Sunday, December 26, 2010

Longevity and You

During the holiday season, I get a chance to read books that have been sitting along the sideline, waiting to be read. One such book that I recently have been reading is titled "IMMORTALITY" by Dr. Ben Bova. One particularly subject that fascinated me was the telomere end of the DNA being linked to aging and cancer. Apparently, the telomere is like the tips of a shoe string that hold it together. Over time, when the cell divides this telomere shortens, and eventually, after so many divisions (Hayflick limit of 50 divisions), the cell senesces and dies. Apparently, the normal cells don't have telomerase, which helps keep the telomere length long. Only cancer cells seem to have plenty of the telomerase.

Fascinated by what I read in the book, I went online and found out that Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn in California received the Nobel Prize in 2009 for her work on telomere and telomerase research. Her research encompasses many different avenues of the telomere landscape, including mental health.

I also discovered more information about telomeres from the following website:
http://www.tasciences.com/introduction-to-telomere-science/

Apparently an herbal extract from the astragalus plant has been found and designed to increase telomeres and has been available for people to take since 2007. It is not FDA regulated because it is considered a nutraceutical. As of to date, there have been no side effects. I will do more research on this fascinating topic.

The problem with tampering with our body's makeup, is that a study done in Sweden found out that that some people’s telomeres get longer over time rather than shorter. Prior studies had not shown this. In the study, 959 individuals gave blood twice, 9 to 11 years apart. On average, the second samples had shorter telomeres than the first. However, a surprising find was that approximately 33% of the people had either a stable or increasing telomere length over this ten year period. It is not fully understood why this is the case. Could it be because these people have built-in cellular anti-aging mechanisms or could this be due to an early sign of cancer?
What I have learned from all this research is that aging is more complicated than simply studying the shortening of telomeres.

The other intriguing part of my online research are the telomerase inhibitors like curcumin, allicin, quercetin, resveratrol, green tea, and more. This was a surprising find, yet made sense. Since telomerase is the enzyme that helps form longer telomeres, the inhibition of this enzyme could aid in treating cancer patients. Cancer is known to have plentiful telomerase and long telemores, therefore they keep growing indefinately. Catch 22, I would say. Try and increase the telomeres to slow down aging, and at the same time, try and avoid turning the cells into cancer cells! There has to be a fine balance between the two.

Given the above conflicting points, I will continue my research on this topic. This is by no means a finished topic.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Discovering the Truth

Today I had the fortunate opportunity to listen to a lecture by Professor Robert Scheer on LinkTV. I rarely watch TV, but I had a few moments of rare free time and I surfed the channels and saw this program. I was struck by what I heard. Robert Scheer is an eloquent speaker, with much wisdom that is lacking in today's news shows. He is a journalist who has interviewed many presidents. He spoke about the Bank bailout, and with historical facts, linked it to the Clinton era, when the Glass-Steagall Act was removed and deregulation was the name of the game. I also learned that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are private entities and are on Wall Street with their own stocks. Plus much, much more. He's come out with a new book titled "The Great American Stickup." I plan to purchase the book and read more. I was hooked!

It is our duty as American citizens to learn the truth about our country and its governance. Too many people are suffering today as they lose their jobs, and their homes. It is painful to witness.

His website and columns can be found here:
http://www.truthdig.com/robert_scheer

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Poem

Christmas in Your Heart

Let our hearts rejoice
Each and every day, not just
Christmas day
Let them sing out loud
In harmonious unity
And shine forth into the world
Like lit candles, from one end to the other -

Each time we share, give, or forgive someone,
Though they may not know Him,
And cannot return our gift
We reveal our Love for God,
Our love for humanity
Our love for his children

So let our hearts rejoice
Let our hearts proclaim
That Jesus is our Lord
Born on this special day
Who gives us whatever we ask
In his Holy Name
Let's move in harmonious unity
To give a lifting hand
To those less fortunate
Each and every day, not just
Christmas day

How truly blessed we are -
To be able to live, breathe, feel
And be given a chance to
Shine a special way
Like ornaments on a Christmas tree
On this very blessed day
Each and every day, not just
Christmas day


Patty Apostolides 2010

Frugal Spending

Today, we went shopping and regretted it. It's the Saturday before Christmas and everyone seemed to be out shopping, including their grandparents, their children, and their dogs. People were literally leaving the stores loaded with bags of goods. I almost thought Santa Claus had stopped in and was giving things away. I was pleasantly surprised to see this flurry of activity, but it meant being in line for a long time. We opted out and will try again and go during the week instead, or maybe not.

