ORLANDO, Fla. — Brandon Bass scored 21 points and the Orlando Magic ended the Boston Celtics’ 14-game winning streak with an 86-78 victory Saturday.Hedo Turkoglu added 16 points while Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick each made a jumper in the final minutes to help Orlando rally from 12 points down in the second half for back-to-back wins against the NBA’s best. The Magic also ended San Antonio’s 10-game winning streak earlier this week to win for the first time since orchestrating a pair of blockbuster trades.
Start and finish
The Magic dominated the first and final four minutes of Saturday’s game against the Celtics. They were outscored 75-58 the rest of the way.
Kevin Garnett had 22 points, Paul Pierce scored 18 points but injuries finally caught up with the Celtics against the team they ousted in last season’s Eastern Conference finals. Boston had not lost since Nov. 21 at Toronto.The Celtics again seemed to frustrate Orlando for most of the game.They had Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard in foul trouble for the first three quarters. He didn’t even score his first field goal until a minute into the fourth quarter, a hook shot over Glen Davis to trim Boston’s lead to four.A few plays later, Howard was wrestling with Shaquille O’Neal for position when he drew a sixth foul on O’Neal by easily falling to the ground. The Magic would tie the score at 77 on Bass’ short jumper with 1:56 remaining and runaway from there.Nelson followed with a 3-pointer, leaving his hand in the air and chest-bumping teammate Jason Richardson in a frantic celebration near the bench. After Garnett made one of two free throws, Redick rolled in a jumper from about 20 feet.Ray Allen and Nate Robinson each had airballs in the final seconds, and Nelson made four free throws to seal another huge victory for a Magic team that was falling apart only days earlier. Two trades so far have made all the difference.The Magic brought Gilbert Arenas from Washington and Richardson, Turkoglu and Earl Clark from Phoenix. They gave up Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat, plus a 2011 first-round draft pick and cash, in the deals.The moves were good enough to beat a battered Boston that finally ran out of ways to keep winning.Point guard Rajon Rondo again was out with a sprained ankle and had missed seven of the 14 wins during the streak. Backup Delonte West has missed the last 13. Shaquille O’Neal sat out four, Jermaine O’Neal played for the first time in 14 games against Orlando and Kendrick Perkins — last season’s starting center — hasn’t even played this season.Game notes The game was actually a home contest for several Celtics. Boston C Shaquille O’Neal and coach Doc Rivers have lived in the Orlando area for years and Marquis Daniels is from Orlando. … Tiger Woods was sitting courtside. … The Celtics and Magic don’t meet again until Jan. 17 in Boston.
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Archive for December 25th, 2010
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US President Obama condemns Pakistan suicide bombing
A female bomber killed at least 43 people in the attack on a large crowd receiving food aid in Khar in the Bajaur region.
The town is in tribal areas close to the Afghan border – a Taliban and al-Qaeda stronghold.
People displaced by fighting had been getting food at a distribution centre.
Saturday's bombing was the latest in a string of recent attacks in Pakistan's north-west.
“I strongly condemn the outrageous terrorist attack in Khar, Pakistan,” President Obama said.
“Killing innocent civilians outside a World Food Programme distribution point is an affront to the people of Pakistan, and to all humanity,” he said.
Bajaur is a place where the army has carried out numerous operations and declared several times that they have cleared the area of militants.
But once again the militants have proved that they can strike back.
At the end of a very bloody year in Pakistan, there have been attacks on all types of targets. The militants haven't really shied away from anything.
We have had sporting venues hit – at the beginning of the year more than 100 died in an attack on a volleyball match – and mosques and marketplaces have also been targeted.
A lot of Pakistanis are now wondering how the army and the government are going to deal with this better in the future.
“The United States stands with the people of Pakistan in this difficult time, and will strongly support Pakistan's efforts to ensure greater peace, security and justice for its people.”
The UK government has also condemned the attack, along with the Pakistani government.
UK Minister for South Asia Alistair Burt said: “This appalling attack on innocent refugees is a cruel reminder of the indiscriminate aims of the terrorist and an example of why the world must work together to do all we can to confront a menace without boundaries.”
Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said those responsible had no regard for humanity or religion, and that the fight against militants would continue.
Pakistan's Taliban said they ordered the attack on the distribution centre, which is used by the World Food Programme and other aid agencies.
They said the rebels had targeted the local people – displaced members of the Salarzai tribe – because of their support for the Pakistani military.
An estimated 300 people were queuing for food at the time of the blast, with reports saying at least 100 people were injured in the bombing.
The tribal district of Bajaur, where the attack took place, has seen several military operations to clear it of insurgents.
The army had previously declared the operations a success and the area safe for the displaced to return to.
The attack also came as Pakistan's military took action against militants in Mohmand, an adjacent tribal region, killing an estimated 40 rebels.
They both said: “Let them eat cake!” Somewhere in the Constitution, Sarah Palin has found the “God-given” right to be obese. Michelle Obama’s initiative to improve children’s health by encouraging better diets and sufficient exercise is mocked by Sarah Palin as just another intrusion by government into the daily lives of our citizens, and this effort apparently is especially abhorrent by depriving children of their just desserts.
Although Ms. Palin claims to read “all” of the newspapers, she apparently missed the one (or many) that reported that one out of three children are obese increasing the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other illnesses. Rejecting the threat of being forced to follow “some politician’s wife’s priorities”, she triumphantly visited a school in Pennsylvania holding cookies high in an act of brave defiance by a Grizzly Mom against Big Brother. No government was going to tell her children what they could and could not eat, (forgetting entirely that a recommendation from the First Lady is not necessarily a Presidential executive order.)
But she does speak the truth in one respect. This is ground breaking. No other President’s wife has ever dared to engage in this socialist activity of suggesting to America’s citizens that they should take or refrain from some particular action. According to Half/Governor Palin such suggestions violate the word of God and our rights under the Constitution. Michelle Obama is clearly the first and only, that is, of course, if one ignores, Laura Bush for encouraging reading and literacy; Hillary Clinton for encouraging mammography to prevent breast cancer; Lady Bird Johnson for encouraging protection and beautification of the environment; and Nancy Reagan for urging the fight against drug and alcohol abuse among young people; and Pat Nixon who encouraged the performance of volunteer services to benefit others. Even as far back as Dolly Madison, she was urging aid to orphan children.
So yes, ultimately we each have a God-Given right (or from some other recognized source) to let our children be fat, fail to read, become sick, take drugs and drink alcohol, ignore the plight of others and destroy the environment. But to my mind, there is something wonderful (and in the Holiday spirit) when First Ladies, who have no formal duty, undertake a cause and use their platform to advance and advocate practices which will benefit our children and the country. Sarah Palin and others like her may see a socialist plot under every such initiative while others may see the pursuit of worthy goals and respect for Constitutional rights.
The moral: Don’t let them eat cake if it is going to make them fat, even if that advice comes from a First Lady of the opposition party. If Sarah Palin had taken Laura Bush’s literacy advice, this column probably would not have been necessary.
Love it, hate it, love to hate it — you might call fruitcake the canned cranberry sauce of Christmas. An iconic symbol of the holiday more talked about than actually consumed (save a few loyal devotees), there’s something about this loathesome loaf that just gets people going. It’s like inviting someone to a party just to make fun of them.
So how to make the fruitcake cool? We say, use the one you were gifted as a doorstop, or feed it to your in-laws, and instead draw cocktail inspiration from its characteristic flavors. Pineapple, raisins, citrus, molasses, dark rum. There are so many possibilities. Or, even more advanced, whip up mixologist H. Joseph Ehrmann’s Elixer Fruitcake cocktail.
1 of 13
Last-Minute Edible Gift Ideas
Cannabis Club Culinary Offerings
5 Holiday Cocktails: Caribbean-Style
Liquid Gifts: Recommendations from Sommeliers, Mixologists & Chefs
Holiday Roasts: 9 Recipes For Things You Can Carve
7 One-Ingredient Appetizers
Take the molasses that you would have put in your fruitcake batter, and use it instead in this recipe for Vanderbilt’s Hudson Buck. The New York restaurant sources the apple cider molasses used in this cocktail from a farmer upstate.
Related: The 12 Cocktails of Christmas
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Food, to me, is punctuation. Think of how dull life would be if you didn’t have three meals a day by which to mark its progress. Just one run-on sentence without any meaning whatsoever. I always think to myself, I can go to the dry cleaners after lunch (comma) and run by the bookstore before dinner (colon). But, if every day is a sentence, week a paragraph, year a chapter, and lifetime a novel, then there is only one period at the end of my day, one way to mark it is truly over, and done. The late night snack.
When I am virtuous, I can replace the late night bite with a cup of tea. But I am notorious for finishing off an especially late or eventful evening with none other than: the quesadilla. Whether it’s a true affair, like the one in this recipe, or some shredded cheddar and salsa thrown into a tortilla and microwaved until oozing, it is actually more of an exclamation point, than a period, at the end of my day. I honestly believe, dieters advice to the contrary, that having the kind of day, or night, that finds you home, famished, at 1 AM means you deserve something to send you off to sleep satisfied.
The cheese I am most likely to have in my fridge happens to be brie, because I was raised on it and it is what I love. Interestingly, avocado, a key addition to so many quesadillas, happens to pair with it perfectly. Here, I sandwich brie and avocado in a large tortilla, and toast it. The outside of the tortilla becomes crisp, like a shell, and within, the brie melts and oozes and softens. The avocado warms, and becomes just as buttery and mild as the brie. You could stop there, but I buzz together a little salsa made of tomatoes and roasted tomatoes straight from the store, with a squirt of lemon juice. The combination is so comforting, so mild but special, that you could be proud to serve this to anyone else who wants an exclamation point before bed.
I know it may be naughty. Maybe I will get a lump of coal in my stocking. But late night is the best meal there is. Period.
Brie and Avocado Quesadillas
4 extra-large 10-inch flour tortillas
12 ounces brie, thinly sliced
1 avocado, thinly sliced
Half a -ounce box fresh chervil
1 cup grape tomatoes
cup store-bought oven roasted tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon oil from store-bought oven roasted tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Fine sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
1.Spray 1 side of each tortilla with nonstick cooking spray. Place a large braising pan over low to medium-low heat.
2.Place the sprayed side of each tortilla facedown on a work surface. Place about 1 ounces brie on half of each tortilla. Top with the avocado and the chervil per tortilla, then season with salt and pepper. Top with the remaining brie, and fold the tortillas over their fillings so you half 4 stuffed half-moons.
