Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Follow the LEADER...the JSPH

I sense a trend and I can't wait to point it out!! Four years ago this week the Trustees of Thomas Jefferson University voted unanimously to create the first and only school of population health in the nation, aptly named the Jefferson School of Population Health. We now have more than 320 students, taking at least one course with us, either on line or in person, across our four masters programs and our doctoral degree. Our team accomplished this feat in record time and we have exceeded all of our enrollment targets every semester since our founding. But that's not all---all around the nation others are taking our lead. Now, NYU School of Medicine and Hofstra North Shore Long Island Jewish Medical College have created Departments of Population Health. They are baking this material directly into the medical school curriculum!! Others like Arizona State University have established the "College of Health Solutions", appointing the former Dean of Mayo Medical School as the inaugural leader. Wait, there is more!! Northwestern University in Chicago is opening its "Center for Population Health Sciences with a special focus on information technology. The venerable Massachusetts Medical Society, the folks who bring us among other things the New England Journal of Medicine, labeled their Annual Meeting--"The Secret Sauce--Population Health as a Recipe for Transforming Health Care" ( and I had the privilege of delivering the plenary address). Finally, the July cover story of TRUSTEE magazine, from the American Hospital Association, is all about Population Health. Well, half a dozen  or so data points may not mean much but I believe these institutions are following the leader...skating to where we all know the "puck is headed". I am incredibly proud of our team and I hope you will visit our school website to learn more about the Real Leader...JSPH. DAVID NASH.......................www.jefferson.edu/population_health

The 14-percent advantage of eating little and then a lot: Putting it in practice

In my previous post I argued that the human body may react to “eating big” as it would to overfeeding, increasing energy expenditure by a certain amount. That increase seems to lead to a reduction in the caloric value of the meals during overfeeding; a reduction that seems to gravitate around 14 percent of the overfed amount.

And what is the overfed amount? Let us assume that your daily calorie intake to maintain your current body weight is 2,000 calories. However, one day you consume 1,000 calories, and the next 3,000 – adding up to 4,000 calories in 2 days. This amounts to 2,000 calories per day on average, the weight maintenance amount; but the extra 1,000 on the second day is perceived by your body as overfeeding. So 140 calories are “lost”.

The mechanisms by which this could happen are not entirely clear. Some studies contain clues; one example is the 2002 study conducted with mice by Anson and colleagues (), from which the graphs below were taken.

In the graphs above AL refers to ad libitum feeding, LDF to limited daily feeding (40 percent less than AL), IF to intermittent (alternate-day) fasting, and PF to pair-fed mice that were provided daily with a food allotment equal to the average daily intake of mice in the IF group. PF was added a control condition; in practice, the 2-day food consumption was about the same in AL, IF and PF.

After a 20-week period, intermittent fasting was associated with the lowest blood glucose and insulin concentrations (graphs a and b), and the highest concentrations of insulin growth factor 1 and ketones (graphs c and d). These seem to be fairly positive outcomes. In humans, they would normally be associated with metabolic improvements and body fat loss.

Let us go back to the 14 percent advantage of eating little and then a lot; a pattern of eating that can be implemented though intermittent fasting, as well as other approaches.

So, as we have seen in the previous post (), it seems that if you consume the same number of calories, but you do that while alternating between underfeeding and overfeeding, you actually “absorb” 14 percent fewer calories – with that percentage applied to the extra calorie intake above the amount needed for weight maintenance.

And here is a critical point, which I already hinted at in the previous post (): energy expenditure is not significantly reduced by underfeeding, as long as it is short-term underfeeding – e.g., about 24 h or less. So you don’t “gain back” the calories due to a possible reduction in energy expenditure in the (relatively short) underfeeding period.

What do 140 calories mean in terms of fat loss? Just divide that amount by 9 to get an estimate; about 15 g of fat lost. This is about 1 lb per month, and 12 lbs per year. Does one lose muscle due to this, in addition to body fat? A period of underfeeding of about 24 h or less should not be enough to lead to loss of muscle, as long as one doesn’t do glycogen-depleting exercise during that period ().

Sounds good? It actually gets better. Underfeeding tends to increase the body’s receptivity to both micronutrients and macronutrients. This applies to protein, carbohydrates, vitamins etc. For example, the activity of liver and muscle glycogen synthase is significantly increased by underfeeding (the scientific term is “phosphorylation”), particularly carbohydrate underfeeding, effectively raising the insulin sensitivity of those tissues.