I was wondering, given the frenzy in shopping activity, if this was spurred on by the recent declaration by our Federal government that unemployment will be extended for 13 months and tax cuts to the middle class (and upper class) will take place as of January 2011. So now people think they have more money in their pockets to spend, which is a good thing and a bad thing. It is good because the money is going back into the economy, but at the same time, we're moving in a self defeating cycle. More money does not mean we have to spend it more, folks. What is wrong with saving some for a rainy day? It is not how much you have that counts, but what you do with it. I know some elderly folks that live off of 500 dollars a month and that is sufficient for them. Yet other can't make ends meet on 2 thousand a month. Go figure.

Our government has spent over 13 trillion dollars of our tax money, and doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon. Our future does not look bright. People need to pause and think seriously about where our future lies in America. If we don't, our children will suffer needlessly because of our selfish steps of immediate gratification.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Poem

Too Late

Around the garden the eye casts a look
On the two lilies that lay limp
Look
Over there, to the side, on frozen soil
forgotten, droopy

Like two peas on a plate
Totally lost to winter's death kiss
Forever
The snow flakes float like fairies
While the hawk sits on the fence

Looking for prey that hides cowering
behind the forgotten lilies
Blanketed
By a last look for escape.

Too late.

by Patty Apostolides 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Disturbing news about Facebook

Today I read an article about Facebook and the privacy of its users. It seems that once we place our email and photos on Facebook, third parties can have access to them.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/End-of-Privacy-Your-Facebook-cnnm-3227174...



So it would be a wise thing to be cautious before saying certain things on Facebook. Also, do not splash private information (weddings/deaths/vacations, etc.) on Facebook. Best to email privately, I think.
The less information you put on Facebook, the better. Maybe get out of it altogether. But how does one get out of Facebook? They don't make it easy, especially when one has hundreds of friends linked to their site.


This social networking of Facebook has plusses and cons. The plusses are the possibilities of reaching out to a number of people in a short amount of time. The cons are that it takes time to sit down and write on Facebook and respond to everyone's comments. Also, if one has news, how much of it should they mention, without compromising their privacy, given what I just read?

For some people, Facebook is a way to connect with family and friends. Gossip has always been with us and always will be. Is Facebook a Gossip column? Snippets of peoples lives going down the screen, with photos attached of their children, spouses, events, sure is interesting to some people. It's like snooping in on other people's lives. How much time does one want to devote to that?

Overall, after I finish lurking on Facebook, and offering a tip or two, I get off. My time on Facebook is about 10 minutes or so every other day. More than that, seems to be a waste of time. But that's just enough information for those marketers, and 10 minutes may be 10 minutes too much. Time will tell.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Great Cookies

I've spent a lot of time these past few years at the Borders bookstores. One of my favorite activities is to go there with my family and drink coffee and eat their delicious oatmeal cranberry cookies. However, recently, this activity lost its luster when the local store began putting on music that was quite loud and almost hard-rock style, too extreme. I could not concentrate in this atmosphere, as a lot of my writing/reading takes place at the cafe. So I politely asked that it be lowered. I even wrote to the Headquarters regarding this music. What happened to the light classical, string, or soft music that is wonderful for reading and reflecting? It doesn't seem to
count as part of Borders customer service. Since then, we have literally stopped going to the Borders store. I do not miss the music, I do not miss the coffee, but I do miss the oatmeal cranberry cookies!

So the other day, I played around with an oatmeal raisin cookie recipe and replaced the raisins with dried cranberries. What a scrumptious treat! Even better than Borders! Below is the cookie recipe I used (I use only organic ingredients):

1 cup all purpose flour
2 cups oatmeal
2/3 cup melted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup dried cranberries
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven 350 degrees F. Melt the butter, let cool slightly. Add sugar to the butter and mix well. In large bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder. Add butter mixture to the flour and stir. Add oatmeal, cranberries and vanilla. Mix well.

