Words to live by, literally: Charles McConathy on Staying Healthy

Just back from a brief staycation (it’s so lovely in Seattle this time of year) and I found an old post with a few words from the great but late Charles McConathy. Charles was one of the first people to befriend me in the CA tech industry. He founded the very successful and admired MicroNet and was one of the most helpful and konwledgeable people I’d met. 
Charles died after a battle with colon cancer in 2004. A month or so before he died, he posted the following message on what he’d learned about staying healthy, which included this summary:
“… it is easier to avoid disease than it is to treat it. Do everything you can to protect your health.”
More from the tech point of view when I get back to the office. So little to talk about and so much time.
Scratch that, reverse… 😉

Subject: [FCP-L] OT: Oprah – September 1, 2004 Segment
Date: September 7, 2004 11:27:10 AM EDT

Do any of know how to get in touch with Oprah group to see if its possible get a tape of the September 1, 2004 segment which I think was based on Healing from the Heart with Mehmet Oz M.D. or if any of you taped it could I get a copy. I have some people I need to share it. Unlike Dr. Phil, Oprah does not offer tapes. Oprah does offer transcripts but that is not the same as a real live video. This doctor showed various organs of the body and how they get diseased and most revealing was his showing what body fat looks like and that some people might have 20 or 30 pounds in their system. I saw the above segment while in the hospital. I was was very impressed.

During my illness with colon and liver cancer I have had time to read and learn more about ways to protect one’s health. Remember it is better to pay the grocer and the gym than to pay the doctor. And it is easier to avoid disease than it is to treat it. Cancer and diabetes are rampant. Do everything you can to protect your health. It is not easy to eat right but its well worth the effort – especially when you consider that a cancer patient will run up bills between $400,000 and $700,000. I thank God I have Medicare that covers much of my costs. But now there is some new bills going through to limit the amount for cancer patients. This could leave some without medial treatment.

As you study and read about health you will find a lot of confusing information in books and on the internet. But if you continue to study you will find a thread of truth that is right for you. One group says don’t use soy products and the other might say they are great. After reading and thinking I tend go with soy products since asians have used them for years and have much less cancer than we do in the USA.

Below is a list of items that I feel can improve most people’s health…

• If you have an illness Trust in God and never give up hope – take time each day for devotion
• Stress – find ways to reduce stress – very important
• Rest – try to get two hours of your nightly sleep before midnight
• Avoid sugar, coffee, soft drinks, and snack foods – read the labels
• Exercise – at a very minimum walk a mile a day
• Lose weight if needed – be careful of low carb diets like Atkins – they might work now but could have other long term issues
• If you smoke – STOP – Cancer of the lungs is serious – as seen on the Oprah segment first hand
• Take a sack lunch to work versus going for fast food
• Get 20 to 30 minutes of sunshine each day – good for Vitamin D that helps absorption of vitamins
• Keep a window open day and night for fresh air – disease does not thrive in oxygen
• Drink pure water – try to drink 64 ounces a day of pure water – without chlorine or fluoride – I drink spring water
• Be aware of the effects of mercury in your system – avoid certain fish
• Eat more raw foods – cooked food tends to kill enzymes – try to get organically grown produce when possible
• Learn about enzymes and how important they are to your health
• Use flax seed oil on salads with lemon juice – avoid iceberg lettuce – use darker leaf vegatables
• Eat more berries and fruits such bananas, apples, apricots, peaches, cherries, strawberries, blueberries, and mellon
• Include almonds, sun flower seeds, and cashews in your diet
• Use extra virgin olive oil for cooking
• Use sea salt vs table salt
• Eat less packaged and fried foods
• Drink freshly made vegetable juices – such as blends of carrot, apple, beet, celery, spinach, onion, and garlic
• Avoid or reduce animal fat in your diet – eat more fish or chicken vs beef or pork
• Use almond, soy, or rice milk vs cow milk – cow milk often has hormones and other issues
• Be very careful of the chemicals you use in your home or work
• Study your personal need of supplemental vitamins and minerals
• Have your blood tested – I go to a Natural Doctor that shows me my blood cells on a monitor – very revealing
• Learn to test your silva and urine using PH paper – easy to do – better to be 6 to 7 PH vs acidic – cancer likes acidic
• Depending on your age – get a colonoscopy every five years and regular check ups
• Learn about parasites and yeast and how they affect you
• Remember that a lot of diseases start in the colon and liver – learn how to cleanse your colon and liver
• Learn how to boost your immune system through foods, vitamins, minerals, and herbs

Try researching subjects on Google…its amazing what you can find.

