We ❤️ #givingtuesday #quote #inspiration http://ift.tt/1vbBurz

The theatrics of election campaigning, the political polarization, the apprehension of election results, the discussion of politics at family Thanksgiving dinner, the frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deal scrabbling for gift ideas has come and gone-sigh!

But let’s not forget in our to-do list for the week on the heels of our shopping sprees a day with an altruistic twist -#GivingTuesday. Giving Tuesday is celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving and kicks off the season of charitable giving. This year November 29, 2016, is a global day of charitable giving. Since its inaugural year in 2012, Giving Tuesday marks an awareness drive and aspires people to support charitable giving and philanthropy using the social media platform. Many charities, nonprofit organizations, business, communities make a comprehensive, global effort to promote altruistic giving and encourage donors to donate on this day and through the holiday season. Giving Tuesday is beyond a day and has become a social movement/campaign for social causes and this year a catchy trend is to shoot an “#Unselfie” picture profile to share via social media that shows why you give to charitable organizations. So what is its impact and how much do we give?

In 2014, American donors gave $258.51 billion to charitable organizations, accounting for more than 70% of all philanthropic dollars in the U.S. (Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy 2015).The USA ranks second in the most 2016 CAF World Giving Index which ranks countries in the world according to how charitable they are. The report also shares that “around three quarters (73%) of Americans helped a stranger in this year’s Index” and “the proportion of Americans volunteering their time has increased slightly from 44% last year to 46% this year”. This reinforces that we are a country of givers. What makes us so?

An excellent resource complies the science of Behavior And Charitable Giving by @Ideas42. It sheds light on what drives us to give, demographics of who gives, at what levels of giving, mechanism and metrics. It is no surprise that “emotions” play an important part and science backs that with the “warm-glow”, a positive uplifting feeling, a sense of satisfaction that makes you happy and happy people give more.  A simple pleasure …a neuronal boost in the brain activity.

The report also sheds light on myriad of factors that encourage or hinder individuals to charitable giving such as social norms; motivation by religious tenants; personalization and/or familiarity with recipient; participation in group efforts; matching incentives for donations; how we are perceived by others as charitable donors; support for others that have similar experiences in life as our own, reciprocation to others as gifts; incentives for giving such as taxation breaks or simply for “goodness” sake. Additionally it discusses avoidance for charity is hard to do when solicited by personal contact. Items that prevent or hinder such efforts include procrastination to follow through; lack of transparency which makes it hard to assess information to decide who to donate to and may hold off contributions; inconvenience and hassle factors, and social pressures to donating big amounts. It further provides information on trends/survey data on Charitable Giving.

Wow! What a thorough review of resources that explains factors and behaviors of philanthropic giving and provides insights to improve charitable giving.  Whatever social or personal causes such as hunger, poverty, education, health care, cure for diseases, animal rescue, clean water, or the environment as causes you wish to support; for whoever you wish to help-veterans, underprivileged, the impoverished, minorities, children, orphans, in whichever way you can donate or provide-at a personal level, at a community level, national or global level-it is essential we contribute to improve the lives of all citizens of the world.

So be for social good, for selfish reasons, pure or impure altruism, we just have to motivate ourselves and others to give and to continue to do so. Give wisely and check out www.givewell.org for effective charities and wide choices.

Whatsoever you can give –donate monetary contributions, give your time, share resources to help a person, donate goods, motivate others to donate; teach your kids about giving, spread awareness –However often you can participate in such altruistic efforts – monthly, automatic, yearly, seasonally or on a whim-ever altruistic contribution you make matters. We all can make a difference in our world. It’s just a click away.

Photo Credit:  We ❤ #givingtuesday #quote #inspiration http://ift.tt/1vbBurz  by Stewardship – Transforming Generosity CC BY 2.0










The struggles seem not to change. Is it always along economic lines?  A recent scientific publication has brought to light the growing inequality between us and our nutritional consumption habits.

Growing evidence from studies has linked economic disparity to a spectrum of financial, social, health, and psychological aspects of life. Such as owning a home, a car, access to quality services such as education, job opportunities, and health care services.  Being poor does not only affect material goods and services, it also affects happiness, tolerance, hope, stress, life satisfaction, all of which can lead to negative outcomes such as poor health, unemployment, homelessness, substance addiction, and incarceration.  Now data suggests it’s effecting what we are choosing to eat.

This article by Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH et al. Dietary Intake Among US Adults, 1999-2012. JAMA, June 2016 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2016.7491 discusses a wide and growing “diet gap” has opened between the middle-class and the wealthy.  Although the study suggests that overall Americans are having a better diet, there is an increasing “disparity based on race/ethnicity, education, and income level”

The healthiness of people’s diet was studied by researchers based on American Heart Association scoring system where a proportion of items in an “ideal” diet such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and fish, rated higher versus a “poor” diet which had a certain proportion of items such as sugar, salt, processed meat, and saturated fat.

Dr. Mozaffarian, the lead author of the study indicates “The overall diet is still far from optimal – less than one-third of American adults meet guideline targets for most foods. Intakes of total fruits or vegetables did not increase and intakes of processed meats and sodium were largely unchanged” and that “almost twice as many people at low incomes have poor diets compared to people at the highest income level”.

The study discusses some of the factors that have contributed to the rise of the alarming dietary gap which range from the cost of healthy food, the time to prepare healthy food, or the knowledge or know how, to the availability, access to, convenience factors and marketing for healthy meals.  All these areas have to be targeted to bring the arduous change to the dietary habit inequalities.

Margo A. Denke, M.D., comments on the findings of this study in an accompanying editorial Changing Dietary Habits and Improving the Healthiness of Diets in the United States “Achieving dietary changes remains a challenging task. The advice of clinicians may not provide lasting effects unless patients can incorporate meaningful dietary changes into a daily sustainable pattern. How to best accomplish this task is the goal. Even though there has been some improvement from 1999 to 2012, clinicians, patients, and the food industry all need to work together to meet the challenge of improving the healthiness of the U.S. diet.”