Cover a baking sheet with baking paper. Drop tablespoons of cookies mixture onto baking paper.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until tanned underneath.
Let cool.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What does Jane Austen have to do with my book?

Jane Austen has been a great influence on many historical novels that are out there today. Even mine. I admit that I was not a fan of hers until a few years ago when I saw Pride and Prejudice on TV with Laurence Olivier. Then, shortly after, I saw Sense and Sensibility and I was hooked. When Emma came out, I was salivating and that was when I had to get a hold of Austen's books. But when I did, I was sorely disappointed. The fine details, the dialogue, that made the stories so fantastic was missing in her books. Even the section when Mr. Knightley proposes to Emma is lacking in emotion. Yet, many books now are being published with characters from her books as main characters in these new books.

I chose to write during the time of the 1820s because of a significant Greek war that took place in Greece. With that as a backdrop, I researched as much as I could the war, but because the main story takes place in England, I had to also research the mannerisms and clothing of the period in England. But the funny thing was, that as I wrote my story, I could just picture the Jane Austen characters, how they would say things and what they would wear. That helped me a lot to be in that time period.

My book THE GREEK MAIDEN AND THE ENGLISH LORD was reviewed by Kristina Emmons, author of Roeing Oaks on the hisotricalnovelreview site. Below is the link to the review.
http://historicalnovelreview.blogspot.com/2010/12/greek-maiden-and-english-lord.html

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Daily News

Today we put up our Christmas tree in the living room. It is a family tradition and fun for all of us. It helps to be organized and I always keep everything boxed, including the tree, ornaments and lights. So here we were taking everything out of the boxes, and what would we find but a stink bug!

This has become a common bug for us since we moved to our new home a year ago. It seems that they are rampant in this area (I see them in banks, stores,etc). Apparently this one thought it was getting a good deal with the green tree but alas, it was synthetic. It apparently had stayed there too long, for it was lethargic and didn't move. Maybe it was playing dead and thought we wouldn't see it. But we did. We grabbed the packing tape and touched the back of it to the back of the bug and neatly folded the bug into the tape. No stink, no mess.

Let me tell you about stink bugs:
Some interesting observations about these stoic creatures, is that they don't move that much during this time of year which suggest they are in a catatonic state, almost like a type of hibernation. They also prefer the light, and will fly around, buzzing like a fly until we shut the light and they go elsewhere. We have found them tucked into the curtain folds, and even in our linen closet. We have gone on a campaign to eradicate them. One major task this year was to replace our windows and make them tight (insulated and caulked). Since then, our stink bug population dropped significantly. Before we would see several almost daily. Now if we see one on a weekly basis, that is too much. The most intriguing part of this bug is that it does not have a predator, or so - I have been told. Now that does not make sense. If an insect exists on this earth, and is part of the food chain, there should be some predator...unless it is a new bug. My two bits is that it is a synthesized form (made in the lab) and all the kinks have not been worked on. It does not even move swiftly from us so that it could survive.

Until next time!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Latest News

How is it that old man winter is already here, knocking on my window pane with an icy fist? Today in the panhandle region of Maryland we were supposed to have temperatures in the mid-30s with cloudy skies. Instead, snow flurries came down heavily for at least two hours in the A.M., while the temperature struggled to get past 28 degrees Fahrenheit but couldn't make it.

Found a new schedule for homeschooling our son. Previous years, I would teach the lesson and he would do the assignment before we proceeded to the next lesson. At first, when he was in first grade and second grade, it was easy going.... but now he is in fifth grade and the classes have become progressively more demanding, which means he spends more time on his assignments and we would get finished with his classes until 7-8pm. I would love to spend all day doing classes, but I have so many other chores and errands to do, besides writing, of course, that it was becoming a big drain on my time. So I recently designed a new schedule, which so far is working better. We spend the first three hours just going over the classwork. He writes down his assignments in a special notebook and when we are done, he takes his recreation break, then proceeds to do his assignments, on his own. No interruptions anymore. I can do my work quietly.

