazing and I love it. 

But I can’t shake this apathetic, I couldn’t care less about anything, blah feeling I have.  This is not me.  Yes I hate winter but winter in California is kind of fun.  This is not me. 

My life has become so predictable.  Every day I do the same thing.  I’m so bored of it all.  I need a vacation.  We are looking forward to a couple of vacations.  Yet I’m not excited.  I am but the doldrums are too strong for any real feeling of anticipation. 

My voice sounds hollow as it almost echoes in my ears when I talk.  It rasps when I laugh like some sexy smoker’s voice only just begun to be burned by a cigarette habit.  I love that my kids have learned to share so well.  They just haven’t learned that they can keep their illnesses to themselves.  My throat feels sore in that tell tale I’m definitely getting sick sort of way.  Waves of headaches and nausea wash over me periodically and I find myself trying in vain to talk myself out of giving in to the plague.  He is too convincing and my resolve is starting to melt. 

Years ago, weighed down by winter doldrums, I put on a bathing suit, stripped down my oldest son who was maybe 6 months old, and climbed into the bathtub with him.  I imagined we were lying on the hot beach while the waves lazily lapped over us.  I explained the whole imagined scene to him while we splashed the tub water over ourselves.  And it helped, if only for that 30 minutes. 

Maybe all I need to do is give in to the need to vomit then don my bathing suit and run myself a bath.  It’s got to be better than crying. 

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Weighty Issue

This morning my scale tipped in my favor.  I saw a number I have not seen in a very long time.  My excitement was real but short lived.  Why did I see this number?  Not because I’m healthy! 

I have been trying to adjust my insulin pump’s basal rates.  Decreasing the amount of insulin I pump into my body has helped me lose weight mostly because I’m not constantly in a state of hypoglycemia.  When my blood sugar is low (hypoglycemia) I have to eat to bring it back to normal.  There is no alternative.  Unless you count hospitalization, coma, or death as an alternative to not eating.  And I don’t. 

Decreasing the amount of insulin I use is not a bad thing.  My doctor has had me on way too much for way too long.  It has created a series of other issues with my diabetes. 

The other reason why my weight is down is because I haven’t eaten much of anything in the last two days.  In fact, yesterday my blood sugar was higher than it should be before lunch so I skipped lunch.  A couple hours later my blood sugar had dropped low and I was able to have a large snack without bolusing any extra insulin for it.  I hate that as a diabetic I have found all the loopholes. 

I recently read that diabetic girls will stop taking insulin as a way to lose weight.  That made my blood run cold.  What a dangerous and effective way to slowly commit suicide with the nice side effect of weight loss.  Scary. 

This all got me thinking about weight loss in general.  The world teaches that a number on a scale determines health and happiness.  This is not true, as evidenced by the above examples.  The world teaches that one must diet in order to reach that all elusive number on the scale. 

The world’s diets have been around since people invented labor saving devices to do most of our work for us.  People moved off the farm and into the house, into the office job, in front of the TV, and onto the intoxicating Internet with all its vacuous content and social media.  People gained weight.  How do we lose this weight, the people cried.  Enter diets. 

Fat free diets.  Sugar free diets.  Protein and fat only diets.  Wheat free diets.  Gluten free diets.  Soy only diets.  Vegetarian v. Vegan diets.  Every diet seems to dictate that some category of food is the evil antichrist and must not be consumed for any reason! 

Diets come and go as all fads do.  Scientists have proven that some fat is good so don’t cut out fat.  High fructose corn syrup is ok because it comes from corn and, like sugar, is ok in moderation.  Artificial sweeteners are the way to go.  Oh wait, they cause cancer in laboratory animals so good luck with your sweet tooth, Diabetics.  Bread is so bad for you.  Actually no, it has fiber so if you do some weird math equation it’s ok to eat bread.  In fact, our math equation will make it seem like you are eating less carbohydrates and that’s the goal now.  Low carb diets! 

Diets are insanity.  All this self righteous hullabaloo about free range meat v. cooped up meat, whether or not the animals have been given hormones, and organic food being the only way to go is enough to make one’s head spin.  Who do we listen to?  Who is right in this debate?  America is fat.  Let’s just admit it.  This really is an issue but how do we solve the problem? 

Diets are not the answer.  Some mysterious berry from the rainforest used as an enema to cleanse your system is not the answer either.  Self righteous granola tree huggers are definitely not the answer.  If I have to listen to one more of those purists tell me I made my pancreas stop producing insulin because of some random food choice I will scream.  For now I’m blogging.  I have to do my share to keep up the vacuous content on the Internet!