Like in the current election year rhetoric, as Americans we are divided not only on political, economic inequalities but also on our dietary habits. I shudder to think if the economic conditions stagnate for the poor and the middle class continuing to disappear will lead to more people on the wrong side of the wealth gap and more with a poor diet and diet-related diseases.

It is not a simple task for family, friends or even your health care professionals to get people to eat right and motivate them. Let’s find solutions, ways to improve the diet for the underpriveleged by all working together. The haves and have-nots, the story is as old as any story. I wonder if the story will change. I am just a novice and I ask the questions to seek the answers – hoping these metics change.

Photo Credit:  20111019-FNS-RBN-1744 by U.S. Department of Agriculture CC by 2.0 References













N0037339 Doctors during a handover, UK

A physician revealed to me, that the medical community may have already recognized, what researchers published in a new study to the general public. The revelation that medical errors account for a number of deaths that would rank it as the third leading cause of death in the United States.

Here is the link to the BMJ talk medicine audio interview where the lead author of the study Dr Martin Makary (a professor at the John Hopkins School of medicine), talked about the findings published in the May 4, 2016 BMJ Journal, section Analysis. Dr. Makary and coauthor Michael Daniel analyzed data from other studies, which took place between 2000 to 2008 and estimated the number to be  “251,000” deaths per year “, that equates to nearly 700 deaths a day — about 9.5 percent of all deaths annually in the United States.” (The Washington Post “Researchers: Medical errors now third leading cause of death in United States,” May 3). The author talks about how he believes this is conservative number. Lets hope this brings to the forefront discussions about patient safety and strategies to address these staggering numbers.

The article reveals that the high prevalence rate is not unique to the US.  Dr. Markary emphasizes that this is a public health awareness, health policy and public health priorities issues,  as research and funding is set by numbers, and that these distressing numbers may not be getting the attention needed since deaths by medical errors are not captured separately as a category on death certificates.

He is advocating the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for changes to the way such deaths are reported so that they may be included in the national statistics collected. The US collects causes of death according to medical coding system of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-9), a version of coding system that is old and outdated. It is not detailed enough to describe patient diagnoses and modern medical services and procedures, uses antiquated terminology and collects limited patient data. It was developed at nearly 36 years ago and the medical landscape has changed a lot since then, especially according to Dr. Makary “At that time, it was under-recognized that diagnostic errors, medical mistakes, and the absence of safety nets could result in someone’s death,”. In addition Makary says, “and because of that, medical errors were unintentionally excluded from national health statistics.”

The article also brings to light that the medical errors can span the spectrum from systemic glitches, medication errors, poor communication that lead to insufficient coordinated care, lack of safety nets established or inadequately instituted, inconsistent protocols for treatment and care, disjointed insurance networks, disparity in physician practice patterns that lack culpability. Finally there is lack of transparency from hospitals that have safety boards that is not open to the public due to risk of litigation.

Another article that was released within the same month divulged that in the USA “approximately 30% of outpatient prescriptions were inappropriate, approximately one in three antibiotics prescribed in outpatient settings in the United States are unnecessary”, according to recent data published in JAMA (Fleming-Dutra KE, Hersh AL, Shapiro DJ, et al. Prevalence of inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions among US ambulatory care visits, 2010-2011. JAMA. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.4151.) . This outlines the need, at least, of a more widespread promotion of antibiotic stewardship by physicians. A lot progress has already taken place in safety systems, such as computerized medication prescription ordering system (that alerts doctors for errors), but there is still place for improvement.

We have all heard about sensationalized nightmare stories of errors or may even know someone who could have lived longer but an untimely medical error occurred.  Wow, the numbers just give it perspective. Even though tremendous changes are in progress, hoping this gets attention, and we advocate for the health care professionals to embrace the new changes from ICD-9 to ICD-10. It will surely thrust the healthcare industry forward, and ICD-10 is a significant step in that process.

Some suggest that transparency will assist in the standards of accountability and better delivery of health care. Accountability in health care is always being advancing forward and more data needs to be collected in a manner that does not take time away from the already time strapped medical health care professionals.  It is essential that this be done with a balanced approach, with the costs of such data gathering impact more palatable to the health care institutions and hopefully no health care costs to be shifted to the already burdened patients.

I was made aware that there is a new initiative being promoted by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) called CANDOR-“The Communication and Optimal Resolution (CANDOR) – A system/process “that health care institutions and practitioners can use to respond in a timely, thorough, and ethical way when unexpected events cause patient harm”. This surely would be a game changer, a culture shift towards an enhanced, transparent team approach for patient safety-a more evidence- based process  for “improvements in the monitoring and reporting of events by promoting candid, empathic communication and timely resolution for patients, caregivers, and the organization”.

Until we see the above implemented and the results tallied, currently for patients, it’s a team approach that can help reduce your chance of medical errors. You or your family members are your best bet to be a safety advocate for your health. Although healthcare reform continues to evolve toward better patient safety and care, stakeholders speaking up will always help tremendously. The health safety advocate’s role is pivotal in the delivery of safer health care.

What are your thoughts, please do share.

Photo Credit: N0037339 Doctors during a handover, UK by Wellcome Images CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Martin A Makary, Michael Daniel. Medical error—the third leading cause of death in the US. BMJ, 2016; i2139 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.i2139

















People tend to feel more comfortable talking about their personal health problems than their finances, a friend once told me, and little did I realize this is not anecdotal information but holds true. This and many other facts are disclosed in a recent Atlantic magazine article The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans by Neal Gabler that has gone viral in financial and economic forums. It takes a courageous person to bear the muddy secrets of their financial woes. You would have never guessed that 47 percent of Americans would not have $400 readily available if needed to pay for any emergency according to survey. Ouch!

A gut wrenching yet sobering piece opened up a raw wound for many and generated plethora of opinionated comments from the public, similar stories shared by others, and even responses from financial experts. It’s no wonder that there is resentment portrayed at the polls and favor for anti-establishment in much of current politics. The antipathy may be stemming from economic condition of the middle class, and the public (friends and family alike) can be very judgmental (they have a right to their opinions) and scornful towards those who are perceived as financially irresponsible and contribute to the overall societal financial instability. This cover story created a wave that unleashed the kraken.

