Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tips From A Pro

I was fortunate enough to have a professional photographer here in Provincetown print some pictures of mine and give me a few pointers on photography.

Angela Russo was kind enough to offer to help me make the best of my "point and click" photographs. I am so glad she did!

For over 30 years, Angela has been photographing people, places, and product. Her entire adult life has been dedicated to this profession, and now she has entered into another phase of her dreams and her life; showing her personal work.

I would recommend that you take a look at her photographs on her website by clicking here. She has several amazing pictures of Cape Cod. Very inspirational.

She was kind enough to print my sunset picture on stretch canvas paper (see above), which is one of her specialties. I was amazed to see how beautiful it turned out!

Angela, along with a few others are pushing me to start selling some of my prints from this journey. I know that for now, I am enjoying taking pictures and being in nature as Max and I travel. I look forward to the leaves turning and exploring some new places soon.

Thank you Angela!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Malocclusion: Disease of Civilization

In his epic work Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Dr. Weston Price documented the abnormal dental development and susceptibility to tooth decay that accompanied the adoption of modern foods in a number of different cultures throughout the world. Although he quantified changes in cavity prevalence (sometimes finding increases as large as 1,000-fold), all we have are Price's anecdotes describing the crooked teeth, narrow arches and "dished" faces these cultures developed as they modernized.

Price published the first edition of his book in 1939. Fortunately,
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration wasn't the last word on the matter. Anthropologists and archaeologists have been extending Price's findings throughout the 20th century. My favorite is Dr. Robert S. Corruccini, currently a professor of anthropology at Southern Illinois University. He published a landmark paper in 1984 titled "An Epidemiologic Transition in Dental Occlusion in World Populations" that will be our starting point for a discussion of how diet and lifestyle factors affect the development of the teeth, skull and jaw (Am J. Orthod. 86(5):419)*.

First, some background. The word
occlusion refers to the manner in which the top and bottom sets of teeth come together, determined in part by the alignment between the upper jaw (maxilla) and lower jaw (mandible). There are three general categories:
  • Class I occlusion: considered "ideal". The bottom incisors (front teeth) fit just behind the top incisors.
  • Class II occlusion: "overbite." The bottom incisors are too far behind the top incisors. The mandible may appear small.
  • Class III occlusion: "underbite." The bottom incisors are beyond the top incisors. The mandible protrudes.
Malocclusion means the teeth do not come together in a way that's considered ideal. The term "class I malocclusion" is sometimes used to describe crowded incisors when the jaws are aligning properly.

Over the course of the next several posts, I'll give an overview of the extensive literature showing that hunter-gatherers past and present have excellent occlusion, subsistence agriculturalists generally have good occlusion, and the adoption of modern foodways directly causes the crooked teeth, narrow arches and/or crowded third molars (wisdom teeth) that affect the majority of people in industrialized nations. I believe this process also affects the development of the rest of the skull, including the face and sinuses.

In his 1984 paper, Dr. Corruccini reviewed data from a number of cultures whose occlusion has been studied in detail. Most of these cultures were observed by Dr. Corruccini personally. He compared two sets of cultures: those that adhere to a traditional style of life and those that have adopted industrial foodways. For several of the cultures he studied, he compared it to another that was genetically similar. For example, the older generation of Pima indians vs. the younger generation, and rural vs. urban Punjabis. He also included data from archaeological sites and nonhuman primates. Wild animals, including nonhuman primates, almost invariably show perfect occlusion.

The last graph in the paper is the most telling. He compiled all the occlusion data into a single number called the "treatment priority index" (TPI). This is a number that represents the overall need for orthodontic treatment. A TPI of 4 or greater indicates malocclusion (the cutoff point is subjective and depends somewhat on aesthetic considerations). Here's the graph: Every single urban/industrial culture has an average TPI of greater than 4, while all the non-industrial or less industrial cultures have an average TPI below 4. This means that in industrial cultures, the average person requires orthodontic treatment to achieve good occlusion, whereas most people in more traditionally-living cultures naturally have good occlusion.

The best occlusion was in the New Britain sample, a precontact Melanesian hunter-gatherer group studied from archaeological remains. The next best occlusion was in the Libben and Dickson groups, who were early Native American agriculturalists. The Pima represent the older generation of Native Americans that was raised on a somewhat traditional agricultural diet, vs. the younger generation raised on processed reservation foods. The Chinese samples are immigrants and their descendants in Liverpool. The Punjabis represent urban vs. rural youths in Northern India. The Kentucky samples represent a traditionally-living Appalachian community, older generation vs. processed food-eating offspring. The "early black" and "black youths" samples represent older and younger generations of African-Americans in the Cleveland and St. Louis area. The "white parents/youths" sample represents different generations of American Caucasians.

The point is clear: there's something about industrialization that causes malocclusion. It's not genetic; it's a result of changes in diet and/or lifestyle. A "disease of civilization". I use that phrase loosely, because malocclusion isn't really a disease, and some cultures that qualify as civilizations retain traditional foodways and relatively good teeth. Nevertheless, it's a time-honored phrase that encompasses the wide array of health problems that occur when humans stray too far from their ecological niche.
I'm going to let Dr. Corruccini wrap this post up for me:
I assert that these results serve to modify two widespread generalizations: that imperfect occlusion is not necessarily abnormal, and that prevalence of malocclusion is genetically controlled so that preventive therapy in the strict sense is not possible. Cross-cultural data dispel the notion that considerable occlusal variation [malocclusion] is inevitable or normal. Rather, it is an aberrancy of modern urbanized populations. Furthermore, the transition from predominantly good to predominantly bad occlusion repeatedly occurs within one or two generations' time in these (and other) populations, weakening arguments that explain high malocclusion prevalence genetically.

* This paper is worth reading if you get the chance. It should have been a seminal paper in the field of preventive orthodontics, which could have largely replaced conventional orthodontics by now. Dr. Corruccini is the clearest thinker on this subject I've encountered so far.

And the Photo Contest Winner Is...

This was a tough contest to pick a winner out of the Millions who entered! My ice bucket from Motel 6 seemed to do the trick for the drawing.

Max was also there to witness it, so there was no funny business going on.

And the winner is...Susann Walters from Little Rock, Arkansas!

Congratulations Susann(sorry Max forgot the second "n" in your name when he wrote all of the names on a paper)!

She chose the photo I took when Max and I were in Arches National Park.

A big THANK YOU to all who entered the contest!

Behind the "Point and Click"

I wanted to write a note about myself and my extensive photography background so you can learn a little more about me. I would also love to learn more about you!

I grew up in Southern California and have lived in California all of my life. My mother is an artist and I remember going to her art classes as a young child and couldn't’t wait to get out. Her medium is ceramic sculpture but at the time I would rather put my fingers in the mud and play.

I took my first and only photography class in high school. It was a black and white film class where we developed our own film and pictures. I loved it. I used to drag my friends out of bed at 6am to meet me at the classroom first thing in the morning to take their portrait. I still have the photographs, but the classes ended there.

I love animals and being in nature. I camped a lot growing up and went on a 30 day outward bound class as a teenager. Perhaps that was more of a “you better straighten up” class, but it taught be a lot about living in the outdoors and being ok with being alone in the wilderness.

I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures, but I have never had the time to study it. After graduating college, my sole focus was on my career and climbing the corporate ladder. I did that for 15 years and felt I reached the top half of the steps but still wasn’t satisfied. After much thought and consideration, I decided to quit my job to travel the United States.

Last year I did it with a teardrop trailer and with my dog, Maggie. We had a great time, but I didn’t take the time to be still. Maggie has since passed and now my new dog and partner in crime, Max and I are exploring it again in a tent. This time, I am taking more pictures and documenting the trip more than I thought I ever would. It’s the best decision I have ever made.

So, to make a long story short… I am not a professional photographer. All of my pictures are taken with a “point and click” Cannon Power shot that you can buy at most large retail stores for about $150 bucks. Also, I don’t have Photoshop, so what you see is pretty much what you get. I love to learn and try new things. I tend to take pictures of things I love to look at. That is why you see a lot of birds, water, trees and sky in my pictures.

I hope you are enjoying the pictures as much as I am taking them.

Update: July 31, 2010 - Since this blog, I am using Lightroom to edit photos and I have a new camera.  I have documented this along the way although some of you may be new to this blog.  Thank you for following us on our adventure!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Diabetics on a Low-carbohydrate Diet, Part II

I just found another very interesting study performed in Japan by Dr. Hajime Haimoto and colleagues (free full text). They took severe diabetics with an HbA1c of 10.9% and put them on a low-carbohydrate diet:
The main principle of the CRD [carbohydrate-restricted diet] was to eliminate carbohydrate-rich food twice a day at breakfast and dinner, or eliminate it three times a day at breakfast, lunch and dinner... There were no other restrictions. Patients on the CRD were permitted to eat as much protein and fat as they wanted, including saturated fat.
What happened to their blood lipids after eating all that fat for 6 months, and increasing their saturated fat intake to that of the average American? LDL decreased and HDL increased, both statistically significant. Oops. But that's water under the bridge. What we really care about here is glucose control. The patients' HbA1c (glycated hemoglobin; a measure of average blood glucose over the past several weeks) declined from 10.9 to 7.4%.

Here's a graph showing the improvement in HbA1c. Each line represents one individual:

Every single patient improved, except the "dropout" who stopped following the diet advice after 3 months (the one line that shoots back up at 6 months). And now, an inspirational anecdote from the paper:
One female patient had an increased physical activity level during the study period in spite of our instructions. However, her increase in physical activity was no more than one hour of walking per day, four days a week. She had implemented an 11% carbohydrate diet without any antidiabetic drug, and her HbA1c level decreased from 14.4% at baseline to 6.1% after 3 months and had been maintained at 5.5% after 6 months.
That patient began with the highest HbA1c and ended with the lowest. Complete glucose control using only diet and exercise. It may not work for everyone, but it's effective in some cases. The study's conclusion:
...the 30%-carbohydrate diet over 6 months led to a remarkable reduction in HbA1c levels, even among outpatients with severe type 2 diabetes, without any insulin therapy, hospital care or increase in sulfonylureas. The effectiveness of the diet may be comparable to that of insulin therapy.

Diabetics on a Low-carbohydrate Diet
The Tokelau Island Migrant Study: Diabetes

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Puffy Clouds and Rollerskating

I love puffy clouds! I love those soft billowy clouds that form close to the if they are just sitting there waiting for us to admire them. Usually the deep blue sky accompany these soft clouds so it makes it a great picture taking day!
Waking up and seeing those clouds in the sky makes me very happy. Almost giddy happy.

I get so excited thinking about going out and taking pictures. You never know what you are going to get. They come and go pretty fast and each formation is unlike the one before.

This burst of excitement started me thinking...when have I ever been this excited about a new hobby?

It took me back to the days when I was 10 or 11 and LOVED to go rollerskating. I would rollerskate after school with my mom or sometimes on the weekend, I would get lucky and go to the rink. On one occasion, I even had a birthday party there. Each morning after my rollerskating fix, I would wake up looking forward to the next time I was going to do it. It would consume my thoughts throughout the day.

Who knew that rollerskating would help me in my career once I got older. My first job out of college was managing the kids club at the local FOX TV affiliate. I had the honor of being Blinky Bill rollerskating in the 100 degree summer heat at a roller rink, waving to kids as I skated around wearing a 50 pound costume doing the hokey poky (and no, there are no photographs of this special moment in my life - I hope) with 3 or 4 kids hanging on me screaming... "Blinkyyyyyy!!!! "Over Here! Over Here!!!!!" "BLINKYYYYY!!!!"(insert high pitch scream here)

I haven't been rollerskating since.

This blog is really just to say that I am excited. I look forward to taking pictures of my travels and sharing them with you each day. I know I've said it before, but it gives me that happy giddy feeling again. Similar to the, "Before Blinky" excitement I had for rollerskating.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Self Doubt

You know that little voice...the one that gives you every reason on why you can't do something or why things will eventually fail?

The devil on your shoulder.

Is it there to protect you and keep you safe or does it magically appear to keep you from growing and become the person you really want to be?

Traveling isn't the sole reason for this journey. Don't get me wrong, I am enjoying the ride, soaking up the moments and beautiful surroundings, but it goes much deeper. I was hoping to become better acquainted with myself.

I have.

In fact, I am learning more than I thought I would, however it's not always easy.

It's been a little vulnerable putting my art out there for you to see, especially when the voice of self doubt tells me not to. Believe me, I am not quitting my day job to paint...oh wait, I already did. Whoops...

The fears came again when I decided to post my 150 day blog. What if they don't like me anymore because I don't drink? What if I am seen as weak? What if...

What scares me even more is NOT taking the chance to do something.

I have always loved taking pictures. I am starting to pay attention more and really look at things. I enjoy soaking up the beauty of my travels and sharing them with you in a photograph. Although not always easy, I hope that you get the feeling of being there through my images.

I am posting many of my travel photos on a facebook fan page. If you are a member of facebook, I hope you become a fan. Sometime soon, I would like to offer the prints of select photographs for sale. I know the feeling of being in nature and enjoying all that she gives us. I am especially looking forward to being able to share that with you.

Thank you for taking this journey with me.

Click on the link below to become a fan:

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Max and I didn't get to the boats yet, but we toured around Provincetown and took some pictures around the beaches. I've been enjoying taking photograhps of birds (as you might have noticed) and this one single house, alone on the hill (more to come on the house soon). Instead of writing about our day, here are some snapshots to give you a sense of what it's like here. I hope you enjoy them. I enjoyed taking them.

Warning: Area may seem warmer than it actually is.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cape Cod

This will be the longest stop on our trip across the USA. Max and I love it here. We were able to get the last bit of summer weather and now the air is crisp, the sun is out and the nights are cold and quiet. Cape Cod is an amazing place. I always looked at pictures in magazines at the beautiful scenery and knew I would make it out here some day. Sometimes when I look at a photograph from the Cape, I think, "that can't be real." I am here to tell you that the sky is not unlike a beautiful painting. The colors are richer and deeper than anywhere I have ever been.

Perhaps that is why this town if full of artists and photographers. Most of our days are spent touring around the outskirts looking at nature. I wanted to share some of the pictures that I took during our time so far. There are several boats out there that need to be seen as well. I will find them today.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Diabetics on a Low-carbohydrate Diet

Diabetes is a disorder of glucose intolerance. What happens when a diabetic eats a low-carbohydrate diet? Here's a graph of blood glucose over a 24 hour period, in type II diabetics on their usual diet (blue and grey triangles), and after 5 weeks on a 55% carbohydrate (yellow circles) or 20% carbohydrate (blue circles) diet:

The study in question describes these volunteers as having "mild, untreated diabetes." If 270 mg/dL of blood glucose is mild diabetes, I'd hate to see severe diabetes! In any case, the low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet brought blood glucose down to an acceptable level without requiring medication.

It's interesting to note in the graph above that fasting blood glucose (18-24 hours) also fell dramatically. This could reflect improved insulin sensitivity in the liver. The liver pumps glucose into the bloodstream when it's necessary, and insulin suppresses this. When the liver is insulin resistant, it doesn't respond to the normal signal that there's already sufficient glucose, so it releases more and increases fasting blood glucose. When other tissues are insulin resistant, they don't take up the extra glucose, also contributing to the problem.

Glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), a measure of average blood glucose concentration over the preceding few weeks, also reflected a profound improvement in blood glucose levels in the low-carbohydrate group:

At 5 weeks, the low-carbohydrate group was still improving and headed toward normal HbA1c, while the high-carbohydrate group remained at a dangerously high level. Total cholesterol, LDL and HDL remained unchanged in both groups, while triglycerides fell dramatically in the low-carbohydrate group.

When glucose is poison, it's better to eat fat.

Graph #1 was reproduced from Volek et al. (2005), which re-plotted data from Gannon et al. (2004). Graph #2 was drawn directly from Gannon et al.