Monday, August 30, 2010

Interactive Metronom, Golf, Hockey and Drums

Tactile Metronome Persistence of VisionTactile Metronome Image by Mat_the_W via Flickr
I have been looking at using metronomes  in real life both in terms of enhancing sports and music.  
I found this video about how to use  the Interactive Metronome to improve Hockey Playing.
IM and Hockey Video
I also found another article about the Interactive Metronome and Golf.  Apparently, in addition to Tiger Woods other players such as Vijay Singh and Glenn Day  are using it  to improve their swings.
Also, musicians are using the metronomes with tactile feedback to improve their drumming.

The Tactile Metronome uses multiplexed display circuitry to use three seven-segment digits with only 10 IO pins. It accomplishes this feat by turning the digits on and off rapidly, showing one at a time, but doing it so fast the human eye sees solid digits lit up. To take this picture, I shook the metronome in front of my camera. During the short time the shutter was open, 12 digits were displayed. Pretty cool stuff.
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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Block Designs

I think my IQ has gone up with vision therapy.   I had a hard time with the Weschler Blocks during the Neuropsychiatric exam and I had whizzed through them with special lenses during vision therapy.   The Weschler Block tests are indicative of appropriate functioning of the parietal and frontal lobes and test spatial and visual spatial ability.  There is supposed to be a correlation between spatial ability and math/science abilities.

So with that little thought in mind,  I took a look at some  Block Designs.  These are  some interesting visual permutations and combinations that I am going to work through with my husband.  Before I did vision therapy, I simply found a lot of these types of tests very tiring to work through.

Success and IQImage via WikipediaBut, you know, IQ SCHMIQ... intelligence is sooooo over rated... but I do feel like I am thinking in a much clearer fashion.  
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Over The Counter Vitamin D Isn't Always True to Its Brand

Chemical structure of cholecalciferol, aka vit...Image via WikipediaA lot of the Vitamin D that is sold in the stores isn't what it's cracked up to be.
The mean vitamin D content from 10 OTC brands was only 33% of what the label claimed, with the actual content ranging from less than 1% to 82% of the advertised level. The study was presented at the meeting of the Joint Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers and America's Committee on Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis.
Note that this study was published as an abstract and presented at a conference. These data and conclusions should be considered to be preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Vitamin D Content is Low or Unpredictable. according to an article on Medical News.  Dr. Calebresi collected 10 bottles of OTC supplements from local and on-line retail pharmacies. Vitamin D3 was extracted by standard techniques and samples were analyzed by liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry.  Liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry are tests that show the chemical content of specimens.
The unpredictability of the samples varied widely.   Unfortunately,  national in-store retail brands nor online brands proved to be reliable.
Also, Vitamin D2 has been shown to be unreliable in the past.  
Supplements, including vitamins, are not regulated by the FDA.  A lot of them are coming from China these days, so quality is an issue. Apparently, people fleeing from Big Pharma are falling into the arms of Big Supplement.
 If you are wondering about whether your supplement is working, you can check this website:  Consumer Labs is a certified drug testing facility so, unlike the authors of the study, it can name the companies it studies. 
However, in the discussion about the Vitamin D article, one poster noted:

While ConsumerLab provides a valuable service, it is important to understand that many of the products are evaluated under what they call the Voluntary Certification Program (VCP). Under that program a manufacturer pays an upfront fee to be included in the test for a particular supplement, while other brands are selected randomly. Results for a VCP are omitted from the online reports if the product fails; in such a case no mention is made of the fact that the product was even tested. So, CL has knowledge of deficient products which is being withheld from report subscribers. This is of concern for something like Vitamin D content-claim testing, but even more so for something like chromium supplement testing, where CL reported a rather alarming incidence of contamination with hexavalent (potentially carcinogenic) chromium in non-VC products -- but left subscribers in the dark with regard to any VC products in which they uncovered similar (or even greater) risk. Despite the valuable ratings CL provides, it's important to understand this shortcoming when using their reports. The VC program is described on the CL website. 

