Sunday, December 23, 2012

X-Mess

[It's a tricky time to update.  Family invade shortly, and I'm still producing lung butter at a rate which probably disqualifies me for small business status.]

*     *     *     *     *

Winter arrived.  The Mayan calendar ended.  I remain, changing.

*     *     *     *     *

There was some real progress the last two days, however, and for a moment, last night, subluxing limbs  while inhaling steam in the spa (in a nice rain, too), I do believe I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

The specifics are for my journal, not here.  They just wouldn't make sense without pages of prose I lack the ability to write at the moment. 

For example, I found a release in my jaw that may well lead to being able to sleep on my back.  Make sense?  A quick attempt, a starter, really - the jaw release freed a connection which had my skull tilted back in relation to the top of my spine.  My back of my head was able to lift, my neck elongating, the spine seeming to move slightly back and straightening (instead of arcing like a "c," it became an "l").

The other BIG change was a feeling in my right shoulder that I cannot explain at all.  For a brief moment, it was like a ball was atop my arm within the shoulder joint.  I had a "Holy Shit!  Is THAT what it's supposed to feel like?" moment, and spent the next 20 minutes or so trying to recapture the feeling, to no avail.

Anyways, I am exhausted.  My body is sore.  My lungs are shot.  My sinuses are dried and bleeding.  I've had no better than 4 hours of sleep any night the past week and a half.  There really is nothing quite like the experience of a physical metamorphosis while ill in Winter.

Now the relatives are coming to dote on my daughter.

*     *     *     *     *

I'll close with a nice little apocalyptic concept. 

In the past, when I'd have an adjustment that would alter my chest or neck such that my posture opened up previously closed portions of lung or sinus, I'd get sick, similar to now.

Suppose, some 30+ year old virus I had as a kid was trapped in some corner of lung or sinus cavity.  There, it mutated, only to be freed when an insane genius (or the genuinely insane, your choice) managed to figure out how to unwind his body.  I could be ground zero for the super flu, Captain Tripps, himself.

Tangential, at best, though circling back, a picture of endurance?  Apres Moi, Le Deluge.  It's a decent look at moments of my time.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Two Words I Didn't Need To Hear

Walking Pneumonia.

I got it, already.  Winter is just starting and my lungs are now as dysfunctional as my body.

I am SO screwed.

*     *     *     *     *

I'm trying to look on the bright side.  There isn't a bright side.  Maybe if there was a market for lung butter, then, there would be a bright side.

Okay.  I just chuckled.  Well, I did on the inside, before a coughing fit took over.

I could sell The Wisdom Cow brand Lung Butter.  That's almost funny.

A non-sick me would probably download a picture of the Land O Lakes butter package, doctor it so the Atom Heart Mother cow sits in the spot of the kneeling Indian, and then upload the clever picture of the product of my expectorant.

Of course, a non-sick me would mean no product.

So I'm just going to click Publish and go stare at the TV.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

When Will Enough Be Enough

[This is depression writing. This is what happens when I am mentally afraid but aware enough to fight of despair. This is exhaustion. This is not good, not good at all.]



I am losing it.

Slowly and steadily, every day we creep further into Winter.

Okay, technically, it isn't even Winter yet, which only makes things worse as I fret over the coming months of cold.

Last Winter was agony.  I had forgotten, thankfully, how bad it was, similar to how I cannot recall the specifics of each weeks' pains as things continue to evolve into new ways to hurt.  I did remember it sucked, but I lost all specificity, and I certainly did not want to go through my notes to relive it mentally, to see what pains may be on the horizon once again.

I do remember it seemed to last forever, and I remembered how glad I was when it finally warmed up.

I also remember how much I tried to force my rehab exercises, how I would overdo it.  Those first months of warmth, I was so scared that I would not be better, better enough, to not be miserable through another Winter. 

And now, I remember how I genuinely feared the prospect of making it through another Winter.

The fear is back.
So is the cold.  And
My mind entertains death once again.

*     *     *     *     *

I cannot help but fantasize.  I return to the thoughts of the Mayan Calendar, or the Hopi's New Age, that somehow I am going to become something, untangled, come December 21st. 

I couldn't help but be revisited by the Led Zeppelin songs which comforted me through pain so long ago, as the band has plugged their new concert album recently on NBC's Revolution, an interview on Letterman, as well as their Kennedy Center honors.  Will I get the bustle out of my hedgerow?  Am I on the path that no one goes?

Mental masturbation, all.

I want this to be done.  I'm so tired.

*     *     *     *     *

Of course, I have thought this before.  I endured pain before.  I got through Winters before, and I will again.

Only, this time I have an added fear, a completely irrational one.  That it is irrational only makes me fear it all the more.

After the 21st, when [crosses fingers and says, "if"] I am not a new man, when there is just another in this seemingly endless set of changes and pains, what do I fantasize about then?

Logic only gets you through so much.  Chronic pain deteriorates the mind.  Believe me.  I've been there.  What happens when one of my favorite daydreams is taken away?  What happens the next time I feel desperate?

Sure, part of me is excited by the extent of my recent changes, which have been objectively significant, with my lower back and hips changing dramatically while the shoulders continue to shift, my neck and head changing their normal positions (with both ears suffering great pain in the process).  It could well be a mere two weeks until I get the final knot untied.

How much of a mindfuck would that be, right?  I'd want to believe I was part of some great Synchronicity of change, but I guarantee my logical side would take over (especially if the pain were finally gone), and I'd have somehow created a decade long self-fulfilling prophecy or sorts.

But when ["If, dammit, IF!"] it doesn't happen?  What then?

*     *     *     *     *

This is depression writing. This is what happens when I am mentally afraid but aware enough to fight of despair. This is exhaustion. This is not good, not good at all.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Excriment and the Air Conditioning

[Ouch.]

The amount of shifting going on in my body is both alarming and exhilarating.

Both arms are twisting while muscle creeps up their respective shoulders, my hips transforming, with even my wrists (especially the right thumb) and ankles shifting into new positions. 

When my right shoulder is positioned just so (not easy to find, requiring both proper hip location, abdomen clenching, and neck flexing), I get the equivalent of releases in my face.  Upon one such release, the crease at the outside corner of my right eye changed, now a good 20 degrees below the previous angle (which had been just below horizontal).

There is no doubt in my mind that the sledding injury of my youth is greatly to blame.

Vision issues have subsequently occurred following the facial/jaw releases.  My glasses literally do not fit on my face properly anymore (as if they had been messed with or bent) and I wonder if I need to go glasses-less for a period of time and then have my prescription checked again.  I have been wondering if years on end with extra tension on my eyes from the muscles surrounding them, stretched and out of place, have anything to do with my nearsightedness.

For now, I hope the changes slow down, as I am having great trouble resting.  I can't sleep.  Muscle memory is uncomfortably out of balance and there are no positions in bed which give the slightest ease, with drug induced sleep leading to exacerbated pains in the morning which take hours to recover from.

*     *     *     *     *

I try to daydream that December 21st will find me a new man, the way my adjustments have been occurring with a frequency and to an extent exponentially greater than ever before.

Wouldn't that be a trip?  Me, standing long and echoing the forest with laughter, when the Mayan Calender ushers in a new age?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Oh, Momma!

[Another short one.  This is primarily for the on-line friends from the few comment sections I frequent.  I already wrote a hard copy version of the "adjustment" just experienced due to it's possible importance, but because the mother of all coincidences has occurred in the process, I want to give this version here.  And seeing that  I don't believe in coincidences, I must admit it's got me wondering, or at least it had me wondering . . .  ]

The jog today contained a few stops to "adjust" and stretch.  Things felt, different.

The final half mile was pretty fast for me, and some strength discovered in my lower back seemed to be the cause, allowing me to be much more elongated.

uh oh . . .another "stand long" moment, but I digress . . .

I went straight to the back yard to continue the unwinding and adjusting until . . .

The muscle (or whatever the hell it was) that I had worked over my right hip the week before, now upon bending forward (while actually trying to relax my lower back), "creased," or rather, became the iron bars of hitting the spot, and I was able to send the crease up, behind my ribs, and all the way to my right shoulder!

There, it became blocked by the shoulder, but after much tinkering with arm positions, a HUGE release occurred.  My right side lost tension and seemed to move backwards slightly.  My left side suddenly had slack, which a familiar arm movement gathered up and seemed to bring the left side of my torso forward.

Now, slave to habit that I am, I still had my iPod on which I wear jogging, so the headphone cable was interfering with things.  Yet, I kept at it for a while.

Tired of battling the headphone cable, I came in and plugged the iPod into the stereo, opting to shuffle my Top Rated list, which is currently some 678 songs.

Free of the headphones, I did some more work on that new adjustment, to see if more of my body could be freed.

I soon lost myself in the adjustment process, very much like I had when it was the crazy painful version early on.  I became entirely focused upon the sensation, oblivious to everything around me.  Where before pain had forced the entirety of my attention, I was now able to do it on my own, and on a non-painful sensation.

Until, once again, I freed another large segment of myself.  It was a true "WOW!" experience. 