The book orders are coming in for THE GREEK MAIDEN AND THE ENGLISH LORD. It is available in both softcover and hardcover from Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, and many more online bookstores. I am grateful to all the readers, new and repeat, in placing their faith in me and ordering my books. I have been getting orders of 3 books or more from readers for Christmas, which is great! The more people that read my books, the merrier. I think this last book is my best, because it took me three years to research it and to write it. I intentionally did not rush into it, but decided to take my time, and this helped in the richness of description that shows throughout the book. I loved learning about the fashion during the 1800s in England, and what they ate and wore.

I recently did a guest post on historical-fiction.com where I wrote about the history that led up to THE GREEK MAIDEN AND THE ENGLISH LORD. There is also a giveaway of two books, one in the U.S. and the other internationally. This will be good until Dec. 12, 2010.
So I'm really excited about the lucky winners!

I would love to hear from readers who have read my novels. Many times I will get a note tucked into the order stating how they loved my previous books, and that means so much to me, for I write not just for myself, but to share it with my readers.

My husband is such a supportive and loving spouse. I am very blessed that he is so understanding about my needs. When I write, I get into a shell-like state. This happens in the evenings when junior is in bed and there is a good 2-3 hours of quiet time. I use it to write and write and write. My husband is also a writer and avid reader and will sit nearby, in the family room and read his books. We do many things together, and sometimes I'll look up from my writing and make a comment, and he'll be there, ready to offer his own views.

Until next time!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Homeschooling Musings

Homeschooling our son has been an adventure in and of itself. It has taught me more discipline than I care to acknowledge. We have been using the Grigg's Academy homeschooling program for several years and are satisfied with it.

Once the public school received notification from us of our intentions to homeschool, each school year it was not necessary to inform them again. Once is enough. We are given a year to finish the school year, although we typically finish in 9 months. There are six periods with five weeks in each period. At the end of each period, tests and writing materials are submitted to the Academy and graded.

Once the books arrive, a place should be designated where to put them. Also, a notebook is made, with tabs, to separate each course. The course material is added to the notebook and the schedule is followed in the manner that the course material is placed.

The courses that our son takes daily are in the following order: Social Studies, Mathematics, Spelling, and Handwriting, followed by a break. Half hour later, we continue with Reading, Health and Science, and Language. The Art, Music, and Physical Education are not as rigid and can be worked in during the week. Typically, his school day is flexible enough to accommodate outings, like shopping and trips to museums and libraries.

When are son reached fourth grade, we signed him up to take the standardized state tests for reading and math. He placed advanced in both sections, which reinforced our faith that the homeschooling works.

Other plusses with the program:
One on one with the teacher. He can ask me questions any time, and get full attention (or at least I try).
No need to get up early for school. The hours are very flexible.
No need to drive in cold, snowy weather. Stay at home for classes.
If we go on a trip, he can make it up weekends and other times.
If he gets behind on anything, he can make it up whenever he gets a chance.
Flu season passes us by without a cough. Not exposed to group situations.
We attend lectures, go to libraries, play Scrabble, visit Bookstores, and other pleasant things on
a daily basis, which makes for an interesting time.

Homeschooling is not only good for him, it's also good for me. It keeps my mind sharp with all that reading and grading. Our son also asks good questions, which leads to interesting discussions.

So overall, our homeschooling experience has been a positive, uplifting, bonding time with our son. Even my husband has gotten involved, and often there are discussions ranging from Benjamin Franklin and his famous Poor Richard's Almanack, to the inventions of Thomas Edison.

What a life! What a way to get an education!

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Greek Maiden and the English Lord

Thank you for your interest in my new novel!

My latest novel "The Greek Maiden and the English Lord" is now available on http://www.Amazon.com

Also, you can visit my website http://www.pattyapostolides.com for more information.

Friday, July 23, 2010

My latest novel

I finally did it! I finished writing my latest novel and have submitted it for publication. It was an intense endeavor filled with lots of research on my part (at least one year's worth) and checking many resources before I felt comfortable enough to write about the 19th century, one century that I haven't lived in except in fantasy!

