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Clarification

It came to my attention today that the trolls (i.e. Team Toni) have updated their hate sites.  Actually, Jodin Davunt has, but he took his name off the sites when he saw that his employer, Wal-Mart, was paying attention to the person representing them on social media with a hate campaign against innocent people (in between his commenting on people’s appearances, he very busily brown noses to corporate).  Anyway, now the hate sites read that the podcaster who did the Sword and Scale interview – Mike Boudet – and I are old friends and somehow collaborated on the podcast.  They can’t stand the idea that an independent journalist saw all the same evidence as everyone else, and came to the same conclusions my group and I reached.  A conclusion nearly everyone reaches once they see all the evidence.

A simple Internet search will show there’s absolutely no connection between me and Mike Boudet pre-interview.  It will take seconds to prove that to yourself, and anyone who will take the word of a hate-blogger without fact checking first, deserves to be taken in over and over again.

Not only did Mike and I not know each other before the interview, when he contacted me and asked me to speak on his podcast, I didn’t know which side of the fence he was on.  But, since I have nothing to hide, I decided to do the interview.  As a bit of insurance, I even recorded the whole interview on my end as well, in order to make certain I wasn’t misquoted or taken out of context.  In addition, I purposely did not listen to his other podcasts before I was interviewed, so I would not have a preconceived notion to his style and method of interviewing.  Afterwards, of course, I listened to them all and have even written a piece.  He has invited me to write others.

As to our being friends; well, we didn’t know each other at all before the interview, but since the interview, I would be honored to count Mike Boudet as a friend.  I appreciate intelligence, critical thinking, and integrity.  For me, the best thing about Toni’s inability to face the truth were the friendships I forged.  I met a lot of very interesting people along the way.

As for Tricia and the claims she is being sued, I have no knowledge of that one way or another.  I do know, however, that if there is a law suit, it has nothing to do with the Ingram case, so essentially is irrelevant.  As usual, Team Toni resorts to exaggerations, lies, and smear campaigns in order to direct attention away from the lack of cohesive evidence in Morgan’s death, rather than focusing on what’s really right in front of us all; that a beautiful, intelligent, and spirited young woman chose to take her own life, rather than be mired down by pain any longer.  I hope some day she can rest in peace.

Once again, my intention is not to convince people or try to get them to think my way, but to present them with all the information, including the smear campaign, so they can decide for themselves.  Obviously it’s worked so well that now all the trolls’ attention is on my group and trying to discredit us.  What a sad state of affairs for Morgan’s memory.

Thank you for reading!

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American Pie

You know, I was thinking about America and Americans today.  If there was an invasion, a wide-spread attack of some sort, what would we do?  Could the average citizen pick up a weapon and protect his family, his neighborhood, his city?  They can in Israel.

Now, I don’t care whose “side” you’re on in regards to the political issues in the Middle East, you can’t deny that nearly every adult in Israel knows how to shoot, how to field strip a weapon, how to employ at least a semblance of military tactics if the need arises.

I happen to know Israelis who have scoffed at Americans and how we feel about the military, saying that we’d never allow mandatory military service in this country.  That we’re weak, babies whining about being trained, doing drills, taking orders.

I agreed.  Why should we?  Israel has borders to protect, constant bomb threats, the smell of war in the air ALL THE TIME.  We don’t have that problem.  We don’t need to be that vigilant, that prepared.  We don’t have enemies at the gate, pounding to get in. 

Or do we?

Then I started thinking more about it, the whole idea of citizen militia, ready to fill in the gaps, ready to protect and serve, and I thought, “Wait a minute!  That’s what I’m doing!  I know a grip of people doing the same thing.  We’re all training!”

We’re NOT lazy, whiny Americans unwilling to fight.  I think that’s what “they” want us to think.  “They” have fostered a climate where we sit around debating issues.  “They” tell us we’re too intellectual to take up arms, and remind us that you can’t simultaneously cry out for peace while preparing for war, and you don’t need extended clips, you don’t need automatic weapons, you don’t need that Glock at your belt . . . 

That’s right, “they” are our own government.  They hype shootings and bombings and talk about how out of control people are, demand we give up our arms, want to restrict how many bullets we can buy at one time . . . why?