Afterwards, almost like coming up for air after swimming deep below the water, the world came back into my attention.

And there, on the stereo, a few minutes into the song, played Atom Heart Mother.

How cool was that?

*     *     *     *     *

For those that have visited here from destinations other than those in which I display the avatar I use in comment sections as The Wisdom Cow, here it is, the cover to Pink Floyd's album Atom Heart Mother, which is also the name of the first song.


*     *     *     *     *

Hopefully, I am getting close to working out my kinks, or whatever the hell they should be called.  I am exhausted.  Time for a nap.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Lost Translation?

[Very short.  I just need to remember this, and since it may help the translation process, why not add it to the prose undeciphered?]

Posture, the word I keep tossing around, sometimes bothering to augment, though often not.

I have written structural posture believing it may help people understand, realize I mean something different from sitting up straight at the dinner table, but I fear this has not done the job.

I need a primer, something to aid the translation, and it may have just dawned on me.  What a person that knew me well before things started changing would be that my body type has changed.

I have moved muscle that was wrapped around my thighs and moved them up into my hips.  I have allowed internal organs shoved up under my rib cage and allowed them to drop into my core.  I moved muscle and tendons that trapped my shoulders forward and my arms rotated (anterior to the left) into a more "normal" position.

Upon learning my weight, I was often told, "You carry it well."  Could they have been more wrong?

I just did not look heavy because the muscle and fat was all in places it was not meant to be.  No wonder I could always win at a "Guess Your Weight" booth.

*     *     *     *     *

Perhaps, now, with this greater clarification of my postural changes, the way my muscles literally sit upon my bone, the previous entries will make a bit more sense.

Perhaps not.  It is late and I am exhausted.  So, this may not mean what I think it means in the morning. 

Not under the influence of anything at the moment, but I do well recall those profound thoughts, late at night, stoned or whatever, that were not so profound in the morning.  Of course, perhaps I merely forgot to add a primer like "body type" that would have given the previous night's insight a proper translation for the morning version of myself.  Maybe they were profound after all . . .

Monday, October 8, 2012

A New Sensation

[Usually, I write this italicized, bracketed portion after the entry, but this time I do so before.  I am going to write a prose version of what I realized and performed today, though a better version would include drawings to illustrate the "issues" one would have being me.  Much in this post may make much more sense after some serious post reading contemplation and then maybe a re-read.  Well, that is if I get down what I intend to.  The first section or two will set up today's revelation giving some needed background, both recent and personally historical.  Here it goes.]

Written of many times before, my transformation (or metamorphosis, as I prefer) all began after I changed my walk.  I was certain that being a "toe walker" was bad and tried to change it, hoping it could improve my situation, having no idea just how much it would end up changing me (obviously including the 1 1/2 inch in height increase).

This was at least a few years prior to ever hearing of "barefoot running" shoes (which I have now worn for the last three years).  My focus was on not using my toes, and as written of in a very early entry, using a predominance of vertical pressure rather than horizontal.  An object in motion stays in motion, after all.

*     *     *     *     *

Over the years, my focus points have changed with physical changes.  Most recently, I have been focused on my core.  I had been doing the most basic of physical rehabilitation exercises designed to give the core a base, a place to begin actual stomach crunches, for almost two years now, only having successful crunches in the last 3 or so months (though I am nearly certain they are still not "correct" from an internal perspective).

Last week, I started trying to keep my core "crunched" or clenched while jogging, the first time while doing the 1 1/3 mile from the local pool to my home (it's somewhere between a mile and a quarter and a mile and a half).  That attempt felt very successful, creating much movement (or "adjustments") in my hips and shoulders afterward.  So, I tried doing it in all subsequent jogs, and even during my swims (this proves difficult to maintain in the buoyant environment). 

Again, there was much improvement and subjective success, so much, in fact, that I tried to write multiple entries about it over the last week.  Unfortunately, I was unable to maintain concentration on prose, however, as adjustments, soreness, and pain won out.

*     *     *     *     *

Now, during those swims last week, on a few rare occasions, I had a feeling of correctness about the manner in which I would push off of the wall with my feet.  Again, these were rare.  I have been doing 2,000m of workout in the pool, and maybe 3 or 4 of the 80 push offs would provide the feeling.

I knew they were right, these feelings.  I also knew them, somehow.  They were familiar in some way, but I could not put my finger on them.  It was quite maddening.  I knew if I could picture the sensation, identify it in some way, I could be more successful in repeating it.

Then, today, I had the realization.  My calf-to-ankle-to-foot pad had become like a prosthetic running leg.

Once realized, I was able to have replicate the action and sensation in push offs at a rate near 80%.  I was correct.  It was easier to duplicate once I had the mental picture.  Important to note, I was most successful when my midsection, my core, was at least partially clenched.

I am sure you have seen them.  A man even ran with them in the recent Olympics held in London.  Here is a picture of one such device below.


As you may suspect, I tried to incorporate the sensation into my calf-to-foot pad on the jog home.

The result, for my last quarter mile or so, was that (I believe, at least, for now) I correctly "ran barefoot" for the first time ever.  I was almost entirely on my foot pad, my heels barely touching the ground. 

This is a true breakthrough.

*     *     *     *     *

What follows is important, but I do not know how to best articulate it.  First, I will back up, again.  Then, attempt to compare where I was to where I am (hopefully) going.  Then, return to where I was to give a sense of just how screwed up I was, and to a certain extent, remain.

*     *     *     *     *

I've written plenty about having been a toe walker, but little about why it never occurred to me that it was wrong.

Simply put, I thought I was special in some way.

I ran track with decent results in high school.  My best 400m was  53.4 seconds, not too shabby even if I did trail 6 guys by 4+ seconds at the MHAL track finals in my senior year (I wasn't last!).

More special in my mind was that I had "hops" in high school.  I was under 5'10" and could dunk a volley ball on an indoor basketball rim, a basketball on most outdoor courts (tending to have a little angle on the rims).  This was a point of pride because very few others in the school could do so.

People would ask how tall I was, and even go back to back with me to confirm my height afterwards on a few occasions.

And of note, all of this was done with an emphasis on pushing off with my toes.

*     *     *     *     *

So, what I realize now, I mean truly realize, is that the foot pad is the correct point of focus, the point of frictional contact, with the tension (or stress) needing to be like that of the prosthetic running leg.  Important to note, I do not believe it should feel this way, necessarily, to people with proper posture.  Rather, it feels this way to me because this action is entirely new to my muscles.  It is a new sensation to me, but it should just be normal to one that moves properly.

To oversimplify, the new sensation, the muscle utilization I now need to encourage, is like the backwards C of the prosthetic, pictured above, from my foot pad touching the ground through my ankle and into my calf at the top.  In fact, shortly before I achieved the (I believe more proper) foot pad running, I had moments where I intentionally focused my jog using just my thighs, as if I were running on the prosthetics.

*     *     *     *     *

Now, back to the way I would run and jump in high school.

Imagine the above pictured prosthetic, but instead of being connected at the knee, it was connected in the ankle.  My leg movements were all designed to get into the proper position to maximize the tiny but powerful spring of that was my foot.

Realize, then, that this spring, a backwards C (from foot pad to knee) in most people at rest, was a U (my toes to my ankle) for me at rest.  [I really wish I had a backwards C character, I realize this makes it tougher to envision.

Consider the implications of this U for a spring when at rest.  When running, everything must be rotated 90 degrees.  That is to say, the torque, what gave me "hops," was the result of being more tightly wound, almost literally.

The tension on my calf was significantly greater than that of a person with proper form.  This extra tension, this torque, would thereby also affect the muscles and angles of my upper legs, into and around my hips and even to my core.  It is as if, where proper posture has three joints using two springs (abdomen-thigh above, calf-foot pad below), I had squeezed in an extra spring that didn't fit.

*     *     *     *     *

And so, though poorly articulated above, you can now possibly imagine what my every step has been like these past several years, though in truth it is every moment, at rest or active.

I have logically deduced goals, like the limited horizontal friction while jogging or walking, and I have some sensations that feel right or correct.  These, I try with difficulty to maintain.  Every moment, muscle memory wants to preserve the status quo or revert to previous form.  Every moment I lose mindfulness, every time I relax, my body reverts to at least some extent, usually resulting in pain.

*     *     *     *     *

Yet, I am undeniably optimistic.  I know how to create new synaptic connections.  I know habit.

I have undoubtedly changed so much on this path to The Path.  For all I know, I may be 95% of the way there.  I do know I am getting close.

I may not be able to get there should a physical obstacle, some tangible kink, block my way, but I am overwhelmingly optimistic I will at least reach that kink if I do not reach my goal.

[Yes, I veered and wrapped up quick at the end.  I am exhausted.  This was too long for me to maintain focus throughout.  I tried breaking it into parts as best as I could.  I hope it makes some sense.  It is very close to what I hope to articulate overall.  Unfortunately, I know what I'm trying to say.  A reader more likely than not will not be taken to that perspective, which is my ultimate goal.]

Monday, September 24, 2012

Hitting The Spot!

