A walk to the park.

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After the stress of yesterday, today was a walk in the park. After a brief update of my medical condition with my dudes, as I didn’t want them to worry about nothing I headed over to my Tuesday morning discussion group. It was smaller than usual with only eight people attending, but the conversation was lively, as usual. We tried to discuss how to relate with people we are presently involved with, in the moment, with whom we have some fundamental social differences. My example was of an obese woman I once observed putting Coke in her baby’s nursing bottle. Another example was of people driving huge gas-guzzling pickups and thus using up our common resources of air and fuel just to show off. It seemed almost everyone was a little disturbed by my examples but were more concerned with my being judgmental and felt that I would feel better if I just ignored those things which I found unpleasant.

I worked for a while in my garden, and read for a while, and then Debbie and went for our afternoon walk. I took a few photos with my iPhone.

Hollinshed Bend, Oregon park table

Here is our park bench just before dogs and people arrive.

Hollinshed park irrigation ditch

The irrigation ditch dam is not far from the bench.

Rain clouds

Some clouds over our head looked menacing; then it rained.

Rain clouds

The same clouds morphing.

Dark clouds

They change a little more, as clouds and life will do.

A garden path with design rocks

Hollinshead garden with our bench just visible over the fence

It was a calm day and we survived intact.

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Yet another Portland experience.

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The VA wanted me to come over for a consultation with yet another doctor. This was related to some pains in my right foot. I am already seeing a podiatrist in Bend but they wanted to make some x-rays and possibly other things, although I only ended up with a five-minute consultation and about five minutes in the x-ray room (45.4973, -122.6837). For that service, I had a five-hour drive both ways and an overnight in a motel (45.4606, -122.7086). The supposed driving time is less, but by the time I was actually parked in front of Powell’s Bookstore it had been four hours and forty-five minutes and by the time I had my coffee and was sitting down (45.5232, -122.6819) it was a full five hours.

I was meeting my niece and her daughter there at five so the brief stops at the two official rest stops along the way were the only delays. Those two stops were the only ones, except for the seemingly inevitable stops of traffic, even freeway traffic crawls and stops, when you are near Portland. I had a wonderful conversation with my relatives and I discovered things about myself that I didn’t know. WOW things. Doing the 23andMe genetic exploration of one’s DNA can have some unusual and unexpected twists.

The five-hour drive back was more leisurely with no unintended rush-hour STOP events, just a 15-minute delay where there were road repairs going on.  We did have a planned basket lunch at the Maples rest stop (44.7552, -122.3876) on highway 22. It was okay but a bit crowded. I had noticed a turnoff to a Detroit State Park when going to Portland yesterday, so we also stopped there for a half-hour walk. It was very nice and we had it all to ourselves.

Detroit Lake, Oregon

Detroit lakeside trail with a rustic lunch table.

Panoramic photo from a boat dock on Detroit Lake (44.7279, -122.1758)

Debbie and I sitting on our bench in Hollinshead Park with a sunshine halo. 44.0707, -121.2875

It was a beautiful day but tiring and now it’s time for a hot bath.

 

 

Yes! I can choose to do that!

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Yes! I can choose to do that!
I can choose:                                                    Yes! I did that.

To go for walks before meals and guide my attention toward healthy, beautiful things. . . T . T . .
When sitting down to eat to make the area quiet and pleasant. . . : . : . .
During meals and at other quiet times to turn off the TV, radio, and phone. . . : . : . .
When putting meals together to mix textures, colors, tastes and small serving size. . . : . : . .
When at restaurants to share my food with my companions and they with me. . . : . : . .
To eat breakfast a little later and dinner a little earlier and no snacks at night. . . : . : . .
When entering my bedroom to make it dark, quiet, cool, and to prewarm my bed. . . : . : . .
A few stronger tips I might use for adjusting my stress level and weight too
If I am hungry before a mealtime to go for a fast walk and praise the beautiful things. . . : . : . .
Just after getting up in the morning to weigh myself and track my progress. . . : . : . .
When offered caloric beverages like beer or soda to replace them with coffee or tea. . . : . : . .
At the end of a meal to calm my desire to keep eating by going to another room. . . : . : . .
Before eating to make sure there is a selection of fruits and nuts on the table. . . : . : . .
When served processed foods, to ask for more vegetables, salads, fruits, and nuts. . . : . : . .
To eat more fiber, slow digesting plant-based foods, protein-rich nuts and smoothies. . . : . : . .
To be gracious at parties by accepting a drink and a snack, but then only ice tea. . . : . : . .
To ignore food by storing all food, smells of food, even pictures of food out of sight. . . : . : . .
When at big meals to adjust my belt a notch tighter rather than looser. . . : . : . .
To go to bed every night at the same time by setting my alarm clock for bedtime. . . : . : . .
Some tips to consider when I am even more eager to approach my ideal weight
Before a daily meal, to take a short fast walk and a long calm walk weekly. . . : . : . .
To eat and drink as much as I want from 12 noon until 6 pm, but nothing at other times.. . : . : . .
Beside my nightly fast, to fast once a month for a day, and once a year for two days. . . : . : . .
To meet every day with friends and have a quiet conversation. . . : . : . .
To use these simple tips to become healthier, happier, wiser and wealthier. . . : . : . .

