Think / Able - and Check out My Parkinson's Facebook Page

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Saturday, June 30, 2018

Sleep: The Good, The Scary, and The Future as Well as Some Thankful Expressions

Recently, my friend John who works at the Salt Lounge in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, invited me to experience salt therapy at his place of work.

I must say, it put me to sleep. Literally. I was awake for 15 minutes, and I fell asleep.

That's not a bad or uncommon thing. In fact, the staff warns you that it could happen because the therapy WILL relax you and make you breathe easier. Put simply, it was the bomb diggity. Right now, the goal is to take my wife back for our anniversary in August and do massages and salt therapy.

To set the stage, when you walk into the room, you are mandated to take off your socks and shoes as you walk across a floor of pink Himalayan sea salt. Apparently, people don't want to walk barefoot through your gunk, so please oblige.

All around you is additional pink sea salt, which is pumping into the room. You are given a Walkman with various trance style music to listen to, and the lights are dimmed to reveal white specks like stars, which appear as glowing lights. These flicker on and off as the spacey music fills your brain.

So there I was, sitting on an Adirondack chair, letting my thoughts vanish, and drifting into no thoughts. WHAM! I was woken up a half hour later to hear that it was over.

What? It's over!

If I were to do it again, I would have The Orb's "Little Fluffy Clouds" on. I think that would express everything I wanted to feel in the moment.

Anyway, I've had good luck with salt therapy in the past, so convincing me to go was no big deal. My wife's sister had one of those salt lamps, and I slept really well with it when we were in Georgia. This was prior to my sleep aepnea diagnosis (though I knew I had it). Right now, I don't sleep well at all, so for someone with sleeping / breathing issues, the salt is a good thing.  Now, we've got 3 set up in the house. Two were gifts from her, and one we had, but it was in the attic.

As for my post-salt therapy sleep experience, keep in mind, I went home that evening and laid down on my couch, drifting off to sleep. I woke up 12 hours later to a phone call that I was late for hiking. I didn't wake up to go to the bathroom prior to that either, which is unheard of! Also keep in mind, 12 hours of sleep is 2 nights in my world of insane sleep (more about that later).

Obviously, you good people are spread out, but if you're near Reading, Pennsylvania, you should swing on by. There's lots of other things to see and do in Wyomissing. After all, it's where Taylor Swift lived before moving to Nashville, and yes, they claim her pretty hard around here! Other than that, you're about 30 minutes from Amish Country, too.

I recommend Shady Maple Smorgasbord! It's pricey, but it's better buffet food with more quality choices. You'll feel the bloat, but it's worth it! Taylor Swift might not be able to eat in there now without being mobbed, but you might see Raymond the Amish Comic!


But anyway, when it comes to sleep, I have been having issues lately. In the last 3 weeks, I have had many aggressive dreams, which is weird because I'm actually feeling pretty mellow, and in the worst of the dreams, I was falling asleep to Parks and Rec.

1) Someone is saying horrible things about Parkinson's people, so I stand up for all of us. Mind you, I am at the house my family lived at from age 16 to 29. I feel that I have nothing to lose, so I talk said person down only to confront another person who feels like he needs to keep the aggression flowing.

2) A dream where 2 former bosses melt into one another, and I have to confront them over lies they are saying. One of them is from nearly a decade and a half ago. Somehow, this dream drifts into going back to Basic Training. A lot of my dreams do. I tend to find myself in a more comfortable and capable way while there than I did in real life (yes, I get the symbolism of that). I have been back to Basic Training with my wife Heather, myself, and my former unit, some 30 years later. They're not bad dreams, but I always dread doing things like 6 inch square folding and locker inspection preparedness. I'm more exact about things like writing, but things that can just be... they tend to be.

3) I have had 2 punching dreams that I remember. In the second dream, I'm not sure why I punched, but I know I swung at the headboard. In the first dream, my wife and I were in a store, where we encountered the owner having to fight back against a rambunctious crowd of post-teens. As he defended himself, one of the thug kids asked if we wanted to help get him. I refused, and soon we were fighting off the thugs. I know I swung at least twice. Despite having no control over my out of sleep actions (a part of REM SBD, which keeps the body from being shut off), I am hyper-aware of them. In the past, this has allowed me to fly or choose direction. I can also talk to myself in my dreams. Let's just say, it's a wild ride in there. As this dream continued, I found that we were having to fashion spears to go on the attack. When it was over, it turned out that it was some kind of a game (I assume somewhere between a club and the Hunger Games), and because of that, they were gearing up for a second round.

4) I had another dream where 2 people I know were present. The wife was being condescending and hateful toward the husband, and I remember shoving her for this. As that occurred, the husband announced that the wife was cheating on him, so it was a case of me defending his honor in somewhat the way I did the people with Parkinson's in #1. After that, I remember him resolving their situation to find his independence.

5) In another dream, I met John McCain during a session of Basic Training. I remember that he was feeling that some of my observations about him were wrong, which bothered me because he's my current favorite living leader.

6) Additionally, while falling asleep, I might wake up and feel my body snapping here and there.


