health (23)

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

  • In 541 AD, the Plague of Justinian spread from Constantinople across Europe, Asia, North Africa and Arabia killing an estimated 30 to 50 million people — about half of the world’s population.
  • The Black Death, which hit Europe in 1347, killed 200 million people in just four years — one-third to one-half of all Europeans.
  • Smallpox killed 90 to 95 percent of the indigenous population of the Americas in the 15th century, after it arrived from Europe. Mexico went from 11 million people pre-conquest to one million.

Could the planet be responding to the critical state it’s in right now? Fossil fuel electricity is one big factor, as are cars. A myriad of other assaults on planetary health (exacerbated by this criminal American adminstration in eliminating any and all environmental rules) have pushed planet earth into a crisis.

The Gaia Hypothesis, promulgated in the late 1970s by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, which proposes (as defined in Wikipedia) “…that living organisms and inorganic material are part of a dynamic system that shapes the Earth’s biosphere, and maintains the Earth as a fit environment for life. In some Gaia theory approaches, the Earth itself is viewed as an organism with self-regulatory functions.”

The planet is a living, breathing entity, conscious in ways we cannot imagine.

I’ll go even farther into woo-woo land here. In the ’60s, when I was living in Big Sur, I’d always thought of the idea of hugging redwood trees as being New Age lameness. But one day I thought I’d see what hugging a redwood tree was like. I wrapped my arms around it, laying my cheek against the soft bark — and I felt a jolt, a connection. This thing was alive, and it knew I was there. Well, well.

A number of books have come out lately, including Underland: A Deep Time Journey, by Robert Macfarlane, describing the discovery of the “wood wide web,” or the “mycorrhizal network” going on underground between mycelium and tree roots, which share nutrients and information. In one case I read about an alder tree that was attacked by beetles: it sent this information to alders quite a distance away to get ready, and the latter manufactured some kind of antibody to resist the beetles.

Trees, as well as the living and breathing earth, are alive in ways we can hardly comprehend.

Is the virus sending us a message?

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Smoking Marijuana Is Bad for Your Lungs

I say this after some 50 years of smoking pot. I kidded myself through all those years: sure tobacco is deadly, but not pot.

I could feel it in my lungs about 5 years ago, and I switched to vaping, ending up with an ice-filled water pipe bong, with herb activated by a German heat gun (no flames). But even that started to feel not so good.

A couple of things I realized after I made the break:

  1. You know the tar you have to clean out of water pipes? Where do you think that tar is going when you smoke a joint?
  2. Igniting pipes with Bic Lighters? What was I thinking? Inhaling butane.

I’ll bet these oils people are smoking are full of tar.

I got my lungs checked and they seem to be OK, but I think I’ve done a little damage. (Although a doctor once told me that if I quit smoking for 2 years, my lungs would clear.)

I know one thing: my lungs are telling me to back off on all heat-produced cannabis vapors.

Edibles. Sprayables.

Just sayin

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The 40th Anniversary Edition of Stretching

I discovered a homemade book called Stretching in 1979. It was aimed at athletes, with stretching routines for some 20 sports.

I wrote the author, Bob Anderson, and suggested he add stretches for builders, waitresses, truck drivers, kids, and older people. We started talking. I found out that he and his wife Jean (who did the drawings) had sold 35,000 copies from a garage in Southern California. End result: Bob and Jean rented a house on the beach here in Spring, 1980, and in three months, we did a complete revision of the book.

We did a first run of 50,000 copies, and the book took off, with Random House as distributor, and has been selling ever since; it’s now sold over 3¾ million copies worldwide, and is in 23 languages. As far as I can tell, it’s the best-selling fitness book in the world.

Tech Neck  An important (and timely) addition to this new edition will be stretches to combat the bad posture caused by (1) cell phone usage and (2) working on computers.

Take a look at how bent-over people are when talking on their phones. It’s called “tech neck.”

The point is, we all spend too much time at screens of various sizes, and it’s not healthy. Not good for the body.

Seeking Editorial Advice: What should we call this section? Stretches (or Stretching) for the Digital World? Technological Era? Digital Era? Tech World? Information Age? Computer Age? Technological Age? Digital Age?

How do we describe our world which is now filled with hours spent on screens?

