Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The secret agent of kindly things

I love finding people like this. A breast cancer survivor regularly ducks into cancer treatment parking lots to leave presents on random cars saying, "Today, either you or someone you love was treated for cancer. Now it's time for a different treat!"

Why does she do this? She explains, "You don’t go through this experience unchanged. I am constantly wondering why I’ve been given this extra time on earth. Certainly it isn’t to wash dishes, do laundry, etc. I long to reach out to others in a similar circumstance."

I feel so inspired.

Visit her blog at  http://www.secretagentl.com/missions/mission-cancer-and-caring.

Monday, May 21, 2012

14 Questions for writers

I'm snagging these questions for writers from MIT's OpenCourseWare for use as either blog fodder, exploring writerly objectives, or commenting (slightly edited to cut out school references in case you're in the school of  hard knocks and not an actual university).

Questions from MIT:
  1. What adjectives would you use to describe yourself as a writer?

  2. What do you like to read? What authors do you admire?

  3. What has been your best writing experience?

  4. How often do you write from your own experience?

  5. In what ways would you like to improve as a writer?

  6. What are the best and worst pieces of advice that you've received about writing?
Questions from me:
  1. How often do you write? Do you write regularly or sporadically? Is your writing mood-based or methodical?
  2. When do you do your best writing?

  3. What kind of writing do you do? Do you want to expand beyond your current style? 
  4. Do you ever struggle with writer's block? What do you do to combat it?

  5. Do you ever throw out your writing?

  6. Does anyone edit for you?

  7. What makes criticism constructive?

  8.  Do spelling and grammar errors slow you down when reading or writing, or are you able to overlook those in favor of content? (I know excellent established authors who go both ways on this so I am genuinely curious.)
Does this make you feel like writing? Go! :)

Friday, May 18, 2012

How to protect your teeth

How to keep your teeth in top shape:
1: Get (and maintain!) sealants. They minimize wear/tear and cavities. Get them even if insurance doesn't cover it -- they're not that expensive. They block up all the little crevices where cavities start. They usually only last a couple years though so make sure you get them redone when needed.

2: Use a flouride rinse. Flouride rinses are the only thing that actually help your teeth remineralize and can actually repair small cavities. Don't eat for 30 minutes after gargling. 
When I first moved to Maryland, I got cavities for the first time in decades all because I started using a water filter that strained out all the flouride. My dentist recommended the rinse. No new cavities since (in over a decade). Mouthwashes are different than fluoride rinses; be sure you get the right thing -- it should contain 0.25% fluoride ion. 
3: Floss. Every day. A woven floss is better than waxed or teflon floss -- the woven stuff  cleans more completely. It feels amazing, you can actually feel the difference.
4: Do not chew ice. You may be able to see cracks in your teeth -- hairline fractures from years of abuse with a flashlight. This is depressing, but not necessarily a problem, just don't keep pushing your luck. 
This goes for more than just ice. Don't chew on any hard objects (ice, pens, pencils, hard candy, clothing tags, your nails, or anything brittle). My dentist said that's the number one reason people crack teeth. Same goes for animals too -- it's not a great idea to let them chew on ice. 
It's also not great to clench your jaw or grind your teeth -- if you do, see your dentist for a mouth guard or advice on behavioral training (or just, like, be under less stress :). 
5: Get an electric toothbrush. It's not just hype. After this incident, I went a YEAR without setting foot in the dentist's office because I was too traumatized to even think of getting back in that chair. When I finally made myself go, I thought my teeth would be in terrible shape but they weren't. I was told they looked like I'd just had a cleaning. 
Brand doesn't matter but quality does. Buy a professional electric toothbrush, not the cheap supermarket kind for under $20. A good electric toothbrush will likely cost $60-$80, although if you are strapped for cash, the cheapie powered toothbrushes are probably better than nothing. 
Don't brush too hard because that'll make your gums recede. It actually takes very little force to get plaque off; you don't have to jam the toothbrush against your teeth and saw back and forth. Be gentle on your teeth and they'll be good to you back for years to come. 
6. Ask for a "cervical collar" lead apron at the dentist next time you get an x-ray. X-ray exposure to your tissues is cumulative. This special apron will protect your thyroid. I don't know why it's not mandatory to give every patient this or why you have to ask but it seems like a good idea.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Art of Enchantment, by Guy Kawasaki

Was listening to Guy Kawasaki on his new book, Enchantment. He said when you meet someone, you should think, "How can I help this person?" And I thought "That's how to be? Well good, because I already feel like that."

I got into the web design business not because I loved designing websites but because I love empowering people. Helping someone's business come alive make ME feel alive. This is one of the reasons I give so much free advice -- I want to see people succeed and I just happen to be good at finding resources. I'm not a consultant as much as someone who wants to see you succeed.

Guy Kawasaki at Stanford University video 1:22

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