Category Archives: Deep Mind
Excerpted from Our Wild Calling by Richard Louv Richard Louv. Reprinted by permission of Algonquin Books. All Rights Reserved.
One morning Lisa Donahue walked into her dining room and saw her six-year-old son, Aidan, and their large retriever, Jack, stretched out together on the dining room carpet. Both were facing away from Donahue. The boy was stroking the dogs side. Then she heard her son say quietly, matter-of-factly, Mommy, I dont have a heart anymore.
Startled, she asked her son what he meant.
My heart is in Jack.
She watched them for a while, in the silence and peace.
This permeability of the heart (or soul or spirit or neurological connection) occurs naturally when were very young. Some people continue to experience it throughout their life, though they may have no words to describe it. They experience it with their companion animals and, if receptive and given a chance, with wild animals, too.
Each animal we encounter has the potential to become part of us or part of who we could become. If we meet them halfway.
Indigenous traditions are fully accustomed to this approach to physical and spiritual existence. The American transcendentalists of the 19th century also saw the divine in nature. That movements leader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, wrote of the great nature in which we rest, as the earth lies in the soft arms of the atmosphere; that Unity, that Over-soul, within which every mans particular being is contained and made one with all other; that common heart.
More recently, nature essayist Barry Lopez, in A Literature of Place, wrote, If youre intimate with a place, a place with whose history yourefamiliar, and you establish an ethical conversation with it, the implication that follows is this: the place knows youre there. It feels you. You will not be forgotten, cut off, abandoned. Our attachment to the natural world is a fundamental human defense against loneliness. Lopez was primarily describing the ways land shapes our inner landscape. Animals, wild and domestic, also do this.
We live in fragile worlds. Two are familiar. The first world is the outer habitat of land, air, water, and flesh, the one that supports biological needs of humans and other animals. The second world is our highly individualized and private inner life.
Then there is a mysterious third world, the shared habitat of the heart. This is the deep connection between a person and another animal. It is the permeability of empathy. It is the connection that extends from within us, across the mysterious between, and into the other being. If were lucky, we feel something almost indescribable in return. We can learn to enter this habitat at will. This transportive leap can change our lives and the lives around us for the better.
These definitions are imprecise, not an exact map but more of a metaphorical guide to thinking about our relationship with the natural world. The naturalness of this border-defying communion, as Aidan experienced with his dog, tends to fade when childhood ends. A teenager, before the demands and realism of adulthood set in, may still yearn for such encounters, even subconsciously. What if more young people experienced such transcendent, mind-altering encounters with urban birds or suburban coyotes or a rescue dog? Might a so-called at-risk teenageror any of usexperiencing such a rite of passage set out on a different path to the future?
A few years ago, I had coffee with my friend Scott Reed at a local bookstore. By profession, Scott builds relationships. He works as a community organizer, often through churches, in poor neighborhoods around the United States. Scott is fascinated by transformative encounters. Paraphrasing 20th-century German Jewish religious philosopher Martin Buber, Scott said, The soul is over therenot in heart or head. But over there. Bubers mysticism focuses on the encounter and dialogue between humans: When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them.
This is what Buber called the sacredness of the I-Thou relationship, Scott explained. The divine is in you as well as me, and you discover it in relationship.
The I-Thou relationship is quite different from the more common I-It relationship, which is based on what one can get from another person. In his famous 1923 essay, Ich und Du, Buber writes, No purpose intervenes between I and You, no greed and no anticipation; and longing itself is changed as it plunges from the dream into appearance. Buber is primarily focused on the power of relationship between human beings and between humans and a Western definition of God. But his description of the I-Thou relationship might also be applied to the relationship between a human and a member of another species.
Recently diagnosed with aggressive stage 3 cancer, Scott continues to work and travel. He described how one evening when hed returned from a long trip, even before his family could welcome him, his large dog leaped up and did what he had never done: pushed Scott back and held him, wouldnt let him go. What was that? he asked. He felt it was something older and larger than recognition or affection. That relationship is in the web of life I sense when Im in nature. My breathing is easier there, the oxygen is plentiful, the smell of the leaves, the breath of lifeall of it is connected.
This essential connection or communion with other creaturesthis habitat of the heartis fragile. It needs nourishment to survive, as do they and we.
The heart is a useful metaphor, and perhaps more. An emerging area of neurological inquiry suggests that the heart is a mindful muscle; it resides in a complex physiological part of our body where we feel emotions in ways not yet fully understood. Living more in the moment, as other animals likely do, we are more mindfulmore heartful. The heartin reality or as metaphordoes not exist in isolation. It exists in its own habitat, which contains it but extends beyond self-awareness to other hearts.
In other contexts, this space of connection goes by other names. In the arts, the word lacuna describes the seemingly empty but powerful space in a story; in music, it is the pause or passage in which no notes are played, allowing the listener to feel or project meaning.
Michelle Brenner, a pioneering conflict manager in Australia, prefers the word liminality, a concept developed in the early 20th century to describe the threshold stage between a previous and a new way of perceiving ones identitysometimes referring to the between stage in an initiation. In some cultures, she writes, the liminal space is seen as sacred, to be respected and is holy, something out of this world. . . . In other cultures, it creates anxious uncertainty, fear and disapproval. This betweenness can be found everywhere in nature: between the seasons, at the rivers edge, between bioregions, at the borders of things, between two living beings, and, in Brenners words, in the undecided moments when we are neither here nor there.
There are as many descriptions of the place of connection as there are cultures, including especially those of Indigenous peoples. It is at once strange and familiar.
In human relations, love alters reality. We go mad with love. Limerence is the word for that. The chemical reaction that accompanies human love is measurable but defies full explanation. So it is with our deepest bond with other animals.
A friend who spends most of her waking hours in New York City once told me about an encounter with a pigeona pigeon! she emphasizedthat left her speechless. As she walked to work, she passed the bird on the sidewalk. They looked at each other, and she felt transported. She used that word. Transported. My friend is not a person inclined to seek a shift in consciousness, but there she was on the sidewalk, with that pigeon. In that moment she felt inexplicably touched, elevated. She felt as if she had entered that birds world, and it had entered hers.
