Using the Flu as an Educational Opportunity

Illustration from David Macaluay's "The Way We Work", showing visitors throwing paper airplanes down air passages through the trachea.
Illustration from David Macaluay’s “The Way We Work”, showing visitors throwing paper airplanes down air passages through the trachea.

I woke up this Monday feeling sore, with a bad cough. Tuesday I barely had the energy to drag myself to a laptop to write this. It’s a familiar story for a lot of people around the United States right now, if the map at the top of this article is to be believed.

Yep, flu season is upon us in full swing, and in order to explain to my eight-year-old son what this means, I turned to that most awesome of all my medical reference books: David Macaulay’s The Way We Work. As you can probably guess from the title, this book provides a tour through all the major systems – circulatory, gastrointestinal, nervous, etc – that make up a human being, and contains several additional sections on health and disease. Like other David Macaulay books, including its more famous predecessor, The Way Things Work, David has meticulously illustrated the entire text with his colorful and quirky style. Diagrams of cross sections of tissue are visited by tiny tourists on observation platforms, schematics of biological systems are represented as bustling factories and conveyor belts, and sometimes even disembodied skeletons or diagrams of circulatory systems converse wryly with one another. My son eats all this up, and that’s good, as Macaulay’s light and humorous style comes with a serving of serious and well-presented content. I’ve always had a thing for the marriage of art and science, and this book is as good an example of this happy union as I can think of. Continue reading “Using the Flu as an Educational Opportunity”

Stand Up and Walk; Repeat Often

As someone who regularly works at a computer both at work and at home, sedentary activity is a part of my daily life. Unfortunately, my desk is the standard kind that requires me to sit on a chair; I can only dream of the kind that has a treadmill to encourage movement as I work. The health consequences of sitting for long periods of time have been covered in research papers and other blogs, but a recent paper highlighted how it is not only how long we are sedentary but how often we step away from our desks and sofas that affects our health. Continue reading “Stand Up and Walk; Repeat Often”