Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘technology’

Whatever Your Taste

51-SfLy8Z8LThe Blue Serpent & other tales by Claire Buss.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

This imaginative, diverse collection of short stories is an excellent example of how to write shorts. Every story in The Blue Serpent & other tales has a beginning, middle, and end. Each tale stands on its own, and provides distinct perspectives and voices. Ms. Buss uses themes about data, technology, and society, to not only wake readers’ up, but to entertain.

One of my favorite selections is The River Flows In You. Here is an excerpt (about loss and grief). “It helps to push my hands into the earth, feel it crumble beneath my fingertips as I try to find meaning in my devastation. I stand still in a swirling, whirling vortex of people rushing, rushing, rushing, trying to run away from their hurt and their pain.

I have a feeling that Ms. Buss has scribed many of her writings while enjoying a drink at her favorite coffee shop, as there are three stories in the compilation that take place in such an environment. Other tales include nationally required brain scans for one and all, a pretend circus, and a man who is Ava’s fairy godmother (The Party’s Over).

No matter what your taste, you’ll find something in The Blue Serpent & other tales that will wet your whistle, tickle your fancy, or provide other pleasurable metaphors and cliches. One word of warning. The next time you go to a coffee shop to write, or just have a sip, make sure to heed any messages telling you to move (The Wrong Note).

 

Home Security And Safety Modifications For Domestic Violence Survivors

Very important guest post by Nora Hood at Three Daily.

For many domestic violence survivors, finding a way to feel safe and move forward is especially difficult. It takes a lot of courage to leave an abusive situation, and even more to strike out on one’s own into a new living situation where they can feel safe and comfortable. In some cities, there are support groups and shelters that will help a victim of abuse during that transition period, but they can be overcrowded or extremely short-term.

Untitled         Photo via Pixabay by Stux

If you or a loved one have recently left a violent situation and will be living alone (or are the sole caregiver for children), it’s important to take steps that will facilitate safety and a feeling of security. Whether the residence is a home or an apartment, there are several things you can do to make sure the new place is as safe as possible.

Here are a few tips on how to get started.

Let technology work for you

Technology has come a long way in the past decade, enabling the use of advanced features such as surveillance in a private home. Where home security in the past might only have consisted of a motion sensor, according to Angie’s List, “Today’s home security systems are far more advanced, and homeowners can now choose from a wide range of security options such as around-the-clock monitoring and video surveillance.” Taking into consideration your budget, do some research to find the best security option for your needs.

Pile on the locks

If you live in an apartment building, there may only be so much you can do to deter an intruder. One of the most important steps is making sure the locks on your door are secure; if it makes you feel safer, add a couple more, or reinforce the door with a steel chain. Remember to show sliding patio doors some attention; a sturdy broomhandle or steel pipe laid in the track will prevent the door from opening on the outside. If you live on the ground floor, ask the landlord if you can plant thorny bushes beneath your windows to prevent someone from getting too close.

Location is everything

If possible, do some research before you move. You want a home or apartment that is not isolated and has at least one neighbor. Moving too far away from town could be a mistake, especially if the area isn’t well populated. When moving into an apartment complex, talk to the landlords about not having your name on the mailbox, and let them know that you don’t want any strangers to have information about you.

Have an escape route planned

No domestic violence survivor wants to think about the worst possible scenario, but it’s important to be prepared in case an abuser does find out where you live. Have an escape route planned; keep your cell phone charged at all times and in a place where you can easily reach it, along with your car keys. Talk to your children about what you’ll do in the event of an emergency so they’ll know exactly how to react.

It’s always difficult to think about taking safety precautions, because it brings up unpleasant memories. It’s imperative to make sure you feel safe and secure, however, and the best way to feel in control is to make sure your home is a place where you can relax. Garner support from friends and family, if possible, or consider joining a support group where you can get help should you need it. Remember that you are not alone, even if it feels that way sometimes.

Interesting. Provocative. Well-seasoned.

