Why I exercise

Some people work out to look good. Maybe I should adjust that to most people work out to look good naked. A smaller percentage do it for health. Sure, many people say it is for their health, but it is usually secondary to looking good. I am not making a value statement, just an observation, after all, I like looking at a fit body also, and I strive to eliminate self-hypocrisy in my life. I suppose I can say i exercise for health, but the direct reason is this: I workout to avoid pain. It is kind of funny, in a world where so many people have a choice to exercise and stay fit, or not, I don’t really have a choice. Well, I do, but it isn’t much of a choice. Let me elaborate.

Shortly after 9/11/2001 I dislocated my pelvis. That sounds terrible, but it was technically a Sacro-Illiac joint sprain and dislocation, accompanied by a L5 disc bulge, and a S1 disc collapse (read failure) that pressed on my sciatic nerve. for those that don’t know, the S-I joint (sacro-illiac joint) is the joint that connects your spinal column to your pelvic ridge (illiac crest). So while I may not be technically correct in saying I dislocated my pelvis, functionally, this is what I did. I took several months of Chiropractic care, massage therapy, and a L5-S1 Laminectomy to ease the pressure off my nerve. This did not fix the structural problems, this only alleviated the associated nerve pain. I still walk around with this injury, and the residual effects of it. What this means in a practical sense  for me is this: if I do not maintain a certain level of muscle tautness, strength, and posture, my lower back pops in and out of place, carrying with it a certain degree of discomfort I like to call massive pain. Unless I pursue some sort of surgical reconstruction years after the fact, I am living with this for the rest of my days. This requires I maintain a low-impact, high-strength exercise regimen regarding my lower back and legs. Well, at least my butt, as too much slack in my musculature there starts to have consequences, like delayed gratification, except I get delayed consequence. I have learned this from many trial-and-errors. Injury requiring exercise #1.

a few years after, i started having strange pains, and after several months, i finally got a diagnosis: I had 3 or 4 vertebrae out in my neck, and at least one disc was damaged. Minor pressing of the vertebrae on the spinal cord, and the foraminal canals that lead out to my arms. So my neck has to stay in shape, or my arms start to go numb and feel like pins and needles are constantly poking them all over. Also, the spinal cord contact seems to give me sporadic gastro-intestinal issues, and other internal system problems. So, I must maintain good posture, and keep my shoulders and neck in good shape, keep the tendon infrastructure tight, and maintain good hydration. If I slack in any of these, such as the hydration, the nerves become inflamed, start rubbing on the bones, and i get to experience more discomfort of the type “constant burning and pricking hell-on-earth” which I am not partial to. I am still learning the extent of how to live with this, but I have learned how under most circumstances. Injury requiring exercise #2.

The last one here is really a 2-part injury, one from 2005, and one from more recently. I broke my heel in 2005, and had a plate put in to partially reconstruct it. Recently, in  2012, I broke both my Tibia and Fibula, and also an explosive ankle fracture, that required a lot of metal inserted into my leg to reconstruct and facilitate healing. The effect of this: I will never be able to get very heavy. No massive muscle building campaign, no overeating in a fit of depression. I also must walk. No running, yet, just walking, at the moment it is between 1.5-2 miles per day. Low impact, high mileage, everyday work. If I slack too much in my diet, I will experience this state of discomfort I like to call, “Looks-like-a-pimp-limp-but-hurts-like-hell excruciating pain”. Funny thing is also this: it creates a need for sustained, low-impact cardio training that focuses on my lower body. So I must walk, or something like it, everyday of my life, and I cannot allow myself to get very heavy either, so as to avoid undue strain on the metal fabrication work my outstanding surgeons did.

which brings me back to the beginning. I have a bittersweet blessing. I have to watch what I eat, I have to do regular cardio exercise, and I have to strength train in some sort of free weight fashion. Well, I don’t HAVE to. I can choose massive pain, with a dependence on a healthcare system not set up for me, and live with the knowledge that I gave up, quit, didn’t do it. I have already made my choice to workout. To maintain a regular regimen, to try different programs, to use my knowledge and learning abilities to continually try to improve my life and fitness to the best of my abilities. I like to think of it this way: I get to spend the rest of my life working out, getting and staying fit. I will never be a heavyweight bodybuilder, and I never wanted to be. I will get to have a lifestyle that will always include fitness, I will always be fighting my natural chocaholism, and I get to indulge myself in learning new fitness and diet styles for many years. I get to take a long-term view and strategy, as I cannot have short-term-only goals. I get to work hard, and tell people things like, “watch this cripple work harder than everyone else.” I get to take personal notes as my limp gets less, my waist shrinks, and my physique changes. I get to choose what I wanna look like, and be the engineer of my body. I get to live a lifestyle that most  people only see as an option, and know I am lessening my impact on the world while I am at it.

