4 years, and 11 months. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes: be afraid of NOT LEARNING from your mistakes.

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The Importance of Dumb Mistakes in College

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Not so much afterward, when I got driven downtown in handcuffs for spray-painting “Corporate Deathburgers” across a McDonald’s.

I earned myself a long night in jail for my lack of judgment. But my family and friends — and perhaps most important, my college, the University of Michigan — never learned about the episode (until now). Because in 1985, a college student could get a little self-righteous, make a bad decision, face consequences and then go home, having learned a “valuable lesson.”

These days I work as the senior communications officer at another college, where I spend a healthy fraction of my time dealing with students who’ve made mistakes of their own. I recognize myself in them: intellectually adventurous, skeptical, newly aware of life’s injustices. They’re also different from me in many ways: less Grateful Dead and Dead Kennedys, much more technology.

That’s the important bit. Because for all of the supposed liberating power of their digital devices, they might as well be wearing ankle monitors. Technological connectedness has made it much harder for them to make mistakes and learn from them.

Today’s students live their lives so publicly — through the technology we provide them without training — that much simpler errors than mine earn them the wrath of the entire internet.

 

Usually, the outrage is over things they say, for example a campus newspaper editorial that grapples with balancing free speech and appropriate behavior. That’s a quandary that has occupied American legal theorists since the founding of the country. It’s certainly one any young citizen should think through.

But last year, when Wellesley’s student paper ran an editorial wrestling with this same idea — and advocating limits on hate speech — it was widely read and criticized in the media as if it were enormously consequential.

Were the authors’ arguments entirely mature and well reasoned? No. But students deserve the chance to try out ideas. When they do, sometimes they’re going to botch it — sometimes spectacularly. And that’s why we have learning spaces.

Thirty years ago, college students could have tried out radical ideas about limiting free speech in print. The results might have been simplistic or doctrinaire. But readership would have been largely restricted to campus, and the paper would have been in circulation for only a day or two.

In this climate, there is little room for students to experiment and screw up. We seem to expect them to arrive at school fully formed. When they let us down by being just what they are — young humans — we shame them.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I demand better of you because I want you to be better.  I do that because I care.  You are my sons.

Don’t mistake the lack of constructive criticism and the lack of expectations from others as love.  It simply means they don’t care enough to invest their time in you to help you grow and become better.  False friends often exhibit such behaviors.  They heap praise on you when things are going well, but abandon you when things get difficult.  Don’t waste your time with the likes of them.

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You have but one life to live, so I want you to embrace it!  Dare to try new things.  Be bold in your efforts, not timid.  If you are going to try, why not do it with gusto?  Mistakes will be made.  But, who cares?  So long as you have thought through the consequences of your actions, no one is hurt, and there are no lasting adverse effects from the mistake, then embrace the lesson learned from that mistake.  That’s how you grow and expand your horizons!!!!

Timid, fearful, and inferior people often tell you to stick to what is known, tried, and true.  But, if no one explores beyond the confines of existing life and knowledge, where would human beings, as a species, be?  There would be no new discovery.  There would be no expansion of territory.  There would only be staleness and death as we deplete known resources from over-use, over-populate the small territory into which we were born, degrade the land from over-use and over-population, etc.

No, don’t heed the nay-sayers.  Hear them and thank them for their counsel, but determine for yourself the wisdom of a certain course of action.

Be you.  Be the best you.  Dare to try new things and to experience the beautiful things in life.

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All my loves, always,

Dad

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4 years, 10 months, and 27 days. The art of deconstruction cont.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Today, let’s continue our conversation about the art of deconstruction.  To deconstruct is to break things down to their constituent parts.  Once you do that, it is amazing what you can see about how the thing works (or fails), and how much you can reimagine the thing itself.  That’s the art of deconstruction, and it is an invaluable tool for problem solving.

Years ago, within a couple months of joining an organization, I was asked to resolve a compliance issue that plagued the company for half a decade.  Literally, there were communications with regulators going back five years, telling the organization that its conducts were illegal.  Yet, the organization was unable to bring their practices into compliance with the law.  Instead of resolving the problem, staff from organization made all sorts of excuses and complaints about the competency of the regulators.  As you can imagine, the regulators — charged with protecting the public from illegal and fraudulent practices — were not happy.

Into that mix, I was thrown.  My first steps were to read all available information about the problem, meet with all the relevant players (both from within the organization and within the regulatory agency), and ask for their perspectives on the problem.  Then, I took apart the “problem” as enshrined in writing and in practice to review it against applicable laws.  That assessment enabled me to identify where entrenched positions were consistent or inconsistent with legal requirements and find a pathway that mutually satisfied both the regulators and stakeholders from within the organization.  In a matter of weeks, the problem was resolved to the satisfaction of both parties, and a heavy penalty was averted.

Shortly thereafter, I was promoted and asked to resolve a different problem that the organization had failed to resolve in the preceding several years.  Again, I researched the matter and met with relevant parties to gain a better understanding of the problem.  Again, there were much recrimination from within the organization about how the regulators were “morons”, “idiots”, etc., which made the problem personal and was not useful to the resolution of the problem.  Over the years, instead of focusing on the problem, each party had turned its attention to criticizing the other, which then caused each party to become more entrenched in its position.  The organization behaved as if the “problem” was a fixed entity and it would succeed in its objective if only the regulators were more enlightened: the regulators thought the opposite — that the interpretation of the law was established and the organization would be successful if only it were more enlightened in its understanding of the law.   They failed to recognize that each parties had its mandate, and the path forward was to find a way where both parties were able to meet their objectives.  By reviewing documentation, business practices, and stakeholders’ perceptions, I was able to take apart that problem and find a mutually satisfactory resolution.

Don’t underestimate the power of deconstruction.  When faced with a challenging sentence, paragraph, math assignment, physics problem, a challenging essay, etc., break it down and look at it from different angles and perspectives.  If a solution doesn’t work, try approaching it from a different angle.  Don’t keep butting your head against the same wall.  Try different.

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All my love, always,

Dad

4 years, 10 months, and 26 days. The art of deconstruction and college admission.

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Read the essay about pizza that got this student into Yale

 

Carolina Williams, who graduated high school in Tennessee recently, has been accepted into Yale University with the help of an amusing essay.

