Welcome to my Keeping Each Other Well Blog!

January 10, 2012

Vaccine Questions

May 16, 2018

I recently learned that since over 10 years had elapsed, I was due for a Tetanus shot. Initially, I did not plan to update the Tetanus, but in an Oh Well Moment, I made the appointment to have a “Tetanus toxoid vaccine” booster.

At the appointment, I learned that Tetanus toxoid vaccine is no longer given as a stand-alone vaccine for adults. It is paired with either Diphtheria (Td) or Diphtheria and Pertussis (Tdap). This seemed odd but I was advised that diphtheria was on the rise among older people in developing countries, and was given the Td shot.

Early morning the day after the Td vaccine was given, my throat signaled it was dealing with an intruder. A few days later, despite regular hot salt water gargles, I was clearly dealing with an upper respiratory infection. This one clearly meant business as it coated my bronchial tree with a thick yellowish coat that my body used a persistent hacking cough to rip off in painful chunks for the next week and a half, along with copious sinus drainage. Because I exercise regularly and include minimal refined sugar in my diet, I was able to fight off this infection. Otherwise, I would probably have ended up in the hospital.

Curious, I checked the incidence of Tetanus and Diphtheria in the US. I learned that five people died of Diphtheria in the US in the last 10 years.  And since 1947, the incidence of Tetanus has decreased 99%.  Why is the CDC messing with the adult Tetanus vaccine, throwing more so-called immunizations at us for non-existent problems?

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) website says we have all the vaccines to thank for the decreased incidence of Diptheria and Tetanus. Other research claims that increased sanitation and wound care improvements during the same timeframe gave us the respite. Susanne Humphries, MD, a nephrologist, sums up the findings of researchers who question the widespread use of vaccines in her Youtube Lecture on Vaccines and Health.

We each have to decide where our confidence lies. I simply urge you to review both websites for yourselves to make an informed decision.

Whatever we choose, when respiratory illness strikes, fresh fruits (especially melons and citrus) and vegetables (especially greens) are easiest for our bodies to digest, along with plenty of water to keep everything moving OUT while we regain our health and strength, and gear up for a great summer. Now is a great time to get out and exercise, gardening, walking, hiking, biking, kayaking, swimming, playing tennis, badminton and anything else that keeps everything moveable moving!

Welcome Spring!

May 16, 2018


The ice is gone and even some of the high peaks are doable with microspikes. Spring is a time of lightening up, getting out, touching the Earth, scratching Earth’s back so garden beds and lawns will flourish. All Earth people are called to get moving, stretch out, reach up, inhale deeply, and refresh ourselves. Even road walks bring in spectacular moments.

The trees wait in stillness to greet the day and whatever elements choose to visit. They accept birds, rain, snow, squirrels. Are trees sad when branches are laden with snow and ice or do they welcome an extra stretch, a winter wrap? Does wind move them more deeply into yogic stretches that leave them feeling vibrant? Do nesting birds fill their tree life with song and pockets of warmth?

My neighbors and I do not put out bird seed in hopes that flying squirrels will winter in the woods and not in our attics. There are plentiful worms and seeds now available as snow melts. The juncos have been here all winter, along with a few jays, but dawn now warms up with boisterous flocks of robins, jays, chickadees and nuthatches singing their frenzied oratorio of mating calls.

Do trees look forward to all the critter gatherings at their meeting place? Are trees like a pub, a place where critters share stories and worries? Is each leaf a little bellows or fan depending on what’s needed? Are trees lining streets encouraging us to walk there and breathe deeply?

Pheromones are chemical signals trees and plants give off that influence the behavior of kindred souls of their species. In their pheromone language, trees seem to express joy, sorrow, hope success, caution, love. They gather in family groups. Old folks form small gatherings; youngest bunch together in gaggles. What empowers them to make that choice? Hmm, spring is a time to wonder about all of nature’s connections.