Recently, I had another sleep study to figure out why I'm ripping my sleep apnea mask off every night. I wear it, and it doesn't feel uncomfortable. I manage to fall asleep, but in times that range from less than an hour to less than 4 hours, off it comes. I have NO KNOWLEDGE that this has happened (except in 1 case). If I sleep on my back, I fare better, but that's not perfect since I'm a side sleeper. Hence, my pulmonary doctor sent me back for more tests because she's still trying to be sure about asthma and aspiration pneumonia. I've written about THIS in the past.

I've also written about sleep apnea before. Here is part 1 and part 2.

Personally, I'm more sold on REM Sleep Behavior Disorder and Parkinson's breathing issues.

This is my first pneumonia account. This is the second.

Anyway, all 3 times, I went here (though to 2 different centers, but the same attendant Michelle). I sent this to her boss.

I am writing this letter to commend your employee, Michelle.
Over the past few months, I have been to 2 different Lancaster County sleep centers over 3 visits. Each time, I had the pleasure of being treated by Michelle. Her manner has always been upbeat and she shines with dedication to her profession.
While much of her job that that patients see deals with getting them ready for the study by “wiring them up,” she does her best to cut down on the awkwardness and potential discomfort of the on and off sticky substances. Here, she even made the “goopy” part of the experience as pleasant as can be (the same was true for the reverse part of the procedure).
Additionally, she worked hard to explain everything that was about to be done and that was done. She did while all the while answering all of my questions. While this is “part of the job,” I have an excessive amount of questions due to the fact that I have Parkinson’s disease, which is a condition that I write about for myself and Health Union.
Here, I am able to take my former life as a teacher and combine it with my current life as an educator / advocate and combine them in a written form so that other people and I will be able to understand the process. Knowing that I have a solid professional voice guiding me to answers while helping to alleviate concerns makes me confident of who she is as a professional. Also, with her help, I am able to assist others in coming to accept help with sleep apnea. To me, this is what life is all about.

Please know how appreciated your staff member is (she’s not just helping me – her care is making a difference world-wide. Here, I can say this simply: I would recommend your practice to anyone for the value she brings to it.

I really like writing letters like this, but I also like being able to be a part of the research in a hermeneutic phenomenology kind of way. While that's a big way of saying a researcher aims to find cold hard "objective" data in how people "subjectively" describe their own participation in an action. For instance, I tell you in paragraph form how it feels to get a treatment. 

Here, my writer's side allows me to express what I'm going through in enough words to really make something of it.

On that note, I hate questions like "How much pain are you in?"

What's  a 0? A perfect Sandals vacation?

What's a 10? An 8-year stint at the Hanoi Hilton?

So where is my aspiration pneumonia in all of that? Is a 4 a fair estimate? If I said 8, is this just a weak pain tolerance?

How about I just describe it to you?

Working with Michele is easy because she's into the dream aspect of the job, and was able to talk about future research with that as well as what's going on. 

For instance, I could ask her things like, "Did you catch that dream in the second half?" She would tell me she did, and she could describe some of my actions like how I moved my feet (part of my REM SBD). Unfortunately, she can't TIVO the dream for me... yet.

While there, I didn't rip the mask off, and I slept easily (as I did the other times). I had really wanted to work with the doctors to watch me do this while they explain it to me, but yeah... maybe I'll just have to set it up in my bedroom. Then again, do I really want to? I might reveal ghosts (!?!?!?!?!).

Somewhere in all of this, I find myself working to help myself, but I also find myself frustrated with the endless search for problems to label. I feel like the astronauts in Tom Hanks' Apollo 13 when they just get frustrated with being trapped in space and doubtful of their return, so they rebel against being monitored by Houston by pulling off their sensors.

Nobody will know my kidney functions now!

Of course, just like with Jim Lovell's crew, there comes a time when we need to be left to do this, and there's a time to just shut up and listen because this effort for Sisyphus might be heroic.

I'm not sure of where I am with regard to the treatment. I believe it could help, but unless I stay at the sleep center (my wife would have a problem with that) or we fastened the mask to my head with metal clasps, I'm just not sure.

Additionally, I'm done adding medicines for a while. I sleep alone, so I'm not a danger to other people, and besides, not all meds are good for me. My doc referred to my body as "too sensitive." Here, I have little interest in yet another brain medicine when I have 3 already.

In the meantime, I'll strap on my mask tonight and hope for the best.

(Also, see THIS POST for more about my sleep issues regarding some of the reasons I sleep alone as well as other issues that Parkies face in the bedroom).

Friday, June 29, 2018

The Story of 5 Deaths Expressed in Print: The Truly Well Done, the Really Good, the Bad, the Good, and the Tasteless

Last night, I found out that my cousin Michele's former husband and father of their 2 children died. The humanized story was beautifully tragic. It was everything an obituary should be. Despite their differences, she both put aside and showed her feelings toward their relationship in a way that completely respected him. I can't top that, so I'll just say RIP, Charlie A.

Originally, I set out to write this with the following 4 deaths in mind. The first of those was news columnist Charles Krauthammer. I saw this comment, and I felt inspired at his mature approach to death.