3.Place 2 tortillas at a time in the pan, straight sides back-to-back in the center of the pan, round edges out toward the round edges of the pan. Use a smaller pot’s lid to press down on the quesadillas as they cook, helping to melt the cheese. Keep the heat low to give the cheese a chance to melt before the tortilla gets too brown. Cook quesadillas 5 to 10 minutes per side, using a spatula to flip once halfway through the cooking process. The cheese should be melted, and the tortillas crisp and golden. Serve immediately. You could also use a panini press, to speed things up.
4.While the quesadillas are cooking, make the salsa. In a small food processor, pulse together the tomatoes and roasted tomatoes until you have the texture of a salsa. Decant to a bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Toss with the oil and lemon juice, and serve with the quesadillas.
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NEW YORK — Amare Stoudemire and Raymond Felton each scored 20 points, and the New York Knicks limited the Chicago Bulls to two baskets in the first 10 minutes of the fourth quarter, pulling away for a 103-95 victory Saturday.
Looking for more information on your Knicks? ESPNNewYork.com has you covered. Blog
Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari added 15 apiece for the Knicks, the NBA’s highest-scoring team but 28th in defense. Yet they didn’t allow a field goal for more than 8 minutes after the game was tied in the opening minutes of the final period.Stoudemire anchored the defensive effort, grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking six shots. Rookie Landry Fields finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Knicks, who improved to 21-25 on Christmas. Felton had 12 assists and Chandler also grabbed 10 boards.Wearing green uniforms for Christmas, the Knicks looked like a completely different team in beating Chicago for the second time this season, winning the series for the first time since 2000-01.Carlos Boozer had 26 points and 19 rebounds for the Bulls, who lost for just the second time in 11 games.
ESPNChicago.com Bulls blog
The latest news from Bulls reporter Nick Friedell. Blog
The Bulls flopped in their first Christmas game since 1997, committing 22 turnovers that led to 23 points. They fell to 9-6 on the holiday, including 2-3 against the Knicks.Derrick Rose had 25 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for the Bulls, but also committed seven turnovers.Back-to-back baskets by Ronnie Brewer and Rose tied it at 87 with 10:11 left before the Knicks, who were allowing 107 points per game, started defending the way they did in the 1990s.Chandler and Felton each had two baskets in a 10-0 run as Chicago missed 11 of its first 13 shots in the period. Chandler’s bucket made it 97-87 before Boozer ended the Bulls’ drought with 1:52 remaining. The Bulls later got within six, but missed a chance to get closer when Kurt Thomas threw a pass out of bounds, and the Knicks held on to win the matchup of teams who have been the best of the East lately outside of Boston and Miami.Neither team pulled off the major free-agent score it was looking for, but the moves they did make have paid off nicely. Stoudemire and Felton have the Knicks (18-12) off to their best start in a decade and searching for their first playoff berth since 2004. The Bulls are 9-4 since Boozer debuted after missing the first 15 games with a broken right hand.With the Bulls wearing red, the court certainly looked festive. But the basketball was pure ugly at the start.The Bulls offset their nine first-quarter field goals by turning it over nine times, handing the Knicks 10 points that helped New York take a 21-20 lead. Chicago’s sloppy play continued early into the second, when Boozer powered into the lane and shot the ball over the basket and out of bounds — not a turnover, but it served the same purpose.But the Bulls, despite missing injured rebounding leader Joakim Noah, made up for their struggles by overwhelming the Knicks on the backboards, outrebounding them 31-21 in the half and converting 12 offensive rebounds into 19 second-chance points. Boozer made a jumper in front of his bench as time expired to give Chicago a 54-52 halftime lead.The Knicks then hit six 3-pointers in the third quarter, punishing the Bulls from behind the arc like they did while ringing up 120 points in their victory in Chicago last month — the highest total the Bulls have allowed this season — and took an 85-83 lead to the fourth.Game notes Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was a Knicks assistant for seven years. … Felton has had double-digit assists in six straight games, three shy of Micheal Ray Richardson’s franchise record set from Dec. 23, 1979 to Jan. 8, 1980.
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‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through my mind, strolled ghosts of the old year, visions of new times…
PAUSE PLEASE FOR A PROGRAMING UPDATE: “The blog originally planned for this place has been suspended by the arrival on my doorstep of twenty friends on a caroling crawl through the neighborhood.
Customarily, my moments of solitude and introspection remain largely unbroken. When the doorbell rang just now, I assumed it was a weary UPS agent with one final parcel to deliver. Instead, I was greeted with the smiles of familiar faces, shining with the spirit of the season. A boy with a fiddle, a girl with a flute, and parents aplenty – even “I’m John like the toilet,” in what looked like a suit!
They sang “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and sang it with heart, each sequence enacted – audience says: “lords a leaping: best part.”
I moved from joy into sadness and ’round back again, so full of emotion too hard to explain. Each year has its moments of sorrow and pain, mixed in with fresh thrills, delighting again. The higher the highs, the deeper the blows. The lesson: remember, embrace what you chose.
I don’t want to end 2010 by looking upon any bit of it as stale, lost, or mistaken. The voices of the children heard (though not looked for) has charmed back the merriment of wild wonder. I type now, as a child digging into a stocking to see what present awaits. These gifts knock at your door too. Admit them. Don’t tarry. And joy to the world.
from SONG OF A MAN WHO HAS COME THROUGH
Not I, not I, but the wind that blows through me!
A fine wind is blowing the new direction of Time.
If only I let it bear me, carry me, if only it carry me!…
If only I am keen and hard like the sheer tip of a wedge
Driven by invisible blows,
The rock will split, we shall come at the wonder, we
Shall find the Hesperides…
What is the knocking?
What is the knocking at the door in the night?
It is somebody wants to do us harm.
No, no, it is the three strange angels.
Admit them, admit them.
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As we celebrate Christmas 2010, 100,000 US troops languish in Afghanistan, and Bradley Manning sits in “maximum custody” in Quantico for the alleged crime of disclosing classified “secrets” about U.S. foreign policy – “secrets” like the video of U.S. troops killing two Reuters employees in Iraq, a video that the U.S. military refused to release to Reuters.
It is a particular stain on our country to be at war during the Season of Peace, just as it is a particular stain on our country to be at war during the Olympics. “Peace on Earth” should stick in our throats a bit this holiday season, when our own government is bombing other people’s countries, a practice which we have, so far, been unable to stop.
The idea that there is something especially offensive about prosecuting war during Christmas is longstanding. On December 7, 1914, Pope Benedict XV called for an official Christmas truce in the war in Europe, “that the guns may fall silent at least upon the night the angels sang.”
The Pope’s call was rejected by the warring governments, and two words he used suggest a reason: “at least.” The Pope’s remarks strongly suggested that he objected to the slaughter on the other 364 days as well. And so, the generals may have argued, it was a slippery slope. Allow the troops to have a Christmas holiday from killing each other, and they might begin to get even funnier ideas. Next they’ll be demanding Easter, then Yom Kippur and Eid al-Fitr. Soon you won’t be able to have a war on any day of the year. So there was no official truce.
However, in what was arguably one of the most morally compelling acts of spontaneous mass civil disobedience in recorded human history, German and British troops took matters into their own hands, negotiating their own Christmas cease-fires in their opposing trenches on the Western Front, exchanging Christmas carols and gifts, and even playing soccer. The story is told in the 2005 movie, Joyeux Noel (“Merry Christmas”), which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2006. It would be a significant advance in human civilization if this movie would take its rightful place alongside “Miracle on 34th Street” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” as standard Christmas fare.
It’s particularly appropriate to reflect on this history now, as TV talking heads repeatedly pontificate without a shred of evidence that the WikiLeaks disclosures “threaten our national security,” because in its time, as Stanley Weintraub reported in his 2001 book “Silent Night: The Remarkable Christmas Truce of 1914,” not only was the Christmas truce considered a threat to “national security” in the warring countries; even the knowledge that it had taken place was initially suppressed. The New York Times finally broke the press blockade on December 31, 1914, after which the British press followed suit.
Doesn’t it seem ridiculous today that news media initially tried to suppress reports about the Christmas truce of 1914, apparently in the belief that such information was a “threat to national security”?
Won’t it seem ridiculous someday that people who knew better once claimed that WikiLeaks was a “threat to our national security,” and were taken seriously?
How long do you suppose that will take to occur?
Merry Christmas. Let there be peace on earth.
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Two thousand years ago a baby boy born in a manger in Bethlehem to a mother and father of humble means would grow to change the world forever. The scope, duration and implementation of Christianity are often the focus of modern analysis and with good reason. The largest religious framework ever created reaches two billion souls around the globe. Its message of peace, tolerance and the divinity of humankind have flourished despite human imperfections, flawed interpretations, and a breathtaking march of time. Despite the incredible political, social and scientific advancement as well as some notable setbacks along the way, Christianity flourishes and is changing lives for Christians and non-Christians alike around the world who undertake to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and provide medical care to those in dire need. Some of the most profound stories in the Bible are those of Jesus healing the sick.
Mother Teresa said, “Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.” She continued, describing those whom she served as “Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.” Jesus’ own teachings said as much,
“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
A man of different faith, gender, nationality and background undertook the work spoken of by Mother Teresa, at great personal risk in another distant part of the world. On November 17, 2010 Del Mar, New York Optomertrist, Dr. Tom Little was given the President’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. For the last 34 years Dr. Little, 61 sojourned unpaid to the far flung nether regions of Afghanistan coordinating eye care for some of poorest people in the world, in work sponsored in part by a hometown church, the First Presbyterian Church in the update New York City of Schednectady. Through the National Organization of Ophthalmic Rehabilitation (NOOR) Eye Care Program medical care is provided in the far expanses of Afghanistan where eye problems are common but doctors are not. It is estimated that Afghanistan at 2%, has one of the highest prevalence of blindness in the world, much of it preventable.
In one of the most horrendous acts of religious hatred against Christians this year Dr. Little and his team were massacred in the country he loved so very much, serving the destitute and sick who were so close to his heart.
President Obama’s statement about Dr. Little for his posthumous medal ceremony:
One of the finest and most enduring gifts that America provides to the world is the rigorously, though sometimes imperfectly applied cornerstone concept of religious freedom to its residents, and the protection of religious practice and places through both civil and criminal law. But we must do more. According to recent reports, our Christian brothers and sisters, who many of us regard as so numerous and powerful, here in the United States, face an array of horrendous restrictions, harassment, or even violence in places around the world including Nigeria, China, North Korea, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, Vietnam, Eritrea, North Korea, the Sudan, Uzbekistan, Kenya, Iran and Iraq. Some of these restrictions are non-violent and relate to the forced registration of groups, bans on religious exercise or materials or degradation of faith in official texts or media, while others involved arrests or brutal murderous acts, sometimes without government sanction against Christian religious minorities.
