Showing posts from April, 2018

The First College Graduate

The first person who graduated from a college in America was Benjamin Woodbridge of Newbury, at Harvard University in 1652. He was born in England but came to America in 1634 with his brother. He began his schooling at Oxford in England but chose to complete his education in New England. Mr. Woodbridge went on to become a preacher and a poet.

Now 366 years later, one wonders if it's any easier now than back then, to find a unique and fitting graduation gift?

These days there are so many fascinating fields one can go into and degrees one can earn. A short list might include surgeons, doctors, engineers, physicists, astronomers, dentists, chiropractors and so many more.

The more unusual degrees offered these days include bagpiping, bakery science, auctioneering, nautical archeology, chemical hygiene, puppetry, surfing, farrier science, the art of horseshoeing, and fermentation science for those interested in a career in wine or beer.

Whether your loved one chose a typical or atypic…

Book a Vacation on the Moon

Bored with traveling to the beach, the mountains or even a big resort? Why not book a trip to outer space? Experts say we may soon be able to enjoy a champagne lunch in orbit, spend a week lounging on the Moon or take an adventurous voyage to Mars. Space travel is no longer the exclusive realm of big governments. In fact, companies, such as major airlines, are making strides toward space tourism.  Gift Ideas: Space Tourism Shower Curtains, Coffee Mugs Aside from fun and adventure, regular space travel can have many benefits for an ever more crowded planet with fewer natural resources. Once us humans get the hang of frequent space flight, we can colonize and gather much-needed resources such as gold, silver, tungsten, nickel, aluminum and even clean water from asteroids. And unlike mining on earth, we would not be harming wildlife or rainforests. Some forward-thinking scientists have even proposed traveling to Mars and beyond aboard an asteroid colony.  We could build an entire city i…

The Robotic Age

Our new chrome overlords or the engines of the future?  Robotics has fascinated human beings for centuries. Mechanical soldiers were said to guard the Buddha’s relics in ancient India and automatons were kept in Victorian homes to entertain dinner guests.  As we enter a new technological era, robots have moved beyond the realm of fantasy into everyday life. Robots play an essential role in the automotive and tech industry, working in assembly lines to produce many of today’s cars and electronics. In the medical field, prosthetic limbs and implants are becoming more common, as they grow in efficiency and lower in price.Gift Ideas: Robot Coffee Mugs, T-shirts, Tote Bags As robotics makes further strides into the future, not all people are happy. Beyond sci-fi paranoia, the fear of a job market without human labor has many low-level workers worrying about their continued employment. In truth, only time will tell what the robotic age will bring.View Robot Stock Images

The Heartbreak of Psoriatic Arthritis, Seriously

"The Heartbreak of Psoriasis" has long been a punchline in the media, used in a quirky 1960's TV commercial, an avant-garde play, and even a hit song.But, having psoriasis, and especially psoriatic arthritis is serious. Psoriasis is a non-contagious condition related to immune system function and often runs in families. There is no cure, and the itching, cracked, bleeding skin and embarrassing silvery thick scales brings anguish to those who are afflicted. It can range from the occasional small patch with years of remission to a lifelong full-body debilitating condition.View Medical Images of Psoriatic ArthritisPatients with psoriasis are more likely to have other health issues as well. These include an increased prevalence and risk of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Also, a common ophthalmic disease in these patients is uveitis.

Ointments and creams are a helpful treatment for those with mild to moderate psoriasis, but, there ha…

Marijuana in the Modern Age

Originally grown as a medicinal plant, marijuana (Cannabis sativa) has come full circle as it gains its place in the world of modern medicine for pain relief, and as an antiemetic. Patients diagnosed with cancer, HIV, glaucoma, Crohn's Disease, and a number of other conditions claim that cannabis relieves their suffering. It is also used to control nausea induced by chemotherapy treatments. Marijuana use does have side effects. It is proven to increase heart rate, lower blood pressure, and cause dizziness. A dangerous side effect, if you are driving, is a slower reaction time. Car accidents more than double when a driver partakes of marijuana. Marijuana has been long-feared to be a gateway drug toward the addiction of other illegal drugs, such as cocaine or opioids. Studies are now being done to see if marijuana changes the brain to make it more likely to become addicted to other substances. No matter which side of the marijuana debate you are on, it is a fascinating and controve…

Fractals: Neverending Geometric Shapes

Ice crystals, tie-dye swirls, and lightning bolts all play by the same rules in fractal geometry.  Ubiquitous in nature, the fractal is a pattern or shape that repeats itself progressively at smaller and larger scales. First observed by Leibniz in the 17th century, the concept of self-similarity evolved for generations, until Benoit Mandelbrot coined the term 'fractal' in 1975. His invention of the Mandelbrot set, one of the most recognizable fractals, drew significant parallels between mathematics and the natural world.  He discovered that fractals could be found throughout the known universe, in everything from tree canopies to heartbeats. Fractals became a popular theme in psychedelic art, often presented as infinite spirals in the famous Mandelbrot set. Their use long predates this, however, appearing first in African design and a variety of architectural schools.View Fractal Images & Video Fun facts: Over 50 works by the painter Jackson Pollock are considered fractal…

Hanami and Sakura Matsuri

From ancient Japan to hipster Brooklyn, Hanami has captivated the minds of artists, poets and naturalists for generations.

