This May Require Sacrifice

To use an analogy: Your roof has a slow leak. You can’t detect the leak from inside the house, because the water is just soaking into the structural supports and causing them to rot. Fixing the leak is going to cost money, and you don’t have extra money, so you’ll have to give up something to get the leak fixed. Not fixing the leak means, someday, the roof will collapse. You or your family may be injured or killed, and your home will become unlivable.

You may approach with this problem in several ways:

1) You could deny there is a problem and ignore it

2) You could acknowledge the problem and hope it goes away or that the roof holds up long enough that it becomes someone else’s problem (like your children or grand children).

3) You could choose to make some sacrifices to address the problem before it becomes a catastrophe.

Clearly, only choice #3 is a solution. Ignoring a problem is not a solution and kicking the can down the road is just going to make things worse for future generations.

This is my analogy for anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Every time I read about a proposal to address AGW or climate change, I hear someone complain that it might slow the economy, make us less competitive in world markets, increase unemployment, etc. Before I address those points, because I don’t believe those things will necessarily happen, I want to return to my analogy for a second. If we do need to make sacrifices to save our home and protect the future of our children and grand children, that’s what we must do. This isn’t a game we’re playing where we can rewrite the rules. If we continue as we are, our world is going to change for the worse and things could get pretty ugly. The only thing that is unclear about the science is exactly what is going to happen and when. We’ve already had a taste of the future, with extreme droughts in some places, flooding in others, tropical diseases moving northward, catastrophic wind events, etc. Do we really need a detailed map to see that where we’re heading is not where we want to be?

Getting back to the claims of economic gloom: Our society will always need energy, whether we get it from fossil fuels or directly from the sun. If jobs go away in the fossil fuel extraction industry, there will be new jobs in the renewable energy sector. Renewable energy is the future. Every country on the planet knows that. The country that innovates and produces the best renewable energy technology is going to be an economic winner, so it pays to be a leader in renewable energy development.

Furthermore, the biggest drain to our current economy is health care. A leading cause of lung problems and cancer is dirty industry. One of the dirtiest, and most dangerous industries is the fossil fuel industry. By moving away from polluting technologies and towards cleaner technologies, we will reduce our health care costs and lessen the drag on our economy.

Moving to clean energy is a win-win in the long term. There may be sacrifices we’ll have to make in the short term, but we can’t keep kicking the can down the road. The sooner we get serious about our carbon dioxide emissions and other environment pollution, the better off we’ll be in the not-too-distant future.

I don’t ask anyone to do anything I haven’t already done. I lead by example and I understand that not everyone can do what I do. All I ask is that people advocate for progressive government policy and think about how they can reduce their energy consumption and dependence on non-renewable energy. Combining trips to the store, eating local food, driving a more fuel efficient vehicle or riding a bicycle are all things the average person can do. If everyone does what they can, it will make a difference to our future and the future of our planet.

The Sad State of Yogurt

I’m strongly leaning towards a vegan diet, but I still indulge in foods that are not vegan; often to my detriment. Lately, I’ve had a hankering for some yogurt, and I’ve been scouring the shelves of the grocery stores I frequent for something that would resemble real yogurt.

Every yogurt product I see is either “low fat”, “light”, or “no fat”. I wonder how that is even possible, since yogurt is traditionally made from a fatty product. What’s worse, is that some of them replace the fat with copious amounts of sugar, or artificial sweeteners.

After standing in front of the myriad brands of yogurt on display on several occasions, I finally gave in and purchased some Yoplait light yogurt that was on sale. Sadly, I didn’t look closely at the ingredients before I made my purchase. I noted that it had 10 grams of sugar, vs. 26 grams in some other varieties, and it proudly proclaimed that it contained no Aspartame.

What I didn’t notice was that it contained many unnecessary and unnatural ingredients, including food coloring (Red #40 and Blue #1). Why does yogurt need food coloring? It had potassium sorbate to maintain freshness, and Sucralose! Why? The ingredient list reads like a science experiment.

yoplait-yogurt-containerI’m pretty sure I’ll never buy yogurt, again. I am absolutely sure I’ll never buy another Yoplait product. The packaging is recyclable, but it’s not recycle friendly. The container is difficult to rinse out thoroughly, and you can’t stack them to save space in the recycle bin. What could possibly be the advantage in such a backwards package design?

The fact that there are no natural yogurt products available at any of the stores I frequent tells me that consumers have demanded this bastardization of an otherwise healthy, pro-biotic food. Wake up people! Stop buying over-processed, chemical soup foods that mimic real food in name only. Stop demanding low fat versions of food that are made of fat. Fat is not evil; preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and food dyes are evil. I get headaches from this stuff; literally. I can measure the difference in my performance when I exercise after eating this stuff. I’m pretty sure I’m going to go vegan and eat only whole foods. There was a time when I couldn’t imagine living without meat and dairy products, but that time has passed. I am not a strict vegan, yet, but I do eat vegan for days at a time, and I have more energy and mental acuity during those times than when I’m eating non-vegan or processed foods.

