Friday, October 28, 2011

The Brain Controls Insulin Action

Insulin regulates blood glucose primarily by two mechanisms:
  1. Suppressing glucose production by the liver
  2. Enhancing glucose uptake by other tissues, particularly muscle and liver
Since the cells contained in liver, muscle and other tissues respond directly to insulin stimulation, most people don't think about the role of the brain in this process.  An interesting paper just published in Diabetes reminds us of the central role of the brain in glucose metabolism as well as body fat regulation (1).  Investigators showed that by inhibiting insulin signaling in the brains of mice, they could diminish insulin's ability to suppress liver glucose production by 20%, and its ability to promote glucose uptake by muscle tissue by 59%.  In other words, the majority of insulin's ability to cause muscle to take up glucose is mediated by its effect on the brain. 

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bingo Culture Series Featured on Lenscratch

I am thrilled to have some images of my "Bingo Culture" series featured today on Aline Smithson's website, Lenscratch.  You can view her post, as well as more photographs from my series, HERE.

One of the projects that I took on last year on the road was visiting several bingo halls across the states.  Here is my statement about the project:
In 2010, I hit the road to photograph America solo; living out of a tent and bringing along my dog for the ride.  I did not have a preconceived agenda, rather, I wanted to discover worlds that were unfamiliar and meet people I would not have otherwise encountered. Each day I would make a decision on what direction I would take.  While traveling in Maine, I discovered a Bingo hall and it provoked a curiosity about a subculture that I was aware of but hadn't given any thought towards.  What I discovered was a community of dedicated players who travel to the same place, set up in the same spot, and bring along the same good luck charms with the hopes that this will be the day they win big.  It’s a place where hope and despair come hand in hand throughout the night as the mind lets go of everything but what numbers are being called. Each location I encountered would bring in a true sense of community, each with their unique set of personalities and characters.  As I continued my travels and visits to Bingo Halls across America, I realized I was looking at a cultural phenomenon that will be lost to future generations.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The People Of Downtown Los Angeles

I awoke last Saturday morning before the sun and headed to the heart of Los Angeles.  The destination was the Flower Market to do some street photography with a group.  It was not my idea to get up at this hour and head to the city, but I went along with it and it turned out to be an interesting adventure.  I am always up to try new things and this was something new.

You can smell the freshly cut flowers for blocks.  All of the smiling faces, beautiful colors and happy people were nice to see but it wasn't really what I wanted to look at.
I decided to skip the market of tourists to get lost in the streets of downtown Los Angeles at 6:30 in the morning.  The idea and essence of "street shooting" to some photographers is to take a photograph unnoticed. Yes, I can do that but for the most part, I like to interact with my subjects. Because of where I like to go, most of the time I don't necessarily blend in with the surroundings I choose to place myself in.  Most people will notice me.  In some cases, the locals were more than happy to pose for me.  Even though I prefer "non posed" photographs, I enjoyed these two men being more than willing to be in front of the lens.

I walked up and down the streets until I got a little lost.  For a moment, I felt uneasy but I kept my head up so I wouldn't miss anything.  A tall blonde holding a large camera and wearing flip flops in the heart of the city in the early morning isn't something the locals come across I suppose.  There were mumblings with everyone I passed and one individual said, "hey lady, you want to take my picture?"  To that I turned and said, "why yes I do!" Once I pointed the camera towards his direction, his friends surrounding him cracked up and yelled, "ahhhhhh, she called your bluff!" He hid and ran around in circles and when he finally calmed down, he lit a joint and told me to take a picture.  I did.

I eventually headed back to the flower market to breathe in the delicious scents and to take a last look before I left.  The city is so beautiful in the morning, especially on a Saturday when it's void of weekday workers.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Harvard Food Law Society "Forum on Food Policy" TEDx Conference

Last Friday, it was my pleasure to attended and present at the Harvard Food Law Society's TEDx conference, Forum on Food Policy.  I had never been to Cambridge or Boston before, and I was struck by how European they feel compared to Seattle.  The conference was a great success, thanks to the dedicated efforts of the Food Law Society's presidents Nate Rosenberg, Krista DeBoer, and many other volunteers. 

Dr. Robert Lustig gave a keynote address on Thursday evening, which I unfortunately wasn't able to attend due to my flight schedule.  From what I heard, he focused on practical solutions for reducing national sugar consumption, such as instituting a sugar tax.  Dr. Lustig was a major presence at the conference, and perhaps partially due to his efforts, sugar was a central focus throughout the day.  Nearly everyone agrees that added sugar is harmful to the nation's health at current intakes, so the question kept coming up "how long is it going to take us to do something about it?"  As Dr. David Ludwig said, "...the obesity epidemic can be viewed as a disease of technology with a simple, but politically difficult solution".

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Losing Fat With Simple Food-- Two Reader Anecdotes

Each week, I'm receiving more e-mails and comments from people who are successfully losing fat by eating simple (low reward) food, similar to what I described here.  In some cases, people are breaking through fat loss plateaus that they had reached on conventional low-carbohydrate, low-fat or paleo diets.  This concept can be applied to any type of diet, and I believe it is an important characteristic of ancestral food patterns.

At the Ancestral Health Symposium, I met two Whole Health Source readers, Aravind Balasubramanian and Kamal Patel, who were interested in trying a simple diet to lose fat and improve their health.  In addition, they wanted to break free of certain other high-reward activities in their lives that they felt were not constructive.  They recently embarked on an 8-week low-reward diet and lifestyle to test the effectiveness of the concepts.  Both of them had previously achieved a stable (in Aravind's case, reduced) weight on a paleo-ish diet prior to this experiment, but they still carried more fat than they wanted to.  They offered to write about their experience for WHS, and I thought other readers might find it informative.  Their story is below, followed by a few of my comments.

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Occupy Wall Street Demonstration In Los Angeles

I ventured downtown to do some street shooting and capture the people involved in Occupy Los Angeles.  The energy was high and everyone I saw was peaceful and friendly to each other.  There were some debates among people with different opinions but that is what I love about this country.  We can have a difference of opinion and share it peacefully.  I wanted to show some photographs of what I observed on Saturday for the people who aren't in the area and want to know what is going on.  You can draw your own conclusions and opinions.  I have more photographs on my facebook fan page.  You can be a fan and see more photographs HERE.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Photographs On Airstream, Inc. Website

As you might know, I photographed the people and the activities of Alumapalooza in 2010 and in 2011.  This is the event held at the birthplace of Airstream in Jackson Center, Ohio.  In the new redesign of the website, my photographs are displayed in the President's Letter section (the photograph I took of Bob Wheeler was from Alumapalooza 2010), Community Section and the Favorites section.  I am thrilled that my travel website (the one you are on now) is named second in the "People" tab.  I look forward to Alumapalooza 2012!  

Here are a few screen shots from the website and after the screen shots, I have attached the video slideshows I put together for each year.  You might guess that I love animals (especially dogs) if you watch the slideshows.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Brother's Wedding

My brother tied the knot the other day in San Diego to his long term girlfriend, Aurora.  It was a small ceremony at the courthouse and a gathering at their home afterwards.  It was quick but sweet.  They had a photographer on hand to take photographs, but I wanted to take a few to remember the way I saw things.   Here are a few from the day.

And yes, the bride is wiping off the car they drove to the courthouse.  It's my step father's car (the one with the beard) with the "grumpy old man" personalized license plate.  He will be 90 in a month.

We are all a bit slightly skewed from "normal" but that's the way we like it.