liveonearth: (Default)
You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it's going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it's always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.
~ Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

About Pirsig and his book: I was made to read this book at approximately age 18, when I first started working at the Nantahala Outdoor Center in North Carolina. I was quite moldable, impressionable, unformed at that age. Payson Kennedy was in charge of training and orienting all new staff, and reading this book was his one requirement. What it taught me was a lesson that took many years to sink in, that small details deserve our full attention, that doing your best it the only way to do anything right. Thank you Payson for requiring us to read this book, for it has helped form my perspective for over 30 years since then. I think it may be time to reread it.

This of course was all brought up because Pirsig has died at the age of 88. It's encouraging to note that his book was rejected by 121 publishing houses before someone decided to print it.
liveonearth: (moon)
Today I finally got my updated living will / medical power of attorney updated, witnessed, and notarized, and I also officialized my first last will and testament.  My friends asked me if I was planning on leaving.  It's a good question to ask a person who is settling their affairs at my age, but no, in spite of the depressing state of affairs in the world, my life is good enough that I'm planning to stick around and see what happens next.   In my living will today I specified what I want done if I lose my mind (travel to a country where euthanasia is allowed for dementia--Switzerland or Nederlands allow it as of now), and also where I want my brain to go (for research purposes, to the Oregon Brain Bank of OHSU).  I'm excited and glad to have this done.  I've been meaning to do it and rewriting it for a decade now.

The real reason I was motivated to complete these documents at the age of 50 is that I can tell that I am losing cognitive function.  It shows up in many ways, and people routinely fight me on this observation, saying that I'm fine, it's normal aging, blah blah blah.  Let me just say that I used to be very smart, and I'm not any more, and I know the difference.  A minor example is that I make more mistakes in typing, for example I switch "their" for "they're" and vice versa.  This is a mistake that I used to find utterly mystifying, and now I am doing it.

The other day I updated my lifetime river log with the rivers I have run this year.  I've done 20 new rivers around Oregon this year!  But the shocker finding was that one day in July when I went paddling on the Lower Wind, I could not remember what had happened when I logged the day.  All I remembered at the time (a few days after the actual day when I logged it), was that I had planned to go paddling with Todd.  I did not remember where we went or what happened.

What happened that day was that I hit my head, again, and had short term memory loss as a result.  I have had many traumatic brain injuries over the years, from biking, skiing, and kayaking.  This is the reason that I want to donate my brain for research.  I suspect that my brain will prove that recreational sports participants can also suffer from CTE = chronic traumatic encephalopathy.  It's not just for football players anymore.

On that day I flipped over at the top of a rapid known as the Flume, and was battered on my head and shoulders as I floated through the rapid upside down.  I was afraid to try to roll up because getting in position to roll puts you in a more open and vulnerable position, so I "went turtle" which in this case simply means to tuck tightly under the boat and get my elbows in so nothing gets broken.   I rolled up at the bottom of the rapid and was dazed but otherwise OK.  And yes, for you who do not know me, I was wearing a top notch helmet.  There is no helmet that can protect your brain from the knocking it takes when your whole head is getting walloped around.

This was the third time I'd floated through that particular rapid upside down.  It is a steep, fast, shallow and rocky rapid....brutal, really.  One of my three upside down runs I didn't hit a thing.  Twice I've been beaten silly.  I vowed after this day to not run that rapid at low water anymore.  It's much easier at higher flows and that is the only time I will attempt it.  Unfortunately the portage is difficult and dangerous too... so I may not go on the Lower Wind as much anymore.  Too bad because I do love the waterfalls.

Something else happened that day.  I've thought of it many times since my memory of the day returned.  At the end of the Lower Wind run there are four major drops, three falls and one slide, not in that order. We'd run the first 12 foot falls without incident and were running the tallest single waterfall, about 18 feet vertical.  It's so high that you can't see if the person ahead of you made it, so we just wait a few seconds between boats and then go.  Todd went ahead of me and I waited probably eight seconds, then committed to the drop.  When I crested the horizon line and could see my landing zone at the foot of the falls, he was swimming in it.