Its like an altered state. But without drugs, she said.
And unlike drugs, its generally free of charge, and with no known negative side effects. Depending on the animal.
Google's health care projects, which were once scattered across the company, are now starting to come together under one team now working out of the Palo Alto offices formerly occupied by Nest, Google's smart home group, according to several current and former employees.
Google Health, which represents the first major new product area at Google since hardware, began to organize in 2018, and now numbers more than 500 people working under David Feinberg, who joined the company in early 2019. Most of these people were reassigned from other groups within Google, although the company has been hiring and currently has over a dozen open roles.
Google and its parent company, Alphabet, are counting on new businesses as growth slows in its core digital advertising business. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, who was recently promoted from Google's CEO to run the whole conglomerate, has said health care offers the biggest potential for Alphabet to use artificial intelligence to improve outcomes over the next 5 to ten years.
Google's health efforts date back more than a decade to 2006, when it attempted to create a repository of health records and data. Back then, it aimed to connect doctors and hospitals and help consumers aggregate their medical data. However, those early attempts failed in market and the company terminated this first "Google Health" product in 2012. Google then spent several years developing artificial intelligence to analyze imaging scans and other patient documents and identify diseases with the intent of predicting outcomes and reducing costs. It also experimented with other ideas, like adding an option for people searching for medical information to talk to a doctor.
The new Google Health unit is exploring some new ideas, such as helping doctors search medical records and improving health-related Google search results for consumers, but primarily consolidates existing teams that have been working in health for a while.
Google's not the only tech giant working on new efforts centered around the health industry. Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft have all ramped up efforts in recent years, and have been building out their own teams.
In just over a year under Feinberg's leadership, Google Health has grown to more than 500 employees, according to the company's internal directory and people familiar with the company. These people asked for anonymity as they're not authorized to comment publicly about the company's plans.
Many of these Google Health employees have come over from other groups, including Medical Brain, which involves using voice recognition software to help doctors take notes; and Deep Mind's health division, which was folded into Google Health back in November of 2018 and has worked with the U.K.'s National Health System to alert doctors when patients are experiencing acute kidney injury.
The business model for Google Health is still a work in progress, but its leadership and organizational structure provided some clues as to the company's areas of interest.
Feinberg is high up in Google's internal org chart and has the ear of the top Google execs including Pichai. He reports to Jeff Dean, the company's AI lead and one of its earliest employees.
Dean co-founded Google Brain in 2010, which catapulted the company's deep learning technology into medical analysis. Some of the first health-related projects out of Google Brain included a new computer-based model to screen for signs of diabetic retinopathy in eye scans, and an algorithm to detect breast cancer in X-rays. In 2019, Dean took the helm of the company's AI unit, reporting to Pichai.
Feinberg stood out in interviews for the job because he helped motivate Geisinger to start thinking more deeply about preventative health and not just treating the sick, according to people familiar with the hiring process. During his tenure at Geisinger, the hospital experimented with giving away healthy food to people with chronic conditions, including diabetes. It also pushed for more patients to have genetic tests to screen for diseases before it grew too late to treat them.
Feinberg works closely with Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian, who has named healthcare as one of biggest industry verticals for the business as it attempts to catch up with cloud front-runners Amazon and Microsoft.
Another key player at Google Health is Paul Muret, who had been an internal advocate for forming Google Health before Feinberg was hired, say two people who worked there. Muret is a veteran of the company who worked as a vice president of engineering for analytics, followed by video and apps. He's now listed on LinkedIn as a product leader for "AI and Health," and people in the organization say he's in charge on the product side.
The company is now staffing up its team with health industry execs to show that it's not just a group of Silicon Valley techies tinkering with artificial intelligence.
For instance, Feinberg helped recruit Karen DeSalvo as Google's chief health officer. DeSalvo, who was the health commissioner of New Orleans, played a major role in rebuilding the city's health systems in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Like Feinberg, she's been a big advocate of the idea that there's more to health than just health care. She's pushed for hospitals to consider whether patients have access to transportation services, healthy food and a support system before sending them home.
Google Health has also absorbed a small group from Nest that was looking into home-health monitoring, which would be particularly beneficial for seniors who are hoping to live independently. That group was led by former Nest CTO Yoky Matsuoka, sources say, but she recently left Alphabet, and has reportedly been working as a fellow at Panasonic. Matsuoka co-founded Google's R&D arm, now called X, in 2011, and worked at Apple in between her stints at Google.
She's not the only high-profile departure. A top business development leader, Virginia McFerran, who came from insurance giant UnitedHealth Group, has also left the company. To replace her, the team brought over Matt Klainer, a vice president from the consumer communications products group as its business development lead for Google Health.
Google's parent company, Alphabet, has a number of health-related "Other Bet" businesses that will remain independent from Google Health, including Verily, the life sciences group, and Calico, which is focused on aging.
Recently promoted Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai stressed that the setup was intentional during the company's most recent earnings call with investors, implying that Alphabet was not planning to consolidate all of its health efforts under one leader anytime soon.
"Our thesis has always been to apply these deep computer science capabilities across Google and our Other Bets to grow and develop into new areas," noted Pichai, when describing the company's work in health.
"The Alphabet structure allows us to have a portfolio of different businesses with different time horizons, without trying to stretch a single management team across different areas," he continued.
--CNBC's Jennifer Elias contributed to this report
From the simplest devices to the most powerful machines, we depend daily on modern inventions to improve our lives.
From an early age, Ive been curious about how they all work. What makes letters jump from your computer keyboard to your screen when you type? What makes your cars engine start when you simply turn a key or push a button? How does your microwave heat up your soup without hot coils or a burner? For as a long as I can remember, my curious mind has not only prompted me to ask questions like these, its demanded I seek answers. And what I find most fascinating is that none of these things existed until someone actually thought of them.
Earlier this week, we celebrated National Inventors Day and, with it, the power of the human mind to make something from nothing. Look around the room youre in, every object you see including the room itself was designed and developed because someone turned an idea into reality. Ive been an engineer for 20 years and I can tell you from experience that nothing is more satisfying than starting with a blank page, working through a problem and bringing a solution to life.
