Archive for November, 2015

Warped Universe?

November 30th, 2015

Dr. Lisa Randall, a Harvard PhD and theoretical physicist, should have been my teacher. If Lisa had been my teacher, I’m sure that I would have become a theoretical physicist. Of course, she’s from the wrong generation to have been my teacher; I’ve never met her, and have no idea what she’s like, but what if ?

There are probably several other glitches in my thinking. For example, I’m sure that Harvard was not high on the list of schools knocking down my door for undergraduate admission. Plus, having enough money to go to Harvard in the 60’s would have been unthinkable. But at least theoretically, I would have loved having her as my teacher, and hypothetically, her class would never have been on my cut list.

After having heard her being interviewed today, I was completely engaged. Learning about particle physics, supersymmetry, and cosmology from Lisa would have rocked. Even guys like Charlie Rose agree that her theories on the existence of extra dimensions have made her one of the most famous scientists in the world. She’s alsoabest-selling author of several books including: “Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe” and “Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions,” which was cited by the New York Times as mind-bending reading, a play on words, right? That book’s title was the grabber for me.

Why this sudden obsession with Lisa Randall? Besides the fact that she’s brilliant, articulate, talented, attractive, and a creative thinker, she’s introduced a theory that I just love. By means of complex math, Dr. Randall theorized that space and time could be warped. That’s right, warped. She’s saying that the universe could be warped, and my goodness, that would explain so much. She argues that our universe exists inathree-dimensional “brane” within a higher-dimensional universe. One theory is that our universe was created by two branes smashing into each other.

OK, to be clear, that’s brane, like membrane, and if you’re a Big Bang or String Theory kind of person, the mere fact that an additional brane could exist makes this all so much more interesting. I’ve always thought that there are other dimensions about which we have no knowledge, and the fact that she thinks the universe may be warped is nothing new to me.

I’m absolutely sure that my interpretation of this warped theory is in no way related to her theory, but you’ve got to admit that having suchabrilliant person determine at least in some theoretical model that the universe is warped makes all of this so much more understandable and believable. How else could we explain the fact that my 2-year-old grandson told us that he was talking to my mom who had died three years before he was born. or that Long Island Medium talking to dead uncle Adam who’s telling his wife to make sure she gets her oil changed.

There has to be something smarter than us in this universe because we’re almost completely cerebrally challenged. Heck, we’re still running around shooting each other over whose God is the better God, and they are the same God. Do you see where I’m coming from when a fourth dimensional warped brane is added to our three dimensional warped brains?

The fact that we could discover through the work of the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator that Klauza-Klein particles might be able to traverse the universe through extra dimensions is awesome. This seems out there, but wouldn’t it be great if, this Thanksgiving week, we could find a nicer, kinder, gentler and smarter dimension just next door? No matter which dimension you happen to inhabit over the next few days, have a Happy Thanksgiving, and if you can, please,“Beam me up, Scotty!”


Savage Capitalism!

November 21st, 2015

I’ve been getting emails from my more conventional friends regarding a small inanimate object that has been upsetting them for the last few years. It’s fascinating to me that they are so distraught over what I consider to be a touch of creative genius that has generated millions of dollars, no tens of millions of dollars, maybe even hundreds of millions of dollars for its creators.

Their contempt feels like it is against all good things relating to capitalism. You know, every child dreams of growing up, getting that one good idea that has never been commercialized before, and retiring to Fort Lauderdale at the age of 39 to just play around on their 120-foot yacht with that helicopter on board for short shopping trips.  

When you take the guided inter-costal waterway tour, guides will point out some $30 million mansion and say, “This is the house that’s owned by the guy who invented the scratch off lottery ticket.” and “That next 75 million dollar house on your right was built by the guy that came up with Post-it Notes.” It’s the American dream: The Pet Rock, the Chia Pet, Rubik’s Cube, the Hula Hoop, and the Slinky. No one ever seems to be upset over these items.