I got up this morning, ready to take on the world. After days of clouds and rain, the sun was breaking through. After eating 6 ounces of Yoplait yogurt, my brain is fuzzy and I can feel the drag on my body. Food isn’t supposed to make you ill. I hope people get smart and demand more wholesome foods. Yogurt doesn’t need a 3 month shelf life and it definitely doesn’t need artificial coloring.

Thanks for reading!

Bad Waffles!

morning-fresh-wafflesWell, this is a deviation from my normal post. As a rule, I avoid processed foods, but I enjoy frozen waffles with my morning eggs, on some mornings. I’ve purchased frozen waffles from Food Lion, Lowes Foods, and Piggly Wiggly. I’ve had no bad experiences with the first two, but the Morning Fresh brand waffles from Piggly Wiggly were so bad, I couldn’t eat them. I tried to eat them, because I hate to waste food. The ones I ate tasted very old and were tough. I didn’t know waffles could be tough. One of them had so much ice on it (similar to one of those pictured, but not quite as bad) that it was soggy after it was heated. Imagine a soggy, old waffle; yes, it was disgusting.

This was the first time I’d purchased the Morning Fresh brand of waffles. I get most of my eggs from local chickens, but I did purchase Morning Fresh eggs, and I found those to be of poor quality, also. Unlike the waffles, they were edible. I’ve purchased other brands of frozen waffles on several occasions and I’ve never experienced anything like this.

I didn’t try to return these waffles, because my time is worth more than the $2.39. I may never shop at Piggly Wiggly again, as this is their store brand, and I’m seriously concerned about the quality of their products. I am sure they have quality produce, but I only get groceries once a week, and I prefer to get everything in one stop.

Health

I’m pretty sure my health is the most important thing I possess. I am reminded how important it is when it falters. I won’t say that nothing else matters, but I wouldn’t want to be rich if it meant I would have to sacrifice my good health.
Our priorities show in our actions. Because I value my health, and try not to take it for granted, I exercise, watch what I eat, and I care about my environment. Some people might call me a tree hugger. I won’t deny that I have hugged some trees, and I am an environmental activist. That is probably obvious. I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t be.
I’ve heard of people who are so removed from their natural environment that they are afraid of it. I can’t say that it doesn’t pose some hazards; I tangled with some poison ivy on my last outing. However, it also seems obvious to me that we are a product of our environment. An unhealthy environment means unhealthy people. If you’re breathing dirty air, or drinking polluted water, your body will pay the price. Maybe it won’t be immediately noticeable, but the effects can be cumulative.
Many people become environmentalists when industrial pollution moves into their neighborhood and starts making them sick. I would encourage everyone to be more preemptive. Don’t wait until your health begins to fail to take steps to protect it. Go outside, take a walk, breathe the fresh air, and don’t assume it will always be that way. Plant a tree, and watch it grow. That tree will provide oxygen for you and your loved ones, in addition to shade, protection, and carbon storage. You might even want to give it a hug.

Pseudo-Science

What I’m going to write here probably isn’t universally applicable. If you follow the links to my sources, you’ll find that my experience only represents a narrow slice of the big picture, but none-the-less, this is my experience, and I feel I need to defend chiropractors since they have provided a much needed, affordable, and effective solution to a condition that was robbing me of much of the joy in my life.

My story starts with chronic lower back pain that dates back as far as I can remember. I have always suffered from varying amounts of pain, and, for the most part, I came to accept it as part of life. There were times when I aggravated my lower back condition to the point that I wound up in the emergency room, but the doctor would just look at my back and tell me that I had muscle spasms that were putting pressure on my spine and causing me pain. One doctor commented that he was surprised I could even walk. The doctors gave me muscle relaxants that didn’t help enough to convince me I should continue taking them. My back would eventually improve and I’d just tolerate the constant, low level pain.

About the only relief I found in those early years was a doctor of osteopathy named Dr. Lobb. Back then, I worked in the fields and did some heavy construction. The pain in my back would get pretty extreme, and it got really difficult to get to work. Old Dr. Lobb would manipulate my spine for $5 a visit, and I would be able to go back to work.

Fast forward about 20 years and I was losing range of motion in my neck. My condition was deteriorating and got so bad that I could not look over my left shoulder at all. Although I learned to tolerate the lower back pain, I couldn’t live without being able to turn my head, and the muscles around my neck were constantly sore. I suppose a physical therapist would have been a good choice, but the nearest one was 35 miles from where I lived, they couldn’t get me in for 30 days, and I wasn’t sure if I could afford physical therapy. Schilsky’s Chiropractic was about 15 miles away, they got me in right away, and an adjustment at the time was only $30, which included e-stim massage.

Dr. Schilsky insisted that I get X-rays before he would commence treatment, so I paid for X-rays of my lower back and neck. The X-rays revealed two things. The first was that I had a spondylolisthesis in my lower back, which had been there since before my spine had hardened into bone, which happens around 5 years of age. At this time, I was over 30 years old, and no medical doctor had bothered to discover this, much less offer any real treatment. The second discovery was that my neck had lost it’s natural curve; probably due to the bazillion hours I had spent staring at a computer display at work.

