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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

REVISITED POSTS...


In order to spend time working on my supernatural books and to not go into depressive overload from the news, I am working on my next novel with the majority of my free time. You can read about and from my books HERE. You can buy them HERE.

My only note on the news is to STAY SAFE PEOPLE! There's a hurricane brewing and you matter. Find shelter, support, and supplies. This one is for real.

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Nevertheless, I am revisiting and updating older posts, too. Many of these were written before I had a lot of readers, so I'm going to give people a chance to reread them. Generally, I'm changing them very little, though I am adding search words, pictures, links, and some newer thoughts to express more things I've learned since then.

I plan to add one every couple days until my 2-year diagnosis is 90% certain anniversary on September 27th. November 1st was confirmation, but I knew for sure when I went to the neurologist that day. To me, this is the real diagnosis day since that one was so foretold.

The first post is from 2016 and deals with staying positive in spite of symptoms and diagnosis. It's called "Confident, but not the Demi Lovato Song."

The second post is from 2016 and it's a hiking trip in the snow and ice to Heberly Run with Rusty Glessner and Steve Rubano. It was a reward for kicking Lyme disease.


The real life influences of my book - my friend Will anda Heidi's kid Liam (above) and my sister's stepson CJ (below). My cousin David is at the top.


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

9.11; To all Those who Sacrificed, Rest in Peace...


When the planes hit on 9.11, we were all some place with someone. I was in a 10th grade English class going to a 9th grade English class. I was 30 years old. I will always remember where I was since I will never be the same, nor will my family, neighbors, friends, co-workers, students, and random passers-by at the time. That day, 9.11 changed all of us. Even if we wanted to be the same, we were now new people in a new world.


Everything before that day is 9.10. It's a moment of innocence. It's Gary Condit's political crisis and a lot of news that doesn't matter in comparison to the next day's news.

Everything on 9.11 is just shock and sadness. It's an outpouring of unstoppable emotion.

As for 9.12, that's a day of anger, confusion, and imminent change. Who we were versus who we are versus what happens next. It didn't take long for the roadside t-shirt sales places with pictures of patriotic images and death calls for Bin Laden to go up. Looking at it now, in this partisan world, it seems absurd, but at that time, it was a way to work through the Kubler-Ross stages of death.

The moment is the denial of what our eyes see. The next day is anger. The next 3 stages are bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

The stages of this process is who we became as we moved toward October 7th, when America went into Afghanistan. Then came Iraq and the debates to go or not go. I remember reading how John McCain supported the Surge because it was a cause that would cost too much to lose. Here, I agree with the support of that. What happens if we give up? Lose? Don't fight until some real moment of "mission accomplished?" I'm not smart enough to answer that, but 17 years after 9.11, so much of that day is still so real and it's still so scary.

THAT SAID, let us temporarily forget that, though, and think of those who died and fought to save America and Americans on that day and all those days after it. They are the heroes and casualties of this day 17 years ago.


One of my favorite singers, Jeff Tweedy of Wilco was with his young son Spencer on the morning of 9.11. Instead of taking the buildings, planes, and death all in at that moment, he chose to play with slot cars with a 6-year old kid. There'd be enough time for the other stuff later. It was a beautiful father / son moment, with the wisdom of age knowing "sort of" what's next and a kid who needs to be sheltered from what he will never truly fathom. Then again, how can any of us make sense of that terrorist act / mass murder?

This temporary coping action reminds me of an Asian movie I watched in 1994. Chow Yun Fat and John Woo made Asian action films awesome, so I went to watch this movie, whose name I can't remember. The point was that there were all of these gangsters holed up in a safe house. Essentially, they were waiting to be killed. Instead of being sad, they played games and lived life with happiness and laughter. Wanting a solid action movie, it didn't make sense to me then, but thinking about it today, there is something in it that speaks of mindsets, which makes sense.

How many people, on either side, are still fighting that war? What will stop the engines and just let us be a people again? I'm not saying to naively stop fighting or staying on guard, but why does either side want this war without end anymore? With the White House even making themselves ready to negotiate with the Taliban, the question hovers for all of us.


One of my favorite journals to have students write was "Where Were You on 9.11?" Today, it's fair to say that a good deal of freshman college students have no memory of the day since they were in the womb or in diapers. A larger part of the population has no memory of the date anymore. 

Alan Jackson "Where Were You When the World Stopped?"

Even those of us who were there and affected with tears and anger find our memories growing hazy. It's something about the mind's coping mechanism. Really. It's called the Trace Decay Theory of Forgetting.

