Friday, September 26, 2014

More on Hawaii Sunlight and Health

The biggest attractions of living in Hawaii for us are the bright sunlight and warmth which uplift our spirits and take away our aches and pains. Since Hawaii is south of the Tropic of Cancer and the southernmost location in the US, it gets more direct sunlight and electromagnetic radiation than anywhere in the United States. Exposure to sunlight, both the visible and ultraviolet components, has been found to improve health, happiness, and lower the chances of getting many diseases.

After spending time in Hawaii’s sun, aches and joint pains begin to subside.  Every winter, we talk to visitors and part time residents from cold latitudes blissfully bathing in the sunlight excitedly showing us the movement in their previously immobile joints and pointing to places that use to hurt.

Regular exposure to sunlight has been shown to reduce the risk of getting rheumatoid arthritis.  A study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases showed that women with the highest levels of sunlight exposure were 21% less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than those with the least exposure.  This research agrees with other studies that have linked subjects’ location and their risk of rheumatoid arthritis as well as other autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and multiple sclerosis.  More exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation from sunlight based on a location’s latitude, altitude and cloud cover is associated with a reduced risk of developing autoimmune diseases.

Just last year, Dr. Han van der Rhee published a review of research on the preventive effects of sunlight on cancer.  His findings were that chronic, not occasional, sun exposure is associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  

The eye is very sensitive to the blue color, which is more prevalent in the morning and a delight on walks along the turquoise bays in Hawaii.  Blue light, a component of sunlight, causes the brain to wake up, increases alertness, and boosts concentration.  Researchers at the University of Greenwich showed that blue light made people happier, more alert, and more productive.The blue spectrum declines the most in the winter compared to other components of visible light, but in Hawaii we do not lose the blue spectrum of light in the winter.

Recent research at Harvard Medical School has shown that consistent exposure to ultraviolet light raises levels of beta-endorphin, a natural opiate, in mice.  Previous studies have found that the administration of an opioid blocker produced withdrawal-like symptoms in frequent tanners.  sunlight may be one of the reasons that residents in Hawaii rank as the happiest in the country. 

Every time we are outside under the Hawaiian sun we feel rejuvenated. Now we know why.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sci-Fi Convention in Paradise

Hawaiicon brought science fiction lovers to the Kohala Coast on Hawaii Island this past weekend.   Unlike conventions we have attended in the past with long lines, unhelpful volunteers, and stuffy conference centers; HawaiiCon was in a spectacular location at the Hapuna Beach Hotel with everyone we saw laughing and talking excitedly.  Adding to the fun was that many attendees dressed as science fiction characters, super heroes, anime characters, and more.  Nearby were stunning views of the ocean with plenty of places to sit and enjoy the ocean breeze.  

HawaiiCon at the Hapuna Beach Hotel
The convention was organized by local residents, GB Hajim a movie writer, director and producer,  Jacqueline Seaquist , Artistic Director and Program Coordinator of the Performing Arts Learning Center at Hilo High School, David Steiner, owner of Hawaii White Mountain LLC coffee company, and Jessica Hall,  a broker with Hawaii Life Real Estate.  They created “the world’s first sci-fi, science, and fantasy tropical vacation convention”.
Busy Front Desk at HawaiiCon
The convention founders partially funded the event by having a very successful Kickstarter campaign last year.   They received almost double the amount of money they requested from 199 science fiction fans from around the world.
Cosplay at HawaiiCon
The three day event featured panels of scientists, sci-fi writers, actors, and artists , workshops, autograph sessions, costume contests, and evening galas.   Visiting actors from Star Trek, Stargate Atlantis, Battlestar Galactic, Babylon 5, Game of Thrones, costume designers, graphic novelists, cartoonists, astronomers, writers and producers gave workshops, sat on panel, signed autographs, and tweeted about the fun and sun on Hawaii Island.  The conference combined astronomers from Hawaii Island’s international telescopes into the program with comics, cosplay, and gaming.

We are excited about events like HawaiiCon because they draw people to Hawaii Island who may never otherwise visit.  Once here, they get to experience the uniqueness and beauty of Hawaii Island and all that it has to offer.

We look are already looking forward to the next HawaiiCon science fiction convention from September 10 to 13, 2015.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Designing a Healthy Home

East facing window for best morning light
Since moving to Hawaii Island we have moved three times to experience different communities and climates on the island.  Having lived in many types of houses and condo rentals,  we often think about home design changes that would make our life easier and more healthy. Some things we have installed ourselves, but others require major changes to a house design. Here are some home design ideas that we wish were standard:

  1. Situated to maximize the amount of early morning light that floods into the bedrooms;
  2. No granite or other sources of uranium in the house - granite in counter tops, floors and molding have uranium that decays to radon. Other non-radon producing surfaces like marble, stainless steel or tile are healthier;
  3. Designed for robots to constantly clean, with no steps up and down through the house and all the plugs required so the robots have power and unobstructed movement;
  4. Maximized for air flow through the house so mold and mildew cannot flourish and humidity is lowered so tropical bugs will stay away;
  5. Automated humidity control to maintain moisture and keep it at the ideal level for health and to minimize molds;
  6. Easy access to AC air filters and smoke detectors so they can be frequently changed;
  7. Built in security cameras for discreet monitoring of the outside perimeter;
  8. Back up lighting installed for safety in the event of power outages;
  9. Built in water purification with easy access to change the filters;
  10. Backup power systems for electric and an easy switch between primary electric power and backup power.
  11. Non toxic walls, paint, and furniture without heavy metals, chemicals, and bromine;
  12. Single story construction with no steps or landings to reduce the chances for falls;
  13. If multi-storied, then the staircase is designed for installation of an elevator chair or other means to get people up and down if it is needed.
  14. Showers with built in seats for comfort and safety;
  15. Sound proofing to minimize noise in the house – there are many negative health effects of not sleeping well because of noise;
  16. Automatic window shades to open windows and window shades easily and control the amount of light from hard to reach windows;
  17. L ED lights, low energy appliances, and other electrical devices that minimize electricity usage;
  18. Storage area designated for survival supplies and water storage;
  19. Non-toxic plantings around the home - ornamental plants are often selected because they are easy to take care of but are often highly toxic;
  20. Easy access outside the house without stairs, barriers, or long distances to get to the car or street.
It seems like modern houses are focused on a “prestige presentation”; it would be wonderful to have homes designed with healthy features instead.