28 May 2008

The Week In Review II

Last Wednesday, I received my yellow belt. I know I promised pictures, but it was really only half the ceremony it was supposed to be.

At the end of class, Master Lookchang called the belt graduates up to the front, one by one. He presented us with our belts, wrapped, then tied them. We were also supposed to get certificates, but they're coming from Thailand. I'm not sure when they'll be here, but I'm glad we got the belts before they arrived.

I did not find a wealth of knowledge within the satin of my belt. Instead, I found having the symbol of capability made me want to try harder. Instructors use belts as a skill level reference guide. Theoretically, the higher your belt, the more you know. But not everyone takes the belt test. So there are people who have been there longer than I have, but who have to stand behind me when we line up at the beginning and end of class. Having the belt has been added motivation for me to work harder, and make my technique better. It's fantastic.

I really enjoy Muay Thai. I enjoy learning the combinations, practicing the techniques, and (regardless of how it sounds) being able to kick someone down. It's empowering. And the people are encouraging. I'm hoping I'll be ready to fight in December or January. I'll keep you posted.

26 May 2008

The Week In Review I

My apologies friends, for being incommunicado for the last week. I assure you I had good reason. And I'm going to give that to you now.

First: Jesse returned. He arrived last Monday night. I picked him up from the airport after Muay Thai and I basically poked him to make sure he was real. I underestimated the time it would take to integrate Jesse into my schedule. I run a tight ship for myself. I get up, go to the gym, go to work, go to Muay Thai, and come home. I blog or I relax or I organize. I think I figured Jesse would fit in there -- in my designated relax time. But being with Jesse is not all relaxing. So part of my regime had to be changed -- and I wouldn't have it any other way, because I thoroughly enjoy being with Jesse. I am just stubborn.

So that was Monday.

On Tuesday I received what I call "PB" the Pinkberry. The rest of the world may know it as the Blackberry Pearl, Pink. It was the culmination of my most recent two year contract with Verizon. I've been with Verizon since 2001. I joined with a large group and have since persuaded a lot of my friends to switch from other providers. I believe Verizon has been pleasant to me in return. I have a grandfathered text message plan better than anything being offered, and I always get a fancy phone when I upgrade. I thought that was in jeopardy this time around -- because my new every two credit was just $50. If you've been pricing phones lately, you'll know $50 is next to nothing. In fact, it may as well be nothing for the features a $50 phone will provide. But Verizon came through. For $50 (and two more years of my life) I scored a $389 Pinkberry. I really like it. So after grocery shopping Tuesday night, I learned PB's ins and outs. Now I'm totally smitten.

19 May 2008

Prego? No Cell Phone For You!

Not only do I believe it, I fear it.
Rest assured -- in the distant future when we decide to have babies -- I'll be getting a landline. 

Warning: Using a mobile phone while pregnant can seriously damage your baby

Study of 13,000 children exposes link between use of handsets and later behavioural problems

By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
Sunday, 18 May 2008



Scientists found that mothers who did use the handsets were 54 per cent more likely to have children with behavioural problems and that the likelihood increased with the amount of potential exposure to the radiation

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Women who use mobile phones when pregnant are more likely to give birth to children with behavioural problems, according to authoritative research.

A giant study, which surveyed more than 13,000 children, found that using the handsets just two or three times a day was enough to raise the risk of their babies developing hyperactivity and difficulties with conduct, emotions and relationships by the time they reached school age. And it adds that the likelihood is even greater if the children themselves used the phones before the age of seven.

The results of the study, the first of its kind, have taken the top scientists who conducted it by surprise. But they follow warnings against both pregnant women and children using mobiles by the official Russian radiation watchdog body, which believes that the peril they pose "is not much lower than the risk to children's health from tobacco or alcohol".

The research – at the universities of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Aarhus, Denmark – is to be published in the July issue of the journal Epidemiology and will carry particular weight because one of its authors has been sceptical that mobile phones pose a risk to health.

UCLA's Professor Leeka Kheifets – who serves on a key committee of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, the body that sets the guidelines for exposure to mobile phones – wrote three and a half years ago that the results of studies on people who used them "to date give no consistent evidence of a causal relationship between exposure to radiofrequency fields and any adverse health effect".