The answer is simple.  Burn more calories than you consume.  If America insists on watching reality TV at least learn from it!  If we’re going to watch morbidly obese Americans melt before our eyes by eating a normal amount of calories coming from a variety of food sources and exercising.  If this is what we call entertaining, then for heaven’s sake let’s learn from the show.  Output more than you input.  It’s a concept Americans easily understand with regard to their bank accounts. 

It’s not rocket science.  It doesn’t require a guilt trip and dubbing food “bad.”  I agree that for some food addicts it can be difficult to moderate food choices.  It’s not easy to choose an apple over a cupcake. 

But I believe that the second you tell yourself you made a bad choice because you ate a cupcake you just set yourself up for failure.  Cupcakes are not bad per se.  Eating a dozen in one sitting is not the best choice.  So many people think they have sabotaged themselves because they had one cupcake after dinner then went for a walk.  Guess what.  It’s not that big a deal.  A cupcake reward periodically is not going to be your downfall.  A diet of cupcakes, candy and soda with the occasional banana will. 

When you tell yourself that food is off limits you get tunnel vision and crave that taboo food all the more.  Then when you eat it you feel guilty and emotionally eat it more.  It’s a vicious cycle.  So unless you truly are allergic to a food don’t tell yourself it’s “bad.”  Pamela Hansen, author of Running With Angels, lost a significant amount of weight while rewarding herself weekly with an ice cream cone.  No food is bad if eaten in moderation.   On the flip side, overindulging in healthy food can cause an increase in weight. 

That’s why people need to adopt the measuring cup diet, my husband’s astute innovation.  Actually measure out what a serving is.  Move once in a while.  Realize that you don’t have to join a gym to get exercise.  It’s that simple.  If you want more than that read The Word of Wisdom, a health code found in Doctrine and Covenants Section 89.  Who better to trust with one’s health than God himself?  My favorite thing about the word of wisdom is that it’s not extreme in any way.  It doesn’t berate nor does it bend to the whims of fashion.  It remains constant.  And it works. 

Am I perfect?  Absolutely not.  I am overweight and I know I’m not as healthy as I could be.  But I know where I am going.  I know what my Heavenly Father expects of me with regard to my health and well being. 

Health is an ongoing journey and not a destination.  That’s the problem with diets.  Of course diets will cause weight loss but the weight comes back on as soon as you start eating again.  It’s unwise and impractical to deprive your body forever. 

So back to my scale; will I see that number again tomorrow?  Possibly.  What about next week?  Perhaps not unless I start making more healthy food choices, eating in moderation, and exercising regularly.  It’s a weighty issue but it’s not rocket science. 

Sunday, January 17, 2010

While you were . . .

While people hustled and bustled to get ready for church I snuggled with my four year old son.

While people were wrestling their children in church my little girl slept in my arms. 

While she slept I silently watched my six year old son, the super hero, act out his own comic book. 

While he wanted me to take pictures of him he also knew his baby sister needed rest to fight off her cold germies. 

While I wanted him to get my camera so I could somehow capture the magical moment of my child wistfully sleeping in my arms, she woke up every time I moved. 

While she snoozed so warm, so soft, so peaceful, her brothers played together.  No fighting, no arguing.  Working together to achieve common goals. 

While she was sleeping my heart nearly burst.  One of those motherly moments that words cannot adequately express. 

While my children were so content I thought of their dad.  I thought of how much I love him.  How much he loves me and our children.  How sorry I was he was sitting alone at church while we experienced utopia, if only for a moment. 

While the dirty dishes sat untouched I kissed my baby.

While the world went on with its busyness my world stopped long enough for me to drink in the magic of the morning:

The soft music playing in the background.  The occasional little boy giggle.  The whirring of their imaginations.  The smell of clean hair.  The soft touch of tiny fingers holding my own.  Warmth, not from the bright pink polar fleece blanket, but from her small body snuggled on my lap.

While I wished my children didn’t have to be ill, feel discomfort or pain, I was forever grateful to have them all to myself feeling so blessed to simply hold them.

While you were in church learning of the love our Heavenly Father has for us, feeling His spirit testify of truth, I too felt that same spirit enveloping me with such love. 

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Dangers of Fashion

Arguments have been made regarding fashion. Is it really attractive? Is it practical? Will it actually cause bodily harm?

