Posted by: keherenf | February 20, 2008

Camp Laurel

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This past weekend I spent all of my time screaming songs, dancing, cheering, running, hiking, making about a million (or what felt like a million) late night trips to the bathroom, all the while shivering in the freezing temperatures. It turned out to be one of the coolest experiences I have had yet. I was the camp counselor for 5-8 year olds for Camp Laurel.

Camp Laurel was founded in 1993 by Margot Anderson with the hope of bettering the lives of children who are affected with HIV/AIDS, whether by they themselves being infected or by an immediate family member being affected. The camp is open to children ages 6-17 for the Summer and Teen camps, and for all ages including parents for the Winter Family camp. For the campers who apply and are accepted (campers must pass medical tests/physicals to come), the camp is completely free.

If there is one thing I would like to take from the camp and share with the world, it would be this: people who have HIV are no different than you or I. There were so many people at the camp that expressed that they wished everyone could experience Camp Laurel, because then they could see HIV for what it truly is. Instead, there is such a stigma about it. I heard stories of ostracism, stories of people who must moved because they are shunned by their families and their communities. Having HIV in and of itself is hard enough, let alone to lose family over it as well is really sad. The people I interacted with over the weekend were not contagious, were not promiscuous drug users, and were not untouchable. They were just like anyone else, and it was really unfortunate to see how much stigma still surrounds this virus.

After being more involved with Camp Laurel, I really support it’s cause and feel that it is a great organization to give support to, whether monetarily or time wise. They also have a bike ride from San Diego to Los Angeles which raises money for the cause if you would prefer to support in that way.

If you would like to become a camper, you can find all the information you need here.

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Posted by: keherenf | February 19, 2008

HPV- The Tricky STD

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HPV is one of the most common STD’s. Unlike other STD’s which can be prevented with condom use, HPV cannot. It can also take a dormant stage and surface weeks, months, or years after the initial exposure. Thus, a wife of someone for twenty years can suddenly develop genital warts from her husband’s exposure years before they were married. This is why HPV is tricky…a majority of those exposed will never display symptoms and their bodies will eventually fight off the virus, but all sexual partners in the meanwhile will be exposed. It is my hope in this article to spread awareness that this can still be contracted with perfect condom use, as well as address not only the physical but the emotional aspects of this virus.

Pathology: The virus lives on the skin in the genital areas, including areas that are not covered by condoms. This is what makes this STD unique- it is transmitted from skin to skin contact, not bodily fluid contact. There are about 30 strains of genital HPV. Of these, many are harmless- the person will never have symptoms, and the body will fight it off on its own. 10 of these strains are linked to the development of cervical cancer, although this is rare.

Symptoms: Most people who are exposed to HPV never develop symptoms. This is why it spreads so rampantly throughout the sexually active community. For those who do develop symptoms, they may appear either as genital warts or show up on tests as pre-cancerous changes in the genital areas. Genital warts may be flat or raised, small or large, few or many, and with different color variations. Warts can appear in as few as a couple of weeks to as long as years after initial exposure.

Pre-cancerous changes usually show up as abnormal results from Pap Smear tests. Depending on the level of cell dysplasia (changes), HPV tests may not be needed as nearly all cervical cell changes are from this virus. Women cannot feel these changes in their body, so it is important to get the recommended annual Pap Smear to catch any cell changes.

Treatment: Because most people who are exposed to HPV never show symptoms, treatment is not usually necessary. For those who have genital warts, treatment consists of procedures which removes the warts, whether through freezing or simple surgical procedures. There are also prescription medications which can be used to treat the warts.

For those who develop pre-cancerous changes, the patient may opt to have these cells removed. Should the patient develop cervical cancer, treatment would depend on the scope and nature of the disease.

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Epidemiology: HPV infections affect people worldwide.

Morbidity (# of deaths): Although no one dies from the virus alone, this virus is the main cause of cervical cancer. About 10,000 American women and about 500,000 women worldwide will acquire this disease, and about 4,000 American women and 250,000 women worldwide will die from it.

Mortality (# of those affected): Approximately 20 million Americans are currently infected with HPV. At any given time, about 50% of sexually active Americans have been exposed to at least one strain of HPV.

