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Saturday, August 25, 2012

They Don't Make TV Shows Like That Anymore

Lately I have been seeing posts on Facebook with photos of old TV shows from the 50's, 60's and 70's, with the caption telling you to like if you remember it. I must admit that I remember all of these shows and become quite nostalgic when I look at the photos. I always "like" them and "share" the photos. So far I have seen "The Andy Griffith Show", "The Brady Bunch", "The Lucille Ball Show" and "Cheers".

Seeing these led me to reminisce about other old shows. Some of my favorites were "The Life of Riley", "Leave It to Beaver", "Father Knows Best" and "Our Miss Brooks" to name a few. There are many more TV shows that I and others around my age should remember. Not all are as old as the ones I just mentioned, but they are the ones I remember fondly.

When I think about watching these shows I think of a simpler time when I was younger than 12. I had nothing to worry about and nothing to fear, except for maybe not getting my homework done on time. I can remember sitting in front of the old black and white General Electric television in my living room and watching these shows with my parents and older brothers. The plots were simple, usually nothing more serious than getting a failing grade in school or not getting the chores around the house done. There was no sex. The parents slept in separate single beds and  heck I don't remember even seeing the parents' bedrooms until "The Dick Vandyke Show". There were no drugs, no swearing or profanity and no violence. The only gun play was in the westerns, but there was no gore or mass shootings. In all of these shows the neighbors were all friendly, well dressed and  well to do middle class people. They were nothing like my family, or the family of anyone else I knew.

None of these shows portrayed poor families, homeless people, handicapped people, Blacks, Asians or Hispanics. Everybody was white. No one was Catholic or Jewish and certainly not Muslim.  There were no gays or even people who could have been gay. Everybody seemed to be married or widowed. None of the mothers worked, even though the very young and  older women worked as either librarians or teachers. Even though these shows took place during the Cold War, there was no mention of it.  There was absolutely no mention of any social issues whatsoever. It was a perfect world of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Americans, undoubtedly all Republican too.

We may look back and think about the old days, when everything was peaceful and simple, with no problems and no worries. In reality though these TV shows portrayed an America where everyone was hiding their heads in the sand. The plights of minorities, such as Blacks and Women were ignored and not talked about in public. Children were going hungry and being physically and sexually abused and there was a great deal of domestic violence that was ignored by everyone, including the authorities. There was gang violence, there were drugs , race riots and all manners of discrimination that was legitimized by looking the other way. Everything was perfect only if you were White. The only reason life was so simple was the fact we did not know about all of the suffering taking place, not only in our country, but in our own neighborhoods of our home towns.

I look back at my childhood and have warm memories and feelings when I think about these old TV shows. I wonder if , no I hope, that all people my age can look back at their childhood, when also thinking of old TV shows and feel the same warmth as I do.



Sunday, August 19, 2012

As Time Goes By

When I was younger time seemed to stand still. It was almost like time was an enemy. I can remember waiting for Christmas to come and it seemed as though a one month wait seemed like a lifetime. Waiting for my next birthday was torture, as time dragged on. When I was younger my age was measured in years and months. I was six and a half before I became seven. The milestones, my 12th birthday, 16th birthday and then my 21st birthday, all came very slowly.

Now I am retired and officially a senior citizen. I see time in an altogether different light. Time is different, but it is still the enemy. When I was a child I had decades of time ahead of me, but now it seems as though time is quickly slipping away.  I can remember thinking about retirement, as if it were something so far ahead in the future that I had all the time in the world to think about it. Well now that time is here. It seemed like it was just yesterday when I started working and the day before yesterday when I entered college. What happened?

I have been retired for about 5 years now. I can remember thinking about what I would do with all of my new found spare time. In scary moments I thought about myself just sitting and waiting for time to pass, as I did not have enough to do to occupy my time. Now I wonder where the hell all of that time has gone. I don't work for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. I don't have a schedule of when to grocery shop or run errands or walk the dog. I go to the gym, run a few errands and I write my blogs, but sometimes there just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day to do everything.  When I have a party to go to, a special event or a vacation I am excited abut going on, it seems as if they come and go in a snap of the finger. I went back to the US one year ago for a 3 week vacation, but it seems as though it were only a couple of months ago.  I am planning my next vacation to the US for next year and I am sure it will be here before I know it.