Williams says her Yale application included an essay prompt asking her what she enjoys doing. The first idea that came to her was her love of ordering pizza, especially from Papa Johns, so that’s what she wrote about. Here’s the full text of her essay, which was published in the Washington Post:

“The sound of my doorbell starts off high, then the pitch mellows out, and the whole effect mimics an instrumental interpretation of rain finally finding a steady pace at which to fall. I have spent several minutes analyzing its tone because I have had many opportunities to do so, as one thing I love to do is order pizza and have it delivered to my house. When the delivery person rings my doorbell, I instantly morph into one of Pavlov’s dogs, salivating to the sound that signals the arrival of the cheesy, circular glory. It smells like celebration, as I love to rejoice a happy occasion by calling Papa John’s for my favorite food. It tastes like comfort, since having pizza delivered to my quiet home is a way for me to unwind. It looks like self-sufficiency, because when I was young, ordering pizza made me feel grown-up, and it still provides that satisfaction for my child at heart. Accepting those warm cardboard boxes is second nature to me, but I will always love ordering pizza because of the way eight slices of something so ordinary are able to evoke feelings of independence, consolation, and joy.”

It worked.

Soon, Williams received a letter in the mail extending her an offer of admission to the Ivy League institution. The admissions counselor who reviewed her application even included a handwritten note. “I laughed so hard on your pizza essay,” the admission counselor wrote, adding, “I kept thinking that you were the kind of person that I would love to be best friends with. I want you to know that every part of your application stood out in our process and we are thrilled to be able to offer you a spot at Yale.”

Pizza wasn’t the only thing that helped Williams get into Yale. She had a high GPA after taking rigorous courses, was very active in volunteer work, and participated in several prestigious academic and leadership organizations.

Williams tweeted a photo of her acceptance letter to Papa Johns’ twitter account, and they later give her a few gift certificates.

But Williams has decided not to attend Yale. Instead she plans to attend Auburn University, which she says felt like a stronger fit. “I’ve never met a person who went to Auburn that didn’t like it there and I thought that spoke a lot about it,” Williams said. She plans on majoring in business with a minor in economics—and is excited to have plenty of Papa John’s pizza at the restaurant’s location on Auburn’s campus (Balakit , The Tennessean,  5/26; Henderson, AL.com, 5/31; Wong, Washington Post, 6/4).

https://www.eab.com/daily-briefing/2017/06/05/pizza-essay-got-student-into-yale (emphasis added)

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I miss you, and I worry about you boys.  I cannot imagine how difficult it has been for you boys to grow up without me, especially given how close we were.

I still remember that day in third grade when you had the school concert, Shosh.  This was after your mother and I had split up, and you boys were starting to  spend every other week with me.  The concert was during one of the weeks when you were at your mother’s.  After the show, when I knelt down to give you a big hug for the wonderful job you had done, you simply leaned into me, put your head on my shoulder, and cried.  You must have stood there and cried in the middle of the crowded school gym for a good 3 – 5 minutes.  It broke my heart.

I worry about you, Shosh, because you are the sensitive one.  You wear your heart on your sleeve … and, boy, is it a big heart!  It is good to have a big heart and it is okay to wear your heart on your sleeve.  That is who you are!  But, that wonderful character trait of your may predispose you to getting your heart bruised more often.

I am so sorry that we have to be apart for this period, and I cannot bear to think how this separation must affect you.  But, we must deal with the vagaries of life as we encounter them.  This circumstance was not of our choosing.  Evil and lies may assert themselves, but truth and justice will prevail.  We shall be reunited.

For now, I want you to focus on doing your best in school and in life.  Be the best young men you can be.  Live honorably.  You have but your name and your reputation.  You come a from a long line of great and honorable people on my side of the family.  Don’t sully their names.

Shosh, I need you to start thinking about college admission and how best to get into top colleges.   Remember, good grades and high test scores aren’t enough.  Almost everyone who applies to top Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, etc., have high GPAs and high SAT scores.  You must find ways to stand out in that august crowd.

Differentiate yourself by the contributions you make to your community and to the world.  Find meaningful ways to help those around you.  Be not takers, but find ways to give back, to make the most of the talents you have been given.  Don’t just follow the crowd and volunteer as everyone else does because it’s the path of least resistance.  Find your own way.  Create your own path.

Additionally, remember that America is about popularity contests.  (Whether we like that or not is irrelevant: it is.)  Unless you  are a genius like Steve Job, it is difficult to succeed in America without being likeable.  In HR, for example, one of the critical tests for being hired is being able to fit in with the organization.  No matter your brilliance and accomplishments, most organizations will not ask you to join them if they think you wouldn’t get along with the people within the organization.  Thus, you must work on improving your social skills and your soft skills (e.g., collaboration, communication, and critical thinking).

When applying to college, make the best use of the personal essays and letters of recommendation to tell your story, share your contributions, and  show your likeability.  Your GPAs and test scores present but the side of you that’s most easily quantifiable.  That’s only part of your story.  It is your privilege to share more intangible — and more interesting — side of you.  Thus, when working on letters of recommendations, talk to your teachers and make sure each teacher would tell different parts of your story — the intangible parts beyond the grades and test scores.  Together, the personal essay and letters of recommendation should paint for the admissions committee a better picture of who you are and why they would be at a loss to not invite you to join their school.

Regarding your essay, brainstorm the heck out of it and find the best story, incident, item, etc., that represents you best and the best you.  Make it interesting.  Be likeable.  It is your marketing piece and not simply another writing assignment.  Thus, treat it accordingly.

Now, look at the pizza essay again, and deconstruct it to see its beauty and brilliance.

“The sound of my doorbell starts off high, then the pitch mellows out, and the whole effect mimics an instrumental interpretation of rain finally finding a steady pace at which to fall. I have spent several minutes analyzing its tone because I have had many opportunities to do so, as one thing I love to do is order pizza and have it delivered to my house. When the delivery person rings my doorbell, I instantly morph into one of Pavlov’s dogs, salivating to the sound that signals the arrival of the cheesy, circular glory. It smells like celebration, as I love to rejoice a happy occasion by calling Papa John’s for my favorite food. It tastes like comfort, since having pizza delivered to my quiet home is a way for me to unwind. It looks like self-sufficiency, because when I was young, ordering pizza made me feel grown-up, and it still provides that satisfaction for my child at heart. Accepting those warm cardboard boxes is second nature to me, but I will always love ordering pizza because of the way eight slices of something so ordinary are able to evoke feelings of independence, consolation, and joy.”