Preventative Measures: Because this virus is transmitted sexually, the only way to ensure that you will not contract this disease is either to abstain from sexual contact or to have sexual contact with someone who has never had sexual contact with someone else.

The second best preventative measure is to stay in a long-term monogamous relationship, although if your partner is already infected this may make you infected as well.

The highest risk for contracting many strains of this virus is from having multiple sexual partners or from having one sexual partner who has had many sexual partners.

Gardasil, the new HPV vaccine, may help prevent 90% of the risk for developing cervical cancer. This consists of three injections over the course of 7 months. However, this vaccine is most effective before the person begins having sexual contact. Should the person be exposed to HPV before the three injections are complete, the person will likely still get infected.

Emotional Aspect: (as taken directly from the American Social Health Association): “Yes, it is normal [to feel upset about having HPV]. Some people feel very upset. They may feel ashamed, fearful, confused, less attractive, or less interested in sex. They feel angry at their sex partner(s), even though it is usually not possible to know exactly when or from whom the virus was spread. Some people are afraid they will get cancer, or that they will never be able to find a sexual partner again. It is normal to have all, some or none of these feelings. It may take some time, but it is important to know that it is still possible to have a normal, healthy life, even with HPV.”

For More Information:

CDC

National Cancer Institute

National Institute of Health

American Social Health Association

Posted by: keherenf | January 23, 2008

Muhammad Yunus

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On January 16 I was able to see Muhammed Yunus speak in Santa Barbara about how he changed the world through his development of micro-credit loans at the Grameen Bank. Originally from Bangladesh, he earned his PHd in Economics from Vanderbilt University and became a professor in Bangladesh. While in the country, he felt that the way “conventional banking” was designed was not conducive to helping out the poor people. He explained that it takes money to make money, and 1/3 of the world’s population does not have even $1 to make $1.

Thus began his quest to create a “social business”, not to be confused with charity or non-profit. His banking system of micro-credit loans has turned the conventional system of banking upside down. He explained that rather than having the people come to you, Grameen Bank goes to the people (women). Instead of penalizing the poor, the poorer the person, the more money she will receive. Also, conventional banks do not give out money to those who have no idea what to do with. Grameen Bank, on the other hand, typically hands out money to those who have never touched money in their life, and have no idea what to do with it.

It sounds like it would never work. As previously stated, the money given out is not charity money. It is a loan the same way I would take a loan for school or you would take a loan to start a business. It must be paid back. And because it is a social business, those who invest will get exactly what they invested back. Most importantly, this is a system based on trust, a concept that seems to be completely lacking in America.

But somehow, this system has surpassed our conventional banking system. Over 98% of the loans given out are paid back monthly. That far exceeds any repayment rate of any bank here. In doing so, he has allowed thousands of women to gain a life. He explained that if a woman dies with no opportunity, she dies unblossomed and leaves the world as a huge loss to herself and to human society. Grameen Bank has provided the opportunity for women who would have previously never have been given a chance, allowing them to develop, learn, and create better lives for themselves.

One way he has expanded the idea of Grameen Bank is through creating sustainable companies that both enhance the “social business” aspect while also providing jobs to these women. His greatest example was through Grameen cell phone company. The women in Bangladesh fell in love with cell phones when they were first introduced. So, now many of them have their own cell phone and stand on the streets selling them. This has given thousands of women jobs while also increasing Grameen as a business, to what is now the largest cell phone service in Bangladesh.

Those familiar with this development economic type system understand that eradicating poverty is just one facet of the world’s problem. Notably, education and health care also need to be addressed as they are all strongly linked. So, once Grameen was stable, Yunus moved forward to attack another component of what he felt was unjust: education. For the women who took the loans, Grameen Bank encouraged their children to go to school, to which he would provide scholarships. Mostly illiterate, these children quickly ended up at the top of their class. Last year, 51,000 children of those who take out microcredit loans received scholarships to go to school. Today, more than 21,000 kids are now in medical schools and universities thanks to what Grameen Bank has been able to provide to the children and their mothers.