[It's been a month, a long month.  The last post I was able to publish was back when I was swimming like mad and making great progress.  Then, we went to Tahoe, the drives and a river ride (with the dog) worked me over something fierce.  Then, the wife goes to Vegas (for work - yeah, right!), leaving me with the kid, which meant no swimming, early and late drives, and little rest.  Then, I got sick, an serious ear infection, possibly from the swelling in my neck and head from West Nile (though unconfirmed), which included confusion, chills, sweats, and dizziness.  Then, the lap swim time I had hoped to return to got infested with high school classes, limiting lanes (I had managed only 3 swims since going on vacation, but have hopefully started up regular swims again today).  Last, I got a Tetanus shot last Thursday.  It's safe to say I am in the small percentage of individuals with reasonably serious reactions.  I became extremely sore and achy for three days, only this morning did the bruise from the shot finally surface, about the size of a quarter this morning, near half dollar size now.  Yet, I swam through the pain today.  There was much, and I'm on Vicodin #2 of the evening as I try to type, but I want a record of what I just felt.]

*     *     *     *     *

I've written many, many times of what an "adjustment" feels like.  There are different sorts, different specific feelings and sensations that go with different locations, but some constants are with each, whether it occur in the shoulders, hips, neck, jaw, wrist, whatever.

It's that slip knot feeling, that point where a tension or pressure reaches an apex and then releases.

It's almost orgasmic.  Well, if you substitute pleasure with pain or strain.

It's similar to the last stretch of a hike, or bike ride, or run, just before you reach the top of a hill.  You are straining and focused, pushing it harder than you thought you could.  You know the summit is near, and you suddenly relax once there, a release.

Now, that end moment is the constant, the release, the freedom.

*     *     *     *     *

Early on, this was the metaphor I used to explain how an "adjustment" felt (see picture below).  Ever play it.  My uncle had one.  He lived in the most awesome home I've ever known well, on a cliff in Capitola.  I'd get there and play that game for hours.  I'd have to be pried away from it to go to the beach or play with my cousins.

Anyways, when the "adjustments" first started, the non-agonizing ones, this game is what I remembered during them.  The sensation of riding a muscle up my arm until it reached an apex point in my shoulder felt so similar to that metal ball rolling up the rods.

If you have played it, you may know what I mean. 

As the ball rolls upward, the friction between the ball and rods causes a higher pitch, a heightened frequency, as the amount of rod between the ball and your fingertips gets smaller and smaller, much like a whistle sliding up an octave.  You feel the frequency change.  You feel sound.

To me, the similarity was twofold.  First, as just described, the crescendo matched a heightening of concentration.  It matched the strain, the focus, and the drive to reach that apex, to achieve a release, much like that last stretch as one runs up a hill.

The second, however, was the physical sensation of being both the ball and the rods. 

I could feel part of me actually moving against the grain, just as that ball goes upward. 

More important is where my focus lied.  Though I could feel the "ball" move, it moved only as a result of a wave caused by other muscles.  Almost like a surfboard, I made waves that pushed the ball along.  It usually took two points of focus to create the wave, and like the two rods are what you actually move to raise that ball, I would focus on those two separate points.

*     *     *     *     *

There is no great twist to this entry, however . . .

I've been working lately on the muscles in my back.  All the core work has lead me to them, these unused or severely underdeveloped muscles.

When I use the muscles in my lower back as a starting point and try to ride them upward, creating a more literal wave, I reach significant kinks once I reach my lungs and shoulder blades. 

These kinks are worthy of their own post, as the sensation is very much known to me, but very difficult to articulate (much more than what I am likely failing to describe here).  Yet, I am finding my way through, or past, these them.  A future post, as yet unwritten . . .

*     *     *     *     *

About an hour, after a dip in the spa while waiting for the Vicodin to actually help, I rode the muscles up my back while drying off.  In dealing with those kinks, my arms lifted at the shoulder rotated slightly.  They became my points of focus, and both weent behind me, straight, and were able to come quite close together, as the "fold" or "twisted curtain cord" (to steal from old metaphors), or "ball" ran up my back to the apex point it seeked.

And in that moment I became Hit The Spot!

My arms straight behind me were the rods, almost literally, and I focused on them alone to run the "ball" up my back.

*     *     *     *     *

The memory of the metaphor, as well as memories of those ancient trips to Santa Cruz, flooded me as I my body relaxed, some bit of muscle reaching a point in my back it had not known in decades, likely since before I ever played that game. 

I had a moment of optimism which I have lacked all this month, even amidst all the progress.

I went out to the living room and had my wife pause The Voice so I could explain what happened.  She smiled, a genuine one, not the fake one I get when she is too busy to actually pay attention (It might also have been because I probably looked 10 years younger then I did before I went out to the spa, meaning my real age, not like the old cripple I resemble far too often - just a little bit of happy can bring me back).  Then, I came to try to type this while she finished her show.

Woohoo!  I did it.  I was beginning to worry I wouldn't get another post published this year.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Swimming With Shoulders - A Relative Breakthrough

[Short entry (or not so short, in retrospect), primarily as documentation in case I do not get it in my journal.  With breakthroughs come recovery and "adjustment" time, and punching keys is infinitely easier than trying to move a pen at the moment.]

I just finished the second day of two substantial swimming experiences.  Yesterday, I did 2,500m total in the pool, including 400m of backstroke (total mixed into the workout, not in one shot).  The results were significant, though there was a price.  Today, I did 3,200m, my first time ever doing 2 miles total in the pool.  Even back when I'd do a mile straight pulling or breaststroke, I never went for that 2nd mile total (proof I never swam on a swim team, eh?).  The price I'll pay for today is yet to be experienced.

*     *     *     *     *

Yesterday, I focused on four points, one in each shoulder and one in each hip.  This was a further attempt to get away from a focus on the hands and feet which I have hinted on before, that has been a "symptom" of myself in everything I have ever done, from walking to writing.  The first result was an ability to be much more upright while jogging home.  There was far less noticeable stress points in my body.

There was also substantial "adjustments" in my hips and shoulders (often linked) and much around my neck and upper spine.  The movement in my neck created noticeable changes in both my sinuses and jaw.

The price was a mistake I have made before.  I felt so good (relatively speaking) that I decided to BBQ some hot dogs for dinner (the family expected home late).  This was quite dumb.  Hot dogs are easily the one food I try to swallow portions of without sufficient chewing.  Even on normal days, I am unable to swallow them on occasion.

Yesterday, it was the worst experience I've had in years.  So much muscle movement around my throat added to the wrong meal choice, and I experienced a major esophageal blockage.  I was unable to swallow for over an hour and twenty minutes.  There was much coughing and much pain, not to mention two wasted hot dogs, having barely gotten through half of the first before experiencing a personal hell.

*     *     *     *     *

Back to the pool today, where I did 2 miles.  Woohoo!

I continued to focus on the four point approach initially.  At approximately 1,300m, I began to swim with my shoulders.  I could still feel they were not properly aligned, but that I could actually swim with them as the focus was a tremendous breakthrough, I believe, in trying to get back into balance.

Most noticeable was a dramatic change in my breaststroke, where the "squeeze" became something totally new.  Instead of squeezing my hands together before they launched forward, my inner arms were snapping against the sides of my chest.  It literally created a new propulsion from the movement, as if a momentary chicken imitation pushed water behind me with my elbows.

For a while, I had what I call a Conan moment.  This new pull was much more powerful than it had any right to be.  As if freed from much of the counter-weights that usually hold me back, my arms could really send me forward.  Though in truth, I suspect some of this had to do with the likelihood of being in a more streamline position as well, creating less drag during the stroke.

*     *     *     *     *

I was so ecstatic I kept on swimming and swimming, even though the new movements had me getting very sore.  Right now, as I write, I don't care about the price.  I swam 2 miles!  I swam with my shoulders! 

I'll just have to be smart and eat oat meal tonight instead of hot dogs.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Most Unpleasant Realization

[This post, the realization I had today, is not exactly news to me.  What struck me was the extent of it.  Much like my initial, and rather foolish, belief that it would be a couple months of "adjusting" after the initial changes and I'd be raring to go (that was how many years ago?  7?  8?  Yikes!), I have grossly underestimated a subjective aspect of this entire project.  At least I am confident, still, that the paradigm of how I intend to eventually tell the tale, trying to bring people through it rather that just explain what I believe, is clearly the best approach in order for anyone to come close to grasping exactly what I am trying to express.  So, this one is more informative than artistic, function over form.]

I had a big change in the pool today.  At the 200m mark of a 300m pull (that's freestyle arms with a pull buoy between relaxed legs), I had an all new, to me, sensation.  My shoulder blades were free, as if no against or stuck to, my chest and/or rib cage.

The classic problem resurfaced.  I had no idea shoulders moved so independently of the rib cage. 

For most movements where the arm is raised above the body (or in freestyle, in front of the swimmer), the portion of my chest had to expand.  That is to say, I would either inflate my lungs or rotate by chest significantly as the arm went above the body (or forward in the pool). 

While I have often noted how my body has always felt segmented, it is clear that before today, I thought the shoulders and chest, at least in this movement, were part of a single segment.