He had plunged too deep in the hole below the drop, gotten caught and held, and wet exited from his kayak in the hole.  It took him a while to surface and start floating downstream.  When I saw him I was already mid-air and headed straight for him.  I was afraid that the bow of my kayak would plunge into the water and hit him in the abdomen, rupturing his organs and killing him. That didn't happen.  Thankfully I'd hit a good enough boof from the top that my bow skipped off the surface of the water and I went right over his head.  But the trauma of believing that I was about to kill Todd has not left me.  I am going to require a better signalling system for running blind drops from now on.  I need to know that the landing zone is clear.  We have had trouble at this drop before and still we are too casual about it.
liveonearth: (moon)
I used to wear heels that made me six feet tall.  I loved being tall and accepted my big feet for the anchors.  I never liked my body much though, or my face, always found fault.  When I was approaching 30 years old I decided to get in shape.  I'd been in shape a couple of times before... from jiujitsu in high school and my first year of river guiding.  My plan at age 30 had to do with biking, swimming, and walking, hopefully running but I had never been a runner.

When I was living in Knoxville, )
liveonearth: (hotspring geology rainbow)
We went to the Mission last night to hear about Viruses from Hell, and it turns out the speaker was a PhD professor who is into viruses that come from acidic hotsprings. He looks a lot like my friend Gordon who is also a brilliant academic--something about that jutting forehead must allow for extra brains. Ken Stedman is a professor at Portland State University who has made a career of viruses. His research has mostly involved examining the genomes of extremophile viruses and comparing them. It was faintly interesting to me--genetics is interesting, and yet I am so homocentric. I really want to know about bacteriophage therapy for healing horrible infections. I want to hear about the evolution of the flu. But his research wasn't about this and his talk was about the questions that will ensure that he gets grants and funding in the future. I couldn't help but to think of the right wing perspective that academics are parasites on society and perform no useful function other than keeping themselves in priuses. There is truth it that, though it is also true that there is nothing more important for our future than to keep investigating our world and what is in it. Scientists have specialized training that makes it possible for them to think of things that I don't have words or concepts for. There is so much more of the world to know about. I am learning this narrow fraction that is medicine, and it is more than I can ever take in. Within that sea I must pick a drop.

Circling back to VIRUSES, I did bring home a few interesting factoids. I call things factoids until they've been demonstrated beyond the shade of MY doubt. He defines viruses in several ways but my favorite was "a capsid encoding organism", also known as a phage. He told us that the major reservoir of viruses on the planet is in seawater, though they infect everything else that lives. Some 5% of the oxygen in our atmosphere is produced by bacteria that are infected with viruses. The viruses increase the oxygen-production of these microbes. I learned that 10% of the human genome is viral---and this is just the ones that have been demonstrated beyond a shade of HIS doubt. Professor Stedman said that up to 43% of the human genome could be viral, and that many of the genes we got from viruses are important ones, without which we would not be here. Apparently all placental mammals share one particular viral gene so it got in there a long time ago.

One of the main points that Professor Stedman made was how much of the world is made up of viruses, and how small they are. He said that if you put all the Earth's viruses end to end the lineup would reach to the Andromeda Galaxy. And they'd weigh more than some huge number of whales, and so on.

One nice thing about going to science pubs is being around people for whom evolution just is, instead of having to debate about it. It makes me realize how much energy I put into defending a basic scientific mindset. Too many groovy spiritual people and homeopaths in my life. They stress me out.

For today my mantra is "it is OK to do nothing" and I have been enjoying it. I need to take breaks more often. And journal. Just for me.


Jan. 17th, 2014 11:34 am
liveonearth: (head in pattern)
Holistic, or Wholistic, refers to the entire person, usually considered to be mind, body and spirit combined. Somehow the Whole is thought to be more than the sum of its parts. Naturopathic philosophy guides us to learn about and care for the entire person, not just their rash or their bad mood. Today some say that "holstic" is a meaningless buzz phrase, like "natural". To me it is central to my way of thinking, that all parts of a person are connected and interactive. I believe in spirit defined as that which we do not know fully know or understand which is also immensely powerful. And the whole-as-more-than-the-sum-of-parts concept suggests that even if you have a narrower definition of spirit, there is more out there working than you can know. One cannot know it all. It is unknowable. And the unknowable is included: this is holism.