Treasure Hunt: Follow Your Inner Clues To Find True Success, by Rizwan Virk.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

41aN4rbSPvL._SX313_BO1,204,203,200_“Interesting. Provocative. Well seasoned.” This sequence of words passed through my consciousness before reading Treasure Hunt: Follow Your Inner Clues To Find True Success, by Rizwan Virk, and were present again, upon completion. It was then that I recalled the words were from an old food commercial (for what I don’t recall) that I often heard growing up, and they encapsulate many of the concepts, experiences, examples, and sumptuous courses provided within.

Treasure Hunt is “interesting”, and pertinent, to anyone who wishes to makes sense of the “clues” that come to us daily (awake and asleep). Mr. Virk says there is a Treasure Map of information at our fingertips, if we pay attention to the clues. Clues can be recognized as synchronicity, hunches, gut feelings, visions, deja vu, bodily sensations, and dreams. Clues are subjective and each person’s Treasure Map is unique. It is “provocatively” laid out in five sections, with digestible explanations, examples and reasoning (or intuitions). The accessibility of the content, to people searching for there own definition of success and from all walks of life, is “well seasoned” with a personal touch, and warmth, even though it is often explaining esoteric or scientifically complicated concepts.

There are 20 “Treasure Hunting Rules” that are explained throughout. They include – If it repeats it’s probably a clue – One clue leads to the next – Pay attention when you have a big dream – Honor your clues with a concrete action – Ask for a solution in your own way. One of the most delightful aspects of Treasure Hunt is how it combines emotional, religious, and metaphysical views, with those of science and quantum physics. The explanations of how to translate personal experience into the language of business, is most insightful.

The author defines syncronisity as, “the confluence of an inner thought(and/or feeling) and an outer event.” There are strong “Clues” that Treasure Hunt: Follow Your Inner Clues To Find True Success is much more relevant, “interesting, provocative, and well-seasoned”, than the commercial diddy that went through my head before and after the reading of Mr. Virk’s enlightening book.

Transhumanist Novel

41uUKy0oEmLThe Transhumanist Wager by Zoltan Istvan
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans
New York Journal of Books
4 February 2014

In-depth philosophical essays and visionary science dressed up as a novel.

If you enjoy philosophy, you’ll love this book. If you’re a science geek you’ll read every word. If you are religious, spiritual, or into the supernatural, you’ll probably dismiss it, misunderstand it, and/or hate it.

Author Zoltan Istvan has taken a thinly disguised autobiography and transformed it into an almost plausible new world thriller that tends to go overboard on pontification and argument by the protagonist Jethro Knights, who becomes the mover and shaker of the Transhumanist movement and literally changes the entire world.

Istvan notes on the last page, “This story, The Transhumanist Wager, is the result of two decades of thought and inquiry into transhumanism and the quest for scientific immortality. I wrote it hoping to change people’s ideas of what a human being is and what it can become.”

A Transhumanist is someone who believes that the human race can evolve beyond its current limitations and can do so by means of technology and science.

The book has its moments. The love story between Jethro Knights and neurosurgeon Zoe Bach is believable and the action sequences in the book are top notch. The philosophy, debates, insights, and vision included in these pages are thought provoking and challenging, as are the observations about the clashes between religious fanatics and fundamentalists and those who believe in science, progress, choice and technology.

From a strictly literary perspective The Transhumanist Wager is nothing more than a collection of in-depth philosophical essays and visionary science dressed up as a novel. There are too many abrupt changes, events, and conclusions taking place in unrealistic periods of time without much depth or nuance to completely engage the reader.

Read entire review and others at NEW YORK JOURNAL OF BOOKS

Healthcare Technology Reform

Quantum Units Education shares stories about mental and physical health, like what triggers domestic abuse and how to fight youth anxiety. But there are also big picture issues affecting the health industry, like the move towards replacing paper-based healthcare records with electronic medical records systems, as Cheryl Jacque writes about in today’s post. Cheryl also writes for http://www.healthadministration.org/, a website that aims to educate potential college students about higher education and careers in health administration.