Where I work at The Timken Co., we design and develop critical components for practically every machine with rotating parts. I lead our research and development (R&D) team, where our mission is to apply our specialized skills to conduct research and develop technical solutions for the materials, engineering and manufacturing processes in support of our bearings business. This means were involved in practically every industry that moves our world forward. From airplanes and automobiles to food processing and wind power, we play a significant role inside the machines that matter the most to many around the world.
We have tremendous brain power and specialized talent on our team. This is essential because we need people who are able to explore for new knowledge and then apply what theyve learned to generate new business opportunities for our company. Our focus, as a team, is to work on things Timken doesnt already know how to do, which requires both free-spirited creative thinking and cooperation with implementation and operations teams.
Lets look at our work with bearings for electric vehicles, for example. They present some fundamental design challenges, like ensuring lubricants work at high speeds. Our traditional vehicle-testing methods wouldnt cut it because the bearings on these vehicles spin so fast. Our team determined that we needed to use our aerospace test rigs to effectively evaluate prototype designs. Thats where our wide-ranging knowledge comes into play. Our deep experience in aerospace is helping us get ahead in developing solutions for electric vehicles.
Much of our work today is focused on designing lighter, more durable bearings to help drive efficiency, improve performance and increase the lifecycle of parts used in electric vehicles and a variety of applications. We work closely with our customers to better understand what keeps them up at night. We collaborate with universities around the world to both share our knowledge and seek diverse points of view on the challenges were trying to solve. In the end, we deliver solutions that make equipment both safer and more sustainable.
The best part of our job in R&D is that we deal in a world of open-ended challenges, where there is usually not a right answer but instead our goal is to find the best answer. We have to first understand our customers needs, identify and plan the things we need to do and then figure out how to do them. We have the freedom to explore a world of possibilities and exercise our curious minds; its an inventors mentality. Its how the Thomas Edisons, Marie Curies and George Washington Carvers approached their work. They were able to not only come up with great ideas, but push the most valuable and beneficial ones to a finish. And this is how future generations of inventors will continue to move our world forward.
Here are the Five Principles of Success you have been looking for. Sales, business, self-help, health, relationships, finances, career, and spirituality.
Know Your Outcome
Knowing your outcome is connecting with your purpose and seeing your highest vision of yourself so that your outcome will be so inspiring that motivation and determination are just a side effect. Knowing your outcome is about seeing, hearing, feeling, the result now, and taking those sensory inputs from the future and accessing them today. You may find that when you carry these sights, sounds, and feelings from your highest vision of yourself, you stay inspired, determined, and nothing will change the outcome. Knowing your outcome is more complicated than just writing it down. You can easily visualize, meditate, and bring in divine energy to give this outcome life energy. When an outcome is nurtured into existence, this is real spiritual alchemy. An outcome only comes to life when you have clarity, certainty, and a gut feeling. Clarity comes from a knowing deep down that the mission is for the highest good for all. The way you find clarity is through journaling, meditating, asking the universe for guidance, and deep self-reflection until a spark lights a fire in your heart center that carries a fierce passion that is impossible to extinguish.
Taking action is simple when you have clarity on your outcome. You may discover that taking time to breathe deep and rewinding the picture of your outcome all the way to now, you will see the step by step plan that got you to the outcome. It is essential to build a step by step plan that can be broken down into a daily routine. It is important to take action through daily steps that move you toward your goals. These goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and have a timeline. SMART goals create the foundation of success, and achieving that success is done by taking action.
Aware of whats happening around you is critical because awareness brings insight. Insight shines a light on progress or setbacks and creates solutions out of a struggle. Knowledge of situations around the goal, but most of all, the deeper levels of the self are important. Knowing how you are thinking, feeling, and acting is the awareness that precipitates massive results because once you know yourself on a deeper level, you can adapt.
Adapting is changingto an ever-changing dynamic situation that moves like eddies in a river.Staying in one place in the middle of the river is resisting the chance to flowin the direction of easy success. A boulder is either rolled out of the way ordissolved by the persistent current of a river. Success is only possible whenyou are flowing in a current of soul purpose that rides the waves of deepfulfillment.
The phycology ofexcellence is the next step in flexibility because excellence is easilyattained with the persistence of crashing waves on a beach. Becoming excellentis a process with highs and lows, trial and error, and never giving up. Justlike waves in the ocean crashing on land, there are times of significant effortand accomplishment. Triumph, wins, and success. When the tide recedes back intothe source, the sand exposes all the imperfections of the beach. You can seewhere the seawater didnt grind the sand perfectly. With the water receded allthe way out, the failures are brought to the surface, and maximum flexibilityis applied by the effort of the next wave and the next wave until tiny rocksare smashed into perfect sand.
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Five Principles of Success - Thrive Global
Yheti transcends bass music bounds with ethereal soundscapes and wobbly bass in his newest albumThe Party Has Changed.
Ohio-native Yhetiis one of the rising stars already making quite an impact on the bass music scene. Gaining support from the likes of Space Jesus and G Jones to name a few, his transcendent soundscapes and unparalleled musical vision have swept listeners away.
Now, Yheti has blessed the psychedelic bass world yet again, with his most recent album The Party Has Changed. This 11 track, 31-minute long work holds an extraordinary range of sounds and auditory spectacles that are sure to leave fans in awe.
With tunes such as Signals from Above and All Over Body Hug, his latest release has already set a new standard of creativity in electronic music. The Party Has Changedbrings a refreshing and unparalleled new take on the future of what bass music could be and we are eager to dive in.
Listen to The Party Has Changedon Spotify below, download or stream the album on your favorite platform and read on for a full review of this wild new release!
The tune immerses the listener in an almost dreamlike state, with only a basic percussion beat to hold onto we journey through the playful world of soundscapes Yheti masterfully creates. By the end of the song, we find ourselves in a deeper, almost tribal-like environment before the song fades away with the sound of birds.
We are reintroduced to that environment at the beginning of A Little Bit Goes A Long Way. The track builds with a playful sample of a complicated flute melody before a bouncy bassline introduces itself. As the bass line progresses, the flute melody evolves as if telling a story and then, as swiftly as this track began, it fades away leading into the next song.