The scientists questioned the mothers of 13,159 children born in Denmark in the late 1990s about their use of the phones in pregnancy, and their children's use of them and behaviour up to the age of seven. As they gave birth before mobiles became universal, about half of the mothers had used them infrequently or not at all, enabling comparisons to be made.

They found that mothers who did use the handsets were 54 per cent more likely to have children with behavioural problems and that the likelihood increased with the amount of potential exposure to the radiation. And when the children also later used the phones they were, overall, 80 per cent more likely to suffer from difficulties with behaviour. They were 25 per cent more at risk from emotional problems, 34 per cent more likely to suffer from difficulties relating to their peers, 35 per cent more likely to be hyperactive, and 49 per cent more prone to problems with conduct.

The scientists say that the results were "unexpected", and that they knew of no biological mechanisms that could cause them. But when they tried to explain them by accounting for other possible causes – such as smoking during pregnancy, family psychiatric history or socio-economic status – they found that, far from disappearing, the association with mobile phone use got even stronger.

They add that there might be other possible explanations that they did not examine – such as that mothers who used the phones frequently might pay less attention to their children – and stress that the results "should be interpreted with caution" and checked by further studies. But they conclude that "if they are real they would have major public health implications".

Professor Sam Milham, of the blue-chip Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, and the University of Washington School of Public Health – one of the pioneers of research in the field – said last week that he had no doubt that the results were real. He pointed out that recent Canadian research on pregnant rats exposed to similar radiation had found structural changes in their offspring's brains.

The Russian National Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection says that use of the phones by both pregnant women and children should be "limited". It concludes that children who talk on the handsets are likely to suffer from "disruption of memory, decline of attention, diminishing learning and cognitive abilities, increased irritability" in the short term, and that longer-term hazards include "depressive syndrome" and "degeneration of the nervous structures of the brain".

14 May 2008

Likes & Dislikes

I like boys with curly hair. I think this started in high school with a curly haired boy named Jerry. It has followed me through life to Jesse, the boys on Kid Nation, and now to this eighth grader named Remington. Remington was my partner for my second Mauy Thai class tonight and we had a splendid time. At first he tried to keep me at bay with teenage aloofness, but I wore him down and we ended up getting trouble for chatting instead of kicking.

I do not like boys who do not think I can be their Muay Thai equal. My first partner in my first class was such a boy. I don't know his name and I don't want to know. I do know he avoided eye contact during shadow boxing, choosing instead to watch himself in the mirror. It's rude not to maintain eye contact with your partner. We spend 30 seconds a class staring into each other's eyes and we're supposed to maintain that for the hour. This guy (who was smaller than I) thought he was too good for that. I disagreed.

I like that I passed the day without thinking about being hungry. There were some moments when I almost reached for food (I keep my desk stocked to keep me from the vending machine) but the day flew by for the most part. Now I'm relaxing and I have plenty of mixture to get me to bed time.

I do not like that I still have a few stomach seizures every now and then. Today was better than yesterday. I should be back to normal by the time I start eating on Monday.

I really like that John Edwards came through for Barack Obama today. I never doubted he'd endorse Obama and I still have hope for the Obama / Edwards ticket.

I really don't like that I received a package on dry ice, covered in stickers reading "refrigerate immediately"and the UPS left it on a patio in Las Vegas. Idiots.

13 May 2008

Time To Purify

I've decided not to eat for the next five days. This will begin tomorrow (14 May) and end Monday (19 May). This will be for the benefit of my health.

My stomach has been less than pleasant lately. It's been seizing, cramping, and aching -- while my intestines have remiss in some of their duties. I tried all the usual tricks to get my innards working properly (laying on the exercise ball, eating grapes, drinking espresso) and nothing worked. I called my mother for advice, and she prescribed apple juice.

I do not like apples. I don't like apple slices. I don't like apple sauce. And I especially do not like apple juice. I do however love apple pie, apple crisp, and apple tarts (maybe that's where my waistline went wide) but not apple juice. Buying and drinking apple juice was my last hope. I did as I was told. And after some serious seizing, shifting pain, and early hope -- I was still stuck in the same boat. Then (while rolling around on the floor) it occurred to me that less could get me more.

