A Good Forum is Not So Hard to Find

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"Why do we have a Star of David as a symbol?" one of my religious school students asked on Sunday. "What does it mean?"

It’s a good thing I don’t mind saying: "I’m not sure: I’ll find out and tell you next week." I say it a lot.

In the process of researching Stars of David, I ran across an article about a flower that has cells in the shape of the star. (For the curious, it’s a Persian buttercup with the Latin name Ranunculus asiaticus.) I even found a seed company that sells the bulbs. “It would be fun,” I thought, “to get some bulbs, let the children see the cell structure, and then we could grow flowers.”

And so I ordered bulbs. Which wasn’t easy because I live outside the growing zone and the company’s computer didn’t want to send me any. (“I promise to grow them in containers indoors!” I told the person on the phone, who managed to override the system.)

Then came the next problem. Microscope? I don’t have a microscope. I don’t what kind of microscope is needed. I don’t know how to use a microscope, whatever kind. I assume a thin slice of the bulb would need to be taken. Would a vegetable peeler give me a thin enough slice? How big are those cells? Would a microplane do? Does the sample need to be stained? With what? Food coloring? Pickle juice? Rub it over the cut side of a beet?


Luckily, I live in a town with a university and several colleges. Many of our congregants are either current or former faculty members or members of the administration at one or another of the institutions. In fact, I remembered, the father of one of my students is dean of the graduate school and former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Perfect. It took him about 20 minutes to respond to my e-mail and tell me he would find a microscope and either somebody to operate it or tell him how.

Except for calling the seed company because I couldn’t figure out how to get them to send me the bulbs before the shipping date for my zone if I ordered online, all of this was done on the computer, including finding the dean’s e-mail address.

Aren’t computers wonderful? Over the years, I’ve found that they’re especially wonderful if you have diabetes.

A dozen years ago, I caught part of a report on the radio news about a new kind of fast-acting insulin. Despite listening to ensuing news reports, I didn’t hear anything else about it. Nor was anything in the newspaper. I’d heard about a diabetes group that “met” on AOL, so I went to the meeting to ask about the new insulin.

Nobody there knew about it, either, but joining the group was the beginning of my love affair with online support. There was no place I could go in my area with a support group filled with knowledgeable people. But there, online every Sunday night, were people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, on every regimen there was, and all with a good knowledge of diabetes. It was magic!

Today, you’re likely to find me on the mailing list at www.insulin-pumpers.org. In fact, I’m one of the volunteer list administrators. You don’t have to be a pumper to join. You don’t even have to have diabetes. We have members who have family or friends with diabetes who come to learn about living with the condition.

You can probably find a list that focuses on diabetes plus whatever you’re interested in. Low-carb? I’ll be darned if I can remember the name of that one, but I’m sure somebody will write in and tell us.

Low-carb and kosher? That would be www.friendswithdiabetes.org. That’s also where you go to get some tips on fasting on Yom Kippur or getting through a Passover seder.

Want a discussion group monitored by diabetes professionals, who sometimes step in to answer questions? A good one is at http://forums.joslin.org.

If you’re the parent of a child with diabetes, your group is likely to be www.childrenwithdiabetes.org. It even has a convention each year where you and your child(ren) can go learn, have fun, and meet up with other families in the same situation.

While the groups primarily focus on more serious matters — such as where do I put my pump when I have sex — we do have fun on occasion.

A recent thread on insulin-pumpers, for example, had to do with wearing your pump in your bra.

“Where else on the Internet will you be able to read about whirring, clicking, and beeping boobs?” one person wrote.

“And, I might add,” another responded, “boobs that light up? I’m a squaredancer and in those frilly dresses, the bra is the only place I can [put it to] get to my pump. When my alarm goes off, my backlight comes on!”

She explained that bra storage also “beat putting it on my waist and having it disappear into 65 yards of crinoline or, worse yet, migrate down inside my pantyhose to my kneecap.”

I’m no expert on what groups are out there. I just know about a handful. If you know of a good group you’d like to recommend, please post it here. If you want to know if there’s a group that meets your needs, feel free to ask. People are usually very helpful. After all, we all live in the same garden.

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