Out of contact with reality.

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It seems that everyone I observe is out of contact with reality. Perhaps I’m the worst! There was a saying even when I was a child, “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?” How right they were and I knew it from the beginning. I had numerous opportunities to make big money, but it always seemed like a distraction. To be a commercial airline pilot would have been a top-dollar job, and with my Air Force pilot training all I had to do to get that job was say … yes. But after flying cool airplanes I didn’t want to be a bus driver in the sky. I could have kept my job as a college teacher, and probably moved up the salary scale, but one of my lunch companions who was older and teaching different but similar subjects was bored stiff. I didn’t want to go where he was and moved on. Then I had a business in downtown San Francisco and knew some of the right people, but that wasn’t for me either. A few of my 1960s buddies became wealthy in the tech world, and a few famous too. Nah.

And much more. As I look back on it my problem was that my interests were too esoteric. Who would waste years trying to save the world from the H-bomb, or years trying to be unquestionably peaceful in my affiliations with the Unitarian folks and Channing Club? Ah yes, in the radical 60s the goal was peace, and almost all the protesters were amazingly peaceful even in riots. I did have my run-ins with the Berkeley police, but after my various associations with the City Council, the Chief of Police actually had the political pull to get me into Boalt Hall law school and a political career. I don’t think I could have handled that, but the opportunity was there to get started if I had said yes.

I spent a huge amount of time pursuing Sir Francis Drake’s relationship with the West coast which led to the Drake Plate of Brass hoax. After I figured out that the hoax was perpetrated by Conan Doyle it precipitated a couple of years of successful pursuit of his many other crimes. That was engaging of my mental facilities. Pursuing the most famous writer of all time—he has more movies and TV shows of his works by far than Shakespeare—gave me opportunities for intellectual fun that no other human has ever experienced. I have fond memories of several ah-ha moments … the exact time and place, and the instant realization that I was right about some peculiar thing. That is how I used my time and life.

Among the people I know, some this morning were talking about their near-death experiences mountain climbing, climbing vertical sheets of ice hundreds of feet up, surfing in dangerous waves, others whose children have followed in their path and were repeatedly so badly injured that they were unconscious for over a month. Here in Bend, there are lots of people into extreme sports, and other bizarre things too. It appears to me that if you are not doing something appallingly dangerous or stupid you are not considered as living. Mention someplace, anyplace in the world, while in a group and someone will instantly pipe up with the incredibly dangerous experience they had there.

Of course, I’m the stupid one because if I made money I could have done those things too.

My new life begins

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Today I had my first visit with the doctor who will be doing my radiation therapy. He is a guy with whom I had an instant rapport. Very friendly and my kind of intellectual. He actually knew personally of two of the people who are important to me. One in New York and one in Berkeley. I can’t be more specific at this time, but I was astonished. Of course, the problem is that today I began my hormone therapy which will go for about two months before I begin the radiation treatment which will also go for about two months. The probability of a positive outcome is good and my projected life expectancy is about eight years. I should be happy about that, but all the same, even a good projection is sort of like a death sentence. My basic attitude is Stoical and cheerfully making the best of a mortal life that has already expended 82 years.

After returning from that event, which Debbie attended, she made a Purple Carrot lunch that I really liked, and we typically also have a vegan protein drink. I noticed the last of this concoction made a pretty pattern in the glass, so I took some pictures.

Plant protein mix running down my drinking glass.

Another view of the flow of the protein drink.

Haven’t had enough? Here’s some more.

Unfortunately, one piece of the lavash bread got burnt.

That was how my day went and felt.