Note how each sentence is built and the sentences connect logically to each other to form the essay.  Note the word choices and how the theme is interwoven into each sentence.  For example, instead of saying “it feels like celebration” and “it feels like comfort”, in keeping with the pizza theme, she said, “It smells like celebration” and “It tastes lie comfort.”  How brilliant!

(Now, if you break down each sentence and read each closely, you will find a grammatical error.  Do you see it?)

Do likewise when you read and write for school, for the SAT, and for your college applications.  Break down each idea, each sentence, each paragraph, each section, etc., to make sure it is concise, internally consistent, well-organized, and coherent as a whole.  Take the time to deconstruct your readings and writings in order to maximize your efforts.  Reading is an exercise of the mind more than of the eyes.  Likewise, writing is more of a mental exercise than a mechanical one.  Take the time to read and write well.

I leave you with a quote I love by Mark Twain, one of my favorite authors.

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All my love, always,

Dad

 

4 years, 10 months, and 21 days. Stop reading like a baby. Reading for high school and college uses different strategies.

 

Harvard Report

As an experiment, Dr. Perry (psychologist), Director of the Harvard Reading-Study Center gave 1500 first year students a thirty-page chapter from a history book to read, with the explanation that in about twenty minutes they would be stopped and asked to identify the
important details and to write an essay on what they had read.
The class scored well on a multiple-choice test on detail, but only
fifteen students of 1500 were able to write a short statement on what the chapter was all about in terms of its basic theme. Only fifteen of 1500 top first year college students had thought of reading the
paragraph marked “Summary”, or of skimming down the descriptive flags in the margin.
This demonstration of “obedient purposelessness” is evidence of “an enormous amount of wasted effort” in the study skills of first year students. Some regard it almost as cheating to look ahead or skip around. To most students, the way they study expresses “their
relationship to the pressures and conventional rituals of safe passage to the next grade”.
Students must be jarred out of this approach. The exercise of  judgment in reading requires self-confidence, even courage, on the part of the student who must decide for himself what to read or skip. Dr. Perry suggested that students ask themselves what it is they want to get out of a reading assignment, then look around for those points.  Instructors can help them see the major forms in which expository material is cast. Students should also “talk to themselves” while reading, asking “is this the point I’m looking for?”
My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:
I miss you.  The past several nights have been burdened with restless and dream-filled slumber.  As typical of my dreams, I fight evil during the night and wake up exhausted.  Worst, I’ve been waking up overwhelmingly sad.  I hope everything is okay with you guys.
Remember, this too shall pass.  Keep breathing in and out.  Put one foot in front of the other, and marshal on.  We will make it through this trial.

Until we reunite, I want you boys to continue working towards success.  For now, it means forming good reading, note-taking, studying, and critical thinking habits.

Today, let’s talk about reading.  When you, you were taught to read each and every word.  That was then.  You are no longer an early reader.  Now, you must learn how to read as a young adult.  Unfortunately, as evident from the Harvard Report quoted above, school does a poor job of teaching you how to read as an adult.  Think about it, before diving into the reading, only 15 out of 1500 Harvard freshmen knew to skim the summary, headings, and other information flagged by the author as being important.  15 out of 1500.  That’s one percent!!!

Studies show that readers can improve their reading comprehension by 10-20 percent by skimming the title; headings; subheadings; charts and graphics; and, words that are called out as being important by the author by being italicized, bolded, underlined, capitalized, placed in quotation marks, etc.  It takes minutes to skim the structure and highlighted portions of the reading to understand how the material is organized and gain a significant boost in your understanding of the reading.  Why wouldn’t you do that?

 

For example, if you’re visiting Paris for the first time, wouldn’t you want to know the lay of the land in order to figure out where you need to go to see each of the famous sites?  Is that not a better strategy than to simply walk out into the street and bump into what you may?  By glancing at which district each major site is located, where the districts are in relations to each other, the major roads that cut through the city and take you to each district, you gain a better understanding of the city and how best to conquer it.

It is the same with reading.  Before you read, skim the headings and highlights to get a sense of the skeleton of the arguments presented therein.  Once you have a sense of what the reading and its arguments are about, call on what you know about the subject to help guide you through the intricate arguments and assess their veracity.

Next, as you read, use the conventions of writing to help guide you and identify the important points the author is trying to communicate to you, the reader.  For example, if you are struggling to understand a sentence, break it down into its component parts: subject, verb, object, etc.  Once you pull away all of the ornaments, you lay bare the meaning of the sentence.  Likewise, to help you decipher a paragraph and find its main point (remember, if it’s well-written, each paragraph should have but one main point), use textual clues such as topic sentence, concluding sentence, the repetition of key words or ideas, the author’s highlight of key words or ideas by underlying or italicizing them, etc.

As you read, ask yourself the following:

  • “What is the main point the author is trying to tell me in this paragraph?”
  • “How does it relate to the thesis of the writing and the points presented in the preceding paragraphs?”
  • “So what?”

Make annotations in the margins to capture your thoughts and understanding.

Reading is not just a visual exercise:  it is primarily an analytical one.  Think.  Engage the author.  The more you engage yourself in the reading, the more you will understand it, and the easier it will be for you to remember it and explain it on tests and in your papers.  Your grades will improve, as will your body of knowledge.

Education is less about grades (that’s just one indicia of how well you learned something), than it is about building a useful body of knowledge that will serve you well in life.

I leave you with my favorite quote from the Jefferson Memorial, one of my favorite places in Washington, D.C.

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Do not continue to wear the coat of a child.  Learn and grow into the great men I know you can be, my sons.

All my love, always,

Dad

4 years, 10 months, and 19 days. Don’t be faddish and blindlessly embrace the new or reject the old. Think.