All people of good will, must push governments to ease restrictions on Christians and other minorities, allow for open worship, and protect our Christian brothers and sisters from the violence they often face in areas of the world not as safe as ours.
Shortly after World War II, Edith Zierer, a penniless, starving and freezing thirteen year old orphaned Jewish girl who had escaped Czestochowa, a liberated concentration camp, ended up at a train station, where she sat ignored for two days in the brutal January cold. A handsome young Catholic religious scholar, Karol Wojtyla, without notice, scooped her into his arms, fed her, gave her warm tea and his coat and carried her to a train and accompanied her to Krakow, where she would find her parents had perished.
The man would later become Pope John Paul II, and he tirelessly worked to expand religious tolerance and freedom for Christians and non-Christians alike around the world.
On the celebrated birthday of Jesus, we should not forget, nor tolerate, that there are those in disparate places of the world whose observance of this joyous day is threatened by both official or unofficial restrictions and even violence. This tragic scourge of bigotry and violence that target our peaceful Christian brothers and sisters stands in stark contrast of the tolerant beliefs and compassionate acts that they pursue and must be eradicated by those with the influence to do so. We must not remain silent, simply because the victims are Christian.
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We observe something when we become aware of it. We acknowledge “this is so.” We judge when we form an opinion, as in “I think this about that.” Observation is a neutral act of taking in information upon which we base our responses. Judgment involves rendering an opinion regarding the relative value or merit of what is being observed. We get into dicey territory when we start judging each other for three reasons:
As self-appointed judges, we separate ourselves from the other person. Blinded by our own judgment, we label them with our verdicts. Seeing only with our minds, we shut our hearts to them. As Mother Teresa said, “if you judge people, you have no time to love them.” And, as Carl Jung said, “we should not pretend to understand the world only by the intellect. The judgment of the intellect is only part of the truth.”
Judgments are proclamations of polarized thinking and whether or not others buy into our judgments, we usually become vested in them. We often confuse our judgments with reality as in “my mind is made up, don’t confuse me with the facts.”
It is important to remember that we are limited in our understanding of another person’s life by our own range of experience. As the proverb goes, “don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.”
I had an experience recently that inspired this article. I was with a group of people and found myself rather ill at ease. The person who seemed to be setting the tone of the gathering repeatedly made choices other than those that would have been my preference. Suddenly, I became aware of how I was not simply observing this, but was making her wrong in the theater of my mind and essentially blaming her for my sense of separation. Everything was her fault from my point of view.
As I became increasingly irritated, I finally had the awareness that I was the one who was creating my sense of separation and justifying it with my judgments of this woman. This understanding opened up new possibilities for me. I began to pay closer attention to my judgments and each time I caught myself in the act, I quickly rephrased my judgment into a neutral statement of personal preference inside my mind. Energetically, this meant I was not making her wrong, but simply noticing that I was experiencing irritation by comparing her choice to my own preference. I did all that in my mind.
It then occurred to me that I was creating disharmony within myself and had the option of choosing to be more loving and peaceful instead. So, I started making that choice. Instead of seeing only what irritated me, I looked more deeply and was able to see the goodness in this woman as well. Before I knew it, I had shifted my attention to where it belonged — to affirming my intention of being more loving and peaceful and finding ways to do that rather than separating myself through my judgments. Soon, I was focusing on how grateful I was for this lesson in the distinction between observation and judgment.
Then, as I was leaving, this woman extended a kindness to me that reminded me that there are many ways to express our loving and it behooves us to be open to them all, rather than judging and rejecting those that do not resemble our own way of doing things. As Carl Jung said, “everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
Sometimes we meet people who simply do not know how else to relate to us than through judgment. Some behave this way with all people, others with only certain people as though they are allergic to them. I have experienced this with a relative who has disapproved of me all my life. As a child, I always felt rejected by her, and, as children do, I stood on my head trying to get her approval. I also fell into the trap of judging her in response to her criticisms of me.
As I matured, I tried to reason with her in an attempt to heal our relationship, but she was not interested in that. In time, I became aware of the fact that her judgment of me not only affected our relationship, but it colored all relationships in our family. Finally, I saw that there were always three people in the room when we were together — me, her and the figment of her imagination that she called by my name. That awareness became my path to freedom. I realized that she was as trapped in her judgment of me as I was. The difference was that I could get out of it and she was not yet able to do so.
As a grown woman, I finally saw that our relationship was a clear manifestation of Einstein’s definition of insanity — “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” My liberation came when I made one of the hardest decisions of my life. Recognizing that her judgment of me was none of my business, but that my own well-being was my responsibility, I chose to end all contact with her. As a result, my life is far more peaceful. When I think of her now, I do not allow myself to judge her. I pray for her and wish her well from afar while going about my own business of holding myself accountable for my inner and outer life and for my contribution to the quality of the relationships in my life.
Please feel free to leave a comment below, or contact me at email@example.com. You can also Retweet this post, share it on Facebook, or e-mail it to friends who may enjoy it. To learn more about me, visit my website at www.judithjohnson.com. For information on my future blogs, click on “Become a Fan” at the top of this page.
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The Wedding Ceremony Planner: The Essential Guide to the Most Important Part of Your Wedding Day
by Judith Johnson
The holiday season brings lots of travel — visiting family and friends, taking vacations. If you have ever traveled and experienced jet lag, you know that you can feel that you are just not quite fully functioning (particularly when traveling east) when you arrive at your destination. A new study shows that this particular effect of jet lag may linger longer than we realize.
Researchers at The University of California at Berkley conducted an interesting experiment. They used an animal model in which they compared the performance and memory tasks of jet lagged hamsters against a control group. The researchers learned that jet lag affects the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning:
It limits the growth of brain cells and reduces brain activity.
It leads to memory and learning problems.
Even a month after recovering, subjects were still suffering from its effects.
Lance Kriegsfeld, UC Berkley associate professor of psychology and the author of the study, commented, “What this says is that, whether you are a flight attendant, medical resident, or rotating shift worker, repeated disruption of circadian rhythms is likely going to have a long-term impact on your cognitive behavior and function.”
I could not agree with him more.
Anyone who travels or works a rotating shift can experience jet lag and not even realize it. Since this was an animal experiment, we can’t ask the participants if they noticed feeling any different, or if they had any difficulty learning something new. Even so, this study sheds light on some astounding implications of jet lag for various professionals:
Pilots learning new flight routes.
Medical residents practicing new surgical techniques or recognizing unfamiliar states of diseases.
Shift workers dealing with different job responsibilities, rotations, or assembly methods.
Jet lag could be the cause of many simple errors.
I have written about jet lag before; “jet lag” is usually the result of crossing several time zones in a short period of time, without allowing for your body to time to adjust for the changes in time. Your body will typically adjust at the rate of one to two time zones per day, so if you cross six time zones, your body will naturally make the adjustment to the time change in about three to five days. Though shift workers may not physically cross over time zones, their days and nights fluctuate according to their work schedule, which throws off their biological clock.
Whether you are traveling across the country, or picking up a holiday shift, here are some simple things to help fight jet lag (and keep your brain healthy):
Time your flights. If you are only flying over two to three zones, avoid the “red eye” flights as much as possible. Remember, jet lag is worse if you traveling east.
Get outside and get some sunlight! Light helps reset your circadian rhythm and reduces the effects of jet lag.
Adjust with exercise. Exercise also helps reset your biological clock. I would not suggest running a marathon, but while you are outside getting sunlight, consider taking a brisk walk.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Both will negatively affect your sleep cycle, which will already be slightly off.
Resist napping on the plane. You may need to fall asleep earlier than your body is used to at your new destination. Being a little more tired could be helpful.
Melatonin might not be the best answer; the studies on its effectiveness are mixed. As I have “blogged” before melatonin often comes in an overdose amount — we’re talking anything over one milligram. It’s important to check with your doctor before taking this hormone.
Consider a jet lag calculator app. These can help guide you through overcoming and preventing jet lag. Virgin Atlantic offers one that I enjoy from Mental Workout.
Have a happy holiday season, and sleep well.
Michael J. Breus, Ph.D.
The Sleep Doctor
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Coded American Civil War message in bottle deciphered
A message in a bottle delivered to a Confederate general during the American Civil War has been deciphered, 147 years after it was written.
In the encrypted message, a commander tells Gen John Pemberton that no reinforcements are available to help him defend Vicksburg, Mississippi.
“You can expect no help from this side of the river,” says the message, which was deciphered by codebreakers.
The text is dated 4 July 1863 – the day Vicksburg fell to Union forces.
The small bottle was given to the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia, by a former Confederate soldier in 1896.
Earlier this year the museum's collections manager, Catherine Wright, decided to investigate the wrapped note it contained.
It was “just sort of a curiosity thing”, she told the Associated Press news agency.
When Ms Wright found that the message was coded, she asked retired CIA codebreaker David Gaddy crack it – which he did in several weeks. A Navy cryptologist later confirmed the interpretation.
Historian regard to fall of Vicksburg as an important victory for Union forces. The Confederates were finally defeated in 1865.
Today, most of us working with human rights organizations or the media outside Iran are off from work, shopping for Christmas, or spending time with our families. In Iran, government offices are closed on Thursday afternoons and Fridays. Yet, for the Iranian government, Christmas and the weekend’s closure presented the ideal opportunity to announce the imminent execution a young Kurdish engineering student and environmentalist to his family.
Habibollah Latify was sentenced to death for “waging war on God” in 2009 and is scheduled to be hanged on Sunday. He was arrested in the fall of 2007 in Sanandaj, the Kordestan provincial capital, north-western Iran for alleged membership in a proscribed armed group. According to Amnesty International, Habibollah’s “trial was held behind closed doors and his lawyer was not allowed to be present to defend him. Nor was his family allowed to attend the trial”. His family reported that he was held incommunicado for four months and beaten so badly that he was hospitalized for internal bleeding and unable to stand for weeks. Habibollah eventually confessed but retracted his confession during his trial. The court reportedly refused to hear witnesses who could have confirmed that Habibollah was not in the town where the crimes he is accused of were committed.
The streets around us here in Washington are filled with light and joy as families prepare for celebrating Christmas. And yet, in an isolated prison in a remote town in the Iranian Kordestan, a family is pleading to save the life of their 29-year old son, a straight A student and an athlete who loves nature and his country’s mountains. They are hoping that our attention would save the life of a young man who instead of serving his country and building the future is scheduled to die in a few hours, after three terrible years of imprisonment.
Since yesterday, human rights groups and the Farsi-speaking media have done their best to draw attention to Habibollah’s imminent execution. His sister has given numerous interviews since his lawyer, like other Iranian lawyers, has been warned not to talk about his clients’ case to the media. But time is short and, in the absence of international attention, many of us have little hope in the possibility of saving Habibollah’s life.
