Saturday, March 29, 2014

March Madness

How I wish I cold swim.

We had a moment of warmth here, such that I considered venturing forth to the pool again.  They actually are open all year.  I just can't handle the chill well, especially when the pool is kept in the mid 70s.  It's great for summer swimming, when you can warm up out of the water, but the joints need to be loose before even getting in the pool . . .

*     *     *     *     *

I had planned a "March Madness" entry way back on the 15th or so, given how much had already happened to me.  Much of it is a blur now, on all fronts.

It's been a very difficult month.  This was predicted, of course.  It has been my hardest month for several years in a row now, this last stretch of my Winter.

Soon, even if it does not get warm enough for swimming, it will be warm enough for some jogging.  I'll get out of this cage, er uh, house, if only for a few hours a day.

Or maybe not, if this chest cold lingers and turns into pneumonia, but I get ahead of myself.

*     *     *     *     *

The first real outing I have been on in longer than I can remember started the month.  This is honestly a bit disconcerting.  I actually can't remember the last time I left the area.  Has it been two years?  I don't think I went anywhere last summer.

Well, I went on safari.

One of my wife's birthday presents was an outing to Safari West, just outside Calistoga.  I knew going in it would be a difficult and painful outing, but I thought it would be worth it.  I'd say it was, though I was quite worried it would not be when the drive there (less than 3 hours) had me in agony the entire way.

Upon arrival, body screaming and very out of sorts, I loaded up on the pain pills and my afternoon dose of Adderall in preparation for another car ride.  I had not thought about that ahead of time.  You see, the drives are what hurts me more than anything (well, almost anything, but I'll get to that), and I had ridden in a car for near 3 hours so I could take a 3 hour safari tour?  I was worried.

*     *     *     *     *

My worries, however, were quickly put to rest.  First off, the gigantic vehicle used for the tour had seats which fit me quite well, where even the sturdy bars behind the seats were at great levels to rest my arms or stretch my back.  And I started the tour up top with the kids (mine and two friends).


And even with constant shifting and bumps, I was feeling no pain when I found myself a few feet from a gorgeous antelope or a mere 10 feet from a pair of rhinos. 

It was pretty awesome.  Up close with giraffes and zebras and the like.  We had some distance between us and the water buffaloes, which is smart given they can get testy, but it was still something to behold.

Our tour guide was smart and only missed on only a few jokes (out of probably a hundred over the three hours, which is a pretty impressive ratio).  The weather was near perfect.  What a win.

*    *     *     *     *

Then came the overnight experience.  I won't rehash it all, but I will repost a comment I sent out into the expanse of the Internet from by phone at 4:49am (which was really 3:49am given the clocks had been pushed forward for daylight savings only a few hours before):

Can't sleep and suffering. No idea when sun comes up with the time change. I have been more miserable. When this is over, I may still think it was worth it. Ten feet from two rhinos was really fucking cool.
I may have even found some sleep around one but the fucktard in the tent next to us was waxing poetic, telling someone his life story. By the time he stopped, I was wide awake and trapped in the bottom bunk.
Funny. While there are many pens and gates, most animals are roaming some decent patches of land. Yet, the cow finds himself caged.
Flamingos are noisy. All night.
I had to get out of the tent. It's pretty cold out. Very dark. And the sounds are cool, boarding on spooky sometimes when the big animals make low rumbles.
Going to try to pace out here a bit and stretch some and maybe become able to try sleeping again but I think I am going to wait for sunrise and see what the animals are like during it. You know, may as well try to experience something worthwhile, right?
It was certainly an experience.

*     *     *     *     *

I was pretty much shot for a week after that outing.  Then, the chest cold hit, and I've been coughing ever since, unable to breath well when lying down. 

Odds are I caught something when sitting outside that tent listening to the flamingos and other animals.  So, while I had determined (and still so believe) that the adventure was well worth it, I guess the possible lingering cost may still be able to work it's way into the equation.