It's really strange that time becomes a completely different concept the more we age. Maybe it's because at birth we have no concept of time and in our youth, time is measured in anticipated pleasures. While as we grow older we measure our achievements, our hopes and dreams, what could have been and what can still be, in the terms of how much time we may have left, rather than having all the time in the world. As time goes by we can't worry about losing it, we have to concentrate on living for the moment and making the best of time, without measuring it.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Visit to the Dentist

As my readers may or may not know I am retired and live in Penang, Malaysia. Medical care and dental care here in Malaysia is excellent and one hell of a lot cheaper than in the US. Yesterday I had to visit the dentist and I am relating my experience to my friends back in the US to make them jealous of the costs that I have incurred.

As with most people, I really dislike going to the dentist. With a certain amount of trepidation and after lots of procrastination I finally decided to go to the dentist and have my tooth pulled. For months I have been putting off this unpleasant task, suffering with weeks of on and off pain from my root canal that went bad. After waiting for an excruciating 35 minutes in the waiting room I was called into the dentist's office, sat down in the chair, opened my mouth wide and in a matter of minutes it was all over. I has my teeth cleaned and my tooth extracted.

The ordeal became even more bearable when I went to pay for what had been done. My total charge was less than $50 USD. If I had this done back home it would have been 2 or 3 time that amount. I was extremely happy that I went to the dentist today, but the short walk back home made me feel even happier. When I lived in Boston and I walked the short distance back home I dodged traffic thinking of all the money I had just given to my dentist to buy his newest Lexus SUV. When I walked home here in Penang I admired some cows grazing next to the sidewalk in a vacant lot next to my condo. These same cows just wander from plots of grass to vacant lots grazing along the way, without any one leading them on. It just amazes me that they wander freely, walking on the sidewalks and in the streets without their keepers supervising their activities. Beautiful and only in Penang!


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Don't Eat This. Don't Eat That.

I like to read the news on the Internet every day and this includes the health news. But I am really getting sick of headlines such as "Eating Red Meat Increases Risk of Early Death". In the past couple of days this headline has been on the Internet, on TV and in the newspapers. Of course they meant you have to eat red meat every single day of your life. It's really amazing that there are human beings alive today, because all of our prehistoric ancestors ate read meat! They were all hunters and gatherers.

I don't know how many times in my lifetime scientists have concluded that drinking coffee was extremely bad for you. Probably just about the same number of times scientists have concluded that drinking coffee is good for your health. I can remember when eating chocolate was bad for you, but now eating it is good for you. And how about the warnings about drinking alcohol? At first drinking any alcohol was bad for your health, but now scientists have found that drinking red wine is actually very good for your heart. Drinking a moderate amount of alcohol has been found to be beneficial to your health in many ways. For years eating any kind of fat was bad for you, but now we know that certain fats are actually good for us. Coconut oil had been very bad for your health until just recently when it was discovered that is can be good for you.

Nowadays whenever I read such headlines I take them with a grain of salt. I really doubt the science of the research that generates such headlines. Research is expensive and someone has to pay for it. I suspect that much of this research is paid for by both pro and con self interest groups. Whenever new research is announced, the people or organizations paying for the research are always kept secret. I have lost a lot of respect for many researchers and I pay little or at least less attention to the results of research projects, which generate tabloid type headlines.

If we all pay attention to these periodic headline regarding eating or not eating certain foods, we will all become paranoid hypochondriacs. If we strictly follow the guidelines of these researchers we might live a few extra years. A few hungry, miserable, lonely, unhappy and stressful years. A longer life of little quality. As in all aspects of life, when it comes to eating and drinking, the smart thing to do is to eat and drink in moderation. This is something that researchers know nothing about. Enjoy life, don't be afraid of it.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Where Is God?