Why does our own government want us vulnerable, sitting ducks if you will?  Why do they want us distracted by fun and entertainment while we’re stripped of our ability to defend out families?

There’s only one reason.  They fear us.  They fear we will rise up.  They fear that the 10% needed to start a revolution will decide it’s time.  They’ve actually sat around and weighed this issue.  Seriously.  They sat there and decided their fear of us is greater than our need as a country to be equipped and trained to defend it.

Wow.

This isn’t an Obama issue (although that is some nice slight of hand they’ve done, getting everyone to bitch about the person with the least amount of power running the country).  It’s not a Bush thing or Reagan thing, or even a Ford thing.  It’s a puppet master thing, and those people don’t get elected every 4 years.  It’s the men behind the curtain who fear us.

So what do we do?  I know what I won’t do.  I won’t give up my guns.  I won’t give up training.  I won’t sit back and trust a government who fears me to protect me.  

So what can we do?

  • Right now, like no other time in history, we have the capability to share information faster than it can be redacted.  Don’t kill your Internet, USE it.  Spread the word.  Join Twitter and read alternative news sources.  Follow Your Anon News.
  • Buy guns and ammo.  Lots of ammo.  Shit, learn to make your own if you have to.  Buy so many guns they can’t even begin to track them all.
  • Learn to shoot your gun.  And I don’t mean the minimum required to get a CCL.  I mean combat shooting, active shooter scenarios, outdoor shooting, and PRACTICE.
  • Learn to shoot a bow and arrow.  That may be all we have left if we let them take our guns.
  • Learn to use a knife effectively for more than cutting the food you shove in your mouths.  
  • Learn to grow food, and DO IT.  If it’s illegal to grow food in your front yard, grow the veggies in back and fruit in front.  Kill your lawn, it’s a waste of water.  Potable water is the next oil!
  • Learn to fight with your hands, a stick, a coat hanger, a business card, whatever you can get a hold of.
  • Learn combat first aid, and have that equipment at home and in your car.  Keep it with your gun!
  • Catch rain water in barrels to water your gardens.  Fuck GMO!
  • Get some chickens for your backyard!  They’re easy to take care of, make great pets, and free-range chicken eggs are yummy, not to mention all the free natural fertilizer you’d get.
  • Teach your kids to do these things, too, including shooting.  Better they’re allowed to use a gun under proper supervision than to have it a mystery they want to sneak and look at when no one’s watching, straight in the barrel. 
  • Download some survival books on to your tablet or laptop.  There’s plenty of room for the other stuff, and you never know when you might need it.
  • Collect seeds that will produce plants that produce seeds.
  • Know your neighbors and your neighborhood.  Each block should be a unit, your “beat”.  Know who belongs and who doesn’t.  Be nosy!  It might save a life.
  • Learn how to make an apple pie from scratch!
  • Learn how to make a fire, LOL!

I’m not saying to turn into doomsday survivalist, just urban cowboys!  Let’s take back our own power.  Let’s make Monsanto obsolete.  Make it impossible for them to take our weapons.  Let’s start to protect our own, because they certainly won’t.

All we have to do is say no.

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Pre-Registration in the Bag!

I’ve gained a slot in the 2013 HaganaH Conference.  That’s a HUGE step towards getting there.  It is mandatory that I attend, so it’s a good thing it’s my biggest thing to look forward to each year.

In years past I’ve been able to to this myself; taking out loans, hocking my bass, but this year has been rough.  On top of moving, I’ve taken on even more by having my daughter, her husband, and 4 kids move in with us, making for a lot of happiness, but also a lot of responsibility.

I’ve not used my teaching certificate to open a school, not wanting to take business away from the school where I studied.  Instead, I volunteer teaching those who can’t afford formal lessons, and have recently made arrangements to teach bullied kids how to feel more self-confident and have the tools to protect themselves, and hopefully, will start teaching the younger kids about stranger danger.

Each year at the conference we learn new techniques to apply to our arsenol of weapons, and I’d hate to miss out on this coming conference advanced techniques.  Donations would be greatly appreciated.

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Haganah Conference help

This is new for me, actually asking for help.