And hey, I may even get to look good naked. As good a reason as any I suppose. Perhaps that is what I should tell everyone anyway, all the other reasons start to sound like whining, even when it motivates the hell out of me. So here goes;

I just wanna look good naked. What’s your excuse?

 

Africa, Poop, Waste, and Common Needs

If you have seen my blog before, or are looking at it now, (ahem, as you should be if you are reading this) you can see my previous posting about biogas and waste in a small-scale business model with a cartridge or small receptacle style collection paradigm. Here is a paper I recently wrote that expands on that, and can include a traditional sewer and solid waste treatment type, as well as normal waste with mechanical separation. It is brief, because of the necessity of the forum I was using, but here is the whole paper…

Africa and the World, an Energy and Agriculture necessity
Africa is on a cusp of a revolution in how it lives. What that revolution is will depend heavily on how it comes to fruition. Africa has many problems, and none will be solved quickly, but ideas are the currency of the future, and so, here is mine. There is a push for biodiesel produced and farmed in Africa, but destined to make profits, and be used, mostly in foreign markets. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/may/31/biofuel-plantations-africa-british-firms)  Even the local governments push that the revenue will be mostly tax generated to improve the standards of living through social programs. (http://www.africabiofuel.com/Benefits.aspx) Yet the report on Africa’s problems concerning irrigation and mechanization show a distinct need for diesel-engined equipment to further the mechanization and agricultural development of Africa to maintain standards for the population, economies, and governments of Africa sustainably. I have another suggestion: poop. Or, more accurately, waste. Disposal of garbage, human, and livestock waste all have massive potential in a continent with the varied geography, natural resources, and cultures that Africa has. They all share problems common to the world however, which is to say that mechanization and progress almost inevitably lead to more waste.
Biogas generators have been around for awhile, but only in recent years have the efficiency and multi-use capabilities really been looked at, and developed. The most efficient design is a CHP (Combined Heat and Power) design that not only gets energy from the Methane produced, but uses the exhaust gasses to drive a steam turbine. And let us not forget that the exhaust from burning Methane is about 60% water (clean water) and 30% carbon dioxide, with a few impurities making up the remainder. (CHP and municipal solid waste designs here: http://www.clarke-energy.com/gas-type/sewage-gas/ and http://www.clarke-energy.com/gas-type/biogas/mbt-ad-energy/ best diagrammatics I found were from this companies’ website, but the principle is the same everywhere) the same principles and basic designs apply across a range of waste sources: the leftover material from fermentation, for alcohol or biodiesel production, the organic waste from agriculture including livestock waste and unused plant material, solid waste from landfill-type facilities, and my favorite, seaweed. One of the ideas not discussed in any website, but the technology is sound, is to use the exhaust gases from a methane burner to power desalination. Distillery methods of desalination are old, well-proven, and of extreme utility to the parched regions of Africa, and the Sea Salt leftover from the process is a valuable commercial commodity worldwide as well as locally. There is some concern for a major impurity known as siloxanes, which leave a silicate residue from the generation. This is also a commodity, as the silicate can be smelted same as with any silicates mined. Also, the sludge left after anaerobic digestion is a high quality fertilizer that enriches the soil, and slows or eliminates the erosion and strip-farming techniques used without high-quality fertilizers.
To recap, there is a renewable resource for electricity production, and it’s waste products are: heat, to be used for generating steam electricity, creating nearly 90% efficiency, or to be used to desalinate water for drinking or irrigation; its exhaust is mostly water vapor, again usable for drinking or irrigation; and carbon dioxide, a useful commodity itself for petroleum production, or even soft-drinks; and high quality organic fertilizers. The byproducts are almost completely usable, either for the direct good of the populace, or as commercially salable commodities. With village-based digesters, it can scale down for remote areas to produce their own intermittently, or with village size collectors, the waste can be transported to larger collection facilities to maximize constant running and efficiency and to make up for the extra transportation costs. Also, the by products of biodiesel production make excellent biogas seed materials. (http://www.clarke-energy.com/gas-type/biogas/agricultural-biogas/)
With a trinity of needs; mechanization, fertilization, and irrigation, driving the agriculture, and a solid electrical infrastructure to co-develop the industrial and commercial sectors along with that agricultural growth, waste is a serious resource for regions that are used to subsisting on less than human or direct livestock power, as well as industrialized regions transitioning to a more sustainable future. And as a bonus, all the wonderful fauna in Africa can help: think of all the electricity that can be made from elephant dung and other large animals. I focus on Africa for this, but the ideas can be implemented anywhere, from Africa, to Central America, to developed regions. San Diego, CA already has biogas electrical generation supplementing other municipal electricity sources, and is one of the largest users of desalinated water. Future designs for electricity could incorporate both. Central American, or Carribean nations with coastlines could benefit from this also. But Africa has the greatest potential gain, both in the short term, and in the long run. It is a sustainable energy source for now, and the future.
Other sources: http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/24176 , http://emispec.ca/en/internal-combustion-engine-powered-by-biogas.php , http://askville.amazon.com/combustion-byproducts-methane-natural-gas-Comparasons-ethanol-pump-help/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=2747357 , http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/drinkseawater.html , http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544206003033 , http://www.biocycle.net/2012/12/biogas-production-and-potential-from-u-s-wastewater-treatment/ , http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs/17591/InTech-Biomass_waste_as_a_renewable_source_of_biogas_production_experiments.pdf