The same happens, in general terms, with a host of other tissues and nutrients; often mediated by enzymes. This means that after a short period of underfeeding your body is primed to absorb micronutrients and macronutrients more effectively, even as it uses up some extra calories – leading to a 14 percent increase in energy expenditure.

There are many ways in which this can be achieved. Intermittent fasting is one of them; with 16-h to 24-h fasts, for example. Intermittent calorie restriction is another; e.g., with a 1/3 and 2/3 calorie consumption pattern across two-day periods. Yet another is intermittent carbohydrate restriction, with other macronutrients kept more or less constant.

If the same amount of food is consumed, there is evidence suggesting that such practices would lead to body weight preservation with improved body composition – same body weight, but reduced fat mass. This is what the study by Anson and colleagues, mentioned earlier, suggested ().

A 2005 study by Heilbronn and colleagues on alternate day fasting by humans suggested a small decrease in body weight (); although the loss was clearly mostly of fat mass. Interestingly, this study with nonobese humans suggested a massive decrease in fasting insulin, much like the mice study by Anson and colleagues.

Having said all of the above, there are several people who gain body fat by alternating between eating little and a lot. Why is that? The most likely reason is that when they eat a lot their caloric intake exceeds the increased energy expenditure.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

BRAVO NHS, BRAVO Pussy Riot and BRAVO Dr Malcolm Rigler...

What a week! I shall keep heroically quiet in the face of Olympic fever, only to say what a wonderful distraction Danny Boyle provided us with in times of swingeing austerity. Bravo, you volunteer dancing nurses. Was that art and health - was that Big Society in action, and do you have jobs to waltz back to? I had a funny feeling watching the opening ceremony - near emotional...in fact, it reminded me of how I was almost washed along in something similar after the people’s princess died: a rare coming together of people, in that case through a media-induced shared pseudo-grief, in this case, through a desperate clinging on to our fractured identity. Come to think of it, hasn’t D who shall not be named, been conspicuous in her absence from all things jubilant and olympic? All hail the puppet master - all hail our transient moments of civic delusion.

With the very generous contribution of our NHS staff entertaining us in mind, it is with thanks to a friend in New York, that I can share news of an event in Kingston (just north of NYC) in October. The O+ Festival brings health workers and artists together to exchange practice - bartering the art of medicine for the medicine of art. Admittedly this is from a country where many people can’t afford health care insurance, but the premiss is excellent and well worth exploring. 

Did you know that across the NHS at the moment, there are over 100 different tools for monitoring your vital signs? In other words, the ways in which vital signs such as blood pressure and temperature are monitored in hospitals needs to be standardised across the NHS. Lack of a standardised process is causing confusion and sometimes delays in patients getting help. To find out more about this, click on the happy and valued nurse below. The excellent writer and surgeon, Dr Atul Gawande has written extensively on this in his fascinating book, The Checklist Manifesto. Just imagine for a moment, if airline pilots didn’t rigorously follow a systematic safety checklist before they took you off on your summer holidays! Well, imagine too, if the team preparing you for surgery hadn’t gathered your health information in a systematic and universally understood manner.

And following on from the opening ceremony of our ultimate national wellbeing campaign, it was with great honour, that I accepted the invitation to speak alongside Dr Malcolm Rigler at the Faculty of Public Health’s Annual Conference, rather suitably held at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff. Dr Rigler isn’t one to blow his own trumpet, but without hesitation, he can safely be described as one of the founding fathers of this thing we call arts and health. As a GP, he has never been shy in coming forward to expound the potential of the arts, and artists to influence both medical practice and civic society. He’s been supporting the ideas of the Peckham Experiment for many years and commissioned some of the arts/health greats from his GP Practice at Withymoor Village Surgery. Think Ali Jones (now Clough), John Angus and Mike White. Rigler ploughed this furrow, before others were brave enough to question the way in which medicine is delivered. The conference was packed to the roof with delegates, and although our hour session was very much quieter than the other parallels which focused on leadership, we were proud to have had the input and enthusiastic support from real innovators and giants from the field of medicine and public health. I extend my thanks to all of you that attended and particularly to John Wyn Owen, Prof John Ashton and the very inspirational Mark Gamsu. Dr Rigler and I will be writing an article that takes our thoughts further, entitled Imagination in 21st Century Public Health.