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The bacteria-fighting super element that’s making a comeback in hospitals: copper

Ancient Egyptians used copper to sterilize chest wounds and drinking water. Greeks, Romans and Aztecs relied on copper compounds to treat burns, headaches and ear infections. Thousands of years later, the ancient therapeutic is being embraced by some hospitals because of its ability to kill bacteria and other microbes on contact, which can help reduce deadly infections.

At least 15 hospitals across the country have installed, or are considering installing, copper components on “high-touch” surfaces easily contaminated with microbes — faucet handles on sinks, cabinet pulls, toilet levers, call buttons and IV poles.

“We’ve known for a long time that copper and other metals are effective in killing microbes, so it wasn’t a great leap to incorporate copper surfaces into hospitals,” said John Lynch, medical director of infection control at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center, which is redesigning a waste-disposal room to incorporate copper on light switches and door handles.

For many hospitals, the death of Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan last year at a Dallas hospital heightened concerns — two nurses caring for him caught the virus because of poor infection control. And even before that, public health officials had identified nearly two dozen dangerous pathogens — many of them resistant to virtually all antibiotics — whose spread in health facilities and elsewhere could result in potentially catastrophic consequences.

They include MRSA, a potentially deadly infection that is increasing in community settings; VRE, which can cause a variety of infections; and C. diff, which causes life-threatening diarrhea and sends 250,000 people to the hospital every year.

On any given day, about 1 in 25 patients in acute-care hospitals has at least one health-care-associated infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pneumonia and surgical-site infections are among the most common. In 2011, about 75,000 patients with health-care-associated infections died in the hospital.

Hospital officials aren’t the only ones interested in copper. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport installed drinking fountains retrofitted with antimicrobial copper surfaces. In Colorado Springs, the U.S. Olympic Committee’s flagship training center uses custom dumbbells with antimicrobial copper grips. So do two professional hockey teams, the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues. Even a Chick-fil-A in Morganton, N.C., installed antimicrobial copper on restroom door handles.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/the-bacteria-fighting-super-element-making-a-return-to-hospitals-copper/2015/09/20/19251704-5beb-11e5-8e9e-dce8a2a2a679_story.html?utm_term=.4fd4c2fe2627 (emphasis added)

My most dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Can you believe I still wake up most mornings at 2:00 or 3:00 A.M.?  It sucks.  On rare occasions, I do sleep through the night.  But, I still don’t most nights.  On a more positive note, at least these days, sleep returns without too much delay.  In the old days, given all the work and all the stuff on my mind, sleep rarely returned, and I usually got up to start my day at that ungodly hour.

Habits die hard.  So, try to create good habits for yourselves.

Manners and hygiene are of utmost important.  It still grosses me out when I see the number of people who do not wash their hands after using the bathroom, blowing their noses, etc.  Remember,

https://www.askideas.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Good-manners-reflect-something-from-inside-an-innate-sense-of-consideration-for-others-and-respect-for-self.-respect-self-good-manners-sense.-Emily-Post.jpg

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I digressed.  Manners are important habits to cultivate, but, today, I want to talk about another habit I want you to cultivate: the refusal to blindly follow the latest fads in all things.  Our forebears have much wisdom from which we can learn.  It is important to give their lessons credence because those lessons have withstood the test of time whereas what’s fashionable today rarely holds true tomorrow.

Marketers, celebrities, and talking heads these days are paid to pitch their wares.  Some of the latest discoveries are head and shoulder above what came before, but this is not always true.  Caveat emptor .  Buyers beware.

It behooves you to do your research and analysis of the new to determine whether it is actually better than the old, and in what circumstances.  Because of time constraints and the volume of new stuff we are bombarded with each and every day, a reasonable strategy is to stay with what’s tried and true until the new item has proven itself safe in the crucible of time.  Aspirin, for example, is a tried and true pain reliever that presents few negative effects.  On the other, new research continue to discover new dangers relating to newer pain relievers, like Tylenol.  For example,

Acetaminophen in Pregnancy Tied to ADHD Risk in Kids

Acetaminophen is considered the go-to pain medication during pregnancy. But a new study adds to evidence linking the drug to an increased risk of behavioral issues in kids.

Researchers in Norway found that among nearly 113,000 children, those whose mothers used acetaminophen during pregnancy were slightly more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The link was, however, confined to longer-term use — particularly a month or longer.

When moms used acetaminophen for 29 days or more during pregnancy, their kids were twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, versus women who did not use the drug.

https://health.usnews.com/health-care/articles/2017-10-30/acetaminophen-in-pregnancy-tied-to-adhd-risk-in-kids.

 

Drugmaker set to profit from an opioid it said was unsafe

It’s not uncommon for drug companies to try to keep generic versions of their best-selling drugs off the market. But this is a story about a drug company that went to extraordinary lengths to do so, calling into question the safety of a drug it had sold for years. When its plan didn’t work, the company made an unusual decision.

As the opioid epidemic grew, Endo Pharmaceuticals took the extraordinary step in 2012 of pulling a version of one of its best-selling painkillers off the market, saying that the narcotic was susceptible to abuse.
Endo even unsuccessfully sued the US Food and Drug Administration that year to prevent the approval of any generic version of its drug, called Opana ER. The drugmaker argued that given a chance, drug abusers would crush and snort the generic pills, just as they had with the brand-name drug. Snorting intensifies the high but heightens the chance of overdosing.
It seemed as though a drug maker was taking selfless action to try to curb the growing opioid epidemic. But some industry observers say the story of Opana ER may better illustrate the lengths a drug company would go to in order to protect its profits.
Endo introduced a new formulation of Opana ER before phasing out the old one, selling two versions of the drug at the same time. Both drugs had the same active ingredient, oxymorphone. Both were extended-release pills for long-lasting effects. Both were called Opana ER.
The difference was that the new version had a few different inactive ingredients, including a hard coating that made the pills harder to pulverize. Even so, addicts quickly learned how to cook the new painkiller and inject the liquid with a syringe.
Endo contended that the new Opana ER and its hard coating deterred abuse, but this summer, the FDA disagreed. In June, the regulatory agency concluded that the risks of new crush-resistant Opana ER outweighed its benefits and pressured Endo to stop selling it. It was the first time the FDA had taken steps to stop sales of a currently marketed opioid because of the consequences of abuse.
President Trump alluded to the drug last week when declaring the opioid epidemic a public health emergency. “We’re requiring that a specific opioid, which is truly evil, be taken off the market immediately,” he said.
Endo agreed to halt shipments of Opana ER starting September 1. But that’s not the end of the drug’s story.
Endo still has the patent on the original version of the drug, the one it fought to keep off the market. The FDA’s action this summer didn’t impact the crushable version Endo stopped selling in 2012.
So on August 8, Endo cut a deal with Impax Laboratories to split the profits of a generic version of its original drug. Endo is now poised to make money from a drug that it said shouldn’t be on the market.

