Saturday, March 31, 2007


From The Wall Street Journal, Tuesday, March 27, 2007, p. B9:

When it comes to treating certain mild to moderate forms of mental illnesses, cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is gaining ground on drug therapy and "the talking cure" of analysis. Rather than delve into patients' past traumas to fix anxieties through conversation, or medicate the symptoms, CBT teaches patients to keep bad thoughts at bay, writes Forbes reporter Robert Langreth.
[Informed Reader]

"If you were abused, you accept it," says therapist Albert Ellis, who started developing many CBT techniques in the 1950s, having become convinced that Freud's approach didn't work. He coached depressed patients to evaluate their reactions to minor setbacks and assess them more realistically. Other similarly minded psychologists developed breathing exercises and "exposure therapy" to deal with anxiety attacks and insomnia.

The University of Pennsylvania's Aaron Beck, another founder of CBT, says there isn't enough money to prove CBT's efficacy in large-scale trials. But in a large number of trials with a few dozen, or a few hundred, subjects, CBT has been as effective as medication for some ailments. In a 240-patient trial, 16 CBT sessions worked as well as Paxil at treating moderate-to-severe depression. Last June a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed six sessions of CBT worked better than a Lunesta-style drug at getting patients to sleep. Plus, CBT has no side effects.

Health insurers are especially attracted to CBT since it aims to heal a patient after 10 to 25 visits, in contrast to the lifelong conversation with therapists depicted in Woody Allen movies. Samuel Mayhugh, founder of Integrated Behavorial Health, which manages mental health benefits for companies employing 1.5 million people, says over half of his cases involve CBT, up from 10%-20% a decade ago. He likens traditional psychotherapy's building of long-term relationships between the therapist and patient as akin to renting a friend.

However, there are downsides to CBT. Even its supporters acknowledge that some severe ailments can be treated only by drugs and long-term care. Also, few psychiatrists have received rigorous training in cognitive behavioral therapy, since hospitals only started requiring it in 2001. "It is the psychiatrist that makes the difference, not a particular kind of therapy," says University of Wisconsin-Madison psychologist Bruce Wampold.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

what works for sam

For a testmony, please go here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

the aftermath on video: hoya saxa!

Videos of the streets of Georgetown Sunday night. The first is of M-Street and the second is a couple of blocks away, nearer campus. Listen carefully and you may hear chants of "Hoya Saxa!"

Click here for a FOX News report

Sunday, March 25, 2007

the aftermath in hoyaland

We just got off the phone with a certain member of Georgetown's Class of '08. After this evening's game, an incredible come-from-behind OT victory, students spilled out of the campus and onto M Street. The DC police were forced to close about a mile of M Street, as well as the Francis Scott Key Bridge across the Potomac, due to hundreds of students clogging these main arteries. Our '08 was among the first to arrive and she said it was an amazing experience, beyond description. Strangers were hugging and yelling and running together.

For an article in Monday's Washington Post click here.

Be blessed!

P.S. I believe Richie was rooting for the Hoyas.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

hoyas v. tar heels

Sunday Georgetown University plays the University of North Carolina to see who goes to basketball's Final Four. Since my daughter, Georgetown Class of 2008, bleeds Hoya Blue, I won't be rooting for North Carolina even though God is from Chapel Hill. (If God ain't a Tar Heel, then why is the sky Carolina blue?)

Many are not old enough to remember the last time Georgetown played UNC in the tournament: the 1982 NCAA championship. This game had the most bizarre ending. With 12 seconds remaining, freshman Michael Jordan hit a 17-foot jumper to put the Tar Heels up by one. The Hoyas' Fred Brown pushed the ball upcourt to set the offense up for one final shot. However, for some reason he threw a pass right into a UNC's player's hands with no Georgetown player within 10 feet. This UNC player dribbled out the clock to seal the championship.

"My peripheral vision is pretty good," Brown said. "But this time it failed me. It was only a split second. But, you know, that's all it takes to lose a game. I knew it was bad as soon as I let it go. I wanted to reach out and grab it back. If I'd had a rubber band, I would have yanked it back in.

"He didn't steal it. I gave it away.”

It is listed as one of the NCAA tournament's top 10 most memorable moments. It will be replayed again and again during Sunday's game.

Now, as Paul Harvey says, the rest of the story....

In 1982 we lived in Illinois. I often watched ACC basketball on cable and liked UNC. Our oldest, Richie, was two years old and even at that young age was obsessed with sports. Before he went to bed at night we'd let him watch five minutes of sports on TV, any sports, it did not matter to him. Often I had a UNC game on. Richie would sit glued to the screen and sometimes ask "Who is that?" I saw that he was referring to #52 each time.