Sanitation for the Developing World

I have thought of the problems you often see in developing countries that tend to be extremely repulsive to western societies, and for good reason: poor sanitation. Human waste problems are rampant in developing nations. I always think of the movie Slumdog Millionaire and the outhouse scene. Far too many people live in this barely-worth-the-name sanitation solution. i have had some ideas, but the best variation on the theme i have seen yet is from Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) Unilever, and Clean Team Ghana. (article here: http://skollworldforum.org/2013/02/23/building-a-scalable-business-in-ghana-because-every-family-deserves-a-toilet/ ) The model this goes upon may seem archaic to people used to living with the modern equivalent of the Roman Aqueduct system; we tend to think of it like an outhouse, or a portable potty. But please, stop for a moment, there are advantages to this system, and they are many.

First: The cartridge system keeps the traditional stink to a minimum. They are basically sealed until the flush happens. This is a HUGE improvement over standard dug outhouses, and less harmful than the chemical fragrances used by portable toilets at outdoor concerts and such. it also allows for easier pickup, it is basically a switch-and-presto system. no muss, no fuss. The collection would be cheap, and there is benefits to the collection company(ies) that would perform the service to help keep costs low, or nonexistent. Which brings me to…

Second: the local storage solution can be  used as a local business model. Currently, this model with WSUP  is taking the collected waste to a municipal treatment site. This requires constant maintenance, governmental personnel, and is a drain on taxes and the working poor. If these smaller, localized collection drop-off locations can be planned correctly, there are several benefits to be realized. One benefit is the fertilizer from the fermentation and decay by bacterial means of the waste. In developing countries, this is a multiplicity of benefits. The reduction of public defecation and urination cleans up disease carrying waste, and the fertilizer is a concentrated form that can either be bought and distributed by the government as a free benefit for using the system, or it can be sold by the collection companies as a means to offset the cost of collection, either way it benefits the agricultural societies that tend to be the ones with the greatest sanitation problems, and it provides a lowering of costs for the working poor, and for those who have no money, while also providing an increased job market, and thereby an increased economic flow within a localized geographic area. Secondly, the gases that are released by the breakdown process are collectible, and saleable. Methane is the most  productive of these gases, as a cooking gas, and possibly heating as well. But the Carbon Dioxide, and Hydrogen Sulfide gases have industrial uses, and would create a localized supply for, what would be at least in the beginning, a small industrial complex. the sale of these gases would also offset the cost of collection. For developing countries, or at least areas, foreign aid, investment, or just local government investment, would be able to provide free sanitation to the most remote, and poor, constituents of their population. The poorest and most remote of the population brings me to the third benefit, one not realized by the capitalist side, but one for the governments, and the population itself.

Thirdly: By concentrating collections into smaller, economically feasible collection points, another benefit is created; Health and pollutant monitoring. If 2 or 3 villages have their waste collected into a local collection facility, one that breaks it down into fertilizer and gases, it will naturally concentrate an important means of monitoring what is going into the people in the even of a health crisis: their very own waste. For the very rural, very poor parts of the world, this is a very important piece. for the developing world, it provides local clustering for outbreak scenarios that is incredibly easy to monitor. Sampling small nodules of waste can identify sources of disease and pollution quickly, and accurately. This is important in countries where developing industries have the potential to do great, and irreparable harm. Also, for outbreaks of diseases that occur in the tropics, and other places, where on person coming from a trip to the country before hopping on a plane, can infect the world, this is a major benefit to the world that is worth monitoring. Small, accurately labeled samples, can be taken for governmental or other health agency collection and monitoring. The last benefit on my list is a bit more intangible too those used to the aqueduct system.