Thanks for your help,

Charles F. McConathy


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Stand Up for your health at the office

Today as the weather starts to turn rainy and cold again, I was reminded to focus on good health and being more physical in an environment that may not always allow it.

Someone asked in a meeting in my office yesterday why I have a standing desk.

Good question, I answered. Not a Microsoft interview caliber question, but worthy, especially as I don’t recall the last time someone asked.

As much as I like to across campus (when weather permits 😉 to meetings and sometimes with peers and others in the company. This makes the time productive as well as provide a physical benefit. But this isn’t always practical. Personally, when cooped up in the office on rainy days, I’ve taken time to walk the building, going up and down each set of stairs and walking the length of each floor. In 15-20 minutes, one can get a substantial cardio workout.

One of the things I like about my office is a standing workstation. In order to combat the cumulative effect of sitting (as noted here: with solutions that are conducive with work at the office. In my case, a standing, ergonomic desk really fits the bill. As noted in her blog post for the New York Times earlier this year, Olivia Judson, an evolutionary biologist, calls to our attention…

It doesn’t matter if you go running every morning, or you’re a regular at the gym. If you spend most of the rest of the day sitting — in your car, your office chair, on your sofa at home — you are putting yourself at increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, a variety of cancers and an early death. In other words, irrespective of whether you exercise vigorously, sitting for long periods is bad for you.

Some people have advanced radical solutions to the sitting syndrome: replace your sit-down desk with a stand-up desk, and equip this with a slow treadmill so that you walk while you work. (Talk about pacing the office.) Make sure that your television can only operate if you are pedaling furiously on an exercise bike. Or, watch television in a rocking chair: rocking also takes energy and involves a continuous gentle flexing of the calf muscles. Get rid of your office chair and replace it with a therapy ball: this too uses more muscles, and hence more energy, than a normal chair, because you have to support your back and work to keep balanced. You also have the option of bouncing, if you like.

Which reminds me: I need such a desk at home. My kids are using a therapy ball in place of a chair, but the standing desk makes a lot of sense there, too.

Tags: Microsoft, health

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Just sleep in: Swedish researchers find Daylight saving time, erratic sleep schedules could affect your health

Happy November.

As I tweeted this week, daylight saving time ends this weekend in much of North America.  And leave it to Dr. Nancy Snyderman to tell us that the time changes brought on by daylight saving time may not be good for your health

For devs staying up late to code, consider that you should likely sleep in if you stay up late for a night of coding.  😉

Dr. Nancy referred in her spot on the Today show to a study published on Wednesday suggests that the risk of heart attack my be linked to disturbances in sleep patterns and the time changes that come with daylight saving time.  Salynn Boyles of WebMD Health News reports in an article that daylight saving time may affect your heart, according to the research on heart attack sufferers in Sweden. 

j0438743[1] The research found that the risk of a heart attack rises in the first few days after the “Spring Forward” associated with daylight saving time, likely due to a loss of sleep.  And inversely, the risk goes down in the fall after the end of DST and people select to get an extra hour of sleep on Sunday morning.

As noted in the article, co-author of the study Dr. Rickard Ljung said that the report results “suggest that even small disturbances in sleep patterns may affect the heart.”

“We know that Monday is the most dangerous day for heart attacks,” he tells WebMD. “It has been thought that this is due to the stress associated with returning to work after the weekend, but our study suggests that disturbed sleep rhythms may be involved, and that the extra hour of sleep we get in the fall [after daylight saving time ends] may be protective.”

So next spring, when you have to set your clocks forward, choose to sleep in and then delay your start on Monday as well.  As I recall from my past international travels, it takes a day for every time zone you cross for your body to adjust to the local time. 

Whatever you do, remember that “time is a precious thing. Never waste it.