Tens of thousand of years ago early civilizations honored and prayed to many gods and types of gods.The Greeks, the Romans, and  the Egyptians had many gods and goddesses for whom they built numerous elaborate temples. The ancient Egyptians also believed that their pharaohs were gods and treated them as such. Other ancient people prayed to the gods of nature, such as the sun, wind, fire, animals and the forest. People prayed to different gods who represented different aspects of life.  About 4000 years ago the idea of, monotheism or"one"god was introduced by Abraham in the founding of the Jewish religion. A few thousand years later, Christianity, an offshot of Judaism was founded. At about the same time Islam was founded. All three of these religions honored one single God, who was basically the same God with different names, Jehovah, Allah or God, according to what religion you belonged to. All of a sudden praying to only one God became the norm. Even though the same one God is recognized as the same "one true God" each of these religions have been at each other's throats for thousand of years, professing to be the "only true religion". Even the different sects in Judaism, Christianity and Islam are professing to be the true sect of their religion. Millions of people have died and thousands continue to die to this day, all in the name of God.

All of these religions believe that God is an all loving, all powerful and all forgiving God.  One thing that baffles me is, how God lets this bloodshed continue. Why does he stand by an allow people to murder each other in His name? Why doesn't He come out and say "cut the crap and accept and love one another in My name instead of killing your fellow man in My name"?  Surely God can do that.

If you look at the Bible, you will see that God had talked to Abraham, Moses, Solomon, Ezekiel, Noah and a few others. But that was about 4,000 years ago. Why was God so talkative way back then, but suddenly so quiet now?  As far as I know God has not talked to anyone in at least 2000 years, if you don't count some of the present day Republican candidates for president. Another question I have on this subject is "where was God all of those tens of thousand of years before he supposedly spoke to Abraham"? What made Him decide suddenly to talk to Abraham and tell him to found the Jewish religion? I don't uinderstand it. I am sure if I were to address these concerns to any devout member of the above religions I would get the response, "It's God's will". The standard response a religious person gives when he can't come up with an logical answer.

What I am really worried about is that if by some amazing miracle God reads this blog and decides to talk to someone about the religious violence ocurring in the world today. Would that person believe that God was actually talking to him? And what would happen when he communicated to the rest of us what God had said? We all would probably think he was crazy and pay him no heed. Who knows? Maybe God has already told us to stop the killing and violence in the name of religion and we just laughed at the messenger. I really believe, however, that is intrinsically human for people to hate and to kill for no reason at all, other than slight differences in opinion. Animals kill for food and for defense. Humans kill for no reason at all. And we consider ourselves superior! Maybe God is just fed up with us all.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I Think I Am Becoming Addicted To Blogging.

Last May I started my first blog, Retired in Malaysia, and had no idea what I was doing. I thought it would be fun, give me something to do with my time and even help me make a little money. I wasn't really gung ho about it, but it was fun designing it and publishing posts. Then I talked myself into starting a blog on politics because I had my own, somewhat liberal views on American politics and social issues, but no one to share them with here in Malaysia. In June I started Senior Neurons so that I could share my views with anyone who was interested in reading them. I spent a great deal of time trying to promote these two blogs, so I thought I was satisfied. But then back in November as I was thinking of possible topics to write about on my blogs, I realized that some of the topics just did not fit retiring in Malaysia or politics. So naturally the thing to do was to start another blog where I can express many different ideas, thoughts and opinion that didn't fit anywhere else.  Thus Steveso Thinks was born.

Now that I have a total of 3 blogs on which I spend a hell of a lot of time trying to promote to increase my traffic and also my earnings. There are times I spend 5 or more hours a day trying to do this. I spend more time on promotion than actually writing the posts. Many times I have done a lot of work promoting and writing what I thought was a great post just to see the traffic and income remain stagnant.  I have previously written a post here, Have I No Shame, where I go into more detail what I have done. Even after publishing that post and almost begging people to follow me or click on some ads, there was not a bit of difference. You can't make people click on ads or sign up to follow, it they don't want to or don't feel my site is worth while. Recently I actually paid  to help me increase my traffic on my blogs and it is helping a little.

