12 May 2010

10 Healthy Activities for You & Pooch

I received the following in an email from HomeAgain (the company that tracks Ashes' microchipping). Thought I'd share for all of you who have a canine buddy. Enjoy!

Want to try some fun new dog activities that will help keep you both healthy and strengthen your dog/owner relationship? Here is our top ten list of fun dog activities to try the next time you have a chance to schedule a dog fun day.
  1. Work on your training. It may not seem like it to you, but learning new tricks is actually fun for dogs. It gives them something interesting to pay attention to, they get to spend quality time with you, and it usually involves quite a few treats.
  2. Hit the dog park. If your dog enjoys play time with other pooches, then the dog park is one of the fun, free dog activities that you can indulge in together. Take a nice walk first, so that your pooch isn’t too hyper, and then go to the park to play.
  3. Herd some sheep. Does your dog come from a herding breed? Does he try to push you around? You should see if any local farms teach herding lessons to dogs. Not only is herding fun for dogs, and good exercise for both their minds and bodies, it’s a sport they can compete in!
  4. Go to the beach. If your dog likes the water, and you have a dog friendly beach around, then nothing says “dog fun day” like a day splashing in the waves. Just remember to consider a puppy life vest if you’re going boating or swimming anywhere deeper than your dog can stand.
  5. Try some agility training. Agility training can be done as a competitive sport, but it’s also a fun way to exercise your dog’s body and mind. Look online to see if you can find an agility course near you, or consider building some obstacles in your backyard.
  6. Consider community service. Training your dog to be a service dog will not only improve your dog/owner relationship, it will improve the world. Once your dog is certified as a service dog, you can visit nursing homes, hospitals, and similar organizations to improve the lives of others who don’t get to spend their time with such a wonderful pooch.
  7. Take a walk. A good walk, or several, should be part of every dog’s day. It helps keep both you and your dog in good health and is a great way for the two of you to bond.
  8. Play a game. Frisbee anyone? Fetch? Playing a game with your dog is a great way to give both of you a workout. Particularly if your dog is as bad as mine is about actually returning the stick…
  9. Give your dog the brush off. Grooming is an important part of pet health, and it’s also a great way to strengthen your dog/owner relationship. Brushing time can be quality time, just take it slow and stop before your pet gets too tired.
  10. Just chill. When push comes to shove, some of the best time you’ll spend with your dog is the time you spend just hanging out together. Snuggle on the floor or the couch, and feel your blood pressure drop with every belly rub.

The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones was my first Alice Sebold novel.

I had seen the book on the popular fiction tables when you first walk into the book store but I hadn't really paid it attention. When I saw the trailer for the movie version, I knew I'd be reading the book soon. Talk about a line-up: Wahlberg, Saranden, Weisz! Some of my favorites!

But back to the book...

I liked Alice's depiction of Heaven. The story to me was about letting go of life once we pass away and into our Heaven. Everyone's Heaven is unique to themselves, but they can overlap. That concept was entirely fresh to me and fascinating. So this is what happens after we die, according to the book. What would my Heaven be like? With whom would my Heaven overlap?

The book had a magical feel to it. Though there wasn't much supernatural about it. Sometimes Susie would "appear" to her loved ones, namely her younger brother, Buckley, but I found myself almost constantly willing Susie to change the course of an event happening to her family down on Earth. She wanted to, too, but her lesson was that the dead cannot change things for the living. Through memories the dead live on in the minds of the living.

Another neat aspect of the book as the way Alice applied the Butterfly Effect. The small-town death of a young girl changed the lives of so many. Especially Ruth; she was one of my favorite characters who really developed through the novel. I also enjoyed seeing Lindsey change. The grandmother had a lot of spunk; she was always fun and had a quirky way with her wisdom.