The sensation I felt was a stretch of muscles from my lower back up to my shoulders, gliding along the top of the water as my shoulders did the work of pulling.  My chest and ribs merely floated underneath, slightly rotating with each stroke.  This is a marked difference from basically lunging a portion of my chest with each arm stroke.

No doubt I'll get all new forms of soreness tonight, as well.  Joy.

*     *     *     *     *

Now, it is nothing new to me that I had no idea of this, lets call it "segmentation," issue.  I knew it existed, just not where, and I new any new adjustment would lead to previously unknown sensations.

I realize, now, however, just how significant my subjective mis-articulation of any previous descriptions of sensations must be to a reader.  Before this point, how can any reader (or doctor for that matter), have any idea what I had described regarding my shoulder movements?  They would interpret the words in line with their own perception, from their own perspective, one in which the shoulders are not part and parcel of chest (not a single segment with the rib cage).

True communication is impossible, and my attempts to be in the same ballpark as the reader's interpretation was not even discussing the same sport.  Sigh.  So much work to do on so many fronts.

*     *     *     *     *

I find myself suppressing a bit of anger, too , as perhaps this is precisely the type of thing which the MRIs I pleaded for so many years ago could have shown.  Perhaps the "misalignment" or some type of knot or kink (making portions of muscles that should be separate from the rib cage actually be visibly "stuck" entwined with the muscles of the rib cage) could have been discovered.  Maybe I could have been helped (even believed, by Gods!) to get through this metamorphosis in less time and with less pain.

Imagine that.  Three to four years of less pain, once again becoming a functional member of society that much earlier, getting to actually live life instead of just endure pain and persevere.  Okay, now I am a bit angry. 

Of course, creating a new holistic branch of wellness, based upon objective, quantifiable criteria is the ultimate goal of this endeavor.  A noble quest, no?

That it may eventually keep people from having to pay Kaiser millions would just be a little gravy on top.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Jinx Effect

[A moderately silly one, but I did put it together in my head while SLOWLY jogging home from the pool.  So I chalk another one up in the "brain beginning to show signs of functioning" column.  On the physical front, things have been progressing quite significantly over the past few weeks, especially in my right shoulder and hips.  So much movement, or "adjustments," that they can be left in postures never before attainable, which I presume to be much closer to "normal" than ever.  Muscle memory still pulls them back, but it is huge progress, nonetheless.]

I do not believe in coincidence.

This is not to say that I see a direct (or even indirect) relationships between any two variables with something in common.  I just think that if you extrapolate back far enough, a "coincidence" just is what it is, two things happening with some common nexus.

Take the jinx, for example.  Better yet, I'll use the "announcer's jinx."  A sportscast announcer points out that the basketball player taking a free throw has made his last 23 free throws, and on cue, the player misses the next one.  Or rather, a mlb baseball team has pitched 38 scoreless innings against a rival club, the announcers bring it up and show the club record which will occur with one more scoreless inning, and on cue, the rival team scores moments later.  In both instances, the fans blame the announcers.

I know I do.

Yet, when a player has made 23 consecutive free throws, he is due to miss.  When a baseball team has kept another team scoreless for 38 innings, runs are definitely on the horizon.  Humans are playing the games, after all, and straight statistics do not apply. 

It is not like rolling a six sided die where you always have a 5 out of 6 chance to not roll a certain number (or better yet, it's not this classic from Tom Stoppard - skip the 13 seconds of credits if you are impatient, and enjoy).  More variables than chance are in play.  Notably, the players tend to be aware of the streak, interfering with their normal routine mentally and thereby physically.

*     *     *     *     *

This takes me back to last night, talking to a fellow parent at our children's swim class, which takes place at the aquatics facility where I swim.  Because of some nexus, I told her about my first swimming experience at the pool . . .

I had been in dire need of swimming for physical therapy purposes for some time, nearly two years.  The drive to the Sacramento YMCA had become too much to handle long ago.  The new local high school had been under construction for nearly three years (the location of the aquatics facility), and I had patiently awaited the pool's public opening, though I grew excitedly anxious (or anxiously excited) as the opening approached.

I was there on day one, a cold and rainy mid-morning I wouldn't even consider going out in now.  I drove there, put on my swim suit in the new shiny locker room (what an upgrade from the YMCA!), and quickly slid into the pool to get out of the cold and rain.  Back in the water, I felt hope again.

Not three laps into warming up, some kid in the adjacent school pulled the fire alarm.  Coincidence or a predictable happenstance given several mid-term exams had been scheduled for the day?

I had to get out of the pool.  I grabbed my towel, and headed for the parking lot, where the towel, already soaked by me, became more wet and cold from the rain.  I started to freeze.  Fortunately, only two of us had been swimming right when the pool opened, and the lifeguard was able to run in and grab an extra parka for each of us. 

So I only half froze, having a miserable experience both mentally and physically for my first day at the new pool.

Granted, I did not go nearly into this amount of detail when I told the tale last night.  Yet, as I have no real friends other than my wife's friends (of which this was one), she listened politely as I blathered.

*     *     *     *     *

And so I come back to jinxes and coincidence after the fire alarm went off again this morning during my swim, a half day after I brought up the tale, which I had not spoken of in three years or more.

The San Francisco Giants are playing an afternoon game today (right now, actually, and losing - sigh).  I headed to the pool early to be sure and make it home to watch Hunter Pence in his second game as a Giant.  Things were going so well at the pool, too.  I started with an 800m Breaststroke (I usually go only 300m to 500m) and then 500m of kicking.  I was getting ready to not only do my first mile total in quite some time, I was thinking about 2000m total. 

Then, the alarm . . .

And on top of it, I was late home for the start of the game.

*     *     *     *     *

As I sat in the grass outside the aquatic center waiting for the fire truck to come and give the okay to return to the pool (unlike everyone else, I refused to go out into the parking lot barefoot and without glasses), I could not help but realize I caused the alarm.  A jinx.

Now, I don't believe in coincidence.  Yet, school was not in session, not even summer school.

Clearly, I just need more information to extrapolate back and see the rationality of it all.  Yet, knowing this hasn't stop me from wondering if someone running The Matrix is messing with me.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Do You See What I See?

[This may not be one of my better posts, but it is one I am proud of.  I was able to envision the entire entry in my mind before writing it, something I have not been able to do in a very long time.  In the past, I could have made an outline, flushed out my preferred prose, and written something I objectively decent from most literary perspectives.  I still don't have that ability.  Several "ideas" have been started as posts which have gone unpublished.  Once the idea inspiration passes, I find it impossible to get it back.  There are just too few moments when I physically can write and think and plan seriously, such that editing is pretty much a "wrote it, scanned it, spell checked it" process.  Still, I think this one shows I may return to form some day.]

A friend (I fear long lost) and I used to have a running joke based on a scene from a mutual favorite film, Catch-22.

"Do you see what I see?"
"A naked man in a tree?"
"Yeah."
"That's just Yossarian."

Whenever something worth pointing out to the other was noticed, some form of "Do you see what I see?" would be asked.  The question, "A naked man in a tree?" was always the response.  Then, we'd get onto whatever was worth looking at.  It eventually evolved into just pointing out the naked man in a tree, and later into just saying, "Is that Yossarion?" instead of "Look at that."

I like how an inside joke can evolve, becoming truly obscure to those not "in" on it.

-     -     -     -     -

Well, I didn't really start this post to bring up an old inside joke.  I want to write about a portion of the "misunderstanding" I had with the Psychology Department at Kaiser Permanente so long ago.

At one point, the pseudo-doctors, so certain I was hallucinating the FACT that my height had increased by an inch and a half, requested that I take a personality test.  They lied, again, telling me about the possibility of pain killing drugs after I jumped through their hoop.  They likely presumed the test would confirm that I was psychotic and delusional.  I took the test.

Quite early on, I had to ask for clarification. 

One of the first questions had been, "Do you hear things other people don't here?"  (Note - I studied Cognitive Psychology, the hard wiring, not the subjective aspects of psych, not in any detail, anyways.)  I was supposed to answer the question with one of 4 responses, basically an "all the time" or "none of the time" spectrum.

I answered sometimes.  I have pretty good hearing.  I pick up on sounds my wife does not, from birds in the back yard to the water dripping into the ice maker.

Shortly thereafter, the test asked, "Do you see things other people don't see?"  This is when I asked for clarification.

"Is it asking if I see things that others can't see?  Like "I see dead people?  Or is it . . . "

He cut me off and said, "just go with whatever came first to your mind."

I answered "all the time."  That probably did not help my cause.

-     -     -     -     -

Let me be clear.  I don't see dead people.

My first impression of the question defined "see" to mean comprehend.  It wasn't just about visual stimuli.  It was what such stimuli made me think, made me realize, understand, and even theorize.

An example relevant to my long term goals with this blog:

Consider Muslim prayer.  What do you see?

I see a correlation, a similarity, between the physical prostate position performed in Muslim prayer and the "Child's Pose" position of yoga.

Now, for purposes of answering "Do you see things other people don't see?," I presume most people do not identify the similarities in the physical positions of the two actions when they view just Muslim Prayer.