Another poster noted:
The United States Pharmacopeia (USP) has a voluntary testing and auditing program for dietary supplements. USP-verified vitamin D is readily available at many supermarkets and drugstores. It can be identified by the USP mark on the label. A number of other USP-verified supplements are also available, including other vitamins, minerals, fish oil, glucosamine/chondroitin, and CoQ10. For information about the USP dietary supplement verification program, go to To see lists of USP-verified products, and stores where they can be bought, go to Some of the listed brand-name products may also come in non-USP-verified versions -- so before buying, it's important to check for the USP mark on the label.
So, who to trust these days....  Even non-profits, are not completely transparent.  Let the FDA or another government agency test it?  So, what happens when administrations change?  You get a pro-business administration in charge, they eviscerate the regulations.  You get a pro-regulatory administration in charge, and everyone howls about the paper work and added expense.
You would think we learned something from Katrina or the Gulf spill about a good role for regulating business should be... but apparently, we haven't.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Asynchronous development and sensory integration intervention in the gifted and talented population

Leonardo da Vinci is well known for his creati...   Leonardo Da Vinci Image via Wikipedia
 I found  an interesting article about childhood development in the gifted and sensory integration.
A lot of gifted children have do not develop according to standardized norms.  They often develop asynchronously,  with different senses and abilities developing at different rates.  The gifted often have patterns of overexcitabilities consisting of inborn, heightened abilities to receive and respond to stimuli. 

Many of these overexcitabilities overlap with sensory integration. 

Sensory Integration supports the development of posture and discrimination and  also is reflected in an "inner drive" toward exploration, engagement, participation and confidence in interactions with both the human and non-human world".

People can have difficulties with sensory integration with low registration, sensory sensitivity, sensory seeking, and sensory avoidance.

Sensory processing does not occur in a world by itself but is linked in with emotional processing as well.  How the senses integrate, or not, impacts a person's interior world and his participation with the exterior world of people and things in some very basic ways.  I think some of  the emotional expressions that are impacted in sensory integration are drivers for larger emotions such as anxiety, fear, happiness, or depression.  The chart below describes the relationship between emotional expressions, sensory processing, and behavioral expressions.

Sensory Integration in the Context of Development

So how does this relate to the gifted?

Dabrowski (1964) described patterns of overexcitabilities consisting of inborn, heightened abilities to receive and respond to stimuli. His theory related to creativity and the creative process, and has been widely applied to the gifted population. Overexcitabilities are expressed in heightened sensitivity, awareness, and intensity. Mendaglio (1995) and Lind (2000) offer similar views. These authors do not describe these overexcitabilities as "disorders," rather as characteristic features of the exceptionally creative. 

The gifted often feel more intensely than other people and are more sensitive to their surroundings.  Dabrowski identified five areas of intensity:  Psychomotor, Sensual, Intellectual, Imaginational, and Emotional. A person may possess one or more of these.   Some sensory integration described above overlaps with Dabrowski's areas of intensity.

Dabrowski goes on to state that "Each form of overexcitability points to a higher than average sensitivity of its receptors. As a result a person endowed with different forms of overexcitability reacts with surprise, puzzlement to many things, he collides with things, persons, and events which in turn brings him astonishment and disquietude" (1964 p.7). Is Dabrowski describing something that Sensory Integration trained therapists would label a "sensory modulation disorder"? The two look the same to me as a clinician. (see:
 Asynchronous development and sensory integration intervention in the gifted and talented population)

There is a lot of overlap here between sensory integration and the overexcitabilities of the gifted.  It is very hard to determine what the cause of this overlap is:  whether it is sensory integration or overexcitability or giftedness.  Also, looking at this problem involves coordinating the different disciplines and professional associations for psychology, neurology, occupational and physical therapy, and education.  

