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:

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:

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


Too Late

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

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

Looking for prey that hides cowering
behind the forgotten lilies
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.

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.

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,, 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 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!