Yet, that is not all I "see."

I see an act of submission within the prayer, a surrender to one's God, an act which greatly relaxes the body as well as the mind.  A very goal of child's pose is the relaxation of the body and mind.  I have even heard the phrase "surrender to air" used in trying to help one achieve Child's Pose.  I presume, of the few people that actually did notice this correlation between Muslim prayer and Child's pose, most thought of it as coincidental.  I don't believe in coincidence.

I see two spiritual practices likely evolved from a common ancient practice. 

I theorize that this common practice would strongly mirror my beliefs about balance, physical balance within the body and the effects it has, not only on the mind, but on physical health as well.  I theorize that what I have realized relatively recently about balance is nothing "new" at all.  It is ancient, and known by many.  As practices evolved, however, people lost sight of the original knowledge.  They never learned the true origin of their practices.

Do you see the naked man in the tree?

Monday, July 23, 2012

My Working Vacation

[Okay.  The title may be stretching obscurity even for me.  I am not doing a good job at documenting specifics of my changes lately.  There have been too many, with little time in between, giving no time to sit and write.  I expect this to continue for some time.  If I can, I shall make short notes I can decipher later, but that has always been difficult.  When concepts are difficult to articulate in the first place, making a short notation and expecting to be able to remember enough specifics at a later time is nearly impossible.  I could probably do better if I ceased any and all moments of personal entertainment (TV or Internet), but that would probably drive even more insane than I already am.  I so need a vacation from myself.]

Four days in San Diego, the beach, the parks, more parks (the daughter is 5, after all), the hotel pool and spa, and of course, shopping.  A vacation away from the hell of the Valley.

Well, it's a vacation for my wife and daughter.  I'm still here.  The idea of air travel, even a short flight (and the possibility of being stuck on the tarmac) terrifies me.  A car is bad enough.  Plus, since learning I have Sjogren's Syndrome, my misery on previous plane flights before my 30s, (or car trips using the A/C for that matter) became clear.  Kinda like a frog, you dry out the air around me and I suffer.

So, an inability to be confined to a seat for extended periods combined with being extra-vulnerable to my surroundings, and plane travel just doesn't happen, at least for now.  You'd also be correct if you pieced together why I consider this Sacramento Valley the equivalent of hell.  It's hot and dry, or freezing and dry, or freezing with tulle fog, or windy and dry.  Windy and dry is the worst.  I miss coastal fog, so much.

Anyways . . .

The house is mine, along with the dog (she has yet to leave the front window, however, awaiting the girls return, and it has not even been a day), so even in that respect I am alone.

In days of old, the idea of having the house to myself would have resulted in "Man Cave" living, sports TV, video games, beer, whiskey, maybe other non-prescription medicinals, the recliner, pizza, ice cream, and a cranked up stereo.

I still have the sports and stereo (Rolling Stones playing now), and some medicinals, unfortunately, prescription pain killers that do not include marijuana, a non-prescription drug of choice for a time.  I may miss marijuana as much as I miss coastal fog.  [Mental Note - I must do an post on the Led Zeppelin question, "Are you dizzy when you're stoned?"]

Instead, this respite from family has become a work intensive marathon.

Normally, my day starts as the kid goes to school and the wife goes to work.  I do some rehab exercise of one form or another, lasting anywhere from a half hour to three hours or even more if I am up to it.  Then, I am recovering from the exertion, pretty much the remainder of the day.  On good days, I am able to do some "adjustments" in these hours after exercise while I recover.  Though, in truth, the "adjustments" take a toll on me as well, sometimes quite significant, which requires further recovery time.

Written of before, I call them "adjustments," my attempts to unwind, to find my balance, to work the fold(s) - See Seat Belt Metaphor - to continue undoing the damage of a life lived contorted and perverted out of balance, which had likely been exacerbated by a childhood injury.  As yet, unless I acheive a substantial physical change (which there have been several), these "adjustments" appear to be subluxation of joints to casual (or medical) observer, sometimes even to a degree of total dislocation of joints, with no objectively noticeable purpose, while clearly causing discomfort and pain to accomplish.

During these hours when I "adjust," it most definitely becomes compulsive.  I try variation after variation, sometimes trying to repeat a motion with greater extension, sometimes trying to envision, then attempt, all new motions previously believed impossible (or simply never attempted such that my body finds the motion completely new, using a muscle the way it should be used, but in a way it never has been used - like trying to wiggle one's ears if you never have).  I start with just a few, then find some success or get new ideas or retry old ones, and invariably find myself losing sight of time, engrossed in constant attempts to ease tensions and find balance, oblivious to everything save physical sensations and attempted movements.

On the few occasions I have spent significant time with people outside the family (like a trip to Reno with my wife's close friends and our children), it became very apparent that an individual subluxing or dislocating his arms and legs, intentionally, is disquieting to others, even frightening when it begins to occur compulsively.  This is one reason I avoid other people and outings.  It is just hard, and painful over time, to keep still.  Also, like many things, it is difficult to try (as in focus on a new motion) when others are watching.

The same is true in front of my own family, though my wife has worn a brave face for so long, and I try not to do much in front them, especially the 5 year old.  Hell, I nearly had a nervous breakdown when she tried to copy a few of the things Daddy does (I'm so glad she finally understands they are not fun).  And while I often must walk to a different room to attempt to release tension or untweak a body part as a result of being too still for too long, for the most part, I do not allow myself to get anywhere near compulsive "adjustments" while my family is home.

As such, my normal "adjustment" period follows a Bell curve on their work/school days, with little done on most weekends.  The "adjustments" gets more intense as it gets compulsive, until the apex, where I realize I need to stop before my family gets home.  Compulsive movements don't stop easily, so it takes effort and meditative relaxation, which tends to still include moments of "adjusting" such as to be represented by the back side of the Bell curve.

On a good day, I rehab, "adjust" with some tangible or subjective success, and cease any compulsive movements before the family gets home. 

While I define what is happening to me, or rather, what I am doing, in a variety of ways (whether as an ultimate goal to be attained or as an unstoppable progression that simply will work out eventually after having broken the proverbial levee so many years ago), I often consider this my job.  It is, I believe, the only way I can become not only useful, but possibly even healthy.  The more I put in, the faster I will reach the end game, whatever that may be.

This is why I now find myself on a working vacation. 

Free of family, I have spent easily 16 of the last 22 hours doing rehab exercises or "adjusting" (to claim 6 hours of sleep may be a stretch, however), and I fear the only thing that will stop me from working during the next 80+ hours of their vacation is exhaustion, even though I know there will be a price for such a marathon.  I'm probably going to be really, really sore, most likely in substantial pain, for a week or more once my family returns. 

But how can I let this is a window of opportunity, in a Summer that has not allowed me much rehab time, pass without making the most of it?  I am compelled to invite compulsion.

Of course, we plan to hit the State Fair on Friday after their return.  It is probably our only chance this year given other schedulings, and one of the few close outings of substance I can attend, just walking around. 

So, if you see a guy at the State Fair on Friday, most likely wearing a Cal cap or sun hat on his head, Vibram Fivefingers on his feet, limping or at least walking oddly, with noticeable side effects from Adderall and Vicodine (can't imagine how else I'll manage the outing), with a wife and kid in tow (well, they'll be towing me), that will be yours truly.  Feel free to say, "Moo," and introduce yourself.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Why I Finally Appreciate The One Percent

[Some house keeping, it's been a hellish month - trip to Mom's with the kid throwing up the entire final night, me getting violently ill shortly after returning home (on no sleep), weather changes, and some of the more significant dislocations yet by even the most minor of contacts (my daughter becoming afraid to sit on my lap).  There have been some ups - a spa giving me more time without so much gravity, great progress in shoulders and substantial freedom in the hips (which of course does correlate with some of the dislocations).  Nevertheless, I've been miserable.  I've only managed to swim 4 times in the past three weeks, and my weight remains 20 pounds north of my lesser target.  Feeling decent today, however, so I've been surfing the Net, and the following dawned on me, a Modest Proposal of sorts.]

First, I am a hybrid Socialist.  I believe in many tenants of Capitalism, like rewarding hard work.  I especially believe in reaping the rewards of innovation.  Yet, I am offended by the "free" market.  I detest the lies of advertising, and I loath that entire groups of individuals are taken advantage of legally.  I believe there should be minimum quality of life assurances for all in a country blessed with our technologies. 

I, too, am (well, was) a lawyer, and I read the preamble to the Constitution as more insightful than many of the specific language snippets the Court defines on it's own, like Due Process or Equal Protection.  I believe the document is meant to "form a more perfect Union," to "promote the general Welfare," and to "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Prosperity," not to allow corporations to steer the discussions of political debate and besically stymie our government while abusing the people and land for profits.

And until today, I hated the 1%.  I hated the disparity of wealth.  I hated that so many suffered so so few could have so much more than they could ever need.

That was until today.  Now, I have new found compassion.

Sure, millions and millions of us suffer, literally suffer, physically, mentally, emotionally, and economically.  But stop being so selfish and think about the money for once.