Also,  Some Books you may find interesting:

Mental growth through positive disintegration,Personality Shaping Through Positive Disintegration Processes
The essential elements of Dabrowski's theory of positive disintegration and how they are connected.(Kazimierz Dabrowksi)(Critical essay): An article from: Roeper Review
My love affair with Dabrowski's theory: a personal odyssey.(SPECIAL ISSUE: DABROWSKI'S THEORY OF POSITIVE DISINTEGRATION, CONTINUED)(Kazimierz Dabrowski)(Report): An article from: Roeper Review
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Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Smell Report

"For the Ongee of the Andaman Islands, the universe and everything in it is defined by smell. Their calendar is constructed on the basis of the odours of flowers which come into bloom at different times of the year. Each season is named after a particular odour, and possesses its own distinctive ‘aroma-force’. Personal identity is also defined by smell – to refer to oneself, one touches the tip of one’s nose, a gesture meaning both ‘me’ and ‘my odour’.
When greeting someone, the Ongee do not ask ‘How are you?’, but ‘Konyune onorange-tanka?’ meaning ‘How is your nose?’. Etiquette requires that if the person responds that he or she feels ‘heavy with odour’, the greeter must inhale deeply to remove some of the surplus. If the greeted person feels a bit short of odour-energy, it is polite to provide some extra scent by blowing on him or her."The Smell Report - Culture.

 I'd never cut it in this culture.... I'd be nasally autistic. 

I wonder how the Ongee people are on an emotional scale given that the nose has a direct line to the amygdala, the emotional seat of the brain.
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Tart Cherry Juice Could Help You Sleep and Relieve Arthritic Pain

Tart Cherry Juice Could Help You Sleep
The trick is to drink it twice a day, not just at bedtime. A small study found that older adults who drank eight ounces of tart cherry juice morning and evening for two weeks had less trouble with insomnia and spent less time lying awake after they went to bed at night. First, the 15- person study participants drank the cherry juice twice a day for two weeks. Then, they consumed a comparable drink, containing no tart cherry juice for another two weeks. Their
insomnia improved only during the time they drank the tart cherry juice, according to this very small study reported in the June 2010 issue of the Journal of Medicinal Food. The researchers, from the University of Pennsylvania, University of Rochester and the VA Center of Canadaigua, said that the juice might have helped because tart cherries have a relatively high content of melatonin, a key neurotransmitter that regulates biorhythms and induces sleep. Tart cherry juice may not be the cure for everyone's insomnia, but it could help, and the anthocyanins - antioxidants in the cherries - are good for you

From Dr. Weil

It also helps a lot with pain from arthritis.  Both my husband and I get our twinges especially in the winter.  If we drink Cherry Juice, we feel a lot better.  His doctor wants him to stay away from NSAIDS because it works against some other medicine he's taking.  And I want to stay away from mega doses of NSAIDS just because they aid in cartilage deterioration.  Both of us don't take pain killers, or take minimal amounts of them, if we eat cherries.

Given the price of Cherry Juice, I went out this summer and picked 20 lbs of cherries and froze them up. I do drink Cherry Juice when I want something quick and handy.  But nothing perks you up in the dead of winter, especially those dreary February days when you are sluggish and achy than fresh fruit.  I do take  Cherry supplements which are nothing more than cherries and gelatin to make the pill when I have gotten sick of the taste of cherry.
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Memories, Sights, Sounds and Smells

Brain, computer artImage via Wikipedia Sights, sounds and smells can all evoke emotionally charged memories. A new study in rats suggests why: The same part of the brain that's in charge of processing our senses is also responsible, at least in part, for storing emotional memories. For instance, the smell of turkey could conjure up a smile as it reminds you of a joyful Thanksgiving, while the sound of a drill could make you start in fear, since it may be linked to your last dental appointment. Previously, scientists had not considered these sensory brain regions all that important for housing emotional memories, said study researcher Benedetto Sacchetti, of the National Institute of Neuroscience in Turin, Italy. (Link)
While the new findings are preliminary, they suggest these sensory brain regions might play a role in certain fear and anxiety disorders, Sacchetti said. For instance, dysfunction in these areas might make it hard for someone to differentiate between sights, sounds and other stimuli that they should and should not be afraid of, resulting in generalized fear and anxiety.
On the one hand, this is a bit of old news... people have noticed these correlations between the senses and memories.  The great French writer, Marcel Proust, has written about these memories in a famous passage about the smell of madelines.