The author writes “I know what it is like to have to juggle creditors to make it through a week. I know what it is like to have to swallow my pride and constantly dun people to pay me so that I can pay others. I know what it is like to have liens slapped on me and to have my bank account levied by creditors. I know what it is like to be down to my last $5 — literally — while I wait for a paycheck to arrive, and I know what it is like to subsist for days on a diet of eggs. I know what it is like to dread going to the mailbox, because there will always be new bills to pay but seldom a check with which to pay them. I know what it is like to have to tell my daughter that I didn’t know if I would be able to pay for her wedding; it all depended on whether something good happened. And I know what it is like to have to borrow money from my adult daughters because my wife and I ran out of heating oil.”

Reading this article consumed me with mixed emotions, a bit of sadness and madness at the same time. Read it for yourself, position your own thoughts on this topic, and realize the economic realities, financial insecurities, monetary challenges plaguing millions of middle-class Americans The New Normal of Financial Vulnerability in America and in 2015 The United States of Financial Insecurity.

Another recent article tells the tale of four men in different income brackets and provides a portal into their family’s financial lifestyles an opportunity to view others through their own lens: 4 Men with 4 Very Different Incomes Open Up About the Lives They Can Afford – They all are from unique social economical class,  have great disparities in their  incomes, have diverse professional skills and varied opportunities to make more money, different priorities in life, yet each of them has goals to achieve for their financial future, want to work well into retirement age,  and yet found things they could afford to enjoy in life.

This brings the topic of personal finance tribulations to the forefront for discussion. The author refers to his financial vulnerabilities as an embarrassment much like a “financial impotence”, where people tendencies are to conceal their monetary struggles rather than confront the reality with resolution and assurance. Wow, the author describes it as a “source of shame, a daily humiliation—even a form of social suicide”. Analyst’s may attribute it to a the un-moderated spending behavior- “Keeping up with the Joneses”, over consumption versus lack of saving, credit-card debt/student loans/medical bills, stagnating job markets, unemployment statistics, housing market crash, income differentials, wealth inequality-whatever it may be, it is the new norm, financial distresses incognito. The author candidly writes “I don’t ask for or expect any sympathy. I am responsible for my quagmire—no one else. I didn’t get gulled into overextending myself by unscrupulous credit merchants. Basically, I screwed up, royally. I lived beyond my means, primarily because my means kept dwindling.”

Coming out of the closet and publicly talking about it brings light to the dreaded talks we all should be discussing. Let’s learn and grow from the hard financial lessons in the stories above and so many personal ones of our friends and families. Don’t be ill prepared for the complex world of financial management (compound interest, risk diversification, risk management, debt to income ratio, taxes, inflation, deprecation, liabilities, dividends, return on investments/equities etc.), keep up your pace on knowledge –be financially literate-make the right choices knowing the financial implications. Your financially well-being impacts your emotional and physical well-being.

Just like a healthy lifestyle through exercising-we all motivate ourselves to work out and go to the gym today, so we can have good health over long term in years ahead. Similarly for you financial health (much like deferred compensation) you need to have sound financial habits for long term financial well-being. Just do it regularly and consistently. Practice good financial management basics. Constantly and consistently work on your financial priorities with your family and start financial literacy early in life for everyone and especially for our next generation!

So, focus, evolve and grow. Let’s not lose the long term priorities with the distractions of today; make those hard choices.  Work on our financial fitness-and fulfill those responsibilities -sound financial decisions will pay off. It doesn’t matter when you start as long as you start and stay on it consistently.











Photo Credit: Finance by Tax Credit CC by 2.0

Star Wars wallpapers

Although I may celebrate something Star Wars-ish throughout the year, May 4 is the official day for brethren who fancy all things Star Wars – whether Jedi or Sith, Empire or Rebel, Light side or Dark side, R2-D2 vs BB-8, Star Wars trilogy old-school or a Force Awakens era fan (or in-between), Galactic chaos vs Peace, good vs Evil… This Wednesday let’s celebrate it all…the Star Wars Day

It is considered a day for fans to appreciate Lucasfilms created movies, series, books, and culture. Don’t be surprised when someone says to you — “May the Fourth be with you” a catchy twist to the popular phrase “May the Force be with you”.

Thought I’d share with you all the fun stuff to commemorate and appreciate Star Wars Day.

Love the official Star Wars App…if you haven’t already done so, great place to start your enchantment for all things Star Wars, download and choose your theme of Light Side, Dark Side (moi) or Droid and send you friends cool Stars Wars selfie (my favorite part); great emojis and stickers to share, awesome sound board/sound effects and many more interactive features.

Try something boisterous-Enjoy various Game App for mobile phone including the Angry Birds Star Wars Series and the Lego Star Wars and various other free ones that you can play online . There is also a great App for the Stars Wars Crawl Creator to write your own opening crawl. Demo the Star Wars rings and text tones compiled here, and yes there is even a fun app (Vader Voice) to change your voice to Darth Vader-give it a try.  And then there is the Yoda Speak App for the riddle like reverse nature of jedi master Yoda talk (Yodish? beware grammar snobs). Finally the awesome light saber app (Force Saber of Light) where you can customize your lightsaber and sway and swish the beam (your phone in the air) like the real deal, and if you can find a buddy with the same app..Walla an intergalactic battle-show them who’s your daddy (darth vader pun).

For the more factual fans follow social channels and learn Star Wars Facts via Twitter @starwars_facts as their logo states “All of the things about the Star Wars Universe the Empire doesn’t want you to know.” Loads of links and information for you, portals to discussions boards, blogs, news  All Things Star wars .

If you need a cliff notes version read up on n The 100 Greatest Things About Star Wars. You can explore the Star War universe at Wikipedia of stars wars or delve into the Star Wars Insider Magazine, and lastly talk the talk at the Star Wars Quotes page and that you can use in your everyday life

Or simply enjoy the day with renting or streaming the most epic space saga (make it a movie marathon), a timeless story of good versus evil that starts with “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far way” a story that has influenced our world in countless ways. Remember…the Force will be with you, always!