Additionally, I would say that if you aren't at least 25 (maybe younger, most likely older), you have no memory of the day. At our early ages, we don't have the power to remember completely, knowledgeably, and eternally, let alone process what happened on that day. If I think of my earliest memories, they're remembrances of memories. For instance, I remember Star Wars commercials before the movie in 1977. I know what I think they were, but were they?


If you were at a school like the one I taught at that day, your television was ordered off after about 10 minutes, if it came on at all. I remember watching a building falling. This would have been the South Tower. About a half hour later, the North Tower fell.

Today, I have no interest in watching that replayed. I don't want to see people jump to their deaths or think about box cutters. I don't want to rewatch The Path to 9.11 either (I thought about it, but politics are depressing me something fierce, so no... I'm also holding off on the Woodward book to focus on my own books and the one to come). 

If I want to cry, I just watch the following video from 2:48. A very well done documentary that features the daughter of a 9.11 pilot and how the Yankees (especially Derek Jeter) helped her cope with her father's death. And yes, I did watch that, and I cried my tears for all of these memories.


At some point, we all have to cope. It may not be pretty or preferred, but we have to do this to go on living. Wilma Derksen is featured in Malcolm Gladwell's David and Goliath for discussing how she came to accept her daughter's abduction and murder. It's a story that sends chills. Somehow, they forgive the killer / rapist in order to save themselves. Their story speaks for everyone suffering an unspeakable atrocity.

This doesn't mean that some form of punishment / retaliation isn't necessary. Even St. Augustine recognized the need for a JUST WAR. It just means that at some point, our meaning of the day will change, and enough will have to be enough. We saw this even in World War 2.

Students of history, like me, will still remember Pearl Harbor, D-Day, Kennedy's assassination and other events that we weren't there for. We'll think of what they meant. Being a Northerner, I don't remember when South Carolina seceded (December 20, 1860, it turns out). I don't remember when the shot was heard round the world.

Nevertheless, at some point, all Just and Lost Causes have to reach a point of finality. This doesn't mean to sacrifice our memory of the Just Cause's reasoning and necessities, but rather that we have to realign how we handle situations in the now to not sacrifice the present and future.


I used to believe this day should be a national day of mourning, but I'm not sure what I'm thinking today other than I watched the baseball video above long enough to cry. I wrote this. When I'm done, I'll look at today's other news, eat, and write my book.

However, just like many of you, I'll think about what I should never forget since we're still smack dab in the middle of so much of a never ending war on terror that would come with this heinous act inflicted on innocent American lives (as Bush told us we would be). I know that now is not the time to stop remembering, but I'm thinking about adjusting how I remember.

That said, historically...

9.11 Fast Facts

Deaths in the military since 9.11

Cost of the War on Terror

Benghazi by the numbers

The men responsible for the Innocence of Muslims video - tied to Benghazi, though Al Qaeda used it as cover to attack

Things to Remember about 9.11

9.11 effects on stock market

9.11 Effects on Airline Industry

Terrorism in America since 9.11

Al Qaeda attack on Britain

Ryan Adams "New York, New York"

At the end of the day, my friend Karen posted this, so I'm using it here. I think it says a lot.

Seventeen years ago tonight, thousands of people in this country went to bed with their loved ones for the last time. Some were excited, looking forward to the trip they’d be taking in the morning. Others were perhaps dreading the usual commute to work. How many of them were rushed the following morning? How many didn’t make time to kiss their kids or their spouses? They mumbled a quick goodbye and headed out the door…not knowing it would be the last time they’d see their loved ones.
Tomorrow is promised to no one. Take nothing and no one for granted. Tell him or her that you love them. Forget the diet and eat the cookie. Make love. Stay up late. Apologize, even if it wasn’t entirely your fault. Forgive, even if they don’t know what they did was wrong. Laugh. Cry. Scream. Go for a walk. Find shapes in the clouds. Do something nice for someone. Let someone do something nice for you. Stop waiting for things to happen. Get off your ass and enjoy life. While you’re at it, help someone else enjoy their life as well. ~Jim Cobb
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Friday, September 7, 2018

Neurologist Visits / Alternative Choices (Beefitandhealthy)


The process of healthy living is an ever-changing and experimental design where we experience, learn, do, experience, readjust, learn, do, experience, readjust, and repeat. That's a good thing. Sometimes, we get it right the first time. Sometimes we don't. The point is we never stop trying to be the best us we can be.

In medicine, both pharmaceutical and alternative, the point is to find ways to heal a person, safely, quickly, and cost-effectively (though cost should never be a reason not to be healthy). This is done in ways that are meant to be beneficial and lacking in harm. Researchers test these processes to improve and review them. That's a good thing.

That's what I'm doing.