On the other hand, it is new news, in that the scientist have actually pinpointed the exact mapping between the sensory portion of the brain and the seat of memories. The amygdala is involved here as well.
What does this mean for me?  I have spent much of my life cut off from the link between my memories and my senses.  The old trick of reviving memories by  trying to  remember what  something looked like, sounded like, or smelled like is apparently a bit skewed.
I also, wonder, if having a dysfunction in sensory brain areas, might lead to being a bit more jumpy when new stimuli suddenly dart into view.  For a long time, lousy peripheral vision meant that I could get quite frightened while driving when suddenly something would dart into my field of view.
Or, not having a good sense of hearing meant that I would really jump and start to flail if someone came up behind me while I was deep in thought.  I literally would start to take a swing at the intruder.  It usually happened in the office cubicle when I was working hard at something and really concentrating.  Fortunately, for the intruder, they were always too far away to actually get hit!  But I would jump and utter a short scream and flail. 
In terms of generalized anxiety that the article mentioned:  It’s the thinking, thinking, thinking, dwelling, dwelling, ruminating, ruminating, and inability to shut the mind off that so incapacitates the person.(Link), I find that I have done this ruminating often enough as I walked in a world that was flat or in a path that for me was a constricted tunnel.  My mind would latch onto something and then go back over and over and over on the same subject time after time until another anxiety or depression would take over. 

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Going back to my alma mater in 3D

There's nothing like walking down memory lane.  Since I had a doctor's appointment in the neighborhood,  I went back to my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania
and took a stroll down Locust Walk.  In my undergraduate days,  I had traveled down Locust Walk from my dorm to my classes.  I had never seen Locust Walk like this before.  There is an archway of trees over the walk.  I can feel the protectiveness of the canopy.  I can see the archway of trees more like a hollow or a burrow stretching backwards.
The "Bethlehem of Money", the Wharton School of Business,  where future portfolio managers are born is a lot softer with the trellis of green in front.
Or, the Candy Cane twist of the chimney of the Christian Association.    I don't know how to describe the feelings I have with a building where I lunched on many a pizza.  I remember it one way... but it was  in a fashion without as much of an emotional connection... I think maybe what I am trying to say is I had never seen the chimney before at all.  I had never seen the triangles and squares and other shapes that protrude and stretch towards me.  I think it is having a sense of other people's creation that is new to me. That someone like an architect saw this patch of ground and created something that had a harmony with other people's creations and a harmony with the piece of earth on which it rests.
The peace sign and the trees and the s lamp post are all placed in a symmetry in space in a graduated walk.  I get it now when a landscape artist talks about the connections these objects have with each other.  There is a tie that somehow binds the objects and the life around them.  An energy, a mystery, a spirit all mediated in space.
Bookmark and ShareHere's the Furness library, the Fine Arts Library, where I am sure Louis Kahn spent many hours.  It's a Venetian Gothic Behemoth molded in red sandstone and brick and terracotta.  20 years after the Furness library was built, it was considered an embarassment  "looking from one end like a French cathedral and from the other like an elaborate greenhouse".  The architectural historian Michael J. Lewis called it "a cheeky act of architectural impertinence" and "the last of its kind".  However, when it was finally restored in  1991, it recieved rave reviews and won many awards.   But, to me,  although I had seen it on a daily basis for four years, I never appreciated its might, never knew there were stained glass windows with quotes from Shakespeare, or understood the cake like design that beckoned towards the Mont Saint Michel inspired Irvine Auditorium.
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Sunday, August 22, 2010

His and Her Stir Fry: Low Sodium vs Gluten Free

My husband and I love Asian food, especially stir fry and barbeque marinades.

Hubby begs for Tofu every so often... I mean, literally begs for it.  There is nothing like a nice Tofu stir fry, especially when he has gone off the reservation on his diet and wishes to repent.  He has a little Tofu with vegetables and he feels good physically and mentally.

I like Tofu, too.  It is the duck tape of food.  You can put it in anything and it will hold it together.  Tofu takes on the flavor of anything around it.  My mother-in-law used to put it in lasagnas when my husband was small and he never knew the difference.