Photo Credit:  Star Wars wallpapers by Stefson CC BY-NC-ND 2.0








Drowning in Social Media

A colleague and I recently discussed an article How Facebook Makes Us Dumber published by Blomberg Views, Cass R. Sunstein and the conversation snowballed from there about the benefits of real-time, face to face dialogue rather than the virtual world conversation and interactions that tend to occur… “Just being able to see someone’s facial expressions as you talk to them can completely change the conversation”-started this dialogue.

Most of us have (or at some time, have had) a Facebook (FB) account and are a segment of the larger technology based online social community, sharing our “status”, pictures, life events, and information/news/opinions with friends, family, coworkers, etc. This piece caught our attention as it brings to light the merits (or lack thereof) of frequently using such a platform for our social fulfillment. The article discusses the results of a recent study led by Michela Del Vicario conducted on Facebook users and provides compelling evidence that many people have a strong tendency toward confirmation bias. Confirmation bias“ is the tendency for people to (consciously or unconsciously) seek out information that conforms to their pre-existing view points and subsequently ignore information that goes against them, both positive and negative”

According to the authors, confirmation bias turns out to play a vital role “in the creation of online echo chambers”. The article explains this to the likes of an elite social club or “groupie” mentality. That implies “birds of a feather flock together” and thus we built our silos and our thoughts are isolated from dissenting views. Are we listening to only what we want to hear? And tuning out the rest? The study investigates the controversial theory “when people are online, do they encounter opposing views, or do they create the virtual equivalent of gated communities?” Consequently it indicates that the news we get from the niche social group, true or false, we tend to assume is credible without verification of the content.  Furthermore, we tend to spread it-why in the world would our FB friends and family share propaganda or spin stories? Right? Actually wrong-The confirmation bias sets in faster if the knowledge is shared and reinforced.

The author attributes this confirmation bias to the spreading of misinformation, unsubstantiated claims or allegations, conspiracy theories and provides examples of it in current social environment (such public health outbreak events), some of which could have possibly lead to fear and paranoia.

Ever wonder why FB does not have a dislike button (although an ignore button might be more appropriate), and even if they did have one, would you truly use it? Is it easier to give a dissenting view when you are anonymous (which is not the case in most cases FB users)? Is opposing views in chat rooms where identities are protected provide better platforms for true open-minded discussions? Is it easier to be meaner and upfront/blunt with hidden identities? Or is it the self-confidence we gain from rejection and failures that give us the insights?

Similarly, another article captures We’re Not as Open-Minded As We Think We Are – Lifehacker . The article address what typically happens when your thoughts and convictions are challenged.  Hypothetically, one should open up an alternate perspective to that belief; however, often the opposite takes effect which is known as the “Backfire Effect”. In other words, when we are challenged with new information, it just makes our preexisting belief stronger”

What is unique about FB as a social platform that draws such bias –is it that we pretend to be something we truly aren’t, so it’s easy for us to fall into the web of such biases. Do we want to look filtered and rosy in the eyes of the targeted social cliques which directs us to our “echo chambers”? Are we putting a premium on information that corroborates our thoughts and beliefs and disregard evidence that challenges it? Do we need to diversify our social media microcosm?

Do you agree? although FB may not be the only social media, it just happens to have millions of followers. Learning lesson; let’s do everything in moderation. “We can’t open our mind so much that it falls out yet we can’t close our mind, so that it fogs up”…So I won’t go running to abandon FB, but the key to social media is moderation. But it isn’t up to the social media platforms to raise the standards or for some unlicensed counselor/opinionated blogger to tell you whether or not using FB reinforces your confirmation biases. It is up to you and you alone to decide “how” to use it and refrain from slipping into confirmation bias culture. To the contrarians – if you disagree hope you will challenge me.

Photo Credit: Drowning in Social Media by mkhmarketing CC by 2.0











CDC app

Can you imagine what it is to work for Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) as a disease detective? That’s the branch of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC-the nation’s government agency that protects the health safety and security of the nation) that trains experts to become disease detectives. If this sounds interesting to you, this game, developed by the CDC called “Solve the Outbreak”, is a must try, and you can play it on mobile tablets and PCs.

Interactive and engaging- the game goals are to decipher the clues to a fictional outbreak (based on real life scenarios) and provide gamers a portal into the realm of challenges of fast paced, heart thumping, exciting environment of outbreak investigations. “Your mission if you choose to accept” is to save lives. It’s a creative way to use technology and gaming to engage the public and bring awareness and general knowledge about real-life public health issues.

Reports of novel (new to us) infectious disease cases/outbreaks in the news have ratchetted up, where once presumed by the general public to be confined to certain geographic regions such as developing countries, such emerging infectious diseases does not seem to see country boundaries. This game depicts the quintessential tracking and solving of outbreaks and brings home the message of how the world is a global petri dish for such disease causing microbes.

Whether in the physical or digital domain, the vastness of the world is simmered down enough, for these tiny germs to surge, a force to reckon with, for public health professionals and epidemiologists. Changes in society such as population density, travel, economics, international trade, ecological impacts such as climate and agricultural practices, and other advances in human technologies may have bought them to the forefront combined with the ever evolving nature of such disease causing germs. As bugs and environments evolve, are we  better equipped for detection and surveillance ? That’s what CDC is intending for the public to learn.

So if you like science fiction thrillers, want to engage kids in sciences, looking for interesting careers, or just a science geek who enjoyed the movie rush for “Contagion”, this game will surely tickle your fancy as you crack the code for emerging disease via clues and solve the mystery to determine the outbreak.

News CDC app 2about disease outbreaks seems ubiquitous … Zika, Ebola, West Nile, SARS, Chikungunya (sound familiar)… so to learn what it is to be on the frontlines is the premises in a virtual setting of this game…the game app makes you think critically to make decisions such as whether to quarantine the village, treat the sick, test clinical specimens, interpret the results. You start as a novice and as stakes get higher, the game advances and you get awards for puzzles solved. Fun at any age…Give it a try….lets get that disease detective badge!









Alas, March Madness has come to an end and my brackets have been busted with an unforgettable, awe-inspiring, nail-biting, buzzer beating, three pointer win by Villanova (whisking it away from UNC) and taking home the championship. We now have bounced into April, and the seventh is right around the corner. What’s cooking on April 7, 2016- hope not a lot of saccharine– Why -what’s the significance of this day?