The third track of the album commands your full attention as it effortlessly introduces the perfect balance of wobble and weight. Signals from Above pairs uniquely shrill melodies with deep sinking bass lines that are sure to awe.
The next track titled Weird Trumpet is a playful rework of muted trumpet samples layered over-energetic beats. While its name lends truth to the overall aura of the song, the track itself holds its own persona.
From there Inside a Simulation almost immediately juxtaposes the percussion-heavy nature that the past four songs taunt. The tune is as refreshing as it is immersive, and will draw in listeners with its multifaceted ambiance.
Yheti seems to be playing around with repetitive and minimally syllabic phrases for this new song. Yo challenges the listener to not pay attention to not only the melody or the bass but rather the percussion and simple beat.
All Over Body Hug is an absolute beast of a tune. In a thick, almost viscous-like manner, this uncommonly slow song asks the audience to not only listen, but feel the song. Each hit of the bass creates a level of anticipation that is to be admired.
Up next for its turn on aux is the initially deceptive Text from a Star. As it builds in an almost UK style drum and bass manner, the heavy tune evolves into something much more. As it transitions into an expos of its complicated melody the piece explores the many different ways a song can be expressed.
While the theme of complicated flute melodies and heavy percussion remains strong throughout the work, it is presented in a new light on I Lost You. Yhetis tribal sounds could even be described as World Bass as he leads us through this new atmosphere. Then, almost immediately the flute follows us into the bass-heavy tune Life. Beginning in a deep, almost menacing manner, the track evolves slowly to a lighter more childlike energy before ending.
Finishing off the album is the song Pushing Towards the Light. Clocking in at just a short minute and a half, the track is a perfectly unique way to end off such a widely ranged album. It serves as almost a farewell to the mystical world that Yhetis created in The Party Has Changed.
When all is said and done, Yhetis newest addition to his discography is sure to make waves in the bass music community this upcoming summer. With festival season revving up and fans making new summer playlists, Im confident well be hearing the wild sounds of Tyler Yheti all around.
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Weve noted before how This Is Us Kate is the Pearson sibling most in need of a win and that held true in Tuesdays episode, which found present-day Kate worrying that her marriage was going to end and flashback Kate experiencing emotional abuse at the hands of her first boyfriend.
I always joke that I have super-healthy tear ducts at this point, says Hannah Zeile, chuckling. Zeile plays Kate as a young adult, which means shes the one charged with playing Kevin and Randalls sister as she makes her way through the grief following Jacks unforeseen death. And now shell maneuver the character through the painful realization that Marcs treatment of her isnt love its control.
I knew that it would resonate with a lot of people, she tells TVLine. One of the only things you want as an actor is to make people feel something. and I think that this storyline is going to make people feel a lot of things and relate to a lot of things. And also, it just adds more dimension to Kate Pearson as a whole.
Read on for Zeiles thoughts on Kates current predicament, starting with that Episode 13 fight in the car.
TVLINE | Talk to me about shooting that argument with Austin Abrams.Oh my God. [Laughs]
TVLINE | I know Justin Hartley was directing this episode. And theres a huge amount of emotional ground that needs to be covered in a very short period of time in that scene. Did you all talk a lot about how that would go?Yeah. First of all Justin Hartley was incredible to work with. I think its so cool to work with an actor as a director, and most specifically an actor that actually performs on the same show. So he knew exactly what he was looking for and gave incredible notes and really helped us get into the frame of mind that we needed to be in for each scene. SoI have nothing but positive things to say about Justin.
And Austin, as well, is extremely talented. He really is one of those actors that becomes the character while theyre working, so I think that he felt so closely to Marc in the sense that he thought like him and he felt like him and he moved like him. It didnt feel like performing. Wed only been working on this for however long, but it felt like we had this established relationship with Kate and Marc, and I think that that just shows a lot about Marcs temperament as a character. A lot of the scenes that they have, it feels like zero to a hundred. As Justin said, Marc goes, it goes from the sweetest moment weve probably ever seen theyre singing, theyre laughing, theyre having the greatest time to, like, actual hell. And [thats how] Marc is as a person. He just is very hot and cold and then he stops and then becomes manipulative because he realized hed snapped and uses that to reel Kate back in.
So yeah, so filming that was a lot of high emotion. We were sweating and panting and deep breathing. Its weird when you know youre acting, but your body is still doing the physical motions, so you still need a second to like recover from what just happened.
TVLINE |At the very end of that argument when he drives off, theres that kill shot where he comments on not being able to look at her fat face. We saw him make the comment about the chocolate earlier in the episode, but do you think she ever thought hed be capable of saying something so hurtful to her?No. I think that the writers have done a great job of making Marc have like redeemable qualities, because not all people are walking around like supervillain outfit on, you know? Some people, they do have redeemable qualities, but they still have toxic ones, as well. So I do think that she was just so enthralled with having someone even be attracted to her, and thats more of her own insecurity. Im sure that Kate could, as we see with Toby, she could find a good guy. But she feels so down about herself that she thinks, Wow, Im so lucky to have someone like Marc even look at me. So shes excusing all this horrible behavior just because she wants this to work out so badly, because at this moment, she thinks this is like her only shot at love.
TVLINE | You shoot a lot with Logan Shroyer and Niles Finch, who play Kevin and Randall as young adults. Whats the dynamic like among the three of you?Its a huge blessing that they are actually two of my closest friends, as well, and I mean that genuinely Logan is a little more Method. He stays in character a little more. Theyre just different types of people in the way that they do their job. Niles and I will be totally joking and laughing and goofing around right before they yell Action!, and then we just go straight into it.But those are the fun days when the Teen Three all get to work together. We have a lot of fun and we always pow wow in my trailer and eat lunch together and just, we have a good time.
TVLINE |Is that what they call you guys on set? The Teen Three?Yeah. We kind of made it Teen Three, because for a while it was like theres Big Three and Little Three. Some people were saying Medium Three, and we were like, I dont know if we want to be the Medium Three. I dont know about that. So were the Teen Three.
