Looking Back to see our future.

It feels like every day I talk to people that are disillusioned and/or frightened by the potential of the future of this country. It is obvious to me that they were either not paying attention in history class or they just don’t remember. Then I hear from others that are looking for a path back to a “Better Time” that is either inaccurate or at the very least naive. For the remainder of this article I will refer to these people as “MAGAs”, short for “Make America Great Agains”. For my part I smile and think back to the time in history that they referenced and remember the similarities and difficulties that we still face today. I like to go back and remember too, but for different reasons. I look for patterns in human behavior and the patterns in politics and financial institutions.

I would like to take you on a quick glance backwards and see what the future holds, because you can see the most curios things in the looking glass. I would like to start with the election of 1900. I will present the political and social atmosphere and see if you recognize some of this. The Republicans ran on an expansionist World Power platform, having just won the Spanish American War. They wanted to invest in the Panama Canal and condemned the Democratic Party for attacking the 15th amendment to the Constitution by passing Jim Crow laws in the south to restrict the vote of African Americans. The Democrats were anti-expansion, anti-Panama Canal, and looking to strengthen the laws to inhibit voter registration in certain states. Sounds kind of upside down as far as what is being done today, but still very similar.

The Republicans won and when President McKinley was assassinated shortly after the election, we ended up with Theodore Roosevelt for President . Teddy fought to hold businesses accountable to their employees and began to regulate big business. He passed anti-trust laws and began building the infrastructure of our country. Teddy also recognized the importance of the free press and although he referred to the press as “Muckrakers”, he never tried to suppress their ability to investigate and print the corruption in government.

Let’s move on to the presidential election of 1912. During this election the Democratic MAGAs controlled the White House and Congress, and wanted no economic oversight or government involved in the economy. They deregulated the banking industry and eliminated any oversight of the New York Stock Exchange. This attitude created a huge gap between the wealthy and the working class. It also set the stage for the largest economic crash ever. The Democrats also tried to practice Isolationism and keep us out of WWI but we ended up fighting in the War to End All Wars anyway.in 1919 the Democratic Congress passed the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote. But They also ratified the 18th amendment that prohibits alcohol and regulated Drugs sales. The 18th Amendment gave rise to the biggest organized crime syndicate our country has ever seen.

The Roaring Twenties where a time of chaos in the country The Movie Birth Of a Nation was all the rage and people began to dress in white hooded robes and march in the streets, This began a reign of terror in the south. Thousands of clansmen marched on Washington and New York. And a white nationalist movement came out this, that can still be seen today.

In 1929 the Stock Market and Banking collapse which was brought on by the deregulation of these highly corruptible organizations devastated the economy and brought to an end the unregulated growth and unscrupulous practices of stock speculators.  But this collapse brought on a more Socialist attitude in the country as the people embraced the “New Deal” and Voted into the White House Franklin Roosevelt and he ran on the promise that the Government will have your back. Roosevelt brought in Social Security and a promise of Jobs as the Country worked to increase it’s infrastructure. Roosevelt also wanted to be involved on the world stage but The Congress and Senate wanted to pass Embargoes and freeze assets of Japan and a travel and economic Embargo of Germany. This sent a strong message but in the end was ineffectual. This also led to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor as it was seen as an act of war by the Japanese. But these policies where implemented as a response for the aggression by the Japanese in Indo-China. We also saw the rise of foreign Fascist Governments using modern multi communications to control the public dialog and the media. There are a lot of modern day similarity, but that’s another article.

1940’s brought on the Second World War and the rise of the war economy as we geared up for the inevitable involvement in the war. After the War we emerged as a world leader and began a period of economic growth in this country that was fueled by a belief in a positive future by the average citizen, and an explosion in the population. The national debt was incredible but that did nothing to slow down the economy as we began to rebuild after the war. Truman Called for an end to segregation and in 1949 NATO was formed.

1950’s we saw this continued feeling of prosperity and possibility but this was tempered by the expansion of the threat of communism. Eisenhower was voted in as President fresh from his victory in Europe and began the most incredible infrastructure construction the U.S. has ever seen. Eisenhower, a Republican, also Desegregated the Military and called for a national  Civil Rights act to bring equality to all Americans.     100 Democratic Congressmen signed a “Southern Manifesto” to stop the dismantling of segregation. The Korean Conflict gave birth to the separation of North and South Korea because we didn’t want to upset the Chinese who where backing the Communist North Koreans. MAGA’s love this time period and think this is what we need to go back too, but I don’t think they would be willing to go through another World War to get there, at least I hope not.