Scientists will say that the world is made up of chemicals, and that's true. However, some people will see medicines only in terms of harmful chemicals (like what's under their sink) mixed together in ways that lead people to see their strange, long, and unpronounceable names as some evil force.

This is not to say all medicine, regular or alternative, is bad or good, but it is to say that pronunciation and personal lack of understanding should not define anything's effectiveness.


Due to many medicines' side effects, alternative medicine has become popular for people by boasting its products as all natural. Here, many people have come to want to experiment with / experience the effects of naturally grown plants and the like to avoid medicines when it is safe to do so.

Keep in mind, your doctor and scholarly research can help you make informed choices on this.

It's easy to understand, but it's important to remember all of our bodies work differently, so effects may vary. Also, as based on peanut and shellfish allergies, even "natural" products may not jive with our bodies.


For my time with Parkinson's, my body has been very "sensitive" to some pharmaceuticals (as my neurologist says). In fact, some of these medicines' symptoms are downright scary.

PLEASE NOTE - I talk about my symptoms not to disparage a medicine, but rather to express my experience and stimulate informed conversation with your providers - not an absolutism for all people everywhere.

Whether we get better living through one or the other type of treatment, it is often our body's choice on how we handle things. For instance, I had problems with Artane (trihexyphenidyl) though other people don't. I had problems with Requip (ropinerole) though other people don't (nevertheless, its problematic side effects are more common in people than some other medications - a discussion I had yesterday with my neurologist). I almost instantly had problems with Benztropine (cognitive) and Prozac (weird woozy / nauseous). Thus, I quit both inside a week.

My time on Benztropine was so short, I had to look up the name of it again! Thus, sometimes, we just know when it's bad, so I removed it from my life pronto.

Also note, while I wasn't thrilled to be needing to be on Prozac (my problem is anxiety / obsessing on what if - not depression), I did find SOME NOT ALL of Lexapro to be OK for the time I was on it. I liked the purr like a cat feeling (oh, the sky is falling. that's OK). I didn't like the lack of amorous / positive feeling. Also, while on it and Azilect, I couldn't drink. Not that I need a Yuengling now, but it wasn't an option anymore.

Now, I'm going without it, which my doctor felt was better in spring and summer since it doesn't coincide with seasonal affective disorder kicking in at the same time. I feel more under control, but I do recognize that this may change and necessitate a return to it.


I have had luck with Azilect (rasagiline). It's my go to zombie killing medicine. Put simply, my body thinks my dopamine producing cells are evil. Hence, it tries to kill them. The medicines kill the defense system, which allows dopamine to flow free. If it doesn't, my brain gets filled with Lewy bodies, which are zombie-like.

As a former educator, I am big on empirical understanding as well as hermeneutic phenomenology, which is me describing what's going on in detail so others can find meaning in it.

That said, sometimes, we need to accept life's problems for what they are. Don't touch a hot stove. Don't put a fork in a socket. Don't touch a snake that looks like a copperhead (even if it just turns out to be a non-venomous northern water snake - it still bites). However, when we have a choice...


Then we should try all of our options. 

Thus, at my wife's urging and through one of her friend's advice, I am trying HEMP OIL. 

First and foremost, I was never a big fan of medical marijuana as the be all / end all answer, so I'm not going into this looking to promote that cause. However, in this version of treatment, I am willing to see what will come. 

When I asked my neurologist about medical marijuana, his statement was too little bang for too much money. This Pennsylvania government website explains some of that. Insurance tends not to cover it as well, which makes it cost ineffective. Also, while it stops tremors (helps symptoms), it doesn't replace or create dopamine. There are also side effects with it. Additionally, while it is legal in some states, it's regulated, and it does have issues (see Michael J. Fox Foundation).

Once again, it might work for you, but it might not. 


In order to see firsthand how HEMP OIL works, I am working with the good folks at Beefitandhealthy in West Reading, Pennsylvania, to see how their HEMP OIL product (not medical marijuana and not cannabis-originated sources - rather hemp sources) might help my tremors and anxiety.

Note that hemp oil is LEGAL. CBD oil is not legal in many places since it contains THC. Hemp oil does not, AND it's from a different plant.

The legality of CBD is still a slippery slope. I am not a lawyer. I'm just a blogger. Take my advice as an opportunity to further research this at qualified sources through people who are pros.

I found this site, which said the following on legalilty (see it for all states - the columns are recreation use, medical use, both, and legislation):

In short, my goal is to not have to Take a Walk on the Wild Side (detailed descriptions of dopamine agonist effects on MY - NOT EVERY - BODY), not have as many tremors, and feel relaxed. Fortunately, I have this option because the Farm Bill of 2014 helped pave the way. Now, as my doctor said, "Many patients swear by this."