"I leave this life with no regrets. It was a wonderful life -- full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended."

I thought of how special and fearless that was. There was no zombie fear of death, just a complete sense of peace. For a man known for political commentary of conservative nature, it showed a truly realized place in the world, which is infrequent to that generation of men. Total class.

Up next is Richard "Old Man" Harrison. The tributes to him were also powerful and well-expressed, but despite dying of Parkinson's complications, I heard little else about it. Nevertheless, in death, we Parkies and those who know our plight can imagine what might have "got him." Suddenly, all of those afternoon siestas make a lot of sense. However, a learning lesson to the world was missed in not telling us all how Chumlee affected Harrison's emotional overload (in the same good-natured goofy way I do with people I enjoy working with) or how he coped with his symptoms and new life. 

I speak out to do this. That's my choice. I wish more people in power would do this to help create a greater interest in funding and research that involves more options that just legalizing cannabis.

Then we compare that solid expression to this obituary detailing the final slam from jilted kids. Yes, they had reason to be mad, but settling it like this? Printing this? C'mon.

Finally, we come to DJ Dan Ingram, who also had Parkinson's, though he "didn't die from it" (according to his son). No, the headline was:

Famed Radio DJ Dan Ingram Dead at 83 After Choking on a Piece of Steak

Let's think about this. According to Michael J. Fox Foundation and my own personal experience, swallowing is kind of a problem for Parkies. Now maybe this particular bit of food blocking his windpipe was the result of trying to swallow a three inch squared piece of steak without chewing, but I'm betting against that. Nevertheless, he's gone, and that's the important thing. However, to turn a death into a click-bait headline for cheap hits? Totally classless. What's more, in looking at the PD tie-in, to treat the death like this seems a tad insulting. 

Obviously, illness with physical symptoms often is easy to insult; just ask these NSFW rappers who penned said lyrics. I'm sure we've all played the insult illnesses game when we were younger, but to make that slight when older and in a mainstream supermarket mega seller magazine... why? 

How about, "Famous DJ Dies at 83 after a Stellar Career?"

We all have our nemesis entertainers. Mine generally reside on Bravo and E. While I have suggested to my wife that some should fight to the death in a steel cage, I can't even find it in my heart to want to crack jokes on a Real Housewife or a Kardashian, should they pass away. I've got too much karma to work on, and besides, their hateful on-camera, female equivalent of the WWE squabbling will have caused enough jokes and vitriol in life. Why carry it over to death?

Phish and the Clip Show

When I was younger, I went to see the band Phish at 12 different shows and 2-day festival in Maine. One of the interesting things about the band was that they never played the same set twice, let alone the same song the same way twice either. They didn’t repeat songs for several nights as well. Sure, there were songs that factored into the most frequent choices for them to jam out and jam into, but that's anyone.

Obviously, if you’ve been to this site, you’ve seen variations of my greatest hits and themes (avalanches, Godzilla, King Kong, Emile Zola, etc.). For the next 100,000 hits, I’ll be playing some of these old favorites, but I’ll also be spinning some serious new jams. Stick around. It only gets better from here.

By the way, for 1 week, starting July 8th and ending the 14th, I'll be giving all my books away for free on Kindle to commemorate the 2 year anniversary of my first publication. Parts of Eureka in Flames will be different (a few errors fixed - one character adjusted), but the story will remain the same. Unfortunately, this is only on Amazon, and it doesn't include print books. Save the date!

Samples located HERE.

If you already own a book, I can send you a PDF of digital changes during that time, too. This would work with Nook readers.

Classic Hits
1. Compare my first blog entry for November 1, 2016
2. To my all-time fan favorite post of 25 things I learned from Parkinson's over the first 18 months with it.
3. Jimmy Choi - Our other Parkinson's Hero / Welcome to the Team Ed Rendell
4. The Neurodiversity Challenge - 10 Reasons my Condition Made Me Me!
5. Hallucinations and Medical Side Effects
6. Positive Thoughts to Handle this Diagnosis
7. Wishing on a Star - Letchworth State Park and Echosmith
8. Gotta Love Toyota
9. Parkinson s and Sleep Apnea Part 1 and Part 2
10. Longwood Gardens
11. Bears Critters and Ticks
12. Genealogy and Paralysis Agitans
13. Getting picked up by Parkinson's Dot Net
14. My Parkinson's Dot Net posts
15. 20 Thoughts for Caregivers
16. Overcoming Parkinson's in Nature
17. 10 Simple but Underappreciated Pleasures of Life
18. Ghosts and Parkinson's - My Supernatural World
19. Dystonia and Hiking Shoes
20. My Gram's 100th Birthday - A Modern Ghost Story
21. The Price is Wrong
22. Wild in Bed
23. Hyperhidrosis
24. Aspiration pneumonia
25. Smiling not Smiling
26. Winter Waterfalls 2016
27. Rocky Ridge Flowers 2017 
28. Welcome to the show, Jesse Jackson
29. Emotional Overloads after Iceland
30. New Orleans Highlights - Aspiration Pneumonia Lowlights - all in 1!
31. Post Las Vegas Shooting Thoughts
32. I Wish You Had More Time
33. Air Force 27th Anniversary.
34. 200 Things I'm Thankful For
35. 50 of Life's Greatest Truths
36. Avalanche Day
37. Ghost Stories and the Meaning of Life
38. 10 Late April 2018 Happy Thoughts to Go Positive
39. Icebox Canyon Disaster - My Wife's ACL Injury Starring Amy Schuman
40.  New Orleans Travel Guide


Oh, for the days when we didn't have to debate whether the extremes of our amendments were really necessary, and we could just have all of them and play nicely with one another, but alas... the idea of great power requiring great responsibility is out the window with the schizophrenic vitriol of both sides.