...Marketing: I will leave the word "holistic" out of my elevator speech, but it will be a part of the next speech to follow.

Home again

May. 15th, 2012 08:20 am
liveonearth: (Default)
Woke up at 4am eastern time (1am Pacific time) to fly back to the left coast. Due to a coffee mistake (didn't ask and was served caffeinated at 8pm) I slept only 2 hours. Wow does that make for a long day. Arrived in Portland at 10:30am local time, and was grouchy by noon and incoherent by 5pm. Went to bed at 7pm and slept 11 hours, and I feel almost normal this morning. Phew!

So I woke up in the upstairs room here at Will's, which is to be my new home. The room that was the bedroom in this house will become my office. It is a pleasant room and will be even nicer once I can clear the old juju from it. From this day forward any time I use something from my old apartment it is moving to Will's house.

My old apartment smells like cat shit, has no toilet paper or paper towels on the roll, has vines growing into the stairway, has compost rotting in the kitchen, and is generally covered in cat hair and disgusting to me. It quickly becomes apparent how much energy I put into keeping the place clean, and how quickly things will decline in my absence. Emily's new boyfriend, the unemployed smoker from Jersey, is still hanging around. He avoids my eye. He may be the housemate she is thinking of having move in....a disaster in the making. The downstairs neighbors are very upset at her for making noise all night long every night, walking with heavy feet and moving furniture around at 4am. I don't know what she has been up to but I know that she is neurotic and the new boy is likely to aggravate that. I was a moderating presence.

So I have 9 days in PDX before I leave town for another adventure. In that time I am supposed to relocate my possessions from the apartment and clean it. I am leaving Kitten there until we return from Idaho. I hope she doesn't freak too much when the bed etc are removed. I will relocate her to Will's in June.

More later, hope you guys are well. I haven't read anything on LJ in a month or so, so if there has been some major happening in your life please let me know.
liveonearth: (Default)
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BA double major:
Philosophy (contemporary western and ancient eastern themes)
Holistic Health (biology, psychology, ecology, nursing, religion)

Yes, I use it for everything, and every career that I've had and plan to have in the future.
liveonearth: (Default)
I have to leave in a few minutes. This doc specializes in children with autism. I'm told she is quite excellent at working with parents. I am very curious and have an assortment of ideas and theories that I'd like to test against the real thing. Hello autists!
liveonearth: (Default)
I resolve to increase my core strength. On all levels. And maintain the increase.
liveonearth: (ravensfork)
Of course my favorite river is always whichever one I'm on. Or was just on. Or am about to go on. Today was my third time down the Lower Wind in Washington, and it is quickly working its way into the list of all time favorites. It's not especially hard. Mostly class III with some IVish low volume rocky stuff, one hard class IV (V-?) called the Flume, and then the series of four drops at the end that most call class IV. The four large drops are 1) vertical 10 footer with an autoboof on the left 2) vertical 20 footer that I like to boof right 3) long bony slide, stupid, dangerous, but kinda fun, 4) the final 10 footer that is a clean (boof right) part of the otherwise rock-infested weir.

This is the autoboof at the first of the final series of falls.

The level was )
liveonearth: (Default)

This is a petition asking for student loan debt to be forgiven so that we can go about the business of opening new businesses, instead of getting low paying stupid jobs just to be able to make monthly payments on our student loans. I've been saying for a while now that the student loan debt is the next bubble. Last year student loan debt surpassed credit card debt in the US. It's evident to me that I will probably not live long enough to repay my entire debt--I'm just not that young, and the economy is not looking great. I'm not saying I deserve a bailout: I own my foolishness taking on this debt. I'm willing to work hard for the rest of my productive life, and I'd like to give back. I always wanted to be a doctor. I've never had a debt before, and it was and is an uncomfortable decision. If there were prisons for debtors in the US then I wouldn't be too surprised to end up there. But we don't imprison debtors, we just harass them. It is that harassment and the suffering involved in mindless work that I would like to avoid, in favor of being able to concentrate on the business I would like to open, and the people that I would like to help. If the fed were to excuse my debt, I would be able to do more for public health than I otherwise could do.
liveonearth: (flowing_creek)