For me, spring is a time when nature pulsates with song. Peepers, birds, chipmunks, running brooks and waterfalls, pelting rain, children’s voices excited over new life they are discovering everywhere, old voices happy to be able to walk about with no ice worries, bike wheels humming ……

Ah, yes! Time to tune up and sing with spring!

Practice Civility for Health

February 26, 2018

Many of us are on edge, knowing that our actions today will determine how viable Earth will be for generations to come.

Horrific events joggle us awake as we try to make sense of how they could possibly happen. Initially the finger of blame points to one possible cause: an inanimate gun. Yet a closer look finds many causes leading up to the choice to retaliate with guns. We learn that it is not just lax gun laws but perhaps lack of follow up for child abuse or domestic violence problems, school bullying, mental health problems, and general lack of good will that will not be resolved even when safer gun laws are put in place. Gun laws are just step one.

We are horrified when 17 lives are snuffed out at random, yet when children are singly mistreated, neglected, or ignored one at a time for years, where is our concern? Nikolas Cruz gave out plentiful danger signals that appear to have been largely ignored.

We do have a big job to do. Our country was founded on the genocide of one people and the enslavement of another. We still have to figure out what it means to be civil people, and commit ourselves to making civility happen.

Civility means respecting people who are different than you or I. Evidence of civility includes attributes of cooperation, tolerance, acceptance, inclusiveness, kindness, inviting and sharing different opinions, courtesy, patience, and ….  We do know what makes us feel good and connected.

George Washington had 110 Rules for Civil Behavior. Henry James shortened his list to the three things in human life that are important: 1. Be kind. 2 Be kind and 3 Be kind. PM Forni has 25 rules in his book, The Civility Solution: What to do when people are rude. The lists are all on the internet if you like lists. Kurt Vonnegut, who survived the WWII US bombing of Dresden as a POW, spent the rest of his life working the James’ plea, “You’ve Got to be Kind!” into his writing.

Inclusivity is one of our greatest challenges: to find ways to help others to fit in, to belong. Most of us have felt left out at some point in life and we know what kind of resentment and insecure feelings come  with feeling left out. Most of us have also left people out at other times, unaware of our need to retaliate.

As our world becomes one community, tightly connected by transport and communication, we each need to take a sober look at how we give respect to others who are different than we are and be open to changing our own behavior as participants in the global community.

Let’s Put an End to the Flu!

February 13, 2018

Flu infections continue to plague NH folks. We know that new viruses will continue to be passed around as world travel increases. Our best defense is a strong immune system. Vitamin C has long been credited as an important defense against viruses. The best way to build up Vitamin C in our cells is not to run out and buy megadoses of Vitamin C at the health counter. Our best protection is to limit our sugar consumption. Here’s why.

In the 1970’s, John T. A. Ely, a professor of orthomolecular medicine, UW, discovered the ‘Glucose Ascorbate Antagonism Theory’ (Googlable). He found that elevated glucose levels restrict Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) from entering cells. Yet, white blood cells need Vitamin C to oxidize and destroy pathogens. This is the prime reason we need to limit consumption of sugar when we have colds or flu, or if we have any hope of strengthening our immune systems.

It makes no sense to simply eat lots of leafy greens, bright vegetables and fruits or Vitamin pills if the Vitamin C they carry can’t make it into our cells because we are taking in so much added sugar.

Sodas, ice cream, juices with sugar added will simply open the highway for flu to proliferate. It is annoying to have to constantly read labels, especially when sugar has so many names. If you google, ‘other names for sugar’, you’ll bring up 56 other names. Water is our best drink.

Another problem with added sugar is that it lacks the other vitamins and minerals that whole foods contain. You do not have to be a gourmet cook to put together delicious and nourishing meals. A meal can be as simple as slicing up a variety of vegetables according to density: carrots, potato, onion, broccoli, cauliflower, red pepper, squash, garlic, (and any bright vegetables you have on hand), sprinkle them with a little olive oil, rosemary or other herbs, salt and pepper, and bake it at 375 for 40 minutes.

