Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

“The Holstee Manifesto” – How to live your life

February 28, 2012
"The Holstee Manifesto" - How to live your life

“The Holstee Manifesto”, written by Holstee founders Michael Radparvar, Dave Radparvar, and Fabian Pfortmüller in 2009.

I came across “the Holstee Manifesto” on Facebook from Xan Pearson, a social media contemporary of mine from Chicago, who shared it on her Facebook Timeline.  As I read and re-read it, I came to realize how much parts of the manifesto alone would benefit my friends and family as well as myself, since we have our own struggles in life and we are working through them at different rates.  The next morning, I also realized that this manifesto should be read from beginning to end, regardless of our current life situation, since other parts of the prose may direct us to take our lives in a very different, more positive direction.  Who knows in what new direction we take our lives after reading the manifesto over and over?

How did the Holstee Manifesto come into being?  According Holstee’s website:

[T]he first thing Holstee’s three founders – Mike, Fabian and Dave – did was sit together on the steps of Union Square and write down exactly what was on their minds and the tips of their tongues.  It wasn’t about shirts and it wasn’t about their old jobs.  It was about what they wanted from life and how to create a company that breathes that passion into the world everyday.  It was a reminder of what we live for.  The result became known as the Holstee Manifesto.

I strongly encourage you to take the Holstee Manifesto at the top of the blog and make it the background of your desktop for your computer.  If you would prefer a non-electronic version for your bedroom, college dorm, or your children’s bedroom, Holstee sells posters on its website.

In case you want to copy-paste the full text of the Holstee Manifesto, here it is:

“This is your life.  Do what you love, and do it often.  If you don’t like your job, quit.  If you don’t have enough time, stop watching TV.  If you are looking for the love of your life, stop; they will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love.  Stop over analyzing, life is simple.  All emotions are beautiful.  When you eat, appreciate every last bite.  Open your mind, arms, and heart to new things and people, we are united in our differences.  Ask the next person you see what their passion is, and share your inspiring dream with them.  Travel often; getting lost will help you find yourself.  Some opportunities only come once, seize them.  Life is about the people you meet, and the things you create with them so go out and start creating.  Life is short.  Live your dream and share your passion.”

Two years after the premier of the Holstee Manifesto in 2009, Holstee released a video called The Holstee Manifesto: Lifecycle Video, which features the manifesto, verbatim, as well as the lively streets of New York City on Holstee’s favorite mode of transportation — bicycle riding.

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Francis Unson

Astronaut Chow: Space Food over the Years

February 22, 2012

The first manned missions to outer space by both the United States and former USSR in 1961 were short trips that last no longer than two hours.  However, the former USSR went on to complete a few missions that lasted more than 24 hours before the US completed its first 24-hour space flight in 1963.  The increasing durations of the space flights by both the American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts make one thing very clear: at some point, the crew must eat.

Russian Borscht soup in a tube, consumed by cosmonauts in space | Astronaut Chow: Space Food over the Years

Russian Borscht soup in a tube. Courtesy: Aliazimi

The first food delivery systems were, of all things, tubes.  They had the look and feel of a tube of toothpaste, but what came out of these tubes was anything but minty.  The former USSR’s Yuri Gagarin, who in 1961 became both the first human to travel into space and the first to orbit the earth, dined on three 160 g toothpaste-type tubes: two servings of puréed meat and one chocolate sauce.  The combined crew of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (1975) ate tubes of borscht and caviar, along with canned beef tongue and packaged Riga bread.

Space Food during Projects Mercury and Gemini | Astronaut Chow: Space Food over the Years

Top: Project Mercury – Food cubes and tubes. Bottom: Project Gemini – Cubes and “rehydrater”.

While NASA effectively borrowed the food tube idea from the Russians, they also experimented with their own delivery system: bite-sized cubes with gelatin coatings to prevent crumbs.  During Project Mercury (1959-63) and Project Gemini (1965-66), foods were dehydrated before missions and rehydrated once in space, allowing the menu to expand over time to include the astronauts’ preferences.  Items such as shrimp cocktail, chicken and vegetables, toast squares, butterscotch pudding, and apple juice were available on the menu.  Even though rehydration methods improved during the Apollo program (1961-75), food presentation and presentation were still the same as during the previous space programs.