TVLINE | Thats funny. Its like, How are the Three? Oh, theyre just medium.[Laughs] Yeah. We were like, Were not a coffee drink. So Teen Three. Yeah.
New decade, new you: 10 things you really can set your mind to doing in 2020 and beyond – Omaha World-Herald
A new decade has dawned. Make the most of it by resolving to be the best you that you can be. Here are 10 practical and actionable steps to a healthier, happier 2020 and beyond.
1. Start small
If you want to shed bad habits and develop healthy ones, make your move. Start with one healthy choice and keep going. Good habits can improve your health, boost your mood, increase your productivity and help you live longer, says Sarah Emanuel, manager of wellness services for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE).
Emanuel suggests making small changes over time for the rest of time. When you focus on one small part of your life that you can improve, the goal for better health becomes achievable in the long run.
2. Schedule the appointment
Set aside time this (and every) year for a checkup. Yearly wellness visits are important preventive care thats generally included in health care coverage. Its a chance to huddle with your doctor and review family history, chronic medical and surgical conditions and current medications.
The time you invest in yourself and your personalized prevention plan is never wasteful; it is immeasurably valuable, says Dr. Elsie Verbik, medical director for BCBSNE.
3. Download the app
When it comes to health and fitness, the most important piece of equipment is the human body but we can still supplement it with cool gadgetry.
Studies show people who use fitness trackers and exercise apps are more likely to exercise during their leisure time compared to those who dont. Fitbit, Apple and Garmin make popular fitness trackers. App favorites include Couch to 5K, Sleep Cycle and MyFitnessPal, a free diet and exercise tracking app endorsed by Omaha naturopathic doctor Nikki Kendall.
Its an easy way for me to review my clients nutrition, hold them accountable to healthy choices and adjust their recommendations as needed, she says. It also allows me to track their progress and overcome plateaus if they arise.
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4. Live in the now
A growing body of evidence suggests that mindfulness recognizing exactly what is happening in our moment-to-moment experience can lead to lower stress levels, greater resilience and an overall healthier future.
Mindfulness is more approachable than ever thanks to a virtual explosion of apps, podcasts, websites, online courses, audio books and teachers, says Laura Crosby, a meditation instructor with the Center for Mindful Living.
5. Exercise your creativity
As we look for new ways to fortify our physical and mental health, study after study verifies that it pays to get creative.
I believe everyone has the capacity for creative expression in some form and that being creative is innate to human nature, says Betsy Funk, a registered expressive arts therapist and co-founder of Omaha Therapy and Arts Collaborative.
She says making art (painting, drawing, sculpting and more) can have a calming, almost meditative effect on the artist, which can potentially decrease stress, anxiety, depression and blood pressure.
6. Shut it down
Getting a good nights sleep is a dream addition to any wellness plan: minimal effort, huge returns. Adequate sleep has shown to help ward off illness, reduce stress, improve mood and potentially decrease the risks of Alzheimers disease and dementia.
Sleep is a very restorative time for the brain, says Dr. Daniel L. Murman, director of the Behavioral and Geriatric Neurology Program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
7. Vanquish visceral fat
Getting adequate sleep also is a proven way to fight dangerous visceral belly fat. Cutting down on carbohydrate intake, increasing protein intake, avoiding trans fats and getting regular aerobic exercise are critical, as well. Certified personal trainer Chris Haberling says each of those habits will help reduce your waistline, but ultimately, combining all of them is going to be the most effective and quickest way.
8. Stress less
The potential consequences of not managing high stress levels include digestive and cardiovascular problems, stroke, cancer, a weakened immune system and mental illness such as depression and anxiety.
To help keep stress levels in check, embrace relaxation strategies such as deep breathing, yoga or tai chi; practice radical acceptance; and embrace the tenets of good self-care: getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, limiting or avoiding alcohol and tobacco use, seeing your physician regularly, and exercising, exercising, exercising, says Jennifer Baker, a social worker and mental health therapist with CHI Health Clinic Psychiatric Associates.
9. Oil your joints
Think of exercising as oiling your joints. OrthoNebraska physical therapist Elisa Bowcott says several highly effective, low-impact activities can promote better joint health while helping to improve cardio-fitness, overall strength and range of motion. The list includes brisk walking, biking, swimming, water walking and time on the elliptical machine. (When starting any exercise program and especially if you have joint or other concerns its always sound strategy to consult and work with a medical professional.)
10. Unplug and recharge
Interacting with social media has its upsides maybe you engage with inspirational content or use it to stay in touch with friends. But there also are potential pitfalls of overuse, including feelings of social isolation, a lack of productivity and sleep disruption.
Michael Vance, director of Behavioral Health Services at Childrens Hospital & Medical Center, recommends channeling empty time on social media into more productive endeavors such as self-reflection, getting some fresh air, volunteering, checking in on a loved one or sending a message of gratitude to someone who has made a difference in your life.
After Joe Adams had a heart attack, he underwent numerous procedures to get his heart in working order. Just when it seemed things were on the right track, his heart started to fail again. Read more.
Tamara Mosby-Montegut started working out as a stress reliever. Now she wants to keep up with her husband when he tackles 50 pushups in a row. And she wants her daughter to follow their healthy examples. Read more.
Varun Narayanan wanted to shed the pounds he packed on during the holidays a few years ago. He dropped from 230 pounds down to 195. Now he treks up active volcanoes. Read more.
After giving birth to her fourth baby, Susan Sawyer wanted to drop the baby weight. She took up Jazzercise. Sawyer's stuck with the dance-based exercise for nearly 35 years. Read more.
Jessica Hawley thought her third pregnancy was different because she was having a girl. But baby number three was another boy. The pregnancy felt different because she was more fit this time around. Read more.
When Gary Gundy started having trouble getting up after squatting down for target practice, he knew it was time for a change. The La Vista man dropped 80 pounds in three years. Read more.
Valerie Heath started shedding pounds by using the family's Wii. Now she belongs to a CrossFit gym and works out six days a week.Read more.
To be around for her family, Ashlei Spivey needed to get in shape. She joined a boxing gym. Now her workouts leave her feeling like she stepped out of a movie. Read more.