We do enjoy Asian food with meat.  We like barbeques and stir fries.  There is nothing like a bulgogi barbeque or char siu pork on the grill.  A stir fry with brown rice is a nice healthy and tasty way for my husband to lose weight.  We adore sushi.

However, his needs are clashing with her needs.

He needs lower sodium soy sauce.  Regular soy sauce is just loaded with sodium.  I mean, an obscene amount of sodium like as in 950 mg. I mean, what do the  manufacturers do when they make soy sauce?  Put in a salt mine?   Lower sodium soy sauce is a bit better with only about 550 mg and it does make a difference.  If my husband puts on the blood pressure cuff a few hours after eating regular soy sauce, his blood pressure is atmospheric.

I  needs gluten free.  When I eat wheat, my tummy blows up and I feels the effect for days after.  There is nothing like immediate negative reinforcement to get compliance.

Believe it or not, soy sauce is made by mixing soy with wheat and it is fermented in brine.  Here's the process:
Cook Soy Until it Forms a Paste

Mix With Flour

Knead Dough

Make A Loaf
Cut into Disks

And then ferment in brine for a few weeks.  

As you can see, this process insults his Blood Pressure and her Stomach.  So, I grab the gluten free soy sauce.

Unfortunately, Gluten Free Soy Sauce is loaded with Sodium.  Not an Option for Hubby.

I think... well, maybe I can get away with only using a small amount of soy sauce, like 1 Tablespoon in a recipe as I can tolerate very low quantities of wheat without exploding my stomach.  Not an Option.  Even that, gets Tummy a-churnin'.

BTW, I am getting less excited about using products including Soy Sauce from China due to the food poisoning and general lack of quality control.  I do seek out Japanese or Korean products.

So what to do?  Split the recipes in half and make His with Low Sodium Soy Sauce and Hers with Gluten Free.  Or DIY soy sauce with a low gluten flour?

I wonder how DIY sodium content will be?  I found these calculations over at Anything I'm Fermenting:

920 mg in 15 mL serving is = 15.6% concentration by weight.

920mg of sodium = 58.5 / 23 * 920 mg of sodium chloride (NaCl)
= 2.34 g of sodium chloride.

2.34 g in 15 mL = 1000 / 15 * 2.34 g of salt in 1000 mL of water
= 156 g of salt in 1000 mL
= 15.6 % concentration by weight.

For your information, it is recommended that you use at least 15 to 16% salt, otherwise the moromi mash could decay.
Furthermore, we use whole wheat as an ingredient to be roasted.
For general information, please find attached the process of making naturally brewed soy sauce.
I hope this information can be of help.
Best regards,
Takehito Kubo
Kikkoman Trading Europe GmbH

However, there is a whole salt controversy brewing over at Anything Fermented. They also note the differences between chinese soy and japanese soy and compare it almost to the differences between an ale and a lager. Perhaps that’s why Chinese soy sauces tend to be more robust and Japanese soy sauces more delicate.  Apparently, there is a whole connoisseurship to soy sauce that we, Westerners are mostly unaware of.

Am I solving my problems of finding a low gluten, low sodium alternative to commercial soy sauce?  I'm really not sure.  Neither is Anything Fermented.  At the end of 6 months, they find that they have a unique tasting soy sauce:  not quite like the commercial soy sauces, tastier, but saltier.  Even using sea salt doesn't seem to help with the saltiness.  The only way to find out if it impacts my husband's blood pressure would be to try it and hook my husband up to his blood pressure meter and see if his blood pressure jumps.

You know, I'm a good wife.  (Pats self on the back).  I don't know how many wives would go through this trouble for their husband!! (Self Congratulatory Sigh!)
Making Soy Sauce aka Shoyu
Processes of A Soy Production Plant
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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Community Supported Agriculture and Good Eats

CSA shareImage via WikipediaOriginally, I joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for my husband's health, but we found it to be good eats.  My husband has diabetes which is well controlled thanks to him FINALLY adopting a more sensible diet.  I just LOVE seeing those happy blood sugar numbers ranging between 90-100 consistently without medication.  Given my tummy problems with fat malaborption, moving towards a higher fiber diet is a good thing too.   

