To add emphasis on importance and reduce distraction, I have chosen to post just two topics this week (but there’s still a Brain Game and some Funny Stuff!).
By necessity, both of them are longer than those usually found here. I hope you thave the time to read them both …. I feel they each have some theoretical value as well as practical application.
Grab Bag Renaissance Rule:
For those who haven’t noticed a single thread of consistency in this “Grab Bag” of stuff I throw out each week, I say, “Ya…. and your point?“. But… if you pull back and squint your eyes and look at it JUUUUSSST right… you can see that there truly IS a theme lurking here:
Do It Yourself
And by that, I mean I hope to find the best information, the best resources to assist in fixing, changing and improving things in life that need attention.
It’s about taking charge, mastering destiny and assuming responsibility…. and that sounds very grandiose, doesn’t it?
• But it starts in making daily health choices. (Do I exercise or don’t I? Do I eat this or eat that?)
• It starts in an organized closet. (Do I need this or not? Where should it go?)
• It starts in trying to make/bake something instead of buying it. (Can I make this?)
• It starts in fixing something you would normally call somebody else to fix. (What’s there to lose? It’s already broken.)
It’s about the living the fundamentals of Renaissance humanism, which:
considers humans empowered, limitless in their capacities for development, and leads to the notion that people should embrace all knowledge and develop their capacities as fully as possible.
Our developing cultural has spun us into a socio-economic existence that fairly demands we specialize in order to have a contribution of value. But there is an undesirable side-affect – we have convinced ourselves that, without expertise, we have no worthy input. We have become complacent with handing over responsibility to others, and in doing so we suffer a disconnect of our own potential to support and improve our daily lives.
I say humbug (an 18th century term for “bullshit”). There isn’t a whole lot in our daily lives that approaches brain surgery or rocket science or even major auto repair. For those, I’d call an expert. But even then, I would hope I could be an educated member of a team that together makes decisions on my issue.
We need to be “polymaths“… those who possess multiple talents. When we can gain understanding about our environment, we feel capable and secure. It’s good for us!
We are all capable of gaining knowledge, and that is truly the first step in mastering everything from changing windshield wipers to building a house to guiding our healthcare choices.
Good rule to consider: If failure will be catastrophic, consult a pro🙂 If failure can be tolerated, go for it!
To that end, my Renaissance friends, here is a list of links filled with resourcefulness and empowerment for your daily existence:
• HowStuffWorks.com – Answering useful as well as totally-superfluous-but-fun-to-know queries
• iFixit.com – Free tutorials and do-it-yourself repair guides for personal electronics, vehicles, appliances, cameras and computers.
• Homerepair.about.com – Great resource for home maintenance and repair. Knowledge is power… so even if you don’t attempt it yourself (which I know you COULD), read up before the plumber/electrician/carpenter shows up.
• Manualsonline.com – Everybody misplaces their manuals now and then (Tip: dedicate a box, file, drawer or binder to ALL manuals, and PUT THEM THERE!)… find over 300,000 from 5,000 brands here online, for laptops, power tools, cameras, refrigerators, lawn mowers, TVs, cell phones, sewing machines, scanners, thermostats, clock radios, ovens, printers and washing machines.
• Repairclinic.com – Free clinics and advice and a huge replacement parts inventory for household appliances and outdoor power equipment.
• SearsPartsDirect.com – SEARiously big database for over 7 million parts that you might need for any brand Sears carries.
• GoVacuum.com – Parts and accessories for that one appliance that seems to be the needy child of the bunch.
Grab Bag Medical Helper or Manipulator?:
I HAD been preparing this post to offer of The Cochrane Reviews as a resource in matters of health choices both minor and major. In sharing my discovery of this entity, an M.D. friend of mine expressed dismay at the methods of review, and conclusions offered, by this organization.
The criticism was directed at the reviews of the studies on mammography, the limited and selective results the Cochrane Reviews chose to consider, and the conclusions they offered based on those parameters.
So this post is first a reminder that the nuggets of “results” and “statistics” we get handed each evening on the nightly news – those that engender our fears or buoy our confidence – can be and often are skewed to represent the opinions or interests of those who coalesce such information. It is a reminder to all that one resource alone is a dangerous concept on which to rely.
We must remember that ANY source of information may have motivating factors behind it that skew the findings. Data can be pre-selected to show a result in line with the opinion of the controller. In addition, varying statistics and conclusions can be drawn even within the same data. So we need to take all conclusions and consider the context and source. My friend is an outstanding MD, with years of hard work and leadership in cutting edge medical technology to show for it, so I defer to that perspective and opinion over this website. It’s all about weighing the evidence.
But I’m not one to throw out the baby with the bath water. While their conclusions may be suspect in mammography, they may have value on other areas, if they are one of numerous sources considered on any topic. I think there is still a place for their input, if carefully weighed in perspective.
To illustrate that point, here is a quote about a Cochrane Review on statin drugs from Dr. Steven Novella, a Yale-trained MD who himself is the founder of a site (which is a good one I will cover next week) which profiles controversy in science and medecine:
This does make for an interesting science-based medicine conversation. In this case the two sides largely agree on the data, but differ in terms of how to apply that data to the practice of medicine. This, I feel, can be a very constructive controversy. This is exactly the kind of question that should be agonized over by experts. While I think the Cochrane reviewers are displaying a negative bias against statins, they do provide balance to the pro-statin bias of pharmaceutical companies who sell statins. In the end, the data is out there and practitioners and patients will be better informed in making decisions about statin use. I am concerned about media reporting of this issue. It is easy to oversimplify the take-home message as “statins do not work” and I have already read commentaries quoting this study to support that position.
So… now that we comfortably sit with the discomforting realization that data is often manipulated, let’s move on to our personal needs…
Ever wonder if that glucosamine you’re taking is REALLY helping your joints? Where can you find a straight answer? Tough to know. Or… if the day should arrive when a concerning health diagnosis is delivered to you or a loved one, be prepared to wade into a deep pool of treatment options and protocols. There are so many new developments every year for so many diseases that the options become overwhelming. If you seek second and third opinions (which I feel one should), the clouds may get thicker as the opinions on treatment can be diverse.
Even treatments for things like colds and flu can be controversial. What’s a patient to believe? How does one weigh the touted benefits of one treatment over another?
The Cochrane Reviews coalesce and review the quality of medical studies and deliver a conclusion (or, perhaps, an “opinion”), when possible, based on their findings.
Here are just a few of the recent interesting Cochrane reviews on research: Use of antibiotics for sinus infections, Epidurals for pain relief in labor, Glucosamine for osteoarthritis, and Cognitive stimulation for people with dementia.
This site, among others, may be just one resource you consider when weighing treatments for whatever ails you.
More analysis on medical reviews and information to come next week.
Grab Bag Brain Game:
Grab Bag Funny Stuff: