Sunday, February 28, 2010

Haiti Benefit - Carnival Del Corazon

Tonight I went to "Carnival del Corazón - My h(ART) goes out to Haiti." This event was an artist response Haiti benefit and festival with 100% of proceeds benefiting the Ye´le Haiti Earthquake Fund.

What an amazing night of music, art, food, and performances! It was so nice to see so many people in our community come together to help another community in need. I love to see people in their element and there were certainly several at the event that were right at home...getting lost in the music.

I have never been musically inclined, but I have a deep appreciation for people who can pick up an instrument and start jamming with other musicians...just by a feeling. At the same time, I am never one to dance in public. I have respect for the people you see at concerts standing in the front and dancing as if they are the only one there. I have great admiration for their ability to be in the moment and not care if people are staring at them while they are dancing.

For me, I tend to hide in the corner and observe...and that's ok by me. All dancers and musicians need people like me to be there to enjoy their performance and that would be my skill...watching. And that, I did.

Here are a few pictures I took at this inspiring event. As I travel, I enjoy taking pictures of people in their habitat. For more snapshots of humans living their life, click HERE

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Corn Oil and Cancer?

The benefits of corn oil keep rolling in. In a new study by Stephen Freedland's group at Duke, feeding mice a diet rich in butter and lard didn't promote the growth of transplanted human prostate cancer cells any more than a low-fat diet (1).

Why do we care? Because other studies, including one from the same investigators, show that corn oil and other industrial seed oils strongly promote prostate cancer cell growth and increase mortality in similar models (2, 3).

From the discussion section:
Current results combined with our prior results suggest that lowering the fat content of a primarily saturated fat diet offers little survival benefit in an intact or castrated LAPC-4 xenograft model. In contrast to the findings when omega-6 fats are used, these results raise the possibility that fat type may be as important as fat amount or perhaps even more important.
There's a large body of evidence implicating excess omega-6 fat in a number of cancer models. Reducing omega-6 to below 4% of calories has a dramatic effect on cancer incidence and progression*. In fact, there have even been several experiments showing that butter and other animal fats promote cancer growth to a lesser degree than margarine and omega-6-rich seed oils. I discussed that here.

* The average American eats 7-8% omega-6 by calories. This means it will be difficult to see a relationship between omega-6 intake and cancer (or heart disease, or most things) in observational studies in the US or other industrial nations, because we virtually all eat more than 4% of calories as omega-6. Until the 20th century, omega-6 intake was below 4%, and usually closer to 2%, in some traditional societies. That's where it remains in contemporary traditional societies unaffected by industrial food habits, such as Kitava.

Goal Completed: Get A Photo Published Somewhere

There is something about writing down your goals and keep them up somewhere to remind yourself what you want to accomplish for the year. I don't believe in New Year's resolutions, but I do believe that if you write down some specific goals, you will achieve them.

Key word...writing them down.

I wrote them down in a journal, blogged about them and posted the list on the right side of this blog so I have held myself accountable. If you are ever bored and think that life is passing you by without doing anything, it's a great way to get back on track.

I am not the most social person in the world. I don't mind being alone and away from the fact I prefer it at times. I do know that when I say yes to things that I don't feel 100% comfortable doing, it's the best way to learn and grow. The other night was a mixer of local artists that I thought would be fun to check out. It was a place I have never been to and I went alone so I couldn't hide in the corner with the familiar.

I soaked up the energy and sat down for a bit. The founder, Tanya Quinn sat next to me and we started chatting. It was so nice to meet her since we exchanged a few emails here and there. At the same time, a writer for the District Weekly came up to talk to her and needed someone to take pictures for the article he was doing on the event. Since I brought my camera to take pictures for a blog, I took a lot more to see if there was any he could use for his article.

He did.

By saying yes to something that felt uncomfortable at first, it lead me to achieve a goal that I wrote down at the beginning of the year. It's easier to say no or come up with an excuse on why we can't do something. The reward for a little discomfort is so much greater than the perceived "secure" feeling of sameness.

I would encourage you to write down what you want to achieve this year. You might be amazed at all of the opportunities that come up to achieve those goals if you pay attention.

A big thank you to Tanya Quinn for organizing such a great event and to Greggory Moore for using a photograph I took that night. If you are in the Long Beach area, you can pick up a copy of The District all over the city. A link to the full article can be found HERE.

As far as the bike goes...I saw it outside of the event as I was leaving and liked the way it looked so I had to take a picture of it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Best Friends With Four Legs

As you may have noticed, I love my dog Max. I love taking pictures of him and one never seems to be enough. In fact, I love taking pictures of all dogs. They all have such different personalities and it shows in photographs. Before Max, I loved all of the dogs, cats, turtles and fish in my life. I will always remember Taz, Barkley, Sunshine, Colors, Pokey, Speedy, Squeekie, Ruffles, Sushi and Maggie.

Max seems to come alive when he's at the beach or at a dog park with other dogs. I love watching him play with the other dogs and I am so glad that he loves it too. It's something I couldn't do with the 10 years I had Maggie. She loved people but didn't really enjoy the company of other dogs.

I went to the park here in Long Beach the other day to let Max run around. It was a beautiful sunny day so I decided to take pictures of the other dogs there at play. Usually, the owners don't mind me snapping away and I found one Jack Russell to be extra cute playing with a deflated football. This pup was there playing while the owners were working. What a lucky dog! I met the pet sitter and once I introduced myself and Max, she put the names together and knew us from our travels. What a small world!

I would love to see pictures of your best friend with four legs! Show other animal lovers the special furry friend in your life by posting a picture on my facebook fan page by clicking here if you'd like. There are some great pictures!

If you live in the Long Beach area and need a pet sitter, click here to see MaryEllen's "Pet Waggin'" service. I had a great time at the park and from these pictures, it looks like the dogs did too.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Long Beach Creative Mixer

Lastnight I went to a creative mixer held by the Long Beach Creative team. This social event, produced by the LBCreative! Festivals & Events Team, serves as a showcase, meet & greet and networking opportunity for Long Beach-based artists, musicians, writers, crafters, dancers, poets, designers, film makers, performers and artistic individuals.

What a great place to connect with artists from the community!

As I arrived, I stumbled upon a performance of some belly dancers and as the night progressed, there were singers, rappers and artists everywhere giving their part to share their expression on a three part giant canvas to be auctioned off at an upcoming Haiti benefit this Sunday. If you are in the area, it should be a great way to lend a hand, have a good time and mingle with your neighbors.

Over 150 artists and dozens of businesses, non-profit organizations and creative individuals are collaborating and contributing to “Carnival de Corazón - My h(ART) goes out to Haiti, an artist response Haiti benefit and festival. 100% of proceeds benefiting the Ye´le Haiti Earthquake Fund

4:00pm - 9:00pm
Family-Friendly Event
Hancock University Art & Design Center
1638 Long Beach Blvd Long Beach, CA 90813

8:00pm - 1:00am
Extended Live Music
18+ Upstairs, 21+ downstairs
The Cellar (off of the Promenade)
201 East Broadway, Long Beach, CA 90802

A variety of highlights and entertainment include:

A silent art auction
A kid’s Corner showcasing art, crafts, poetry, literary projects, and other art-works
An exclusive CD compilation featuring local, independent bands and singer-songwriters
Fashion show
Food vendors
Free bike valet and bike safety checks
Live music by over 20 local bands, singer-songwriters and local DJ’s
Live painting, a public collaborative mural
On-site haircuts
On-Site T-shirt screen printing at both venues (bring t-shirts for $5 screen prints)
Performances and Showcases: Acro-yoga, contemporary & cultural performances, fire dancing and more.

If you would like to volunteer contact

For more information visit

I would recommend getting involved with your local art community. It's a great way to get inspired, meet new friends and at the very least... try something new.

For a more in depth view of what the mixer is all about and the people behind it, please check out the article in the District Weekly by Greggory Moore (Click HERE to read)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Magnesium and Insulin Sensitivity

From a paper based on US NHANES nutrition and health survey data (1):
During 1999–2000, the diet of a large proportion of the U.S. population did not contain adequate magnesium... Furthermore, racial or ethnic differences in magnesium persist and may contribute to some health disparities.... Because magnesium intake is low among many people in the United States and inadequate magnesium status is associated with increased risk of acute and chronic conditions, an urgent need exists to perform a current survey to assess the physiologic status of magnesium in the U.S. population.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that many people apparently don't get enough of. One of the many things it's necessary for in mammals is proper insulin sensitivity and glucose control. A loss of glucose control due to insulin resistance can eventually lead to diabetes and all its complications.

Magnesium status is associated with insulin sensitivity (2, 3), and a low magnesium intake predicts the development of type II diabetes in most studies (4, 5) but not all (6). Magnesium supplements largely prevent diabetes in a rat model* (7). Interestingly, excess blood glucose and insulin themselves seem to reduce magnesium status, possibly creating a vicious cycle.

In a 1993 trial, a low-magnesium diet reduced insulin sensitivity in healthy volunteers by 25% in just four weeks (8). It also increased urinary thromboxane concentration, a potential concern for cardiovascular health**.

At least three trials have shown that magnesium supplementation increases insulin sensitivity in insulin-resistant diabetics and non-diabetics (9, 10, 11). In some cases, the results were remarkable. In type II diabetics, 16 weeks of magnesium supplementation improved fasting glucose, calculated insulin sensitivity and HbA1c*** (12). HbA1c dropped by 22 percent.

In insulin resistant volunteers with low blood magnesium, magnesium supplementation for four months reduced estimated insulin resistance by 43 percent and decreased fasting insulin by 32 percent (13). This suggests to me that magnesium deficiency was probably one of the main reasons they were insulin resistant in the first place. But the study had another very interesting finding: magnesium improved the subjects' blood lipid profile remarkably. Total cholesterol decreased, LDL decreased, HDL increased and triglycerides decreased by a whopping 39 percent. The same thing had been reported in the medical literature decades earlier when doctors used magnesium injections to treat heart disease, and also in animals treated with magnesium. Magnesium supplementation also suppresses atherosclerosis (thickening and hardening of the arteries) in animal models, a fact that I may discuss in more detail at some point (14, 15).

In the previous study, participants were given 2.5 g magnesium chloride (MgCl2) per day. That's a bit more than the USDA recommended daily allowance (MgCl2 is mostly chloride by weight), in addition to what they were already getting from their diet. Most of a person's magnesium is in their bones, so correcting a deficiency by eating a nutritious diet may take a while.

Speaking of nutritious diets, how does one get magnesium? Good sources include halibut, leafy greens, chocolate and nuts. Bone broths may also be a source of magnesium. Whole grains and beans are also fairly good sources, while refined grains lack most of the magnesium in the whole grain. Organic foods, particularly artisanally produced foods from a farmer's market, are richer in magnesium because they grow on better soil and often use older varieties that are more nutritious.

The problem with seeds such as grains, beans and nuts is that they also contain phytic acid which prevents the absorption of magnesium and other minerals (16). Healthy non-industrial societies that relied on grains took great care in their preparation: they soaked them, often fermented them, and also frequently removed a portion of the bran before cooking (17). These steps all served to reduce the level of phytic acid and other anti-nutrients. I've posted a method for effectively reducing the amount of phytic acid in brown rice (18). Beans should ideally be soaked for 24 hours before cooking, preferably in warm water.

Industrial agriculture has systematically depleted our soil of many minerals, due to high-yield crop varieties and the fact that synthetic fertilizers only replace a few minerals. The mineral content of foods in the US, including magnesium, has dropped sharply in the last 50 years. The reason we need to use fertilizers in the first place is that we've broken the natural nutrient cycle in which minerals always return to the soil in the same place they were removed. In 21st century America, minerals are removed from the soil, pass through our toilets, and end up in the landfill or in waste water. This will continue until we find an acceptable way to return human feces and urine to agricultural soil, as many cultures do to this day****.

I believe that an adequate magnesium intake is critical for proper insulin sensitivity and overall health.

* Zucker rats that lack leptin signaling

** Thromboxane A2 is an omega-6 derived eicosanoid that potently constricts blood vessels and promotes blood clotting. It's interesting that magnesium has such a strong effect on it. It indicates that fatty acid balance is not the only major influence on eicosanoid production.

*** Glycated hemoglobin. A measure of the average blood glucose level over the past few weeks.

**** Anyone interested in further reading on this should look up The Humanure Handbook

Lindeberg on Obesity

I'm currently reading Dr. Staffan Lindeberg's magnum opus Food and Western Disease, recently published in English for the first time. Dr. Lindeberg is one of the world's leading experts on the health and diet of non-industrial cultures, particularly in Papua New Guinea. The book contains 2,034 references. It's also full of quotable statements. Here's what he has to say about obesity:
Middle-age spread is a normal phenomenon - assuming you live in the West. Few people are able to maintain their [youthful] waistline after age 50. The usual explanation - too little exercise and too much food - does not fully take into account the situation among traditional populations. Such people are usually not as physically active as you may think, and they usually eat large quantities of food.

Overweight has been extremely rare among hunter-gatherers and other traditional cultures [18 references]. This simple fact has been quickly apparent to all foreign visitors...

The Kitava study measured height, weight, waist circumference, subcutaneous fat thickness at the back of the upper arm (triceps skinfold) and upper arm circumference on 272 persons ages 4-86 years. Overweight and obesity were absent and average [body mass index] was low across all age groups. one was larger around their waist than around their hips.

...The circumference of the upper arm [mostly indicating muscle mass] was only negligibly smaller on Kitava [compared with Sweden], which indicates that there was no malnutrition. It is obvious from our investigations that lack of food is an unknown concept, and that the surplus of fruits and vegetables regularly rots or is eaten by dogs.

The Population of Kitava occupies a unique position in the world in terms of the negligible effect that the Western lifestyle has had on the island.
The only obese Kitavans Dr. Lindeberg observed were two people who had spent several years off the island living a modern, urban lifestyle, and were back on Kitava for a visit.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who has a scholarly interest in health and nutrition, and somewhat of a background in science and medicine. It's extremely well referenced, which makes it much more valuable.

"Images Of Long Beach" Art Show Reception

At the beginning of the year, I listed 39 goals I wanted to complete in my 39th year. On Saturday, I completed another goal from this list.

I initially wanted to put my photographs up in a cafe' but I had the opportunity to display them in a wine shop...including a reception!

As you may have read in previous blogs, it was definitely a learning experience. I am so thankful for the opportunity to display my photographs from Long Beach in my "Images of Long Beach" collection at the Wine Crush. The night was truly special to me.

Thank you for all that came out to support my work and take the time to introduce yourself. I am lucky to have you be a part of this...even if you weren't able to be there in person.

I am humbled by the support and encouragement from you on a daily basis. The photographs will remain on the walls for the next few weeks if you would like to stop by and take a look.

It was a night I will never forget.

My first art show.

I will continue to take photographs of my travels and share them here with you. Please become a fan on facebook if you would like to see additional images. I tried to take pictures at the show, but I only took a few since I opted to visit with everyone instead.

Sometimes words can't describe feelings we often have. I think this is one of those moments. I feel truly blessed. I am excited to share more.

The display is located at: 3131 East Broadway
Long Beach, California 90803
You can see all photographs from the "Images of Long Beach" collection HERE

Thursday, February 18, 2010

It's In The Details

I have been lagging on my blog the past few days and perhaps it's because I haven't taken any pictures lately or the fact that I sucked up 5GB of my monthly allowance of data for my wireless service within the first two weeks of my cycle. So, I am "forced" to go to coffee shops to "steal" their internet.

I know...BORING!

Another reason is because I have been getting ready for my first art show. Three weeks ago when I brought up the idea to the Wine Crush, I didn't think much about it. I would throw some pictures together and voila! Art Show!

Lesson learned. It's not so simple. Besides the fact that I have to choose a few pictures from about 10,000 of Long Beach (ok, maybe 5,000), I need to frame them, choose the right matte, get custom mattes for pictures outside of the "normal" dimensions, make fancy labels, write a bio, put together easels, put the easels together, price pictures, choose limited edition prints, and lastly...pray that a little piece of dust doesn't fly out of nowhere to get trapped in the glass. Oh don't get me wrong, I am so thankful of the opportunity!

Now it's the waiting that can drive one crazy. When I say "one," I mean me.

I feel like this guy when I have to wait. Not that I know how he is really feeling, but something tells me he is a little out of his mind.

In seventh grade, I threw a birthday party for myself and handed a bunch of invitations out to all of my "friends" at school and was excited to have people come over for a pizza and slumber party. The time came...nobody showed up.