 

Greed

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Tonight the Socrates Cafe discussion was on “greed.” What is greed and what can we do about it? After a reading of an online dictionary definition of greed, the conversation was launched with an acknowledgment that greed is the official policy of our capitalistic economic structure. Our former US Secretary of state Tillerson back when he was head of the Exon Corporation said, “My job is to maximize the bottom line of profits of this corporation any way I can.” That is what capitalism is all about and the formation of a corporation is to allow individual people to invest their money in hopes of making a profit at no legal risk to themselves, other than the possibility of losing their money. Supposedly all legal risks are born by the corporation itself and by the officers of the corporation. Occasionally the corporations are fined for the misdeeds of their officers, but rarely are those malfunctioning officers ever legally punished. There was an earnest complaint about the Wall Street debacle that cost many old people their savings, but none of the people responsible was ever punished, even though some of them made fortunes during the market collapse which they created.

There arose in our discussion various aspects of personal greed by ordinary people, also by postulated human beings, by chimpanzees, and by wild animals in general. A blog was quoted on wolverines-give-insight-into-the-evolution-of-greed, that I enjoyed because I was thinking about saying much the same thing. After a considerable portion of that blog was read, when my turn came, I modified my statements to a more human approach based on the recent experiments on profit and loss where it takes roughly twice as much profit to offset a measured quantity of loss.

Also, greed has a component of comparison to our companions and whether we have more of something than our companion does. It is a feature that is variable and dependent on the valued object being considered. If I have about the same amount of money, or power, or artistic accomplishment, or object of value as my companions I feel okay, but I get anxious if I have only half as much and I feel inferior, or if I have twice as much I feel superior.

However, if they are ten times better I am insignificant and out of the game. If I have ten times less of the quality being considered I will feel crummy, still human, but a very poor representative. Or, if I am ten times more possessing of the quality I will feel fantastic and probably start behaving arrogantly. When I have a thousand times more of the quality under consideration there isn’t even a game in play for me and it is like watching human-ants by the Greek gods and those creatures doing their personal things doesn’t concern me. Stoic philosophy deals with this nicely by stating up front that if you have no influence you can just ignore the whole thing and let things play out as they will. But the same can be said for having absolute influence because then it doesn’t matter either and the situation is boring.

To make my point more relevant to the group discussion of how to cope with personal greed, I said the goal is to be in a group where you have ten percent more of the quality than the average person you are trying to cope with. That is enough to have a buffer but not so much as to put you out of the ongoing human game. That brought scowls to the faces of some of the others.

The point of living is to have meaningful human interactions and that requires dealing with near equals but having something of value to offer.

How to reset the important components of your life.

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A person’s body weight has a setpoint that each individual body tries to maintain. But  this setpoint changes throughout life depending on controllable factors. Other things are probably controlled by the body’s natural hormonal system besides body weight. Unfortunately, the ways to change the body weight setpoint haven’t been understood properly because of some errors made back in the 1970s. The idea at that time was that it was necessary to lower the amount of sugar in a diabetic person’s blood. To lower that blood sugar level, doctors began having people inject synthetic insulin into their veins. This does work to lower blood glucose, but the obesity problem was greatly worsened because the way it did this was to dump the sugar into the cells instead of eliminating it from even entering the blood vessels in the first place. The problem with moving the glucose into the cell is that the cells slowly convert the sugar resident in them to fat. It usually takes years to create an obese person but if enough sugar is consistently resident in the cells of the body, the body eventually becomes obese.

This type of excess fat is easily eliminated if people return to the way of eating that was common before the invasion of cheap sugar and insulin into their bodies. The typical way to eat before 1970 was breakfast, lunch and dinner and no other calories at other times. That simple method of eating gave the body twelve or more hours to allow the body’s cells to reset the sugars and insulin to a stable base level. Overnight the body returned to its natural setpoint. That style of eating is now known as intermittent fasting, and if a person is modestly overweight and not converted to being a type two diabetic by excess consumption of sugar and being given artificial insulin, they can easily lower their setpoint by intermittent fasting. The easiest way to change the setpoint is to narrow the hours of eating to about six hours per day. That is, to only eat from 12 noon to 6 pm until the body adjusts to its natural weight and then return to the old way of breakfast, lunch and dinner and no snacks. My personal experience was that I lost about one and a half pounds per month for fourteen months and then stopped losing weight. I am now near my ideal weight and if I get hungry before eating time I drink a glass of water and go for a fifteen-minute walk and then eat normally until I’m full. It’s that simple and it works.