My journey will begin as soon as I go back on AMANTADINE or switch to GOCOVRI (a newer, improved Amantadine - name brand only, so I might not be able to get insurance to cover it - NOTE - after looking at manufacturer's website for effects, I chose against this. Money was not an issue). Amantadine was my original anti-tremor med. It kept me up late, but I woke up ready to go. It also gave me a rash, but it isn't a concern (except when it is), though it isn't sex-a. No chance of me doing Magic Mike sessions any time in the near future if I'm on that.


In short, that option for dopamine benefits is my last option before going Levodopa / Carbidopa, which only lasts so long before a body becomes requires more of it to benefit from it (when symptoms become worse and create more potential side effects like dyskinesia). Then, it's deep brain stimulation time.


TRIGGER WARNING - THIS SHOWS PATIENT GETTING BRAIN SURGERY

My goal is to let Lisa and Amy help me out in this journey to keep being Dan by testing their medicines to see how they work for me.

In Lisa's words regarding the hemp oil I'll be using...

"Our company spent nearly a decade developing a highly effective strain of hemp.  Most hemp companies rely upon CO2 extraction because it is cheaper and easier than lipid infusion. Our lipid process infuses the full range of plant nutrients directly into a carrier oil. we use organic coconut oil and MCT oil."

She does make it clear that her product still contains ".03% THC which is legally allowed due to the 2014 US Farm Bill."

Finally, she added how "lipid infusion provides the highest terpene and phytocannabinoid profile as well as vitamins, minerals, flavonoids and polyphenois from the hemp plant."

I'll be detailing my journey as time goes by. I look forward to seeing where it goes. Being healthy and tremor free sounds like a good thing!

They also offer other services, if you're so inclined (such as ionic foot detox and reiki). I recommend going in there to see for yourself. 



In the end, your future has options. Some work; some don't. Explore the possibilities and share them with others!

Learn enough to make your life the best it can be!

When it comes to hemp oil, I have nothing to lose but my tremors.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

RIP John McCain. In Death, You Began the Journey to Save the Republicans from Trump. Long Live the Resistance.


NOTE - the second half of this was originally written before his burial. Obviously, the things at the beginning were added to it. 

We are living in historic times. Today, Cory Booker risked being thrown out of the Senate for releasing confidential e-mails on Brett Kavanaugh's judicial feelings on racial profiling and abortion. Yes, he's a potential Presidential candidate, but desperate times call for definite responses. Like or hate his politics, you have to respect his decision to put it all on the line while the partisan status quo rushes forward Trump's Supreme Court nominee.

That said, Kamala Harris has been incendiary on taking the nominee to task as well.

The future will not wait with so much at stake... such as whether a Supreme Court nominee feels Trump could pardon himself for his own crimes. 

But Kavanaugh is "empathetic" to those people not like him. In his own magnanimous words:

"I understand for example, well, to start, I understand the situation of homeless people because I see them on a regular basis when I’m serving meals."


Yesterday, an anonymous senior White House staff member wrote an op-ed for the New York Times.

It said the following (as well as other things):

There is a quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put country first. But the real difference will be made by everyday citizens rising above politics, reaching across the aisle and resolving to shed the labels in favor of a single one: Americans.

It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room. We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.

The majority of the essay was about how Trump's own team has to babysit him and keep him from signing orders that could mess up the world.

With a "President" who is hesitant to reign in Moscow, it's scary to think about Russia telling the U.S. it is prepared to attack an area in Syria where American troops patrol.


Prior to John McCain's death, the following last letter was released saying this (as well as other things):

Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.

We are three-hundred-and-twenty-five million opinionated, vociferous individuals. We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates. But we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country we will get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before. We always do.

Thank you for the privilege of serving you and for the rewarding life that service in uniform and in public office has allowed me to lead. I have tried to serve our country honorably. I have made mistakes, but I hope my love for America will be weighed favorably against them.

Farewell, fellow Americans. God bless you, and God bless America.

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Today, Twitter ejected Alex Jones rather than allow itself to be a platform for his conspiracy hate. Yesterday, he tried to instigate Marco Rubio, who didn't bite.

"I know you've got to cover them, but you give these guys way too much attention," Rubio told reporters on Capitol Hill. "We're making crazy people superstars. So, we (are) going to get crazier people."