Fourth: The lack of centralized municipal plumbing and treatment facilities. This does several things; one, it either massively limits, or completely eliminates, public burden of sanitation. This is a striking contrast to the western world where the sewer piping, waste treatment facilities, and personnel are all publicly paid for. It also eliminates another public burden: digging and laying those large pipelines. Not having to massively engineer slopes, flow, and also eliminating the need for electrical pumps, never creates a public cost, while still providing jobs for the populace, but in a more scalable, and sustainable way. It creates businesses, and careers, not just 1-time work that mostly benefits large, foreign companies. Another subsidiary eddy in this economic flow is the fuel the collection vehicles would use: since most vehicles that would do this would be diesel powered, biodiesel can be used instead, thereby creating a demand, and supply, for high-yield, low value crops. Small rural farmers can not only farm for subsistence, many root vegetables that are not edible, or are less nutritionally dense for people, can be farmed more easily, and sold for creating biodiesel. This gives the farmers a constant market, allows for betterment of living conditions in areas that may not grow all food crops well, and provides another local industry by which local governments can sustainably tax.

While large foreign companies can, and likely will, supply the raw things like the vehicles, and many of the farm tools and implements, not to mention the huge market for designing and developing the smaller, more modular collection-site facilities, it provides local people with a sustainable base industry on which many others can build, as well as creating an atmosphere that allows foreign aid and investment to flourish. Immediate benefits to the education, industry, and health of local people will not only raise the standard of living, but provide the local governments with a strong base of public support, and a legacy of humanitarian industry that could serve to model the rest of the world. Not just Africa, also India, Island nations, and South and Central America can all benefit from this business model. (Latin America has a humanitarian streak that continues, and would lend itself to this model well, link here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/19/no-alternative-latin-america-has-a-few ) Let us hope, for all the wonderful poor, but hard-working and independent people of the world, that this will be adopted, and invested in, by the rich nations of the world. it is an investment in a future market and economy, it is an investment in independent business, and lastly, it is an investment in the welfare of people, and the world. there is NO long-term downside to this. There is an inherent flexibility to new technology, a much easier method of deployment of such technology, and a lower cost of maintenance, and a lowered cost and impact of any disaster. The modularity, local and global commercial opportunities with their associated tax revenue, and the multi-fold  health benefits to almost half of the world’s population makes this a model the world, and western industry, cannot afford to lose. This is how the world will continue to improve, this is one step of many, but it is a huge one.

Please, titans of industry, Giants of philanthropy, angel investors, and officials of government, hear this plea: Implement this program, everywhere you can, as much as possible, challenge our existing commercial industries to rise, and meet this unanswered demand. the children who die every day from something simple like diarrhea need it, the farmers who have to continually deforest land because their crops take too much nutrition out of the soil need it, the impoverished people in countries that have all the good land, but none of the needed help need it, and most of all, we that live in the developed world need this. We need to believe in the Soul of industry again, like when the motor car changed transportation, when refrigeration staved off food poisoning, and we eradicated smallpox. We have lost the Soul of industry, and we need it back. Let’s start here, shall we?

 

 

The Dance of the Iris

Have you ever watched someone’s eyes while you talk? I don’t mean look at  them, I mean watch them, observe, and do so while noting the context of conversation? i have, many times, and I have noticed something funny, strange, and wonderful. I call it the dance of the Iris. It happens, depending on the person, depending on the age, and depending on the context, to everyone I have ever met. yet, when I go to look online, or in journals, or anything, I cannot find it. With the long-term work done with Dr. Stephen Hawking and his eye-tracking software, you would think there would be some, but I cannot find it. With the new Google Glass hardware coming out, and all the necessary research to do that, you would like to believe there would be more basic research available, but it is nearly impossible to find. There is Military research being done for eye tracking,  for pilots, and infantry, and I understand that research being secret, but still. Maybe there are people wondering how I know, maybe there isn’t. but I know, I have done my own observations, I have purposely changed the variables, and I KNOW the results. There cannot be a lack of this research, which tells me it is a closely guarded thing. kept from the internet, kept from others. Perhaps it is just corporate proprietary concerns, perhaps it is military software engineering concerns, or both. But what i have observed is more, it has to do with when i have seen it, and in this era of big data, there must be people who have done this analysis also. I see so much being reported, so many advancements, particularly in several key areas of cognitive interactivity, that it must be true. I know something too, that even without my eyes, without the Dance of my Iris, there are things I can still do. More people should watch, and take a look, watch when you are talking, and without any change in lighting conditions, watch for when the Iris flutters, it is short, but sweet. It has meaning, it has a reason. I have thought often about this, and I know it to be true. Maybe this is something happening in the top of the top, and only beginning to be noticed, much less understood. Maybe i am being written off, I am just some guy with an associate’s degree, in some backwoods town, with no formal laboratory experience. But, I KNOW, I have more, and though I may not have the “right” qualifications on paper, I have seen, I have met, I have shook hands. i can do my own thing, and still be ahead. It may not be as rigorous, but just imagine, what could happen, if I had more feedback. Imagine what could happen if WE ALL did. i see all the funny memes, I get the questioning. But I also know, there are just a few, a special few that everyone must run to to get answers. This isn’t the 1% in monetary wealth, these are the people in the top 1% of ability, of intellect, of preternatural wealth. I know that I am not alone, that this is being done. I want in, I want to help. this is as detailed as it gets. I need more, I am willing to work.