I’ve been independent so long; raising 5 children alone, no child support.  I hate asking for help, and you’d think I’d know better by now.  That was the lesson wiht my first labor; it’s okay to ask for help.

What can I say?  I’m stubborn.

OK, deep breath . . . As a Haganah instructor and Nucleus member, I’m required to attend the yearly conferences.  I’ve managed to pull it off each year by taking out loans, saving my days off for the conference, pawning my bass, etc.  This year it’s not so easy.  The bass is gone, I used up my paid days off to move, and between the move and my work not paying out what it used to, I’m stuck between not attending the conference and begging for help.

I want to go to the conference.  More importantly, I need to go to this conference.

Yes, I have students.  No I don’t charge them.  If they’re not family, then they are people who can’t afford training at a school (so I’m not taking potential clients from my alma mater), but are people who want to learn and are eager to study, or have a personal reason to learn self defense.  

I love to teach.  This makes for a nice fit.

So, I’ve started a page at Go Fund Me asking for donations to get me there so I can take home the newest techniques for my students, keep my place as a Nucleus member, and reunite with my extended family at Haganah headquarters.

WIth any luck I’ll get a crime scene to clean before the conference and can take down the page, but until then I will do what ever it takes to get there, even stand on a virtual street corner holding a cybersign that says “please help”.  The difference is everyone knows I rarely drink, so I won’t be out sitting under an overpass sucking on a bottle of Mad Dog that was bought the money! LOL!

 

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Zombie Apocalypse Survival

I was just sitting here thinking that with so many people preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse, there won’t be anyone left to actually be the zombies.  Obviously, there’s a flaw in this way of thinking.  We’re all assuming we’ll be survivors.  I guess this is human nature; no one, after all, wants to be one of the undead.

So we stockpile food and water, make sure we have an ample supple of blunt force-type weapons such as maces, flails, and a stack of bricks handy.  We plan our means of escape and have developed ways of assuring our loved ones aren’t contaminated with the zombie virus.  We even practice killing zombies on videogames and watch zombie movies, just to catch every nuance of survival.

What few of us have done is get prepared in case we are in fact infected.  Now, hear me out.  Wouldn’t it be important, as a zombie, to make arrangements ahead of time to insure your “survival”?  As you stock up on ammo and firearms, swords, and bows and arrows, make a little room on your garage shelf for zombie survival items, too.  With a few simple steps, you can be prepared for all possibilities:  

  • Head protection:  Helmets, whether football  or motorcycle, would work.  Hats would not, but in a pinch, I suppose a safari hat might offer a little bit of protection.  A construction hat would be better, though.
  • I cannot stress this enough:  Study Krav Maga or HaganaH before the outbreak.  Why those?  Neither rely on fine motor skills that will break down under stress, but rather employ the use of muscle memory.  As a zombie, you won’t be able to get into some of the more elaborate stances of Kung Fu or Capoeira, but will easily be able to put into practice the knees and elbows Krav and HaganaH are so well known for.  This will help protect you from zombie hunters.
  • An alternate form of transportation:  Everyone knows zombies are slow.  I suggest roller blades or a skateboard.  A Segway would be ideal, but a bit costly and might be hard to operate once zombified.  This would give you a slight edge on the other zombies, however.  It is possible, though, that we could end up being zombies like in Resident Evil.  You know, the fast kind.  In that case, an alternate form of transportation isn’t necessary and might actually be cumbersome.
  • A mapped-out route:  You don’t want to be shuffling along aimlessly.  Observe your neighbors now, while you have the chance.  Seek out those who are impaired, overweight, or oblivious, and make them your first victims.  You can also highlight the homes of people who annoyed you in life.  This will get you used to sucking head (otherwise known as human Etouffe).  While you’re at it, make sure to avoid the neighbors you know are prepared for the apocalypse.
  • If you can afford it, get a voice-activated home security system so enthusiastic zombie killers can’t reach you in your own home.  Program it now with your voice.  A groan will suffice. 
  • Since there will be no need for water or blankets, or other human amenities, this leaves plenty of room for brains.  Yes, that’s right.  I suggest ordering lamb, pig, and cow brain, and keeping a nice supply in your freezer, just in case.  If you get bitten or otherwise suspect you’ve been exposed to the zombie virus, you will have plenty of time to take the brains out of the freezer and let them thaw out.  This will help stave off your hunger in case you don’t get the hang of hunting humans right away.  This will also come in handy for your family.  They can lure you away from their stronghold with a trail of brains.

