December 2012


From the Brijabasi Spirit December 8, 1974 issue page 5. (Bhima was an ox, Guruban is where the Palace is, Kasyapa = Varshana Maharajah).

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Americans drink more soda than anyone else on earth. And it’s no wonder we keep reaching for soda over water, coffee and juice–soda is addictive. From morning to night, many of us rely on a steady stream of sugary, caffeinated soda to power us through long hours sitting in front of steering wheels, computer screens, dinner tables and televisions. Like gas-powered cars and high-speed internet, Coke and Pepsi products are just another fixture in most Americans daily lives.

It may be time to confront our soda addiction. Just as lifestyle diseases like Type II Diabetes and obesity grow to epidemic proportions in the U.S., the average American now consumes 20 oz of soda every day. For non-diet drinkers that means guzzling an extra 17 teaspoons of sugar daily. And if your poison is diet or low calorie soda, you’re still not in the clear. Many studies now link aspartame and other artificial sweeteners to increased risks for certain cancers, kidney damage and even Alzheimer’s.

So what is the total hidden cost of guzzling this sugar-laden syrup like water?  Check out our video evaluating the toll soda takes on our nation’s health, economy and environment.

Last week there was the Geminid meter shower.  It was an uncloudy night in New Vrindaban which, though not rare, can be welcomed when there is an astronomical event so I went outside to watch for a while.

Fortunately I live where there are no street lights so I didn’t have light pollution to deal with and didn’t have to travel to get to a dark space to watch it from. While it was below freezing, I bundled up warmly and wrapped myself in a fleece blanket so there was no physical discomfort.

I watched for about 20 minutes, very much of a meditation.When you can at will move from a dark place into a lit place like a mall, tavern, or other gathering place, and when ever you walk into a room you can instantly “Let there be light” by flicking a switch it is easy to fall into the illusion that you are the controller.

Sitting in the dark waiting for meteors when no matter what you do or think the next meteor falls when it falls, it is very much of a “Be still and know that I am God”  experience.

I remembered when my youngest boys were still kids sitting out with them and watching a meteor shower. I also remembered as a  kid in North Dakota being out for any number of reasons and seeing meteors. It wasn’t that uncommon to see them.

While the meteor showers mean practically a sure shot at seeing some meteors, and I saw 10 or more in about 20 minutes,  they do occur at any time of year.  Mostly they are unseen because they are merely a quick flash in usually light polluted skies hence unseen.

With all the airborne particulate that exists in modern industrial skies, even if you happened to be where it is dark you may not see them because they are obscured by particulates.

When I was a youth I used to spend a lot of time outdoors at night. Now I am weak and mostly evenings are indoors, so getting out to see the meteor shower was a treat though it is something that that is available for any one any time if you simply spend the time and lift your eyes to the heavens.

Suffocating The World

You’re standing in line at the grocery store when you realize that you don’t have your reusable bag. You’ll have to get a plastic bag. Again. You feel bad for a moment and then think that it’s just one bag. But it isn’t …

In the U.S. alone, 280 billion plastic bags are used each year, which is enough to stretch around the earth nearly 30,000 times. Making and using plastic bags has more repercussions than you might think. Check out the following infographic to see how exactly plastic bags affect our cities, our environment and even our economy.

A public school teacher was arrested today at John F. Kennedy International airport as he attempted to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a compass, a slide-rule and a calculator. At a morning press conference, Attorney General Eric Holder said he believes the man is a member of the notorious Al-Gebra movement.

He did not identify the man, who has been charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction.

‘Al-Gebra is a problem for us’, the Attorney General said. ‘They derive solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in search of absolute values.’ They use secret code names like “X” and “Y” and refer to themselves as “unknowns” but we have determined that they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country. As the Greek philosopher Isosceles used to say, “There are 3 sides to every triangle.”

When asked to comment on the arrest, President Obama said, “If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, He would have given us more fingers and toes.” White House aides told reporters they could not recall a more intelligent or profound statement by the President. It is believed that another Nobel Prize will follow.

Grieving manifests differently. Yesterday evening, after absorbing the horrific news that 20 children my youngest granddaughter’s age had been slaughtered it took the form of listening to country western music while I was working at my computer.

I grew up listening to country like Buck Owns and Patsy Cline but lost interest in it as my musical taste matured and it become mostly derivative and contaminated by rock and roll.

Still last night it resonated with me and I listened to it for a couple of hours.  That may do me for the next decade but it was comforting to hear as a lot of it is about heart break.

What do you get if you play a country song backwards?  You get your girl back, your truck back and your dog back. :-)

After laying down I watched a PBS special which was a live concert in a small club where the Rolling Stones were jamming with Muddy Waters playing his songs in  a small club in 1981. Later, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells and Lefty Dizz also played.

Back before I got religion I used to self medicate listening to the blues. While I preferred the Delta blues singers, I didn’t mind Chicago Blues so this worked for me in a punch.

When I drive into dialysis my music of choice is nonBaroque classical music and I am unlikely to take up listening to the blues and country again but it worked for one night.

If I want more sad music I can always fall back onto my collecti0n of requiem masses, the only music I have actually purchased over the last decade or so.