It all began when I asked myself the question, "What would happen if during the war between the Ottomans and the Greeks in the 1820s, a Greek girl is separated from her family?" All kinds of atrocities are performed during wars that we do not hear about and I did not want to focus on that aspect, but instead focus on what people did with their lives once they found themselves in those unfortunate situations.


Then I began to imagine how my heroine (Lily) was separated from her family (captured by gypsies), and her subsequent adventures. Once she learns of her true identity at the tender age of sixteen, the search for her true parents begins. She is besought by conflicting values as she goes forth to find her identity -
prejudice - when others find she grew up as a gypsy and treat her with spite
envy -because of her beauty,
greed - when a cousin attempts to abduct her into marriage in order to get her inheritance money
love- even though the one she loves is engaged to another

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Becoming Energy Efficient

Reading the news about global warming and environmental responsibility has had us becoming more tuned into the topic. My husband and I have toyed with the idea of going solar for years now, but didn't do anything until recently.

It all began a few years back, when we attended the Decathalon in Washington, D.C. where several colleges participated in a week long contest on energy efficiency. They would be judged on homes they built that were off the grid and energy efficient. We walked through the different homes, and were amazed at how well designed they were to maximize efficiency and use the least amount of energy. There were windows selectively placed to bring in sun during the day. There were walls made of certain materials to absorb the heat and emit it in the evenings. There were energy efficient appliances. Of course, they were tiny little homes, enough for one or two people. Not at all like the gigantic mansions that have sprung up in the last decade during the housing boom. Nevertheless, after that experience, we were starry eyed and hopeful about replicating some of the ideas in our own home. We even visited homes in the Washington, D.C. area that had solar panels and solar water heaters. We talked with the homeowners. Then reality hit. The more we studied the idea of switching to solar, the more we realized that it was a very expensive idea, to say the least. We just were not ready then.

Now fast forward to 2010. Several things have happened since then. The housing market collapsed, bringing down prices in several areas related to housing, including solar. The price of solar a few years ago has since then dropped a hefty 25% in our area. Also, there are tax credits at the Federal level as well as incentives given by states and the utility companies (RECs). Now, suddenly, the cost doesn't seem so high. So we took the plunge and decided to go solar. We spoke to a solar expert recently and I am proud to say have finally begun the process. In a few weeks, we should be up and running. We have decided to go with crystalline solar panels with microinverters. The microinverters are fabulous. Each panel gets a microinverter, thus, each panel will be independent of the others. I understand that this is a parallel arrangement as opposed to the serial setup. This means that if one panel goes or is under some shade (from a tree), it does not affect the others as in serial setup. Also, this means we will not have the inverter in our home, which might be a source of EMF.

The advantages of going solar have made it a win-win situation. First of all, we will be helping the environment by using less electricity manufactured by power plants, etc. Second, we will be saving on rising utility bills. Third,
the utility company in our area will be paying us for generating electricity via solar. Fourth, we have read that the future of cars will be electric cars, which will require juicing up the car for it to run, thus solar makes a lot of sense. So we're really excited about becoming part of the solar generation!


Let me know if you have any comments on energy efficient ideas.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Picture Book Musings

I decided to enter a contest in our local library. This contest is about making a picture book. This was the first time I attempted such an endeavor. It has been quite an experience writing a story as well as doing the pictures to match the words!

I began by thinking up the story. Given that I used to tell my son stories when he was very young, I had grown used to the idea of animals talking and doing quite interesting feats. So I put my creative hat on and wrote the story. It is nothing like a novel, that usually takes close to two years for me to finish. I was practically done with the picture book story in one week!

However, that was not the end of it. I had to make the pictures. That is where my nine year old son came in. We have this weekly event at home where we each have 15 minutes to give a lecture on any topic we choose. My son's presentations have been accompanied by computer graphics, of which he had designed himself. So he knew quite a bit on how to use the computer.

So here is a nine year old helping his educated mom draw pictures on the computer. But I/we managed and after several attempts at drawing with one finger instead of a brush, I think I have done a remarkable job of it. My story has come to life with some interesting characters, enough to keep my son laughing and continuously pestering me as to see the next finished page.

If the picture book wins anything, it gets to be published and will sit in the library so little children can read it. If it does not win anything, it might just crop up somewhere on the web for general enjoyment.