I can’t wait to see what he comes up with when he starts moving into healthcare.

It was really inspiring to see all of the great things Yunus has done for those who previously never stood a chance. To me, he fully embodies what I feel is true love, and man’s true calling to mankind. Furthermore, his work will remain long after he is gone, as he created a system that is independent of his existence at this point.

This type of system is not so far removed that we could not implement it here in America. As Yunus explained, the poor are more credit worthy in many ways than the wealthiest in the nation, as the statistics show. If we set it up right, I think a system like this could help the largely unnecessary unemployed, uneducated, and poor Americans that live right around the corner from all of us. Oh, and one more tip from Yunus to create a functional system? No lawyers.

Want to support Grameen? Donate here.

Posted by: keherenf | January 19, 2008

Dostoevsky Wisdom on Love and Hate

I am currently reading Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, a book which explores familial relations and the personal psychology related to it. However, this blog is not a review of the book (I’m not even done reading it yet!). Instead, I am going to share a piece of the book which I felt was an incredibly accurate depiction of my personal beliefs. The character speaking is  named Father Zossima, who on his death bed shares his last words of wisdom to one of the brothers, Aloysha Karamazov. He states:

“Love God’s people. Because we [the monks] have come here and shut ourselves within these walls, we are no holier than those that are outside, but on the contrary, from the very fact of coming here, each of us has confessed to himself that he is worst than others…Know, dear ones, that every one of us is undoubtedly responsible for all men and everything on earth, not merely through the general sinfulness of creation, but each one personally for all mankind and every individual man…Only through that knowledge, our heart grows soft with infinite, universal, inexhaustible love. Then everyone of you will have the power to win over the whole world by love and to wash away the sins of the world with your tears.

Each of you keep watch over your heart and confess your sins to yourself unceasingly. Be not afraid of your sins, even when perceiving them, if only there be penitence, but make no conditions with God…Be not proud. Be proud neither to the little nor to the great. Hate not those who reject you, who insult you, who abuse and slander you. Hate not the atheists, the teachers of evil, the materialists- and I mean not only the good ones-for there are many good ones among them, especially in our day- hate not even the wicked ones. Remember them in your prayers.”

I am not a monk, and I am sure that most of the people who will read this are not either. But, there are some key components to this quote that can apply to everyone.

1. The idea of love:  I love how Dostoevsky makes love a responsibility for each and every individual. Rather than emphasizing love as a feeling as so many in American culture do, he instead explains love as understanding that you are better than not one person and that is your duty to live accordingly, understanding that you are responsible for all men and all of mankind. Thus, “helping others” goes from a good deed to an expected deed…something no greater than eating dinner to sustain your body or going for a walk to get some exercise. Caring for others should be expected rather than just desired.

2. The idea of sin: Here, Dostoevsky acknowledges that every man sins. But, men seem to be so afraid of their sins, their mistakes, in general that they are not spoken of. But, Dostoevsky encourages man to not only acknowledge them, but to remind him of them constantly. Mistakes exist and are inevitable, but if man accepts them and learns from them he will progress further than if he tries to hide them and be ashamed of them. In doing so, Dostoevsky makes it seem much more acceptable to be a fallible human.

3. The idea of hate: Love and hate go hand in hand since they are on opposing ends of the spectrum. Most of the time, hate is associated with those that are the hardest to love, or those who “insult or reject you”, just as Dostoevsky stated. But, I think he incorporates the hardest and most important part of love by telling us that we not only should not hate these people, but we should pray for them. For those who are not religious, this can be translated to not only should we not hate them, but we should show extra thought and love to them.

Book review on the actual story will be coming soon!

Posted by: keherenf | January 13, 2008

How to Save Three Lives

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Come to think of it, there are probably many ways that one could theoretically save three lives. But, an easy way is to donate blood. If you are over 17, weigh more than 110 pounds, and have not engaged in risky sexual or drug behavior, you are probably a good candidate for blood donation.

The process is organized mostly through the Red Cross, although local medical groups may sponsor one as well. The first step is to sign up and make an appointment. Once an appointment is made, the following will occur:

1. Eat a good breakfast and drink plenty of liquids before the donation. If you are prone to be anemic, take an iron supplement as well.