It seems that since we first broadcast the plight of Pussy Riot in February 2012, the band have gained much in the way of celebrity support. Lets hope that the growing media attention puts pressure on the Russian authorities, to release them, and listen to their voices. For an exclusive interview with three members of the collective, click on the video below. 

It would be easy to smirk at Pussy Riot from a safe distance, but performing songs like, Putin Pissed Himself in front of the Kremlin is both courageous and dangerous. Ekaterina Degot, Russian art critic comments, "What you were doing was incredible. That it's going to change Russian history. That there is no question that what you are doing is art and that no Russian artist has brought about this much change, ever." Powerful stuff.

Finally, another pioneer of arts in health in Manchester: Chris Agnew, has died on 3 July after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Chris established puppetry and performance at Manchester's St Mary's Hospital in 1979, helped initiate arts activities at the Christie cancer hospital, developed performance work with elderly patients at Withington Hospital and, with textile artist Adrienne Brown, was joint coordinator of Stockport Arts and Health (SAH). For a fuller appreciation of Chris Agnew by her friend and colleague Langley Brown, please click on the image below. 

‘To create a healthier nation we must start by encouraging inclusive and harmonious relationships in a society where so many find themselves socially excluded. The principal killers are not cancer and heart disease but lack of social support, poor education and stagnant economies.’ Dr Malcolm Rigler

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Summer Skin and Anti-Acne Regimen

DISCLAIMER: See a dermatologist if you have severe acne or extremely sensitive skin.  

Summer is here and you are noticing more pimples and blackheads than usual.  You also don't feel like purchasing expensive, over-the-counter skin products that may or may not eliminate the acne ...  OR maybe you want a more natural alternative to commercial products that are loaded with chemicals.  Well, here is a regimen I drafted that worked well for me; I've also included additional steps for the more stubborn pimples and blackheads.

You will need:
olive oil (makeup remover)
grapeseed oil (blackhead zapper)
baking soda (dirt & oil remover)
brown sugar (exfoliant)
honey (anti-bacterial)
witch hazel (toner)
cotton balls
washcloth (1-2)
cleanser (of your choice)
light moisturizer (of your choice)

PRE-CLEANSING (if wearing makeup):
1. Drench a cotton ball with olive oil and proceed to wipe face and eye area to remove any makeup.
2. If necessary, repeat step #1 until most of the makeup dissolves.
3. Wipe away any excess oil with a damp washcloth.

1. Wash face with your usual cleanser mixed with a teaspoon of baking soda.
2. Rinse then massage the brown sugar scrub onto damp face for 5 minutes avoiding the eye area.  (Brown sugar scrub: two tablespoons of brown sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon of honey and 1 teaspoon of water.)
3. Rinse face with warm water or wipe with a second warm, wet washcloth.

1. Moisten a cotton ball with witch hazel, and proceed to gently brush the face paying close attention to acne areas and avoiding the eye area.
2. Wait 2-3 minutes before applying the moisturizer of your choice.
3. (Optional) Moisten a cotton swab with grapeseed oil and apply to any blackheads on the face.

For the more stubborn acne, you may want to try a homemade chemical peel after washing your face (in place of the scrub).  Read my earlier post for recipes and instructions.


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Underrated || Safflower Oil for Hair and Skin

Many women use olive oil, coconut oil, and even jojoba oil on their hair in some fashion, but few use or know about safflower oil.


1.  It is inexpensive.  Compared to your more popular hair oils, this one is fairly inexpensive.  Depending on where you purchase safflower oil, it can cost almost 20-50% less than extra virgin olive oil or extra virgin coconut oil.

2.  It is very moisturizing.  The safflower oil sold for cooking purposes is generally high in oleic acid, which is a fatty acid that possesses conditioning and moisturizing properties.

3.  It is fairly light.  The consistency of safflower oil is somewhere between that of jojoba oil and olive oil, and somewhat similar to grapeseed oil.  Thus, if you find olive oil to be too heavy and jojoba oil to be too light, safflower oil may be worth a try.


1. As a sealant.  Depending on your hair, safflower oil may work just fine as a sealant after a good wash and deep condition.  I used to use this oil as a sealant during humid weather when my hair didn't require a heavy product.