This is by no means a complete list; it’s simple a few examples of things you might want to think about.  After all, if you have to be a zombie, why not be the best zombie you can?  Why do things half way?  Most of us are preparing for the days of chaos; martial arts, weapons training, stocking-piling supplies, etc.  Why not be fully prepared for all contingencies?  I mean, think about it.  How would it look if there’s a zombie apocalypse and you’re the first zombie in your neighborhood to be killed?  Don’t bring shame to your family, prepare now!

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On parallel universes and quantum mechanics; a simplified account from a novel

“When each of us comes to a point where he has to make a significant moral decision affecting the development of his character and the lives of others, and each time he makes the less wise choice, that’s where I myself believe a new world splits off.  When I make an immoral or just a foolish choice, another world is created in which I did the right thing, and in that world, I am redeemed for a while, given a chance to become a better version of the Tom Valadium who lives on in the other world of the wrong choice.  There are so many worlds with imperfect Tom Valadiums, but always someplace . . . someplace I’m moving steadily toward a state of grace.”

 

“Each life,” Barty Lampion said, “is like our oak tree in the backyard, but lots bigger.  One trunk to start with, and then all the branches, millions of branches, and every branch is the same life going in a new direction.”

 

“And maybe,” said Agnes, caught up in the speculation, “when yoiur life comes to an end in all those many branches, what you’re finally judged on is the shape and the beauty of the tree.”

 

“Making too many wrong choices,” Grace White said, “produces too many branches – a gnarled, twisted, ugly growth.”

 

“Too few,” said Maria, “might mean you made an admirably small number of moral mistakes, but also that you failed to take reasonable risks and didn’t make full use of the gift of life.”  — Dean Koontz, From the Corner of His Eye

 

 

What I get from this is that our mistakes, our path branch-offs, are what gives our tree beauty and character, makes it interesting to look at and comfortable to lounge underneath on a hot summer day.  A morally correct, unimaginative life would produce one straight branch, something not unlike a switch.

 

The trick is to be able to step back and look at your own oak tree, and check objectively if there is beauty in how the branches lie.

 

While sometimes my oak tree seems more like a weeping willow, in the end I regret close to nothing.  Those decision, those people and events that caused the offshoot of branches also shape my tree of life.  And somewhere in those branches resides the me living in that state of grace.

 

Moreover, I know that somewhere – on more than one of those branches, in fact –  the life I want to live exists.  Somewhere in my tree I have the things I wanted, am with the people I want to be with, am doing what makes me happy . . . am living my life to its fullest.  Since I know it’s happening somewhere right next to me, in the corner of my eye, what’s to stop me from getting it on this branch, too?  

 

Quantum particles change their behavior when they know they are being observed.  This suggests, as stated in the book, that human will shapes reality.  I think I’m gong to go with that theory, and shape mine the way I want it.

 

Things are about to change . . . !

 

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Honor in the Martial Arts

BUSHIDO: (boo-shee-do):  1) The code of the Samurai, stressing unquestioning loyalty and obedience, and honoring value above life.  2) The way of the warrior; a Japanese word which is used to describe a uniquely Japanese code of conduct and way of Samurai life.  It originates from the Samurai moral code that stresses the following 7 virtues:

  • Rectitude
  • Courage
  • Benevolence
  • Respect
  • Honesty
  • Honor
  • Loyalty

I want to focus on the last 3; honesty, honor, and loyalty.  These three attributes go hand-in-hand.

But let’s back up a moment, take a look at the old code of Bushido, and maybe figure out why it may or may not apply today.