2. You will show up to the site and be asked to read some material concerning the donation.

3. Once you are done reading, you will be brought back into a private area to speak with one of the technicians. They will check your I.D. and ask basic demographic questions. They will then check your vitals…temperature, blood pressure, and pulse. If everything is good, they will then check your iron by drawing a very small amount of blood through a pinprick in your finger. If your iron level is high enough, they will then ask you to answer a series of questions privately on their laptop. It asks questions mainly about sexual activity, drug use, and traveling information.

4. Now that you have completed the screening, you are ready to donate. They will place you in a reclined seat and pick an arm to draw from.  They will then put a blood pressure cuff on your arm and blow it up to make the vein rise closer to the surface of the skin. Next, they will rub iodine (cleaner) on your vein until the skin is completely disinfected. With a quick pinch, the needle will be in and your blood will be on its way to the donation bag.

5. While the needle is still in your arm, you will be instructed to squeeze a fun plastic ball with your hand every five seconds or so.  This helps the blood go into the bag quicker. While you are giving blood, you should not feel any different. You really should not feel the needle in your arm, and as long as you are healthy you should feel like you are just relaxing.

6. Within a few minutes, the donation bag should be full. The technician will come over and fill a few more small vials with your blood, and then they will take the needle out. They will quickly bandage the area and you will be asked to rest for about 15 minutes.

And that’s it! That simple process saves three lives! It has minimal pain, and they usually give you great treats. Over the course of my donations, I have received free movie tickets, free dinners, free shirts, free Clippers tickets, cookies, crackers, juice, water, and more.

This process can be repeated every 8 weeks. The whole thing takes just under an hour, something everyone should be able to find once every two months. Save three lives, donate blood!

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Posted by: keherenf | January 13, 2008

The Miracle Drug

Imagine that a pill existed that could guarantee the following: weight loss, anti-depressant, lower resting pulse, stress relief, stronger bones, reduced chance of heart disease, reduced blood pressure, strength, better quality of sleep, happiness, and even more. How much money would you pay for this pill? According to an ABC Network poll, over 45% of American adults alone want to lose weight. And I’m sure most people would like to be happy. I am pretty sure if this pill existed, there would be an incredibly high demand. In fact, maybe someday I can create this pill and become incredibly wealthy.

Fortunately, there is no reason for me to make this drug (well, unless I wanted to scam people for the sake of money). This already exists, just not in pill form. What is the secret? Exercise.

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All of the results mentioned above are true results one can get from exercising. In the medical community, it is considered one of the best things people can do for their bodies as it keeps the body in its peak condition. Most people know that in order to lose weight, they need to do a combination of better diet and exercise. But, what people may not understand is how much they go hand in hand. Although reducing calories will assist in shedding pounds, eventually the body’s metabolism (ability to burn calories) will slow down since less average calories are being put in. Thus, it is a requirement that one exercises in order to rev up that metabolism furnace.

One problem with exercise that may deter people from it is the time that is required. Depending on where one lives, they may join a gym that requires a certain amount of driving time, plus the time to workout itself, plus the time to shower and change afterwards. This whole process can make exercising a one to two hour routine, which may be impossible for someone who is working long hours, has kids, etc. But, there are ways to get around this, no matter what your living situation. If you work long hours, go for a walk on your breaks. Three ten-minute walks in one day add up to thirty minutes of exercise….the minimum daily recommended amount. Or, strap the kids in a stroller and walk them to the park instead of driving them. If you are going from a no exercise program to an exercise program in general, the type of exercise and duration is not important…something is always better than nothing!

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Another reason so many choose not to exercise? The effort it takes to do it. I would become a millionaire if I made this pill because it is a pill…something one can pop in their mouth without breaking a sweat and then go on with their day. Exercise requires actually moving the body, maybe even sweating at some point. The first thing to keep in mind is that our bodies are designed to exercise and be active. It is only recently in our abundance of resources and technology advancements that we have been able to lead such sedentary lives, but this violates what our bodies are prepared to handle. Secondly, as previously stated, in the beginning of exercising the type and duration does not really matter, as long as it equals a minimum of thirty minutes. Does a ten minute walk sound daunting? Or how about a 15 minute bike ride, once in the morning, and once at night? You can break up your activities throughout the day into very simple tasks, and before you know it, your body will be ready for more. Although seemingly difficult, it only takes a few weeks for the body to adjust to a new exercise routine. So, eventually you will actually crave exercising, and the imposing effort will actually be desired.