Of course they say that Pet Rocks are stupid, but what they mostly say is, “Gosh, I wish I had invented that.” Remember the Mood Ring, those rubber band bracelets, the Barbie doll? Like I said, it’s the American dream!  

You come up with something that’s simple, can be mass produced, is a catchy idea, can easily be manufactured in China, and is within the price range of every American, and you’ve got it made for the rest of your life.    

Okay, so the problem is when you cross old beliefs with new attitudes to get similar results. For example, you break the law and instead of being incarcerated, you get to wear an ankle bracelet and only are permitted to leave your home for church and funerals. What’s wrong with good ole prisons? (Especially a good old for-profit prison owned by Uncle Bill.)

How about this one, you go to school, you act out, and instead of going to the assistant principal’s office to be paddled, you are given a week’s detention. Remember The Breakfast Club?

I’m sure by now that most of you have figured out that I’m talking about that vigilant, 1984-ish character that lurks around the home from November until Christmas Eve, the enforcer, the seer and know it all, Columbo, the little one who will bust small children for missbehaving during this very tense time of the year, The Elf on the Shelf.

One of the protestor’s favorite sayings is that they never needed an Elf on the Shelf to behave because they always had a belt on the shelf, and that belt was available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for 365 days a year. If you didn’t obey the rules, that belt would keep you in line. It was the old beat-you-into-submission rule of child raising that they embrace.

Truthfully my dad hit me with his belt once when I was six or seven years old, and he used his hand on my backside a few times. But once I got past age seven, I grew up in a generally peaceful environment. I do remember my Italian grandmother constantly telling me that “Goda is watching you, and if you don’t takea the garbage out for you momma, you will burn ina hell.” That was a really good motivator.

So I say that the little creative genius that hangs off the cupboard door, the fireplace, or wherever you want to put him or her is amazing. When the kids are bad just say, “The elf is watching you.” 


From a Director’s Point of View

November 15th, 2015

After 30 plus in health care, it hit me that my job is exactly the same now as it was my first year of teaching: putting it all together. Actually, it started when I was just eight years old, and I entered the world of music. I learned to participate in an ensemble, a group of musicians who worked tirelessly to make the most amazing music they could possibly make.

It became clear to me a few weeks ago that the group in which I am currently serving, the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine, is attempting to do exactly the same thing: put it all together.

Try to imagine, if you will, a group of musicians that just has three types of instruments: a tuba, a bassoon, and a pair of cymbals. Now that combination would make some pretty strange sounds. Then try to hear in your head a full orchestra with every instrument playing the theme from Star Wars. What a difference.  Each individual musician adds his or her amazing talent and skill to the effort to perfect the sounds they are producing.

Similarly in sports, professional football teams are not just made up of the players. There are coaches, dietitians, strength trainers, psychologists, surgeons, chiropractors, physical therapists, and even financial advisors involved in producing winning teams. Why should life changing healthcare efforts be any different?

When we are children, we are taught things that, in many cases, stay with us for life. We are corrected by our parents, teased and sometimes tortured by our siblings, and challenged unmercifully by our playmates. During this time we also learn what it takes to please our parents, our teachers and our elders.

These thoughts, actions and reactions often start out as tiny strings connected to us that continue to grow in both strength and influence in our minds into ropes that eventually become chains. These chains become steel cables that can wrap around our belief system and our self-images like metal strait jackets.

These issues often reinforce our insecurities, and throw us into meteor showers of self-doubt. They can deprive us of happiness, and sometimes they deprive us of love, but they most definitely deprive us of true health.

These beliefs often contribute to things like working ourselves to near death. Even when we realize that we need help to change, that change is incredibly difficult. The truth is that we often can’t make these changes without help, lots of help, but accepting help is also something that we’re not used to doing. So, we continue to flounder and stagger along our tortured paths.

Who can we turn to? And who has enough knowledge, information, training, and skill to help us?