Today many of us who believe in the importance of due process of law feel helpless and overwhelmed by a cascade of unanswered questions. How can we do our work effectively? How can lawyers do their work of defending their clients if the law allows detainees to be interrogated, and tortured, without their presence and if the judges accept coerced confessions as evidence? How can the accused present a proper defense if the law allows the judge to decide whether or not an attorney would be present at their trial, whether or not they can call witnesses to testify? How can attorneys advocate on behalf of their clients and protest about irregularities in the judicial process if doing so leads to their arrest?
Most authoritarian states execute dissidents to deter dissent. A young unknown Kurdish student in an isolated region is a perfect target. Publicizing an unverifiable accusation of involvement in an armed group is meant to prevent a public opinion outrage and create confusion. Many dissidents like Habibollah latifi have been executed based on trumped-up charges, including a school teacher, Farzad Kamangar, who was executed earlier this year. The judicial process leading to these executions rarely allows the public to know the truth about the case or the charges leveled against the defendants.
The Islamic Republic authorities do not often feel compelled to discuss about the evidence in specific cases, explain why trials are held behind closed door, or why they feel threatened by attorneys if their accusations are based on evidence. But they are uncomfortable enough with a judicial process that fails to meet the minimum standards of fair trial to announce their decision to execute Habibollah Latify on a Thursday afternoon two days before Christmas when local authorities are inaccessible and, they hope, there will be no international reaction.
I first met Ali Wing, the founder and CEO of giggle, at the home of Kate Spade. Kate’s daughter had designed a beautiful T-shirt to benefit the organization I founded a decade ago, Orphans International Worldwide (OIWW). I was impressed with it and so was Ali. That night, Ali decided to help the organization.
Ali decided upon a charitable, inexpensive, re-useable bag for the holidays — the giggle Dot bag — to sell through her juvenile products chain, Giggle, to generate proceeds for our kids. Given the earthquake and now epidemic, it brings much holiday cheer that the stunning bag generates funds specifically for our kids in Haiti!
I was taken by Ali, giggle’s founder and CEO. She is a quick-study and knows her stuff, professionally and personally. Ali told me later:
I learned quickly that giggle isn’t just a baby store: it’s a new parent store. As their colorful website explains, “When stocking a nursery, there’s a lot to take into account, and the choices can be overwhelming. Our goal is to make your job a whole lot easier — not by offering everything out there, but by offering the best of everything out there.” Giggle has 14 stores from New York City to California. Locally, giggle can be found on the Upper East, the Upper West, SoHo and Long Island.
A few weeks later, Ali and I huddled for breakfast at Morandi on Waverly Place to catch up. I had returned from Haiti but just postponed my next trip due to safety concerns. Ali had been all over. She wanted to update me on the giggle campaign for their “charity of choice” for the holidays — my orphans! I am pleased to say that no matter how bleak their lives, our kids will have a much better Christmas this year because of Ali’s commitment to children.
Why does she care? Ali was one of nine children, five of whom were adopted from different cultures. With a lifelong focus on healthy living and community, she’s been a champion from the beginning of ecological issues and a leader in seeking out organic products. Before giggle, Ali worked for companies such as NIKE. Her education includes an M.B.A. from Northwestern University’s J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a J.D. from the Northwestern School of Law.
Community and involvement are important to Ali. She serves as executive director of the Tecumseh Foundation and is on several boards, including Baby Buggy, the New York Center for Children, Kids Today, and Northwestern University. I wrote about the incredible New York Center for kids last year (here). Ali also serves on the Directors’ Council at the Children’s Museum of the Arts. She continues to track new courses both personally and publicly, as an energetic and innovative businesswoman, an avid runner, a devoted wife, and an incredible mother.
My own son is now a teenager, I adopted him when he was 10 months. For most of us, luckily, a healthy baby is an expectation more than a hope. Giggle’s own motto is “healthy.happy.baby.” But in Haiti, like other countries where OIWW has a presence, healthy and happy’ are frequently not the condition of many babies. My kid’s name is Mathew, and more than a decade ago I promised that all children in our program would be treated the same way I treat my own kid, a founding principal we dubbed “Mathew’s Rule.”
When I brought Matt out of his Indonesian orphanage almost 16 years ago, all he had on was a ratty T-shirt. The staff asked me to leave behind that torn undershirt for the next child. Gasp. This is all too often the plight of many institutionalized children in the developing world. With the help of my mother, a child psychologist who would leave funds at her death to build the organization, I began to envision a better orphanage — one revolving around small homes and a single caretaker.
Over time I discovered that “family care” was even better: encouraging the child to stay with extended family by contributing a monthly stipend to assist them with school books and extra rice. OIWW began to employ this method after the Tsunami in Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
Today, we are supporting orphaned children in Asia, Africa, and the Americas — Raising Global Citizens.
In Indonesia and Haiti, some of our kids are approaching college age. Following “Mathew’s Rule,” I realize I now need to help these kids through the next four years, if they are up for it. In Haiti, that actually means founding a university. I am just one man. Yet I have realized over the last decade that if you are sincere and transparent, people reach out to you. People like Ali and the staff of giggle.
Thought leaders and global citizens like Ali Wing are what make America a truly great nation. By supporting Orphans International Worldwide, and more importantly — by allowing her customers to support our children — we are making it possible for Haiti to be a truly great nation again. The New Haiti will rise out of the rubble of the old, and our kids will lead it forward, thanks in large part to Ali and the customers of giggle. Happy Holidays, all of you. Our kids in Haiti thank you enormously!
You can follow giggle on Facebook and Twitter.
Take giggle shopping! This reusable shopping tote features an exterior pocket for smaller items and folds compactly so you can take it along with you. Measures 16″ sq. Give the gift of our reusable giggle shopping bag and help support children in need. Only $5. Go toGiggle.com to order. Proceeds benefit Orphans International Worldwide.
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A few weeks ago, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) surprised many of us when it announced its new dietary reference intake (DRI) for vitamin D. The consensus of the scientific community was that the previous DRI of 400 IU was insufficient, and that supplementation with at least 1,000 IU would be necessary for most people to achieve vitamin D sufficiency. The IOM disagreed.
The IOM’s new recommendations call for 600 IU per day for children and adults under age 70 (formerly 400 IU; for adults over age 70, the new recommendation is 800 IU), and the tolerable upper limit (amount not to be exceeded in one day) has been raised to 4,000 IU from 2,000 IU. Their definition of vitamin D sufficiency is a 25(OH)D level of 20 ng/ml.
There has been a great deal of research in recent years on vitamin D’s role in a variety of human diseases. Low vitamin D status has been associated with cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, cognitive decline, depression, diabetes, pregnancy complications, autoimmune diseases and even a 78 percent increase in all-cause mortality risk (32.1 ng/ml). However, because there are not yet enough randomized controlled trials to clearly and conclusively confirm the benefits of vitamin D supplementation for conditions unrelated to bone health , the IOM did not find the existing evidence for non-skeletal conditions sufficient enough to raise the daily recommendations any higher than 600 IU. The 600 IU figure is based solely on bone health — they did not take into account whether a greater quantity of vitamin D might be necessary to prevent non-skeletal diseases, even though there are vitamin D receptors in almost every cell of the human body.
Many experts are weighing in on — and disagreeing with — the IOM’s report, and there is general agreement among the experts on these points:
The increase of the tolerable upper limit to 4,000 IU is a positive change.
The IOM’s definition of 20 ng/ml as a sufficient 25(OH)D is potentially low, and this could be dangerous for some people
The lack of randomized controlled trials does not mean that we should ignore the epidemiological evidence showing vitamin D’s importance for preventing non-skeletal diseases.
I agree with those who have brought up these issues, including Dr. John Cannell of the Vitamin D Council, respected public health researcher Dr. Walter Willett and prominent vitamin D scientist Dr. Heike Bischoff-Ferrari. Cannell also stressed the importance of vitamin D during fetal development, advising pregnant women especially to confirm sufficient 25(OH)D levels. Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health, together with Heike Bischoff-Ferrari published an online commentary stating that there is ample evidence that 20 ng/ml (the IOM’s definition of sufficiency) is not even sufficient for bone health, according to recent meta-analyses.  A new meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials by Bischoff-Ferrari found that supplementation with a mean of approximately 1,400 IU (range 792-2,000 IU) allowed adults age 65 and older to achieve a significant reduction in fracture rate. Taking this into account, increasing from 600 to 800 IU as recommended by the IOM at age 70 may still be sub-optimal. [4, 5]
My recommendations have not changed as a result of the IOM’s updated recommendations. I agree with the experts mentioned above that we cannot discount the epidemiologically suggested benefits of supplementation with more than 600 IU vitamin D because of a lack of randomized controlled trials existing at this time. Especially since the risk of toxicity is so low: the minimum dose known to produce toxicity when taken for an extended period of time is 10,000 IU/day or even 50,000 IU according to some reports, resulting in blood 25(OH)D of 140 ng/ml or greater.  According to the Vitamin D council, a single 30 minute dose of sunshine has the potential to stimulate the production of up to 10,000 IU vitamin D, so it is extremely unlikely that doses below 10,000 IU will cause harm. 
Comparison of my recommendations to those of the IOM and the Vitamin D Council:
Recommendations for 25(OH)D and Vitamin D supplementation (for adults)
Institute of Medicine: >20 ng/ml; 600 IU
Dr. Fuhrman: 35-55 ng/ml; 2000 IU*
Vitamin D Council: 50-80 ng/ml; 5000 IU*
*also recommends to adjust supplementation according to 25(OH)D level
A chart showing IOM’s revised recommendations for Calcium and Vitamin D intake: from the IOM website
As you can see, the IOM is on the low extreme, the Vitamin D council on the high extreme, and my recommendations are more moderate.
What I recommend is a safe, conservative amount of vitamin D which is supported by the literature. Recent reviews by prominent vitamin D researchers taking into account several studies on hypertension and colorectal cancer (for which evidence for a beneficial effect of vitamin D is quite strong) in addition to bone health concluded that 30 ng/ml should be the minimum sufficient level, and that a desirable range was approximately 36-48 ng/ml. I agree with this.
About 50 percent of North Americans have blood levels lower than 30 ng/ml. They further estimated that supplementation of at least 1000 IU would be necessary for most people to reach this desirable range. [8-10] The IOM’s recommendation falls short of these figures. The IOM claims to be conservative, citing potential risks of over-supplementation, but I believe it is safer and more conservative to take the studies on non-skeletal conditions into account. The IOM with their still low recommended level of D may be taking risks with our lives here; my guidelines and D recommendations are more conservative and sensible given the strong possibility that 25(OH)D levels in the 20s may not be ideally protective, and certainly blood levels in the 30s and 40s could not be dangerous, since exposure to sunshine brings levels even higher than that.