You may want to adjust cooking time or size of cut-up vegetables. The internet has plenty of ideas and your household will have preferences. Healthy eating does not need to be complicated. The simpler, the better. Soups, when dealing with flu, can be as simple as lightly cooked zucchini and string beans put through the blender with a little nutmeg, salt and pepper.

The idea is for us to add something new that is rich in Vitamin C without added sugar, so that our bodies can absorb it and build up our immune system defenses.

As we are exposed or predisposed to the variety of illnesses around, those illnesses can provide us with momentum to clean up our sugar act, protect our water supply, and discover delicious whole healing foods, and put an end to the flu.

Funding Effects of Sugar Research

February 10, 2018

A reader, who states he is a professional in the food industry, questioned my competence to speak forthrightly about sugar in my most recent column, ‘Shape Up and Beat the Flu!’

My credentials began to accrue as a child when my farm-raised mother announced, “Our family cannot afford to be sick!” Therefore, we had to eat what was put in front of us and clean our plates. At the first sign of a sore throat we were to up our consumption of water and gargle with warm salt water. If we needed a day or two in bed, we were plied with plenty of vegetable soup. I raise my 3 children with the same philosophy. Soda was something we had on picnics.

I am a retired psychiatric nurse practitioner with additional graduate studies in Eastern Philosophy which included the Ayurvedic Medical System. Ayurveda considers the digestive tract the root of health or illness, depending on what we eat.

There have been studies on the effect of sugar consumption on our health. The earliest one I read was John Rudkins 1972 book, Pure, White, and Deadly. Rudkins was a British Medical Doctor and Nutritional Scientist. The food industry trashed his book, but the book has survived. A 1973 study at Loma Linda University looked at why simple sugars but not complex carbohydrates (found in fruits and vegetables) adversely affected the immune system.

Marion Nestle, NYU professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, and Cristin Kearns, assistant professor UCSF School of Dentistry both have documented research on the subject.

Anyone can Google, ‘Funding Effects of Sugar Research’ and read the sad history of researchers paid by the sugar industry to suppress bona fide research and blame fats for the rise in cardiac disease and to promote sugar consumption.

The reason more research has not been published to warn the general public is that traditionally, Land Grant universities funded such research. Currently, food and chemical companies fund university research with the stipulation that they review and reject studies adverse to their industry. Only recently have other sources stepped forward to fund needed research, with no strings attached to the outcomes.

There is something to that farm-raised fresh food that we yearn for today as we look for farm stands to reopen this year.

Shape Up and Beat the Flu

January 30, 2018

Flu vaccine is not the #1 prevention, despite media claims. At best, it may offer protection from the three most prevalent strains of flu. However, with the tremendous influx of world travelers, new strains of flu are presented to us daily.

Flu doesn’t mess around. Flu virus has a strong addiction to sugar. It absolutely thrives on ice cream, sodas, sweetened juices, candy, fries, and processed foods. Flu virus just can’t survive when people drink plenty of tap water or lemon water, eat plenty of whole foods, intact as nature made them, and log in eight hours of sleep each night. This routine is the #1 prevention.

It’s that simple. We do not have to have a nasty bout with the flu. It’s up to us.

 Flu vaccine may be 60 percent effective. Flu vaccine may tend to make people feel protected and therefore impervious to the three strains of flu included in the vaccine. People may ignore early signals of sore throat and the general feeling of “I’m coming down with something.”

Each of us must take responsibility not to pass the flu around. Flu virus thrives on sugar. The reason flu gets a stronghold is because as a civilization, we have increased our sugar consumption to outrageous amounts in the last 70 years alone. Sugar has gradually, stealthily, been added to just about everything we put in our mouths. Even when there was a sugar bowl on every kitchen table, we did not consume the huge quantity of sugar that has spawned so many conditions, in addition to leaving us in a weakened state to fight flu viruses.