Ignoring this in software is fine, ignoring it in the outer world is not. this is important. For all those who read this and it blows right by, don’t worry, just watch, watch the colored part of the eye. For those who may know, and those who just want to, this is big news, and i want in too.

“Natural” Flavor

“Natural Flavor”, the name itself conjures up something nice, yet most people wont even be able to imagine what it is exactly. After all, when you read or hear the name, what do you think of? Do you think of actual fruits, vegetables and animals? How often have you stopped, and actually tried to imagine what these “natural flavors” are? If you are a cook, you may think of something like a reduction, where you boil, simmer, or otherwise “reduce” (gotta love real science for explanatory nomenclature) something. Like beef bouillon, or a fruit sauce. These are what I would consider natural flavors to be. If I am making a small dessert, or perhaps a syrup, then boiling down my  raspberries into a concentrated sauce, and adding just a few more, is what I would do for enhanced flavor. a couple of raspberries (or other fruit, vegetable, or animal constituent) may not have the flavor balance that my recipe is calling for, but a small amount of reduction would add enough to compensate. This is not what most “Natural Flavors” are. Check out the business end of Flavors, here is a wonderfully indicative website, that sells these things, notice the “Organic” section, and the limited list there. http://www.flavor.com/ and for some contrast, http://www.naturesflavors.com/ and yes, I am a fan of Ed Begley, as well as Bill Nye.

The legal and regulatory definition of “Natural Flavors and Flavorings” as per our governmental regulatory bodies is as follows: from Title 21, Section 101, part 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations

The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.

“…whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.” Not ONLY function,  not nutritional, just the vague term “significant function”, which allows quite a bit of leeway. There is no mention of addictive qualities, no mention of avoiding nasty side-effects, just significant. It even specifies that it must not have nutritional value as its significant function. This is under the auspices of brand differentiation, or maintaining original formulas. But I ask, “Exactly how many different kinds of raspberry go into ‘raspberry flavor’?” I mean, I get the amounts being a secret, but then why is the ingredients to such a thing secret? I have NEVER seen a blue raspberry in my life. I am not the only one who wonders this type of question, I am certain of that. If you wonder these things as well, I suggest you start at this website http://www.organicauthority.com/foodie-buzz/what-is-natural-flavor.html , after you have looked at the others, it may just change your mind, and change your life. Once you realize you may be eating crushed bugs, bug extract, and the glands of beavers (or be smelling them in perfumes) you may just change your diet, or at least start trying out a community garden, to grow your own, which is always a good thing. And in the end, learn to cook, if you cant grow your own, at least cook your own, then you will always know what goes into your food.

Endosymbiosis

I recently read this article http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/33711/title/Steal-My-Sunshine/ and I really began to notice a very distinct reference to an aspect of evolution, something I believe in, that is rarely mentioned.  That is the absorption of other symbiotic organisms in what is termed endosymbiosis. Effectively, this means that one organism absorbed another, but instead of digesting it, the 2 organisms merged, and symbiotic life as we know it began. This is in contrast to what most people think of as evolution. The simple explanation usually given is one of random mutations and such, and while this type can fall under this broad umbrella, it is different than just survival of the fittest, it is mutual survival of the fittest. A concept that is often lost in modern explanations. Some of these algae and other single-celled organisms stay fairly autonomous and functioning, as in a coral. Yet there are some that lose their innate photosynthetic ability, and their metabolic abilities become more useful to the host organism. This strikes me as somewhat akin to sexual symbiosis, and could have a profound effect on the historical,  and statistical nature of evolution. It is like having a virus that a human becomes symbiotic with, or a fungus, and then have that organisms functions develop along with “normal” evolution. It is a huge set of genetic “leap” possibilities that punctuates an otherwise smooth and random evolution. I found this article both informative, and thought provoking. I am happy to have learned something, and I hope everyone who reads this does too.