It has been my experience that most people can reach sufficiency (defined by 35 ng/ml) with a 1,500-3,000 IU dose of vitamin D. We want to assure optimal levels, not just prevent deficiencies, and supplementing with 1,500-3,000 IU still falls well below the new tolerable upper limit of 4,000 IU.
The Vitamin D Council bases their higher recommendations on a body of research demonstrating the importance of vitamin D for fetal development, and vitamin D deficiency of millions of pregnant women (and their infants). They have concluded that 5,000 IU is an appropriate dose for pregnant women, and recommend that as a starting dose for all adults. Their recommended 25(OH)D level is at least 50 ng/ml for healthy people and higher for people with chronic diseases. As mentioned above, reviews of the literature have found that 36-48 ng/ml is likely the optimal range for disease prevention. [8, 9] The study on vitamin D levels and mortality agrees with this conclusion: 25(OH)D of 30-49 ng/ml was associated with the lowest mortality risk, and there was a significant (though slight) increase in risk above 50 ng/ml in women. 
Skin color, geographical location, time spent outside, sunscreen use, age etc., are all factors in how much vitamin D is produced by the skin (and therefore how much vitamin D is present and active in the body) before we take any supplements. People can differ greatly in the amount of Vitamin D required. So the supplemented dose is best determined by blood test, not by a predetermined amount set by the IOM or anyone else. Even then, the supplements we take may have varying potencies – some studies have found D2 to be less active, while others disagree. In my practice, and vast experience monitoring Vitamin D levels over the last ten years or more, I have noticed that those taking D2 need a greater number of IUs compared to D3 to reach similar 25(OH)D levels.
A note on Calcium recommendations. Along with these new vitamin D recommendations by the IOM came revisions of their calcium recommendations, as shown in the chart above. Much of the scientific community has also been in agreement that calcium recommendations for Americans have been too high. For example, the World Health Organization advises an intake of 500 mg, whereas the IOM recommends 1000 mg. When making calcium recommendations, the interplay with vitamin D is important. As was found in the meta-analysis by Bischoff-Ferrari and Willett, vitamin D supplements in the range of 792-2000 IU were required to protect against osteoporosis-related fracture, demonstrating the inadequacy of the IOM’s recent pronouncement. However, the most interesting finding here was related to calcium: low dose calcium supplementation (500 mg) combined with vitamin D supplementation reduced osteoporosis fracture rates, but high dose calcium supplements (1000 mg or more) combined with vitamin D supplementation did not. [3-5] These results suggest that high dose calcium blunts the beneficial effects of vitamin D. Furthermore, a recent meta-analysis has revealed that there is potential for cardiovascular harm from taking high dose calcium supplements.  I advise caution here – conventional (high) levels of calcium supplementation (above 1000 mg) are not only unnecessary, but may even be counter-productive.
Guidelines for safe and effective supplementation with vitamin D:
Find out your 25(OH)D level
Adjust supplementation accordingly to remain in the range of 35-55 ng/ml
If you do not yet know your 25(OH)D levels, approximately 2000 IU is a reasonable dose of vitamin D to take until you can get your levels tested.
1.Melamed, M.L., et al., 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels and the Risk of Mortality in the General Population. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2008. 168(15): p. 1629-1637.
2.Zhang, R. and D.P. Naughton, Vitamin D in health and disease: Current perspectives. Nutr J, 2010. 9(65).
3.Bischoff-Ferrari, H.A. and W. Willett Comment on the IOM Vitamin D and Calcium Recommendations. Harvard School of Public Health: The Nutrition Source, 2010.
4.Zoler, M.L., High Vitamin D Intake Linked to Reduced Fractures. Family Practice News, 2010(November 16, 2010).
5.Bischoff-Ferrari, H.A., Orav, E.J., Willett, W. et al., A Higher Dose of Vitamin D is Required for Hip and Non-vertebral Fracture Prevention: A Pooled Participant-based Meta-analysis of 11 Double-blind RCTs, in The American Society for Bone and Mineral Research 2010 Annual Meeting2010: Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
6.Vieth, R., Vitamin D supplementation, 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations, and safety. Am J Clin Nutr, 1999. 69(5): p. 842-56.
7.Cannel, J.J. Vitamin D Council Statement on FNB Vitamin D Report. 2010.
8.Bischoff-Ferrari, H.A., Optimal serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels for multiple health outcomes. Adv Exp Med Biol, 2008. 624: p. 55-71.
9.Bischoff-Ferrari, H.A., et al., Estimation of optimal serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D for multiple health outcomes. Am J Clin Nutr, 2006. 84(1): p. 18-28.
10.University of California – Riverside (2010, July 19). More than half the world’s population gets insufficient vitamin D, says biochemist. ScienceDaily July 28, 2010]; Available from: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100715172042.htm.
11.Holick, M.F., et al., Vitamin D2 Is as Effective as Vitamin D3 in Maintaining Circulating Concentrations of 25-Hydroxyvitamin D. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2007. 93(3): p. 677-681.
12.Bolland, M.J., et al., Effect of calcium supplements on risk of myocardial infarction and cardiovascular events: meta-analysis. Bmj, 2010. 341: p. c3691.
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Whether you are heading home for the holidays or traveling to a new place, you might wind up eating and drinking all sorts of different food and drink from the usual.
All that eggnog and other treats could throw your medications out of whack, because what you eat can interact with the pills you’re taking.
Food and drink can effect how your body absorbs, metabolizes or excretes medications.
The dairy in that eggnog, for example, could decrease how certain drugs are absorbed.
Some foods impact how the liver metabolizes drugs, boosting or decreasing the level of the drug. Think about that when you unwrap that holiday gift carton of grapefruits, because this fruit can interfere with the breakdown of some drugs, causing higher blood levels of those drugs.
So to help get your through the season, I’ve provided some examples below of holiday food and drug interactions to watch out for. Of course there are many more interactions between food and drugs, and even interactions with sunlight.
To learn more about how food, drugs and supplements interact, try my health application Pill Advised.
Foods With Potential Bad Medication Interactions:
The effect of blood thinner Coumadin (warfarin) is increased by consuming cranberries.
There has been research that indicates cranberry sauce or juice, taken in large quantities can cause a hemorrhage in people who take Coumadin (warfarin).
Is there some dark force lurking in that dark chocolate? The stimulant theobromine, which is also a diuretic.
Theobromine can decrease the effect of sleep medications such as Ambien (zolpidem).
Blood pressure can be boosted by theobromine, interfering with the effects of medication.
It can also boost the effect of stimulants such as those found in cold remedies, for instance pseudoephedrine.
So that innocent hot cocoa, or those chocolate truffles, could end up throwing your medications a curveball.
Dairy contains calcium, which can interfere with how some antibiotics are absorbed. Two examples are the tetracyclines and quinolones. When you reach for that creamy dip or other dairy treat, consider the medications you are taking. Generally, take antibiotics at least two hours away from eating calcium rich food or drink.
Grapefruit and grapefruit juice are all-stars when it comes to running interference with medications.
This sweet and tart fruit has chemicals that can interfere with a variety of well-known drugs, for example Valium (diazepam), Zoloft (setaline), and Prozac (fluoxetine).
Grapefruit also interferes with many cholesterol-lowering drugs, called statins.
Why Mixing Alcohol and Medications Is a Bad Idea
You knew this one was coming. Alcohol and drugs can be a very bad mix. Combining the two can be unhealthy or even dangerous. Here is a quick look at just a few ways alcohol and drugs don’t mix.
Alcohol and Acid Suppressing Medications
Mixing alcohol with some acid suppressing drugs is a bad idea. Acid suppressors can block the metabolism of alcohol, boosting blood alcohol levels. This puts the drinker at higher risk of getting drunk, and alcohol poisoning. If you’re busy toasting the holidays, skip the acid suppressors such as Zantac or Tagamet.
Alcohol and Tylenol
Mixing alcohol with Tylenol, Midol or cold medicines containing acetaminophen can damage your liver.
Alcohol and Aspirin or NSAID’s
Aspirin and popular non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil, Motrin or Aleve, when combined with alcohol use, increase the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.
Alcohol and Pain Killers
Alcohol boosts the effect of pain medications, sedatives and even antihistamines.
Alcohol and Diabetes Drugs
Medications taken by diabetics for reducing blood sugar such as Metformin interact badly with alcohol.
Supplements can also interact with medications. Here’s a video I made about Bad Drug Supplement Interactions:
Wishing You a Happy, Healthy Holiday,
Leo Galland, MD
Important: Share this valuable health information with your friends by forwarding this article to them, and sharing on Facebook.
Leo Galland, MD is a board-certified internist, author and internationally recognized leader in integrated medicine. Dr. Galland is the founder of Pill Advised, a web application for learning about medications, supplements and food. Sign up for FREE to discover how your medications and vitamins interact. Watch his videos on YouTube and join the Pill Advised Facebook page.
Draganov et al, “Alcohol-acetaminophen syndrome.” Postgrad Med 2000; 107:189-95.
Kaufman et al, “The risk of acute major upper gastrointestinal bleeding among users of aspirin and ibuprofen at various levels of alcohol consumption.” Am J Gastroenterol 1999; 94: 3189-96.
Zimatkin & Anichtchik, “Alcohol-histamine interactions.” Alcohol 1999; 34: 141-47.
Bailey et al, “Grapefruit juice-drug interactions.” Br J Clin Pharmacol 1998; 46: 101-10.
Jelski W, Orywal K, Szmitkowski M. Pol Merkur Lekarski. 2008 Dec;25(150):531-3. “Effects of H2-blockers on alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) activity”
This information is provided for general educational purposes only and is not intended to constitute (i) medical advice or counseling, (ii) the practice of medicine or the provision of health care diagnosis or treatment, (iii) or the creation of a physician–patient relationship. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your doctor promptly.
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The Fat Resistance Diet: Unlock the Secret of the Hormone Leptin to: Eliminate Cravings, Supercharge Your Metabolism, Fight Inflammation, Lose Weight & Reprogram Your Body to Stay Thin-
by Leo Galland
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The people of Whoville wanted leadership a lot,
But the Grinches who run the GOP did not.
Legislation in the Lame Duck? How could it be?!
They wanted Mr. Obama to take the fall,
Though now the public is starting to see
Whose heart is two sizes too small.
It is amazing that Republicans can walk down the streets of Washington D.C. wearing those shoes with the nine inch heels for digging in. You’d think that they should fall over, but the forward pitch of the heel apparently counter-balances their backwards thinking about politics.