#52 on UNC that year was James Worthy, the team's leader and best player. (Yes, even better than freshman Michael Jordan.) Each time Richie would ask who he was I would answer, "That is Mr. Worthy."

James Worthy was the only player he ever asked about. Did Richie, at only two years old, recognize him as the best player on the court?

For weeks during bedtime prayers, Richie would finish with, "God bless Mommy. God bless Daddy. God bless Beaver. God bless Frog. [Two of his stuffed toy animals] And God bless Mr. Worthy. Amen."

We thought that was cute. However, on March 29th 1982, it was more than cute. It was a prayer that had God's ear. You see, with just seconds left in the championship game, James Worthy was on the court, not within ten feet of another player, when Georgetown's Brown threw the ball to him.

UNC won the NCAA championship. James Worthy was tournament MVP. Later that spring Worthy was the #1 pick in the NBA draft and went on to a hall-of-fame career with the L.A. Lakers (for more click here).

Richie grew up, married, and now has a beautiful little girl. Her first birthday will be on the 25th anniversary of that day when God blessed Mr. Worthy.

And don't feel too sorry for Fred Brown. He was starting point guard on the Georgetown team that won the 1984 NCAA basketball championship.

Bottom line: God heard the persistent prayers of a two-year old. God blessed Mr. Worthy.


allocating your investments

I have been checking around the web for asset allocator calculators that anyone can use. This is a tool to help you decide how to diversify (i.e., spread out) your investments. I found a cool one, actually on several sites, that lets you plug in the amount of money you have to invest, how many years until retirement, how much risk you want, etc. What I especially like about this one is that you can easily dial up or down certain assumptions and see how it impacts the "ideal" portfolio.

To use this calculator, just plug in how much total money you have to invest (to keep it simple, I'd put it all in "cash" to start with), then slide the scales on the right to something semi-reasonable for you. Click the "Ideal allocation" button (next to the red help bar), then the look at the pie chart.

Do not be obsessive about what you put in the calculator. Usually the ideal portfolio is not all that sensitive to adjusting assumptions. This makes it easy. Just put something in, then slide the scales around, and look at the results as ballpark figures. This ain't brain surgery.

Be blessed!

Friday, March 23, 2007

china bound

I just received notice that I have received a grant for a trip to China in late July and early August. I'll be able to take take three students with me to visit Shanghai, Fuzhou, Chengdu, Shenzhen, and maybe Dalian. Two women are Chinese nationals. One is from Shanghai. The other is from Fuzhou in Fujian Province but has lived in NYC since she was twelve. One guy is from Nepal but spent last semester in SLU's China program and has traveled throughout the country. (Maybe they are taking me to China?) No one has been to more than three of the five cities but each city has been visited by at least one of us. Don't envy us too much: it will be very hot and muggy that time of year.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

how old do you feel?

My cousin forwarded this picture. Remember "Leave It to Beaver" with Eddie Haskell, the Beave, and Wally?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Monday, March 5, 2007


An ancient Chinese curse:

May you lead an interesting life.

A modern American curse:

May you lead a normal life.

Do you want to be normal? Normal in America is not saving regularly. Normal in America is living paycheck to paycheck. 70% of Americans do live that way. Normal is carrying credit card balances and paying usurious interest rates in excess of 20% on those balances.

Normal is retiring and being unable to write a check for $600.

Normal is having financial problems be the major cause of your divorce if you had been married seven years or less.

Normal is being a college student and graduating with over $5000 in credit card debt. (Let's not even mention the student loans.)

Relying on debt to make predictable and reasonable expenses, a lifestyle of living in debt, is a lifestyle that a hundred years ago was considered sinful. It was a sign of lacking moral character. Fifty years ago, it was a lifestyle that was considered foolish. Now it is a lifestyle considered normal.

Normal is being broke.

Normal is living under constant financial pressure. I guess it is one way to lead an interesting life. Hey, you can get two curses going against you. What a deal....

Maybe you should aspire to be weird. It is weird not to be under financial pressure. It is weird to have financial peace. It is weird to aspire to be weird, but it is really weird actually to do something to change your life, to change your relationships, and to change the legacy you leave for your family. You can change these things if you want. They can be done, but it is weird.

Contact me or click here to find out about how to break the curse of normal.

That is just not at all normal.

Be blessed!