Whatever the outcome, I have had much pleasure in the process of being creative, and with a little help from my son. Oh, and much support and encouragement from my husband, too!

Until next time.

Poem of the Week

I have started a poetry group in Yahoo Groups at the following site:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/IpatiasPoems/

There, I write a poem a week and submit to the group. My most recent poem was dedicated to my husband, Anthony, who inspires me in just about all my work.
Below is the poem.



Soul Mate

When did our hearts melt into one,
Forever
Entwined by cords of love
Filling our very souls with
Joy
As Angels blow kisses our way

Floating higher and higher
Surpassing
The shifting clouds of life
Where there is no time, but a
Passionate expression of
Oneness

When did our souls merge into one,
To feel an ethereal light that
Shines
Within and around us, so pure and free,
It lights our very essence, our very
Being

Did it begin even before we were born -
Where our paths did cross in a mysterious
Way
Embracing our thoughts and feelings
So that even apart, we would always be
As One.

Patty Apostolides 2010

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Intuition and Health

Your Intuition and Your Health

Often we encounter periods in our lives where our health presents a challenge to us. Sometimes it can be a simple thing like a paper cut and other times a chronic, debilitating disease. We are all getting older, and we know that the older one gets the more probability of contracting a chronic disease like heart disease or cancer. Both those chronic illnesses require a considerable amount of time and effort to manage and treat.

The focus on this topic is to help those who are challenged with these issues to be able to read their bodies and to tune in to their intuition so that it becomes an integral part in their healing.

I have had many episodes in my life, whether dealing with my own illnesses, or dealing with illnesses of loved ones, where I have tapped into my intuition. I did not recognize the signals at first, but over time, learned to respect my body's signals and appreciate my intuition and trust it.

First of all, what is intuition, some may ask? My interpretation of intuition means a signal that comes from my body and alerts me as to what path to take for a certain health issue. It typically comes from within. For example, it can either be that sinking gut feeling that occurs when I hear the diagnosis or treatment plan. It can also come as a thought in my mind that gives me an idea as to how to go about obtaining health.

How does one tap into this intuition?

First of all, there has to be a trust built up between you and your body. To learn to trust your body, you must pay attention to it and be able to read it. For example, if you are tired, you rest. If you are thirsty, you drink water, and so on. If you have the flu, you don't go dancing or partying, but stay home and rest so your body can get back to normal. Once you start paying attention to your body and its rhythms and needs when it is well, then when it gets sick, you are able to tell the difference. So being tuned into your body is an important part of the trust.

When things go wrong, you will have the advantage of having known how your body runs when things are normal. But when they are not, and you go to your doctor who runs a series of tests and gives you a diagnosis like heart disease or cancer, then you need to get all the ammunition you can get, and it all begins with you.

Ways to help you through the maze of doctors and medicines:

1) Know the side effects of the medicines you are taking. I cannot stress that enough. Having worked as a data manager in a cancer center, I have seen first-hand the toxic effects of chemotherapy drugs on the patients and have learned to recognize the symptoms. If you take a medicine, and then suddenly you are having high blood pressure, or diabetes, or other new issues, then this is when your intuition should kick in. When did this new symptom occur? Always ask that. Was it before the new medicine or after? Pinpoint when it began. That is crucial, because what happens next is a spiraling in the number of medicines you will have to take. After you take the first medicine, then you need a second one to help with the symptoms caused by the first, and so on. Before you know it, you will be taking ten or so medicines a day! We saw this clearly with our elderly parents who had heart disease. One of the parents was taking 20 pills a day!


2) Do your homework as to alternatives to the treatment plan given to you. Second and third opinions should be the norm.

3) Live as if you have the disease even if you don't have it, which means don't do anything that might hurt your body. Eat properly (preferably organic foods), get plenty of rest, drink purified water, and minimize stress.

4) Anytime you get a diagnosis, research the topic. Go to the library and read books on it. Go online and check it out. Do not rely on others to make the decisions for you, be an informed patient.

5) If you feel that a doctor is not going along with your wishes, change him. Find someone who listens to you.

All the above aid your intuition. Good luck and God Bless!