They have squandered their early Christmas gift of anger over the economy in yet another show of not doing the people’s business to the pure purpose of playing politics. Instead of showing the hand of legislating towards a 2012 where they can get re-elected, they tried to grind the legislation of this Congress into the dirt to show up the Democrats for political purposes.
It failed, and failed miserably, as the Democrats pushed through the most significant batch of legislation to make it through Congress in a Lame Duck session in decades.
I would like to take a moment to eulogize John McCain, who died politically this week when the repeal of Dont Ask, Don’t Tell was sent to the White House for President Obama’s signature. It was over his dead body that the bill went, in spite of his endless stonewalling.
While I understand that Fox News has bent the reality curve to look more like a fun house mirror, you have to ask yourself what kind of dopes are the GOP’s governing politicos smoking with in those back rooms?
What pea-brained politico pandering for the party of the ponderous pachyderm thinks this is working for them still with anyone other than the Fox News cheerleaders and their niche audience of extremist zombies?
This was a historic Lame Duck session of Congress. The Democrats running Capitol Hill for a while longer admittedly had to have their back to the wall to get there, with the new Republican-led House just a couple of weeks around the corner, but they did manage to pass historic legislation through that respects the rights of our citizens and protects the nation from a dark nuclear future.
They are doing that, though, because the methodical leadership of Mr. Obama’s methods are not that mad after all. Liberals criticizing the centrist Mr. Obama for his slow and deliberate approach should open their eyes as much as our delusional GOP friends: The man has invested his political capital well. It is starting to pay dividends.
Had President Obama swept away Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) with a pen, as many of his supporters in the LGBT community had demanded, the change would have been roundly criticized by the center and the Right as being by Obama’s fiat. The Republicans would have had a strong rallying point to reverse or repeal as well.
Instead, working with the Defense Department, the survey conducted showed clearly that, other than amongst the jarheads of the Marines, there really was not much ballyhoo about finally allowing lesbian and gay members of the Armed Forces to serve openly. The Pentagon will be able to roll out the change in a way that works for the comfort level of its leadership, and this will be a non-issue by 2012.
The study, and the repudiation of critics by the Pentagon brass certainly trivialized John McCain’s battle cry for more studies. It made the Republicans look a little foolish without the military brass’ backing. Other than General Amos, the newly installed Commandant of the Marine Corps, no one was willing to look homophobic for the cameras prior to the dropping of DADT.
The truly ridiculous pushing of the sleigh loaded with the hijacked legislation of the American people up the mountain to their lair though has come with the gaming of the START treaty by the Republican leadership of the U.S. Senate.
The START treaty has been negotiated and negotiated and crafted with tons of input from the members of the Senate Foreign Relations committee. It is backed by the Pentagon, the State Department, and by hundreds of generals, atomic experts, and even members of the defense businesses much-vaunted lobbying crowd.
The only reason that Mr. McConnell, the leader of the Grinches in the Senate, was gaming the START treaty was because it makes Mr. Obama look good, and well, we can’t have that, now can we?
The posturing, which included the Republicans now-clichd battle cry of “More time to study this important legislation” was not enough to keep GOP senators who either can still think, or who represent states where their defense votes are highly scrutinized, in lockstep.
Mr. Obama sent Mr. McConnell and his minion Mr. Kyl to the showers with a 71-26 drubbing of the GOP on START. Senators Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Robert Bennett (Utah), Scott Brown (Mass.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Susan Collins (Maine), Bob Corker (Tenn.), Judd Gregg (N.H.) Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Mike Johanns (Neb.), Richard Lugar (Ind.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska.), Olympia Snowe (Maine.), and George Voinovich (Ohio) all voted to pass it, which is, after all as it should be.
The lower house of the Russian Federation has responded today by ratifying the treaty as well. Just wait for Fox to tie that into their latest smear: “Republican turncoats side with Russians.”
During the holiday break, it might be a good idea, while Mr. Boehner and Mr. McConnell plan for their mischief over the next two years with a majority in the House, to start looking seriously at where legislating begins, and politicking ends. The GOP has lost its way on that issue, and it needs to find its way back because Mr. Obama has proven very adept at using the time and the wheels of government to ground his decision-making in fact and reason. It makes Republican leaders look like imbeciles.
Eventually fact and reason does matter, even if it gets missed a lot on Fox News daily.
Both victories were a nice Christmas present for progressives. Change, it would seem, does happen. It just takes patience, persistence, and a little truth on your side.
You’re a mean one, Mr. (McConnell/Boehner),
You’re a sneaky slimy snake,
Your heart is full of bile
And your hair looks really fake
(You legislate like a whiplash lawyer tossing a box of greasy black banana peels into the halls of Congress)
My shiny two.
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Albert Einstein and The Scientific Proof of “G_d”
by Richard Greene
As we approach the day where many celebrate the birth of “The son of G_d”, perhaps we might momentarily stop our shopping mall worship ceremonies and ask if “G_d” exists and, if so, who or what he/she/it is.
I believe that science answered that question back at the beginning of the 20th Century and that Albert Einstein and mathematics proved, irrefutably, that there is a precisely quantifiable quantity of energy in the Universe that is even more vast, powerful and awesome than any religion’s current definition of G_d . . . a quantity of “Force” or “G_d Force” or “Nature” or “Energy” that is so mind-blowing it dwarfs even the grandest conventional imaginations of “the power of G_d”.
And, scientifically verifiable and without dispute.
What Einstein figured out represents a Force of such magnitude as to make any thinking person fall to his knees, regardless of the definition . . . a Force so vast that not one person, our neighborhood Priest, Imam or Rabbi, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck or even The Pope himself can truly understand it or credibly say they can explain it.
And yet this new definition of the non-definable (thus the funny way of writing it – as it cannot be contained within or accurately represented by a 3 letter word) is actually best represented, with scientific accuracy, in a 3 letter and 1 number mathematical formula . . . a formula that, appropriately, is the most famous in history.
This most cited and powerful equation is also, ironically, one that causes all of G_d’s Earthly creation to be seconds away from complete annihilation at any moment in time, as it was the source of the secret of the power of the atom and the development of the atomic bomb.
Here’s the E=MC2 math and the Theology, all rolled up into one:
Step One: Add all of the Matter on Earth and contained in the rest of G_d’s creation, 100 Billion Galaxies, each with about 100 Billion stars,
Step Two: Multiply that amount of Matter by the speed of light,
Step Three: Square THAT number . . .
and then understand that EVERY gram of that incalculable amount of Matter has the Energy of a Hiroshima nuclear bomb.
A 100 pound human, for example, contains the force of approximately 45,000 Hiroshimas. A 200 pound person over 90,000 and 6.5 Billion humans with an average of 100 pounds of mass contains over 292 Trillion times the force of an atomic bomb. Add other animals, mountains, oceans and the mass of the Earth itself and we have approximately 13 septillion pounds or approximately 6 Octillion (6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) or 6 to the 27th atomic bombs worth of Force contained in just the Earth itself. Understanding that Earth is a small part of one solar system which is tiny part of one galaxy which is a tiny part of a Universe estimated to have 100 Billion galaxies, each with 100 Billion such solar systems . . . one can quickly begin to comprehend that the quantity of Force/Energy/Power/”G_d” determined by Einstein’s tiny formula, E=MC2, is beyond all human comprehension.
E=MC2, scientifically, thus, allows us to define the quantity of Energy in the known Universe. And, if Energy is “G_d”, as some believe, or but one of many manifestations or reflections of “G_d” as others may believe, the words, in any spiritual tradition, that “G_d is great” or “G_d is awesome” are almost laughable understatements.
But whatever you call the quantity of Energy or Force in the universe, it is now clear that the ancient depiction of “G_d” as an old White guy with a beard (Santa Clause’s brother), does not, in any way, communicate the far more awe-inspiring scientific reality unearthed by Einstein in his 1905 formula.
If we were to mature enough as a species to embrace the scientific “quantification” of the power of the universe as at least one way to begin to approach the definition of “G_d” we would realize that no religion can, with any integrity, manipulate such a definition to its own dogma and practices. Man’s ability to understand and appropriate something of this magnitude is like a single plankton cell pretending to explain, or swallow up, or have dominion over all the oceans . . . of a billion planets!
So, thanks to the Time Magazine “Man of The 20th Century” and his formula we can begin to appreciate, despite our ego and pride, how insignificant and inadequate is our understanding of the unfathomable sea of energy that surrounds, and likely, created us.
Einstein, despite his massive intellect, himself surrenders to the unfathomable nature of G_d. He wrote the following in 1932 . . .
“The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion as well as of all serious endeavour in art and science. He who never had this experience seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious. To me it suffices to wonder at these secrets and to attempt humbly to grasp with my mind a mere image of the lofty structure of all there is.”
And perhaps we, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Jews, can reflect on this visionary scientist and his little formula the next time we think we understand that which we call “G_d” and chauvinistically discount those who don’t share what is most certainly our own seriously inadequate definition.
Richard Greene is a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post, radio host, public speaker and author of the new children’s eBook, “E=MC2 and The New Definition of G_d”. www.TheNewDefinitionofGod.com
One of the most troubling research findings is that children of divorce are more likely to divorce themselves. This seems unfair. However, it is important to put this in perspective. For children whose parents are divorced, this is similar to having a parent with high blood pressure or who has had cancer. These are risk factors. It means that you know that your risk of these diseases is elevated compared to others so, you have to take some extra precautions to reduce your own risk of getting these diseases. The same is true for children of divorce. They are at elevated risk of having difficult relationships and marriages.
So why are children of divorce more likely to divorce themselves? In order to prevent divorce or troubled relationships we have to understand how parental divorce affects young people’s relationships. Ming Cui and Frank Fincham at Florida State University recently provided new insight into how parental divorce affects children’s romantic relationships. They found that there are two common mechanisms–how conflict is managed and through commitment to marriage.
Learning relationship skills from parents. One of the important ways that children learn about relationships is by watching their parents interact. If children see their parents communicate positively, then they are more likely to communicate this way themselves. We see this in childhood through children’s ways of dealing with their siblings or peers. They often copy their parents’ ways of communicating. How conflict is managed and how quick parents’ get angry seems to have an especially powerful influence on children’s own skills in dealing with others. Cui and Fincham found that children who grow up in households in which their parents do not manage conflict or disagreement well are more likely to have similar problems in their own relationships.