Looking at the X-rays and listening to Dr. Schilsky explain my condition, I was satisfied that what was being presented to me fit the symptoms that had landed me at the clinic. Furthermore, the recommended treatment plan was similar to what I had experienced with Dr. Lobb, about 15 years before this. If you do any serious research regarding chiropractic therapy, you’ll find that the picture is pretty grim, although the scientific reviews do conclude that spinal manipulation can help some people.

I can’t say that the science is biased against chiropractic therapy, but they do tend to focus on some ridiculous claims that date back to the 19th century. I don’t accept most of those claims. I wouldn’t go to the chiropractor if I had an infectious disease.

What I will say is this: After I completed a few weeks of therapy, I had the full range of motion back in my neck, and my lower back pain was much improved. A follow-up X-ray showed that I had regained the normal curve in my neck. I’ve been told that isn’t proof of the efficacy of the treatment; it doesn’t prove causality. Well, lets consider that I had been suffering for 20 years with lower back pain, and for the past 15 it has been almost non-existent. Did my lower back cure itself in those 3 weeks? Why didn’t it cure itself sooner?

Then there is my neck. It had been getting progressively worse for months. All of a sudden, it got better, and the X-rays offer objective evidence of the change. Some people who ridicule me would have you believe that my neck got better on it’s own, and I have been duped into thinking that the therapy played a part in my recovery. I will concede that my case isn’t proof of efficacy, but the results are enough evidence for me to say that chiropractic therapy helped me get my life back. Maybe the chiropractor did nothing more than what a physical therapist might have done, but I got 3 weeks of treatment for around $600. That bill would have been more like $2000 had a seen a physical therapist; if I could have gotten an appointment. Furthermore, the medical doctors had their chance to discover the problem in my lower back and they didn’t even bother to look.

It’s important to note, that I have made some lifestyle changes since I discovered that I suffer from a chronic lower back condition. Dr. Schilsky told me what I should do to strengthen my back, and things I should avoid to protect it. Those changes have played a significant role in reducing the pain level in the long term. I still get occasional adjustments, and they seem to help; especially my neck, since I still spend too much time at a computer.

My chiropractor (currently Dr. Smith) is my only doctor, since I can’t afford to see a medical doctor. I injured my back in a fall a few years back, and it was bad. I fell backwards and one side of my back hit the corner of a piece of furniture. I could tell, after a few days, that the pain was escalating, so I went to Dr. Smith for an X-ray. Sure enough, there was a visible deviation in my spine that hadn’t been there before. After about 5 adjustments, my back pain subsided and I felt like I was able to stand up straight, again. I had a full recovery, with no surgery or medication.

The reason I’m writing this is because I have been laughed at and ridiculed by “critical thinkers” for embracing “junk science”. I was called a sucker and a moron. If you’re one of those people, I only have one thing to say to you. I lived with a burning pain in my back for over 20 years. I had trouble sleeping at night. It hurt to have sex, and do pretty much anything. Today, I don’t have that pain. I may not be able to prove causation, but I have enough evidence to give credit where credit is due. You can laugh all you want, but you don’t know me, and you don’t know what I went through. You’re only proving that you’re a jackass. The science on some chiropractic therapies is inconclusive, others are supported by evidence. You aren’t much of a critical thinker if you don’t realize that just because something can’t be proven in a clinical study doesn’t mean it’s not true. Science still hasn’t figured out what we should and should not eat, for long term health. There are many things that are difficult to study. All I care about is a positive result. The proof is in the pudding, as they say.

I can’t tell you that chiropractic care will work for you. I think there are some good chiropractors out there. I love Dr. Smith. He helps a lot of people, and he’s helped me. Your mileage may vary.

I leave you with this quote, but I suggest you read the source article to get the full picture …

Chiropractic is not a science, but that doesn’t mean that nothing they do is based on science. There is evidence that spinal manipulation therapy is effective for some kinds of low back pain. It is no more effective than other treatments for low back pain, but is a viable option for patients who prefer it. It is not exclusive to chiropractors, but is also used by physical therapists, physiatrists and doctors of osteopathy. In essence, the one “claim to fame” that chiropractors have is not really anything uniquely chiropractic but is a manual therapy shared with other disciplines.

New Bern, NC, March Against Monsanto Video

I didn’t shoot much video on May 25, but I did shoot this short presentation by Kathleen Bailey, and some short clips of the protestors. Kathleen has some things to say about the reasons for our protest. There is so much more that she doesn’t have time to include here. The Federal Food and Drug Administration is like a subsidiary of Monsanto. We are, essentially, Monsanto’s guinea pigs. I’m not going to tell you that I can prove the effects of GM crops, crops that are, themselves, pesticides, or pesticide and herbicide residues on our food, but I can tell you that the health statistics show some very alarming trends, and more research is necessary before we should feed our children these potentially dangerous products.