Most often, when you mention Bushido to the average person, he won’t have a clue what you’re talking about.  If you mention Samurai, though, everyone has an image firmly ingrained in their brains on what a Samurai is.  Most picture a fierce warrior, speaking in a guttural tone as he charges, sword raised, into the fray.  Video game fanatics might have a more refined picture.  This one consists not just of swords, but all manner of different weapons, elaborate body armor, theatrical makeup, but still running into the fray, prepared to die.  Some might actually know the name of a specific Samurai or battle.  All, however, picture a warrior not only prepared to die in battle, but ready to commit suicide at the whim of his retainer, and for some reason, seppuku fascinates us.

Anyone who’s read the Hagakure – a sort of how-to book for Samurai – will notice that being a Samurai was a pretty tenuous position.  You never knew if your actions would result in your death.  For instance, let’s say some guy insults your boss in public.  If you raise your sword and whack off his head, you might be asked to commit seppuku for killing a man without permission.  On the other hand, if you don’t defend your boss’s honor, you could be asked to commit seppuku, too.  If you ask permission first, then you might be asked to gut yourself for being a wuss.  You get the picture:  You never quite know where you stand.

But that’s neither here nor there.  We were talking about loyalty, and while I suppose killing yourself on command ranks pretty high up there in the loyalty department, that’s not really where I was going with all this.  Suffice it to say that this image of a Samurai, or Bushido, is one that almost everyone can agree on.

Except me.

When I think of Bushido, I think of the tea ceremony.  Yup, that’s right.  Not swords and beautiful armor, but rather the art of making a cup of tea, and an art it is.

One of my favorite movies is The Last Samurai.  Even Tom Cruise couldn’t ruin that movie for me.  There’s one part of that movie I especially enjoy . . . besides watching Ken Watanabe, that is.  It’s a narrative:

“They are an intriguing people.  From the moment they wake, they devote themselves to the perfection of whatever they pursue.  I have never seen such discipline.”

These were a people who sought perfection – not necessarily achieved it, but sought it – in everything they did, including making a cup of tea.  They infused beauty into the very act of pouring the water, stirring the tea in a precise manner, and in the presentation.  The person who was being served the tea (the tea-ee, I suppose), was then obligated to make the drinking of the tea an art form, as well, by turning the cup a certain amount of times before drinking.

So what does this mean, besides having to wait a really long time for your tea?  It’s about people devoting themselves to a way of life; in this case Bushido.

Most of us in martial arts like to think that we, too, are devoted to our art form.  Some will even claim to be devoted to their art to such an extent as to have made it a way of life.  And this may even be so, but the time of the Samurai is long gone.  Forrest Whitaker aside, there are no modern day Samurai or retainers.

So where, then, lies our loyalty?  (Yeah, I know it took me a minute to get to the point, but we’re here now, so you can relax).

Schools come and go, open and close.  Styles become popular, then fade away as faddish.  Who holds our loyalty?  Some people stick with one school or one style throughout their martial arts tenure.   If we start out in school A, then after several years abruptly move to school B, have we shown disloyalty?  Or are we merely cross-training?  What about mixing styles?  If you start out in Kung Fu, then migrate to Krav Maga, is that showing disloyalty to your style?  Maybe our loyalties should lie completely within ourselves; do what we think is right for our particular situation.

What, then, of honor?

What if you studied under one Sifu (or Sensei, or . . . what would you call the instructor of Krav Maga, Rabbi?), became a student instructor under this person, then up and left the school to open your own, taking other students with you?  I’m pretty sure we’d all agree that’s disloyal and far from honorable, but is it wrong?

I know one instructor who teaches a very unique style.  He loves the area here in the Pacific Northwest, but he will never open a school here because he feels it would be disrespectful to open a school amongst his friends, potentially taking business away them, even though their styles are vastly different.  This is an incredibly honorable man.  There aren’t too many like him around, especially when it comes to business matters.

I decided to do a little research on the whole subject of being a devout, loyal, honor-bound student, and what it means in these modern times of selfishness.

This same subject came up at Martial Talk.  One poster, Dubljay, said it perfectly:  “I am loyal to my instructor simply because he has put at least as much effort into my training as I have, probably more so.”

Dr. Makai L. Pai said, “The most important qualities a martial artist can exhibit are loyalty and dedication.  You must be willing to commit yourself fully to the process of becoming a warrior.  You must choose a style, school and teacher and commit, at minimum, to achieving a basic level of competence in that style.“  After all, it takes years of dedicated teaching to bring a student up in ranks.  No one wants to invest so much time and energy in someone who will turn around and abandon the school, steal students, or otherwise show that the trust given him has been misused.