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After what the Trump fans called the FLIGHT 93 ELECTION (the linked article mirrors the alt-right with the alt-left in how they are both choosing to disrupt politics as usual with radical change - and not in a good way), there are 2 takes on whether McCain's funeral was a resistance event... FOR people to stand up for necessary change and AGAINST radical change, but rather to collaborate to make things better in a taking back the Republican party kind of way (from the Breitbart / Hannity / Alex Jones gangs). As the latter article says:

For those of us who’ve never been Republicans, it’s easy to say that perspective is wrong. For those who are, it must be a genuinely difficult choice. But it’s a choice that has been made — in 2018, America will either elect a Congress that continues to bolster Trump’s regime or it will elect one that tries to erode it. Those resisting Trump are pushing for one kind of Congress, and those not pushing for an anti-Trump Congress aren’t resisting Trump.

With the next event in the Trump resistance being THIS explosive book Fear (which Trump talked to writer Bob Woodward about HERE), I feel it's a call to take back our country. Whether that classifies as resistance or not, it may not be for the radical left, like we often view protest, but it is a declaration against the insane right.

The same can be said for the intentions of the 2017 Women's March and the March for Science, though this holds more power.

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In a world where Brett Kavanaugh's history is deliberately hidden, to fight against a rush job confirmation with so much on the line (pre-existing conditions), the Republican force to push him into a lifetime position, is the correct thing to do. We don't need more time. We've had enough. Eject him from the position before he gets to it and can allow Trump to Pardon himself. Prepare the 25th Amendment to remove an out of control man from a seat of power. This isn't the WWE. This is real life.


Meghan McCain (typed speech here)

John McCain was defined by love. This love of my father for my mother was the most fierce and lasting of them all, Mom. Let me tell you what love meant to John McCain and to me.

His love was the love of a father who mentors as much as he comforts. He was endlessly present for us. And though we did not always understand it, he was always teaching. He didn't expect us to be like him. His ambition for us, unmoored from any worldly achievement, was to be better than him, armed with his wisdom and informed by his experiences, long before we were even old enough to have assembled our own.  

As a girl I didn't appreciate what I most fully appreciate now; how he suffered and how he bore it with a stoic silence that was once the mark of an American man.

I came to appreciate it first when he demanded it of me. I was a small girl, thrown from a horse and crying from a busted collarbone. My dad picked me up. He took me to the doctor, he got me all fixed up. Then he immediately took me back home and made me get back on that very same horse. I was furious at him as a child, but how I love him for it now.

My father knew pain and suffering with an intimacy and immediacy that most of us are blessed never to have endured. He was shot down, he was crippled, he was beaten, he was starved, he was tortured and he was humiliated. That pain never left him. The cruelty of his Communist captors ensured he would never raise his arms above his head for the rest of his life. Yet he survived. Yet he endured. Yet he triumphed. And there was this man who had been through all that with a little girl who simply didn't want to get back on her horse.He could have sat me down and told me that and made me feel small because my complaint and fear was nothing next to his pain and memory. Instead, he made me feel loved. "Meghan," he said in his quiet voice that spoke with authority and meant you had best obey. "Get back on the horse." I did. And because I was a little girl, I resented it. Now that I am a woman, I look back across that time and see the expression on his face when I climbed back up and rode again, and see the pride and love in his eyes as he said "Nothing is going to break you."
For the rest of my life, whenever I fall down, I get back up. Whenever I am hurt, I drive on. Whenever I am brought low, I rise. That is not because I am virtuous, strong, resilient, it is simply because my father, John McCain, was.

When my father got sick, when I asked him what he wanted me to do with this eulogy, he said, "Show them how tough you are." That is what love meant to John McCain.

Barack Obama (full speech HERE)

“It’s a politics that pretends to be brave, but in fact is born of fear. John called on us to be bigger than that. He called on us to be better than that.”

Joe Biden (speech quotes HERE)

"It wasn't about politics with John. He could disagree on substance, but the underlying values that animated everything John did, everything he was, come to a different conclusion. He'd part company with you if you lacked the basic values of decency, respect, knowing this project is bigger than yourself."

Lindsey Graham (best friend in the Senate)

George W. Bush
"We are better than this. America is better than this."

Larry Fitzgerald (football player)

After hearing all of these speeches, I wonder what Putitn's speech will be like at Trump's funeral. I can't imagine too many other people other than Vince McMahon coming (since Trump's NFL knee comments benefit him the most). 


I like to think of myself as a middle of the road, slightly to the right guy. Sometimes I lean right. Sometimes I lean left. I have no use for the garbage peddled by outlets like (what has become of) Slate and (what has always been) Breitbart, who take their extremes to never be happy with anything except for what caters to their every further to the side whim. That said, our resident Twitter News Network is still the worst of all the CRAP NEWS outlets when it comes to finding ways to deride anyone who doesn't tow it's party line. This is really bad with their thoughts on McCain's contributions to America. For instance, reactions like THIS made me ecstatic that McCain did THIS.