I wonder if similarly, heart attack rates remain the same in the areas not affected by these DST changes, places such as Arizona and Hawaii, or Saskatchewan and parts of northern British Columbia.  Or perhaps if they’re following the gyrations of the stock market or doing business with folks in affected time zones, they have to get up an hour earlier and face the same risk.

As always, to ensure that your computers are up to date, visit for more details.

Tags: Microsoft, health, Daylight Saving Time, Daylight Savings Time, RSS, DST, 4,880,000 (up from 4.3M a month ago); 1,940,000 (up from 900K a year ago, down 200K since last month)

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Randy Pausch, “last lecture” prof passes away

As I previously posted here — with link to the lecture — about Randy Pausch’s piece in the usually less than cutting edge weekly Parade, The Lessons I’m Leaving Behind, adapted from his book The Last Lecture, written with Wall Street Journal reporter Jeffrey Zaslow.


This from today’s article, included in our local Times…

Randy Pausch said obstacles serve a purpose: They “give us a chance to show how badly we want something.” Confronted with incurable cancer, he devised a last lecture that became an Internet sensation, a best-selling book and a celebration of a life spent achieving his dreams.

Ten months after giving the lecture, Dr. Pausch died Friday at his home in Chesapeake, Va., said Jeffrey Zaslow, The Wall Street Journal writer who co-wrote Pausch’s book “The Last Lecture.” Dr. Pausch was 47.

He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September 2006. A year later, he gave the popular 76-minute speech, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.”

Click here to e-mail this article.

Here are the seven things that mattered most to Pausch:

  • Always Have Fun
  • Dream Big — Give yourself permission to dream. Fuel your kids’ dreams too. Once in a while, that might even mean letting them stay up past their bedtimes.
  • Ask for What You Want — More often than you’d suspect, the answer you’ll get is, “Sure.”
  • Dare To Take a Risk — Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you wanted. And it can be the most valuable thing you have to offer.
  • Look for the Best In Everybody
  • Make Time for What Matters — Time is all you have. And you may find one day that you have less than you think.
  • Let Kids Be Themselves

Pausch said “We don’t beat the reaper by living longer, we beat the reaper by living well and living fully.”

So re-read the list above and have fun this weekend and as long as you can get away with it.

Of interest: Randy Pausch’s Home Page – The computer science professor’s site at CMU. Includes profile, CV, and publications, as well as personal information, including an account of his experience with pancreatic cancer.

Tags: misc, articles, Randy Pausch.


There are some really nasty bugs that hang around after a thorough debugging…

Not all bugs are in your code… they’re all over (and around) your computer.  Learn about some new debugging tools that will help keep you healthier…

After typing on my keyboard all day in meeting after meeting, I noticed that the laptop needed a little attention.  And after putting the kids to bed and using the kitchen PC, I noticed that it was similarly ignored… from a cleaning perspective, that is. 

As the family ran through a rash of colds last week, I thought it a good idea to use a kitchen cleaning wipe on the keyboard after I came across a new UK study: it shows keyboards swabbed from a run-of-the-mill office in London was home to more nasty bacteria than a toilet seat.  The survey noted that keyboards harbour harmful bacteria showed that most users clean their keyboard infrequently (if at all)…

In one case, a microbiologist recommended the removal of a keyboard as it had 150 times the recommended limit of bacteria.

That meant it was five times filthier than a toilet seat that was swabbed in the same test.

The main cause of a bug-infested keyboard is eating lunch at your desk, as the crumbs encourage the growth of millions of bacteria.

So here’s a little free advice: clean your keyboard and your mouse after reading this blog post.

Then head over to MSN to read more in the slide show article Where the Bugs Are in MSN Health & Fitness… from Heather Loeb of Men’s Health…

“Is there a more potent symbol of purity than the fluffy white snowflake, wafting from heaven and landing–ping!–on the tip of your tongue? Well, along comes the journal Science to spoil the fun, noting that bacteria called Pseudomonas syringe are lurking at the dark heart of many an earthbound crystal of frozen water. And if Frosty the Snowman is a target, what chance do the rest of us have?

“A pretty good one, actually– if you make note of the places where the bugs lie and swat them before they can do harm. Here’s an updated to-disinfect list for all the surprising places (and people) contagion clings to.”

Tags: advice, health, sick.