 

Take the Generic, Patients Are Told. Until They Are Not.

It’s standard advice for consumers: If you are prescribed a medicine, always ask if there is a cheaper generic.

Nathan Taylor, a 3-D animator who lives outside Houston, has tried to do that with all his medications. But when he fills his monthly prescription for Adderall XR to treat his attention-deficit disorder, his insurance company refuses to cover the generic. Instead, he must make a co-payment of $90 a month for the brand-name version. By comparison, he pays $10 or less each month for the five generic medications he also takes.

“It just befuddles me that they would do that,” said Mr. Taylor, 41.

A spokesman for his insurer, Humana, did not respond to multiple emails and phone calls requesting comment.

With each visit to the pharmacy, Mr. Taylor enters the upside-down world of prescription drugs, where conventional wisdom about how to lower drug costs is often wrong.

Consumers have grown accustomed to being told by insurers — and middlemen known as pharmacy benefit managers — that they must give up their brand-name drugs in favor of cheaper generics. But some are finding the opposite is true, as pharmaceutical companies squeeze the last profits from products that are facing cheaper generic competition.

Out of public view, corporations are cutting deals that give consumers little choice but to buy brand-name drugs — and sometimes pay more at the pharmacy counter than they would for generics.

The practice is not easy to track, and has been going on sporadically for years. But several clues suggest it is becoming more common.

In recent months, some insurers and benefit managers have insisted that patients forgo generics and buy brand-name drugs such as the cholesterol treatment Zetia, the stroke-prevention drug Aggrenox and the pain-relieving gel Voltaren, along with about a dozen others, according to memos and prescription drug claims that pharmacies shared with ProPublica and The New York Times. At the same time, consumers are sounding off on social media.

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/08/06/health/prescription-drugs-brand-name-generic.html

Fools rush in.  Don’t follow them.  Don’t cede control to marketers and talking heads.  As you can see from the above public exposure, they do not have your best interests at heart.

Always act with purpose.  You have control over you, not anyone else.  Think.  Stay safe.

All my love, always,

Dad

P.S., I leave you with the following tried and true home remedies.

Kitchen cures doctors swear by

Whether you have a head cold, an upset stomach, or an itchy rash, fast (cheap!) relief may be sitting on your kitchen shelf.
True, some home remedies are simply old wives’ tales, but others have stuck around for generations because they actually work, says Philip Hagen, M.D., preventive medicine specialist at the Mayo Clinic. Try grabbing one of these healing ingredients to ease that minor ailment.
Honey
Use it for: Minor cuts and burns, cough or sore throat
How it works: Most of us have tried honey in tea to soothe a scratchy throat, but it’s also been used to treat wounds for thousands of years. Last year, a review of research found that honey is helpful in healing minor to moderate burns, and a recent Dutch study identified a protein called defensin-1 that gives the goo its antibacterial action.
Try this: Apply warm honey to a minor cut (one without a lot of bleeding) or mild burn, then put a gauze bandage on top; change the dressing daily. However, if you have a burn or wound that’s accompanied by swelling, fever, or pain, or if the wound is deep, check with a doctor instead; it may require oral antibiotics.
Nick yourself a lot? Pick up raw manuka honey at the health-food store. Research shows this type has particularly potent antibacterial properties, says Robin Schaffran, M.D., a dermatologist in Beverly Hills, California.
Salt
Use it for: Sinus congestion, sore throat
How it works: “When you mix salt into water at a stronger concentration than the salt water in our bodies, it helps draw fluids out of tissues,” explains Hagen. You can use this “hypertonic” solution to clear up stuffy sinuses and ease a sore throat.
Try this: To make a hypertonic solution, dissolve half a teaspoon of non-iodized salt in an 8-ounce glass of water. For a sore throat, simply gargle the water. To flush out your sinuses, fill a clean, dry squeeze bottle, bulb syringe, or neti pot with the salt water, lean over a sink, and squeeze or pour it into your nostril.
Hagen cautions that you should use only sterile bottled or distilled water in your nose, or tap water that has been boiled and then cooled. (Reportedly at least two people died last year after clearing their sinuses with neti pots using unfiltered tap water that contained a dangerous microbe.)
Peppermint tea
Use it for: Indigestion, stomachache
How it works: The oil found in the peppermint leaf and its stems calms the muscles of the digestive tract, allowing gas to pass more easily and relieving indigestion, Hagen says. Steer clear of peppermint tea, though, if your pain is caused by reflux — you’ll know from the acidic, burning feeling in your chest. (It can actually aggravate this problem by relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter, which lets stomach acids flow back into the esophagus.)
Try this: Brew a cup of peppermint-leaf tea and drink up.
Meat tenderizer
Use it for: Bee stings, nonpoisonous spider bites
How it works: Meat tenderizer contains papain, an enzyme that breaks down proteins (like the ones in your T-bone steak). But papain can also break down toxins from bug bites and cut back on itching, Schaffran says.
Note: Use tenderizer only on mosquito bites, bee stings, and nonpoisonous spider bites. If you experience symptoms such as nausea, difficulty breathing, or cramping in your abs or lower back, seek medical help immediately.
Try this: Mix a small amount of meat tenderizer with water to make a paste and apply to the bite. Leave on for 10 to 15 minutes, then rinse with warm water.
Oatmeal

Use it for: Eczema, sunburn, hives
How it works: Oats pack phytochemicals with anti-inflammatory properties that soothe itchy and inflamed skin, a study in the Archives of Dermatological Research shows. Most M.D.’s recommend using the finely ground colloidal type sold in drugstores, but any unflavored oatmeal will help.