While there are millions of Americans, there are billions, no, trillions, of Dollars.  Shouldn't we keep the Dollar's interests in mind?

When I get my hands on a Dollar, more often than not, I just spend it.  I hand it over to others so easily, in trade for such transitory items like food or electricity.  I've even handed over 14 individual Dollars for a mere 2 hours of watching a poorly written story being expressed on a large screen in a foul smelling movie theater with sticky floors.

Does the Dollar deserve such treatment?

Consider the 1%.  They LOVE their Dollars.  They hate giving them up, and for the most part, they never do.

If you were a Dollar, would you want to be in the hands of some ordinary slob that will give you away within days or hours of acquiring you?  Or would you rather be loved?  Would you rather be held tightly and guarded forever, considered more important by your possessor then the quality of life of those few Americans?

Just as Spock said, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

Who are we to deny love to trillions of Dollars, we measly millions of Americans?

Let the 1% love them as we never could.  Embrace the Plutocracy if you care for the Dollar at all, if you call yourself an American.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lost, . . . , Sorta

[Pain.  My left hip is screaming every time I stand, apparently wrong.  My latest mental image is to be a skinny guy in a fat suit.  When I do it right, I can stand up without pain.  I can jog, still, real slow, but the motion feels more "right" in some way, the fat suit bouncing around me.  It allows my pelvic angle to be better, I believe, but also has the aesthetic detriment of a serious gut hanging down.  I almost look like someone that has lost a ton of weight and has loose skin, but I have not lost much weight.  Anyways, . . . , muscle memory is causing great pain, and my mind is too spent to focus constantly of proper movement.  It sucks, and I feel like I have lost my way, almost.  Reminding me . . . ]

In 1995 I was a member of the King's Canyon Roaring River Trail Crew through AmeriCorps, one of the truly most wonderful things I have ever done, where I lasted 3 months living out of my tent doing trail work.  That winter had been a deluge in Northern California, and we actually spent the 4th of July camped out on 3 feet of snow at 9,000 feet.  Things had not melted.  It was awesome.

A ridiculous number of trees had fallen because of so much snow, seemingly across every hundred yards or so of trail, and I found myself as part of a spike crew with the task of clearing a 20 mile section of impediments.  We separated from the main trail crew, four of us, and went "camping, with tools" out on our own.  When I think of all the hiking, over passes, 80 pounds of gear in my pack, plus water, plus a 6 foot bar chain saw over a shoulder, all done with a perverted body, I wonder how much damage, how much engrained, incorrect, muscle memory, was created or strengthened in those 3 months.

Anyways, after just the first day, we realized we did not bring nearly enough gasoline.  I was the fastest hiker, so I would set back to the horse corral for gas the next morning, fast as I could, to get the gas we would need to cut through the downed trees.

As you can guess, I got lost.  Kinda.  I had managed to miss a switch-back coming down one of the passes.  I realized it when I was suddenly in the middle of a meadow.  None of the trails out had gone through a meadow.  I was on a cattle or deer trail.

I did not want to back track.  I knew the general direction I needed to go.  I also knew I would eventually hit a stream to my left, which would get me to a trail I knew, or back on the trail I had left somewhere to my right.  So, I just started walking, certain I'd hit one of the two sooner or later.

Later came, and so did doubts.  I never actually got afraid, but I got close.  While the worst case scenario was bad, I had never stopped believing I would hit one of the two ways back to where I was going.  I had left all my gear at the spike camp - having an empty pack for the needed gas and some water.  I didn't have much with me.

But I did begin to have doubts.

I didn't like that feeling.  I knew I had not crossed a stream and that the trail I had left was to my right.  There was just no way I was lost, not lost lost.  I was just kinda sorta lost, and I had walked easily 4-5 miles without regaining my bearings, which did not really fit, unfortunately.  Again, I did not have fear, but I could feel fear coming around the bend if I didn't find my way soon.

*     *     *     *     *

That's how I feel now.  I'm having intense new sensations, every day.  I even did full on backstroke in the pool today.  At one point during the swim, my right shoulder felt like it was in the right spot for a short time.  Yet, there is so much pain, and I seem to move wrong, the way my muscles want me to move, the way they have always moved, in ways that cause pain, every moment I let my gaurd down, and I am exausted.

The progress is there, though, so it is much like knowing I am not lost lost.  However, I am unable to keep my bearings.  I can't make a plan, or remember one once made, and I keep hurting myself by just standing up.  So, I have doubts.  I'm just kinda sorta lost.

*     *     *     *     *

Well, I am hopeful it turns out like my hike to the horse corral to get gas did.  As you can guess, I made it back.  It turned out my "guess" as to which direction to walk was spot on, and I was walking parallel to the trail I had left, so it was a long time until I was back on it. 

Worth telling, I reached the corral, got the gas, and loaded up my pack.  When I started to put the backpack on, the mule packer (one salty SOB - loved that guy), said, "What the hell are you doing?"

"I've got to get back out there, they'll be out of gas soon," I replied, ready to haul ass the 15 miles to where I left my co-workers.

"I know," the packer said.  "I'll pack you out."

"I never rode a horse," I pointed out, meekly.  I was a fast hiker, and was about to say I'd just go on my own when he cut me off.

"You will today."

And that was how I ended up having my only ride upon a horse, a large pale male named Dick.  We went 12 of the 15 miles before he dropped me off.  We crossed three streams and several snow drifts (one of the streams was covered with snow and ice).  I only pissed Dick off a couple times, not leaning forward enough at certain moments.  The views were amazing, having a new perspective 6 feet above what I was so used to, in some or the Sierra's best.

An unforgettable moment, one of the packer's dogs was bugging one of the pack mules, directly in front of me.  The mule did a sideways kick that sent the dog flying, literally 15 feet, up the side of an embankment.  "Dammit, [dog name]," said the packer, "will you ever learn?"

I've never wanted to ride a horse again.  There is just no way it could top that memory.

I'm hoping a similarly incredible payoff is awaiting me when regain my bearings with regards to my rehabilitation.

But for now . . .

Thursday, June 21, 2012

An Apology To The Intelligent Gang BANGers OR Comment Section Blues (Part II)

[It's been a tough stretch.  The spawn is in a half day summer camp, making me do the parent thing from noon to 7:00 this week, also meaning I have not swam or exercised in 6 days.  Aside from a momentary nuclear meltdown over my child opening the front door for a stranger (thank R'hllor the dog didn't attack the poor salesman), I've held up decently with the help of my good friend Mr. Codeine, though I really need time in the pool and less gravity pulling on my limbs.  When the meds wear off, I'm praying for the week to end.  Anyways, . . . , I got a few inquiries as to my absence of late from the Giants Extra comment section, so here is a polite version of a response.  The apparently impolite version, which was my last post in said comment section, did not get posted after it's submission a few weeks ago.]

I have issues.  This is no secret.

One issue that has plagued me for over a decade now is pretty simple.  I hate being misunderstood.  I become frustrated when my position is misinterpreted.

A more complicated version evolved from my realization that true communication is nearly impossible.  So many, too many, words mean different things to different people.  Even when they think they understand each other, they do not.  When the written word is used, such that voice inflection and facial expression are absent, this inability to communicate is greatly exacerbated.

Make no mistake.  I hold much blame myself, unable to craft my prose as I wish, especially when the pain is winning or, in the alternative, the pain killing drugs are winning, as they are now.  It is not as simple as arguing others fail to comprehend me.  I am often incomprehensible.  Yet, I do know the fault is often not totally my own.

I struggle greatly with this phenomenon.  It is a major block for me when I try to explain my condition.  For example, I often feel like a kinked Slinky (a metal one, not the plastic ones that no longer kink which they sell now).  You may be able to conceptualize what certain aspects of this feeling is like, but unless you become like me yourself, which I do not recommend at present, you will never understand, no matter how well I can describe the sensations.

It is very important to note that even the smartest of individuals will suffer from this inability to communicate truly with one another.  Yet, when stupidity, or ignorance, or a complete lack of imagination, or the inability to empathize at any level whatsoever enters the equation . . .

Or worse, when the individual one tries to communicate with is merely waiting for their turn to respond (or cleverly retort) rather than actually trying to understand the expressed opinion . . .

Well, that puts me over the edge.

And so, after I had included in one of my posts in the comment section of Giants Extra, a blog for the San Francisco Giants through the Bay Area News Group (BANG, hence this post's title), that one reason I express some of my ideas is that they may actually make a difference, I was replied to with a comment starting with the most miserable and unintelligent of phrases, "I'm not saying you are delusional, but that comment was delusional."

I had enough, on so many levels.  Never mind that the idiot failed to realize that, it being my honest opinion, my idea which I believed in, he was calling me delusional, something I have an entirely different set of issues with.  Never mind that the idiot lacked the intelligence to conceptualize the manner in which an idea can spread, read by one, mentioned to another, and so on, until it reaches an ear that may actually have a voice in the organization.  A good idea can travel.  Never mind that the idiot presumed, after years of interacting with me, that I must have believed Bruce Bochy read the comment section for my posts, which would be delusional.  The idiot didn't bother to think at all.