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The FDA recommends that adults exercise a minimum of 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week. Because exercising has been a passion of mine for years now, I will be writing more fitness tips in my future articles. But to me it seems like a no-brainer: to get all of the health benefits I listed in the beginning, get out there and get moving!

Posted by: keherenf | January 11, 2008

A River Sutra

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Some of the best gifts you can share with someone is information and wisdom. I received this book from my best friend for Christmas anticipating a great read, which is exactly what I found from beginning to end.
With my affinity for literary devices, I felt one of the most impressive components to this story was the beautiful imagery used. Gita Mehta uses this book and the river itself as a canvas, the words and the pages painting vivid colors and images throughout. This story continually returns to one central location, the holy river called Narmada. It is on this river that Mehta portrays dancing women with brilliant colored garments, lovers embracing in a tranquil field, a disfigured daughter falling in love with music, a blind singer tragically murdered. All stories are so separate, and yet in some form or another they are all connected to the tranquility and the allure of the beautiful river which brings peace to those who seek it. It is this intricate depiction of each individual snapshot in time that impressed me most structurally.
It is also this expert crafting of the story which prevented me from predicting the surprise ending. Each individual story presented it’s own plot and climax, and because it is so cleverly produced there is little need to try and make connections. For all the audience knows, each person is solely connected to the river which they travel to as a pilgrimage to purify themselves. Because this book is so strong, this more than suffices.
But Mehta completes her novel by allowing the story to connect full circle. Earlier in the story, she introduces an ascetic monk (traveling monk) who buys an abused girl and shows her true love, dedicating his life to remaining pure and holy. At the end of the story, a scientist comes to the man who lives on the river to say that he will be doing experiments on it. The man who lives on the river becomes upset after a few days, and feels as though the scientist does not respect the holiness of the river. But, in a beautiful night revelation, the man on the river learns that the scientist was actually the ascetic monk. He explains that one must cycle through life 84,000 times before they move on.
Thus, in one page the entire novel connects fully by threading each unique story and person to one another. Like many other great books I have read, this one emphasizes how all people are connected in some form or another, and it is therefore implied that we should live our lives knowing that this intricate weave exists. Similar to the book Siddhartha in which the reader follows a man’s journey to Enlightenment, the river itself represents the journeys that so many people partake in to discover their Enlightenment.
If you enjoy exotic locations (this one is in India)and a collection of intriguing short stories intertwined with majestic images which are all rolled together in one enlightening surprise ending, this book would be a great choice for you.
Posted by: keherenf | December 31, 2007