Skylab 2 astronauts eat space food in wardroom of Skylab trainer | Astronaut Chow: Space Food over the Years

Left to right, Scientist-Astronaut Joseph P. Kerwin, science pilot; Astronaut Paul J. Weitz, pilot; and Astronaut Charles Conrad Jr., commander

By the time the United States’ space station, Skylab, was operational in the mid 1970s, astronauts indulged in “normal” meals.  The astronauts would literally come to the table during mealtimes.  A dining room table and chairs, fastened to the floor and fitted with foot and thigh restraints, allowed for a more normal eating experience.  The trays used could warm the food, and had magnets to hold eating utensils and scissors to open food containers.  Unfortunately, a new problem came to light.  The astronauts trained on the ground with the very food they brought with them to Skylab, so they fully expected the food to taste the same.  However, they soon realized that the microgravity environment dulled their senses of taste and smell due to a head congestion from weightlessness.

Food trays from the space station, Skylab, and the Space Shuttle | Astronaut Chow: Space Food over the Years

Food trays from (top to bottom) Skylab and Space Shuttle.

The food tray developed for Skylab was apparently well-designed and deemed sufficient for the Space Shuttle program (1981-2011).  As you can see, the food trays between both space programs differ in design slightly, but the functionality, as well as mobility, of both trays allowed astronauts to take their food with them wherever they worked.

In 2009, the Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern” gave viewers a rare glimpse into the development of space food technology.  Andrew Zimmern, along with astronauts Michael Foreman, Leland Melvin, Michael Massimino, and Garrett Riesman, were presented with a number of food items that were flown on Space Shuttle missions and are currently available on the International Space Station.  They rated each food item and gave their thoughts and opinions of each item to the food scientists.  Andrew noted right away that a fruit punch drink was much sweeter than he anticipated, and other foods were very flavorful or spicy.  As previously discussed, past astronauts complained of dulled senses of taste and smell due to the microgravity environment.  Food scientists countered this phenomenon by preparing foods with extra flavor.

Here is a YouTube video from the Travel Channel where Andrew Zimmern samples space food:

The culmination of years of work by NASA’s food scientists can be seen below.

Bags of International Space Station food and utensils on a tray | Astronaut Chow: Space Food over the Years

Bags of International Space Station food and utensils on a tray. Courtesy: NASA

Assorted bags of snack food and dehydrated food, as served on the ISS | Astronaut Chow: Space Food over the Years

Assorted bags of snack food and dehydrated food, as served on the ISS. Courtesy: NASA

What does the future hold for space food?  Apparently, we do not have to wait long for an answer to that question.  According to Mashable:

“[NASA] is looking for applicants to eat astronaut food for four months during a simulated trip to the Red Planet. Participants will try instant foods, and ones with shelf-stable ingredients, and scientists will record their reactions. The goal of the experiment is to discover what foods people like to consume consistently.”

If you want to shape the future of space food, NASA is giving you a chance to do so.

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Francis Unson

Health Watch: Sit-ups alone don’t work. Your core matters, too

January 4, 2012

Many people set out to make healthy changes for themselves, especially as part of their New Year’s resolution.  As a result, gymnasiums see a spike in memberships around New Year’s Day.  However, it may have been years since someone has exercised to any extent, let along set foot inside a gym.  Not only are these people out of shape, but they maybe rusty in technique, as well.  Attempting their first sit-up in years, for instance, they will find it much harder to do than when they last did it.  In fact, according to recent studies in biomechanics, what they learned about sit-ups and crunches years ago maybe flat out wrong.

If doing a bunch of sit-ups has not taken any inches off your waist, you may be doing it wrong. Before doing any abdominal exercises, you must work on core strength training first.Researchers have found out that the full motion of a sit-up puts an unhealthy strain on your back at its weakest point.  The back of the spine contains the most nerves, which is the very part that bends and strains during a sit-up.  Excessive flexing of the spine over time, doing just one type of sit-up or crunch repeatedly, could lead to disk herniation, resulting in back and leg pain, weakness, and tingling.  Trainers working closely with new clients have observed that the excessive flexing of the client’s spine is due to their focus on just one muscle group, the rectus abdominus, with little regard to other abdominal muscle groups such as the transverse abdominus or obliques (internal and external), or other “core” muscles.  People must understand that core strength training and abdominal exercises complement each other, and that the latter cannot be done instead of the former.  The core muscles that are involved include:

  • Rectus Abdominus
  • Erector Spinae
  • Multifidus
  • External Obliques
  • Internal Obliques
  • Transverse Abdominis (TVA)
  • Hip Flexors, which include the psoas major, illiacus, rectus femoris, pectineus, and sartorius
  • Gluteus medius and minimus
  • Gluteus maximus, hamstring group, piriformis
  • Hip adductors

