Sunday, May 30, 2010

When did vaccination become such a big deal?

The news has been full of Andrew Wakefield, the man who launched the “MMR causes autism” debacle, and how he performed unethical research and has now been struck off the rolls in Britain. According to one TV report, his research had been debunked. Reading about his research it seemed like too small a sample size to really make draw any conclusions about. When it came out that he was creating an alternate vaccination for a competitor of the MMR shot, I thought he was too biased for his research to be accepted without many other studies confirming his results. When it came out that the medical results had been re-interpreted to back up his theory...this is one time the establishment actually worked to protect the public. None of that is the same as debunked but media creates sound bites.

I did read some comments and was amazed to find that there are people who think that those of us agreeing with vaccination don’t actually get them and even think they can tell people who have been vaccinated because they look dreary and weighed down by all the toxins in their bodies (maybe this is at the bottom of the increase in BMI too!) And I have to say – really?

My anecdata.

First vaccination (and most traumatic) memory was smallpox. Our nice Greek paediatrician thought he would administer this in the waiting room and came out with a H-U-G-E needle that I was convince was going through my arm (at least). He insisted he was just going to scratch me with it and proceeded to do so. Worst side effect: extreme embarrassment about making such a fuss over nothing. BTW I know this was a nice doctor because he told our mom that we didn't have to eat anything we didn't want to. How great was that fo a kid growing up in the 60s!

Most recent vaccination memory: H1N1 flu shot. This finally prompted me to get the seasonal flu shot as well since I had been free-riding on my acquaintances and co-worker’s flu shots. Side effect – arm hurt for couple of days. Complained about it at my exercise class that night and others who had been vaccinated within the past couple of days said it would be that way for a day. None of us seemed weighed down by toxins.

It’s pretty easy to get caught up in a too much too soon mind set. I have dogs that required annual vaccination because they stay in kennels. I worried that they were being exposed to vectors that they normally wouldn’t be (which is kind of the point of vaccinations – pre-emptive exposure for the immune system). Then I realized that they are dogs and eat dead rotting things and immune systems are made to work with that. Dogs are not children but at the least they are entities under my care and I am responsible for ensuring they are not exposed needlessly to harm.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Age Appropriate Dressing

OOO summer is coming and so is the impulse to dress like a teen, especially since I'm smaller now than I did when I was a teen. Not a good style when you are nearing 50 unless you look like you are in your 20s and really, who looks like that.

So what is age appropriate anyway? I read somewhere that you should dress shape appropriate more than age appropriate. Great now I have to figure out the difference between a rectangle and the two triangle deal. Is my waist really a waist? What if my waist isn't in the middle? Reading around on the web I should make a list of my good points and dress for them but not in primary colours (darn I just bought an awesome short red trench coat in a petite size yet) Supposedly I know my style and what I like.

I have to admit in the winter I know what to wear. Jeans and a sweater or top with jacket type top is easy. I go on a winter holiday where no one knows me so I do wear short shorts, bikinis and pareaus. It's only that thing about pants and tops. How to buy the right pants when they stretch a size after they are worn for 5 minutes. How come tops come in snug or baggy and not body skimming?

The best things about being close to 50 is that I did get the opportunity to make the same fashion mistakes 20 years ago so at least I'm not tempted by rompers, jump suits and transparent blouses.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Smart phones

I was wandering the web and came across an article at wired gadget lab about the up and coming cell phone shapes . A comment in the article was that social networking phones were looking for a new shape because the tablet was so strongly associated with the iPhone. At last I know why people ask me if “that’s an iPhone” whenever they see my Omnia 2. Does this look like an iPhone to you?

We are built to make quick association and compare new to existing. If you think of a tablet phone, chances are most people will think of an iPhone. Smallish screen with hard keyboard conjures up a Blackberry and, now, slide out landscape keyboards have really caught on with Android devices (think ‘Droid, Milestone) and of course there’s the portrait slide out form factor of the Palm Pre. Windows Mobile lost out partly because it’s so flexible that it didn’t have a firm brand image. I’m not sure what it left for Windows Phone 7 other than Zune and Xbox integration but tech sites like Engadget seem to be on board with the new OS.

And how did I end up with a smart phone anyway? I can’t just remember to be places any more. I don’t pay much attention to the day of the week unless I’m working and dates – well that’s what hovering over the time displayed in the task tray is for isn’t it? I got used to using Outlook at work so decided to use the calendar on the cell phone I had. Have you tried to use the calendar on a Razr – no really. I had a Sony Clie UX50 back in the day. I could watch and take movies and pictures, read e-books, listen to music AND track appointments. Now I also wanted to listen to audible books and watch TV from at home over the internet in addition to all that other stuff I used to do. I thought I wanted a keyboard so I tried an HTC Touch Dual. Did everything I wanted but not really happy with the form factor. My carrier upgraded to HSPA+ and I upgraded to a phone with a SIM card.

When you find the right phone for you, you’ll find it hard to leave it behind (a plus as I get older and forget more stuff) It fits well in hand. Manufacturers don’t have to get rid of buttons so they aren’t pressed by mistake. It does everything you want in the time you expect it to happen. And you'll be heartbroken when you drop it....

Thursday, May 13, 2010

So how's that last project going?

One of my favorite blogs right now is Obesity Panacea by a graduate student and a newly minted PhD. This post about a recently attended conference prompted yet another reassessment of my "approaching 40" project which was to either loose some weight or learn to be happy with my weight. I targeted loosing 10 pounds over winter by adjusting what I ate and exercising harder. I wasn't sure it would work because I was already exercising regularly but it seems so easy - eat less calories than you burn.

It's a popular idea, you look around on the web there are many supplements to help suppress appetites, programs to help one eat differently, exercise more and harder. Since I like to write stuff down I got a program for my PDA that would help me track my food intake and exercise and I got a kitchen balance so I would know pretty well how much I was eating. While I weighed myself every day, I did the overall less calories on a weekly basis. This means I didn't eat much during the week when I was very structured due to work but on the weekends I could go wild. Gradually I got used to smaller serving sizes and healthier food choices - although I still love deserts.

I'm lucky to live when I have access to an excellent range of fitness classes with an experienced, motivating lead instructor. If here was a t-shirt with "body by Grace" I would have one because I wouldn't be where I am without her. If I'm not looking forward to a class then it's time to change things up. I mix up my activities according to seasons, switching to walking and golfing in the summer, but look forward to seeing the gang again in the fall.

In a way I'm glad I didn't know about all the research giving mixed results on diet and exercise - this is counter intuitive to me. My plan worked for me because I made my diet changes a habit. I'm used to choosing lower fat higher fibre foods now and making active choices. Now I am more concerned about my metabolic health than just weight which is a good thing I think.

Oh and I met my goal 10 years ago, now average 2 kg less than my goal and achieved "6 pack abs" for a couple of weeks when I was 46. Not bad.

Hello World

I've been on Twitter for awhile and sometimes felt that 140 characters just wasn't enough. Then I started reading The Secret Life of a Grown-Up Brain and I was inspired to blurt out opinions on a blog. I hope to add something weekly for the 6 months before and after my 50th birthday then we'll see what happens. I'd like my posts to be a little longer than this one  but this is enough for now.