It's one thing to not like a person. It's another thing to tarnish the office you work in with intentional disrespect toward a fellow government servant after he / she dies. This is why I WILL NOT RESPECT a  de facto President who can't respect his position.

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We can't always get what we want, no matter what side we're on, as the Rolling Stones sang, but Obamacare went on, even if the individual mandate later vanished, as did the birth control mandate. However, before it did, McCain tried to force debate in a utilitarian way - not just whoever is in charge at the minute gets whatever he / she wants.

McCain was a Republican who knew that sometimes it costs money to get the right things. I can imagine this "maverick" wore his RINO (Republican in Name Only, as they called him) tag with pride, crossing the aisles to save the filibuster to debate Bush 2's judicial nominees and to create an immigration plan. Hell, he even stood against his friend Lindsey Graham's plan when Trump was in his by any means necessary, destroy ACA / Obamacare as fast as possible (as well as anything else Obama did).

This is a great expression of McCain's fight to force debate on a plan that mandates coverage for pre-existing conditions (something that my Parkie self can and does fight for). In the same way that he didn't like the party line vote for Obamacare, he sure didn't like being dragged back to symbolically be the person to destroy it. Why make the same mistake twice just to obey his theoretical party-line master?

Yes, McCain may have voted for things that came next (as some people attacked him for), but at least he created debate first... not caving into partisan politics and step in line with the blowhard in charge (or else - no matter who that is - from the right or left). Real leaders know that very few decisions need to be made immediately, and if they don't, the point it to ponder.

For all of his disagreement with Bush 2 and Obama, they will speak in his honor at his funeral this week.

Despite their differences, Obama still said THIS about his one-time opponent, even after McCain caved to his party's ideology to think he had a better chance to get elected (even taking Sarah Palin onboard to completely sink his ship instead of his choice of Joe Lieberman).

Despite their differences, W said THIS to eulogize his opponent.

Lots of people who weren't aboard the McCain train said nice things. As for the "president," Trump had to be made to fly the flag at half mast.

McCain, though running for election against Obama, once took down a racist making stupid comments to defend Obama. He also braved the party-line hatred to honor the man who would be president when it came time to concede. And yes, they traded barbs along the way with McCain's inability to know how much property he owned being used against him, but in the end, they mended fences.

Because that's what civil people do.

In a world where people who never served try to vilify McCain for his time in POW Hell, John survived those horrible days with permanent injuries. I'm not sure how long it would take ass clowns who attacked his character (like Milo) to scream "Do it to Julia," but the fact is McCain endured torture, came to oppose torture, and still had to deal with barbs like that while being accused by W's campaign of being too angry and reactionary to lead the nation (and Obama's campaign of being so old he might die in office - then again, the GOP did that, too - more on Kelli Ward later).

AUTHOR'S NOTE - even in the eulogies, much was made of McCain's "famous" temper.

That said, if you're a former POW, like James Stockdale (who never gave in), have at. That said, Stockdale respected McCain for his years in that nightmare. If you're so inclined to believe the smear merchants, keep on keeping on. That's what you're inclined to believe, and you have the right to believe what you want.

This is still a free country where you're allowed to think for yourself, even if it's to spread hate to encourage an all out holy war (though Wilders is Dutch, there's enough American whackos that would have came out to play on THIS - see this about Pamela Geller's American Freedom Defense Initiative's 2015 Texas soiree than ended with a security guard shot and two attackers killed).

Shouldn't there be underground Fight Clubs so these people who want their extremist crap can take each other out instead of hurting the rest of us?

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For the rest of us, just use your rights to believe what your eyes see... not what the party line and conspiracy nonsense tells you to believe.

As the anonymous op-ed in the New York Times said:

The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.
Although he was elected as a Republican, the president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people. At best, he has invoked these ideals in scripted settings. At worst, he has attacked them outright.

UNFORTUNATELY, the partisan right looks at this act to restore dignity to the administration (which it stands with and for) as TREASON and demands the writer quit.

It's like they want the ship to sink.

Mind you, losing the House and / or Senate in fall will ensure the demise of the Republican party as those who are a part of it know it to be. In a country that needs many voices and legitimate middle of the road debate, for either the GOP or the Democrats to go off the rails, we would sink further into the swamp.

This can't be.

+++

That said with opposition like those in charge, sometimes, I'd like to have my own restaurant to keep people out when they can't play nice with others. Let's face it; some people's money just isn't worth it. Then again, some companies make money to stand up for their ideological causes, whether we agree with them or not. For those who feel hate for it, cut off your Swoosh. The money is in the bank.