Learning attitudes about commitment in marriage from parents. Another way that parental divorce affects children’s future relationships is through their feelings of commitment to their relationships. Cui and Fincham found that this pattern begins in their early romantic relationships. Children with divorced parents have less positive attitude towards marriage and a lower commitment to maintaining romantic ties. In short, when these young people encounter difficulties or are somewhat unhappy with the relationship, they are more likely to end the relationship when compared with young people whose parents were continuously married. This finding extends into marriage. Paul Amato and Danielle DeBoer found that married persons whose parents were divorced were much more likely to have thought about divorce than persons whose parents were continuously married. They were more likely to think that marital problems could not be fixed and were more pessimistic about the chances of improving their relationships.
Finally, it is important to remember that not every child whose parents’ divorced will get divorced themselves. Just like every child whose parent has a disease will not get the disease. There are real strategies for improving relationships and developing committed long-lasting and happy marriages, but it doesn’t just happen. Both attitudes about marriage and relationships skills can be changed and improved. There are a number of self-help books and courses on relationships skills. Two particularly good books based on the best scientific evidence are The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work by John Gottman (Gottman Institute) and Fighting for Your Marriage by Howard Markman, Scott Stanley and Susan Blumberg (PREP) . Many professionals teach and counsel couples about marriage and relationships based on the principles in these books.
My mother’s mind is floating away, but increasingly she has the same spirit she must have had as a teenager (bottom left, hanging from swing), and talks more often about her own mother. She describes her mother with a call and response language “I will see her…” “By and by?” ‘We will meet…” “On that shore?” “YES!” as if I’ve won a hereafter quiz.
Moving away is as hard as I thought it would be. “We’ve been friends a long time,” she says. “Almost my whole life,” I answer, entertaining no one but myself. The new development is that when she hears my voice on the phone she’s so excited she jumps up to give me a hug. “Still on the phone mom,” I remind her when she comes back. Maybe she’s seeing a holographic future where you can hug the people who call you. I tell her I’m coming to visit soon, but we’re back in New Orleans and she practices saying New Orleans. Then she says: “That little boy…” shorthand for Louis Armstrong who she pictures as a child with a trumpet.
This is followed by a request that I sing Hello Dolly and she shouts the word “Dolly!” at the appropriate intervals. It entertains the nurses, so I’ve shortened the verses so there can be more shouting of “Dolly.” Her nurses are friends as well as caretakers. Many from the Alzheimer’s ward attended my dad’s funeral. She’s going through the gradual fading out that I recognize from his disease, but there are still important things to be heard.
On Christmas Eve, after a few rousing rounds of Hello Dolly, In the Sweet By and By and Oh Christmas Tree my mother says: “I love all the people I know.” Now that she’s mom unplugged, that was the high point of the call. But if you’re only able to hold one thought, what a blessing if that one thought is love.
Merry Christmas Mom. And Hello, Dolly.
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There’s a high premium on the truth in my house. Imaginations abound, but we are firm believers in recognizing truth from fiction. Though it’s tempting at times, I’ve never been one to candy-coat reality, to tell little white lies to avoid dealing with some of the hard stuff of parenting. Therefore, my four-year-old son has a very well-honed baloney barometer — for the most part, he can smell it a mile away. (He is known to whisper in my ear “Beware!” when he senses that someone is pulling his leg.) So when it comes down to perpetuating the myth of Santa and the canon of other beloved imaginary characters of childhood, I really stumble on what to do.
I decided to ask a few leaders of different faiths to pipe in on the issue. Rev. Meg Riley, Unitarian Universalist Minister from Minnesota (also a HuffPost blogger), Rabbi Moshe Levin from San Francisco, and Rev. Shelby Larsen of the First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica (all parents) have joined this conversation to shine their own little light on the matter. I hope you’ll add your thoughts to the confab as well.
The question: What is your take on whether or not to spin tall tales to children about the existence of Santa (or the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the like)?
Rev. Meg Riley, UU Senior Minister
When my daughter was seven, she came to me and said in the most serious voice imaginable, “Mom, I want you to tell me the truth about something, and if you lie to me about this I will never believe anything you say again, ever.” Needless to say, my mind went into red-alert state, wondering about various things she might be about to ask. “I’ll do my best,” I stammered.
“Is there a Santa Claus, or do you guys buy all my presents?” She asked. In my memory of this moment, her face is six inches from mine, and her focused intensity is that of a bank robber demanding all the money (with a gun). I considered only for a moment. While he was part of our Christmas celebration, Santa Claus was not a being to whom I had a great deal of devotion. I responded levelly, “We buy all your presents.”
At this, she collapsed sobbing in my arms for a great long time. Clearly her commitment to Santa’s existence far exceeded my own. That night, we were watching the movie “Elf,” where Santa’s sleigh won’t fly because not enough people believe in him. My daughter leaned over to me and hissed, “It’s people like you who cause that sleigh to bump along the ground!” Then she nodded to herself, confident she knew where her loyalties lay, moved almost imperceptibly away from me, and turned her full attention back to the movie screen.
It’s unquestionable that Santa Claus is a deity in our kids’ worlds, one upon whom much power has been bestowed. So it is with the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. I have saved my daughters’ letters to all of them, and they are a study in wonder, trust and the eventual triumph of rationality. (She requests a handprint from the tooth fairy. Her last letter to the Easter Bunny scolds him for not going to the homes of her Jewish friends.)
I have no problem introducing all of these figures as part of the cast of characters who make our collective life more interesting. Young kids have a blurry line between imagination and reality, and that is a beautiful thing. The trick is, I think, to ensure in our families that these highly specialized figures are not the only deities worshipped! How to do that? For me, it’s not a matter of diminishing kids’ beliefs in these mythical creatures — it’s about enhancing their appreciation of the magic and the mystery of the rest of creation.
Amazing that a fat man in a red suit can come down the chimney? Sure, but how about the fact that zebras exist? Or giraffes? Is the Easter Bunny incredible because he hides colorful eggs? Yes he is, and also it’s incredible that the universe is full of bright colorful birds, butterflies and flowers that are even more beautiful! Isn’t it cool that the tooth fairy cares about those tiny lost teeth? Sure, and when people love each other, we care about every single hair on each other’s heads, so how much more cool that our hearts are that big and they’re still inside our bodies? If kids are centered in a living, breathing, magical, mysterious, world each day, if what is holy is understood to be all around them, then the eventual letting go of Santa Claus — however grand that myth is — does not take apart their sense of awe and wonder. It’s when Santa becomes the only magic in town, then when he is gone there is true devastation.
When my daughter was young and she asked unanswerable questions — Where do people go when they die? Where are we before we are born? — Often our answer was, “It’s a mystery!” In our household, I believe, Mystery became the supreme deity. Use whatever language is truest for you — God, spirit, love, breath, life, mystery. But make sure your kids know that the most amazing gifts they receive — life, love, beauty — do not arrive on a reindeer’s sleigh. Then you can fully enjoy the ones that do!
The Rev. Meg A. Riley currently serves as Senior Minister of the Church of the Larger Fellowship, a church without walls with 3,500 members all over the world. In the past, she has been a pre-school teacher, a director of congregationally based religious education programs, a youth minister, and served in a variety of positions related to social justice in the national headquarters of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Rabbi Moshe Levin, Rabbi Emeritus of Beth El
The kids are caught between the beard and the knee and are thrilled; the parents are caught between a rock and a hard place and are struggling: “What do we tell our kids about Santa?” (Or the oil miracle of Hanukkah, or the splitting of the Red Sea by Charlton Heston in “The Ten Commandments,” or the Tooth Fairy?) The “rock” is our desire to teach our children honesty by example, and they’re never too young to learn to tell the truth. Besides, it is more disappointing when they learn from others and come home with accusing eyes for our lies. The “hard place” comes from the look in their eyes when they are next on line in the Mall.
So, first parents have to ask themselves what they believe — about fairytales and about myths. We have no chance of articulating our ideas if we don’t know what they are. Then, comes a truth that doesn’t hurt nor disappoint — maybe even enlightens. Myths express values, not facts. Their characters are symbols, as well as their acts. So, try, “Sweetheart! [always "Sweetheart" because nothing is more important than letting them know every moment that they are loved] Sweetheart, Santa’s coming on Christmas is a way big people have tried to tell little people how important it is to be good. Most of the time, we don’t get presents or rewards for being good. We do good because it’s the right thing and we want there to be lots of goodness in the world. But just to get children started on the right path, big people came up with the idea of once a year, just once a year, rewarding children for good things that they do all the time. And we gave this job to a man called Santa Claus — I don’t know why, but what really matters to us is that our children know when they’re very young like you are now, that doing good things is much better for everybody than doing bad things. What good things do you think you’ve done recently, and what good things would you like to do tomorrow?”
And if you think this is a hard nut to crack, try telling kids that they have to eat matzah for a whole week because thousands of years ago other people were slaves!
Moshe Levin, a Rabbi for 41 years, is the father of six children and two grandchildren. He grew up Orthodox, was trained Conservative, thinks Reconstructionist, celebrates Reform achievements, and puts future hope in Renewal. Named Rabbi Emeritus after 18 years as Senior Rabbi of Beth El in La Jolla, he is also serving Congregation Ner Tamid in San Francisco.
Rev. Shelby Larsen, Associate Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica
So, you tell the kids that a fat man with flying reindeer circumvents the globe in one night? Or that a very large rodent invades their house leaving decorated eggs and goodies? Or even that a small, benign, flying being comes into their room to leave a gift? And you wonder, “What am I doing? Won’t they be disappointed when they find out I’m, well, lying is a harsh word, but certainly not telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?”
Let’s be honest. As children age, as they interact with the world and their peers, they slowly realize that Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy are not real, in the sense of everyday life. They belong to an experience beyond what we can see, can hear, can feel. They are, for a few years, figures that are accepted although there is no proof, and aren’t logical. In a child’s world, for those first few years, they are a matter of faith, of belief in things unseen and unknowable.
Belief in something other than ourselves, like all things, requires nurture. Jesus tells us of the seed that falls on the road and cannot sprout. A child’s faith experience is like that. Without the nurturing of belief in what cannot be fully known, a child will find spirituality much more difficult as they mature. And really, what’s wrong with telling your children that, during the dead of night, at the darkest time of the year, you can receive a gift? Or that, in the spring, the natural world shares life and sustenance? Or, when you lose a part of yourself, you may also find that someone gives you the gift of something different?
These “imaginary” creatures are, if you so choose to present them, embodiments of the existence of that which cannot be completely understood, but must be accepted on trust and faith.
As a Christian minister, I have no problem with that.
A former entertainment lawyer, Rev. Shelby Larsen is now a pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica. She is the mother of three and the grandmother of eight, which you might think makes her something of an authority on mothering. However, she is constantly surprised by and learning from the amazing miracles we know as children.
Join our conversation! Be sure to comment below.