Even though I have 3 blogs and I have a lot of work to do in promoting them, I guess I am still not satisfied. Many times when I go to bed at night, just after spending a good deal of time on my sites I lay awake with all kinds of ideas running through my head. This doesn't help my sleep but I do come up with some ideas. Unfortunately I forget some of them when I wake up. I came up with a thought for a brand new site the other night, which would be completely different than any of the other sites that I have created. So far I have spent approximately 20 hours doing research about setting it up and I am no where near starting it. Hopefully in the next few weeks I can get it up and running. Have I become addicted to blogging or an I just plain nuts?

Monday, February 20, 2012

How Can I lose Weight Fast?

How many people have Googled the question, "How can I lose weight fast?" I am willing to bet that hundreds of thousands of people have. Well if you've landed on this post in response to your question about losing weight, don't be upset because you won' find any answers here.

If you do a search for help in losing weight you will find hundreds of sites, mostly all useless. You will undoubtedly find results in sites such as "Wikihow", "Ehow" and "Ezine" and if you look closely enough you will notice that the articles are almost exactly the same. Drink plenty of water, exercise, eat more fruit and vegetables, less fat and sugar and count your calories. This is information any idiot would know, unless they have been living in a cave all of their life. Then you will find sites selling the miracle diets or supplements, ranging from diet teas to exotic fruit from the jungles of the Amazon. Diet teas work great if you want to sit on the toilet all day and give up eating. The supplements usually are very expensive and consist of ingredients which have absolutely no effect on weight and can be very dangerous in many cases. A lot of these miracle weight loss supplements raise your metabolism, which also raises your heart rate and blood pressure. Coffee is a much cheaper and safer alternative. You can also buy over the counter drugs that prevent fat from being absorbed by your digestive system. These work great as long as you don't mind the occasional "accident" you have when you sneeze or cough, or when you thought "it" was going to be a fart. If you take the pills you really shouldn't wear white pants and have a constant supply of clean underwear with you. 

Aside from the supplements there are a number of alternative exercise techniques, like those vibration plates that are supposed to shake the fat off you.  Some of the advertising claims that you can burn 1000 calories in 15 minutes. None of the current research on these techniques have found any positive benefits for weight loss. I have known people who have tried the vibration plates and paid some hefty fees over a few months period. The only weight they lost was in their wallets.

Some sites advertise "body wrap" where they promise you can lose inches around your waist. Of course you do. The wrapping just moves the fat to another part of the body! If this doesn't work maybe you can try electric muscle stimulation to shock the fat off your body. Once again all of the current research shows no evidence of any weigh loss benefits. If you read any literature on the above techniques, you will find some extremely fine print at the bottom of brochures or customer testamonials, which says that success comes only when used in conjunction with proper diet and exercise.

The other sites you will run across will be legitimate sites which offer just that - proper diet and exercise. They offer advice on eating healthy, along with recipes and which foods will help you lose weight  and keep it off.  Other sites offer exercise programs and tips that will help you burn fat and lose weight in a healthy fashion. Many of these exercises can be done at home at little or no cost. There are sites that advertise gyms or home exercise equipment to lose weight and keep in shape. Unlike weight loss miracles, supplements and the latest fat burning technologies, nutrition and exercise has been proven to be effective for weight loss.

The bottom line is that for most of us, we are fat because we eat way too much of the wrong food and won't get off our butts to do any exercise. We realize we are fat but we are too damn lazy to do anything about it except to waste our time looking for a miracle quick fix weight loss gimmick. The anwer to the title question is eat less, drink water and exercise more.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Is There Ever A Point Where One Can Have Too Much Money?

Everyone, at some time or other, has wished they had more money than they actually do. Many people have little or no money from a job or business and depend on public assistance.  There are many people who are living from paycheck to paycheck, who naturally wish they had more money to spend for their daily living expenses, health care or education. There are many of us who just wish they had a little more money to spend on that dream vacation, dream house or some kind of special toy. Then there are those who are literally drowning in money. Mitt Romney comes to mind.