1960’s JFK a Democrat runs on a ” Possible Bright Future” platform for the first time. The republicans ran Richard Nixon who was part of the old establishment in Washington and seen by many younger people in the country as part of the problem with Washington. John Kennedy was assassinated and Lyndon Johnson became president carrying on the fight for civil rights and if it hadn’t been for our continued involvement in the Vietnam War I believe he would have been held up as the biggest proponent beside Lincoln for human rights. The 60’s where scary for a large portion of the population over the age of 40 the MAGAs where looking to go back to the 50’s and Nixon promised them just that.

1970’s Nixon, a Republican, is in the White House, a notorious anti communist and lets face it a bit of a racist. He is a pawn of big oil and he sends our country into the worst oil shortage we had ever seen. He used the Vietnamese as political pawns and caused huge protests in the streets. He also began talks with China and Russia calling it “Detente”. Nixon was involved in a cover-up exposed by the free press, that forced him to leave office and we ended his time in office with Gerald Ford. Ford was a truly nice person but an ineffectual leader. On to Jimmy Carter probably one of or most intelligent Presidents. He designed Nuclear Submarines and Nuclear reactors. Carter was a man driven by religious belief and always believed in doing the right thing. He attempted to bring down Opec by reducing our usage of foreign oil and reducing the oil shortage in the country. Unfortunately Carter was too nice and an ineffectual politician. During his tenure Carter focused more on foreign policy and unfortunately had a contentious relationship with congress when trying to pass domestic legislation. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and Carter told them this would be the end of Detente.  Most People don’t know this but Carter tried unsuccessfully to enact a National Medical Insurance.

1980’s Hello Ronald Reagan… Ron Reagan is one of the Presidents MAGAs love to talk about. Which I find most disturbing, Its like they weren’t even there. The republicans love to talk about Reagan like he was a progressive President. But Reagan ran a fear based campaign and kept telling everyone that would listen that He was going to make America Great with questionable economics (Voodoo Economics) ,deregulation of big business whiched caused the closing of plants and the end of the steel industry. Large companies were bought and sold off in pieces and there where massive cut backs in the military including the closing of multiple bases around the world. Unlike other presidents that have closed bases, Reagan didn’t offer anything to the towns who’s income depended on those bases. We also got Iran-Contra and the War on Drugs from this era. the rich got richer and the middle class started to disappear. This era also gave us George H.W. Bush and off to the 90s we go.

1990’s George Bush’s popularity is in the decline and again the people are ready for change along comes William Jefferson Clinton a young Kennedy like figure charismatic and intelligent, Clinton  promised an exciting future and like Kennedy sold the story in just the right way. Most of us remember how that all turned out and still plays out in our politics today.

2000 George W Bush I don’t even know where to start between war and economic decline into a second depression it’s just too depressing to think about. then along came Barrack Obama. promise of a new America, an America of equality and a future in green technology and a leader on the world stage. But here come the MAGAs again calling them selves the Tea Party and the Alt Right and talking about making America Great. Are you seeing the pattern …  I could start with the plague followed by the dark ages and go on to the age of enlightenment but the pattern of death and rebirth just repeats itself throughout history. So the next time someone says they want to make America Great again ask them, When were we great? And why would we ever go back? The most positive political eras have always focused on the future never the past. People that want to glorify the past tend to have an agenda i.e. Hitler, Richard Spencer, Most religious leaders including ISIS, They use false memories and alternative histories to put forward their agendas based on fear and distrust. Just be careful of these people they never have your best interest in their heart. One final note, I asked my 103 year old Grandmother (born 1898) when she was alive would she like to live in a decade from her past. Her answer was worth volumes “No! Although I’ve seen amazing things in my life, I also lost a lot of loved ones to diseases and war. I like it now.” Gram was right, I like it now with a world of possibilities.

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3 Easy Ways to Eat Well

Like most people my life gets busier as I get older, and more demanding of my time. Well I had to get creative with food ideas and meal planning if I wanted to continue to eat healthy food and not go back to grabbing easy food that has been chemically altered so I can make it in a micro wave.

1. Most of us have a Rice Cooker or Crock Pot in a cupboard somewhere collecting dust and being neglected. Break it out, clean it off and read the instructions. You will see that you can make delicious and healthy meals without being in the kitchen for more than ten minutes.

