Wide Load @McDonald’s

Wide Load.jpeg

I took this photo passing a McDonald’s. 


It just seemed so perfect.


With this SUV parked right between the McDonald’s arches.


And on the SUV are two red warning flags sticking out from the sides with a sign on top that says: 

“Wide Load” 

And in the McDonald’s window is a smiley face and a $2.99 Happy Meal special. 


With the “fast food” unhealthy eating culture that McDonald’s has so long represented, what is there really to smile about except the cheap fixings. 


If you eat at McDonald’s too much or too long then like Morgan Spurlock in the documentary “Super Size Me,” who ate nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days and gained almost 25 pounds and felt crappy…unfortunately the sign “Wide Load” may be descriptive of what can happen.   


This isn’t a dig at McDonald’s per se (there are many fast food joints and things that we know aren’t necessarily good for us)…moderation in life is really key. 


Healthy eating, exercise, mindfulness, work-life balance, and generally taking good care of yourself is not just a nice to have, but important to our well-being.


Genetics aside, it’s the “Battle of the Bulge,” and it’s a lifelong pursuit to be healthy 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

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Oh Those Crispy Wontons

Wonton

These were some good-looking crispy wonton chips at the Kosher Chinese. 


But I was good, and didn’t have a single one!


Dossy was lucky and could have some and she put soy sauce on hers.


It was tempting, but I held strong.


Carbohydrates = Poison. 


Carbohydrates = Poison. 


Carbohydrates = Poison. 


I tell myself over and over.


Do NOT touch. 


Do NOT eat. 


Do NOT even go near them. 


Not so bad…mind over matter. 


If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. 


Willpower, plain and simple. 


Would be easier perhaps with some different “food” genetics. 


But grateful for every blessing G-d has bestowed. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Travel in Metro DC Snow

Biking In The Snow

I took this photo yesterday in the Metro DC area. 

This brave–or should I say crazy–dude is bicycle riding in the snow.

Car is turning in front of him with the lights on.  

But the bike and rider has no lights or reflective material to speak of. 

Seems like a death wish or just plain stupid. 

Only more ridiculous thing I’ve seen with a bicycle recently is the rider plowing hard through a rain storm while holding an umbrella with one hand. 

Perhaps, there is a gene that makes people look for trouble in bad weather or is it the economy stupid (maybe sadly, the guy can’t afford a car or even an uber)?

Ride like the wind… 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Struggle Against Nature and Nurture

Struggle Against Nature and Nurture

I started watching The Following on Netflix.

If you haven’t seen it, the show is a portrayal of a serial killer.

This criminal has a near cult like following of people who want to kill, like him, and they do.

It is a frightening portrayal of people who murder, gruesomely.

They do it almost nonchalantly, like second nature.

They have no remorse, quite the opposite, they are deeply committed to what they do (e.g. through stabbing, burning, choking, etc.)

And they connect with each other, and the main serial killer, in their brutal acts of murder.

The show is deeply troubling in that there seems to be so many people out there who savor this, and that the authorities struggle to try to stop them.

Last year, the Wall Street Journal explored the science behind violent criminals.

They found in more than 100 studies that “about half of the variance in aggressive and anti-social behavior can be attributed to genetics.”

The study of this is called neurocriminology.

When this predisposition of genetics is combined with “early child abuse,” an individual is more prone to commit violent acts.

This is the old, “nature and nurture,” where our biological predisposition combined with our specific environmental factors, in a sense, make us who we are.

Understanding these contributors can help to both predict behavior and recidivism, and very importantly help with early treatment by “making it possible to get ahead of the problem” through therapy, medication, and so on.

People can be the worst type of animals, killing not only for food or because they are threatened, but actually for the joy of it.

The show is scary, but the reality is even more frightening as we battle heredity and environment.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Five Phases Of Medicine

The Five Phases Of Medicine

In many respects, medicine has come a really long way, and yet in other ways it seems like it still has so far to go.

For example, while antibiotics are used to routinely treat many bacterial infections, there are few antiviral treatments currently available–and we are left with the proverbial, “take two aspirin and call me in the morning.”

Similarly, heart attacks, strokes, cancers and so many other ailments still take their victims and leave the bereaving family asking why?