I am retired now and I live on a relatively fixed income of social security and a pension. I often wish I had more money to spend on a bigger house or more lavish lifestyle, but I am 100% sure that what I have is what I have, for ever. Unless, of course, this and my other blogs start to make a hell of a lot of money, rather than the meager dollar a month average. So instead of me dreaming about becoming rich  I watch the candidates for the GOP presidential nomination attack each other, with Romney taking most of the attacks. Since I have lived in Massachusetts I knew Mitt Was rich, but I really didn't give it much thought, until a couple of days ago.

When Romney revealed what he paid in income taxes I was a bit surprised. On one site I read that if you take the net worth of all of the presidents from Nixon to Obama and then double that, you are approaching what Romney is worth.  Another site I read allowed the user to figure out how long Romney would have to work to equal their own salary. He would have to work almost 12 hours for him to make what I receive in 1 year. On the other hand I would have to work 731 years to equal Mitt's salary. Maybe I'll just try to stay alive for only another 600 years! Romney's net worth is estimated to be about $200 million. A tad more than mine.

I was trying to think what I would do with $200 million. I really had a difficult time coming up with ideas on what I could do with the extra money.  After getting a bigger, nicer house, giving money to family, donating to charity and buying some tech toys I would still have a lot of money left. I can't imagine what Mitt uses all of that money for. Sure he has 3 big houses, but I am sure they are paid for. Taxes are a concern, but apparently he pays less in income taxes than the average American. He gives to charity, mainly to his church, but this is also tax deductible.

Now he is running for president. He certainly doesn't need that meager income, so it must be just a power trip. One thing is for sure. If he does become president, he will leave office even rich than when he entered. So why do he and other millionaires and billionaires need so much money? I guess the answer to that question will never be known. Most of us, I am sure will never have the chance to find out for ourselves what it feels like to be filthy rich. So I guess we just have to be happy and enjoy life with what we've got.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Color of My Skin

I grew up in a small town in upstate New York and attended undergraduate college in another small town in New York State during the civil rights movements of the 1960's. I did not know any Black people when I was a child because I think there were only about 100 Blacks living in my hometown at the time. When I moved away to college I made my first Black friends, who were mainly from New York City or from out of state, attending college on a special program to assist disadvantaged Blacks from the inner cities of the Midwest.  I recall seeing demonstrations in larger cities and in cities of the South in support of Civil Rights for Black people, which were a part of the nightly news almost daily.

I must admit, being from that small town in upstate New York, that I was very far removed from the savage realities of what Blacks had been and were going through. I really didn't understand why some Whites viewed Black people differently, merely on the basis of their skin color. My Black friends were no different from my White or Asian friends, except for the color of their skin. Actually I would not consider any of my friends as being "white". They came in a variety of shades from light skinned to darker shades. Tanning was not popular then, so the different skin tones were genetic, depending upon what the nationality of the person was. At that time I didn't pay attention to what "race" a person was. I was familiar with Nat King Cole, Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson and Sammie Davis Jr. I didn't understand what all the fuss was about, but I could see the suffering of those who were not so fortunate to be a famous celebrity.

I must admit that not everyone I knew felt as I did when I was growing up, but even though they did not feel as I did, they were not as demonstrative about their feelings as the hardcore racists I was used to seeing on the TV news. I was naive enough to believe that the United States was the only country who discriminated against its own citizens, Black people. A number of years after grad school I had a chance to visit Vietnam for a month. I was not involved in the war, so everything I knew about the country was from friends who had served there, from Vietnamese friends who came to the US as refugees and once again from seeing news footage of the war. I remember standing in a field, under a star filled sky late one night, in complete silence, knowing that many Vietnamese and Americans had been killed in that very field. I could never put in words how I felt.