Loyalty works both ways, however.  Just as a student is expected to be loyal to his school, his instructor should be just as loyal to his student.  After all, it’s the student that makes the instructor a teacher in the first place.  All it takes is one student to make an instructor Sifu or Sensei (or even Rabbi), so those educator/educatee relationships are very important.

I advise people looking for a school to test drive several, try out styles, get a feel for the people there, because trust is such an important part of the arts.  In the same way, instructors should be selective when it comes to accepting students into their schools.  No one wants to be the person to teach a termination to a mentally unstable student, only to find out he practiced his moves on his parents one morning before school.

Sometimes, though, an instructor will find that a student he trusted, one that he brought up in ranks and welcomed into the “inner sanctum”, has betrayed him personally or the school in general, or both.  What then?

The student/instructor relationship can be very deep, as deep as any intimate relationship.  You place trust in one another, and literally put your life in the other’s hands.  As a student, you look to your instructor to show you the proper ways of your style, and he looks on you with pride as you achieve goal after goal, until finally he senses he can place all his trust in you, literally or figuratively handing you the keys to the dojo, then WHAM, the unthinkable happens.

How do you move on from that level of betrayal?  Do you harden your heart and never trust again?  What of the next up-and-coming student who is truly devoted, but will never gain the instructor’s trust just because of the actions of another?

Perhaps this is why there are so many fly-by-night schools out there:  martial arts academies that will take on anyone as a student, hand out belts to anyone who can pay for them, and not care about the personal growth of the students within their walls.  Perhaps this is why a lot of the martial arts world is about the bottom line, the last dollar.  The teaching of martial arts has become an industry, and all indications show that it will continue to grow as such.  Between having an overhead, having to be politically correct when choosing students, and dealing with unscrupulous people, things can never be the same.

Much as it would be nice, there’s no going back to the way things used to be.  In the end, loyalty, honor and respect lie solely within the individual.  We can’t expect others to think as we do, and we can’t expect to understand the actions of others when they are polar opposites of our own.

From the Hagakure:

“It is said that what is called the Spirit of an Age is something to which one cannot return.  That this spirit gradually dissipates is due to the world’s coming to an end.  In the same way, a single year does not have just spring or summer.  A single day, too, is the same.  For this reason, although one would like to change today’s world back to the spirit of one hundred years or more ago, it cannot be done.  Thus, it is important to make the best out of every generation.”

I guess they, too, longed for the good old days.

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Suicide and the 2012 Prophecy

Is there reason for concern as December 21, 2012 rapidly approaches?  I’m not talking about the end of the world as we know it, or even the Mayan calendar that is said to end on that date (although how a round calendar can end is beyond me).  It’s the perception of eminent world destruction that has me worried.  I’m concerned that with all the predictions, the sensationalism, the bad Hollywood movies, and the not knowing will cause some people to panic.

When Harold Camping predicted the rapture, it didn’t surprise me that there wasn’t a huge increase in suicides around the predicted date.  After all, his warnings had a Christian lean to them, no matter how twisted.  Of course people weren’t going to want to commit suicide right before the big date; it would have been breaking a huge Christian taboo right before the final exams, so to speak.  There was, however, one suicide by a young girl who feared being left behind.  She killed herself on the predicted day of destruction.  Camping should be ashamed of himself.

When Y2K rolled around (you do remember that little bit of panic, right?), it was predicted that there would be mass suicides on New Year’s Eve 1999.  In fact, there was talk of suicide parties with Jim Jones’ punch recipe, or murder/suicides as the new year was rung in.  Not surprising, none of this happened.

Now, with 2012 looming up and everyone offering an opinion about what’s going to happen, from new age gurus to NASA scientist, the warnings about suicides have once again started to surface.

It is doubtful that there is any validity to the fear of increased suicides as we approach 12/21/2012, certainly not mass suicides, but there is still the possibility that on a person-to-person basis, the fear of 2012 could be the tipping point.