As a Parkinson's advocate, I need to be accurate of my experiences. I need to share my credentials (guy with PD sharing the knowledge I learn). I need to make sure I'm not spreading B.S. to people and being honest of the products I endorse (I get paid for nothing - though I did get an umbrella and cooler bag from Toyota, but I would support them for free). I can be funny and show human feeling, but I shouldn't use it to be divisive to my target audience. I also need to call out evil speech, but not insult it.... see Rush and Michael J. here.

When I think of Michael J. Fox, I see a man of class and commitment. If anything, he shows how we can face the enemy while educating and advocating against a guy who pretty much is a comedian talking the news in a full-on attack mode. I'm sure that it's possible to find people like him on the left. Michael Moore comes to mind. Even in a political world, Comedy Central could only sustain one nightly hate the Right show (and that 1 is terrible without Jon Stewart).

Nevertheless, I find myself more and more tuned out to the news. Not some of it... Almost all of it, and I'm a major history loving guy.

On one end, I see an endless anti-Trump swamp of news that's getting so redundant, it's hard to sift through it to find substance to judge (mind you, I'm a Never Trump). On the other end, I see an endless parade of counter attacks that feel just as rabid. It's like they get off on hating one another. It's now so bad that I can't read the news (though some parts slip through).

What's wrong with that? Is this part of the mission? Divide and conquer? Bait and switch?

Sadly, we've got nobody in the middle to support in the next election so that the 50% in the middle can push out a potential extreme candidate from either side's swamps.

I'm not asking for a compromise on the unethical. I'm looking for someone willing to cross the aisle and talk about larger issues that can be made better for all of us.

I sit here and think of my college law professor Bill H. (a brilliant man and former superintendent) talking about how most Constitutional cases are based on people who are pretty messed up (I've paraphrased his words a bit, but in his grandfatherly way, he implied that).

Ernesto Miranda, perfect example. You have the right to be read your rights because police were overzealous in obtaining his confession for rape and kidnapping. As he already had a history of rape, assault, and burglary, he was no angel. Obviously, as an ethical society, we want to be right in how we get it right, so now, our Constitution has been clarified to the point where the suspect who was later investigated for knifing and killing Miranda at a later date was given his rights (though he was never charged).

As a writer for Parkinson's (and sometimes the environment and education) I sit here and think about the power of writing. Opinions are a good thing, but anyone can have whatever one he or she wants, and in a world that mirrors Mike Judge's Idiocracy too closely, that's a dangerous thing. Sandy Hook conspiracy... perfect example.

I think about fact checking, and that doesn't matter anymore in a world that is just looking for what they want to see as it is flashed in headlines for clickbait.

Here, I think of Time Magazine. They have an emotional and powerful issue with immigrant families. People are upset that kids are being detained without their parents. Go figure.

Now, we get into the argument of illegal and undocumented,  but that's not the point here. I'm not here to argue that since this is about contemplating civility and reality in news.

The point is selling a cause to get people to buy it for its truth, not its lip gloss.

If you can tell me that you as a parent wouldn't try to give your kid, who is living in a really rough environment like a lot of places South of the Border, a better life, then you're lying. Why wouldn't you want kiddo to be given the opportunities of wealth, healthcare, education, safety, possibility, and dare I suggest an opportunity to take a Caribbean vacation and not just watch it from outside the compound? Consider that for many people in these conditions, they have nothing to lose. Think about how they get here - they pay off unsavory types for a dangerous trip that they may not survive to come to a country with no work skills other than minimum wage jobs they must do in secret since they're not "legal." Then, they support family back home while living in hiding here.

Who does that? If you were the father or mother, would you make the trip if you could afford it? I'm sorry if you don't like the "put yourself in another person's shoes" hypothetical game. This is real. If you think your kids of all ages wouldn't obediently follow you on your journey to wherever, ask yourself why young kids wouldn't follow their parents on this journey to survival as well.

Mind you, this isn't about whether we should or shouldn't allow this. It's that this is real, and it's happening now. What are we going to do about it?

This doesn't mean we let everyone in, but can we make it more possible and less dangerous? Besides, Americans love the benefits of cheap labor. That's why we've been allowing this for years. These people often do the jobs we Americans are "above" doing. Our system lets this happen. Why not work together to help one another and provide better options? There has to be a good solution to make something happen other than stopping it because "they'll all vote Democrat since that's who wants them in here."