Integrative medicine practices put together groups of professionals that include individuals from all areas of healthcare expertise, ranging from dietary advice, to attitude advice. Their job is simply defined: to assist you in achieving or regaining your own happiness, health, and well-being by supporting you in recapturing balance in your life.

They provide you with a menu of modalities and experts from which to choose, and you will be nurtured in body, mind, and spirit by professionals who specialize in life-changing work. It’s not about business. It’s about YOU. And it is intended to do one thing: help you find your way back to balance. It’s designed to help you by providing unconditional love while you find your way home, wherever that home may be. It will help you break away those chains and reach deep into the pools of strength that will free you to love and enjoy life.  

The challenge is that our current system is still deeply immersed in sick care. Health and wellness is not yet on their radar screens, but it’s coming to a neighborhood near you. Integrative Medicine is the future of healthcare. 


AIHM – Who can? American.

November 1st, 2015

Growing up, I remember phrases from commercials like, “Who can? AmeriCAN. The American Heating and Cooling Company.” Or “800-325-3535” sung to a melody that will forever be locked in my mind.  It’s still a functional 800 number for Sheraton Hotels. How about “There’s a Parker made by Jotter with a T-Ball Tip.” Some things just never leave our memories.  They are implanted deeply in our conscious and subconscious minds. Here’s another list of memories that will never go away. “Eat some fruit or “You’re not leaving this table until you finish your vegetables.” And this one, “Go outside and play!”

These were all phrases that we Baby Boomers heard regularly as kids growing up in our “Leave It to Beaver” homes.

Seven years ago a prominent, San Francisco area based physician, Dr. Lee Lipsenthal, invited me to become a member of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine.  This was an organization made up entirely of physicians. In fact, as the only non-physician on the board, there were plenty of meetings where we simply looked or listened to each other in wonderment where they were thinking, “What is he doing here?” And my thoughts went something like, “Wow, these are brilliant people, but we’re never going to get anything done if we don’t get out of the weeds.”

That group has now grown into the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine and is an inclusive group that has representation from every modality of healers in the Integrative fields from nurses to acupuncturists and from energy workers to holistic nurses and Naturapaths. There are over 400,000 practitioners now represented in some manner in this group, and they are striving to become the world’s leader in wellness and prevention. Their primary focus is not dissimilar to the phrases above in that they are devotees of diet, exercise, stress management and group support.

The interesting thing about this collection of humanity is something that is perfectly clear to me yet still sometimes a struggle for you. You see, Lee was a guitar player, and I, of course, was a trumpet player and instrumental music director. In music school you can train to be a Diva or an ensemble player with solo capabilities.  Lee didn’t ask me to be on this board specifically because I ran hospitals. He knew that my background included directing ensembles, and that is exactly what the AIHM is supporting, ensemble medicine.

In a discussion with one of my proteomic scientists years ago, it became clear to me that he was a Diva. He had completed his PhD on one particular complex piece of analytic equipment, and every time we got together in a group, it was as if he was a hammer and the world was all nails. My favorite term for describing him was as a piccolo PhD. The piccolo sounds great in an ensemble, but we never attend solo piccolo concerts. Piccolos are best utilized in an ensemble setting.

The AIHM is moving us from individual Diva practitioners to ensembles of healers where the talents of each and every individual are brought to bear for each patient in ways that could never be singularly captured as soloists. Their work is so much richer, deeper, and more profound and beautiful as an ensemble. Each practitioner brings his or her healing capabilities to the individual patient and utilizes their discrete training and skills in concert.

Does your gut hurt? Why not have a Naturopath assist you in clearing up your candida with probiotics, herbs, and specific foods while your physician, acupuncturist, and massage therapist works on your other physical challenges to help you achieve optimal health and wellness? It just makes sense and is the first real effort to make wellness and prevention the center of our universe.

Take a step back and listen to the music from a team of incredible professionals working together to help you.