I thought that here in Vietnam, my first trip to Asia, I would not find any of the discrimination on the basis of skin color, that I had found in the US. After all everybody was Vietnamese or Vietnamese-Chinese or of indigenous decent. There weren't any Black people. I was wrong. I discovered that the same discrimination existed there, as well as all of the other parts of Asia. I noticed that some people were darker than others. I learned that people who had darker skin, were farmers or worked outside at low paying jobs as manual laborers. They were looked down upon by the more affluent.These affluent or supposedly higher classed people had lighter skin and took great pains to keep their skin lighter.

I am retired and now live in Malaysia, where I see a variety of skin colors. I still see people being looked down upon because of their dark skin. I see women driving with large floppy hats  and full length gloves, so their skin doesn't tan. The stores are filled with whitening products to bleach the skin of Asian women, so they can look more Caucasian and more affluent. The idiotic side of this is the number of Caucasian women I see baking themselves in the sun, so they can get darker tanned skin. It makes absolutely no sense to me.

 Now that I am much older and am still being educated by life I can see that much has changed in the US and other parts of the world. Things have gotten better in the US for people of different races, but there still needs to be a lot of work done to make sure that we don't become complacent. There are still racists and bigots in this country and all over the world, who would love nothing better than to erase all of the gains that minorities or people who are different have made.   Fortunately in countries like South Africa, Black people have gained the rights to which they are truly entitled to. Civil rights include more than rights of people of different skin colors. Civil rights include the rights of women, children, handicapped, all religions, gays, all races, the young, the old and any member of the human race who may be different in some way.

I guess that I have come to the conclusion that bigotry and racism has been part of the human race since the beginning of time and probably will exist until the end of time. Evolution has not been able to eliminate discrimination. Today we see religious movements that are trying to force bigoted and discriminatory beliefs on entire populations. We see groups trying to deny basic human rights to wide segments of the population. We see groups trying to blame the present word economic situation on other members of the population, just like the Nazis did.  But I haven't given up on the idea of equality yet. Maybe those who promote equality, human rights and fairness, in actuality are those members of the human race who still are evolving as humans, while those who want to go backwards Only time will tell. To this end I often think what would happen at the end of the world when we meet our maker, he turns out to be a Black, female, lesbian Jew!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Isn't the Aging Brain Wonderful?

Now that I am getting older I realize that I have taken my body for granted all of these years. I now am aware of body parts I didn't even know I had when I was younger. I didn't know what the hell a prostate gland was when I was in my teens and twenties. But in the past few years after going to the bathroom more often, getting up in the middle of the night to pee and the loss of hydraulic pressure when going, I now know what a prostate is and what BPH is.

I never gave my knees much of a thought and after growing out of childhood asthma I never gave my lungs much thought either, as I bounded up flights of stairs. Now when I walk up a flight of stairs I feel as though I have climbed Mt. Everest. I never knew there were muscles in my back until now, when I am sorely reminded of that fact every single day. I didn't know what my sinuses were until a few years ago, when I had teeth pulled, just to find out I had sinusitis. I never gave much thought to my bowels, as they worked whenever I wanted them to work. Now with IBS, my bowels have a mind of their own, which is usually in disagreement with my own mind. And of course my eyesight was perfect, being able to see far and near. Now after years of being glued to a microscope and the effects of aging, I either have to get longer arms or use those drug store magnifying glasses.

The one part of the human body that I never ever thought of and I think most people never think of is the brain. It has always worked, sometimes not as hard as I would have liked it to work, but it did work. As I find my other body parts are not working up to snuff, I am beginning to see my brain backfire. The other day I was having lunch with a couple of friends and mentioned that I had to stop and get milk on the way home. I stopped at 7-Eleven and got everything but the milk. Quite often I go to the store for only one specific item and return home without that item, but with many things I really didn't want. I find many times that when people introduce someone to me I forget their names a few minutes later. I think actually I really didn't want to know who they were in the first place. I find that I usually don't forget big things or very important things, but the little things in life. I occasionally forget my phone, my watch, my wallet and the exact time I am supposed to meet someone. I think most of the time I am just not paying attention. I hope. I also, at times have a little trouble remembering what I had for dinner the preceding day. No big deal.