The difference here is the predictors of mass suicides are talking about otherwise rational people – people who are not depressed – killing themselves because of a calendar that is thousands of years old.  I’m talking about people who are already depressed or mentally ill being pushed over the edge.

Either way, it’s important to keep an eye out on at-risk folks and learn to recognize the signs:

  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness.
  • Talking about suicide.
  • Planning suicide (i.e. buying a gun or researching poisons).
  • Setting one’s affairs in order (giving away personal items).
  • A sudden reversal of depression (many times, when a person has made the decision to die, he becomes happier, his mood lighter, because in his mind there is an end in sight).
  • Loss of interest in things that once brought happiness or joy.
  • Saying good-bye (visiting relatives and friends one last time).
  • Withdrawing (wanting to make the “break” easier).
  • Becoming reckless or careless with one’s own life.
  • Increase in substance abuse.

If you see these signs in a loved one, please do not hesitate to call a professional to take him or her in to the emergency room.  Trained mental health professionals are available to help assess and diffuse the danger.

If you are having feelings of suicide, please talk to someone you can trust or take yourself in to the emergency room.  Most likely the cause of these suicidal feelings (a change in brain chemistry, a change in living situations or other personal issues, the loss of a loved one, or even the fear of a doomsday prophecy) are temporary, and help is available to get you through the rough patch.  There’s no sense in taking a permanent step for a temporary problem.  The last thing I want is for your family to have to call my company in to clean up.

Take care of yourselves and one another.  I predict I’ll be seeing all of you in 2013!

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I most certainly have . . . all the time, in fact.

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TO GRAY OR NOT TO GRAY

 

I spend a lot of time around men who work very hard to keep their bodies looking good, looking much younger than their counterparts.  They say they do this for their health, for their strength, so they can be the ultimate machines; not for aesthetics. 

 

Let’s quit kidding ourselves, shall we?  Every last one of them stand in front of the mirror after a good pump, looking at biceps, searching for that gun, lamenting their lack of gluts or chicken ankles.  This is all secret, of course.  But we all know they do it.  Hell, we ALL do it.

 


Recently a friend posted a picture of an elderly man with a slamming body (seriously; rock hard abs, the whole deal), but an old man’s face.  The caption of this picture, or course, had nothing to do with the fact that it just didn’t look right, the old man’s face with the 20-year-old pool boy body; it had everything to do with “it’s never too late to get in shape”.   Fair enough.

 


The picture couldn’t keep me from wondering, though, what nursing homes are going to look like in 30 years.  People talk about the geriatric wards in the upcoming years being filled with elderly women with sagging faces, wrinkles, hunched backs . . . and still perky implants.  What, I say, about these men with Jack LaLanne bodies and Wilfred Brimley faces?  A little nip and tuck can take care of the wrinkles, and I suppose Miss Clairol can take care of the gray hair.  Let’s face it, though, these are men who work long and hard to achieve those beautiful bodies.  They actually work out to get that way (as opposed to injecting themselves with steroids to give the appearance of large muscle), watch what they eat (often eating tasteless, rubbery food because seasoning has “too many calories”), take supplements at exactly the right time, drink protein shakes after their workout to replenish the muscles, and watch their BMI carefully.  They’re not going to want to put those chemicals in their hair.  Plus, men can be so vain at times; they would NEVER want to admit they colored their hair.


I decided to research the subject.  What causes gray hair in the first place?  I thought it was just that the hair follicles get old, “tired”, and stop producing the melanin that gives color to our hair.  This seemed to make sense, since all your hair doesn’t go gray at once.  It seems that follicles fade away one at a time, in their own good time.  Sort of like people.

 

Well, I don’t say this often, but I was wrong.  Apparently, there is an enzyme produced in the body called catalase.   Catalase breaks down the buildup of hydrogen peroxide that occurs naturally in our bodies.  As we age, our body slows its production of catalase.  Now, catalase is some really cool stuff.  It changes the hydrogen peroxide in our bodies into water and oxygen.  This shift from water/oxygen-rich components in our bodies to hydrogen peroxide might explain a lot more than graying hair as we age; it might explain our skin drying out and wrinkling, the texture change of our hair, how well our organs function; anyone who’s spent any time at all bodybuilding or trying to lose weight knows the importance of water in how well we function, and anyone who has every smoked can attest to how precious oxygen is to our wellbeing.  And never mind the implications of catalase production in premature aging diseases such as progeria.   That’s just mind-boggling.