***Spoiler alert!!!***

The only thing I didn't fully get was the title. At first I thought it was the bones Mr. Harvey collected from the animals, which led me to believe that eventually Susie's bones would be found. Then the title "The Lovely Bones" would make sense in a literal sense. But in the very end Alice mentions the bones of a body recovering. Meh. It didn't tie together as seamlessly as I had expected/wanted. Or maybe I just missed something.

I liked that justice was served to Mr. Harvey, even if Susie's family never learned of it happening.

***End of spoiler.***

IMDB Article: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0380510/
Apple Trailer: http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/paramount/thelovelybones/

10 May 2010

10 Ways to Live Longer

10 Ways to Live Longer

1. Look for the laugh - people with a good sense of humor increased their survival odds by 31%.
2. Pop five pills - vitamins are good for you.
3. Don't gum up the works - gingivitis is bad.
4. Talk and walk - 30 minutes of walking per day is a step in the right direction.
5. Taste the rainbow - eat a variety of colorful veggies (bell peppers are great).
6. Am for your optimal weight - stick close to your teenage weight.
7. Do some good - volunteers live longer and have fewer health problems.
8. De-stress with intimacy - need I say more?
9. Finish those annoying tasks - mounting to do lists can have health impacts similar to that of divorces or deaths of loved ones.
10. Hit the sack - seven to eight hours of shut-eye allows the body to rest and fully recover.

I am happy to report that I am doing pretty darned well in 9 of the 10 areas, as embarrassing as it may be to admit. Here's my run-down:

1. I laugh at Heidi all the time. I think she laughs with me sometimes.
2. I take all sorts of vitamins: E, C, calcium, fish oil, multi and zinc/magnesium/something else.
3. I brush my teeth three times a day. I could improve the flossing frequency, but I do use a tongue scraper whenever I brush.
4. Now that I have Heidi I am outside a lot. I take her on several walks every day. As for the talking part, mostly I talk to other dog-owners, neighbors and the kids, but sometimes I just talk to Heidi.
5. I suppose I could work on this a bit, but I do focus on a veggie and a fruit each week. The vitamins help here.
6. I am the same as I was in high school. I'm on the cusp of dipping below that benchmark. On top of that, I'm in better shape.
7. I have been volunteering one to two times a month lately.
8. This one is a flat line for me. Meh.
9. I am an organization and prioritzation freak. I keep those grimy tasks from taking over my mood. Well, 95% of the time I'm in control, anyway. Everyone slips.
10. Since college I've learned how well my body responds to proper amounts of sleep. I always get at least 7 hours, 8 typically.

How are you doing against this list?


(List credit goes to Style Magazine's Beauty section.)

The Last Lecture

My favorite class in college was Change Management. It's a pretty unappealing class title given that most everyone fears change and management sounds mundane. The professor made all the difference. Why? He cared. I think he realized that people needed to be taught how to cope with change, and so teaching this class was his way of making a difference in the world, one Purdue student at a time. He certainly made a difference in my life. (By the way, his name is Al Crispo. Here is his Purdue faculty biography.)

Another professor who has changed the lives of many on a much larger scale was Randy Pausch. I first hear of Randy in my Change Management class. My professor gave us a "movie day," and we were drawn in to Randy's story. Basically Randy lived a pretty great life even through finding out he had terminal cancer. He found a way to tell his story, his life lessons, his wisdom in the face of death to colleagues, students current and past, and even his three young children through his Last Lecture at Carnegie Mellon. I'm not going to try to cover all that he does in the video, but I urge you to take the time to watch it sometime. It will inspire you to shoot for the moon; even if you miss you will land among the stars.

A while after seeing Randy's video I learned that he had made the lecture into book format. I am reading the book now, and it is excellent. It is a handbook for success and happiness, really, two things which make for a pretty nice life.

I am not going to do a book review past this entry as I've already covered what I would like to cover on this lecture and book. Except that I have great admiration for Randy: he was able to take the worst possible news (you're going to die soon) and better the world with that news; that is remarkable grace. Anyway, this book is one of those books I feel every person ought to read.