Try this: If you’re using regular oatmeal, grind it into a fine powder, Schaffran says. Put a cup of oats through a food processor until they dissolve easily into a glass of water. Pour the solution into a bathtub full of warm water and soak for 15 minutes. Using colloidal oats? Just sprinkle them into the tub and say ahhh.

 

 

Despite dubious claims, manuka honey may be antibiotic powerhouse

Manuka honey is often touted as a “superfood” that treats many ailments, including allergies, colds and flus, gingivitis, sore throats, staph infections, and numerous types of wounds.

Manuka can apparently also boost energy, “detox” your system, lower cholesterol, stave off diabetes, improve sleep, increase skin tone, reduce hair loss and even prevent frizz and split ends.
Some of these claims are nonsense, but some have good evidence behind them.
Honey has been used therapeutically throughout history, with records of its cultural, religious and medicinal importance shown in rock paintings, carvings and sacred texts from many diverse ancient cultures.
Honey was used to treat a wide range of ailments from eye and throat infections to gastroenteritis and respiratory ailments, but it was persistently popular as a treatment for numerous types of wounds and skin infections.
Medicinal honey largely fell from favour with the advent of modern antibiotics in the mid-20th century. Western medicine largely dismissed it as a “worthless but harmless substance“. But the emergence of superbugs (pathogens resistant to some, many or even all of our antibiotics) means alternative approaches to dealing with pathogens are being scientifically investigated.
We now understand the traditional popularity of honey as a wound dressing is almost certainly due to its antimicrobial properties. High sugar content and low pH mean honey inhibits microbial growth, but certain honeys still retain their antimicrobial activity when these are diluted to negligible levels.
Many different types of honey also produce microbe-killing levels of hydrogen peroxide when glucose oxidase (an enzyme incorporated into honey by bees) reacts with glucose and oxygen molecules in water. So, when honey is used as a wound dressing it draws moisture from the tissues, and this reacts to produce hydrogen peroxide, clearing the wound of infection.
The antimicrobial activity of different honeys varies greatly, depending on which flowers the bees visit to collect the nectar they turn into honey. While all honeys possess some level of antimicrobial activity, certain ones are up to 100 times more active than others.

How is manuka different to other honey?

Manuka honey is derived from the nectar of manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) trees, and it has an additional component to its potent antimicrobial activity. This unusual activity was discovered by Professor Peter Molan, in New Zealand in the 1980s, when he realised the action of manuka honey remained even after hydrogen peroxide was removed.

 

4 years, 10 months, and 12 days. A person’s past acts are the best predictor of his/her future acts. Foster good habits.

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https://i0.wp.com/farm8.staticflickr.com/7358/9097262700_4c96081bde_b.jpg

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

The above is simply a useful rule of thumb.  By no means is it infallible.  But, simply because it is not a perfect tool doesn’t render it useless.

We are creatures of habit.  You would do well to pay attention to the habits of others — as they relate to you — and how those habits guide their actions in certain circumstances.  For example, your cousin B, on your mother’s side, used to lie about his three Nintendo DS game consoles being “broken” or uncharged in order to not let you play with them, pocket your toys when you’re not watching then lie about it when caught, etc.  I suspect his lying and thieving ways haven’t changed much and have only grown in dimensions as he’s gotten older.  Be wary of him.  His older brother has a felony drug conviction because he “happened to be” hanging out with friends who were dealers.  Regardless of the veracity of his claim, the damage is done: he is a convicted felon, and that criminal record will make it hard — if not impossible — for him to get good jobs, secure loans at good rates, etc.  Watch the behaviors of those around you, and choose your company wisely.

Note: the caution about our tendency to follow our habits applies equally to you as well.  Develop good habits.  Shosh, you know what I mean about the nail biting, right?  I hope you’ve kicked that nasty habit.

Continuous incremental improvement, remember.  Don’t worry about perfection and reaching those distant goals.  Break them down into baby steps and try to achieve one of those baby step each day.  In time, you’ll look back and recognize how far you’ve gone with those baby steps.

I want you to use that same approach to get into top colleges in the U.S. as I did.  Getting into good colleges will put you on the road towards success.  Again, graduation from a top college doesn’t guarantee success, but it will significantly help.  A top college will give you good first opportunities and open doors for you.  It is then up to you to work hard and make a name for yourself.

Start now.  Create good study habits.

Learn to study more effectively. Learn to read more efficiently so that you understand more and remember more.  Don’t bother to read every single word as you were taught to do when you were 3 or 4 years old.  That’s how children read, and you are ready to leave your childish ways of reading behind.

Reading Techniques

Strategies for improving reading rate and comprehension.

SQ3R Method for Thorough Study

  • Step 1: Survey
    • Skim through the book and read topical/sub-topical headings and sentences. Read summaries at the end of chapters and books. Try to anticipate what the author is going to say. Write these notes on paper, then look it over to get an overall idea.
  • Step 2: Questions
    • Turn paragraph headings into questions (e.g. “Basic Concepts of Reading” to “What are the Basic Concepts of Reading?”). Write these questions out.
  • Step 3: Read
    • Read with alertness to answer the questions you came up with. Write notes, in your own words, under each question.
  • Step 4: Recall
    • Without looking at your books or notes, mentally visualize, in your own words, the high points of the material immediately upon completing the reading
    • ** More time should be spent on recall then reading
  • Step 5: Review
    • Look at your questions, answers, notes and book to see how well you did recall. Finish up with a mental picture of the WHOLE

Adapted from F.P. Robinson. Effective Study. New York: Harper and Bros. 1948. Chapter II

Steps to Follow in Skimming for the Main Ideas

  • Read the title of the selection carefully. Determine what clues it gives you as to what the selection is about. Watch for key words like “causes,” “results,” “effects,” etc., and do not overlook signal words such as those suggesting controversy (“versus”, “pros and cons”), which indicate that the author is planning to present both sides of an argument.
  • Look carefully at the headings and other organizational clues. These tip you off to the main points that the author wants you to learn. You may be accustomed to overlooking boldface headings and titles which are the obvious clues to the most important ideas

Vary Your Reading Rate

A few broad suggestions may help you to select your rate(s) within the particular article:

Decrease speed when you find the following:

  1. An unfamiliar word not made clear by the sentence. Try to understand it from the way it’s used; then read on and return to it later.
  2. Long and uninvolved sentence and paragraph structure. Slow down enough to enable you to untangle them and get an accurate idea of what the passage says.
  3. Unfamiliar or abstract ideas. Look for applications or examples which will give them meaning. Demand that an idea “make sense.” Never give up until you understand, because it will be that much easier the next time. Find someone to help you if necessary.
  4. Detailed, technical material. This includes complicated directions, abstract principles, materials on which you have scant background.
  5. Material on which you want detailed retention. The key to memory is organization and recitation. Speed should not be a consideration here.