2. To enhance a moisturizer.  This oil can be use to enhance your current moisturizer.  It works really well in whipped butters.

3.  To enhance a lotion.  Yes, it can be used on the skin too!  You can add this oil to your body lotion or facial moisturizer.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A to Z List of Common Ingredients in Products

Yesterday, I found a link describing many of the common ingredients we find in hair and skin products.  Below are some of the more popular ones; for the remainder, check out the original article:

Alcohol Denat (aka Denatured Alcohol): The European name for SD alcohol, it is ethyl alcohol made undrinkable for legal use in cosmetics. It acts as a solvent, disinfectant, and freshening agent in skin care products and a solvent in fragrance oils.
Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate: This salt, a natural coconut alcohol derivative, is a mild surfactant used in rinseable skin cleansers.
Avocado Oil: This organic emollient and carrier oil is used in makeup, moisturizers, and creams for its high levels of fat and vitamins A and C. It is also among the most effective naturally-derived sunscreens.
Beeswax Yellow or White: Derived from virgin bees and is primarily used in skin care products and makeup as an emulsifier.
Bentonite: This white clay is an important makeup ingredient — it absorbs oil and reduces shine. It is also used to thicken cosmetics and skin care products and to emulsify oils and masks.
Burdock: The roots, seeds, and leaves of this plant contain an essential oil used in beauty products for its soothing effects on the skin. It is also an astringent and antibacterial agent.
Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter): From the nut of the Mangifolia tree in Central Africa. It’s also called Karite Butter or African Shea Nut Butter. Shea butter is high in triglycerides, has a high content of vitamins A, E & F and will soften and maintain moisture to the skin without greasiness.
Butylene Glycol: This humectant is used in hairsprays for its resistance to humidity.
Cetearyl Alcohol: This alcohol derivative is an emollient and emulsion stabilizer used in skin lotions, hairstyling creams, and deodorants.
Coconut Diethanolamide: (coconut oil acid, cocamide DEA, ninol, witcamide and calamide) A coconut derivative and common ingredient in skin care products; it works as a detergent creating a stable soapy lather moisturizes and softens the skin. Like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), coconut diethanolamide can break down skin’s oily barrier layer and dry it out. Some people develop allergic reactions to it.
Coconut Oil: This coconut kernel extract is a natural lathering and cleansing ingredient, and is often blended with other fats. Frequently found in skin cleansers, oils, and moisturizers, as well as hair care and nail care products.
Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Extract: Derived from the milk or coconut “water” inside the hard exterior that is the endosperm or food for germination of the plant. It is highly nutritive, containing amino acids, sugars, vitamins and plant growth factors.
Collagen: A fibrous protein that makes up the connective tissue in the body. In cosmetic products it is used as an emollient.

For the remainder, check out the original article.

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How Happy Are You? Let the government tell you...

First ONS Annual Experimental Subjective Well-being Results

David Cameron's attempts to chart the nation's happiness alongside economic data gas been published today by the Office of National Statistics. The data, gathered between April 2011 and March 2012, compares happiness and anxiety levels by sex, age, ethnicity and other demographic factors. It reveals that people aged 16-19 and 65-79 recorded satisfaction levels considerably higher than the British average of 7.4 out of 10. Analysis of responses according to ethnicity, revealed the Indian population recorded the highest levels of satisfaction – 7.5 out of 10 – and the black population the lowest, at just 6.7. Anxiety ratings were highest among the Arab population, among whom the average response was 3.7, compared with a national average of 3.1. When asked about day-to-day emotions, 10.9 per cent of people in the UK rated their ‘happiness yesterday’ as less than 5 out of 10 (indicating lower happiness). For the ‘anxious yesterday’ question, 21.8 per cent reported a rating of more than 5 (indicating higher anxiety)
To go directly to the report, just click on our happy first minister above.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Lesson in Civility for Inaugural Grandon Society Meeting