I guess being a little forgetful has to be accepted with the aging process, but what is odd is the things we remember. I can remember the names of every kid in my first grade class at Hamilton Street School. I can remember details of childhood birthday parties and what I received as birthday and Christmas presents. I can remember events from my childhood as if they happened yesterday. I can remember the details of shows like The Life of Riley, The Pinky Lee Show, The People's Choice and Our Miss Brooks. They were on over 50 years ago. When it is very hot and humid I can remember sitting at home on a snow day and watching the snow fall from my living room.

What also is strange is that I remember only the good and pleasant things. I had very severe asthma and other allergies growing up, but I have little memory of that. It is almost like these are selective memories that we consciously have no control over.  Many times I will lie on the bed for a rest and daydream of playing tennis, doing gymnastics, climbing or running a race, yet there is no way in hell I could do that now. It's another game our brain plays on us. I guess it is like the old saying, "The mind is willing, but the body is weak." Even when I am at the gym there is a big difference in what I can envision doing and what I can actually do. So depressing.

I guessed most people see these changes when they retire or approach retirement age. I really didn't feel that bad about it just beginning now, until I saw the results of the latest research from University College London, that brain function begins to decline at the age of 45. That means it has been happening for a long time and I didn't even know it! Another cruel trick of the brain. Oh well. We have no choice, but to get old, but I think I will exercise my brain more, from now on. If I can remember.

                                          A Youthful Human Brain



                                                A Retired Brain

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Just Another Addiction.

Some of the more popular television shows being aired these days deal with addictions or extreme behavior, such as hoarding, obesity, anorexia and drug addiction and intervention. These shows center on otherwise normal people who have become addicted to certain forms of behavior or have taken their interests to extremes, which place themselves or others in danger. Each of these programs often show the extreme behavior in gruesome detail which is shocking to some viewers, who may think this type of extreme behavior is a rarity and far from their own little world. The viewer sees that in each of these programs help is offered by professional mental health practitioners, but in most cases the effected persons deny the severity of their behavior and refuse any kind of help. One can plainly see how much the families and friends of these people are suffering from these types of extreme behavior.

If people do not know anyone who suffers from drug or alcohol addiction, hoarding, eating disorders or other extreme behavior, they may think that they are not effected in any way. But they are wrong. Look at one aspect of life that is present in our every day routines. Religion. Every day people are seen or heard praying. They say grace before meals. They go to mass, church, temple or mosque once a week or more. We hear people preaching in public, whether we want to listen or not. We usually don't give this a second thought and accept it as a normal aspect of life.

But take a closer look at what can happen. The Twin Towers bombings were carried out by Muslim extremists. Suicide bombings are an every day occurrence in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and other areas of the Middle East and Africa. The Taliban is terrorizing Pakistanis and Afghans to force them to adhere to their archaic beliefs. These terrorist attacks are all carried out in the name of Islam. Extremist groups like Al-Qaeda have vowed to destroy the West and replace the governments there with their form of Islam. They kill tens of thousands of innocent people, including thousands of peace loving Muslims, because they think or pray differently. Even in moderate Muslim countries there are groups trying to force their beliefs and practices on the rest of the population.

In Israel ultra-Orthodox Jews known as Haredi Jews, a minority in the country are attacking school girls walking to school in a small city near Jerusalem. This sect of Jewish extremists believe in strict segregation of the sexes and they are determined to force their beliefs and practices on the majority of secular Jews, even if it involves attacks on police and other acts of violence against other Jews. Peace talks in the Middle East have been a failure because of religious extremists on both sides. Even in Judaism the different sects attack each other.

Now don't feel smug because the above examples deal with Muslims and Jews. All we have to do is take a look at the current political campaign in the United States to see many examples of Christian extremists. Most of the front running Republicans are courting the Christian evangelicals, who are in reality extremists. Each of the candidates is professing their Christian faith and are promising to force their Christian values on the rest of America. They are not even talking about the possibility that Americans may believe in a different faith.  They threaten war against those Muslim terrorists who are trying to force their beliefs on their own countrymen, while doing the same thing to their fellow Americans in the US. What hypocrites! They value freedom of religion as long as it is their religion.  We all remember the fanatical Christian extremists of the Westboro Baptist church whose hateful rhetoric and practices of demonstrating at military funerals and those of gay or gay friendly people. There are only a few members, but they are trying to force their views on the rest of the country. There are many sects of the Christian religion in the West and they each think they are the one and only true Christian religion.