Want to stretch right now? shltr.net/stretch

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Shit in the Air! / Causes of Fires / Native California Land Management / Forest Management

Talking to Louie on the phone just now about the smoky air of the last week, he said, “That isn’t just wood smoke: It’s plastics, building materials, exploded gasoline, burned-up houses and cars…”

Shit, I hadn’t thought of that this last week. I wasn’t out running, but did take a few walks.

I shouda stayed inside a lot more.

We went on to talk about causes of these fires. He said that a lot of the problem is the type of logging that does not deal with the “understory” — all the saplings and plants that spring up afterwards. If they keep growing unchecked, they produce ever more fuel for fire. It makes sense to burn the understory (at its right phase of growth) on a windless day in wet or moist weather.

When foresters are involved in a cut, they will set a limit on the height of the understory, so loggers have to cut slash up into smaller pieces; this is managing the forest. However a lot of logging is interested in profit, not land management, and they leave behind conditions ripe for fire.

He then segued into how the Pomo of the Pt. Arena / Manchester area managed the land. In addition to hunting, fishing, and  harvesting, they used fire to clear selected areas of land, making it easier to move around, making hunting easier, producing green young growth.

I told him about this great book, Tending the Wild, by M. Kat Andersen; about “…indigenous land management practices …in… California when first encountered by Europeans and detailed explication of the care of, harvesting of, and use of California’s native plants.”

You can get it at Larner Seeds: www.shltr.net/tend

The cycle of life…

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Free Brand New Car

When I was on the road, I heard Warren Buffet say this on TV (I’m starting to unscramble notes from my trip):

When I was sixteen, I had just two things on my mind – girls and cars. I wasn’t very good with girls. So I thought about cars. I thought about girls, too, but I had more luck with cars.

Let’s say that when I turned sixteen, a genie had appeared to me. And that genie said, ‘Warren, I’m going to give you the car of your choice. It’ll be here tomorrow morning with a big bow tied on it. Brand-new. And it’s all yours.’

Having heard all the genie stories, I would say, ‘What’s the catch?’ And the genie would answer, ‘There’s only one catch. This is the last car you’re ever going to get in your life. So it’s got to last a lifetime.’ If that had happened, I would have picked out that car.

But, can you imagine, knowing it had to last a lifetime, what I would do with it? I would read the manual about five times. I would always keep it garaged. If there was the least little dent or scratch, I’d have it fixed right away because I wouldn’t want it rusting. I would baby that car, because it would have to last a lifetime.

That’s exactly the position you are in concerning your mind and body. You only get one mind and one body. And it’s got to last a lifetime. Now, it’s very easy to let them ride for many years. But if you don’t take care of that mind and that body, they’ll be a wreck forty years later, just life the car would be. It’s what you do right now, today, that determines how your mind and body will operate ten, twenty, and thirty years from now.

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/587506-when-i-was-sixteen-i-had-just-two-things-on

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Injury # 163

There’s a line in Hank Williams’s “Why Don’t You make Up Your mind,” where he says “The hide’s gettin’ scace” (pronounced “skayce”), meaning scarce. I don’t know why, but it’s stuck in my mind for years. In the song he’s moaning about difficulties with his girlfriend, but I’ve always thought of the phrase as having to do with the body getting hurt.

My latest was tearing some shoulder muscles last week. No, not again! My body feels so battered from a lifetime of activity. — sports, carpentry, adventures. Thank god I wasn’t the football star I wanted to be. Yet still — operations on both knees, right shoulder, right wrist (carpal tunnel) and the capper, a bad broken arm a year ago–all since turning 70.

OK so I’m whining here, but I’m on an up-note. After moping and gimping around for a week, dreading another operation, visiting the doc, dealing with pain, suddenly it turned a corner. Must have been the red wine in the evenings (plus big doses of Ibuprofen). But all of a sudden I could raise my arm halfway. Yeah! I’m gonna get better. Two things to convey here:

1. You always get better. Pretty much. So no matter how deeply depressed you are when injured, it’s gonna get better if you do the right stuff.

2. Don’t give up. Get right back out there on that bike, surfboard, trail, slope — maybe with more caution and care. Because you’re gonna lose it if you don’t use it.

Read More …

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