This year’s Summer Seminar provided a glimpse of the kind of programming available to members of the Jefferson School of Population Health’s Grandon Society.
This year’s Seminar, the inaugural meeting of the Grandon Society, was held at WHYY’s Dorrance H. Hamilton Public Media Commons. Chris Satullo, WHYY’s Executive Director of News and Civic Dialogue, provided the morning’s keynote with his presentation, “Keeping a Civil Tongue: How to Have a Better Dialogue, Next Time.” He was followed by Tony Auth, WHYY’s Digital Artist in Residence. Auth, whose distinguished 40-year career as a political cartoonist at the Philadelphia Inquirer included a Pulitzer Prize, spoke about his new adventures and experiments in digital story-telling, using pen and ink and watercolor, as well as digital apps.
The tandem provided an engaging message about civil dialogue and the polarity of what passes for dialogue in the politically charged times in which we live. Satullo, who formerly ran the editorial page  at the Inquirer, spoke of the need to establish ground rules, including: 1) Listen, just listen. 2) Tell stories, don’t trade positions. 3) Search for shared identities, values, even amid differences. 4) Find useful work to do together.
It was a perfect venue and subject for the Grandon Society’s debut. As JSPH Associate Dean for Continuing Professional Education Alexis Skoufalos told the crowd, “There is an underlying synergy between this new endeavor and public broadcasting’s mission to educate and inform the public about important topics that impact their daily lives, as individuals and as a community.”
We’d love to hear your ideas for future topics for Grandon Society events. For further information, or to join the Grandon Society, visit our Web site, here.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Laughing our way through a double-dip recession...

Across history and cultures, if you are seen as ‘different’ or perhaps question the status quo, the prescribed method of the state has been to tell you to shut up, or else lock you up. Religion has played no small part in this too. Just think witchcraft - think sexuality - think gender. Incarceration and execution. Homosexuality as a mortal sin: and then post-enlightenment, as a diagnosable illness that only this year, the psychiatrist Dr Robert Spitzer recanted his theory that if you were gay, you could be ‘cured’. Widely seen as one of the architects of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) which is the ‘bible’ of the the American Psychiatric Association, and in which for years homosexuality was categorised as a disease, the DSM isn’t without it’s detractors, who argue it perpetuates the beliefs of a small number of powerful psychiatrists and by proxy, the pharmaceutical industry.
Psychotherapists like Gary Greenberg in his book Manufacturing Depression, suggest that the pathologising of human nature is pernicious, and it could be that ‘the depression epidemic is not so much the discovery of a long unrecognised disease, but a reconstitution of a broad swath of human experience as illness.’

It was with Greenberg’s comments in mind, around the pathologising of human discontent as disease, that I read with some disquiet, economist Lord Layard’s comments that, ‘If you go back 30 or 40 years, people said you couldn't measure depression. But eventually the measurement of depression became uncontroversial.’ 
With the first set of results on happiness for the governments national happiness/wellbeing index due this week from the Office for National Statistics - and with Layard something of a happiness tzar: the assertion that depression is all neat, measurable and uncontroversial is divorced from reality. Yes, we all know that treatments have, by and large improved, as has general understanding of mental ill health, but the assumption that human nature can be weighed out, compared and categorised still dominates, and in turn the relationship between those manufacturing the ‘cures’ and those diagnosing the ‘disease’ still exists. Earlier this month, I shared the story of the GlaxoSmithKline $3billion payout for ‘bribing doctors and encouraging the prescription of unsuitable antidepressants (Paxil) for children’, and having ‘paid for articles on its drugs to appear in medical journals...’ Therefore, it’s relevant that of the ‘authors who were selected and who defined the DSM-IV psychiatric disorders, roughly half had had financial relationships with the pharmaceutical industry at one time.’

So no, the measurement of depression is not clear cut Lord Layard and subjective happiness - on a scale of 1 to 10? I’m a sceptic, a cynic - no a pessimist, and I’m told that this is unhealthy, after all, our government aspires to be the next Bhutan! Happiness by government target? Well judging by our ranking in all the global measurements of wellbeing, we’re not doing too well. Still with the right medication, we can passively laugh our way through our double-dip recession.
Greenberg again, gets it right: ‘To think of pessimism as the symptom of an illness and then turn our discontents over to the medical industry is to surrender perhaps the most important portion of our autonomy: the ability to look around and say, This is outrageous. Something must be done.’

