Friday, October 26, 2012

Sweet Surrender!

"To some people, surrender may have negative connotations, implying defeat, giving up, failing to rise to the challenges of life, becoming lethargic, and so on.  True surrender, however, is something entirely different.  It does not mean to passively put up with whatever situation you find yourself in and to do nothing about it.  Nor does it mean to cease making plans or initiating positive action.

"Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life.  The only place where you can experience the flow of life is the Now, so to surrender is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation.  It is to relinquish inner resistance to what is."

- Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

Here's to celebrating the Flow of Life and what IS!

And for the first time ever, I think Bill Clinton might have been on to something when he wanted a definition of "is."

Sweet Surrender  – John Denver
Surrendering – Alanis Morissette
Sweet Surrender – Bread
Surrender – Cheap Trick
Sweet Surrender – Sarah McLachlan
Your Surrender – Neon Trees
Moment of Surrender – U2
Surrender – The Presets

Monday, October 15, 2012

Helium, MRIs, and Us!

It all began with the need for some balloons.

My sister had just received her Masters of Music and I was throwing a little surprise party.  No surprise party is complete without balloons, and balloons that float, so I made it my mission to acquire some balloons that float.

As you'll recall from your last Chemistry course, balloons are filled with an element called helium; atomic number two, located at the top right of the period table.  It's the second lightest element, a noble gas, and is non-toxic, colorless, tasteless, odorless.  It doesn't react to much, except vocal chords when inhaled, and its low atomic number makes it difficult to boil or burn.  Scientists believe that all available helium was created at the time of the Big Bang.  None has been created since.  Most of the helium we use is mined from beneath the flatlands of the United States.

Yahoo #2 and I went for balloons.  "I would like three dozen red balloons," I said.

I did not leave with three dozen red balloons, instead I left with only one dozen because my request for three was met with, "I'm sorry, but due to the helium shortage, I can only give you one dozen today."

What the?!  If only I had one of the electro magnetic cardio brain gamma ray machines available, so as to see the movement.  My brain was a-working!  That brain of mine hadn't had that much activity since, like, April.

"You mean to tell me that helium is used for more than balloons, and midget voices in movies, and inspiration for Led Zeppelin?!  Well.  I'll be!"

It's true.  Helium is used for more than balloons and voice-altering jokes and rock star blimps.  Turns out that helium plays a crucial role in medical field as a cooling agent for the MRI machine.

Thanks to an outlandashly long wait in a doctor's office, I had plenty of time to learn of this helium and MRI machine phenomenon.  MRI machines are giant magnets.  The human body, being mostly water, is made up of a lot of hydrogen – for each water molecule has two hydrogens and one oxygen.  When a human is placed in the magnetic field of an MRI machine, it causes the hydrogen atoms in the body to flip and sort of spin.  This flip and spin creates a contrast in the electromagnetic field that can be captured.  Mathematics and whatnot are then used to generate a 2D or 3D image.  All of this magnetic energy, this flipping and spinning, generates heat on the machine that must be diffused.  Helium is added to the MRI machine to keep the magnets from blowing up.  Or something like that.  (Blow-up drama added for effect.)

Helium, then, is used to cool off the heat generated from magnetic movement.  Helium, also, is in short supply.

It occurred to me just recently, that our (not so) little society has many MRI machines.  Our society has issues and controversies and opinions that cause each of our nuclei to flip and spin.  This flip and spin does a great job of showing contrast, yes?  Sure does.

Right now we have two doozies: the 2012 Election and the USADA/Lance Armstrong situation.  Both issues have been known to bring out the polarity in all.  We are fighting about parties, and fact checking, and tax returns, and spending binges, and budgets, and tax cuts, and millionaires, and drug tests, and witch hunts, and doping, and being clean, and....  the list goes on.

I've seen a fair amount of heat generated by fights that involve these two hot topics.  There's name calling and attacks; red faces and steam blowing out the ears.  Don't you think some of these fights could use a cooling agent?

It's too bad that due to the helium shortage, we can't suck helium when we fight. That'd cool things off for sure.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Toilet Training

Toilet Training; Training in the Toilet; that is today's topic.

Before you emigrate elsewhere, be sure to remember that all things around here aren't as they seem.  I don't intend to recap, recount, or rehash the plague associated with persuading little people to drop their duties in a privy.  That is a horror I don't intend to honor by remembering much less hash over again. It's more like I'm here to confess that my own training – and not of the outhouse ordination – is in the toilet.

As of today, at 11:11am, I'm in a petulant panic.

Why the sudden solicitude?  In exactly 24 days, I'm registered to race and am scheduled to suffer through, the New York City Marathon.  If this were a normal and healthy training cycle, 24 days would be party time because I normally have at least three 20+ mile runs under my bounding belt and get to focus on staying healthy.  That's normally, but this year has been nothing near normal.

