Monday, February 25, 2013

The Wolf in the Parlor


"Just exactly what is a wolf doing in my parlor?" Science journalist Jon Franklin spends nine interesting CDs (I listened to the audiobook) answering this question in the frame of evolution.

I would have given The Wolf in the Parlor five stars on goodreads.com (I gave it 4), but IMHO, the book didn't get personal soon enough. Instead of chronicling the history of his employment and laying out his credentials as a science journalist, he would have captivated the reader and hooked us for the ride much earlier if he had begun the story with the scene in which he proposed to his girlfriend and she responded, "Does this mean we can get a puppy?" As the book stands, I listened to an entire CD asking all the while, "What does this have to do with dogs?" and "Where are the dogs?" The photo of the old man and the puppy, a snapshot of an archeological dig, is an interesting hook, but I wanted something more personal.

I'm glad I stuck it out. The book delivers both scientific information and memoir in a sweet balance. For the the evolutionarily-minded dog-lover, it's a good story. [Note: The subtitle of the most recent edition of this book has been changed. The book I listened to was subtitled, "The Eternal Connection Between Humans and Dogs." The newer subtitle is, "How the Dog Came to Share Your Brain."]

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Sun is Hiring


The Sun Magazine, one of my favorite publications, is looking for a Managing Editor. Details here! Do you have what they're looking for and would it be a good fit? Good luck to all who apply.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Writing is Killing Us


“Go into cubeland in a tightly controlled corporate environment and you immediately sense that there is a malaise about being tied behind a computer screen seated all day. The soul of the nation is sapped, and now it’s time for the soul of the nation to rise.” - Dr. James Levine, Mayo Clinic


Writing is killing us. Well, writing itself isn't killing us, but sitting at our desks all day hunched in front of our computers moving nothing but our fingers might be. According to one New York Times article, "Excessive sitting . . . is a lethal activity." USA Today reported, ". . . people in sedentary occupations are at the highest risk of early death." And How-To Geek put together a scary, statistic-filled infographic on the risks of so much sitting.

What's a writer to do? Most of you have read (especially if you scroll to the bottom of my monthly newsletter and scan the "Paranoid Ex-Lawyer's Release") about my somewhat successful attempt to turn from couch potato into athlete. Unfortunately, the New York Times article cited above explains, "Exercise is not a perfect antidote for sitting." The article continues, "Being sedentary for nine hours a day at the office is bad for your health whether you go home and watch television afterward or hit the gym. It is bad whether you are morbidly obese or marathon-runner thin." Sigh. And here I thought running a marathon was the answer.

The New York Times article suggests the treadmill desk . To use this device, a worker walks very slowly on a low-noise treadmill while working at the desk specially designed to fit on the machine. I don't have one, yet, but it's on my wish list. There's also the standing desk which has been used by the likes of Hemingway, Thomas Jefferson, and Charles Dickens. Everything old is new again! Given the space requirements and the price, I'm more likely to purchase a standing desk.

For now, though, I've simply instituted the "posture reset" policy. Every half hour, I get up, circle my arms over my head, touch my toes, and walk a big circle through the house or coffeeshop. I set the timer on my phone to beep (or vibrate if I'm in a public place) every 30 minutes alerting me it's time to move. Will this ensure longevity? I don't know, but it's got to be better than sitting completely still for long periods.

How do you minimize the amount you sit? I'd love to hear your experiences.