Talking of being incarcerated for expressing dissent or opinion in the face of an oppressive  state/church, lets remind ourselves of the non-violent protest of Pussy Riot back in February 2012. The Independent reports that, the three members of a feminist punk band arrested for singing a protest song in Moscow's main Orthodox church must remain in custody.
The trio, part of a collective called Pussy Riot, were told they would be kept in detention for a further six months, until at least 12 January. The case involving Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Ekaterina Samutsevich, 29, has split Russian society. The women have been in prison since they were arrested in February for performing an impromptu rendition of a song "Blessed Virgin, Mother Mary, Drive Putin Out!". They sang the "punk prayer" at the altar of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour two weeks before the presidential election that returned Mr Putin to the Kremlin. They could be jailed for seven years if they are convicted of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred".

Five women took part in the prank, dressed in the trademark coloured balaclavas worn by the Pussy Riot collective. Ms Tolokonnikova, Ms Alekhina and Ms Samutsevich were arrested a fortnight later after a video of the stunt went viral on YouTube. On Thursday, a lawyer for one of the cathedral guards, who claims to have been a "victim" of the women's alleged hooliganism, accused Pussy Riot of being supported by the same "Satanic forces" that carried out the 11 September terrorist attack in New York in 2001. Read more by clicking on the very satanic image of the three incarcerated women who used music to comment on politics, below.

François Matarasso
Echoing many of my blog comments on worries about understanding the value of the arts in terms of reductionist methods, I hope you’ll find this new paper from François of great interest. A Different Heartbeat is an account of a residency by musician Patrick Dineen at the Kidney Dialysis Unit, Royal Liverpool University Hospital, in spring 2011, with drawings by Mik Godley. A Different Heartbeat describes an intimate, small scale arts in health project, and places it into a wider context of questions about chronic illness, well being and the nature of benefits. It is an essay by François Matarasso and is a reflection on particular experience, and so about as far from a randomized controlled trial as it could be. But perhaps in that difference is something of value also.

Clore Duffield Poetry awards
The Clore Poetry and Literature Awards fund poetry and literature initiatives for children and young people, under the age of 19, across the UK. The Foundation has created these Awards with the aim of providing children and young people with opportunities to experience poetry and literature in exciting and compelling ways, in and out of school. The Awards are worth a total of £1m over five years, 2011 to 2015, with individual awards ranging from £1,000 to £10,000.
For more information click on le ciel below... 

Think you can run public services better than they are being run now?
The Government has announced a new £11.5m financial support scheme that will help voluntary organisations take over the running of public services in their communities. Communities with good ideas for how they can run local public services and want to use the Community Right to Challenge, can access advice and support to develop their skills to be able to bid for and run excellent local services.The grants programme will open in mid-July and more information on criteria and applications will be available then. Read more at: http://www.thesocialinvestmentbusiness.org/our-funds/communityrights/
Comic Relief UK Grants Programme (UK)
Comic Relief has announced that the final funding round as part of the current UK grants strategy will open for applications on the 13th August 2012. Under the UK grants programme voluntary and community groups can apply for funding for projects in the areas of:
  • Young people and mental health
  • Sexually exploited and trafficked young people
  • Domestic and sexual abuse
  • Mental health
  • Young people and alcohol
  • Refugee and asylum-seeking women
Comic Relief provides both capital and revenue and can pay for up to 100% of projects costs but they encourage applicants to get some of their funding from other sources. On average grants of between £25,000 and £40,000 are available.  The closing date for applications will be 12 noon on the 19th October 2012. Read more at: http://www.comicrelief.com/apply-for-a-grant/apply-for-a-uk-grant

£2.6 Million to Help Disabled People Become MP's (UK)
The Government has announced a new £2.6 million fund designed to help disabled people overcome barriers to becoming councillors, police and crime commissioners or MPs.  The money will help meet the additional costs a disabled candidate may face in standing for election.  The fund will be open for applications until the end of March 2014. It will help disabled candidates meet the additional costs they may face compared to a non-disabled person whether these are related to transport, communication, technology or support.  In addition to the fund, a new online training package went live today, tailored to disabled people who are interested in a political career.  Grants available will range from £250 - £10,000. Read more by clicking on the anarchist symbol above.