The Future of Technology, Healthcare Administration and Reform
by Cheryl Jacque

Sweeping changes in healthcare will continue to affect the lives of Americans for the foreseeable future. Yet, while health care reform legislation has received the majority of media attention, advancements in technology are expected to play an important role in lowering healthcare costs in the coming years. In particular, the adoption of electronic medical records (EMRs) by insurers and medical practitioners is having a far-reaching effect throughout the medical community, with many health industry professionals expecting an increased efficiency that will lower cost and improve the quality of care for every patient.

Research by The RAND corporation found that America’s health care system could save more than $81 billion annually while improving the quality of care by broadly adopting computerized medical records. The study, published in the journal Health Affairs in 2005, stated, “The U.S. healthcare industry is arguably the world’s largest, most inefficient information enterprise…Most medical records are still stored on paper, which means that they cannot be used to coordinate care, routinely measure quality, or reduce medical errors.” Since then, many health experts have claimed that EMRs will improve quality and efficiency as well as reduce costs by tens of billions of dollars annually by limiting orders of duplicate tests and procedures. The Obama administration has even included assistance to accelerate the adoption of EMRs as part of the Affordable Care Act reforms.

As with almost any rapid adoption of new technology, early word on EMR use has been mixed. A recent study found that physicians with access to electronic records are actually more likely to order additional imaging and laboratory tests than doctors relying on paper records, perhaps due to the increased ease of ordering tests, speculated Dr. Danny McCormick, lead author of the study. However, many early adopters of EMRs are quick to defend the technology.

“Electronic medical records can guide evidence-based care, prevent unnecessary duplicate testing, enable better and more informed care coordination for patients, and generate quality data in real time to help us measure the efficacy of rendered care to improve health outcomes,” writes Alan D. Aviles, President of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. A study from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology offers further support, with its findings showing 92% of articles on health information technology reach the conclusion that technology advances provide overall positive benefits such as increases in quality and efficiency of health care.

American Medical Software, one of the developers of electronic medical records systems, describes the process used by the system. When a medical professional creates a new encounter note using EMRs, macros and templates that incorporate key phrases and conditionals that reduce keystrokes and input errors. Coding guidelines then suggest the proper level of visits based on documentation during the patient meeting, as well as aiding in ordering labs, setting reminders and linking files. Fox Meadows Software, another company responsible for EMR migration systems, provides electronic features such as scheduling, billing, document management and authorization tracking. These advances in medical and information technology are developed with a goal of streamlining processes, reducing costs and raising the quality of experience for medical practitioners and patients alike. While any new technology takes time to fully develop, the promise of higher quality patient care is a benefit worth the effort.

So Far and Yet So Close

What a difference a few decades make. It seemed like just a few years ago, the only way family or friends connected with one another while traveling was by postcard or letter. The messages usually arrived 2-3 weeks after sending them, so you could have had a zillion things happen in the meantime or be back home by then. My parents must have worried quite a bit while I was gone to England and Ireland to visit hospices, back in the 70s.

Now, there is wi-fi, internet, cell phone, Skype and text messaging. Our youngest son Shona is presently in Paris “on our way to the Louvre” and is able to keep us up to date with their travels and even send photos. Of course, he’s not sharing “everything” with us, but quite a bit. The first night they were in Barcelona, his traveling companion Genna was sick. The day before they were to leave for Paris, Shona got sick. Luckily, the 3rd person on their adventure, Mariah, has been fine the entire trip, so far. Even though we worried, it was such a relief to be able to hear from him when he wasn’t feeling well and then finding out this morning that they are all doing great.

Other than the discovery of penicillin; Galileo’s confirmation that earth is not the center of the universe, but simply one of many planets; the invention of the telephone, solar energy, waste treatment and access to clean water; women’s liberation and human rights; the invention of the internet has got to be included in the list of world-changing developments.