I was pointing at the moon.  The idiot thought I wanted him to look at my finger.

I became exasperated.  I ranted, then clicked submit.  Only days later did I see the post never got past moderation for some reason (perhaps the idiot DOES have connections, as I have theorized, the shill).

I miss good discussions on things Giant related, where the points are whittled down to as close to a meeting of the minds as two can reach, especially in the written medium.  Yet, I do not miss being misunderstood, especially when I would sometimes spend significant energy trying to phrase a comment properly to best express myself.  I really do not miss being disrespected through responses that did not even try to understand what I had written.  My brain has been much quieter since I stopped reading the comment section.

It is a personal fault that I cannot "let go" when my position gets misunderstood or mischaracterized, especially by those I respect and enjoy trying to interact with.  Because I cannot, just leaving has been the better solution.  I also don't get exposed to Sargento, which in and of itself should be enough for everyone to leave the blog.

I may well be back sooner or later, but I need a quiet mind for a while.  The body is screaming at me enough, lately.

On top of it all, I am beyond depressed.  Up 5-0 so early, and my wife wanting to record two shows, I missed Cain's perfect game.  It ripped a hole in my soul.  I had watched nearly every game he has pitched, or at least listened, even having a journal entry regarding his major league debut.  Now I don't even feel like a Giant fan.  I missed the rarest of events, by one of my favorite Giants ever.  At least my wife got her Next Top Cooking Show Chef Wannabe recorded [See, without voice inflection or the glazed look of abject disappointment that sits on my face like man who's dog just died, one might actually believe I find some consolation in my wife having recorded an imbicilic cooking show host competition.  When will there be a reality show host reality show competition?  I want royalties if that sentence leads to something.  I have to leave my daughter something.]

Anyways, to those I miss, to those that miss me (however hard that is for this friendless tool to actually imagine), I apologize for bailing in the manner I did.  I should have given word after learning my last post went unposted (or deleted?).  I'm not dead, though I may still wish it from time to time. 

Be well.  And if you really miss me that much, just write "fire Bochy" from me now and then.  I can't believe he and Bam Bam are actually getting credit for "turning Belt around."  Just unbelievable how stupid people to believe a Comcast aired classic Baer spun crock of crap like that.  Never mind the history.

I'm not going to post a link for this.  I figure those that get curious will find it sooner or later.

[Now, nearing 2:00 a.m., I have to go throw a rock at a bird that is driving me crazy, nightly.  I call it a "Car Alarm Bird" because it cycles through several different songs, just like an annoying car alarm.  The moonlight sets the damn thing off.  One of these nights, throwing a rock via echolocation into the tree behind my fence, I'm going to kill the damn thing, and not lose a bit of sleep over it.  In fact, I'll sleep better than I have in months, quite literally.]

Friday, June 8, 2012

I Sure Hope Stupidity Isn't An Accident

[Wow.  Just wow.]

I can't say why it took me so long, especially given that one of the songs I have most identified with throughout this entire process, the song I never believe I understood until this began, was certainly a topic of significant discussion on the Internet.  And yet, all this time, I never Googled The Beatles' While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

Seriously, I have listened to it over and over.  A classic, I have always loved it and it has been on many a mix tape since I got The Beatles CDs for my 16th birthday, shortly after the first set was available on the medium.  I made a pretty cool three piece set of the CD boxes, framed, which is probably one of the only pieces of "art" I covet.

The song lyrics fits way too well, that I was perverted and no one alerted me, that I was folded, that I had been diverted.  So much.  Give a listen.

And so I felt really stupid just minutes ago.  I finally typed "while my guitar gently weeps meaning" into the Google search engine and almost immediately found, though not confirmed, that it . . .

comes from a line George read in the I Ching that said something about "everything is relative to everything else, and nothing is coincidental."


It makes me wonder if people (like certain psychiatrists) thought I read the I Ching and came up with all this BS afterwards.

Sadly, no.  I am perverted and still unfolding, and until that first unfolding, I had no idea what that quote would have meant, really meant.  I do, too.  I know.

This has been just another in a long line of personal discoveries that reconfirms I have a quantification of these eastern ideas in my head which I must learn how to express objectively.  I get it.  I have for some time.  Explaining it, however, is an entirely different animal, and I have little faith in the possibility that my mushed and battered brain will be able to come up with profound prose along the lines of an ancient Chinese text.

It looks like I have some reading to do.  Time to order a copy of I Ching.

How in the world did I wait so long to look up that damn song?

I'll take solace in that it was no coincidence.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Quiet! Do You Smell That?

[A brief diversion, as I am far too tied up in the pain of adjustments and a drop in temperatures (just when I was getting going, too!), I'll jump into an alternative topic, though still somewhat connected by waves.  Just about everything I believe came from extrapolating backwards from some ideas I have with regards to waves which I shall get into at some later date.  This is separate, just a realization I had about the sense of smell.  You can run around the web after reading and see just how stupid so many blindly remain trapped by the theories in which they were raised.  NOTE - I had this realization without ever having learned any alternative theories existed.  It was new to me, though out there in some forms for a minority.]

Until I actually bothered to think about it for a moment on my own, using my own brain, I was like most college educated individuals (somewhat worse when you realize I studied Cognitive Psychology) that believed the sense of smell was particle based.  That is to say, it occurs when the olfactory system detects a particle suspended in the air which enters the nose.

All it took to change my mind was a single supposed fact - Sharks can smell a minute amount of blood in water from hundreds of meters away.  Here are some shark facts if you are curious.  As little as "one part per billion" from "hundreds of meters away from the source" is noted, and everyone with a TV has at some point heard of sharks smelling blood from great distances.

Now, with air, it is easy to envision minute particles from the stove top, drifting up with the heated vapors, slowly making their way through the house, until they find your nostrils.  Yum.

It is not possible, however, for a particle of blood to so diffuse through sea water.  Blood simply cannot diffuse hundreds of meters from the source within a few minutes, maybe not even in hours.  It just doesn't happen.

Drop some food coloring into a swimming pool and see for yourself.  Your eye will see no more than a few feet of disbursement in a minute.  How much further do you think small, non-visible, molecules could have travelled?  Does a child's pee in the shollow section of a giant lake reach your skin in small amounts 100 meters away instantaneously?  No.

A few conclusions can be drawn.  Either the tests that have been used to determine these tidbits about sharks are grossly incorrect and have nothing to do with olfaction (possible, though I doubt it), or, the sense of smell is based on the detection of waves emanating from the particle.

I originally presumed (and may still be correct) that the waves were simply reflections off of the particles.  After a brief reading of the theory of Luca Turin on the detection of a molecules frequency, the identification of molecular oscillation as smells, however, I found that the particles themselves may be the source of their own waves.  Yet, I am even more certain that wave detection of some sort is actually the source of olfaction.

Just something to think about.  Obviously, if a nose as poor as a human's smells toxic fumes, the responsible chemical is present, probably close by, likely suspended in the air to some degree.  You probably are inhaling some acetone as you walk by a finger nail parlor.  Yet, simply because you and nearly everyone else thought that the sense of smell was particle based does not make it so. 

Yes, yes, you don't get the wave without the particle (or do you? see the Turin article's final paragraph), but the point is that what our scientists believe about the most basic aspect of a primary sense can be called drastically into question by a commonly known fact about sharks, yet most everyone, especially the scientists, go right on believing what they were taught anyways.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Caught In A Loop

[Rough week, personally.  Issues, issues, issues.  I do have new thoughts with regards to my continued calf problems being related to my former walk, using too straight of legs (probably hyper extended for normal people) to go with too much toe usage, but that will have to wait for another time.  Still getting decent exercise, even with a few short injury breaks, and have lost a little weight (not enough!).  I'm hoping the oncoming heat will help me shed some real pounds.  While the ideal goal is to get below 190, I'm setting the bar lower (poor metaphor for having a larger number), at under 200 by the end of Summer, meaning I have 25+ pounds to lose.  We shall see.]

My poor brain is thinking itself into a corner.  Rather, I'm driving myself nutty by the circular manner in which I am questioning my own hypothesis.  Well, not exactly.  It is not a logical doubt, in my opinion, or even a logical loop.  I just keep thinking in terms of it being a loop because questioning myself got this whole thing started, and now it's my self I question. 

It has been so long, and my mind has become such mush, that I am faced with the reality that my hypothesis may be based on faulty assumptions.

First, however, I know (and I mean KNOW) that I both got taller and had major physical structural, postural, positional changes to my skeleton and how my muscles are situated in reference to them.  That is really beyond question.  I did not delude myself into always measuring 5' 9 1/2" for 14+ years.  While I could have imagined the other changes, my wife witnessed them as well, and I don't think she would have lied, especially not when Psych got involved while I was in agony.

Yet, I am stuck in a loop of doubt.

After much movement and adjustment, I sometimes become able to mentally picture (or rather, imagine) a "new" movement, like raising one portion of my shoulder while leaving another alone or "back."  After mentally picturing it, I become able to "almost" do it.  Sometimes it is near exactly what I imagined it would be, other times nearly the opposite but still "new" to me, and still other times it creates a wave (of sorts) which I can let my muscles ride into a new position. 