You don't have to pay to play anymore, but there are plenty more who will, and many of them are Nike's target audience as opposed to many opponents who weren't.

+++

That said, for the self righteous, just remember, it's OK to protest when it's for slights to Sarah Huckabee Sanders or Trump, not his enemies. I may not be a Kaepernick fan on or off the field, but he has his 1st Amendment right to make a political stance for his cause. People have the right to tune out and not buy, but this is America... not partisan fueled outrage. While I don't support all of what he's saying, I realize why he does. Oh yeah, this is a great ad campaign that must have inspired Senator Cory Booker.


BTW - this is a great editorial on the situation.Historically, see Muhammad Ali's conscientious objection and Curt Flood's "well paid slave statement."


When you look at most of McCain's haters, they were either harder right (a respectable place to be since they've at least rationalized their beliefs as I have my own and they stand by them when they make sense) or downright "crazy" (a place unworthy of respect because it defends thee old cause no matter what - let's call it Palinland, where one minute, you're ready for war with Russia and the next, they want to hang out with you).

Ben Folds / Nick Hornby - Levi Johnson's Blues

In a world with an administration that hates the McCain point of view and appoints candidates to head the EPA on the basis that they would never do this (SEE VIDEO BELOW), I'd love to own a Chinese restaurant so that if I had to serve people like Sanders (which this new Supreme Court said I don't have to do - provided it goes against my core values), I could bring out the new and improved pu pu platter to people like her and KELLI WARD who somehow think McCain's choice to go off meds and DIE was aimed at her campaign. Oh, to live in Arizona so I could at least vote against her.


In the end, John McCain was my favorite politician who lived in my lifetime. He made a difference for many people. What's more; he chose to die with dignity, calling off the fight against cancer treatment and choosing to shuffle off this mortal coil on his terms. Politics aside, we can look at a beautifully imperfect life and say, "He made a difference."

It sure beats letting a draft dodger tell us what isn't heroic as he gets bought and sold by the KGB and the US really and truly needs to be made great after we sanitize this administration's office.

Joe Biden / Cory Booker 2020.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

McAfee Knob: Going 1,400+ Feet Up Yours, Parkinson's Disease


McAfee Knob has been on my bucket list of hikes for years. I've tried to figure out how to get to it for ages, but a few weeks ago, I felt that it was in need of being done, so my wife Heather and I got her done (cue Larry) by getting a Roanoke trip planned for the weekend!

We've been known to travel cheap (though we once did go to Sandals Jamaica), but our stays in Virginia on the A.T. / Shenandoahs are legendary in worrisome places. Frankly, I'd feel safer draped in donut glaze in Bear Country, but alas...

For instance, in 2008, we thought we had blood on a chair from some ritual killing! I'm not sure if it was, but yeah... That said, at least we were rewarded with rising clouds from the valley when rain cleared after breakfast ended.

This time...


Letting the "fix" job on the AC (above) speak for the room, we'll give a borderline room condition of 1.5 stars, barring any other misadventures.

Plusses - the AC worked, the shower worked + had enough hot water, the beds were relatively soft, windows intact + not cracked, fresh Oompaloompa-sized towels daily, and there was a TV (though we didn't watch it).

Minuses - no working pool despite being advertised, urine-smelling elevator that made scary noises, cops arrested someone on Labor Day, phones didn't work, lousy breakfast, inspection failure notice on the hotel office door, and lots of outdoor hall passage puddles / funk.

This leaves said hotel with a .43 star rating (calculated much like baseball's Wins Above Replacement stat - unless you have a degree in economics, you can't figure it out, nor can you figure out the inconsistency between raters).


But this wasn't about a hotel. It's about kicking back against life's challenges and feeling awesome (and sweaty) when it's all over.

The good folks at Hiking Upward list this mountain trail at 1,740 feet of elevation gain. The map shows 1,400+ feet, but there was a little up and down to play with. We also took the fire road up and down, so we're closer to 8 miles than 9. In the end, we hiked a section of road that was "manicured," but the main vertical part was where it reconnected to the Appalachian Trail for the final 1.3 mile walk through. There's no skimping on that; 1,400 feet is 1,400 feet.


Appalachian Trail complete-ists will talk of having to step on every single white marked speck of trail to get credit for the trail. We are not AT purists, so we took the fire road.

I get the purity of the thru-hike sport. That said, what I like about hiking is that I either CAN reach the top or I CAN'T. I'm not creating a short cut, i.e. leaving a blemish to do it. I'm not getting fireman carried up to the top. I've laced up my Keens, steadied by Black Diamond trekking poles, filled my Camelbak backpack with lots of water, and I'm walking it.