Besides, lots of people are immigrating legally and illegally from all over the place to all over the place. Remind me to tell you about the time I got detained going back to Britain after my time in the Air Force, as I (and my girlfriend at the time) were grilled on "my intentions" (and that was pre 9.11).

But anyway... major crisis... both sides shaking their heads... find a solution... wrap this up nicely.

What does Time do? No, it's not the endless op-ed pieces painted like articles that appear any time anyone has an accusation about anything a border guard might have done, and sadly, they are everywhere (Why? Because people are listening to what it's assumed they might want to hear.). Instead, they took a picture that has nothing to do with the story and made it a cover story photo.

Thus, for those people whose issue is based around amnesty / human rights, you just lost credibility to a side that thinks this is somehow OK for a first lady to wear. Mind you, this is also the mindset that gave us a candidate who couldn't lose until she did.

Is it true that some people only care because Trump is doing the opposite of it? Yes. Social justice keyboard warriors and their right leaning equivalents (who did it to Obama) are empowered by hating their opponents just because. Many of them will forget this cause just like they did the Ice Bucket Challenge and Elian Gonzalez.

That said, other people really do care, and for this, they shouldn't lose headway for the sake of cheap headlines based on a foundation of poop (THIS APPLIES TO ANY CAUSE).

For me, I see my politics in the middle. I liked John McCain before he had to people please his Republican backers in 2008. Many of them elected him. Others hated him because he couldn't withstand torture by his Vietnamese captors (or so it was alleged). They were never going to like him, yet he had to dance for them.


In these later years in office, I like that he votes his conscience and stands strong. He's not perfect, but I respect him completely. I dread the day I wake up to his obituary.

Now, if you're sitting in Ma's and Pa's house Tweeting or you're just a person like me who has never been waterboarded or received any other vicious body damaging torture, you don't get an opinion on those who did.

And that's a lot of the point with the case of the Red Hen. If you don't live in the area or intend to drive there, how the heck can you write a review of the place? Does patriotism implore you to do such from your cross country home? Are you traveling there to do this as a special thing?

What are you getting in return for your money if you are? I'm not sure where you get the money, but when it comes to my money, I'm using it for a fun vacation.

Also keep in mind, I can't imagine one restaurant or service I couldn't replace if they said, "No people who tremor in this barber shop!" But that's just me. I'm trying to spend less time hating on stuff. I'd rather support a good place who cares, but then again, I'd rather purr.

Additionally, would Sarah travel to your sleepy burg or ville when it comes to standing up for you? Does she write Yelp reviews about the bad people out there? Injustices come every day. My cheese steak wasn't perfect. It's time to get her to speak up on my replacement one.

Granted, the Red Hen never should have asked Sarah "The Voice of the G.O.P." Huckabee Sanders to leave. That's not good for business, nor is it professional, and it's not like she was going to trash the table. She probably would have left a big tip, which could have benefited a gay right's organization.

While it would have been funny if the staff  played "Lying Eyes" until she did (I kid, I kid...), imagine if they took the amount of her tip and showcased it being sent to support a non-Trump candidate / organization.

But alas, creativity is dead. 

Apparently, we can't find The Eagles on Youtube, so I leave you with Pig Destroyer, who would chase everyone out of the facility.

Now, I get why the Red Hen did what they did (I wouldn't have - I would have posed for a picture next to her and made goofy eyes so I could showcase it on Facebook). Employees who felt particularly attacked by policies of the administration (homosexual rights) felt it went against their values to serve her. Fair enough. I get that, too. It's easy to counter hate with hate. Like Bartleby, they preferred not to put up with her. The manager chose to support them. Fair enough. If you don't want to come to the restaurant because of this policy, that's your choice and your right.

Just make sure it's the right restaurant you're attacking, and if you're told it's the wrong restaurant, apologize, move on, delete your comment, and take a "Net Etiquette" course.

Also, in this case, the boss chose to see her business as a "person with values and ideals." That's her right, and a very modern business kind of thing to do. I get it. We have to stand for something and so should her business. Because of this, I'm giving 10% of my income to the Human Fund.

However, when it comes to business entities, I was of the opinion that it wasn't left acceptable to see a business as a person.

Alas, I digress.

The point is that people have the right to protest injustice. Cool. Do your thing to support your thing as long as it doesn't involve "chicken poop" (this is real, and it's not protected speech) or hurting others.

Just make sure it's the the right restaurant if you're going to tell them you're not coming to their restaurant anymore. Don't be surprised if they look at you and think, "OK, I'll have a completely new audience to support me as soon as you go." It worked for the Dixie Chicks for at least a little while.

Anyway... yeah... learn to use the right search engine the right way. Apparently, a lot of people still don't know how to Google search. See THIS and THIS.

Nevertheless, the anti-Red Henners know how to celebrate Jack Phillips' right to refuse service to a gay couple based on his beliefs, which weren't just about cherry-picking Leviticus to justify one option not to serve one type of person. Apparently, his religious views beat the litmus test because he won in the final battle 7-2. That's pretty surprising when it comes to a lot of Leviticus claims in 2018.