Pharmacies have become the new sub-clinics. As a nation, we seem to be accepting chronic illness as a way of life instead of as a wake-up call to shape up and deal with our addiction to sugar. We lead the world with poor health as a result of our addiction. Over 1600 years ago, Hippocrates advised people to “Let your food be your medicine.” Imagine how different our lives could be if we followed that sage advice.

Massive changes begin with small steps; sugar was added in small steps; pharmacies expanded in small steps. Our bodies do need natural forms of glucose for energy. Small steps toward healthier forms of glucose might begin with including one piece of fresh fruit each day and one fresh vegetable eaten raw or cooked. Habits change by adding something new, not by taking away the old. The new makes change possible, is more inviting. With every small new step, a bit of the old sloughs off and change happens.

Here’s to shaping up with lots of small steps!

Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of AI

January 30, 2018

Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, is the most hopeful book I have read for our times. Author, Mark Tegmark, an MIT physicist, is an engaging writer. I say this, despite being a tech challenged reader, unable to conceptualize bits and bytes. I am optimistic about the possibility that robots could be designed to help us design and experience a healthy, safe, and harmonious world with all life forms.

For the last 50 years, we have been working on raising our consciousness about the rights of all humans and societies, wildlife, environment, and planetary needs. In order to design and build AI robots, we need to program them to do no harm, and to respect the rights of all living beings, including the Earth. But to program robots, we need to first clean up our own act.

In 1988, Isaac Asimov noted that “the saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” Life 3.0 is about necessary research and steps we humans must take with robot development to ensure a bright, healthy future.  Tegmark takes us through research to date on the precautions necessary for safe passage into a bright future with robot support.

To improve prospects of the AI Revolution ending well, Tegmark recommends:that we each become mindful optimists and develop positive visions for the future, for ourselves and for humanity.

  • that we educate our young to make technology robust and beneficial and improve human society before AI takes off.
  • that we modernize our laws before technology makes them obsolete.
  • that we resolve international conflicts before they escalate an arms race in autonomous weapons.
  • that we create an economy that ensures prosperity for all before AI potentially amplifies inequalities.
  • that we agree on some basic ethical standards before we start teaching these standards to powerful machines.
  • that we create a more harmonious human society characterized by cooperation toward shared goals.

In sum, the list gives us direction, the book explores the how, and continues to be a work in progress. Tegmark has helped mainstream research on how to keep AI beneficial and invites us to join in the conversation.

The future could indeed be bright and it is up to each of us to join together and make that bright future happen.

The Sentinel Pine’s Gift

November 24, 2017

After “the storm”, a sentinel pine stretched itself across the Tri-Town trail at Smart’s Brook. The pine died many years ago but remained standing long after its heartwood had disintegrated, opening up homes for many forest beings in the nooks and crannies of its huge interior space.

Peering inside, I was drawn to what looked like a classic shoulder muscle, the deltoid, beautifully sculpted. Branches were missing but a tennis ball sized opening adjacent to it in the trunk framed small ferns below and I was blown away by the thought that tree branches also have shoulders.

Shoulders help us to swing our arms for balance, to raise a hand in greeting, to hug loved ones,  to carry our grocery bags, push and lift snow shovels, reach down to secure shoes, boots, that keep us grounded.

I admit to not having considered that trees have similar needs for branches that help them stand upright, balancing snow, ice, wind and leaves. Branches resilient enough to accommodate squirrel, possum, bear, bobcats and the whole woodland community.

I wondered how many birds had flown in through the hole left by the branch, nested there to hatch their young, found bugs to tide them over, prelude to a successful fledge.

Lying across the trail, the tree invites exploration, a generous offering even in death, separated from its roots which lie in wait for a new seedling to support.