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2. Food purchases that are healthy and don’t require a lot of work. There are a lot of fresh foods that require little or no prep time and can be cooked or eaten raw. Raw Vegetables as snacks are delicious, fruit will give you energy and I like to have an after work snack to get my energy levels up so I can keep going without a nap. (Naps are important at my age).

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3. Left overs. Like most men I live on leftovers because I don’t have time to cook and lets face it, some things taste better the second day. So when you do cook , cook for several days.

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You can alleviate a lot of food anxiety by using these easy methods for keeping your diet on track .

 

Diet for Exercise

Exercise will only do so much-you have to change what you eat in order to help your body build healthy muscle and reduce body fat, while not giving up nutrients and energy. Sound impossible? Well, if you listen to the large corporate food companies that specialize in processed food, it is. The food you put into your body has a immediate as well as cumulative affect on your body. Yes,food does both. Think about it-a cheese burger will fill you and make you feel full, but long term, the saturated fats and cholesterol will accumulate in your body, and continued exposure to these types of food can have negative affects on your overall health.

So if you can build a negative affect over time, shouldn’t the opposite be true? Of course it is. I know healthy food is expensive, but so are medical bills for heart by-passes and cancer treatments. Not to mention medications for high blood pressure and diabetes. There are multiple studies that tie diet to heart disease  and colon cancer, among other things. So what is your health worth to you?

What I’m saying is that if you could prevent having to take these medications and treatments, would you? And how much is it worth to you? Make smart choices, do your research and have fun with it. Food should be delicious, and preparing and eating it should be an enjoyable pastime shared with family and friends- after all it is a huge part of many people’s history. So try different recipes, experiment, do things from scratch. You know, like we used to do before chemicals. Change from a meat based diet to a vegetable based diet that has meat as a side dish. You  will be amazed by how much lighter and more energetic you feel, your skin and hair will improve, (not to mention your “regularity”) and the money you will save on all that meat will more than pay for the vegetables. Yesterday I saw a Ribeye steak at the store and they wanted 13$ for one steak. I could feed a family of four on that with healthy food.

Don’t forget to eat your carbs! Carbs are important for your body and your mind. Yes , your mind.

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your brain needs carbs to function so don’t go cutting carbs out of your diet. Just make sure they are healthy carbs.

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Fruits and vegetables are a great source of vitamins and nutrients so in the beginning I would say indulge, you have some catching up to do. Remember food is fuel so just like your car only give your body the best fuel you can and don’t overfill your tank.

One of my favorite recipes is for Brussel sprouts

Shred two cups of sprouts very thin

Sautee sprouts with 2tsp of olive oil

1tsp of chopped garlic and salt and pepper to taste’

Cook on medium heat till soft.

this will make a nice side dish and can compliment anything.

Foot Care

I don’t know about you, but I refuse to be one of those old men wearing black socks and sandals

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I don’t know when this became a thing, but this is a fashion I will never accept. Summer is coming and lets face it as men we rarely think about foot care. Your feet say something about who you are. Now, I’m not saying go get a pedicure, but lets clean them up and show them off. Having well groomed feet in sandals is something you should never be ashamed of. With a little care and “Trimming” you can escape from this horrible look. You wouldn’t walk around with a bad hair cut, or wear a shirt with food stains all over it so why are we so willing to do this to our feet.

Most of use don’t even have to look any further than our wives or girlfriends for the tools we need. But, if they are not willing to share, or you are embarrassed to ask, you can purchase a kit for about twenty dollars. Beware your kit will be ransacked by your female partner in a heart beat so make sure and hide it well.

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men’s tool kit for feet and nails

I take good care of my feet because I do martial arts and I keep my toenails well groomed so that I don’t injure someone unintentionally. I also have callouses on my feet that protect them while doing martial arts that will shred bed sheets so I have to wear sport socks at night so that my wife won’t kill me in my sleep. If you have calluses you might consider using a callus removal tool. Just be careful and go easy, you don’t want to remove to much the first time out, the result can be painful. Ask for help you might be shocked at how long your partner has been waiting to do this for you.

I could post pictures of ugly feet, but I just ate breakfast and I’d like to keep it down. I will post a picture of healthy feet, that are well groomed.