The last question is a good one. Think of the corsets worn in the Victorian era. Women wore those things so tight it's a wonder they could even breathe. Ever read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books? Those books described women as cinching their corsets tighter and tighter to create a smaller waist. Laura's mother's waist was so small when she met her husband his hands easily circled her waist with fingers touching. Did you just put your hands in a circle? That's tiny!

The high heel debate has been raging for years. Heels are definitely attractive. They create the illusion of a smaller foot since it's angled up into the air. Most traditional shoes with heels are slim and sleek giving the illusion of a smaller foot in general. Chunky, clunky shoes do make one's foot appear larger and heavier.

While heels are considered attractive, women argue over their practicality. Is it necessary to vacuum in heels? Maybe not but having done it myself, I found it fun. What about bodily harm? Do heels really cause damage to the foot? Stacy London, co-host of TLC's What Not to Wear, adamantly argues that a well made shoe with a heel will not hurt. Contributor after contributor on the show agrees, by the end of the show, that their high heeled shoes are comfortable! Is this really true? Or is it more fuel to the high heel conspiracy fire?

Ladies, I am only one person. I cannot speak for us all. If you have the money to buy expensive, well made shoes from high end stores and you find them comfortable at the end of a long day, please comment and let us all know! My experience with heels is they are actually torture devices disguised in attractive, flattering, fashion.

I like to dress up on occasion. I like to advertise that I really do have it all; the hot successful husband, the adorable kids, and I can look good too! Once I wore boots, that happened to be heels, to a planetarium with my family. My feet were screaming thirty minutes into the outing. We stayed for hours. I started to wonder if I would retain the ability to walk after the car ride home.

Last summer I got some high heeled wedge sandals. They are super cute and they were on sale. Ninety nine percent of women agree that the cute factor of an item goes up as the price tag goes down. They may look good and do nice things for my legs but they worry me. I have trouble driving with them because the soles are so thick. I think of Alicia Silverstone in the movie Clueless every time I drive in those sandals.

"Hey James Bond! In America we drive on the other side of the road!"
"You try driving in platforms!"

One day, I am ashamed to admit, I actually fell down while wearing my wedge sandals. I had my 18 month old Little Miss on my hip. I took a step, somehow lost my footing, twisting my ankle awkwardly. Luckily I rolled with it. Unluckily it caused me to fall flat on my butt. My baby was still in my arms so she had a soft thud of a landing on my lap. She was very surprised and cried. I could not stop laughing. Completely embarrassed and somewhat in pain, I vowed to never tell anyone. After all, nobody saw. No witnesses means it didn't happen right? I finally fessed up to my husband a day or two later. Bless his heart he laughed with me and not at me.

For some reason I attempt fashion in the most painful ways on hot dates with my hot husband. Once it was not only the uncomfortable high heeled boots, but a pair of wide leg trousers that fit fine when I bought them 20 lbs. ago. That night, however, those pants would only close after I put on a gut sucker. Technical term for a panty corset to smooth out one's tummy. I bought that many years ago to go under my wedding dress. After having three kids my body is not the same as it used to be. The "gut sucker" was so tight I feared I was actually damaging internal organs. My fat spilled out on top like some strange love handle under my arms. I could barely breathe while nibbling at dinner. But hey, I looked good! At least I thought I did.

Whether or not heels are medically dangerous is still up for debate. I did buy my daughter six pair of Disney princess heels for Christmas to dress up in. She walks pretty well in them for not being quite two years old yet. Christmas day I worried that she would fall off those things. She gets better every day. It's better she learns now than when she's twelve and serves at her cousin's wedding reception. People told my parents I looked so grown up at that reception. They said I was floating around the room. What they didn't know was I didn't want to wobble in my new pumps so I was walking on my toes.

Is being the fairer sex really fair? Especially when the expectation is to put women's very lives on the line for the sake of fashion?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

It’s the end of the world and I feel fine

My thoughts were interrupted by the phone ringing. 

Hi Babe, are you ok?
Yeah, why?
Did you feel that earthquake?
There was an earthquake?  When?

Mere minutes before the phone call from my concerned husband there was an earthquake with an epicenter approximately 10 miles from my home.  It registered in the four point something range.  He felt it 40 miles away; hence the phone call.  I felt nothing. 

A few days later he heard on the radio that there was another smaller earthquake off the Northern California coast.  This was news to both of us.  Although many neighbors had felt that one as well. 

The second earthquake caused significant damage in Northern California.  People are now starting to think the Fisherman’s Wharf sea lions migrated north because they instinctively knew something big was going to happen.  Animals always know. 