Well, I’m going to move from this technological marvel of instant publishing called the blog and go see if there are any new messages from Shona on Facebook.

Stop Talking About Clean Energy

It only takes me a few minutes to say out loud, “Here they go again.” Every time I hear a politician, commentator or policy wonk tout the need for our country to become energy independent and develop “future” technology that doesn’t pollute, reduces green house gasses and makes us less dependent on foreign oil (and all the conflict that creates), I want to choke on their oratory fumes. They talk about it like a religious mantra, but never put it into practice.

The “future” technology and know how is already here and has been for some time. What’s lacking is the awareness of its existence, the fear of changing the economy and the will to transform our present infrastructure and dream big. We’ve done it before at home, with The New Deal and the space program. We’ve done it abroad with The Marshall Plan. We’ve done it repeatedly for unnecessary wars and wasted billions in defense contracts, instead of creating new energy and life-giving technology.

Ten years ago, when our family put solar panels on our home, I thought we’d found the answer, but it turns out that that was small potatoes. Even though solar energy is dropping in price and there are rebates and incentives galore, not everyone can afford the initial costs, nor is it easy to convince people to do so. People in the northern half of the U.S. can’t always use solar because it’s difficult to store and save the energy produced for a cloudy day. By all means, I hope individuals and companies continue to put ever more efficient panels on their roofs, buildings and parking garages and have dispersed energy sources, but not that alone.

Photovoltaic solar energy (panels on your roof), combined with wind, hydro-electric and hydrothermal sources, are all a big step in the right direction, but could take half a century to spread and be adopted nationwide. If we stop and look in the mirror, there’s been another alternative all along and it’s about to light up the world.

While searching the web for photovoltaic solar companies, I happened upon some sites that spoke about thermal solar energy. Like most politicos and environmental junkies, I didn’t have a clue to their existence, let alone know what thermal solar was.

Solar thermal works by using special mirrors that reflect the sun on to long pipes filled with water. The heat from the sun boils the water, which produces steam to turn turbines. The energy from the turbines is then transmitted to the electric company. The companies that have developed this technology have also figured out a way to store the energy produced for future needs (a rainy day). It turns out that there are several companies already building these systems and is placing them in the Nevada desert and have contracted with Pacific, Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and other large power companies in the U.S.

By using a 90 mile by 90 mile square area, these systems could provide enough energy for most of the country. Solar thermal facilities in the North African desert could produce adequate amounts of energy for most of Europe. There are similar desert areas in Asia, Australia and South America. Since China, India, the U.S. and Europe are the leading emitters of green house gasses, it makes sense to first convert their energy sources (oil, nuclear and coal) to thermal solar so the rest of the planet can breathe and adapt the same technology for their countries social and material needs.

The beautiful thing is that there is no pollution, nor emission of green house gasses in the process. It works with our existing infrastructure and could be improved in the near future by building new transcontinental power lines. The parts for these power plants are being built now. They will be soon be up and running. Combined with the use of all-electric vehicles, which can (by this time next year) get up to 250 miles per charge and charge in minutes (due to recent battery advances), our nation could be oil free within a few decades.

These essential changes in how we produce and utilize energy can accelerate if (and the “if” is the part that is so maddening and beyond my control) politicians, media moguls and large businesses are willing to get fired up, transform the job market and put their financial and political will behind a new Marshall Plan for U.S. energy. It will take much less time to change the source of energy for a few power plants than it will to change the habits and availability of new energy sources for millions of Americans.

Having realized that photovoltaic energy is a drop in the bucket, compared to thermal solar, has given me hope and perspective. When I arise in the morning and look in the mirror, I am reminded that the simple combination of sun upon glass can literally save our planet. If we can only get the politicians and those running for office, to stop talking about “future” energy independence and start talking to those who already have the technology out on the table, we can make these dreams a present reality.

Tag Cloud