In the end, the point here isn't to argue which side is right or spending all day being annoyed with hypocrisy. The solution you choose is your choice based on your values (and mine is based on mine). This is still America, and we are given the right to believe the world is flat (in a B.O.B., not Tom Friedman kind of way), even if it's not.

The first point here is that you get it right. Do your research. Challenge the other side respectfully. Don't lose your class by being a pain in the butt. Don't slander or libel. Don't yell. Don't lie. Your job is to be Jackie Robinson. When we see ANTIFA and Anonymous, they are warriors, vigilantes, and thugs. Who respects that? When we see the dogs and hoses turned on the protesters in the 1960s, we see martyrdom. Who wants to allow for that?

Think about it; which side stands for something real instead of replacing intolerance with hate and violence?

The other point is that the new so uncool thing that transferred from Left to Right is going after people's right to work. If you don't want to support Phillips or the Red Hen, fine. If you think one stupid act by a teenager / adult is enough to put them out of work for life, then you don't get it.


The message is simple. Give people a chance to be better people.

But no... what matters instead? The only thing that matters is B.S. partisan politics and destroying a person just because. We make someone else suffer to justify our uptight self-important B.S. Too cool, dude. From the days of taking the attack to those who take the attack to them (Joe the Plumber), we've moved quite nicely in social media land. Anyone can hate / slander anyone in any way that he or she can imagine.

It's like the tweet response is either the unlimited posts of E.D. medications I have to delete from this site or some troll is hating someone else for something somewhere online.

That's bad enough, but now people are changing the question to a complete lack of sense..

"I know you're the wrong person, but you didn't answer the question, so you're in cahoots. Tell me now! If you don't agree with me, you are just as evil!"

Sadly, to ignore it is to allow it to fester, which is why we get conspiracies on Sandy Hook, Obama's birth certificate, and everything Alex Jones advocates.

Which leaves us in conclusion.

For Pete's sake, learn to discuss things civilly. Stand for something. Be ethical. Be respectful, and turn off the microphones on those who can't.

Better yet, just tune out all of the news and live life in a way that makes your immediate world better. Replace the babysitters with independent adults looking to work together.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

What Do You Believe? 30 Things I Believe

Obviously, I believe in a lot of things. The millions of words I write for this, that, and the other thing are testimony to that, but what would you write for this topic (which I am currently writing for an essay to possibly publish)?

In the course of our lives, all of us form a personal religion—a belief system about our role and purpose in the world. Write a paper describing your own personal belief system. The paper will be an essay that details key influences or experiences that led to the development of your own special faith or philosophy of life.

Every time I get started, I'm not sure I'm there. Obviously, religion tends to be a formal system in a building, while spirituality takes places anywhere. I'm baptized Catholic, so as I was told by a nun at one point in my life, "You're either a Catholic or a wayward Catholic."

Thus, I get the Nicene Creed.

I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,

maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,

the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,

who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Throughout my life, I've read a fair bit of philosophy (Western and Eastern), and I always felt that the Tao Te Ching knocked my socks off. If my mind could get peaceful enough, I'd have a chance at that. There's a lot of literature and quotes I'd really like to spend time thinking about. Unfortunately, there's never enough time to do everything I want to do.

Add to this Cowboy Monkey Rodeo on Sunday, and there's yet another reason to do something else!

Now that might sound stupid, but in my family, we give monkey cards to all of the special people. And yes, I started that trend. Monkey cards are special. People shouldn't throw them away. Besides, who doesn't love monkeys?

I'll be honest; I don't know if I want to be friends with a non-monkey person.

So yeah, when I think about what I believe, I think of something more than religion, but that's what a lot of people go back to while I move ahead to 3 songs.

1) REM - I Believe

2. John Lennon - God

3. U2 - God Part 2

Sitting here now, I think of what I believe in, and I list it for you, beginning with religion, since the question asked about that.

1. I believe in God and "Catholic Jesus." I just can't comfortable in other churches (no knock on them - whatever faith you have is a good thing). Call that my strict Irish Catholic Nana's influence (even if she was married to a Jewish guy), or just my regimen, but I'm not into the NPR bands in church (though I listen to them outside of church). I also think people should commit to understand the ceremonies they're participating in (Communion, for example), before engaging in them. That said, stand, kneel, sit, pray, sing in soft lip-synch form isn't always me either (I'm too Mark Twain's Letters from Earth). That said, I do understand and respect the power of being in buildings created to honor God. For this, I do go to church now and again. All the same, I'm more of a spiritual guy than a religious guy. Looking out at the natural creations of the world makes it impossible to believe they were just a random chance existence.

2. I believe in me. If I didn't, who and what would I be? I am so many hobbies, interests, talents, successes, mistakes, and personality traits. While I have Parkinson's, I also love taking pictures of places I go hiking at. Given the choice, I like being a man who lives a People First Life. That said, advocating and educating for Parkinson's is who I am.