Betty Watt survived a sometimes trying career as a middle school teacher. Then she beat cancer twice. And the whole time she was a regular at the gym. Watt and her husband Charlie workout at least five days a week. Read more.
Erika Hanna sometimes has a pint-sized workout buddy during her morning classes. Her son Henrik, 18 months, offered hugs as she held a plank position and occasionally chased a loose exercise ball around the room. The studio gives Hanna a chance to stick close to her kids while staying on top of her own health and fitness. Read more.
Gwen Leyden wound up spending a week in a wheelchair because of a chronic condition. Leyden gradually was able to walk without using a cane. Later she started using the treadmill and eventually worked up to weightlifting. Read more.
With high blood pressure and the possibility of needing cholesterol meds Rich Hazuka was headed down a dangerous path. He dropped 75 pounds thanks to diet changes. When he plateaued, he took up exercise. Now he's off his blood pressure meds and has no need for any cholesterol medication. Read more.
George Mach can't help but wake up well before dawn. With that free time, the early riser started a gym routine. He hits the gym three days a week. Read more.
As Gregg Learned aged, arthritis made physical activity a chore. He struggled to walk across the parking lot at work. But joining a gym has helped Learned to stay on his feet. Read more.
At one time, Laura Adams could barely finish a lap around the walking track. But the Bellevue woman, who weighed 300 pounds, stuck it out and dropped 115 pounds. Read more.
Vince Huerta has always tried to keep active. He decided to give powerlifting a shot and now, the Omaha South grad holds a number of records for the weight he's hoisted. Read more.
Paul Stultz takes swimming seriously. He joined a Masters Swimming club and is working on nailing strokes like the freestyle and butterfly. But one of his biggest accomplishments was hiking the Grand Canyon. Read more.
Robots perform better at a range of tasks when they draw on a growing body of experience. Thats the assertion of a team of researchers hailing from DeepMind, who in a preprint paper propose a technique called reward sketching. They claim its an effective way of eliciting human preferences to learn a reward function a function describing how an AI agent should behave that can be used to retrospectively annotate all historical data, collected for different tasks with predicted rewards for the new task. This annotated data set can then be used to learn manipulation policies, the team says, or probability distributions over actions given certain states, with reinforcement learning from visual input without interaction with a real robot.
The work builds on a DeepMind study published in January 2020, which described a technique continuous-discrete hybrid learning that optimizes for discrete and continuous actions simultaneously, treating hybrid problems in their native form. As something of a precursor to that paper, in October 2019, the Alphabet subsidiary demonstrated a novel way of transferring skills from simulation to a physical robot.
[Our] approach makes it possible to scale up RL in robotics, as we no longer need to run the robot for each step of learning. We show that the trained batch [reinforcement learning] agents, when deployed in real robots, can perform a variety of challenging tasks involving multiple interactions among rigid or deformable objects, wrote the coauthors of this latest paper. Moreover, they display a significant degree of robustness and generalization. In some cases, they even outperform human teleoperators.
As the team explains, at the heart of reward sketching are three key ideas: efficient elicitation of user preferences to learn reward functions, automatic annotation of all historical data with learned reward functions, and harnessing the data sets to learn policies from stored data via reinforcement learning.
For instance, a human teleoperates a robot with a six-degree-of-freedom mouse and a gripper button or a handheld virtual reality controller to provide first-person demonstrations of a target task. To specify a new target task, the operator controls the robot to provide several successful (and optionally unsuccessful) examples of completing the task, and these demonstrations help to bootstrap the reward learning by providing examples of successful behavior with high rewards.
In the researchers proposed approach, all robot experience including demonstrations, teleoperated trajectories, human play data, and experience from the execution of either scripted or learned policies is accumulated into whats called NeverEnding Storage (NES). A metadata system implemented as a relational database ensures its appropriately annotated and queried; it attaches environment and policy metadata to every trajectory, as well as arbitrary human-readable labels and reward sketches.
In the reward-sketching phase, humans annotate a subset of episodes from NES (including task-specific demos) with annotations of reward, using a technique that allows a single person to produce hundreds of annotations per minute. These annotations feed into a reward model thats then used to predict reward values for all experience in NES, so that all historical data in a training policy for a new task can be leveraged without requiring manual annotation of the whole repository.
An agent is trained with 75% of the batch drawn from the entirety of NES and 25% from the data specific to the target task. Then, its deployed to a robot, which enables the collection of more experience to be used for reward sketching or reinforcement learning.
In experiments, the DeepMind team used a Sawyer robot with a gripper and a wrist force-torque sensor. Observations were provided by three cameras around a cage, as well as two wide-angle cameras and one depth camera mounted at the wrist and proprioceptive sensors in the arm. In total, the team collected over 400 hours of multiple-camera videos of proprioception i.e., perception or awareness of position and movement) and actions from behavior generated by human teleoperators, as well as random, scripted, and policies.
The researchers trained multiple reinforcement learning agents in parallel for 400,000 steps and evaluated the most promising on the real-world robot. Tasked with lifting and stacking rectangular objects, the Sawyer successfully lifted 80% of the time and stacked 60% of the time, and 80% and 40% of the time when those objects were positioned in adversarial ways. Perhaps more impressively, in a separate task involving the precise insertion of a USB key into a computer port, the agent when provided reward sketches from over 100 demonstrators reached over 80% success rate within 8 hours.
The multi-component system allows a robot to solve a variety of challenging tasks that require skillful manipulation, involve multi-object interaction, and consist of many time steps, wrote the researchers. There is no need to worry about wear and tear, limits of real time processing, and many of the other challenges associated with operating real robots. Moreover, researchers are empowered to train policies using their batch [reinforcement learning] algorithm of choice.
They leave to future work identifying ways to minimize human-in-the-loop training, and to minimize the agents sensitivity to significant perturbations in the setup.
Buddhist monk Pema Chdrn posits three qualities of the human mind natural intelligence, natural warmth and natural openness. A part of natural intelligence is the capacity to focus in on material specifics what some call left-brain traits.
