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Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Beauty tips from the far side

Aging, Beauty, Fluff

Unlike most women I know, I'm blessed with an overly good opinion of how I look.

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Too bad Eleanor Roosevelt wasn't hot

Aging, Beauty, It isn't easy, Oprah

One of my fondest childhood memories is sick days. My mom would give me fresh pajamas--in winter, warmed in front of the fireplace if it happened to be going or in the dryer if it wasn't--and tuck me in. She'd bring the radio into my room. This being in ancient times, not every room had one of those. And I'd spend the day dozing in and out of soap operas and advertisements.

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Cheesemaker's apprentice

Aging, job hunt

About 80% of job hunting falls into the wild goose chase category. Yesterday I was lucky, finding two jobs I'd love and applying for them. One even came with a personal contact, the Holy Grail of job searching. So I was not surprised when today's search reverted to the norm.

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The Grandmother Hypothesis

Aging, Grandmother hypothesis, Wisconsin Public Radio

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What isn't lost

Aging, Mom, Spirituality

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Six of ten on the record books

Aging, Snow

This is the second snowiest winter in Milwaukee's history, according to this morning's Journal Sentinel.

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Another kind of love story

Aging, Mom

"So how'd it go," I asked Mom.

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Some good news about aging societies

Aging, Politics

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Not as bad as the worst

Aging, It's not easy

As I leave the house to make my now weekly pilgrimage to Oshkosh, I spot one of the kids’ iPods on the kitchen floor. It looks a little odd, and then I see that all that high technology is now held together with electric tape.

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No bang, some whimpers

Aging, New Year

It's not the end of the world, just the end of the year. Still, while I hadn't planned to put on stilettos and silks to dance the year away, neither had I planned to spend the evening in flannel jammies, ice on my ankle instead of in a toasting drink.

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Princesses and hags: how we train ourselves to look at aging

Aging, Beauty, It's not easy

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh asked, “Does our looks-obsessed culture want to stare at an aging woman?” The woman in question was Hillary Clinton, of course.

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Beauty and the bus

Aging, It's not easy, Politics

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Objectivity? Consider the source

Aging, Beauty, Politics

Nearly everyone "frames" what they report, putting it in a particular context of belief that favors their own viewpoint.

For example, a tax that only affects the very rich sounds like a good idea for the rest of us when it's called "the estate tax." Call it the "death tax," however, and we're all against it because, well, it sounds like those taxes are going to hit the rest of us just like death will.

The big buzz around a new health science report published Nov. 7 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that suggests that Vitamin D may slow aging and prevent aging related diseases is a case study in framing.

“These results are exciting because they demonstrate for the first time that people who have higher levels of vitamin D may age more slowly than people with lower levels of vitamin D,” says team leader Brent Richards, an endocrinologist. “This could help explain how vitamin D has a protective effect on many age-related diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. What's interesting is that there's a huge body of evidence that shows sunshine ages your skin—but it also increases your vitamin D levels. So, like many times in medicine, we find there's a trade-off.”

Dozens of sources reported the study this weekend, and nearly all reports clearly come from the same original source, probably a wire service, and included the paragraph above. But however similar the words may be, the headlines make us see different meanings and implications.

The most neutral headline from a Google search came from France, where Food Navigator.com (Europe)  proclaimed:
Live longer with vitamin D, study says

Most reports from the US and England jumped on a weird take best exemplified by Fox News:
Women Who Spend Time in the Sun May Age More Slowly, Study Says. (No mention that the researchers are talking about 10-15 minutes only of direct sun exposure.)

The American FoodConsumer.org missed a bet when they delivered this pitch:
Wanna live longer? Take vitamin D pills

Fortunately, the Times of India got the Wisconsin frame right:
Milk may provide aging benefits

Now you know why so many scientists hate the news media: they just can't avoid the sexy frame that distorts the facts.

However, I'm sure the Times of India, my new source for all information, is the absolutely objective and just plain. . .right. Here's another health story they report, this time from the Universities of Pittsburgh and California:

Curvy women are cleverer, too: study

Curvy women have been admired for their sensual figures. But, a new study has found that ladies with large hips and small waists are cleverer too, than those with apple-shaped bodies. In fact, according to international researchers, women with an hourglass figure are not only intelligent, they also give birth to brighter children, The Sunday Times reported in London on Sunday.

"The fat around fuller hips and thighs holds higher levels of omega3 fatty acids which are essential for the growth of the brain during pregnancy," the researchers were quoted as saying.

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Sex, ice cream, and major surgery

Aging, It's not easy

Have I got your attention?

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The art of aging (gracefully)

Aging, Fluff

One of the Google Alerts I get daily on the subject “aging” offered this tasty tidbit: “The Art of Aging.” Who could resist? I clicked the link.

The article was about cheese. But might there be some lessons in aging cheese for aging people? After looking at The Nibble and Whey to Go! On The Art of Aging (Gracefully), I’m ready to say yes.

Author Stephanie Zonis writes:

“When I mentioned to a friend that I was writing an article on aged cheeses, she shuddered, adding that she couldn’t stand 'strong, stinky, old cheeses.' Hold on, there! There are some very strong, sharp, er, particularly aromatic aged cheeses, but they’re not all like that, not by any means. . .”

“Cheeses are either fresh or aged. Fresh cheeses are generally mild and soft in texture. . . creamy and somewhat bland. . .Aged cheeses are. . . multi-textured. One of the great things about (them) is their range in flavors. . . some are sweeter. . . beautifully complex.”

“The aging process is also known as ripening, maturing, or affinage.” (That’s French for “refining.”)

Here’s a point I can identify with:

“Without a good rind, a cheese will lose too much moisture during refining.” I don’t know about you, but my own refinement has involved a distinct loss of moisture.

The cheesemaker’s solution? Wash the exterior periodically with brine, oil, brand, whey, beer, cider, or wine. While the article didn't mention it, I've had some good cheeses that applied the wine internally as well.

The paths of people and cheese diverge when it comes to ripening, though. Cheeses do best in dark caves: people don’t.

One last lesson: You just can't judge a cheese by its appearance. Its beauty lies in its deeper essence.

A version of this entry appeared in my other blog, Aging Maven, as well.

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