3. I believe in love. I love my wife Heather, the woman who makes my life complete. I love my family for their presence in my life, past, present, and future. I love Nature with a capital N (gracias, John Muir!). I love my friends for their support, good nature, camaraderie, and just being them. I love V+S cheese steaks a little too much. Obviously, love means something different for all of them, but love is a good thing. Without it, life isn't worth living. On that note, live life full on. Value life, both in and out of the womb. Be tolerant and respectful. I'm not perfect, but I'm trying (and it all starts with the Golden Rule and "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.").

4. I believe in my family. Back through to the roots of my family tree, they are my history, DNA, biology, and my future. I believe in culture and tradition passed through them. I believe it's my responsibility to pass this on to the next generation. I also believe in the family that we marry into and the ages old close friends (like the extended Wards) who are just like family to us.

5. I believe that every moment of my life has been preparing me to speak out for Parkinson's awareness. I'm not in it for me. I'll be stage 3 before anything gets approved, and by that time, it's too late for me. This is for the next generation.

6. I believe in the Stockdale Paradox (Confront the brutal truth, but know that you will prevail in the end).

7. I believe in Victor Frankl's theory of Logotherapy.

8. I believe in positive psychology and the people (like Martin Seligman) who teach it.

9. I believe in the Tao te Ching and a lot of Asian thought to include Chow Yun Fat's Asian movies (OK, so that's not philosophy, but Hard Boiled and The Killer were great movies).

10. I believe in divine intervention, fail safes, and satoris. The movie 15:17 to Paris features a scene where Spencer Stone asks, "Do you ever feel like life is pushing us toward something, some greater purpose?” That sums it up (by the way, the line was real - not made for the screen). I've experienced all of the above. I've felt on the verge of greater meaning. If all we're meant for is quiet desperation or life after death, why bother here? To think that all God is concerned about is following rules and worshiping him (as opposed to taking care of his creations) is something I can't accept. I get the rules and the "I believe" part, but we either follow it or we don't. Despite the above, I believe in free will.

11. I believe that if you think you are a social justice warrior calling for change by demanding people who don't believe what you do or act the way you do should be fired, then you're part of the problem. Nobody who works hard should be out of work. While people make mistakes, does this mean that they should have their livelihood destroyed? The political extremes seem to forget that nobody is perfect. If they want to destroy one another, break out the steel cages, but for those of us who want to just be, no matter what side of moderate they come up. Let them be conservative or liberal. So be it. That said, giving someone so many words to attack a business they never frequented or a person they never met is ridiculous. Can't we all just get along?

12. I believe in education. I feel that choosing not to educate the young of this world is child abuse (by encouraging reading, learning, and helping with homework, for instance). We can only do if we are taught to ask questions and research the answers / solve the problems. To put roadblocks up for a child is to take away said kid's ability to help him or herself. That would be akin to stunting someone's senses so he or she is unable to interpret what he or she explores. Education teaches problem solving and communication. It requires individual success and teamwork. It's the foundation of our world. Here, I  believe in contemplating ourselves and our thoughts through daily reflections. To go through life blindly believing conspiracy and the party line (on any side) is a huge problem.

13. I believe in listening to good music as much as possible.

14. I believe that being an American is in my DNA, but I also believe people were meant to experience other cultures and people. For this, my time in England with my former girlfriend and her family shaped me to be the husband I am for my wife (and the woman she is for husband and kids). We may not like every place we end up (I think of Turkey - I loved England), but to only experience our hometown... that would be a loss.

15. I believe in karma.

16. I believe in altruism. 

17. Despite playing too many video games on my computer, I believe my time is important. To offer my time is something anyone receiving it should want (and if they do, I should give it full on). If you don't value your time as much as I value my time, when we're working together, tell me. I have other things to do. I'm sure you feel the same.

18. I believe that we should spend our time and money on things that we value.

19. I believe that there is evil in this world, which is on a scale equal to God's good. I know that we have to stand up and fight it.

20. I believe that we were put on this earth to create things that will make the world a better place. It doesn't matter what they are (tax systems, paintings, swing sets, books, etc.). We should just keep creating since we're happier when we do.

21. I believe in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

22. I believe Nature is sacred and is worth fighting for. I believe in being between trees, staring at waterfalls, marveling at vistas, and climbing in canyons. There is no bad day in Nature.

23. I believe being a teacher improved me and many other people, even if it took a lot of learning to not make the same mistakes all over again (a massive "I'm sorry" to so many people). Additionally, I'm thankful for my students who educated me. There are a lot to name, so it's easier to just say, "Thanks everyone!"

24. I believe the Air Force changed me for the better, even if it had to drop a Daisy Cutter on the old me. I would do it again for what it did for me. I think more people should go military / Peace Corps / volunteer.