Since my occipital lobe stroke on Aug. 30 of last year, Ive noticed that along with some deficits, my ability to achieve such one-pointed focus on detail has been significantly enhanced. (Scroll down for the 4-1-1.)
Singular attention to continued hiking, simple guitar strumming and writing pays off with more creative energy, new songs, more intriguing stories and backcountry rambles. Swift switching between left- and right-brain thinking styles, from details to metaphors and back, also has improved.
When ambling along the Lost Valley Trail or up Rattlesnake Canyon, I ascend into more right-brain enjoyment and forgetfulness about urban cares and responsibilities. After the right brain voraciously feeds in raw nature, the switch into one-pointed concentration feels seamless and easy.
I had worried about mental energy and the memory needed to keep all of the song lyrics Ive learned available, but those memories remain intact after the stroke, and even enhanced.
I feel better focus for writing. In the almost five months since Aug. 30, Ive scrawled a dozen of these columns and completed several chapters of my next outdoor tome, The Human Lemmings.
Obviously, the joys of deep time episodes outdoors overwhelm the city-mind, and I still ramble solo or with others into backcountry sites such as Fish Creek, Negus Meadow and even freezing Fir Canyon with impunity and firm self-confidence.
Today, many humans endure their own undiagnosed massive neurological crisis, about which Oliver Sacks issued a clarion call in 2015. American millennials, and especially white males, suffer greatly and have somehow surrendered their joi de vivre.
These are undeniably dystopian times for the young in particular. Having served as a classroom teacher for 45 years, Ive often tried to bring students back from this Slough of Despond, as John Milton called it in his aptly named poem, Paradise Lost.
Thus, I associate my stroke recovery and individual neurological crisis with this devastating whole-culture American mental breakdown. How else can you explain caging immigrant kids or the cultlike idolatry of President Donald Trump prevalent among these depressed white males?
Yet political dysfunction only mirrors the deep personal anxieties and fears plaguing Americans now children, adolescents, adults and the elder folk all experience it. How to handle these psychological and political issues, as well as the parallel neurological problems?
Answers I utilize, and have very much heeded after the Aug. 30 blow, include express gratitude, expand affection to those around me and beyond family members, and hike as if each venture is the last one.
Acceptance of being-in-the-moment is the crucial difference now, and Chdrn calls this taking the leap. This very instant, pounding letters on the keyboard, may be all there is; and one struggles to accept that this is time-limited.
Suffering and increasing debility frighten us more than death itself.
Forest immersion leads to some solitude in these concocted Stone Age times out on the trail. As the brain shifts more to the right hemisphere and away from left-brain precision, ones panoptic vision expands dramatically.
Once you slip into the trance of eternity, linear-time designations lose their power and worries evaporate. If the external eyes were like a camera, the induced shift forces us into macro or wide-angle perception and away from narrowed-down micro-vision.
Play, song, dance and poetry flower in your ecstatic right-brain visions when roaming the more remote trails. While my body lost right-side peripheral vision in both eyes (homonymous hemianopsia), and I experience occasional unsteadiness (ataxia), I move about fairly well and consider myself very fortunate.
If theres a bit of short-term memory loss, I cannot distinguish it from what happens as the brain naturally ages (Im 72). I enjoy hiking and writing more than ever, and after 20 years of desultory guitar practice without much progress, post-stroke my strumming and musical memory have dramatically improved.
Joking around helps, and we recall how silly and even stupid Socrates acted in front of his students. In 1905, Sigmund Freud wrote a prescient book, The Jokes and Its Relation to the Unconscious, and Im trying to be more playful in my dialogue with friends and well-wishers now.
I jokingly tell friends who ask about the stroke (it happened during an awful ocular migraine), Oh, Ive lost some peripheral vision and stuff, but the most interesting aspect has been a minor wobble in my walk hitting exactly every 27.5 steps on the trail!
Lately Ive been wandering working as your On the Trail columnist! to Upper Mission Falls along Tunnel Trail, up the newly reopened Cold Springs Trail and along Manzana Creek as far as Rays Camp (a 10-mile round-trip).
After a right-brain expansion of the skylike mind associated with our natural bent toward openness, it also paradoxically becomes easier to slip into left-brains one-pointed focus and precision.
Our human minds are naturally open, flexible, curious and originally pre-prejudice. Teaching the young for 36 years at Country Crane Day School in Montecito founded on Waldorf principles and established on 11 beautiful acres out of the city I know factually that young humans are more naturally right-brain oriented.
Its ironic then that in modern education we take kids who already know how to be and teach them how to do as the old saw goes. By middle age, these Anthropocene adults need a therapist, pastor or pills to help them relearn how to be again in the splendors of right-brain juvenescence.
The original right-brain dominance fosters many tremendous attributes when channeled properly, and its a sort of thinking we adults ought to try to relocate in our battered heart-minds (buddhi). Ecstatic hiking experiences form the cleaning grease needed to move lightly between open-sky right-brain infinities and narrowed-down left-brain precision.
William Blake reminds us in his famous proverb, If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would be seen as it is, infinite.
Once youve experienced a genuine stroke, the odds of successive strokes are sadly much higher. Thus, Seize the Day! shouts my right hemisphere to the Dan who controls executive function in this somewhat altered brain.
If youre a parent or grandparent, remember to haul your children into the wilds, and go out there often while maintaining your place in the city, too. Too much digital desiderata clouds our Stone Age-type perceptions, so I usually leave electronic artifacts behind (and Ive never trusted myself with a cell).
During this encroaching Anthropocene Age, the discrimination to know which modality serves you best right- or left-brain thinking also must be accompanied by the capacity to make these switches deftly and with discrimination as your skylike mind savors the expanding cosmos.
Pema Chdrn, Taking the Leap (2019), pages 5-6 for the three minds. I experienced a posterior circulation stroke on Aug. 30 in Santa Barbara, spent two days in Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, and received excellent care at Sansum Clinic from neurologist Dr. Stephanie Rothman, Dr. David Dodson and the entire staff. Dr. Oliver Sacks, Everything in Its Place: First Loves and Last Tales (2019); David Talbot, Between Heaven and Hell: The Story of My Stroke (2020); Sigmund Freuds Der Witz (Wit) und seine Beziehung zum Unbewuten remained untranslated until 1960.