Hike your own hike. Go your own pace. Have fun. Be safe.

This is a place where help only matters so much. There is no "grade inflation." There's no subjective. There's just me and a mountain. Either I make it or I don't.


While I'm there, I need to:

Watch out for snakes and bears.

Carry enough water.

Be prepared for the heat.

Don't think; know.

Hypherhidrosis ya' all. That extreme sweat condition that plagues people with Parkinson's.

Dystonia ya' all. That twisted foot pain that plagues people with Parkinson's.

Zombie ligament ya' all. The ACL repair job my wife got after her hike in Icebox Canyon (see link) that saw her push out 2 miles of desert rocky canyon in pain, without tears, but with help (see link).

Toughest hike I ever witnessed.


And there we were, getting ready to hike McAfee on Sunday morning.

The alarm went off at 5:45 (way too early in the morning). We were going to go Saturday, but the weather wasn't set to cooperate so we took in the zoo and the star over Roanoke. They're both at Mill Mountain Park. I recommend them to you. By the time we got moving, it was hot (approaching 90°), which is a no no for hiking. We called the hike, but surveyed the trail. Tomorrow was another day.

While sitting in Moe's doing the Americanized Mexican thing, we realized we made the right call.


The next day, we hit the trail at 7AM expecting cooler temps and a less packed parking lot. We got the former, but not the latter. That said, shade on the uphills and a 70°, though humid beginning beats 90°. Off we went.


Some people hike with their kids in this kind of weather in the afternoon. Some people take very little water with their kids on this hike. Some people eat Tide pods, too. Remember what our good friend Ed Viesturs said: "Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory."

You can never take too much water or potential gear for heat and distance.

Really. Don't be a statistic. Enough said.


Between us, we had 11 bottles of water, food, gear, and everything except a way to find my wife at the top, who was off and running as I took photos, poking around on the trail.

Eventually I did find her (well other people found her). She was just at a different overlook (there are 2 with a path connecting them). I just didn't see the overlook sign at the top. I did see the other signs, but yeah... missed that one and ended up on a different overlook. When it was pointed out on the way back, I did clearly see it. I'm blaming it on a mix of exhaustion and no glasses (yeah...).




The first peekaboo vista looks like this:


Please note: when the commonwealth of Virginia is hooking you up with a sea of cloud cover lifting off the valley floor, you say a thank you prayer to the hiking gods.

That said, you don't take it in too much at the peekaboo because there's a distance to go to get to the real, and that's all vert and rock, friends.




But you're not here for the story of how to get to that, so let me give you the goods.

















Our journey took just over 5.5 hours with a serious stop at the top (half hour).

The point here is that we did. We didn't set records, but we did. We had fun. We stayed safe. I kicked back at Parkinson's and my wife did her first big hike since April 2015 when she took out her ACL in a back country fall.

Prior to that setback, Heather did the frozen waterfalls of Ricketts Glen, the frozen waterfalls of Ithaca, a 30 foot rappel of Sand Run Falls, and frozen Glen Onoko (pictured). This wasn't all she did, but these were her signature hikes.


Way back when, we used to hike a lot, but then zombie ligament and Parkinson's. Both of them change lives, but here's the point. We can sit around and whine about what we can't do (I'm stage 2, so I'm slow with foot cramps and I run hot and sweaty) or we can enjoy things the best we can (sometimes old, sometimes new). It's not about being a Tough Mudder 24/7 let alone 1 day of 365. Sometimes, it's just about being us and enjoying what we can do while we can do it. And when we witness others do it, we need to celebrate them. On that note:

I'M SO INCREDIBLY PROUD OF WHAT SHE DID OUT THERE!

Godzilla and King Kong are out there to mess with tomorrow, so live well today. You don't know when you'll have another chance.


When you do, give it your all. Celebrate your success. Celebrate other people's success. Share love. Say no to the hate.

All those people who want to tell you what you can't do...

All those who want to rain on your parade of accomplishments...

All those who just don't get that life is for living...

Show 'em what's what and then remove them from your life.

Give them 1400+ vertical feet to almost 3200 feet OR enjoying whatever hobby that makes you who you are.

Get out of bed and choose to be you instead of a condition or an insult or a negative feeling.

Winning is done when you "stand up next to a mountain and chop it down with the edge of your hand."


Don't let other people drag you down and "Harrison Bergeron" you. Let your life shine. Never be less to make someone else feel more. This goes for anyone who wants to compromise you.

You've got it in you. I know it. Find it and share it. Take back your life.



Thanks for reading!