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?

 

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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.

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.