*     *     *     *     *

I could write much more about the changes I have gone through this month as well.  I do seem to be able to make the most progress when subjected to stresses like that trip.

They are too tricky to explain well.  Major shifts.  Major changes.  Progress and pain.

One major change is happening around my chest, and I do think it related to my cold, though as a cause, effect, or both, remains a mystery.  the resting state is again changing, and I am getting muscle and flesh to creep up my chest, around the lungs.

This results in mys instability and changes to both shoulders, and then the neck and head.  A similar change then happens in my hips and with my legs.

Basically, I am spent, completely spent.

*     *     *     *     *

I have written about enduring, about just getting through rough times.

I may need to revisit my definitions.  What I called "enduring" took some effort.  I had to act.

It was never easy and I'd often want to give up, but I endured.

The past week, especially with my breathing difficulties, I have not had much to give in terms of effort.  It's mostly reactionary.

Yet, I am still here.  So, I am enduring.

*     *     *     *     *

This is easily the worst entry I have ever written.  If you actually read this far, I apologize.  I just felt I had to write something about the trip and my struggles of late.

Again, I had wanted to write it weeks ago, but while I could then map out some of what to write in my head, I lacked the energy to write it.  Now, the brain is shot, and the ideas and concepts I wanted to put down are lost, but the fingers work.

*     *     *     *     *

I'll throw out a thought I had recently, however, which could end up something I need to investigate.

A study I heard about recently suggested meditation helps increase one's life span, and they had data suggesting it may even increase the length of some DNA or RNA strand, not sure which.

This set off bells.

I suspect the body, in a more proper postural position, while practicing a form of meditation, may allow the body to resonate with "biowaves" (an inclusive term I may have touched upon earlier and likely will return to again), which may, in turn, allow those strands to lengthen.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Playing Possum

Something dawned on me today, something that once again shocked me that I had not tried it before.

I played Possum.

*     *     *     *     *

I was introduced to Phish way back in 1992 by my housemates in Berkeley.  They had all been fans for years.

As I have noted in other entries and in some comment sections, much of the early music of the band is based, at least in part, on phi, the number which gives us the golden ratio and the golden rectangle.  You know phi most commonly from the conical shape of a snail shell.

Anyways, it's math being used in music.

And as I have also noted before, some of my thoughts and tinkering with phi lead me to where I am today.

*     *     *     *     *

It was shortly thereafter when I heard Possum for the first time, a song only heard in concert.

It's a silly little thing, lyrically.

Yet, it has an absolute monstrosity of a guitar solo.  It was what truly hooked me on the band.

*     *     *     *     *

Way, way, way back in 1983, I played trumpet in the Piedmont Middle School Jazz Band (Yes, fellow male graduates of said middle school all joke that we went through PMS). 

I was half decent.  For my age and grade, I was exceptional.

It was in Jazz Band that my Instructor taught us all how to improvise.

He taught us the B-flat blues scale.  He taught us to start with something small, some simple melody of just a few notes within the scale, and then to build upon it, and even branch out should you have a long solo, 8 to 16 measures.

This would be where my relationship with music really started.  It became very rooted in my ear, listening to solos and how they did or did not follow this approach.

To me, the solo was like a ripple on water, starting basic, but getting some variation (and often complicated) as it went along.

I like to listen to a solo and ride the wave the musician creates.

*     *     *     *     *

So, when I heard Trey Anastasio's solo in Possum, I heard something I never dreamed would be attempted, something outrageous.

It just kept on building, that solo.

What a wave!

*     *     *     *     *

Several years later, scouring a used CD shop in Santa Cruz, I came across a bootleg Phish album entitled Sloth.  It was Set 1 of a 1992 show (May 1st if the web is correct), which ends with Possum.  It was like striking gold.

 Not the greatest sound quality, but I have listened to that track so many times, and groove like mad each time.

What a wave!  The solo is very much as I remember the first version I heard live.

*     *     *     *     *

Now, when it comes to my "adjustments," as I call them, a near constant problem has been that I take three steps forward (progress) but soon fall two steps back (regression), making it very slow going.