The level at the high bridge putin was 5.32. That's medium, or maybe medium-high. It was just right. The group was 10 kayakers including Joey, Craig and Michael that I've paddled with before. Several of the group were men who'd been in the "fast group" on Opal yesterday, or were just plain old new. Ken, Ben who works at Nike, Bradley, etc. I rode with and followed Bruce. Joey instructed both Craig and I to follow him, and when I told him that on the ride up it got him going. He's a cell biologist at age 60 with an illustrious career that discovered (with others of course) kinesin which is this very cool little walking protein that goes up a track inside our neurons. Axonal transport. He was interesting to follow on the river, reminded me somewhat of Dick with the way he would give instructions and then set out to lead. He wasn't easy to follow, either. I could never tell what he was going to do next, and he would paddle really hard to make difficult moves. One thing is for sure, if you start your beginners out following him, they will get to be better boaters fast. After a while I learned to hang back and see generally what channel he was headed down, and then read the close up water for myself. I cut a lot of corners and took one tenth as many strokes, and enjoyed it more. Funny how different people's river styles can be. I guess I'm lazy.
about the river and more random train of consciousness )

...on love

Apr. 20th, 2011 10:43 pm
liveonearth: (Infinity Knot)
As far as I can tell, life isn't worth living without love. For a long time I've lived without love, but only barely. I've wanted many times to jump off of something tall for a lack of love. I've fallen in love. I have a great capacity for love. There are many people that I love, have loved, still love. But to be loved back. Ah. This is what life is for, to love and be loved. It is like having two people adding fuel to a fire, instead of just one. One person loving is like building a fire with damp wood and no gas. Tending the flame is much work, and the fire dies when you have to leave to gather more fuel. You have to start over with just a match, and because you love, you work so hard to coax that flame to life. Two people can take turns, blow on the coals, bring light tinder and then small wood, medium then large logs. Two can build a blazing white man fire, or a discrete orb in privacy. Two can bank the coals and rest in the warmth. Yes, more wood will need gathering, cutting, splitting, and the ashes build up. Everything gets that smoky smell. The house can burn down, or the pot of chili get burnt. Nothing is for free. There is risk. There is loss. Still, it is the natural way. Life wants to keep living. Fire wants to keep burning. Love wants to keep loving.
liveonearth: (Default)
So far this Apex seminar is awesome. It is answering so many of my questions! Perhaps it is lighting me up because I have been actively studying this material for some time now. Lots is familiar, but then when something new is explained it has a structure to fit into, and builds my body of knowledge....feels so good. I finally have a good idea what my protocol will be for getting people off benzos while also treating their anxiety. I finally understand the mechanisms behind gluten's impact on the brains of some people, and which people are more likely to experience this. It's all fascinating. My energy level is high. I seem to finally be kicking my nasty disease. Thank goodness.

School: it is quickly becoming apparent that I have way too many classes this term. I wish I could put some of them off. I'm going to look into the possibility of splitting this load in half and staying another term. I want to study this material thoroughly, not push through it for a grade and remember nothing! I have genetics, oncology, urology, proctology, neurology, endocrinology and ground rounds in addition to my 3 shifts. Most these subjects would fill an entire term (or many) if done properly. Attempting to cover all of them in one term is insane. Madness. Who needs it.

When you love, you wish to do things for. You wish to sacrifice for. You wish to serve.
--Ernest Hemingway
liveonearth: (Default)
Found this article in The Atlantic because someone on my FL is a fellow introvert. It's a great read for all you party people out there, who don't understand how someone can be happier when left all by their lonesome.
liveonearth: (Default)
See a few pix from back when I went kayaking in France. The page hasn't been updated since 2007, but I'm glad it's still up. A little bit of history. I actually took this shot from the home page, with Mykl hanging on to a rock, and Janine standing by a ducky on the edge of the Verdon.


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