Why must we focus on these core muscles?  The muscles of the core make it possible for us to stand upright and walk around by controlling movement, shift body weight, and move in any direction.  The goal of core stability is to maintain a solid foundation and transfer of energy from the center of the body out to the limbs, thereby protecting the back.  What are the exercises required to strengthen the core muscles?  The following exercise equipment, as demonstrated in these YouTube videos, work very well towards developing your core strength:

Consider these pieces of equipment tools that can assist you in your core strength development.  However, you can also develop your core strength without them, relying on your body weight alone.  Body weight exercises involve abdominal bracing, or the contraction of the abdominal muscles, and focus primarily on the transverse abdominis.  This, along with ten other equipment-less exercises, can be done to develop your core strength and include the following:

These exercises will ensure that you develop core strength in the transverse abdominis, the deepest muscle of the core, so that you can maintain trunk stability and keep your waist tight.  It should not be surprising, then, that you would reap from the benefits of core conditioning when you work on abdominal conditioning concurrently.  Conversely, you maybe disappointed at the results of your abdominal conditioning should you do little core conditioning alongside it.

Abdominal conditioning focuses on two muscle groups: the rectus abdominus, often referred to as the “six-pack” , and the obliques (internal and external), which are located on the front and side of the abdomen.  These two muscle groups are on top of the aforementioned transverse abdominis, which is adjacent to your vital organs.  The abdominal muscles are special because they provide postural support, which contributes to a healthy back.  As long as you work on core conditioning, as well, you will be pleased with the results of your abdominal condition.  The number of abdominal exercises to choose from, however, raises another concern: what are the most effective abdominal exercises? The Biomechanics Lab at San Diego State University answered that question by measuring the muscle activity of a number of test subjects as they performed 13 12 different ab exercises.  Using the traditional crunch as the baseline of muscle activity, this is what they discovered for the rectus abdominus:

Activity in Rectus Abdominus
Ranking Exercise Activity, mean %
1 Bicycle Maneuver 248
2 Captain’s Chair 212
3 Exercise Ball 139
4 Vertical Leg Crunch 129
5 Torso Track 127
6 Long Arm Crunch 119
7 Reverse Crunch 109
8 Crunch with Heel Push 107
9 Ab Roller 105
10 Hover 100
11 Traditional Crunch 100
12 Exercise Tubing Pull 92
13 Ab Rocker 21

as well as for the obliques:

Activity in Obliques
Ranking Exercise Activity, mean %
1 Captain’s Chair 310
2 Bicycle Maneuver 290
3 Reverse Crunch 240
4 Hover 230
5 Vertical Leg Crunch 216
6 Exercise Ball 147
7 Torso Track 145
8 Crunch with Heel Push 126
9 Long Arm Crunch 118
10 Ab Roller 101
11 Traditional Crunch 100
12 Exercise Tubing Pull 77
13 Ab Rocker 74

What does this mean for your workout?  Think about your workout in three steps, in order:

  1. Stretching (as always)
  2. Core strength training (to maintain a solid foundation and transfer of energy from the center of the body out to the limbs)
  3. Abdominal exercises (to strengthen your abdominal muscles)

When you go to the gym or work out in your garage, do not start with abdominal exercises.  Always work on core strength training first so that your abdominal exercises thereafter produce the six-pack abs you have wanted in the first place.

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Francis Unson

How Groupon Works

August 23, 2011

Groupon is a deal-of-the-day website that is localized to major markets in the United States and Canada.  The website was launched in November 2008.  It was first used in Chicago, later expanding to Boston, New York City, and Toronto.  Soon it was used by many parts of the United States.  Groupon serves more than 150 markets in North America.  Now, for those who are not Internet savvy, here are steps on how to use the website:

  1. Groupon offers discounts for things such as food and services, as long as enough people buy into the deal.Sign up at
  2. The site will send you e-mail updates on the daily deals in your city.
  3. Purchase the deal at the discounted price.  Most of the time, these deals will be at least 30% off the original price.  If you are very lucky, you may find a deal as much as 90% off!
  4. Once enough people purchase the deal, it is activated (tipped) and you will receive your discount.  If the minimum number of deals is not purchased, however, the deal is cancelled and no one gets it.  Fortunately, almost all deals on Groupon are claimed due to a large membership base and a low minimum number of users required to purchase the deal and trigger a tip.
  5. Once you receive your deal you can claim it at the store you got it for, usually within a period of time before it expires.  The website will also give you all the details about the Groupon you have purchased.