I have written much of the feeling of slipping like a stripped bottle top.  Or how I get a little done and just can't focus enough to try to go further in the same attempt.

As usual, it is hard to explain.

It's like unwrapping something with knots and twists and turns, but each change of direction requires tremendous concentration to keep what was done to get there  from collapsing (and bringing everything down in a world of pain).

But today, I played Possum.

*     *     *     *     *

I realized that this insanely long solo could be used as a form of meditation towards my adjustments.

The solo builds and branches off every 4 or 8 measures, but it also builds in intensity, very much so by the solo's end.

Having the solo more or less memorized, I can hear the progression in my head.  As I finish attempting to unwind some portion of muscle and reach a position where I now have to move a different muscle in an entirely different (and usually new to me) manner, I can keep focus and maintain the earlier position I achieved by imagining it as a segment of the Possum solo.

I let the intensity of the solo aid the intensity I need to maintain focus.

The result has been a day of adjustments far more successful then they have been in ages, maybe ever, really.

I mean, where I used to be able to get past one "change of direction," maybe two, with great effort, I found myself doing 4 or 5, then resting, and then doing another 3 or 4.

*     *     *     *     *

The progress I made so far today, an attempt to describe it, is for another day.  Too much done already, and I am far too tired to even try.

As usual, I am not sure I can do it justice.

But I have made significant strides today, and the day ain't over yet.

*     *     *     *     *

If you'd like a listen . . .

Here is a link to a youtube video of a reasonably similar Possum recording, though I must admit Trey has much more fluidity in the track I have on CD.

Possum, pre-song starts at the 2:22 mark
The song starts at 4:59
The solo starts at 7:22 and builds until 11:59

Keep in mind, this will give you an idea of how my focus and intensity build while subluxing and unwinding and, when successful, adjusting.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Oh So Close . . .

I cannot do the sensation justice.

I don't even know where to begin.

I feel as if I were soft wood, inchworming it's way UP a screw, some muscles finding their proper groove, able to support that above it without strain, this alone being something very unfamiliar.

I am not done.  I fear much work may remain, and much pain as well (these adjustments of late are either agony or ecstasy), and yet, I feel so close.

I am so very tired, exhausted really, but I have momentum on my side.

I must believe this is so.

I do believe it.

Not momentum, the tide.  I have the tide on my side.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Vector Detector

Nothing more than a mental note on my newest way to think of the quantification of a body's physical balance.

Vectors.  Consider every muscle strand to be a vector.  It is very much similar to this, after all.  Each muscle has a direction and a weight.

For my purposes, the "weight" of each vector is it's resting force towards movement.

Imagine a person holding your arms at your side as you try to lift them.  You are let go after 30 seconds and told to relax your arms, but they continue to rise without your input.  [It's almost like an after image of the force you applied earlier.]  Your resting force towards movement would be what your muscles want to do just from your normal actions in a day.

So, now consider each of these muscle strands as a quantified vector.  When you are at rest, the sum of all these vectors would be zero for a body in balance.

*     *     *     *     *

Dammit, I had my next thought planned, and in the time it took to put up a page break, it was gone.

My train of thought has derailed.

*     *     *     *     *

It does get more complicated, and gravity (more specifically, how your muscles deal with it) is most definitely a huge factor.

But I got the paradigm out there, before it was lost to the next bombardment of thoughts, a win in itself.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Physical Violence?

Lots of movement lately.  Great success.

Then I tried to eat.

Swallowing did not function.  I scooted quickly to the bathroom unable to breathe and popped.  It was not puking, but the mid-neck up was in reverse.

I believe I was having the innards versions of adjustments, with my esophogas trying to unfold it's way up the inside of my neck.

It was not a fun day after that, my own self being physically violent agaionst me. 

However, I did have a giggle later on . . .

*     *     *     *     *

Having a difficult day, I went for a late soak in the hot tub.  My moment of near-non-pain comes when I go underwater for a break from gravity.  Again, today being a hard one, I was very medicated when I got in the water.