The Life of Pi

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My roommate challenged me to read this book since neither he nor his family members could seem to get past the first 75 or so pages. Out to prove to him that this book was readable, I set out on a journey with a young boy named Pi as he struggles to survive on a lifeboat with a tiger.
I will admit that I felt the book started out slowly. The author builds up a lot of history around Pi and the zoo that his family runs. With it are some good discussions about God which are variably interspersed amongst discussions of animals and India. It seems to ramble on at points, and I can understand how some would lose attention.
But in an instant this changes when Pi is on a cargo ship which sinks, leaving him stranded and afraid on a lifeboat with a tiger, hyena, monkey, and zebra. Within a short amount of time all of the animals are killed with the exception of the tiger, which Pi must learn train for self preservation. Martel continues the novel by chronicling the challenges Pi experiences as he slowly starves on the boat, adapting and learning along the way.
Eventually I started to feel like I was in the lifeboat with him, experiencing what Pi did in his quest for survival. The reader cannot help but be joyful when he is finally rescued, and sad when he is separated from his companion, a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.
Martel shocks once again when Pi is asked to tell two men from an insurance company what happened to cause the boat to sink. He tells them the entire story that the audience has just read- this is his initial account. But, the insurance men point out several ways as to how his story does not match up, and thereby invalidate it. Pi then tells a one page account in which his mother, two sailors, and an evil chef are represented by the animals, where they brutally murder and eat each other. The insurance men have a dismal response to the gruesome tale. After a pause, Pi asks them which story they would have preferred to hear, the more pleasant one including animals or the one with more “facts”. They do not know how to respond. Pi then states “So it is with God”.
Thus the whole point of the novel is exposed. With this one statement Martel reconnects the ending to the beginning, in which it is explained that a faith in God should be just that. Martel definitely believes that the means are not as important, as long as the main facts are the same. In Pi’s story, the main facts were as follows: the ship sank, he survived. Everything else was left to interpretation to those around him. Likewise, with believing in God the means should not matter as much as the main fact itself: I believe in God.
Martel further supports this through the very ending of the story, in which she leaves the ending ambiguous. The tiger was never found, however there is nothing to prove that either of his story was more “right” than the other. Thus, she leaves it up to the reader to either decide for themselves which story likely occurred, or to just accept that both stories may have taken place and leave it at that.
Whatever you decide, I believe this is a good book to read if you are seeking adventure with subtle religious undertones. The level of depth you may take from this story is up to you, but whether looking for a light read that parallels any other with survival and adventure or a deep read that leads to philosophical debate, this book can be a good choice for you.
Posted by: keherenf | December 26, 2007

The Mastery of Love

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It is rare when I find a book that I literally cannot put down until it is finished, but this is one of them. Tossing and turning tonight, I thought I would read the first chapter of the book, and the next thing I knew it was over.

It is also rare when you read a book that gives you an epiphany, a revelation, but again this is one of them. This book made me feel ashamed and hopeful at the same time, the former for my preconceived notions of love, and the latter because I was provided the awareness to change it. The following are the best messages I took from it:

1. The most crucial component to love is first loving yourself: Ruiz explains a relationship between two people as two halves. You can only control your half, not the other half. Likewise only you should control your happiness, and no one else. The reason so many get hurt with love is that they expect the other person to bring them happiness, and without question that person will ultimately fail. Therefore, it is most important to work on keeping your own half perfect, or you will never experience great love.

2. Because of what we learn from society and family, love comes from fear: Ruiz explains that the best example of true love is in watching children: they laugh, play, have fun, do not have expectations of other children. And if one hurts another, they are upset for a short period of time, quickly forgive, and forget. He also likens this to a dog who gives unconditional love regardless. If you decide to ignore the dog that day, he does not take it personally. Now, fast forward this to adulthood. Adults who are in a relationship forget to laugh and play, are quick to judge, and do not easily forgive. Should one partner have a bad day and want to be alone, the other partner may think that he is being rejected, which makes him upset. Or, if the partner does not fulfill expectations A-Z perfectly, the other partner will feel disappointed. We learn this from society and our parents, who teach us that these expectations should exist. In the reward/punish system, we learn to always punish ourselves, which in turn causes us to always punish our partner.

3. True love is not selfish: This is the one I struggled with the most, because it certainly exposed my greatest downfall. Ruiz explains that love is not selfish, that is, it is not jealous or possessive. To say that one’s love is “mine” and for no one else is entirely selfish, and it makes the other person feel like they have to do things for you instead of wanting to do things for you. He likens this to a drug addict and a provider. The drug addict is constantly worried that he will not get his next dose of drugs, and therefore he becomes possessive of the provider. He questions what the provider does, who the provider is with, and any activity that may jeopardize the next dose of drugs. Likewise, with two people in a relationship it is often the case that one person has greater power over the other because he does not need the love as much as the other. For the person who takes the role of the addict, this is not showing true love. To truly love someone else is to trust that they are making the right decisions, and to love them even if they reject you. It is the ability to love them so much you set them free, where you love them for them, not for what they provide you.