Perfect little body, without fault or stain on thee,
      With promise of strength and manhood full and fair!
            Though cold and stark and bare,
The bloom and the charm of life doth awhile remain on thee.

Thy mother’s treasure wert thou;—alas! no longer
      To visit her heart with wondrous joy; to be
            Thy father’s pride;—ah, he
Must gather his faith together, and his strength make stronger.

To me, as I move thee now in the last duty,
      Dost thou with a turn or gesture anon respond;
            Startling my fancy fond
With a chance attitude of the head, a freak of beauty.

Thy hand clasps, as ’twas wont, my finger, and holds it:
      But the grasp is the clasp of Death, heartbreaking and stiff;
            Yet feels to my hand as if
’Twas still thy will, thy pleasure and trust that enfolds it.

So I lay thee there, thy sunken eyelids closing,—
      Go lie thou there in thy coffin, thy last little bed!—
            Propping thy wise, sad head,
Thy firm, pale hands across thy chest disposing.

So quiet! doth the change content thee?—Death, whither hath he taken thee?
      To a world, do I think, that rights the disaster of this?
            The vision of which I miss,
Who weep for the body, and wish but to warm thee and awaken thee?

Ah! little at best can all our hopes avail us
      To lift this sorrow, or cheer us, when in the dark,
            Unwilling, alone we embark,
And the things we have seen and have known and have heard of, fail us.

So I have been adapting to doing dialysis.  While the one hour round trip commute is a dead loss of time,  I am using the 4 hours sitting in a recliner while hooked up to the machine.

I exhaust myself in the morning, leaving just enough energy in my tank to drive to the dialysis center without becoming a danger to other users of the roads.  Once hooked up I promptly take a nap, something I would have done in any case even on days not at the center.  That takes up an hour to an hour and a half.

I have been doing some yoga so I have been stretching and holding for a while and that takes up another half an hour.  There is actually  quite a wide range of positions one can do while sitting in a recliner with the foot rest up all the way. For example, I keep my shoulders flat against the back then cross one leg over and let it dangle over the edge while extending that side arm backwards.  That gives the spine a pretty good twist.  Stretch the neck, feet, eyes, pull my ankle under pelvis and the forward bend and when I am done I can feel the blood circulating in my toes.

When I still played soccer I had a whole yoga routine I stretched out with before games but that has fallen into  disuse and I know that stretching is good for you so now I don’t have any excuses not to do it.

The center has wi fi which was a new experience for me, I had never used it before. ECOV , the nonprofit I do a  lot of pro bono work for,  bought me a laptop so I can work while there. I have found that being in a room with fluorescent lights and lots of other patients and nurses coming and going isn’t conducive to creative work but so mush of what I do on the internet is just routine stuff like 90 % of email so I can get that all out of the way.  It is easy to spend a couple of hours on the internet and I often find myself feeling like I run out of time before I run out of things to do.

They have cable TV there which we don’t have at home so I could delve into that but to date have not felt bored enough to do do.

Regular readers will know that I once took a solo bike trip from Grand Forks, North Dakota to Daytona Beach,  Florida, a 2000 mile trip that lasted 30 days.  When I heard that I could use an exercise bike while at the dialysis center I immediately asked to do so. I figured I would try to bike the equivalent from Wheeling to Daytona Beach.

I was initially told to wait until I had been on dialysis for a month so they could see how I would react so once there that long I started.

The first week I only pedaled 5 minutes, this at the suggestion of the exercise therapist assigned to the center.   I had them check  my blood pressure before and after using it.

They typically pull 4-5 kilos (9 to 11 lbs) of fluid off me in a session.   As a result blood pressure drops and as the exercise also drops blood pressure it has to be monitored.

The first week was fine and the second week I went to 10 minutes, also fine.

The third week I went to 15 minutes but couldn’t go one day because when I dropped my feet lowering the recliner, I got light headed and my blood pressure was already too low so I had to skip that day.

Yesterday I went to 20 minutes and by the time I finished I was light headed and blood pressure had dropped into the 90s, too low. They had to stop pulling fluid off me and even temporarily add some back in which resulted in by the end of the session I hadn’t pulled enough fluid off me to get to the dry weight target.

I will try again Wednesday but if the same result then either have to be content to stay at 15 minutes for the time being or follow their suggestion of doing the bike when I first arrive  before taking my nap, and I confess to being attached to the nap at that time.

Their point is the least fluid has been pulled at that beginning and  blood pressure is highest.

My goal had been to work up to 25 minutes. Once at that time, then start adding resistance to the bike.

I was told that 670  reps is a mile (1.6 K). At the rate of  67 reps per minute, a comfortable biking rate, that means 10 minutes is a mile, 6 miles (9.7 K)  an hour.  On my bike trip I would typically cover 15 miles in an hour then take a rest, so 6 mph seems low but that has to do with resistance in my mind so as I increase the resistance I will increase the mileage.

For now, at 670 = 1 mile so so far I have  pedaled a total of 10.5 miles and as Daytona Beach is 929 miles from Wheeling I have 918.5   miles (1478  K) to go.

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