I remember a moment from my childhood when there was a large flock of birds gathered in the back yard.  Suddenly, without warning, the birds scattered peppering the sky with their black silhouettes.   It was such an ominous moment.  I don’t remember any natural aftermath.  But I do remember being told that animals can warn others of danger by their behavior. 

Children are also finely tuned to Mother Nature.  Don’t believe me?  Try teaching elementary school.  Or being a mother.  Children always know. 

For as long as I have known California existed, I have heard predictions that one day there would be a huge earthquake and California would actually split away from the rest of the country floating away into the ocean.  Along with this prediction was always the attitude that Californian’s are so evil that it serves them right! 

Obviously now that I live in California I really hope that isn’t true.  I have seen scientists on TV use this theory.  They just leave out the evil Californians part.  So it could happen.  Scientists say so.  They also think the world, in all it’s infinite complexities, was conceived by a big bang in space. 

I can hardly turn on the news without hearing the newscasters talk about The Big One.  Everyone is preparing for a major earthquake because it feels like we’re due for one.  The practical part of me wants to be prepared.  After the events of this last week I’m thinking that there will be a big earthquake, California will break off, and I will continue blogging completely oblivious to any of it.  And maybe it’s better that way.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Car Signs

Bumper stickers are interesting things. I like reading when I’m driving and bumper stickers give me insight into the random stranger I am stopped behind at a light. Then the light changes, we go our separate ways, and I never see the person again.

Signs are another thing. I drive a mini van which is the universal sign that I have a family. The only single people who drive mini vans are teenagers or thieves. Think about it. Do we really need the vinyl stickers depicting our stick figure family on the back window of mini vans and SUV’s justifying a larger vehicle? Isn’t it obvious?

George Carlin said that Baby on Board are the three most puke-inducing words man has yet to come up with. I agree. It was a dumb fad in the early 80’s and is even more obnoxious now that it’s coming back into popularity by people who were the babies described in the original signs. I personally wouldn’t want to hope someone would suddenly become a more courteous driver after seeing my Baby on Board sign. Chances are they might roll their eyes so hard we all get in a wreck.

But I started thinking that maybe it’s not such a bad idea. Not the Baby on Board. I think that’s been proven by comedian after comedian that a Baby on Board sign does not produce the warm and fuzzy feelings intended. No, the signs I want to see in cars are the realistic signs. The ones that give other drivers the information they need at a glance. Like Emergency on Board.

I originally thought of Bleeding and Dying but I realized it was too specific. An emergency can mean any number of reasons why someone needs to perform an illegal maneuver causing the rest of us innocent drivers to narrowly escape disaster. If we could see an Emergency on Board sign we wouldn’t be so upset. Oh, she must be in labor . . . Oh, their pet fish has a broken fin and must be rushed to the vet . . . Oh, they forgot to use the restroom before they got into the car and “Emergency” doesn’t even begin to describe the urgent state they are in. See? A sign would help.

After being illegally cut off for the third time in one day I started wondering if I was dreaming or something. I felt so invisible. I used to drive a little white Chevy Cavalier. My brother said every time he saw it he thought it looked like a rent a cop mall security car. The general population of other drivers simply didn’t see my car at all. My husband drove my car a couple of times and agreed that the white paint must have an invisible quality at speeds above 15 mph. Apparently my blue van is now cloaked in invisibility as well.

If all these drivers with questionable driving skills would have simply put up their sign I would have understood. Especially if the sign they chose to display in their car is Narcissistic Driver. Then I would know that driver believes the world revolves around them and their hello officer red vehicle. The rules don’t apply to them. At least in their mind. And I can get out of their way more quickly.

Doesn’t it amaze you that Narcissistic Driver never gets caught? How do they know the cops are not in their typical spots? How do they speed through traffic barely squeezing into small spaces like they’re in the movies or something? Man, if I ever tried weaving my way through traffic at top speeds . . . I guess I’m too polite. I would probably find a couple of holes and be cruising along just fine but misjudge a tricky pack of cars only to get stuck behind rusted junker truck while a big semi struggles to pass on the hill.

Drivin my truck, drivin my truck.
Going real slow. I’m drivin my truck.

And that’s where the cop would catch me. He would probably laugh his head off giving me a ticket too. Then high five his buddies, Rusted Junker Truck and Wheezing Semi. Ha ha. We caught another idiot! Thanks guys.

That’s why I wouldn’t buy a Narcissistic Driver sign. But I would like to meet the guy who does and ask him what the weather is like in his world.