April 7, 2016 annually commemorates the World Health Day sponsored by the World Health Organization, a day dedicated to bring awareness through education to the citizens of the world about specific diseases. This year the organization has selected diabetes to draw worldwide attention to, as it is a growing epidemic affecting more than 347 million people. This year’s world health day slogan is  “Beat Diabetes”.

This year’s Word Health Day campaign hopes to bring attention to the myriad of problems for those struggling with this disease, augment the means to prevent it in societies with rapidly increasing numbers, promote early detection and diagnosis, and bolster the care and treatment of patients with diabetes.  The WHO campaign has cool superheroes posters for driving the message to “beat diabetes”, promoting healthy eating, physical activity, and seeking medical care and treatment.

“Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar, gives us the energy that we need to live. If it cannot get into the cells to be burned as energy, sugar builds up to harmful levels in the blood.”-source WHO world health day

I thought I’d share some information regarding the statics via the American Diabetes Association, the CDC diabetes data, the CDC’s Infographic (which is very compelling) and the WHO publications that show the staggering burden by all those affected and the numbers indicate that we all may have loved ones suffering this disease.The rate of diabetes is illustrated in the following world map – and to check out interactive atlas showing the rate of diabetes worldwide here is the DiabetesAtlas. Take a moment to learn about diabetes, as awareness, prevention, diagnosis and treatment are key to global health of the world community.

Let’s battle (or lock up that yumilicious indulgence) with our sugar craving monster, and tackle down that beast. Have that kale power green juice, don your cross-trainers, and head to a gym  or to the wonderful outdoors.  Boost your overall fitness and yes motivate those around you and inspire that buddy to join in with some healthy competition. No workout buddy? No problemo-for social app fans, there’s an app for that -Well Squad, Pact, Fitocracy, RunKeeper, BodySpace to name a few. Celebrate the day by improving your life with healthy habits and take some time to encourage others to follow suit.

Photo Credit: Healthier by Thomas Haynie (http://www.phlebotomytech.org) CC by 2.0

Emojis Minimalistas

We are en route to reverting back to the writing style of our forefathers, and I don’t mean Washington, Jefferson or Franklin, I mean like way back to the cave dwellers… expressions through, pictorials, symbols and codes. The era for the visual language of millennials and igeneration has dawned upon us. Welcome (a bit late to the party) to the “Emojis” that is…the digital language to connect.

We are all familiar with the smiley face, the wow, mad, and sad face, the praying hands, smiley face with tongue sticking out, the wink, the thumbs up, and various plethora of icons we embed in our texts/posts daily communicating via our smartphones.

I bet ya some of you are emoji aficionados while others are novices trying to get a grip on the trendsetting lexicon. So don’t fall off the band wagon on the road to emojiville.

Basic emojis have a wide spectrum from smileys and people, nature and animal, food spirits, travel places, buildings objects, symbols flags and the lists go on. If you want to look up your emojis you can visit the Wikipedia of emoji’s at Emojipedia.

Needless to say they are going viral in the social media forums and are customizable depending to the forum you delve in. Facebook introduced emojis as an enhancement to their “Like” button adding to the expressions (aka “reactions”) you can share on friend’s postings. Emoji use is pretty popular on twitter feeds and so much so that there a site dedicated to track the tally of emoji’s being used on twitter http://emojitracker.com/

Similarly a recent snapchat update has various emojis next to your friend to convey to you the category of relationship based on your snaps you send to your snapchatter (snapchat buddy). Check them out, here is the snapchat support for emoji’s https://support.snapchat.com/en-US/a/friend-emojis

It would be remiss of me to not mention the novelty and sheer awesomeness of Disney’s’ Star Wars: Force Awakens emojis that were released as part of the Star Wars app in anticipation of the movie as a promotional drive.  Because of its success, more characters, ships, and weapons were added to the list of icons for avid collectors. Are emoji collections replacing the comic books and bobble heads collections (you can tell I am dated)? Emojis have even transcended into the NCAA tournament, the awesome march madness emojis for your favorite team mascots (go NC). Emojis are even being used by various companies in advertising/marketing and in logos (aka “logojis) to promote a brand. Taking about emoji branding, these icons are being customized for celebrities (the Pope has his own emoji). So if you have discovered any niche of emojis that fuel your hustle-please do share.

Analogous to a way of communication, even within emojis there are codes to what the icon means. These emojis are widely understood and have a double entendre and emojis are just getting started as prototypes to a distinct code language similar to a dialect. Whether you use emojis in the standard meaning or its hidden meaning, they are here to stay, so they can’t be cavalierly ignored.

Since long-winded writing and use of words are in a decline (sigh! is there an emoji for that?), and a couple of years ago we thought that that short cut acronyms in texting were vitiating the art of writing. What do you think? I thought I was late getting on board with texting and now even slower with the emojis. So whether you fancy it or dislike it, statistics say it’s what the newer generation uses to communicate and sets the tone of a conversation in a fast paced world. Why text a line when a single emoji reveals it best? A single image so succinctly conveying your thought or emotion.

So to the dinosaurs like me in the net world, I better evolve and learn to communicate in the emoji language for survival. You never know, soon we may have to choose our presidential candidate on an emoji ballot.

Photo Credit: Emojis Minimalistas by tobiaschames C.C by 2.0











What Have I Said

Opening the door to the ocean of the societal decision-making through the internet is not without waves. Last week, the aftermath of two social media campaigns provided examples of such debacles.

In case you missed it, here is a recap.

First, the lesser of the two snafus (depending on perception) was when the Natural Environment Research Council of the United Kingdom decided to poll the public on the net for the name of an arctic polar naval research vessel designed to launch in near future. Someone must have thought what better way to get the public interested about deep-sea sciences research and celebrate the great British explorers than by having it named by the public – hence a website for naming the ship and here’s the link https://nameourship.nerc.ac.uk/

You’d be amazed the countless times when ill-advised social internet experiments have been launched with really noble intentions. Needless to say the tally for the most popular name currently…hold on are you ready…”RSS Boaty McBoatface” yes siri…you read it right. Yes, ridiculous as it may seem… social media users have voted for this name more than any other. Albeit the web traffic did create a lot of “enthusiasm and creativity” for the naming process which is to conclude on April 16. Learning lesson don’t let the internet decide your fate online especially the name of your first-born.