I decided to do the M'lis Detoxification Program. It's basically the master cleanse with added fiber. I first did it years ago in Fargo for three days. I did it again with Crystal last spring for five days, but without the fiber. I had positive experiences both times, despite naysayers and food-pushers. I've never started with an upset stomach, or felt that I had definite impurities to expunge, but there's a first time for everything.

So my prepared lunches for this week will have to hold. Obviously my stomach needs a break. I think it'll be easy - since my stomach is truly in pain. The hardest part will be the guff from my beloved friends and coworkers. Bring it.

12 May 2008

Play. And Feed

Here's a tidbit about me: I love words. I actually have a very large vocabulary, even though I spend a lot of time writing at a third grade level.
Here's another bit: I like helping poor people. Granted, I don't do nearly as much as I should, but I like to help when I can.
Today I discovered a way combine both tidbits into something substantial. I encourage you to play, and feed.

05 May 2008

Not Quite A Ninja...

I'm officially a yellow belt in Muay Thai. Congratulations to me.

It should be noted that in Thailand the only belt a fighter gets is won in the ring. The Internet told me several American schools have introduced grading (belt) systems in order to help their students' accomplishments. Master Toddy's Muay Thai Academy is one of those schools.

I took the belt test last month. The results were posted today and there I was, listed as a new yellow belt. I don't officially have my belt yet, and I'm not sure when I'll get it. I'll also get a certificate and Pra Jiad. Those are arm bands that will be the same color as my belt. The masters use them to partner us up by skill level. There will also be a tiny formality in which my master will wrap me in my new belt. I assure you there will be pictures -- if you know who is back in Las Vegas by then.

01 May 2008

How To Ruin A Tire

I had a tire replaced today, after I ruined it beyond repair. Here's how I managed to do that:
A month ago someone told me my rear passenger tire was flat. My idea of flat is actually flat. But apparently "flat" really means "low." Jesse filled the sagging tire with air (after I ran my errands and went home) and said I shouldn't have been driving on it. But who checks their tires? What driver checks the rear passenger tire? Not this one. Once it was filled, I never thought about it again. Until today.
There I was, pulling out of work when Alex yelled at me - to tell me my rear passenger tire was flat. I (still in the driver's seat) told him I'd fill it up when I got home (as in after my scheduled errands) but he assured me there was no way I was going to actually get home. He was right. The rear passenger tire met my standards of "flat." He was about to change it for me, but I told him it was a leak. And honest to goodness, he whipped out an air compressor. I didn't know we had one. But we do. Alex filled my tire and told me to go right away and have it replaced. He made it seem urgent. So I went.

I called Kate to give her the news that I had to go through a tire ordeal. She went through a similar situation last month. She recommended I go to Discount Tire, rather than to the dealership where I get my maintenance done. Kate said the guy at Sam's Club said Discount Tires is the only place comparable to Sam's price wise. And there's one on my way home. But I have loyalty issues. So I called Hyundai anyway.

The man on the phone told me it would $19.95 to patch a leaking tire. That seemed reasonable. But I called Discount Tires as well, because I trust (and am loyal to) Kate. The man on the phone there said if the tire was fixable, he'd patch it for free. That's more reasonable than $19.95.

Here's the deal. If you drive for too long on a "low" or "flat" tire, the tire folds in on itself and starts to wear itself down. You'll know this has happened, because you'll have a dark ring around the tire. Note the picture to your left. That black ring near the edge is not on any of my other tires. Yes. I took pictures knowing this moment would come. I got to take two before they Brian drove my car away.

I got a new tire, and a warranty on the other three for $130. If I got ripped off, there's no need to tell me. It's already been debited. The new tire is not the same brand as the other three. I was worried about them matching, but then I said to Brian, "What am I saying. Obviously I don't even look at that tire." And I saved $30. I highly recommend Discount Tire, for all of your tire needs.

It took less than an hour and now I'm back on the road safely. I doubt I've learned a lesson. We'll see if I start checking my tires. But now they're under warranty, so why bother?