Monday, May 31, 2004


I have walked in the early morning for years, and made the commitment to get up at 5:30 am to walk this past fall when I had to leave the house earlier to get my son to a new school. After diagnosis I got more serious about walking every day and added another steep hill.

At the residency I found that early morning walks on the flat beach just didn't seem like exercise any more. So I started running, which I haven't done in my life. I was proud that I could run at a slow pace for 15 minutes down the beach without getting winded. And I really like the feeling of my body burning fuel more intensively.

So when I got home I went out and bought proper shoes, and consulted my massage therapist about what additional stretches I should be doing. He said I may be the kind of person who gets a strong endorphin high from running. I think that is probably true--I'm making myself take two days off from running a week but I really don't want to. I've had some other kinds of knee trouble in the past and he cautioned me that overuse turns to injury very easily. I never in my life imagined I would turn into a person who loves running. I'm trying to keep my expectations low--whether I continue to or not it is an interesting experience.

Friday, May 28, 2004


A friend sent me a poem that means a lot to me:

for tides to come and go

for the unanchored
to still

for desire to settle into silt
and sanctify the waters.

Nancy Williams

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

chronic disease

I was looking for the source of the phrase “The way to
live the longest is to acquire a chronic disease and take good care of it." I found that attributed to Sir William Osler in 1901. I also found it quoted as: "The way to longevity is to develop a chronic disease early in life and learn to live with it" and as “If you develop a chronic illness and take the best possible care of it, you will live a longer and healthier life than those who do not have that advantage.”

In that search I came across a fascinating speech by Mark Vonnegut (son of Kurt) reflecting on mental illness. After several serious psychotic episodes he became a pediatrician.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

home, tired

Seabrook Island

An intense and wonderful retreat with the Sursum Corda Spiritual Directors Formation Program.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

heading out

Today at DuPont State Forest

Tomorrow I leave for the second residency of my spiritual directors formation program, so I won't be posting for a week.

Friday, May 14, 2004


I thought I had finished a paper, then was told I had sent in 22,000 words when they had asked for 8,000 words (I remembered that I had checked the word count when I was writing and it looked like it would come out fine, not how many it was supposed to be). Today I sent them a version under 8,000 words (by telling only a small piece of the story). I've been working on organizing funding for a project on Science, Technology, and Society, and that seems to be moving forward. Tomorrow I am accompanying my daughter on an all-day class in nature photography. Sunday I leave for the second one week residency of the Sursum Corda Spiritual Directors Formation Program. I just got seven proposals to review.

One of my goals for this blog was to put the different parts of my life in one place. But sometimes they look a bit ridiculous together.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004


I was moved today reading Real Live Preacher on The Truth about Snow. I've never been convinced by the idea that we can act our way into believing, but I certainly don't make an intellectual decision to believe. As in so many deep things, I make a leap of trust and see how it works.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

cost-effective medicine

I'm disturbed by stories saying diabetes screening is only cost-effective for people who have risk factors. I had the risk factor of having had a large baby, but my blood pressure and lipids are good and I am under 55 and have no family history so I wouldn't have come up otherwise. I'm so glad I insisted that my blood sugar be tested, which my doctor didn't think necessary, rather than not getting diagnosed until I had complications like many people.

Basically, screening isn't cost effective because people who are diagnosed early don't benefit very much. But that is clearly the fault of the medical establishment--people who are diagnosed early can do a lot to prevent complications and slow the progression of the disease, if they get helpful information from their doctors and use it. They don't. They get the American Diabetes Association recommendations, which recommend a fairly high carbohydrate, low fat diet. That maybe helps prevent heart disease, but it certainly doesn't slow the progression of diabetes. And they don't get an explanation of the costs and benefits of different approaches so they can find one that is comfortable for them.

Monday, May 10, 2004

mother-daughter retreat

The mother-daughter retreat at the
Convent of St. Helena was a big success. The fish in the pond liked to nibble fingers.

Friday, May 07, 2004


I spent years trying to heal the self-punishing attitudes towards food I grew up with and resenting deeply doctors who told me to lose weight. I changed physicians when I was diagnosed with diabetes--I had finally gotten the message to my family practitioner not to talk about my weight, but he really didn't know what else to say. Controlling my blood sugar is causing me to lose weight and that may help the diabetes and certainly gets me credibility for how I am managing it. I don't actually see that any of the many things that I was told I could fix by losing weight have improved for that reason, but clearly the way I am eating (plus more exercise) is good for my health and for how I feel. What I am doing is very different from what I grew up with--my mother's motto is "if you aren't hungry you aren't losing weight," while my experience is that if I keep my blood sugar from spiking I don't get hungry and therefore lose weight without trying.

Still, I am so hostile to being told to lose weight by doctors that I am pleased to see a new book is coming out arguing that the focus on obesity as the cause of health problems is a prejudice not well supported by the evidence. There is an extensive article in the Guardian based on the book.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004


I'm trying to clean up my desk, and so putting away books I taught from this semester. I reuse a few textbooks, but for a lot of the books I assign I pick new books every year. For my book on recent techology I was disappointed by Edward Tenner, Why Things Bite Back. The students seem to have liked it but I thought the analysis not very interesting. I liked Neil Postman, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology much better. The best book I read with a class was Flight: My Life in Mission Control by Chris Kraft. An amazingly good read, particularly for a book by an engineer. I may assign it to my honors freshman engineers; it might give them more perspective on what it means to be an engineer. And at least it would counter the old prejudice that government employees don't work hard.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004


Clemson is instituting a Science, Technology and Society requirement in the fall of 2005, and so I wrote a preliminary proposal for a seminar to encourage faculty to develop new courses and learn more about the field. The weird thing about doing this is that nationally the field is in decline--it is not clear whether the National Association for Science, Technology, and Society is still functioning. At least I'm not going to send in membership dues on a form that says it is for 2001-2002 membership.

Monday, May 03, 2004


I just bought two used laptops--I hope it will turn out to have been a good deal. The home wireless is wonderful--instead of replacing our desktop that has lots of problems we find we want a laptop each. I need to see about moving our wireless link so it reaches more of the house.