The British Film Institute – Film Fund (UK)
The British Film Institute has announced that its Film Fund is open to applications.   Through the fund a total of £18 million a year is available for filmmakers in the UK who are emerging or world class and capable of creating distinctive and entertaining work.  The funding is available for the development, production and completion of feature films.  The British Film Institute welcome applications for all kinds of film – from commercial mainstream to experimental, from genre movies to personal stories, from documentaries to animation to live-action fiction.  Applications can be submitted at any time. Read more at: http://www.bfi.org.uk/film-industry/lottery-funding-filmmaking

The Art of Good Health and Wellbeing, 
Fremantle 2012
4th Annual International Arts and Health Conference
The Art of Good Health and Wellbeing
26 - 29 November 2012
The University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle WA
The Art of Good Health and Wellbeing, 4th Annual International Arts and Health Conference, will present best practice and innovative arts and health programs, effective health promotion and prevention campaigns, methods of project evaluation and scientific research. Get full details of the conference by clicking on the image above.

an absence 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Remnants of PJ-ism: Shea Moisture Curl & Style Milk

This is a short series on my attempt to finish a few remaining products from my 'product junkie' (PJ) days (though the below case was a slight exception).

product junkie /ˈprädəkt ˈjəNGkē/ Noun
A person with an obsessive habit of purchasing and collecting products, particularly hair products.  

Today's remaining products: Shea Moisture Organic Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Style Milk.

In short, this product does not keep my hair moisturized.  (For the FULL product review, read this post.) 

Finishing strategy: For the past month, in an effort to use up this product, I've been overlaying it with pure shea butter.  After my wash routine, I apply the Shea Moisture to wet hair and then apply shea butter on top of it.  Sometimes, if I need just a hint of moisture before wash day, I apply the Shea Moisture solo.  However, that is rare; I usually follow up with shea butter.

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Hair Diary || Protective While Straight

This will be a monthly series in which I discuss my hair journey from now through my 5-year nappiversary in February 2013.

After three weeks in flat twists with twists (see earlier post), I flat-ironed my hair for an event.  It was more out of necessity than desire, but I enjoy the temporary change-up from my usual routine of twists.  

If you choose to flat iron your natural tresses, be sure you are aware of AND prepared for the possible risks (e.g., split ends, heat damage, breakage).  I purposely refrained from flat ironing my hair during the early part of my natural journey because I did not want to risk a setback.  Now that I am at a comfortable point in my hair care journey, I do not mind straightening my hair once in a while (~3 times a year).  

I started with freshly washed, detangled, and conditioned hair that was air dried in ~12 braids.  (See this page for my wash-condition-seal regimen.)  Then I undid each braid, applied Proclaim heat protectant generously, and proceeded to flat iron smaller sections with a maximum of two passes. 

My straightened hair will be in pinned up jumbo twists for the next two weeks (if not three).  Just because my hair is straight does not mean I can shy away from protective styling altogether.  On the weekends, I might wear twistouts, depending on my mood.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Summer Recipes

By Stephanie of Infinite Life Fitness

As the summer time is slowly creeping by, more and more people are starting to instill healthier eating habits and a new fitness routine to their busy schedules. Becoming healthy is a full lifestyle change. It is not just a fad you can stick with for a few weeks to see the results that you are wanting. It takes WEEKS of dedication and hard work insides and outside of the gym. The biggest part of getting healthier is eating healthier. Today I am sharing with you some easy, yummy, and not too hard recipes of some great meals you can try this summer!


Rolled Lasagna
Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Makes: 4 servings


• 8lasagna noodles
• 3tablespoons olive oil
• 1clove garlic, minced
• 112 ounce can crushed tomatoes
• 2ounces goat cheese
• 1/2cup chopped sweet onion
• 1large leek, white part only, chopped
• 1 3/4cups sliced cremini mushrooms
• 1bunch asparagus, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
• 2ounces low-fat mozzarella, grated
• 1/8teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/4teaspoon salt
• 1/4teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1/2cup chopped fresh mint
• 1/2cup chopped fresh basil
• 1/4cup grated Parmesan


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse and set aside. Reserve 1 tablespoon pasta water.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium pot over medium-low heat. Add the garlic; cook 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes; cook 15 minutes. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of the goat cheese until combined. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onion; saute 3 minutes. Add the leek; cook 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms; cook 10 minutes. Add the asparagus; cook 3 minutes.
  4. Turn heat off; add 1 1/2 tablespoons goat cheese and the mozzarella, reserved pasta water, nutmeg, salt and black pepper. Add the mint and basil, reserving 1 teaspoon of each.
  5. Spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce on the bottom of a baking dish. Spoon 1/2 cup vegetable mixture onto each noodle, roll up and place seam side down in baking dish. Drizzle with remaining tomato sauce; crumble remaining goat cheese on top. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with the Parmesan and reserved mint and basil; serve.