It all started with some achilles trouble that ultimately lead to a tear and three months without activity.  After some promising rehabilitation, I was able to run some.  Training was going okay.  Not great, but okay.  All  of that was threatened when I smacked my knee cap during a bike wreck.  No problem!  I said.  But that was three and a half weeks ago and I still can't run more than 10 miles.  And when I do run those 10 miles I have to "pretend it doesn't hurt."

"Pretend it doesn't hurt."

Yes, "pretend it doesn't hurt" brings me to the next chapter of the story. About 10 days ago, I was sure that I had cracked the kneecap and decided to see a knee specialist.  Turns out I was referred to the big-time knee-cheese for a local football team.  Great!  Thought I, while waiting in the lobby for almost two hours.  This guy must know how to keep people active.

Long story short, and after two hours of waiting and a few x-rays, this doctor of knees, who's ego could be smelt through the door, told me to "pretend it doesn't hurt."  

(As an aside, I don't like "cool" doctors.  I like my doctors geeky.  I like geeks for all things.)

This morning I didn't run because I lacked the wherewithal for pretense.  It takes a lot of energy to pretend it doesn't hurt, you know, and today I was fresh out.  If the knee would heal somewhat, I could crank out a 15 this weekend, and an 18 the next.  Having an 18 would allow me to waggle and finish this mess of a NYC marathon.

The knee doesn't appear to be healing, however, and I'm in a particularly petulant panic.

It's not all that bad, really.  Worst case scenario, I go to New York, wake at the crack of dawn, ride a bus for two hours, stand shivering in a coral for two more hours, then run while pretending it doesn't hurt until I can't pretend anymore.  At that point, I'll pull out a a few Franklins*, summon a cab, and meet up with the primary reason for the trip: Megan and Jessica.

Megan and Jessica... is there a better consolation prize anywhere?  Absolutely not.  A trip with them is worth all 20 of my marathons combined.

(*As another aside, I won't be carrying Jacksons because we are staying in Chelsea.  Sarah Vowell lives in Chelsea and she hates Jackson.  I mean hates him with venom and vice.  So, in honor of  Sarah Vowell, I'll be leaving my Jacksons at home.  Just kidding.  I'm not that kind of Sarah Vowell fan.  However, Jackson is a controversial figure.  We visited his Hermitage while in Nashville.  Quite a guy, that one.  And not in a jolly-good-fellow kind of way.)

Monday, October 08, 2012


I like TV shows.  A lot.  Prolly even more than movies.  With a TV show, characters and attached dialog can be expanded upon in clever and unique ways, stories can take more twists and turns, and all of those many seasons can equal hours of entertainment.  I like sitcoms, standcoms, sci-fi, drama, comedy, and go bonkers for anything with historical costuming.

One might say that I've wasted a lot of my life watching these TV shows.  One might say this.  But not this particular rabid one, 'cause, like, she totally has no regrets about the time she spends watching the many TV shows.  If I have regrets, I just turn off the tube before they happen. I can be so futuristic like that – what with seeing my regrets before they even happen.

Thanks to Netflix, Hulu and other on-line providers of the streaming variety, I've had many a terrific show at my disposal, and on demand.  As in, I get to throw a fit and demand that a show appears magically, on my TV, all the time!  To date, this is the one area of my little life that demanding actually works.  Sometimes, however, I'm forced to go old school and must request the DVDs for rental through the snail mail.  This is what's happening with my latest TV show fascination: Fringe.

Fringe is a Sci-Fi, mystery, quirky 'n humorous thriller.  It pretty much tickles all of my TV-watching fancies.  This Fringe has a character named Walter.  Walter is a hippy-gone-scientist, somewhat on the mad side, who frequents pudding and licorice while he dissects the deceased.  Walter receives inspiration from an occasional – if not daily – dose of a mary jane blend he likes to call "Brown Betty."

Walter has some great dialog. I live for Walter's mumblings. Many of which need rewinding and watching again. And again.

In addition to this TV thing, there's another item I frequent, almost romantically, and that is the portmanteau.  I LOVE the portmanteau.  Portmanteau!  I love you!

Walter, bless his heart, has exposed me to my new favorite Portmanteau: vagenda.   Vagenda, you say?  What's a vagenda?  Why, let us allow Walter to use it in a sentence:

"It's all because of that temptress. She tricked my son with her carnal manipulations and he fell right into her vagenda."

Folks, I'm here to say that every woman has a vagenda.  Be ware.  Be very ware!

(Oh, and you can watch the whole thing here.  It's better when Walter says it.)