Now for the next sour chapter in public social experimentation. The unveiling of the Microsoft’s machine learning via an artificial intelligence “chatbot” capable of interacting with users over twitter and other chat apps. The chatbot called Tay that was launched to learn and supposedly to mimic the vocabulary of a female millennial persona.  “She” soon started repeating vitriolic, racist, and sexist remarks from the manipulation and exploitation by the net users.

The unintended consequences when an AI robot mirrors learning through interaction without a filtering mechanism are apparently the prejudicial attributes of the society/internet’s end users. The chat bot Tay was quickly shut down.  The company released a statement apologizing for the offensive remarks, and deleted them from feeds. For now, Tay is offline until the engineers figure out Tay’s vulnerabilities in this current net culture. Have we learned a lesson…I am not sure. As AI technology is released into the wild, it is as predictable as its beastly users. An example when discussion grows long enough on the internet…the path ends in the monster…Have you heard of Godwin’s Law?








Photo Credit: What Have I Said by Thomas Hawk CC by –NC 2.0


Last week all the buzz in the android tech world was about Sophia, a lifelike robot (or more precisely a female humanoid) created by Hanson Robotics, was unveiled and show cased at the South by Southwest (SXSW) technology conference in Texas. We all watched the video with Sophia and the CEO of Hanson robotics Dr. Robert Hanson, in this CNBC video.

There are a couple of trains of thought on how you felt when you watched the video of a life-like android having a conversion and mimicking human expressions. Fascinated by the human skin (patented technology called “Frubber™”-flesh like rubber), amazed at the movement of the facial features more advanced than seen before (Sophia has more than 60 expressions), afraid (too soon for robots to take over the world), unnerved (something about the eyes), or did someone say uncanny valley?

The company’s website slogan says “We Bring Robots to Life”, their mission “to create a better future for humanity by infusing artificial intelligence with kindness and compassion, achieved through millions of dialogs between our robots and the people whose lives they touch”.  The CNBC video has Dr. Hanson’s statement “We are designing these robots to serve in health care, therapy, education and customer service applications,”

But by far the declaration by Sophia is what got everyone chatting, when Hanson jokingly asked about Sophia destroying the humans (I am assuming this was unscripted) and the reply by Sophia “Ok I will destroy the humans”- ouch!

With countless science fiction movies and TV series with virtuous and not so virtuous humanoid plots, the social media frenzy started discussions such as “creepy looking robot”, “sexy killer robot” –look alike “Ex Machina like Artificial Intelligence to destroy humans”.

This made me reflect about deeper societal challenges we are to face with the advances in artificial intelligence and humanoids. Thought I’d share this profound and provocative exploration of ideas/ethics for society to ponder, in this episode by PBS Digital Studios, PBS Off Book, The New Rules of Robot/Human Society. It inquiries about of who owns the robots, who programs them, who orders them, manipulates/exploits them or vice versa can the robots do the same to us.

Welcome to a new dawn, a new type of industrial revolution –Hello Skynet.


Could you fall in love with this robot? CNBC, Harriet Taylor, March 16 2016.

Meet Sophia, the female humanoid robot and newest SXSW celebrity, Mac world, Oscar Raymundo, March 17, 2016

Crazy-eyed robot wants a family — and to destroy all humans, CNET, Michelle Starr, March 20, 2016

Photo Credit: Humanoid by Dr J Clarke CC SA by 2.0



March 21, 2016 celebrates world poetry day organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The day is to appreciate poetry, support poetry and poets, recognize linguistic diversity, additionally to promote global initiatives to inspire creativity in writing, reading, teaching, and to celebrate free speech in this artistic form.

“By paying tribute to the men and women whose only instrument is free speech, who imagine and act, UNESCO recognizes in poetry its value as a symbol of the human spirit’s creativity. By giving form and words to that which has none – such as the unfathomable beauty that surrounds us, the immense suffering and misery of the world – poetry contributes to the expansion of our common humanity, helping to increase its strength, solidarity and self-awareness.”  Says Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO.

So take this day to read a collection of poetry with family and friends, relish the imaginations and sentiments ignited by poetry. Share your favorite poems-better yet, try out a rhyme.

Photo Credit: Poetry by Jameson Fink CC by 2.0



I must say I am a closet superheroes fan that likes all things superheroes from movies, TV series, video games and yes old comics books and web-based comics. So this year all you superhero fans, we are in for a treat.

The comic book superheroes movie genre seems to be riding a wave of success over the last decade. The evidence of the superhero’s movie boom, lies in the blockbuster profits (see the data, graphs for movie business, and sales charts of the box office) and is it no surprise that this is a big year for fans of comic book to film adaptations of such heroes to have a wide  gamut to choose from. It’s the year to watch your favorite guy/gal in capes, tights /costumes/masks whether it be a crime fighting law-abiding or unstoppable rebels, whether new or classics heroes.

Is this a new trend of the 21st century due to the advances in technology in special effects or is it like the need for heroes in the current culture of our society. Does it embody the ideals of honor, heroism, patriotism, and the good guy making sacrifices, protecting the rights of the under-served? Choosing altruism over the pursuit of wealth and power. What are your thoughts on this?

Watch the video by Mike Rugnette, Why Are There So Many Super Hero Movies? | Idea Channel | PBS Digital Studios that explores why there are so many superhero films right now.

Is it because of the streaming TV series and original made for TV such as Netflix’s/HBO’s/Amazon’s competing for profits against the cinema ticket sales? Whatever the reason superhero movies are a safe bet –the most bang for your buck in entertainment and yes simply “cool”, “bad-ass”, entertaining and fun to watch. All for one, and one for all superhero fans.