Increase speed when you find the following:

  1. Simple material with few ideas new to you. Move rapidly over the familiar.
  2. Unnecessary examples and illustrations. These are included to clarify ideas. If not needed, move over them rapidly.
  3. Detailed explanation and elaboration which you do not need.
  4. Broad, generalized ideas. These can be rapidly grasped, even with scan techniques

Skip that material which is not suitable for your purpose. While the author may have thought particular information was relevant, his/her reason for writing was not necessarily the same as your reason for reading. Remember to keep your reading attack flexible.

Shift gears from selection to selection. Use low gear when the going is steep; shift into high when you get to the smooth parts. Remember to adjust your rate within a given article according to the type of road you are traveling and to your purposes in traveling it. Most important, remember: You must practice these techniques until a flexible reading rate becomes second nature to you

The Pivotal Words

No words are as helpful while reading as the prepositions and conjunctions that guide your mind along the pathways of the author’s ideas. Master these words and phrases and you will almost immediately become a better reader. Here’s what they are and what they say:

  • Additive words: “Here’s more of the same coming up. It’s just as important as what we have already said.”
    • Also, further, moreover, and, furthermore, too, besides, in addition
  • Equivalent words: “It does what I have just said, but it does this too.”
    • As well as, at the same time, similarly, equally important, likewise
  • Amplification words: “I want to be sure that you understand my idea; so here’s a specific instance.”
    • For example (e.g.), specifically, as ,for instance, such as, like
  • Alternative words: “Sometimes there is a choice; other times there isn’t.”
    • Either/or, other than, neither/nor, otherwise
  • Repetitive words: “I said it once, but I’m going to say it again in case you missed it the first time.”
    • Again, in other words, to repeat, that is (i.e.)
  • Contrast and Change words: “So far I’ve given you only one side of the story; now let’s take a look at the other side.”
    • But, on the contrary, still, conversely, on the other hand, though, despite, instead of, yet, however, rather than, regardless, nevertheless, even though, whereas, in spite of, notwithstanding
  • Cause and effect words: “All this has happened; now I’ll tell you why.”
    • Accordingly, since, then, because, so, thus, consequently, hence, therefore, for this reason
  • Qualifying words: “Here is what we can expect. These are the conditions we are working under.”
    • If, although, unless, providing, whenever
  • Concession words: “Okay! We agree on this much.”
    • accepting the data, granted that, of course
  • Emphasizing words: “Wake up and take notice!”
    • above all, more important, indeed
  • Order words: “You keep your mind on reading: I’ll keep the numbers straight.”
    • Finally, second, then, first, next, last
  • Time words: “Let’s keep the record straight on who said what and especially when.”
    • Afterwards, meanwhile, now, before, subsequently, presently, formerly, ultimately, previously, later
  • Summarizing words: “We’ve said many things so far. Let’s stop here and pull them together.”
    • for these reasons, in brief, in conclusion, to sum up

https://students.dartmouth.edu/academic-skills/learning-resources/learning-strategies/reading-techniques

 

Likewise, learn to take good notes.  Use the Cornell notes method and study system.  There are many different note-taking systems out there; find one that works best for you.  See, e.g.,

The underlying theme of both the reading lesson and note-taking lesson is active engagement.  Actively participate in the learning process.  Don’t simply read mindlessly or write down words mindlessly.  Think!  You should spend half your time thinking about what you’re reading or writing.  Your recall and grades will improve as you actively engage more in your studies.

Spend an extra few minutes each night reviewing your notes.  This keeps those memories and synaptic connections fresh.  If you don’t, you’ll end up having to spend more time later relearning the material.  You’ve already made the huge investment of time and energy to learn it the first time: spend the little energy necessary for upkeep.

Last, but not least, don’t fear failure.  Those are learning opportunities.  The man who has never failed has never tried his hands at anything worthwhile.  All worthwhile things are difficult.  Aim high, then try and try again until you succeed.

https://socialstrategizer.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Stand-Up-Eight.jpg

Be well, my sons.  Be happy.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

 

 

 

4 years, 10 months, and 6 days. The Internet is but a tool. Use it! Don’t let it use you!

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https://i1.wp.com/yfa.awid.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/internet-troll-1.jpg

https://shoshandjaialai.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/b3a2c-funnycomputerinterneteffectonlife.png?w=548&h=473

The Movement of #MeToo

How a hashtag got its power

About 10 years ago, after I’d graduated college but when I was still waitressing full-time, I attended an empowerment seminar. It was the kind of nebulous weekend-long event sold as helping people discover their dreams and unburden themselves from past trauma through honesty exercises and the encouragement to “be present.” But there was one moment I’ve never forgotten. The group leader, a man in his 40s, asked anyone in the room of 200 or so people who’d been sexually or physically abused to raise their hands. Six or seven hands tentatively went up. The leader instructed us to close our eyes, and asked the question again. Then he told us to open our eyes. Almost every hand in the room was raised.

For a long time, most women defined their own sexual harassment and assault in this way: as something unspoken, something private, something to be ashamed of acknowledging. Silence, although understandable, has its cost. A decade ago, I couldn’t have conceived of the fact that so many women had experienced sexual coercion or intimidation; now, I’d be surprised if I could find a single one who hadn’t. On Sunday afternoon, the actress Alyssa Milano used her Twitter account to encourage women who’d been sexually harassed or assaulted to tweet the words #MeToo. In the last 24 hours, a spokesperson from Twitter confirmed, the hashtag had been tweeted nearly half a million times.