Tree seems to leave a message that life goes on; life is tenuous but sustainable. To be healthy, our task is to be present, enjoy all beings on the planet (plant, animal or otherwise). In this extraordinary world that seems on the brink of becoming a caring world, people the world over are called to share with others, help with survival, keep each other well and give thanks.


Yes Time!

October 25, 2017

We’ve had a spectacular fall despite worrying over whether September’s draught would drop the leaves before they put out their brilliant display. Thousands have flocked to New Hampshire from New England and the rest of the world for this breathtaking experience.

Time to not only savor but protect our forest.

Yes, we can choose to save the forest. Thanks to John Weeks and the Weeks Act, the 100,000 acres that lumber baron, James E. Henry began to clear cut in 1892 are now part of the White Mountain National Forest. It has taken 125 years for the forest to reclaim itself after the WMNF gradually bought up and secured the land.

NH is a place that draws tree huggers, hikers, bikers, fishers, canoeists, kayakers, artists, writers, botanists, geologists, philosophers, educators and others in need of rest and renewal.

Our attractions are staffed by people from all walks of life who love the land and want to raise their families amidst all this beauty, people who want their families and those who follow to be able to enjoy the White Mountains forever.

James Henry’s destruction of the forest is credited with waking people up to the need to protect the forest by passing the Weeks Act so that such destruction never happens again.

Henry’s counterpart is today’s Northern Pass Project, which again threatens our forest. The initial plan is to put in a line that cuts a wide slash not only through the White Mountain National forest but right down the roads tourists enjoy, destroying vegetation and replacing it with towers or gutting neighborhood trees and landscaping to underground wires.

The Northern Pass is simply the first of the “many projects” Eversource-Hydro Quebec plans to gradually crisscross the state, gutting New Hampshire’s natural beauty.

It only took Henry about 25 years to make his millions. We are now eight years into the NP attempt at a project so devastating, they are have already spent millions to secure their long range plan to destroy NH as ruthlessly as they have destroyed Quebec.

Let us not wait until New Hampshire’s beauty is replaced by huge dams and towers. It won’t be a matter of waiting 125 years to reforest. Trees won’t be growing amidst all those towers, concrete, and power stations. Time to say YES! To saving our precious trees, streams, lakes, and wildlife NOW!

Each Other Includes All Colors

September 27, 2017

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said “the opposite of good is not evil; it is indifference. Some of us were horrified at the Claremont white teenage boys’ attempted hanging of an 8 year old biracial boy. Others took it in stride as, “boys will be boys”.  Significantly, the boys’ parents attempted to minimize the assault, key to understanding that those boys, in fact, needed a village to raise them; they weren’t going to learn to respect all colors at home. A small crowd of concerned citizens in Claremont did respond, and stood up to the plate to support 8 year old Quincy.

Given any issue, there will always be those who see no problem and others who are aware. Part of membership in a village includes educating ourselves to the behaviors we don’t even notice in ourselves that contribute to injustices in the village.

Heschel noted that “words create worlds. The Holocaust didn’t begin with tanks and guns; it began with words. Live life as if it is a work of art, ‘Your own existence’.”

Hopefully, the courts will include both the teenage boys and their parents in whatever consequences are meted out to teach them what they need to know in order to contribute to community safety and respect for their neighbors.

John Howard Griffin’s book, Black Like Me (1961), a classic available in local libraries is one book that helps whites take a closer look at our own behavior. Griffin wrote about racial inequality. He was a white Texan who had his skin darkened and shaved his head so that he could travel in the south, experience what it was like to be black, and write a book documenting his experiences. Fifty-eight years later, we still have a long way to go to clean up our behavior as a village.

Racism is clearly not just a southern problem. Here is a frightening example of how it erupts in the north in a quiet New England town. And it starts with nonsense words. And they are not  just “boys will be boys” words that exist only in Claremont, NH.

If we want to keep each other well, we need to continually monitor ourselves and each other, and live as though our lives are works of art to be treasured by all viewers.