4. True love does not desire to change someone: Ruiz explains this in terms of pets. When you get a dog, you do not later get mad at it for not being a cat. Likewise, when you enter a relationship with someone you should not want or expect to change them later. Changing people is not a right we have, and it is selfish. The way we get around this is by seeing what we want to see in the initial stages, and denying what we do not want to see. Later on, when the infatuation fades, we get mad at our partner for the things we previously denied. This is not true love. Real love sees the person completely for what and who they are, and has no desire to change them.

6. We should not feel bad about sexual desires: One chapter discusses the difference between mind and body. The body has basic needs: shelter, water, food and sex. The mind has none of these needs. Rather than sex, the mind craves love. However, the mind does not need anything. Society tells us based on cultural or religious standards that sexual feelings are only acceptable in certain circumstances. This causes us to feel guilty and punish ourselves when we have sexual feelings outside of these circumstances, which in turn can allow us to obsess even more about it. Instead, if we accepted the division between mind and body, we could recognize our sexual feelings for what they are, and then move on with no problem. Also, if we strip away the expectations society has for us in terms of sexual relationships, we could likely enjoy it much more.

7. The power of God is within: Everyone has a true inner self that is contained by a body. Our genes dictate how that is, plain and simple. But, society imposes expectations on how we should or should not be. Ruiz explains that this is why someone can have a closet full of clothes and say they have nothing to wear, or why one can be healthy but deprive themselves of food to be thin, etc. If we could release ourselves of these expectations and truly be just ourselves, we would see God.

8. We don’t have to punish ourselves for our past: Kids do not do this. A 3 year old can barely remember a wrong doing from a day ago, let alone weeks or years ago. But, adults tend to take on a victim mentality, where they feel they must be punished for things that happened in the past. He gives an example of someone who is raped 10 years ago. Does that woman need to punish herself and have problems with sexuality for the rest of her life? Absolutely not. If she does, she is instead choosing to punish and abuse herself. Instead, she should accept it for what it was and not allow the attacker to have any more power over her. Similarly, if we adopt this Victim Mentality, we allow the attackers in our lives to take control over them, which is not indicative of self love.

Although I have yet to review a book I have not liked, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a different approach to love that is based on trust and being real.

Posted by: keherenf | December 23, 2007

Yellow Fever

The World Health Organization just published the top 10 public health concerns of 2007.  Of them, one was the eradication of yellow fever. Although not everyone infected get the worst symptoms of the “toxic phase”, those who do may get jaundice (yellowing of the skin), which gives the virus its name. It is currently of concern because it is a re-emerging epidemic, that is it has been increasingly on the rise since the 1980’s.

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Pathology: Yellow fever is a live virus transmitted from mosquitoes to humans. Some can be infected and never show symptoms. The virus typically incubates for 3-6 days. Of everyone who is infected, 15% will enter a “toxic” phase after the initial incubation period. Of these, 50% will die.

Symptoms: Some infected with the virus will remain completely asymptomatic. Of those who do show symptoms, the following may be present:

  • high fever
  • chills
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • vomiting
  • red eyes, face, tongue
  • backache
  • shock
  • bleeding out of the ears, eyes, mouth, and nose
  • delirium
  • seizures
  • coma
  • kidney failure
  • liver failure
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Treatment:There is currently no treatment for this virus. Those affected should treat the fever and any possible bacteria infection in conjunction, but there is nothing to treat the virus itself.

Epidemiology: 33 countries with a combined population of 508 million people in Africa are vulnerable. It is also prevalent in nine South American countries and the Caribbean. Of these, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru are at the greatest risk.

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Morbidity (# affected): At least 200,000 a year

Mortality (# of deaths): 30,000 deaths are reported annually, but the WHO believes this is greatly underreported.

Public Health Concern: The incidences of this disease has been on the rise despite the existence of a highly effective vaccine. The immunization prevents the virus in over 95% of those administered. However, to prevent an epidemic a minimum of 80% of the population must be immunized, something most of the affected areas have failed to accomplish.

What you can do to help: The Yellow Fever Initiative was designed by the WHO and UNICEF to create immunization programs for children at the 12 highest-risk countries. Donating to either of these organizations can allow more immunizations to be purchased.

For More Information:

WHO 

CDC

Department of Health Promotion and Education

National Institute of Health

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