Hanami or the Japanese tradition of flower viewing began in 9th century Japan when Emperor Saga began hosting cherry blossom festivals, attended by artists and poets of the court. Hanami became a metaphor for life – vibrant, beautiful, and ultimately fleeting.

The Shinto tradition held that Kami or spirits resided in the cherry trees, until the flowers bloomed and dispersed, heralding the beginning of spring. During the Edo period, Hanami spread beyond the court and became a nationwide event.

Today Hanami is enjoyed throughout the world, notably at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, where the festival, Sakura Matsuri is hosted yearly in March and May.

Cherry Blossom Notebooks
Cherry Blossom Tote Bags

The Unbreakable Bond Between People & Bees

A Researcher examines a honey bee.
Over thousands of years, bees and humans have forged an unbreakable bond. We find bees and humans on Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, medieval manuscripts, traveling on the Space Shuttle and more recently trained to sniff out explosives. Nearly one-third of our food is pollinated by bees. Without pollination, we would no longer enjoy the bounty of apples, cherries, cucumbers and most other fruits and vegetables.  Bees also make honey and people can use honey to heal wounds. Even the ancient Egyptians knew that honey could help heal cuts and burns, without understanding its antibiotic properties. Today manuka honey is used in hospitals and doctors offices to treat severe burns. And doctors are still discovering new uses, such as fighting peptic ulcers.Unfortunately, bees face many challenges today; from Colony Collapse Disorder, pesticides, mites, and even climate change. Many people are fighting to keep bees alive by preserving their health and environ…

Alternative Medicine, Quakery or Cure?

The Tesla Coil device was touted to restore hair, increase intelligence and cure gout. Quakery or Cure?Ancient remedies, herbal concoctions, and new agecuresreign supreme in the world of alternative medicine.Although there is no accepted definition, alternative medicine usually refers to remedies and techniques on the fringe of established medical practice. Some include Reiki, ozone therapy, homeopathy, acupuncture and more. Alternative medicine came to prominence in the west during the 1960’s and 70’s, as people began challenging traditional norms and embracing divergent opinions. Since then, a new marketplace of remedies and treatments have sprung forth, offering everything from stone massages to color therapy. Cures range from the strange to the revitalizing to the downright unscientific. (Edzard Ernst Ph.D. claims that only 7.4% of alternative medicine is grounded in empirical evidence.)Just quackery or the true cure? Whatever the case may be, alternative medicine is here to stay.…

A Tragic Family of Diseases - Neurodegenerative Disease

There is a family of diseases with two things in common – they involve the death of nerve cells over time and they have no known cure. They are called neurodegenerative diseases.
Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), and Huntington's  are a few of the more universally known ones. What they have in common is the progressive loss of structure, function or  death of nerve cells - called neurons.  Neurons are the building blocks of your brain and spinal cord. The body cannot replace or reproduce them,  so once they are damaged, they are lost.
Drugs and treatments are available to provide palliative care. Some may slow the progression or relieve or minimize symptoms such as shaking or pain. As these diseases progress, often over the course of years, they become debilitating and lead to the eventual end of someone's life.
Sadly, at this time there is no known cure for any of the diseases in this family. The only hope lies in fully understanding the mechan…

Step Out Into the Wild...for Your Mental Health

A weekly jaunt to your local park or forest can do more than satisfy your wanderlust – science shows it can improve your health. A 2010 study found that people who hike regularly have lower blood pressure and cortisol levels (or stress hormones.) Stepping out into nature can also protect you from seasonal colds and flus, which often circulate around offices and other communal spaces. Joint pain and stiffness are common results of sedentary lifestyles, especially desk jobs, and weekly activity is a simple, yet effective solution. "Being outdoors is generally associated with activity, and being physically active keeps joints loose and helps with chronic pain and stiffness" says Jay Lee, M.D, of Kaiser Permancente. On a more spiritual level, unwinding from a long work week by stepping out into the wild, can give you a greater sense of connection with nature and a broader perspective on life. So do what the doctor and the guru order – give the monitor a rest and set off into th…