Dan McCaslin is the author of Stone Anchors in Antiquity and has written extensively about the local backcountry. His latest book, Autobiography in the Anthropocene, is available at Lulu.com. He serves as an archaeological site steward for the U.S. Forest Service in the Los Padres National Forest. He welcomes reader ideas for future Noozhawk columns, and can be reached at [emailprotected]. Click here to read additional columns. The opinions expressed are his own.
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Dan McCaslin: Post-Stroke Hiking and the Skylike Mind - Noozhawk
Alabama man’s Habitual Felony Offender Act sentence caused ‘deep pain’ for his sister, the last surviving member of their family – Southern Poverty…
But one day, when Delerias mother had fallen, she told Deleria not to help her from the floor. She said her two sons would pick her up. This particular day, she was still in her right mind, but the statement wasnt. Your two boys in prison, Deleria said. I had to run outside and cry. Oh, I cried and cried.
That was around 1990. Recently, on a crisp January afternoon, Deleria Huff stood outside that same house, which she owns. Its now painted purple. Deleria favors bold colors.
This is where we was raised, right here. Im the youngest. The only one left.
Deleria was born the third of three children in 1955. Her father had three sources of income: the Army, a lawn-cutting business that catered to Mobiles white wealthy class, and work at a nearby paper mill. Her mother had a restaurant. The family moved into their home in 1960 and Deleria lives there today.
We was the first [family] to move in, Black, to move in this area as far as we could see. Of course everybody was white. You started seeing for-sale signs going up right away.
Thirty years later, both of Delerias brothers Tanzy and Charles would be in prison. Tanzy would serve three years on a 15-year split sentence. Charles received a life without parole sentence under Alabamas draconian Habitual Felony Offender Act. The state meant for Tanzy to get out; it meant for Charles to die in prison.
No one was hurt in any of the crimes that led to the Huff brothers convictions.
Deleria was close with Charles, who was the middle child, from when they were young. Their parents doted on them; Charles came to be known as a fine dresser, Deleria said, and people in the neighborhood would watch for him to walk by every day to see what he was wearing.
He was very particular about what he wore. He had to match. It had to come from certain stores. My parents were able to buy it, and they did.
Charles was convicted in 1983 of a first-degree robbery that occurred in 1981. The evidence against him appears slim. The court almost tossed out the case because the prosecutors were late in getting their witness, the victim, to the stand. He was in prison himself. Once they did, the trial was over quickly, though the witness was initially ambivalent about whether he could identify Charles, according to court filings.
Because Charles had prior convictions from the 1970s, for receiving stolen property and burglary, the state sought to put him in prison for the rest of his life. He was 31 at the time.
That day when he got sentenced, I remember, Deleria said. I caught the bus and I cried all the way on that bus, all the way out of that courtroom. I had no shame. Because my heart was in deep pain, there wasnt nothing I could do about it. Nothing. And I knew it was unfair; because Im looking at these people go before him that were white. Some of them did worse things than Charles. Slap on the wrist.
Over the years, Deleria and Charles tried to work together to reduce his sentence. He used networks in prison to find attorneys, while Deleria met and paid them on the outside. In 1987, Charles exhausted all of his appeals with no luck.
The next few years would be full of loss for the Huff family. Tanzy, the oldest Huff child, pleaded guilty to third-degree burglary and went to prison in 1989. Delerias mother and father both died.
Meanwhile, Charles remained in prison. He sent letters with Bible verses to Deleria. I cried on many days. I prayed, prayed and prayed that he would be set free. I had already laid out plans for what we were going to do. All the positive things. And all through the years, I would buy him clothes hoping he would get out.
Tanzy was eventually released, but Charles stayed locked up. He moved from Holman Prison to St. Clair Correctional Facility. Deleria, too, moved around the Southeast but always came back to their family home.
Finally, in 2013, Deleria and Charles found Richard Storm III, the Birmingham-based attorney who handled the cases of Archie Hamlett and Willie Parker, also profiled in this series. Storm set in motion the legal proceedings that would finally lead to a reduced sentence for Charles.
Storm succeeded in February 2015. A judge took note of the extreme nature of Charles sentence and amended it.
Defendant has been incarcerated for over thirty-two years or nearly twelve thousand days, the judge wrote. The defendant should receive the same fair and impartial sentencing available to those current defendants similarly charged and now appearing before this Court.
After the judge amended his sentence, Charles wrote to Storm: Im a new person. What a feeling. Thanks to God and thanks to you. When God is for you nothing can go wrong. (Smile)
But as 2015 began with good news for the Huffs, it ended tragically. Tanzy Huff was killed by a speeding car while walking near the home where he grew up on Dec. 5, 2015.
Though Charles never saw his brother again, on June 21, 2016, he finally was paroled. He went free.
Weeks later, he celebrated his 65th birthday at the Huff home with friends and family. Every morning, he would wake up and go out to the front yard to sit at a table. When his friends come by, thats where they find him. God showed me why. He lost 35 years. His whole life is coming back over him.
Soon, Charles fell very ill. At first, it looked to Deleria as though he was coughing up blood. The disease progressed quickly. But Charles always said he was fine. Once he was hospitalized, Deleria was struck by how much the white doctors came to love Charles in the short time he was in their care. They say, we never met anybody like him, he's just got a spirit that draws you, Deleria said.
Charles died on May 28, 2017, less than a year after he was released from prison.
I got to brace up to say this, Deleria said, sitting in the front room of her house. He fought 35 years in that jungle. And God let him make it. Not a scratch on him that I could tell. He was just tired of fighting. He fought 35 years, now I got to fight for my life, physically? He just gave up. Had no more in him.
But Deleria still finds a bright side.
He didnt die in prison. He came home to see his family, them that was left, and friends that loved him so much. He didnt die in prison.
I asked Deleria what she missed as Charles spent 35 years behind bars.
The love being direct, here, with me, she said. Seeing Charles rehabilitate, get his life together, have a family do the American Dream.
Read more profiles from the Beyond Bars series here.
Photos by Dan Anderson.