It has been like this since very early on, but I am not always able to focus enough to try it very often.  Worse, I am more often than not such a basket case I forget to try, even when I have been in great pain for extended periods such that I know I need to do something "new" because I have have reached a barrier.

And so it is that I now question whether my thoughts are allowing the movement or whether the thoughts make the delusion of movement possible.

I am confident I am not deluding myself, especially with the evidence I do have, but that doesn't stop the doubts.  It's just been too long, and I am so tired, all the time.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Karma's Karma

[The weather once again has turned, so no swim, though I did end up getting unbanned from the Giant fan site, which has given me something other to do but stare at this screen with writer's block.  Yet, before I run back to all things San Francisco Giants, I want to add another bit of foundation on how I view the nature of the brain.  The following is my paraphrasing of what I learned regarding karma in a Buddhist Psychology course with Eleanor Rosch way back in my Berkeley days.  - - -  The post did not come full circle how I hoped, or even stay quite on the point I intended, but it should serve, at least for now.]

To start, karma is not the "do good things and good things will happen to you" concept it is portrayed as by popular culture (Okay, it is that definition in that people define it that way in agreement with each other, but that is not what it means in terms of Eastern Philosophy).  Another popular reference karma is linked to is "What goes around comes around."  A more apt conceptualization would be "What goes around goes around, and around, and around."

Simply put, karma is habit. 

It is the idea that what one does will be done again.  The concept, in truth, is much more complicated than that.  In Eleanor Rosch's course Buddhist Psychology, she presented this idea of karma in great detail, using an ancient version of The Wheel of Karma, which went so far as to break down a habit into 12 steps.  We went through each step for a variety of habits, from the basic eating of Dorito after Dorito after Dorito, to how a person with a propensity to sabotage their own relationships maintains that cycle.  It is an exercise worth further consideration that I am sure you can find through some advanced Internet searching, should you be so intrigued.

For my purpose, the above is enough. 

Professor Rosch then gave us a way to think of Karma in basic terms, easy to understand.  We were told to think of any action or thought as riding a bicycle through soft, moist dirt, or mud.  The tires leaves an imprint.  That imprint gets deeper each time one rides along it, creating a deep groove.  That groove becomes difficult to escape once you enter it, and you have created a habit.

Therein, too, lies the key to breaking a habit.  If you identify the groove before entering it, it is much easier to avoid rather than trying to jump out of it after the tires are already well within groove.  Each time you avoid that groove, you are creating a new groove which avoids the old one.  In terms of a habit, each cigarette urge successfully avoided makes it a little easier to avoid the next urge.  You are creating the habit to not smoke. 

Life is a battle of habits.

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The above metaphor brought me an epiphany, laying the foundation for my desire to link Eastern Philosophy with the physical sciences of the West. 

"That imprint gets deeper each time one rides along it.

I could not help but see it precisely mirroring how a synapse is strengthened every time it fires, making it both more likely to fire and do so more strongly, each time similar stimuli is experienced, be it a physical sensation of a thought.  You will think what you thought before, from a hardwiring of the brain perspective.

Worth some contemplation, you can now envision how a physical sensation can then lead to a memory, which can then lead to a certain state of mind, all from a perspective of mapping synaptic connections.  This rabbit hole can go very deep, as the earlier example posed by Prof. Rosch regarding a propensity to sabotage a relationship can actually be mapped out, first theoretically, but maybe some day, through actual synaptic mapping.

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Take this into account when considering my previous post regarding the nature of thought.  The brain naturally ignores anomalous data, comfortably taking the path it has taken before.  Abandoning a theory is very much like breaking a habit.  In truth, the mind is stuck in a groove when it ignores anomalous data.  Just as you can create a new habit by not smoking when you have the urge, you can create the habit of questioning your presumptions.  You can train your brain to question everything.

In my opinion, this is the first step towards finding The Path, realizing so many paths exist.

[In case it takes a while to get where I am going eventually with this, here is a preview.  The nerves of the body which stimulate muscles are synapses, too.  The paradigm of synaptic strength and "habit" applies.  Any physical movement, any posture taken, creates a physical strengthening of the synapse responsible for it, thereby making it more likey to be repeated or maintained.  This is a way to think of "muscle memory" on a synaptic level.]

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Ultimate Paradigm of Thought

[Given I'm not spending time elsewhere, I can start at least trying to write out some of the theoretical aspects I plan to cover when I eventually try to write my book.  I am not going to go about citing references in this poor excuse for a writing exercise.  Where I can note I am using a theory that is not my own, I shall do so, but it should be noted that much of what I believe is nothing more than a combination and/or extrapolation of things I learned from other sources.  Nothing is "new" except for the manner in which ideas are organized, combined or broadened from different perspectives.  Last, I hope to keep this brief.  Just this idea alone is big enough to change Psychology, create a new branch of study, reinterpret volumes and volumes of data from a new perspective.]

When it comes to how we think and how we learn, there is really only one paradigm that applies.  It is the combination of The Structure of Scientific Revolution by Kuhn, and the concept of a neural network, best described through our attempts to create AI, artificial intelligence, or learning computers.

I will not get into each in detail here.  Consider this an intro type page to a set of chapters.

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Kuhn's book is a seriously tedious read. The actual lesson it intends to impart is very basic.  However, it is (or at least was) an attack on the scientific community, so he went through great lengths to give example after example after example in order to make his case.  The problem, which his own theory expresses, was that people would challenge many of the individual findings, as if he had called Newton an imbecile for being wrong (Newton not being entirely correct was the issue), instead of seeing what he had expressed on the broad scale.

Basically, any accepted scientific theory will have a devout following.  They will disregard anomalous data.  Eventually, the amount of anomalous data becomes great, such that a new theory is created which abandons or incorporates the previous theory.  Over a short period of time, it becomes accepted.  I'd say look no further than "Climate Change" for an example you have most likely lived through.  Now widely accepted, early theories on the topic were disregarded out of hand, even laughed at.

WARNING - Anyone that sites Kuhn (including myself) and The Structure of Scientific Revolution has not made their case simply by doing so.  Truly, it only stands for the proposition that anomalous data will be disregarded.  It does not mean an new theory which incorporates the data is correct, only that the theory MAY be correct, the next step in the evolution of understanding within a certain topic.  So, when someone argues Ancient Aliens, it is their actual argument that must be the basis of their theory, not simply citing Kuhn and pointing to structures that can not be built even with today's technology.

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A computer neural network would take me too long to explain.  Basically, multiple connections at several different levels link an input to an output.  As the computer is "taught" to recognize data for desired outputs (a bomb/mine vs. rock program fits best, sonar feedback being interpreted as metal or rock), the various connections are "weighted," some given more strength than others, until the machine can tell if an object is a rock or metal without further adjustments.

This is exactly like the brain, with synapses taking the place of connections, only on a much grander than imaginable scale.  Each synaptic firing strengthens the synapse, and just as a neural network connection is "weighted" for an output, the synapses become "weighted" through the trial and error of the human.

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When combined, virtually every aspect of thought can be expressed, which is why I consider their combination the ultimate paradigm of thought.

Consider depth perception.  The brain first only has inputs it does not comprehend.  Moving pictures the baby perceives as reality.  Over time, the arms waved in front of the eyes, hitting objects, or the recognition of size to proximity of a mother or her breast, creates a new theory.

More apt would be object permanence, given the child is easier to comprehend at that time.  Before becoming aware of object permanence (before the "revolution" of the child's theory of the world), an item disappears when out of view.  Visual stimuli, data, of an item suddenly not apparent is believed gone.  It is not even questioned.  Just like Kuhn's paradigm, however, the anomalous data is eventually confronted by the brain and a new theory of the world evolves, object permanence.

A conceptual take would be the original application of Sabermetrics in baseball compared to the historical reliance on scouting and the disregard for certain statistics.  Watch Moneyball for the gist.

The ultimate realization is that everything you know and believe fits into this category, not merely cognitive psychological issues and "theories" about specific topics.  Everything, every argument you make, every opinion you have, to some extent or another will disregard "anomalous data" that does not fit within your own ideas (yes, presuming any "anomalous data" has actually been presented, because you may be entirely correct given the limited amount you know, or the scope of the concept is so small, like 2 + 2 = 4, to have further data) until you consciously confront the anomalous data, perhaps being taught something new or being convinced of something by someone else.  Then, you develop a new way to look at topic, develop a new opinion, create a new theory.

Basically, though I know I have not flushed it out well, two certainties exist. 

First, you can always gather more data and attempt to identify things which you have, until that point, disregarded.  There may be data you perceive as anomalous and disregard (which makes it hard to identify, doesn't it?).  This can be accomplished by always trying to identify your own presumptions and questioning them with regards to any other information presented.  Of note, the very nature of synaptic connections will reinforce the manner one questions their own thoughts, making the adage "question everything," taught to me by Laura Nader, a path of wisdom.

Second, everything you think you know is wrong, at least partially, at some level, so long as anomalous data exists.  ["I'm looking at you, physicists that claim dark matter means they completely understand the universe through math!"]