Whatever the reasons I hope you watch all your superheroes on the Big Screen this 2016 (Superhero movies for 2016 below);

Deadpool- Release Date: February 12, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice-Release Date: March 25, 2016

Captain America: Civil War-Release Date: May 6, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse-Release Date: May 27, 2016

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows-Release Date: June 3, 2016

Suicide Squad-Release Date: August 5, 2016

Gambit-Release Date: October 7, 2016

Doctor Strange-Release Date: November 4, 2016








Photo Credit: Winners by Thomas Hawk CC by 2.0

Angel Sleeps

Sorry, a day late and a shuteye short, but thought I’d share it anyway. March 18, 2016 was the annual World Sleep Day which is celebrated globally. It is an event that brings awareness, advocacy via education to the society about the benefits of good sleep, and also brings attention to the myriad of problems for those struggling with sleep disorders.

The world sleep day was established by the world sleep committee (yep there’s a committee for it) and sponsored by World Association of Sleep Medicine (WASM). The 2016 slogan for the World Sleep Day is Good Sleep is a Reachable Dream”. The message is simple- that good sound sleep is pivotal component for good health that enhances the quality of life and happiness and that sleep disorders should be recognized and are treatable. Their mission is to advocate globally for better prevention and management of sleep problems and to diminish the hardships on those grappling with deprivation of treasured possession we take for granted –our good sound sleep.

To get to know some simple regimens about good night sleep here are some recent articles I thought I’d share with you; World Sleep Day: 10 tips for a good night’s sleep By Susie East, March 19, 2016 and Guardian Article Zzzzzzzzz … 12 simple steps to a good night’s sleep by Richard Wisemen, January 31, 2016.

Since I fancy all things techie, I thought what better way to advance a healthy sleep cycle than a sleep tracker app. Check out one of such apps that I just downloaded sleepcycle that analyzes your sleep pattern, graphs it out over time, and finds the perfect time to wake you up. With the recent daylight savings spring forward, and loss of an hour, it’s time to try this app out. There are other apps for sleep enhancements such as sleeps sounds (such as white noise, rain drops, Zen music) which may appeal to your slumber side. As for gizmos, there are plenty of innovative gadgets from pillows (don’t forget the stuffed toy), wrist bands, lights, sleep clocks, individualized mattress, aromatherapy humidifiers/diffusers, and sound therapy systems that target the sensory stimuli to induce relaxation and sleep. Have a read at the Entrepreneur Article 21 Gadgets That Can Help You Sleep Better Tonight, by Geoff Weiss, November 8, 2015

In the fast paced work environment obsessed with productivity, we often forgo our healthy sleep habits.  Let’s not fight with our circadian rhythm, take some steps- such as effort to establish a regular early to bed routine, shutoff our electronic devices (except the ones to enhance our sleep), relax with some soothing music, get those natural REMS going and simply sleep. Here’s to more Zzzzz’s.

Photo Credit: Angel Sleeps by planetchopstick CC by 2.0

Saving vs Investing

Recently over casual talk about careers, the focus of my chat with girlfriends shifted to finances. My friend’s ages span from late thirties through mid-fifties. Some have been married for 10 years, some longer, some divorced and single parents, some young parents, and some grandparents. We usually chatter about money in the occasional casual terms of savings; such as, “have you tried out Aldi versus whole food stores for gluten free products?”; “do you know the deals I found for designer bags and shoes from digital consignment stores”, Did you check out that Groupon deal?; and or “did you hear about the travel points for opening credit cards”. Even with such diversity I must say we haven’t ever discussed wealth building through investing as talk.

The surprise came to me as my girlfriend mentioned she and her had a bunch of idle cash but didn’t invest outside their savings and CD accounts. What!!!!

So instead of shaming my friends I think I am going to take a positive approach. Engage my posse by example. So I started investing back in 2007 when Oprah’s show motivated a wide spectrum of women from their 20s to grannies to start investment groups. Although our college group investment group fizzled out, I have to say it motivated me enough to continue. For a novice like me that started with basic knowledge , a 50 dollar weekly commitment (lunch money), with easy to use/ reasonable fee online brokerage account, I have investments over the last year that have made a higher return rate than of the average 7- 9 %. (My intent here is not to brag).

For starters, recognize that Investing is an option for building wealth and simply exercising the discipline to save money for your own future (retirement is a scary word). One of the most valuable things you can do for your financial prospect is to start investing.

With a little bit of thought and planning, some good basic investing education, some willpower, a little bit of patience and eureka! So let us lend each other a hand to discover, motivate and get started or further enhance our investment skills. If you want to be in the big league, it’s the attitude that matters the most. So kick off your apprehensions and take control.

Survey form news articles (below) suggest that women’s confidence is the main obstacle in investing. Men tend to be higher risk takers (maybe it the hormones). However the research suggest’s it’s the slow and steady – in for the long haul strategy that is a real winner (it’s not the battle of the sexes here). Financial savviness brings to all an independence from debt, a comfort level of financial security, a means of a healthy bond with your money; and a financial commitment to yourself.

Searching the web I haven’t found a lot of women investor’s forums, which is just an anecdotal observation. However, more importantly, I see more discussions in the media on this topic, drawing awareness to how necessary it is to bring more women to the table
So whether you choose to run a marathon, a 5K, or a 100 M dash, it all starts with a leap towards your goal- to jump start investing or continuing it wisely.

In future blog topics I will share what I have learned, my experiences and candid perspectives. There is so much research out there, eBooks, blogs and sites, smart device apps and tools for easy investing you can follow to self-educate. No stock investments comes with guarantees the key here is to know your risks at the benefit of the gains so that you can make informed decisions. I tend to stick with ETFs and mutual funds. Don’t let the tons of information bog you down, everyone’s strategies are different, you are the best at making your decisions for your money.

“The most important quality for an investor is temperament, not intellect. You need a temperament that neither derives great pleasure from being with the crowd or against the crowd.”-Warren Buffet (my hero)

Disclaimer:-My blog here is for information purposes only. Family, friends and followers please don’t ask my advice about stocks. I do not engage in risky day trading or know the American Pharaoh Triple Crown version for stocks. I just stick to simple diversification in ETFs and mutual fund stocks. Secret to investing success, keep learning- for everything else, consult your financial advisor.