25. I believe in collecting quotes to meditate on.

26. I believe in dinosaurs / aliens / ghosts / cryptids, that I married a beautiful and awesome woman (and I'd do it again), the round earth, man-made climate problems, that vaccines are necessary, that ethics are everything, that baseball is the only sport that matters, that not caring about other people is a huge problem, that hate is a problem we have to learn to overcome, that partisan politics will be the demise of the world, that some things should be censored (i.e. schizophrenic hate rants like the Westboro Baptist Church), that history should be taught for what it is (good and bad) so we can learn from it, that celebrating the South for starting an armed rebellion that killed 620-850,000 people is something that needs to stop, that walking around with a gun on open carry is like saying, "I'd like to pick a fight with you" (that said, I do believe in the right to own guns), that Corvettes have gotten lame since the early 1970s, that some pedestrians take advantage of the crosswalks that stop traffic on a dime, that the only real Jeep is a Wrangler, that the U.S. government needs a line item veto, that Turkey Hill raspberry iced tea is awesome, and I believe that we will never solve the issues of abortion, illegal / undocumented immigration, minimum wage, guns, people being Yankee fans and right / left Twix in my lifetime.

27. I believe something really far out happened at Roswell. I'd like to know what.

28. I believe that healthcare is something we're all entitled to in some form. People should not have to worry about whether they or their families will be bankrupted if they need care. I get more expensive coverage for smokers, though I know we need coverage for pre-existing conditions. Refusing to pay that is like saying, "We'll charge you an arm and a leg, and we'll find a way to cover as little as possible."

29. I believe that Christmas is the best holiday out there. While some of the traditions are hokey (yet a lot of fun), we get to be with loved ones and give them gifts. We get to watch kids' eyes light up. We get to sing songs like "Do They Know It's Christmas," too. We get to live in a country where we can watch A Christmas Story 24 hours straight. We get lots of good food and leftovers. What's not to like? And what's more, when we invite people to our Christmas, we put them on our special team (that said, they need to show appreciation and thank yous).. That's so cool. Mind you, I also believe the kids' table is a necessity (for some adults!!)!

30. I believe that all of you, Parkies or not, are good people for supporting my writing dreams of being a Parkinson's educator / advocate. We all have the opportunity to speak out, but you make it possible that people hear my story (and laugh at my poor attempts at humor). What's more; you care about these issues, too. That means something. I may not believe I'll be cured in my lifetime, but I believe, we'll be able to stop progression of the disease, as well as understand how it starts. I know that will lead to a cure for the next generation.

THUS... I have a lot of things to think about as I redo my essay for realsies.


Friday, June 22, 2018

Parkinson's Awareness in Lancaster

April showers bring May flowers, but March winds and late-season snowstorms bring tulips, gray clothing, and Parkinson’s Awareness month. This year, Lititz, Pennsylvania, hosted their first ever event in honor of Parkies, caregivers, researchers, and allies everywhere.


The event, like so many other events for this month, took place smack dab in the heart of Lancaster County Pennsylvania (Amish Country – think the movie Witness meets small-town shops). Brought into being by Parkinson’s Circle of Care Alliance, our local day was also made possible with generous time and help from Heart of Lancaster Hospital and the Lancaster Barnstormers (independent league baseball).

Lititz is a beautiful town that is filled with country decorations stores, jewelry shops, small businesses, and restaurants. It’s about 25 minutes from where I live (Ephrata). Thus, it’s nice to know that I don’t need to go to Philadelphia (90+ minutes away) to advocate for our cause.
More importantly, this event is a sign that change is coming to the rural and suburban areas outside of the cities. Knowing that Reading and Lancaster (2 big cities in eastern Pennsylvania) are creating support groups and spreading the word says that better days are coming for people who face Parkinson’s every day.

Here, the community wants to help. They want to find a cure. They recognize the power of elbow grease, brain power, science, and healthcare to make a difference.
Now, all we have to do is walk to raise awareness and funds to power those processes!


In my life, I’m lucky to have a 24/7 team of caregivers in my family and friends. First and foremost of these people is my wife. However, she was on the 14-day disabled list after she had gallbladder surgery, so she was unable to walk. My dad was competing for his fishing tournament crown (we’re all a part of his support team for that). That left my mom and me to do the 1-mile walk around the hospital.

And yes, a 46-year old boy needs his mother, and my mom’s the best… even if she sets a faster walking pace than I do!


Parkinson's Awareness in Lancaster
When we arrived on the scene, we were some of the first people to join in the festivities. Soon other people joined us, too. A gentleman tied balloons for kids, while Cylo (the Barnstormers’ mascot) gave hugs to all of those people who met him. Considering it was a hot day, there were lots of water bottle stations to hydrate us.  That’s definitely a good thing for a guy with hyperhidrosis walking around an exposed path.
It was also a happy feeling to see so many Parkies in various stages of their condition. I have always felt that one of the best ways to campaign is for those people who are living with a condition to be out and about. We should stay active, and open to discussion about the good, bad, and the ugly of Parkinson’s. By simply showing our faces in many places, we represent the human experience in the chaos of Parkinson’s.


Additionally, there are people who want to make a difference for us. These include one of the head honchoes at Rock Steady Boxing, Sue Ludwig, who was more than happy to knock the Parkinson’s out of my life. She and the rest of her staff are also happy to help Parkies avoid the rigidness in the bodies. Additionally, they improve their strength, balance, and confidence.
And this is what all of the people who were giving their time in energy were doing on April 14th. Simply put, we’re in this together, and we’re making a difference because of how we work with one another.
Because of this, the future is ours!