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Imagine having feet that you can show off this summer. You will also notice that your feet will feel better at the end of the day. I work on my feet, sometimes twelve hours straight and having well groomed feet makes a difference at the end of the day. You wouldn’t buy cheap shoes to go with a suit, so when enjoying a day at the beach or park with your family why would you wear ugly feet. Believe me this will make a difference in how you view yourself. Everything you do to improve your self view will improve your journey to better health and quality of life. Your significant other will appreciate the effort too, showing that you care how you look will make a difference in how others perceive you. One of the most attractive qualities in a man, according to women, is self confidence, so be confident in every aspect of yourself.

Skin Care For Men Over Fifty.

I would like to address some thing most men ignore. You are watching your diet, exercising, but you, like most of use, have totally ignored your skin health. Your skin is not only the largest organ on your body, but it will tell you what you are doing wrong. If you are not drinking enough water, your skin will look dry. If you are lacking certain vitamins in your diet, your skin will tell you. If you are ignoring your skin you are ignoring your health. I know we have all been told that you shouldn’t go out in the sun without sun block, (didn’t hear that when we were kids). This will help to keep any further damage from occurring, and don’t just pick any one, go for max protection. A daily regimen is important also. I have been testing several products over the last three months and can make some recommendations.

If you are exercising then you are showering more than the normal person (I hope) and most of us think, “We are men we use soap!” well yes we do but you don’t have to use any soap. Nivea makes a range of products for men that are not that much more expensive than plain old soap. Nivea Men Pure Impact 3-1 body wash is great.

download (1) I have tried a couple of different body wash products but this is great. Nice fresh scent without any heavy perfumes, and it leaves your skin clean without feeling oily. Nivea Men original Moisturizing Face Wash is my favorite product

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Every morning and every night before bed I use this to wash my face it leaves my face feeling clean without feeling tight, I follow this up with Nivea Men protective lotion to keep my skin protected from excessive drying and damage throughout the day. There are other products out there but from the ones I’ve tried these have given me amazing results. My skin has become much younger looking and the wrinkles around my eyes and ears and the sun spots on my cheeks were beginning to fade. Try a few things see what works best for you, these are only recommendations. Remember the most important thing you can do for your skin is drink water followed by a well balanced diet. The more vegetables you add into your diet the more your skin will improve. If you are losing a lot of weight keeping your skin as supple as possible will help to keep the skin sag to a minimum. No one wants to look like a Turkey Necked Basset Hound. Remember there are no quick fixes anything that is worth while will take effort, commitment, and time.

Back and neck pain.

I have touched on my struggle with back and neck pain and I am ready to say “I am pain free”. Yes I am pain free for the first time in 30 years. For the last three years I have been working towards a goal of pain free, medicine free health. Well I was able to achieve a success in some measure due to a very simple belief that my body could repair itself to some degree if given the proper care and nutrients. Now there isn’t any easy path, or quick fix, or miracle drug. They don’t exist! The real key is steady growth and constant care of your body and mind to achieve your optimum capacity for health. Some of you have read my post on back pain and exercises to alleviate some of the pain. I have also touched on the importance of diet in the equation for better health, also you have to stay positive mentally with your goal always in sight,  and the final ingredient is staying active.  You have to stay moving in a positive direction as much as possible.

In this article I am going to touch on a little bit of each aspect. I am going to go old school and quote a little Hippocrates.

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Excess in any aspect of your life is never a good thing. To achieve my goals I had to remove anything that was taking to much of my life and find a balance. I also had to address the issue of food and nutrients. A well balanced diet is the key to giving your body the nutrients it needs to repair itself. Don’t waste your money on some nutrient rich supplement when you can actually eat food that is good for you and lose weight at the same time.

Exercise: I have talked about finding an activity that will keep you active and flexible for about four hours a week. I chose Martial Arts, but Yoga, Dance, anything that will keep you moving and active is a plus.

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Focused exercises on the area of injury are also a must. You have to work the area of damage in order to activate the bodies repair mechanism and build a stronger guard against further damage.

Keeping a positive attitude during this process is as important as diet and exercise. When you are stressed and depressed your body doesn’t produce the proper amount of chemicals to allow for nutrient absorption and muscle growth. Something as simple as just saying to yourself ” You can do this” is all it takes. Seems pretty easy, but can be the most difficult hurdle. See “Happiness and Letting Go”

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It sounds strange but sometimes we can create or own disease. Yes through stress and poor lifestyle choices we can make ourselves physically ill. Make the choice to live a healthier happier life and you will find yourself making good positive choices and  living a pain free, drug free future like me.