In thinking about medicine, there are five major historical phases:

1. Do nothing: Get hurt or ill, and you’re as good as dead. You shudder at the words “There is nothing we can do for you.” Average lifespan for folks, 30s. If you’re lucky (or wealthy), you may make it into your 40s or even reach 50.

2. Cut it: Diseased or damaged limb or body part, chop it off or cut it out surgically. I still remember when the people in my grandparents generation called doctors, butchers.

3. Replace it: When something is kaput, you replace it–using regenerative medicine, such as stem cell therapy (e.g. for bone marrow transplants or even for growing new tissue for teeth) and bio printers (like a 3-D printer) to make new ones.

4. Heat it: Envision a future with self-healing microbes (based on nanotechnology) in the blood and tissues that detect when a body part is dangerously ill and deploys repair drones to fix them. There is no need to cut it off or replace it, you just fix it. And perhaps with DNA “profiling”(don’t like that word), we’ll be able to tell what a person is predisposed to and provide proactive treatments.

5. Eliminate it: Ok, this is way out there, but could there come a time, when with technology (and of course, G-d’s guiding hand) that we can eradicate most disease. Yes, hard to imagine, and with diseases that adapt and morph into other strains, it would be hard to do–but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

I still am shocked in the 21st century with all the medical advances and technology that we have that the doctors still say for everything from routine colds, to viruses, sores, growths, and more–“Oh, there’s nothing we can do for that.”

Yet, there is what to look forward to for future generations in terms of better medicine and perhaps with longer and better quality of life.

My grandfather used to say, “No one gets old without suffering”–let’s hope and pray for less and less suffering with future medical technology advances. 😉

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

How Good Is Our DNA

Dna

Where do we store the vast and expanding information in our universe?

These days it’s typically in 0 and 1s–binary code–on computer chips.

But according to the Wall Street Journal(18 August 2012), in the future, it could be encoded in the genetic molecules of DNA.

DNA has “vastly more capacity for their size then today’s computer chips and drives”–where a thumb size amount could store the entire Internet–or “1.5 milligrams, about half the weight of a house ant could hold 1 petabyte of data, which equals to 1,000 1-terabyte hard drives.”

As opposed to binary code, DNA will store information as strands made up of four base chemicals: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C) and thymine (T).

Just like letters in the alphabet make up words, sequencing of these 4 base chemicals can store biological instructions (e.g. 3 billion for a person) or any other information.

Using DNA for storage involves 4 key steps:

1) Encoding information into binary code

2) Synthesizing the chemical molecules

3) Sequencing them in a string to hold the information

4) Decoding the molecules back into information

Overall, DNA is seen as a “stable, long-term archive for ordinary information”–such as books, files, records, photos, and more.

Researchers have actually been able to store an entire book of genetic engineering–with 53,426 words–into actual DNA, and “if you wanted to have your library encoded in DNA, you could probably do that now.”

With the cost declining for synthesizing and sequencing DNA, this type of data storage may become commercially practical in the future.

And with the amount of information roughly doubling every 2 years, large amounts of reliable and cost-effective memory remains an important foundation for the future of computing.

Frankly, when we talk about storing so much information in these minute areas, it is completely mind-boggling–really no different than the corollary of imaging all the stars in vastness of sky.

It is almost incredible to me that we have people that can not only understand these things, but make them work for us.

With NASA’s Curiosity Rover exploring Mars over 34 million miles away, and geneticists storing libraries of information in test tubes of DNA coding, we are truly expanding our knowledge at the edges of the great and small in our Universe.

How far can we continue to go before we discover the limitations to our quest or the underlying mysteries of life itself?

What is also curious to me is how on one hand, we are advancing our scientific and technological knowledge as a society, yet on the other, as individuals, we seem to be losing our knowledge for even basic human survival.

How many people these days, are proficient on the computer in an office setting, but couldn’t survive in the wilderness for even a few days.

Our skills sets are changing drastically–this is the age of the microwave, but knowing how to cook is a lost art to many.

So are we really getting smarter or just engaging our minds in a new direction–I hope we have the DNA to do more than just one! 😉

(Source Photo: adapted from here with attribution to Allen Gathmen)