Religious extremism is not only attributed to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths. All religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and many others have their extremist members. Even atheism has its extremist elements. There are a couple of big differences between religious extremists and those extremists mentioned in the first part of this post. Firstly religion is quite often considered to be a sacred cow (excuse the pun) and people are either afraid or unwilling to discuss religion in public. Therefore many extremist religious practices or beliefs are ignored or tacitly accepted. People don't want to criticize someone of their own faith, even though they are not in agreement. Secondly, a big difference is that drug addicts or hoarders and others exhibiting extreme behavior can and do receive treatment for their disorders. Religious extremists are just as sick and unbalanced as other addicts, but no one wants to recognize this. No one offers or even suggests mental health assistance. Because these peoples illnesses are a result of religious beliefs, no one wants to touch upon this subject. It is taboo. It is normal for people to want to express a belief and practice a certain religion, but when those beliefs and practices endanger other peoples lives or the lives of the believers, something must be done. We must recognize that religious addiction does exist.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Needles and Pins

For the past few weeks it has been hotter than hell here in Penang, with the temperatures in the 90's and the humidity almost as high. Everyone seems to be down with the flu and I'm hoping I don't catch it. Even though I don't have the flu, I have been suffering from my chronic sinusitis, which seems to have become my closest and best friend in the past few years. Now I am not complaining, but my chronic sinusitis, my GERD, my IBS, my back pain and of course my BPH are getting to be a real pain in the ass (and luckily I am not talking about hemorrhoids).  I have written another article in my Hubpages Hub, The Scourge of Chronic Sinusitis and GERD Combination, a while ago and nothing has changed since The weather just seems to be aggravating all of my ailments. Getting old is no fun.

In reality, I am really aggravated by the inability of so called modern medicine to come up with a treatment for any of my conditions. I have been to an ENT specialist and underwent the surgery, that I am sure they all prescribe, as it makes them the most money and still I have sinusitis as bad as before. That route was useless. I have taken all kinds of medications for my sinusitis, but nothing works for more than a week. I also have taken all kinds of medications, both prescription and over the counter, for my BPH. Once again, nothing works. My IBS can be embarrassing, irritating  and painful at times and can prevent me from eating breakfast out, where there are no bathrooms conveniently close. Once again there is no medication to help. My acid reflux is luckily under control, but I have to take medication daily. My chronic back pain, can be slight or very painful. I don't want to take pain killers, as I really enjoy being conscious during the day.

I gave up looking for the perfect medication to help my ailments and decided to try something different. I subscribed to newsletters from Harvard Medical School and  Johns Hopkins University, in regards to BPH and IBS. Both of these newsletters are ripoffs. They give you minimal information as teasers and then charge you for more information.  They are absolutely self serving and useless.  I then tried Pilate's and yoga at my local Fitness First gym to help alleviate my back pain. After months of  3 or 4 classes a week, my back pain became much worse. My instructors insisted it will get better. I insisted that it is my pain and it is getting worse with each class. Needless to say I gave up on the Pilate's and yoga classes and my back pain eased remarkably.

I have now decided on an alternative medical approach to my physical ailments. I have decide to try acupuncture. I have talked to many local people here in Penang and some of them recommend acupuncture. I have also done research on the Internet and have found that acupuncture can be of help with ailments similar to mine. I have found a acupuncturist near my home and the price seems to be reasonable. They charge by the number of needles used. I have decided to give it a try, but I now have to decide which ailment I want to treat first. I figure if I tried to treat all of my ailments I will be a human pin cushion. I think I will try to treat my chronic sinusitis first. If that works I will then go for the back pain and then the IBS. Who knows. If it works for one I will go for the works. I might be able to turn this tired old body into something that works again.

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