Nutritonal Informaiton:
Amount Per Serving:
Fat, total(gm)18
Saturated fat(gm)6
Dietary Fiber, total(gm)6


Lemon Basil Pasta With Summer Squash


• 2ounces (2/3 cup) dry whole-wheat penne
• 1/2cup chopped zucchini
• 1/2cup chopped yellow squash
• 1/2cup canned white beans, rinsed and drained
• 1lemon, juiced
• 1/4cup chopped fresh basil
• 1tablespoon Parmesan cheese
• 1tablespoon olive oil

Make it:
Boil pasta and drain. Toss with remaining ingredients.

Nutritional Information:
Amount Per Serving
Fat, total(gm)16
Saturated fat(gm)3
Dietary Fiber, total(gm)8


Spinach-Mushroom Pizza
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 15 mins 425°F
Makes: 6 servings


• 112 ounce whole-wheat pizza crust, such as Boboli
• 1/4cup pizza sauce
• 1/2cup frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
• 1/4small red onion, thinly sliced
• 1cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
• 6medium cremini mushrooms, sliced
• 1/4cup part-skim ricotta
• 2tablespoons grated Parmesan
• 1tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 2teaspoons balsamic vinegar


  1. 6 servings
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a large heavy baking sheet on the bottom of the oven. Lay the pizza crust on a work surface.
  3. Spread the crust with the sauce, followed by the spinach and onion. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and mushrooms. Dollop the ricotta over the pizza and sprinkle with the Parmesan. Drizzle the olive oil all over.
  4. Use a thin cutting board or the back of a second baking sheet to carefully transfer the pizza to the preheated baking sheet on the bottom of the oven. Bake until the crust is puffed and beginning to color at the edges and the cheese is melted, 10 minutes. Take the sheet out of the oven and preheat the broiler.
  5. Broil the pizza, watching carefully, until the cheese is browned and bubbling, about 2 minutes. Let pizza cool on the sheet for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the balsamic vinegar, slice into wedges, and serve.

Nutritional information:
Amount Per Serving
Fat, total(gm)10
Saturated fat(gm)4
Dietary Fiber, total(gm)5


Mushroom and Asparagus Fettuccine
Prep: 25 mins
Makes: 4 servings


• 8ounces dried fettuccine or linguine
• 8ounces asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
• 3cups sliced fresh shiitake or crimini mushrooms
• 1medium leek, thinly sliced, or 1/2 cup chopped onion
• 3cloves garlic, minced
• 1tablespoon olive oil
• 1/3cup mushroom broth or vegetable broth
• 1/4cup half-and-half or light cream
• 1/4teaspoon salt
• 1/8teaspoon black pepper
• 1cup chopped plum tomatoes
• 1tablespoon finely shredded fresh basil
• 1tablespoon finely shredded fresh oregano
• 1/4cup pine nuts, toasted
• Finely shredded Parmesan cheese(optional)


  1. Cook fettuccine or linguine according to package directions, adding asparagus the last 1 to 2 minutes of cooking; drain. Return pasta mixture to saucepan; cover and keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook mushrooms, leek, and garlic in hot oil over medium-high heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until most of the liquid is evaporated. Stir in broth, half-and-half, salt, and black pepper. Bring to boiling. Boil gently, uncovered, for 4 to 5 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened. Stir in tomatoes, basil, and oregano; heat through.
  3. Spoon the mushroom mixture over pasta mixture; toss gently to coat. Divide among 4 bowls or dinner plates. Sprinkle with pine nuts and, if desired, Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information:
Amount Per Serving
Fat, total(gm)12
Saturated fat(gm)3
Monosaturated fat(gm)5
Polyunsaturated fat(gm)3
Dietary Fiber, total(gm)6
Sugar, total(gm)5
Vitamin A(IU)777
Vitamin C(mg)19
Pyridoxine (Vit. B6)(mg)0
Cobalamin (Vit. B12)(µg)0
Calcium(DV %)71
Iron(DV %)5

I hope that the few recipes I just shared you will try! And remember…you can always add/subtract/or substitute ingredients for things that you want!

This is Stephanie from Infinite Life Fitness. Please feel free to check out my website at infinitelifefitness.com for more health and fitness tips!