 

It Works If You Work It.

This is going to be short and sweet. My name is Don and I’m an alcoholic. Back when I first got sober those words held so much power over me. I was a mess, my life was in upheaval and I was 42 years old. I started thinking recently why I started drinking in the first place. Self esteem seems to be the number one reason I started drinking. You see I had no self esteem for many reasons. Alcohol allowed me to open up and release the person inside I wanted to be. having spent the last ten years going to meetings and listening to others, I realized that this is the reason most people start drinking. They don’t like who they are and alcohol allows them to be someone else. That is of course until it stops working and they become that drunken mess we all know and love. Now some of you might be wondering why I would write about this on a blog about turning fifty. Well there are some of us, Even at fifty that struggle with substance abuse. Just know this ” It’s never to late to say no more”, to spend more time with the ones you love with out the drinking. You will find you will argue less and smile more. Remember this they love you as an alcoholic, or addict, and they will love you even more as a better version of you. This isn’t about change, this is about being a better version of the person you already are.

I know there are some of you saying ” I only have a glass of wine when I get home from work” my question is Why? there are better ways to decompress. and have you ever felt irritated when you don’t get a glass of wine. Or thought ” Man, I could really use a drink.” these are all excuses to drink. I’m not trying to get people to stop, My issues are not your issues. I’m just asking that every once in a while instead of the drink spend some time hugging your family. You will get the same good feeling as the glass of wine and your body will thank you. Your family might think you lost your mind but you will feel so much better afterwards it will be worth it. If Anyone would like to get sober please contact me through this blog and I would be honored to take the time to be of service to you and get you in touch with the people that can change your life. Hugs to all that struggle, and all my love to those that struggle with them.

Self Realization and Fulfillment

I have found in my life that many times I have changed paths of attaining happiness. Some paths were spiritual, Some were physical, and some were mental. The problem I had in my youth was the fact that I listened to the people that had different views of what was important to them. This however was not what was important to me. The “Question” then becomes what is important to you? Well…. I thought, when I was younger, that career was important, but that can be confusing when you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up. (not sure I’m there yet) I spent my youth going from One job to another, and college was a waste of time for the most part. Colleges need to streamline their curriculum to only include the courses you need to get your degree and quit adding bullshit courses that have nothing to do with your area of learning. Its just a waste of time and money.

As I got older money , I was told was the most important thing, and the ability to acquire money was the path to happiness. In my search for the almighty dollar I meet a lot of like minded people and came to the realization that I wasn’t happy and I was constantly stressed and the people I met weren’t happy either. As I got older most of these people are now trading in their wealth to try to regain their health and happiness. Seems a little backward to me, trading your youth and health for money that you will then use to pay to try to heal all the medical problems you got from the stress and long hours you had to give to attain your money. Does anyone else see the problem with this, or is it just me? On a side note I always found this study interesting. This is a chart of diminishing return for money spent vs. happiness

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As I got older and got married, started a family, I realized I was spending less and less time with my family and more and more time at work. This was not the family model I wanted for myself or them. Growing up in a family were my father worked a lot and was gone for days at a time I remembered what that was like. I would have gladly given up all the nice things we had for a better relationship with my father. With both parents working it becomes even harder for a child to have a healthy relationship as they grow when all they see growing up is two parents chasing their careers and fighting over money when they were home at the same time. I didn’t want that as my son got older than four so my wife and I talked about it and came to the conclusion that we would choose happiness over wealth.

Now that being said I am not suggesting anyone live in poverty, no what I’m suggesting is scale back your life style, cut out the extras that don’t mean anything to you. Spend more time with the ones you love and build strong positive relationships with the ones you love. By doing this we discovered that we could cut back our hours at work by almost half. This is huge! My wife was able to cut back to only 20 hrs a week from forty plus and I could cut back to forty five hours a week from my usual seventy two hrs a week. We still had more than enough money to pay the bills and money for retirement and vacations. Our marriage was stronger and we had more time to spend with our son.

Now I want to touch on the spiritual side of my journey. I was raised an Irish Catholic and consider myself recovering Catholic now. I realized at a very young age that there might be more than one answer when it came to spiritual happiness. So I embarked on a journey of self discovery of spiritual realization. And yes I dabbled in mind altering psychedelics in the seventies. I lived in the Haight- Ashbury district in San Francisco for a while I dabbled in other religions and beliefs, and ended my journey realizing that everything I needed was within me. I settled on Buddhism as a belief system because through the years I saw that life gives you back what you put into it. I wanted to have a happy, positive existence so I figured I had to put happy, positive thoughts and actions into my life. Buddhism seems to be the closest thing to this belief system. So when someone asks I simply say Buddhist and wait for the look of disbelief on their face. I’m not going to get all warm and fuzzy here I just wanted to explain my position.