It's not like I will remember that for the rest of my life or anything.

Waiting is not my strong suit. I am not what you would call a patient person. So, I did about everything I need to do for the show opening...I think. I'm sure I will forget something and scramble to get it done. In fact, I am thinking of showing an additional 4 photographs to display outside on easels. I have two in mind, but will have to sort through 24,941 (yes, this is the exact number - I checked) pictures to find two. Imagine a crazed kid at Christmas ripping through a present to get to it....that would be me looking for a picture to use.

So, that's what I've been up to. Above is a sneak peek of what I will be showing. I took it at the beginning stage of deciding on which images to use. I hope you stop by this Saturday to say hello! Click HERE for details.

Maybe I should go bake a cake or something and work on another one of those 39 goals I have listed on the right side of the blog.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Jumping For Joy

For some reason, I love to take pictures of dogs jumping. Sometimes I get lucky and click the button at the right time. Last week, Max was listed as one of Matador travel pets on Matador's travel website. Of course I had to include one of my favorite picture of him jumping towards me on the beach in Cape Cod...just like a cartoon. That was a moment I will never forget.

This week, I am getting ready for my art opening on Saturday. If you are in the Southern California area, I hope you can stop by to say hello! I'm framing about 17 photographs of Long Beach to hang on the walls at the Wine Crush. They will be available for purchase, including limited edition prints.
The Long Beach Post
was nice enough to put this picture together with the details on their website. Thank you Long Beach Post!

I will have many images that are included in two Long Beach photo albums on my facebook fan page.

In the meantime, here are a few pictures I took of dogs leaping.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Where I don't belong

I've always been one to ask, "why not?" There has to be a reason someone would say no and to me, it needed to make a lot of sense before I agreed to it. I'm not a big fan of the word no.

Maybe that's why I like fences. Besides the fact they are pretty, there is always a way to get to the other side even if the entire reason for the fence is to keep you out.

When I was in 7th grade, I didn't have many friends but I always enjoyed playing sports. Why not try out for the school's flag football team? Who cares that I'm a girl? It's a good thing my mother didn't mind me pushing the envelope at a young age and agreed to take me to the football tryouts where it was very apparent that I was the only girl doing so. Being that I didn't have many friends at that age, I made the decision not to try out at the last minute, but it was my decision weather or not I wanted to do it. Four years later, I ended up being the quarterback for the powder puff football team in high school for two years.

I feel that we can do anything we set our minds to. Why not? It seems that the only person saying no to our dreams is that little voice inside of our head that is believing that we can't. If you feel that you can, then you should do it...whatever it is that you want to do.

Tonight I went out to enjoy a nice hot and steamy bowl of pho. It's one of my favorite comfort foods. On my way to a coffee shop after dinner, I passed by a barber shop. It wasn't just any hair cutting place, it was one of those, "men only" shops. I have always wanted to take a picture of men getting their hair cut! Not just any cut, but an old fashioned parlor where women aren't allowed. In fact, as I walked in wide eyed with a big smile on my face they knew instantly that I didn't belong. I knew I wasn't supposed to walk inside, but maybe that's what drew me in. Of course I walked in and didn't have a camera in tow. I asked if it was ok if I snapped a few pictures. He looked at me puzzed. After a long pause, he shrugged his shoulders and then said, "ok, why not." I was thrilled!

I ran back to my car to grab my camera and ran back to the shop. As I arrived, the same gentleman nodded his head to say, "be our guest." I was so excited! I started snapping away without thinking. After a few shots, the gentleman walked up to me and said, " know, this is a male owned and operated store." I said, "that's fantastic!" He looked at me as if I wasn't getting the point. He than said, "well, men are only allowed here and woman are not allowed to come inside." I smiled and said, "you mean, I can't get my haircut here tonight?" I don't think he appreciated my enthusium with a slight hint of sarcasm. After that, he brushed his hands towards the floor, pointing to the door (very polietly, I might add) which meant that it was time for me to leave. I understood and left.

I love a barbershop. It's where men can gather and groom each other, talk about boy things and be together in their "manhood." So facinating. I think I will continue to wander where girls are "not allowed."

Sorry boys.

Don't worry, I will ask first...I think.

Most of the time.