So, when I came up for air and heard the police over their intercom, it was kind of an "oh shit" moment.

They clearly were not at my door, or that of a close neighbor, rather just down the street, but as I couldn't make out what they were saying, I shook my head and wiped away the water in order to hear better.

That's when I realized a flock of geese were flying over head.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

For Friends of The Wisdom Cow

A while back, ESPN's website went with a new comment format requiring a facebook account.  I stopped commenting there.

The BANG (Bay Area News Group) site I followed the SF Giants through went with a Disqus sign-in for commenting.  I stopped there as well.

Now, BANG finally converted their Cal site too.  I tried to sign on once using the Google option, which I sign on for this blog, but it did not work (though it did, then, keep me logged on when I came to this site).  I didn't like doing it.  I was against doing it, but I didn't want to drop off the face of the Internet.

But it didn't log me on.  It didn't let me post, still wanting me to jump through more and more hoops for some reason.

So, I'm done with commenting on all these sites.  A few of you check in here from time to time.  Please, let the others know I'll still read sometimes, but I am done commenting (to the applause of some, no doubt).

Even though people with half a brain can find my personal information without much effort, I am tired of always being asked to give it away, of sites asking me to sign in so they can log and keep track of me. 

It really bothered me that BearTalk didn't do anything to let me know the change was coming.  Poor choice, Jeff Faraudo.  Perhaps I would have been up for trying to log on more than once had I known it was coming. 

Eh.  More likely I would have just been able to say my goodbyes, and I wouldn't have even tried once.  This, I bet they know, which is why no notice was given.

But I did try once.  It didn't work.  Now I am just bitter.  The friends and relationships I made with other posters there are the leverage Disqus has to get me to accept their terms. 

Well, fuck Disqus.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Holy Crap-Mas!

Short.  Documentation.

It's X-Mas Eve.

Spent the day with 2 extra kids, all behaved extremely well, a surprise.  Must be that last second naughty list possibility that keeps them on their toes.

Regardless, it wiped me out in a big way, not being able to rest during the day.

*     *     *     *     *

Around 5 O'clock, when the kids were picked up, I tried to relax in the hot tub.  It was impossible.  All I could do was unwind, literally.  The weightlessness of the water made it hard not to let the arms, hips and neck adjust.

A great deal shifted.  A Gestalt attempt to describe: mass/muscle went under-behind-then atop the right shoulder; mass/muscle went in front-atop-then behind the left; The right front of my throat (muscle beneath the skin, connected(?) to trachea) was swallowed, allowed to drop, letting my entire head tilt forward slightly.

I am incredibly uncomfortable, both arms seemingly requiring me to send the inverse of signals to them in order to do something without sharp pain.

I'd go the pain pills and pot route and try to go to sleep, but family is here.  On the bright side, they are all women.  Being the lone mail, it is no problem to be out on the periphery, rarely chipping in and able to slip behind a corner to sublux a limb as needed.

*     *     *     *     *

Nothing like a quick partial dislocation to speed up the process of unwinding, except when you go the wrong way.  Not fun, it's only happened a few times tonight.

And yes, the egomanical imagination is allowed to run wild in those moments between pain and involuntary continued attempts to right wrongs.  I think, "Wouldn't it be cool if I finished tonight."

Of course, I have this thought every night, but the holidays and birthdays and numerologically interesting dates always make me push just a little bit more than I otherwise would.

*     *     *     *     *

I wouldn't mind the daydreaming.  I used to do it to endure, after all.  Yet, now, it usually interferes with focus and actually slows my progress.  I can't come anywhere near the Mindfulness techniques of meditation I used to be able to do.  I'm fried. 

Although, in truth, sometimes I start exercising and adjusting and two hours go by and I haven't had more than a few thoughts I can remember.  So, perhaps I'm doing a better job of meditating.  That, or my memory is shot, too.

What was I writing about?