 

But I digress.  We were talking about graying hair, and how to avoid it without resorting to hair dyes.  What?  Impossible?  Nope.  Believe it or not, science has found a “cure” for gray hair, and it has already been bottled and exploited.  You see, when catalase production decreases, hydrogen peroxide builds up and essentially “bleaches” the hair as it grows.  This is why we gray.

 


Say hello to “Go Away Gray”, a product that claims to have catalase, and therefore should keep the peroxide from bleaching out hair as it grows out.  I know, crazy, right?  Essentially, this company has taken the enzyme that is naturally produced in the body, bottled it, and has sold it successfully to the public.  Reviews are mixed, but most lean towards the “save your money” take on the product.  Many people have reported some reversal of graying, but have to continue taking the pills to keep up the catalase levels.  Others say it’s a great supplement for making hair thicker and stronger, regardless of the color.   Some say not to bother with it at all.

 

On a more scientific front, L’Oreal has developed a pill, which is due to be released in 2015, that will stop hair from graying ever.  The catch is you have to take it every day for 10 years before you start graying, and continue to take it for the rest of your life.  Little too late for me, I’m afraid.

 

For every manmade remedy, there’s a natural counterpart.  There must be a food out there that has catalase, tastes yummy, and has the same benefits, right?  Good news!  There are foods that contain catalase and break down the peroxide in our bodies!  The bad news is these foods are on most body builders/health nuts’ no-no lists:  Beef liver (filled with toxins), potatoes (not paleo), and carrots (carbs).  There is, however, catalase in dark fruits, like blueberries, plums, and black grapes, and all these fruits are rich in antioxidants, but eating them in the quantity needed could result in a different problem; diarrhea.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not be in the room when someone on this new anti-aging diet of blueberries decides to power lift . . . .

 

Onward and upward.  Next!

 


Since there’s nothing new under the sun, there must be some herb or fungus, or something, with catalase.  And there is!  Picrorhiza Kurroa is an herb that grows in the Himalayas.  It looks like a weed, something you’d pluck out of your garden to keep from choking your tomatoes, but apparently it’s well known in the Ayurvedic circles as being quite the antioxidant/cholesterol-lowering/hair-fortifying/anti-constipation herb.  Hmm.  Might be worth a try.  Too much, though, and it too can cause diarrhea:  Again, not a condition conducive to lifting heavy weights or grappling, and power squats would just be downright embarrassing.

 

I don’t give up easily, though.  A few minor setbacks never deterred me.  My research finally brought me to a wonderful herb with an even better story behind it, Fo Ti.

 

Fo Ti is a root that is used in Chinese medicine.  The other name for it is He Shou Wu, which translates to “black-haired Mr. He”.   Apparently, poor Mr. He wanted children very badly, but at the ripe old age of 58, he had yet to father a child.  An herbalist recommended he take Fo Ti to help his fertility.  Not only did he father many children after starting the herb, but his hair reversed its natural gray color and became black.  His body became more youthful, and he went on to live another 102 years!  One of his children, while not living as long as his father, still managed to celebrate 130 birthdays. 

 

Some of the benefits of this herb, besides longevity and reversal of graying, are said to be increased fertility and vitality, decrease in joint pain and cholesterol levels, and reduction in arterial plaque.  In other words, it reverses most problems associated with aging, including erectile dysfunction and impotence.  Sounds too good to be true. 

 

It is.  It seems it, too, can cause diarrhea.  There’s just no way around it.

 

My conclusions are that guys basically have 2 choices (3 if you count hair dye):  You men can either walk around with a Brad-Pitt-in-Troy body and a James Whitmore face, or you can take the herbs and pills, eat the liver and potatoes, and have a youthful face, but the Jared-before-Subway body, and really, really cleaned out bowels.

 

But then again, given the perkiness of the next generation of women in nursing homes, the body that won’t quit might come in handy a little more so than the hair that won’t grow gray.

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