#MeToo wasn’t just mushrooming on Twitter—when I checked Facebook Monday morning, my feed was filled with friends and acquaintances acknowledging publicly that they, too, had experienced harassment or assault. Some shared their stories, some simply posted the hashtag to add their voices to the fray. And it wasn’t just women: Men also spoke up about their experiences with assault. Actors including Anna Paquin, Debra Messing, Rosario Dawson, Gabrielle Union, and Evan Rachel Wood joined in. The writer Alexis Benveniste used it to remind people that the messages they were seeing were only the tip of the iceberg. For every woman stating her own experiences out loud, there were likely just as many choosing not to do so.

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/10/the-movement-of-metoo/542979/ (emphasis added)

 

 

The Most Downvoted Comment in Reddit History Is the Perfect Example of How Not to Respond to Customer Complaints

Video game company EA Sports responds to gamer complaints in an overly-corporate and disingenuous way…and its new game, Star Wars Battlefront II, pays the price.

One of the features of the soon to be released Star Wars-based video game Battlefront II is an in-game economy that allows players to earn credits to unlock items within the game.

The game is a single-person campaign that takes place after the Return of the Jedi film. The online multiplayer mode lets you battle as a soldier for either the Empire or the rebels, earning perks like better weapons or boosts along the way…

…Plus, playable characters like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker.

And therein lies the problem. Imagine you just spent $60 to buy the game–and then you find out that you have to spend tens of hours actually playing the game in order to earn the right to use the most popular characters.

Or if you don’t want to put in that kind of time, you have to spend even more money to unlock them.

To many gamers, that’s like buying a car and then finding out you need to pay extra to get a steering wheel. And since many will play the online version, that economy creates a pay-to-play dynamic where players who spend money can gain a greater advantage by gaining access to better weapons and perks more quickly.

According to estimates made by early users, players who aren’t willing to spend more money on a $60 game would need to spend 40 hours of grinding to unlock playable characters like Chewbacca and Palpatine, and 60 hours–each–to unlock Luke or Darth Vader.

But what if you’re a highly skilled player? Doesn’t matter: One person determined that in its current state, Battlefront II gives out credits based on time spent playing and not on skill. That means no matter how good you are…you would still have to grind. A lot.

So naturally gamers complained.

And here’s how EA responded on the gaming r/subreddit, the ninth most popular subreddit with over 17 million subscribers:

With well over 600,000 downvotes, that comment is now the most downvoted comment in Reddit history by a substantial margin….

Following the backlash, EA announced changes to how it incentivizes players to unlock key content within the game. In a statement posted on EA’s website, John Wasilczyk said the company will reduce the number of credits required to unlock classic saga heroes by 75 percent.

https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/the-most-downvoted-comment-in-reddit-history-is-perfect-example-of-how-not-to-respond-to-customer-complaints.html (emphasis added)

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

The internet is a powerful tool.  Use it wisely, and it can change the world.  For example, it is giving a voice to women who have long been preyed upon by the powerful and ugly (inside and/or out).

But, remember that it is also a tool for those with bad intentions.  These include people, on one end of the spectrum, who want you to waste time and money on whatever they are selling — this includes “free” sites and games where the site gets money from advertisers as you while away precious moments of your lives and lose your health to the sedentary lifestyle they inspire.  On the other end of the spectrum lies the nastier netizens who hack laptop cameras and microphones to get nude photos or compromising information to blackmail users, who download viruses onto laptops to steal users’ bank and credit card account information, who hack power stations and damns to endanger the lives of people, etc.

How hackers can switch on your webcam and control your computer

A malicious virus known as Remote Administration Tools (RATs) can be used by hackers to switch on your webcam and control the machine without your knowledge. Andrew McMillen reports.

http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/consumer-security/how-hackers-can-switch-on-your-webcam-and-control-your-computer-20130328-2gvwv.html

Bank Hackers Steal Millions via Malware

Russian Hackers Shut Down Ukraine’s Power Grid

http://www.newsweek.com/russian-hackers-shut-ukraine-power-grid-415751

As with all things in life, it is your responsibility to use the item wisely, and to take control of it and not let it take control of you.  Think.  Be purposeful in your actions.  If you need to unwind for a bit and watching YouTube or playing video games helps you unwind, then, by all means, do that.  But, control yourself and the tool.  Limit your use of it.

Don’t let it take over your lives.  Video game addiction is a problem.  In addition to all the bad physical things that results from you spending hours in front of a TV (muscle weakness, poor eyesight, poor cardio-vascular health, etc.), your social skills and life would also suffer.

Gaming ‘addict’ who played Xbox 16 hours a day sought counselling after struggling to talk to real people

James Callis sought help when he struggled to connect with real people and missed out on university

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/gaming-addict-who-played-xbox-11470536

 

Man Dies From Blood Clot After Marathon Gaming

The family of a 20-year-old British man who died as a result of a blood clot that formed after playing video games for up to 12 hours a day is speaking out about the health risks obsessive gaming can pose.

David Staniforth told The Sun that his son, Chris, spent most of his days playing the online game Halo and was accepted into a game design program at Leicester University.

“He lived for his Xbox. I never dreamed he was in any danger,” Staniforth said.

The young man died in May from a deep vein thrombosis, the coroner told The Sun. The night before he died, his father told the BBC he was probably up all night on his computer.

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/extreme-gamer-dies-pulmonary-embolism/story?id=14212015

 

computer.jpg

Those that spend more than four hours a day looking at a screen are particularly vulnerable to mental illnesses, according to the study

Children who spend large amounts of time glued to a computer risk developing mental health problems such as loneliness, depression and anxiety, government health advisers have warned.

In a hard-hitting paper, Public Health England, which advises the NHS and government, makes a clear link between the overuse of the internet and social networking sites and lower self-esteem.

Those that spend more than four hours a day looking at a screen are particularly vulnerable to mental illnesses, the report says.

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/the-internet-can-be-bad-for-children-s-mental-health-9381551.html

Learn to use technology for good, my sons.  Don’t let it use you and lead you down dark paths that don’t serve you.

As always, put away electronic devices.  Limit them to no more than two hours.  Go outside. Take a walk.  Play in the park.  Enjoy nature.  Hang out with your neighbors and friends.  Be real.

All my love, always,

Dad