August 2014 Letter from the Editor: A Wild Summer Reading List

first_imgThe best outdoor writing, I believe, is about people. Nature writing can be pretty, and environmental books can be convincing, but I ultimately crave the raw emotion of fellow human beings struggling to find and protect their place in the world.People are both the problem and the solution. Good outdoor writing reconnects people to nature—not through lectures, but through living, flesh-and-blood examples of courage and commitment. We feel the landscape through them.Here are a few of my favorite classic outdoor voices and books that should be on every environmentalist’s must-read list. Instead of preachy diatribes or flowery descriptions, they inspire me with gritty, gutsy characters—some legendary, some overlooked—who stand their ground and speak for the wild.The Last American Man by Elizabeth GilbertA 21st century pioneer living nearly self-sufficiently on a wild reserve in Appalachia, Eustace Conway embodies the ideals of American masculinity—ruggedness, courage, and independence. However, those hard-fought ideals have a price. Gilbert shows us the tired, lonely man behind the bravado. A tough, buckskin-clad maverick hunts for the one thing missing from his mountain refuge: love.Into the Wild by Jon KrakauerChris McCandless is either a stupid kid or self-reliant hero. He gives away all of his savings and wanders the wild, seeking adventure and an authentic relationship with the land—until he finds himself starving to death alone in the Alaskan wilderness. Barely able to lift a pen, he scribbles this final message, which continues to haunt and shape my own life: “Happiness only real when shared.”Encounters with the Archdruid by John McPheeMcPhee masterfully captures the nuances of one of the most influential modern environmentalists, David Brower. But don’t expect classic confrontations with battle lines clearly drawn; both McPhee and Brower are far more kaleidoscopic.Zoro’s Field by Thomas Rain CroweLiving alone and off-grid in an Appalachian cabin for four years (twice as long as Thoreau) and growing nearly all of his own food, Crowe’s memoir is a modern-day Walden, filled with wisdom gleaned only through a consciously simple, self-reliant life in the wild.Ecology of a Cracker Childhood by Janisse RayRay’s hardscrabble upbringing in a south Georgia junkyard is an unlikely start for an environmental luminary, but the rusted scrap heaps of her childhood are chock full of raw, resourceful characters—including an authoritarian father who locks his family in a closet and a snuff-dipping coon hunter who introduces her to the wild woods.The Lost Grizzlies by Rick BassGrizzly bears had not been seen for 15 years in southern Colorado until a small group sets out to find them. Bass seeks more than bears, though; he is tracking wildness and the longings of the human heart, which only are revealed in the presence of something larger.Desert Solitaire by Edward AbbeyIt’s definitely the most sermonizing selection of the bunch, but Abbey’s coarse, thunderous voice crying out for the wilderness still echoes across the desert he called home. Amid his nerve-tingling adventures as a park ranger, the monkey-wrenching anarchist unleashes forceful, full-blooded pleas for the last scraps of wildlands.last_img read more

6 Pre-Pregnancy Tests Every Woman Should Consider

first_imgYou and bae are thinking about having a baby…so now what?You already know the biggies: track your ovulation, take a folic acid supplement, and cut back on the wine.But beyond that, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) also recommends women schedule a pre-pregnancy planning session with their ob-gyn, says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a board-certified ob-gyn and a clinical professor at Yale University School of Medicine.That planning sesh can help you and your S.O. suss out whether you need to be mindful of passing on any genetic disorders, and confirm you’re both healthy and ready to start making babies.Here’s what your doc might want you to consider before trying to conceive:BLOOD TESTS FOR GENETIC DISORDERSPSA: You might be a carrier of a genetic disease without even knowing it.That’s why docs often recommend blood tests for genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis (where thick mucus damages the body’s organs), Tay-Sachs disease (a condition that destroys nerve cells in the body), or sickle trait (a gene linked to sickle cell disease, a group of blood disorders), explains Sheri Lawson, M.D., the division director of general obstetrics and gynecology at Johns Hopkins Medicine.“If you turn out to be a carrier of a certain trait, it will be helpful to check your partner as well,” says Minkin. “The reason being is that if you are a carrier of a recessive gene, and your partner is as well, there is a possibility that the fetus could get two of the recessive genes, and end up with that particular problem.”If both you and your partner turn out to be carriers, you might elect to do in vitro so that testing can be done on the embryo, says Lawson.A GLUCOSE TESTPatients with poorly-controlled diabetes have an increased risk of excessive fetal growth during pregnancy as well as having a baby with very low blood sugar after birth; these women are also at an increased risk for both stillbirths and C-section, says Lawson.That’s why, if you’re significantly overweight—or think you could have diabetes—it’s important to consider a glucose test before conceiving. “A hemoglobin A1C will check your blood sugar levels over a three-month period, and see if there is any abnormality,” says Minkin.A THYROID FUNCTION TESTIf you suffer from hypothyroidism and your body doesn’t have enough of the thyroid hormone it needs for normal fetus development, the fetus can suffer from growth restriction, notes Lawson.On the flip side, if you have antibodies over-stimulating your thyroid gland, those can cross the placenta, leading the fetus to develop a large thyroid, she notes. (Thyroid disorders can be tough to diagnose—just check out these three women’s stories.)Thyroid issues can be ID’d through a simple blood test.A PAP SMEARWith current recommendations, you should be doing paps every two to three years—and so long as you are up to date, you don’t necessarily need another pre-pregnancy. If it’s been longer than that? A pap would be a good idea, says Minkin.That’s because if you do have any abnormalities—or potentially even need any biopsy procedures—docs will want to do them before you get pregnant, says Lawson. Because of increased blood flow to the area during pregnancy, biopsies during pregnancy can cause people to cramp and bleed more than when they’re not pregnant, she notes.A STI TESTThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends women 25 and under are screened for chlamydia annually—in part, that’s because if you get it, it can cause scarring in the Fallopian tubes making it difficult to get pregnant later, says Lawson.If you’re at an increased risk for HIV, hepatitis B or C, or syphilis, blood tests for those would be good ideas, too. Both HIV and hepatitis B and C can be transmitted to the baby; and syphilis can cause abnormalities, says Lawson.A MEDICATION CROSS-CHECK“It’s always a good idea to meet with your prospective obstetrician to make sure that all the medications that you are taking are okay for pregnancy,” says Minkin.A few classic examples: women who have a history of epilepsy, and take certain medications; women who have high blood pressure; and ladies suffering from depression should all have a doctor analyze their meds. “There are certain medications that are preferable to others—and you want to make sure you are on the right ones,” Minkin says.Sourcelast_img read more