Saving money is a great thing to do nowadays, especially with the current state of the economy.  Websites such as Groupon will help you to save time and money.  Instead of shuffling through newspapers to cut out coupons, you can just print them at your convenience.

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Taylor P.

Rural Doctors Needed: The Road to Becoming a Doctor

August 3, 2011

The University of Kansas, in Kansas City, hopes that young doctors will be more willing to practice in small towns if they go to school in a rural area.  Eight students will be taking classes on a satellite campus in Salina, Kansas.  The university decided to take a distance learning approach in response to the shortage of rural doctors in the United States.  The idea is to show these students that life can be good outside of the big city and practice can still be stimulating as well.

The University of Kansas has taken a distance learning approach in response to the shortage of rural doctors in the United States.  What does it take to become a doctor?Becoming a doctor is a long and difficult process, with many years devoted to schooling.  Here is a summary of what it takes to become a doctor:

  1. Volunteer or work in a medical setting.
  2. Excel in high school. (Great grades and show responsibility.)
  3. Commit to your goal.
  4. Graduate from a four-year college or university.
  5. Take the Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT.
  6. Complete medical school.
  7. Enter your residency training period.  This is typically three years long and begins in July after you graduate from medical school.

I certainly hope I did not scare you away from you or your child’s dream of becoming a doctor.  On the contrary, I hope that knowing the road ahead will motivate you and your child to plan out what needs to be done so that you can create a bright future for you or your child in the field of medicine.

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Taylor P.

Top 10 Best Sunscreens and Sunglasses with UV Protection

June 28, 2011

Now that the summer of 2011 has finally arrived, it’s time to start taking certain precautions.  With the heat expected to be much more intense here in California, it is important to protect your skin to avoid putting yourself at risk for melanoma (skin cancer).  It’s also important to protect your eyes from being damaged by the sun’s strong rays.  Here is a list of the top ten best sunscreens.

Best Sunscreens

  1. Alba Botanica
    Sun: Mineral Sunscreen Fragrance Free, SPF 30
    Sun: Mineral Sunscreen Kids, SPF 30
  2. All Terrain
    AquaSport Performance Sunscreen, SPF 30
    TerraSport Performance Sunscreen, SPF 30
    KidSport Performance Sunscreen, SPF 30
  3. Aubrey Organics
    Natural Sun Sport Stick Unscented Sunscreen, SPF 30
    Natural Sun Unscented Sensitive Skin/Children’s Sunscreen, SPF 30+
    Natural Sun Saving Face Sunscreen, SPF 15
  4. Aveeno
    Baby Natural Protection Mineral Block Face Stick, SPF 50
  5. BabyGanics
    Cover Up Baby Sunscreen for Face & Body, Fragrance Free, SPF 50+
    Cover Up Baby Sunscreen Stick, Fragrance Free, SPF 50
  6. babyUV/kidsUV inc.
    kidsUV Natural Sunscreen Blue/Pink, SPF 30
  7. Badger
    Sunscreen, Unscented, SPF 30+
    Baby Sunscreen, SPF 30+
    Sunscreen, Lightly Scented Lavender, SPF 30+
    Sunscreen Face Stick, Unscented, SPF 30+
    Sunscreen, Lightly Scented Lavender, SPF 15
  8. Beyond Coastal
    Natural Clear, SPF 30
    Kids Natural, SPF 30
    Lip and Face Screen, SPF 30
    Natural, SPF 30
  9. Blue Lizard
    Australian Suncream, Sensitive, SPF 30+
    Baby Australian Suncream, SPF 30+
  10. California Baby
    No Fragrance Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
    No Fragrance Sunblock Stick, SPF 30+
    Everyday/Year-Round Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
    Summer Blend Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
    Everyday/Year-Round Sunblock Stick, SPF 30+
    No Fragrance Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 18
    Everyday/Year-Round Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 18

Here is a list of the top ten sunglasses with the best UV Protection.

When you spend a lot of time outdoors in the sun, especially during the summer, you need to protect your skin and eyes. Here is a list of sunscreens and sunglasses with UV protection.Best Sunglasses with UV Protection

  1. Ray-Ban
  2. Oakley
  3. Prada
  4. Polaroid
  5. Gucci
  6. Fendi
  7. Guess
  8. Vogue Eyewear
  9. DKNY
  10. Emporio Armani Eyewear

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Joie Montoya

How to Deal With Food Allergies

June 27, 2011

Food allergies can be difficult to deal with, especially if it is a common ingredient in foods you eat.  You could go to an allergist to evaluate the severity of your allergies and get prescription medication to help relieve your symptoms if you accidentally eat something you are allergic to.  Non-prescription antihistamines, like Chlor-Trimeton or Benadryl, can also be taken to relieve symptoms.