Joining a CSA is an easy way to eat deliciously and nutritionally at the same time.  Each week, I get my box of veggies and fruits and I feel obligated to eat them. 

I was brought up in the days of the "Clean Plate Club" so I feel obligated not to waste what we have. 

I have made new friends with strange vegetables like kale, turnips, rutabaga and kohlrabi and started using new herbs such as lemon verbana, Asian Basils, horehound. 

We also get nice flowers like cosmos and sunflowers.

It does mean sometimes I am standing in the fields picking vegetables and fruits in the hot sun as some of our crops are Pick Your Own.  But that is a small price to pay for Good Eats.

We also can our leftovers so I feel virtuous.  In the winter, we get a bit of the sunshine of summer in fresh tasting canned goods.  We eat a lot more seasonally so I feel a very natural harmony and progression in my life.  We see the first crocus as winter peaks and begins to wind down.  We eat the first asparagus and then move through lettuce and peas in the spring.  As summer bursts forth, the squash and tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, and peppers roll in.  With fall comes the butternut squash, turnips, broccoli, and rutabagas.  At the end of the season is the "Pig Out" where we glean the fields in time for Thanksgiving.  We do a last big festival of canning and freezing and then we wait for the spring.  

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Friday, August 20, 2010

PSA: Live Blogging the Webinar with Susan Barry, author of Fixing My Gaze

I''ll be live blogging the Webinar with Susan Barry, author of Fixing My Gaze: School Crossing A Neurobiologist's View of How Our System Fails Children With Vision Problems Hear Dr. Susan Barry answer questions about difficult school experiences that resulted from her vision problems; how, for example, she was mislabeled as a low aptitude student and assigned to a special problems class, and what her mother did to help her child succeed. And more..... including what you can do to help your child succeed! If you want to join the webinar, it will be held on Thursday, August 26, 2010 at 9 pm, EDT. Seating is limited to the first 1,000 people to respond. To register for this free event, go to: and enter the webinar ID number, which is 547-423-251, your email address, etc. Just follow the instructions from there. There's only 1,000 seats so for those who don't get in and would like to know what's going on, I'll be blogging at this site on Thursday evening.

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Vision and Puzzles

A typical tangram constructionImage via Wikipedia
I have been working on a number of puzzles in order to improve my vision. I have problems "processing complex fields", in other words, looking at complex designs.  So, I've done some tangrams in vision therapy.  After I got an iphone I worked on tangrams lite, a free ap with loads of tangrams.  I've worked my way up to a medium level where the puzzle is a different scale and rotation from that presented in the template and I've got a bit stuck  so I've decided to move on to other puzzles for a while.
a drawing of a 4 piece jigsaw puzzleImage via Wikipedia
We have a branch of the "Puzzle Palace" near my house.  So I went and bought the Traffic Jam and two 500 piece puzzles.  The Traffic Jam is a puzzle where you try to move a car out of a maze. 

We got 2 500 piece puzzles:   one of a sailboat and the other of Philadelphia.  The sailboat puzzle was much easier because it wasn't as detailed.   The Philadelphia puzzle was much harder.  There was a lot of the puzzle that looked a like.  A lot of repetition.

We've also tried a 1000 piece puzzle which was much harder.  Eventually Got that one too. 

But I am a bit puzzled out.  I get a bit dizzy from working on the puzzles.  So I am going to take a break from puzzles.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Feds Beef Up Health Insurance Oversight

Kathleen SebeliusImage via Wikipedia
WASHINGTON - Health insurance premium hikes will get a harder look in most parts of the country, thanks to an infusion of federal cash for state regulators.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Monday announced $46 million in federal grants to help states strengthen their oversight of health insurance rate hikes. It's the first installment of $250 million for state regulators in the new health care law.
Forty-five states and Washington, D.C., will get money for a range of projects, including drafting stronger laws, putting proposed rate hikes through close scrutiny, and upgrading their data systems.
Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of guys!

Did you know that you are entitled to an explanation of how the allowed rate is calculated?  Under both federal and state laws, the insurer must tell you how they are calculating the allowed rate.  This is the rate that your deductibles and co-payments are based on and it is not always equal to what your physician charges.
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