The new idea I’ve been exploring is that this same setpoint idea might work on other important components of a person’s hormonal life. Emotional fasting might reset the need for a particular type of hormonal level. There are probably specific hormones associated with various kinds of chronic emotions. Some for depression, others for anxiety, others for addictions in general, and others for specific addictions. If that assumption is accurate, then it would seem reasonable that to return the associated hormone to a normal level would normalize the person’s emotional state. That is now done rather clumsily with psychoactive drugs because if the hormone is unknown then what is needed to measure isn’t known and the dosage can’t be knowable either.

Perhaps we don’t need to know the exact hormones or measure them or create synthetic ones either to get them stabilized. The body already has ways of adjusting these things or we would already be totally crazy. We may be able to do a parallel hormone control that would be similar to our controlling our food processing hormones. If, for example, depression was like a hormonally caused obesity from an insulin overdose, then the control of the depression wouldn’t be by injecting an unknown-insulin-like-substitute; it would be to do a fast of the thing that stimulates the stabilization of these emotions.

Victor Frankl discusses how some people totally lost their emotional resiliency when put into work camps during the first weeks of internment, but those who made the right mental adaptations did much better.

Emotional fasting is the self-directed depriving of one’s self of a desired feeling.

I take some pictures while Debbie talks to Leigh Anne

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Debbie and Leigh Anne walk and talk at Hollinshead Park

The table we usually sit at is wet with rain.

The bench we sometimes sit on under a tree is wet too.

I see a tree with some blossoms.

Some blossoms with strong branches

I see another tree with some more blossoms.

A wooden torus

A tree with a limb sawn off that is trying to heal the wound.

A strange struggle for life

An unusual life form of some weird moss growing on strange stripes.

Strange moss?

This moss is strange too.

They are done talking so we all head home.

 

 

 

My garden is finally in … mostly.

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A lot of time, physical energy, and mental energy too goes into creating a garden. The greatest physical energy for me was moving the five cubic yards of topsoil from my driveway in front of my house to my proposed garden in back. The most painful events were created by the rototilling machine which when it hit a large root would suddenly jump and hit my hands hard enough to hurt and bruise them slightly.

Because it was impossible to know how to distribute the purchased topsoil I dug 848 feet of shallow trenches (I measured it), where the rows of vegetables were to be planted and then put the topsoil into those trenches. That left quite a lot of topsoil left over so I put a second layer on top of those existing filled trenches; however, since the preexisting soil was so poor, that didn’t seem like enough good soil to grow a healthy crop. Thus when it came time to actually plant things Debbie and I built mounds where we intended to plant things like corn which were to be more than a foot apart. Lettuce, kale, radishes, carrots would be closer together so they were just sown into the existing shallower topsoil rows. Today we purchased a small flat of already started strawberries that looked really healthy, and put in some asparagus and rhubarb, too.Garden all in IMG_9839

All this gardening activity must be done during a constrained time frame because our growing season here in the high altitude, 3636 feet, in Bend, Oregon, is short. This unusual activity for me has competed with my usual activities, like writing this blog, getting a bone cancer scan, meeting my unknown until recently niece, preparing my diet lecture, doing two daily walks, and most important of all arguing with my friends.

Life is fun when there are interesting things to do.

Is my spider bite a dangerous Brown Recluse?

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When reviewing the video I made a few days ago named A strange life-and-death battle on my bathroom floor, it reminded me of the spider that bit my right leg eight years ago. 7 year sequence of photos of spider bite, squamous cell carcinoma, electrodessication, curettage.

A recluse type spider

A video still of a recluse-type spider in my bathroom

That spider looks a lot like the dangerous Brown Recluse Spider found at survivallife.com

A Brown Recluse Spider

A Brown Recluse Spider illustration at Survival Life com

I am concerned about this tiny spider being in my house because it may be a very young one born of a much large spider. They must begin as much smaller spiders than they are when they are of reproductive size. I have made a small clear plastic box which I intend to use tomorrow to capture this little spider and get some much clearer pictures of it to send to an entomologist for identification. My concern comes from some non-healing swollen spots that I think I got last month when putting on my gardening gloves. There were several sharp pinpricks in my finger which I assumed at the time were tiny slivers. I remember taking off my gloves and massaging my finger and rubbing the glove hard to dislodge the slivers before putting the glove back on. I now suspect that it may have been one of this new spider’s siblings. They seem to prefer to live inside of spider-size caves and catch their meals in webs.

A potential spider bite.

There is a non-healing hole surrounded by similar bites that haven’t opened up yet.

I don’t have any particular gripe with spiders but I do wish they wouldn’t bite me.