Food allergies can be rough, especially if you find out what you're allergic to for the first time when eating something for the first (and possibly last) time. Here are some ways to deal with food allergy symptoms.However, it is best to consult your doctor before buying any kind of over-the-counter medication to relieve allergy symptoms and ensure they are right for you.  The best way to deal with allergies is to avoid what you are allergic to altogether.  You should check labels on foods you buy to make sure they don’t use any suspect ingredients.  Also, if you go out to eat somewhere you can ask the server if they cook with that certain food item or ingredient and request a substitute if necessary.  Being allergic to food can be difficult, but reactions can be easily avoided.

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Taylor P.

Lava Tubes: What flowing lava leaves behind over time

June 22, 2011

Lava tubes are a type of lava cave formed when an active low-viscosity lava flow develops a continuous and hard crust, which thickens and forms a roof above the still-flowing lava stream.  Tubes form in one of two ways: by the crusting over of lava channels, and from pahoehoe flows where the lava is moving under the surface.  Lava usually leaves at the point of eruption through channels.  The channels stay very hot although their surroundings are cool.  When lava begins to flow away from its eruption point the surrounding lava of the pahoehoe flow cools down, resulting in the underground channel known as the lava tube.

Lava tubes can form into different structures, such as caves, pillars, or lavacicles.  Here are some of the tubes that can be found all over the world that contain any or all of these structures.

Lava tubes, found where lava once flowed, allows you to peer into a unique side of Earth's geology.

Ape Cave, Mount St. Helens, Washington State


  • Surtshellir – For a long time, this was the longest known lava tube in the world.
  • Víðgelmir – Another long lava tube of Iceland.



United States

The video, below, shows a number of kids and teenagers who participated in the Hawaii Sea Camp program.

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Joie Montoya

$150 Million Donation to USC Medical School is Keck Foundation’s Largest Ever

June 15, 2011

The University of Southern California (USC) received a $150 million donation from the Keck Foundation for its medical programs.  This donation is set out to help scientific and clinical research at the university’s medical school and its two hospitals.  USC received a donation of $110 million for its medical programs 11 years ago, also from the Keck Foundation.

The $150-million donation to USC's medical school by the Keck Foundation comes after the $200-million donation to USC's College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences from alumnus David Dornsife in March and $110-million donation for undergraduate financial aid by alumnus John Mork in April.With the donations, USC hopes to improve the school’s medical research rank as well as add new faculty in the fields of stem cells, cancer, liver disease, and preventative health.  This is USC’s third donation since March 2011, even though the $150 million donation is the Keck Foundation’s largest donation it has given in its 57-year history.  USC will be attaching the Keck name to its medical school and the university hospital.

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Taylor P.

Top Five Most Popular Veggie Burger Recipes

June 13, 2011

Being vegetarian does not mean you have to give up hamburgers; just the real meat part!  Finding a recipe that tastes good can be hard when cooking veggie burgers, so here is a list of the five most popular recipes:

Portabella Mushroom Burgers: Perfect for those who like veggie burgers or mushroom burgers, topped with an avocado sauce.  CookingwithTse demonstrates how to make the burger below:

Spicy Vegetarian Black Bean Burger: This is a spicy, flavorful burger that can be cooked on a grill or pan-fried.  Indie5Collective demonstrates how to make the burger below:

Potato Veggie Burgers: A burger made from potatoes?  Sounds crazy, but worth trying.  HealthyVegan shows us how:

Black Bean Burgers: An easy-to-make veggie burger that is great for an everyday meal.  Joelluks prepares the burger in his video below:

Vegetarian Black Bean Burgers with Cornmeal: This is also a vegan recipe, made with black beans and salsa for flavor.

Veggie burgers were once hard to come by and not easy to make. Thanks to the ingenuity of determined vegetarians, they now have a variety of burgers to call their own that rival their carnivore counterparts.

Going vegetarian can be tough, so knowing some great recipes with wonderful flavors is a great way to help you into the process.  These burgers are not only tasty, but they are also easy to make!  Cooking for vegetarian’s sounds like it could be a task, but it is very simple, nutritious, and delicious!

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Taylor P.