References for recent survey articles

Fidelity’s Article-Viewpoint- Women & money: How to take charge, December 16, 2015.

CNBC’s Article- The best investment moves for women now, Elizabeth MacBride, February 25, 2016.

CNN Money’s Article-Female investors often beat men, Heather Long, February 19, 2016.

Boys will be Boys: Gender, Overconfidence, and Common Stock Investment*,Brad M. Barber and Terrance Odean, Oxford Journal of Quarterly Economics Investment, volume 116, Issue 1, pg 261-292.

Investment websites with forums and great educational resources

The Motley FoolMarket WatchBloombergSeekingAlpha; The Street; The Wall Street Journal especially the Money Beat; The EconomistTalkMarkets; YAHOO finance; US securities and Exchange Investor.org investing basics

Blogs of interest

Investorjunkie; The College Investor; Women’s Institute For A Secure Retirement; A Wealth of Common Sense; Getting Your Financial Ducks In A Row, Financial Women; The White Coat Investor; The Day Trading Academy; The Dividend Mantra and The Wallet Hub Blogs for Investing

Photo Credit: Savings vs Investing by OTA photos CC by 2.0

Dark side of me

Greetings Brethren

For all of you that are fans (yours truly) of action (bloodshed), psychological thrillers, horror movies (slasher violence) , TV shows, and video games- have you ever wondered about you dark side?

Well guess what?  Here is an approach to test it out. Let’s see how you score on this psychological questionnaire developed to assess the dark and evil traits of a personality. I couldn’t wait to take the questionnaire and here are my results.

“Infrequently vile-You are infrequently vile – you mostly put others before yourself, though you may find occasions in which your dark side shines. “

I got a mid-grade score on the Machiavellianism and Narcissism personality traits scale and a low grade on the Psychopathy scale (phew – that’s a relief).

Here is the link to a recent Science explorer piece Take the Quiz: How Evil is Your Personality? by Kelly Tatera on March 9, 2016. And for the quiz here is the link to the BBC future questionnaire How Dark is your personality?

So don’t fret the litmus test of evilness or its categorical designation, it’s only for entertainment. Nonetheless, would like to know if you belong to the dark side and I bet ya the dark side is way more honest in the quiz (wink wink).

Photo Credit: Dark side of me by Yaroslav Sobko CC by 2.0


Happy Pi day to all. March 14, is celebrated for the mathematical constant π = 3.14159 (approximate since it is a non-infinite number). The official time to celebrate is at 1:59 pm from the numerical value of 3.14159.  For most of us pi is just as simple as the ratio of the circumference to the diameter value, but math folks know it as a much more complex beast and admire it for its brilliance.

For the math enthusiast out there, if you already haven’t seen it, I just discovered that there is a website for Pi day www.piday.org.  Way cool- a dedicated site for Pi day where you can learn more about pi, find articles, resources, videos, a rapping song about Pi; all things considered Pi and even an widget plugin for bloggers that counts down the time till the next pi day. Cheers to the infinity of Pi.


Photo Credit: Pi by Nicolo' Canali De Rossi CC by 2.0

Trump Rally/Protest

Leading up to this weekend, as most of us in U.S. prepared for daylight savings time to spring forward, the show business of politics continued. Historically, an election year tends to bring in a board spectrum of hyped-up rhetoric, and all politicians are guilty of succumbing to such tactics.

Seems like this election cycle has been a bit more of a tumultuous trail at political rallies. As the stakes get higher leading up to the crucial votes in primaries for Ohio and Florida, tensions and hostilities have been heightened, and the digital news coverage has been inundated with videos, twitter feeds and posts regarding the clash of angry protestors disrupting the Trump rallies. Rally attendees and protestors have captured and shared videos of face offs, rowdy crowds spewing vitriol, fist fights, altercations with security, police dispersing crowds with pepper spray, police arrests, and violent confrontations with injuries.

It’s disheartening to see such realities, when respectful dialogue and tolerance are hallmarks much more to be desired. We are a society that is proud of our political rights, civil liberty, press freedom, political stability, and democratic process. The escalating chaos and violence is unsettling, and contributes to a caustic atmosphere. The first amendment gives the right to free speech albeit it be hateful. However we must utilize our right to speak our ideas and opinions without resorting to violence.

Anger is one of the most potent emotions in politics and it is being revealed this election year. Is this unprecedented actualities? Is this the new alarming trend? Is this an undercurrent of antagonism and dogmatism?

We have the right to battle out our viewpoints with one another civilly. Whichever side of the political spectrum you reside, we should all condemn the use of violence to suppress dissenting views. Whatever the outcomes are of this election year, let’s unite for the good in America. We all have to live together. Peace out!

Photo Credit:  Trump Rally/Protest by nathanmac87 CC by 2.0




What drives a 42 year old women, a sassy infomaniac, to start a blog about the things she loves, the things she knows, the things she wants to learn, ideas to share, thoughts to reflect upon.  Nope, not a midlife crisis, just a lust for adventure. In the high paced digital environment, that we co-exist in, it’s great to find a refuge in articulating insights, and to enjoy a discussion who those that share a passion to read, observe, understand, discover and yes, acquire that endorphin producing rush while surfing the information superhighway.

It’s a fantastic day for a news junkie to launch a blog about a little bit of everything; like technology/science, thingamajigs that make our natural life easier, find answers, engage with others to solve dilemmas, enhance and improve my understanding through my experiences, save money, along with some good old fashioned entertainment.

Like an “everything” bagel, here are my neuronal fascinations for blogging (not in the order of hierarchy): Advancements in science and research; Gadgets for everyday life; Innovations in area of technology; Artificial intelligence; Current affairs, Social environment; Show business of politics; Superhero movies; Ways to enhance  financial freedom, Physical, Mental and Social well-being – through health, fitness, positive outlooks and motivation; idiosyncrasies of life (as broad as it can get).

So come boost the snappiness of your synapses with stimuli from ideas, thoughts, opinions and lets exchange views. Join me, to ride the tide that floats all boats.


Photo Credit: Connectivity by Matthias Weinberger CC by 2.0