This post first appeared on www.themotherco.com
Right before Thanksgiving, the good folks at Blisstree posted “My Wife and I Spend the Holidays Apart (And We Like It That Way),” a little look at our non-traditional, non-together festivities. The piece struck an online nerve, eliciting a fair number of comments, both here and abroad. It even landed Kim and me a guest spot on a the public radio show “The Story,” fulfilling a personal goal even if it had nothing to do with Ira Glass. Nevertheless, host Dick Gordon has a much more soothing put-you-at-ease voice, the kind made for hot cocoa. (Hear for yourself: our segment begins around 29:30.)
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the responses. (I’m looking at you, loyal HuffPost readers!) Not that everyone thought our way of doing things made a lick of sense, but nearly everyone took a live-and-let-live, whatever-works-for-you attitude about it. It warmed my Grinchy heart, but it also made me feel guilty for a bit of writerly withholding to the readers. I apologize. I wasn’t entirely forthcoming.
I knew that this year, my wife and I would be spending the holidays together. All of them.
Now, in my defense, when I wrote the original piece, this scenario was accurate. There was no journalistic shenanigans, but I knew one line was no longer true: “We have no kids (yet).”
We do. Thus, the holidays have taken on a whole new meaning. In a word, logistics.
On Thanksgiving, our family of three hosted our first-ever home-cooked turkey dinner. We filled our Fort Greene apartment to capacity with eight adults, two young boys, our new daughter Molly, a fold-out table borrowed from the laundry room, a smaller-than-ordered 19-pound turkey, six delicious sides, a cooler full of beer, a counter full of wine, three pies, and a jug of “Stoop Party,” a pre-game cocktail made with Spike Lee’s Absolut Brooklyn that doubled as my sole — er, soul? — contribution to the meal.
There have been a few Thanksgivings where Kim and I stayed together, but there has never been one where we were in charge. We’ve never looked this so-called “holiday stress” dead in the eye. So how’d it go? Delightful. Really. A bit cramped, but I was proud of the effort… Not to say I didn’t learn a few things:
Never, ever, ever, ever watch any portion the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
Me to wife: How is it I’ve never noticed how excruciatingly terrible this corporate awfulness is?
Wife to me: We’re usually apart, remember? You’d normally still be asleep. Molly and I wanted to watch it.
Me to Molly (whispering): The Macy’s Day parade sucks… cheerleading is lame… sororities are evil… The Macy’s Day parade sucks… cheerleading is–
Wife to me: Go back to bed. Not like you’re cooking anything, anyway.
Me to TV: Oh, I beg to differ, Meredith! I do think you can have too many Smurfing Smurfs at your Smursfgiving.
Don’t prepare your own food.
My brother’s a chef who wanted to handle the bird (mainly, I suspect, to get four quiet hours away from his boys). My dad’s wife is the kind of all-encompassing food preparer who sent him back to the store to get “the right” pecans and brought her own salt-and-pepper shakers from Billings, Mont. Does this break standard holiday protocol? Probably. But hey, Molly was only four weeks old. She needs me. Babies are great for getting lazy fathers out of stuff.
If you have to subway into the city to a farmer’s market to haggle with an Israeli turkey farmer who didn’t deliver the 25-pound turkey as ordered…
Come to a mutually beneficial arrangement, like a 19-pound bird and a five-pound breast at half price. Shalom.
A half-soused relative, a four-year-old-boy, and a baby-rocking glider near a booze rack filled with glass bottles makes for a bad combination.
Don’t worry. The decanter only suffered minor damage. The whiskey is fine. I repeat, the whiskey is fine.
In all honesty, spending Thanksgiving in a big familial way was great. Nothing changes the game like watching others fawn over one’s offspring. That doesn’t, however, mean that there are parts of the old way of doing things that I already miss. Logistics were never an issue. Kim goes that way; I go the other way. See you in a few days. Boom. Done. Now, we need a war room with one of those big maps where troops can be maneuvered around with a stick just to figure out our plan of attack. When it comes to being forced to move our army about in a game of holiday Risk…
I’m nostalgic for the good ol’ days of 2009.
Because no sooner had Thanksgiving ended than we were strategizing Christmas number one at Grandma’s house in Philadelphia. (Actual notes: Rental car? Check. Restaurant for the family dinner — call Uncle Joe? Dan and boys’ sleeping arrangements? Make separate list for baby items… Will stroller fit in trunk? How many Aero beds? Heavy traffic times? Eagles game at Mick’s Inn? Facebook Cuz Mike…)
I never quite understood what the expression “the devil is in the details” meant. Now I get it. Hell on Earth is making plans for the holidays.
And yet, Christmas number one was also fantastic. Grandma was in high spirits. She gave me a great gift by giving Molly the ring she wore as a little girl.
And for sheer holiday kicks, you can stuff Clarence Oddbody in a snowdrift. We got to watch two of our nephews stomp around the house in our gifts to them, talking Darth Vader and Boba Fett helmets. Every time the leader of the Dark Side breathes deeply, a Jedi gets his wings.
However, Before the warmth of Christmas number one washes over, we’ll be headed up to Massachusetts for Christmas number three, which, due to external outside factors like out-of-town flights and e-mail snafus, actually takes place over New Year’s Eve. This time, it’s Kim’s side of the family, and we need to secure another car, figure out sleeping arrangements, get a ferry pass for the detour to Martha’s Vineyard, take down the decorations and dispose of the fir carcass on the 26th…
Oh, right, Christmas number two. Back home. No guests means no cooking, of course. We’ll be dining on steaks and live holiday music at the Knickerbocker in Greenwich Village. Then we’ll head back to Brooklyn to watch Molly fall asleep under the lights of our Christmas tree and Flakes, the illuminated plastic snowman we bought for $5 at a street sale last summer.
We’ve got new traditions in the making.
For the first time as husband and wife, Kim and I will be together on Christmas. Alone, with Molly.
That’s the best gift of all.
Happy holidays, everyone.
This post originally ran on Blisstree, a great site if you dig this kind of thing. Patrick Sauer is a writer who lives in New York City. Read more of his work at patrickjsauer.com or follow him on Twitter @pjsauer.
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The Christmas story as it is told in the West, in scripture and tradition, contains timeless elements that have shaped our culture in significant ways. As we tell it, year in and year out, the story conveys to those who listen powerful themes evoking deep feelings.
It is, at its core, a tale of a helpless child, born as an outcast, whose role became transformative in human history. Unrecognized, at first, the importance of this birth was initially only understood by the lowly of the earth, “the shepherds of the field”. Later, “kings from the East” came to pay homage, bringing gifts. Their appearance raised the ire of the local rulers forcing the baby’s parents to flee in order to save the life of their newborn child.
I want to take a moment to reflect on the elements and themes of this story, seeing contemporary realities through its prism.
Two thousand years ago, Palestine was subject to a harsh occupation, much as it is today. In some ways, though, the conditions back then allowed the residents of occupied Palestine greater mobility than the current inhabitants of that land.As we are told, Joseph had to take his expectant wife from Nazareth, where they were living, to Bethlehem in order to fulfill a requirement, imposed by the authorities, to register in their ancestral village as part of a nationwide census. Today, of course, all this would be impossible. In the first place no Palestinian originally from Bethlehem could ever have moved to Nazareth. The occupation and closure of the West Bank makes that sort of movement impossible. Furthermore, Israeli law now prohibits an Arab from Nazareth from marrying a Bethlehemite and bringing their spouse across the Green Line to reside in Israel.
Additionally, while thousands of Palestinians in Bethlehem, both Muslim and Christian, can see Jerusalem from their homes, they can not go to the Holy City to pray. And Arab Christians from Jerusalem, likewise, can not easily go the Christmas services in Bethlehem to pray alongside their European and American co-religionists who dominate at the seasonal event.
Bethlehem of old was overcrowded and under siege. Today, as well, the city itself is being strangled, hemmed in by settlements that have confiscated the town’s ancestral lands to make way for a 30 foot barrier wall and massive Jewish-only housing cutting the Arab residents off from nearby Jerusalem. The constriction of growth and the lack of economic opportunity have forced Bethlehemites to flee in search of jobs and freedom, with tens of thousands of them and their descendants now living in the U.S. and the Americas. They can return to visit with difficulty, but are not permitted by the occupation authorities to take up permanent residency in the town of their origins.
While the kings of old, we are told, were able to travel from afar bearing gifts to honor the newborn child, one can only imagine the difficulties they would encounter today dealing with Israeli soldiers at the Allenby Bridge. Having endured their interrogations, myself, I can hear the kings answering hours of questions, such as “Where are you from?” “Who are your parents, grandparents?” “Why are you here?” Who are you visiting?” “What are these gifts for?” And on and on. In the end, it is doubtful whether those hapless “kings from the East” would have gained entry.That Joseph and Mary and Jesus were able to flee to Egypt to escape Herod’s vengeful wrath was possible back then. Today, that option is unlikely. The barrier/wall that encapsulates the West Bank and the closure of Gaza would make such a trip impossible.
Finally, as I reflect on the birth of Jesus, I can not help but think of the nearly 400 babies who will be born, this very day, to Palestinian parents in the West Bank and Gaza. I think as well of the number of those who will perish at birth because of inadequate medical services (some babies have been put at fatal risk at checkpoints, because Israeli soldiers would not permit their delivering mothers to pass). And I think of Mary, 2000 years ago, and am grateful that, despite all she endured, there were no checkpoints blocking her way to Bethlehem.
Our traditions tell us that Mary’s joy at the birth of her son was tempered by foresight. She knew her child would grow and endure great suffering. Likewise, the joy that Palestinian parents experience when greeting new life these days must, no doubt, be accompanied by concern. Not only must they question how they will provide for their new child, but they must face down their fears of bringing up a son or daughter under occupation, with its dangers and hardships. From the pressures and humiliations encountered daily by Palestinians in the West Bank, to the grinding poverty and despair facing those trapped in Gaza, life under hostile foreign rule can drain joy out of even the most blessed events.
There is a traditional Christmas carol that asks the question “What child is this?” – the answer, of course, being “Jesus, the son of Mary”. But given the universal message conveyed by the Christmas story we also understand that the child is for us, a reminder of our responsibility to care for the helpless and the unrecognized. And so when we think of the vulnerable children born today not only in Palestine, but those born anywhere where life is at risk, we are not to ask “What child is this?” – because we know that they are ours – to acknowledge and protect, like the shepherds and kings, enabling all of these children to grow and to help change our world.
Dr. James J. Zogby is the author of Arab Voices: What They Are Saying to Us, and Why it Matters (Palgrave Macmillan, October 2010) and the founder and president of the Arab American Institute (AAI), a Washington, D.C.-based organization which serves as the political and policy research arm of the Arab American community.