My physical journey began when I started buying slip on shoes so I didn’t have to bend over to tie my shoes. Some times something so small can be the trigger you need to make a life changing decision. I made the decision to try to reverse the damage I had done trying to attain some imaginary dollar amount before it became a medical issue. I embarked upon a journey of physical health through proper diet and exercise. I also found a sort of spiritual peace through this fitness program centered around Martial Arts.

Now, lets pull all this together into something that makes sense. Three things had to happen for this to work.

  1. Focus on whats really important to you. Family, relationships, etc.
  2. find a spiritual belief system that works for you.
  3. Make a commitment to take care of yourself through a proper diet and exercise.

You will find if you can pull these things together you will have a life filled with love and possibility. You will also have time to pursue your passions what ever they may be. You stress levels will go way down, you wont try to control every aspect of your life and the lives of the people around you. Also you will have time to give to others that need your help because for what ever reason their life is out of balance. There is no greater joy in life than being of service to others. So live your life with purpose and joy and it will positively affect everyone around you.

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The Army’s Zaniest Hero

I met Ed about Twenty years ago while running a bar in St Augustine, Florida. St Augustine has the distinction of being the oldest city in the U.S. and has a cast of characters that occupy this small southern town that looks like the casting call for One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Even Ken Kesey on a full blown acid trip couldn’t have imagined some of these characters. That being said, Ed isn’t one of those. Ed can only be described as a quiet older man that has a grandfatherly quality to him. He is quiet , as I said and would go out of his way to help a perfect stranger. One day Ed asked me if I could help him clean out his garage. I readily agreed knowing that Ed had a heart condition and it was the middle of summer in Florida. For those who are not familiar with the weather in Florida in the summer, Imagine Hell and add humidity so thick, you feel like your standing in a steam bath. I knew Ed well enough to know that if Ed didn’t get help he would do it on his own and I didn’t want to see anything bad happen, so I made time and told him I would be there on Saturday morning.

I arrived on Saturday as promised feeling a little hung over from the night before, but I knew I would sweat that out in about fifteen minutes in the heat and humidity. Even at 9 a.m. the temperature was climbing past 90’F. and that garage had to be 100. Before I started sweating through my cloths I set to moving boxes out of the garage so Ed could go through them and decide what to throw away. I looked over from my work to see Ed staring at a couple of old boxes kinda poking through them with an odd look on his face. I asked “Hey what’s up Ed?” he just looks at me and kinda half smiles, and says” Just some stuff from when I was in the Army.” I asked him if he wanted to save it?” Ed just shrugs and “I don’t think so, my kids don’t care” He looked kinda sad but My interest was peaked so I asked about his service. Ed laughed and says “Which time?” I knew immediately there was a story and I needed a break. We decided to grab a couple of boxes, Crack some beers and Ed began his story.

 

Early in 1941 I wanted to join the marines and fight the Japanese so I went down to enlist, I was only 17. They turned me down and told me to come back in a year. I could’t wait so I went to the Army recruiter and lied about my age.( He used his dead brothers birth certificate.) They signed me up and off to boot camp I went. The first time I saw action was at Guadalcanal. We came in after the Marines landed for support. I was miles from the fighting and I wanted to go to the front. So I removed the Dog Tags and uniform from a dead Marine and hopped on the next supply truck going to the front. It was pretty chaotic but at least I got to see some action. Got in a little trouble and they sent me back to my unit when they found out who I really was. I stopped him there and said in disbelief “You were at Guadalcanal?” “Sure”says Ed “And a lot of other places”. Ed reaches into the box and pulls out a native mask and says I got this at Tinian, And this came from Palaus, and this came from the battle of Luzon, and these masks came from Okinawa. I sat there in shock because all the boxes around us were filled with little mementos of Eds service, and he was going to throw them away. I couldn’t let that happen so I asked him if I could have some. Ed new I was a military history nut and especially the Pacific Theater and he could see me drooling over the stories attached to each item. Then it hit me. Of all the people Ed could have asked to help him, He picked me the history nut. I got played , but I didn’t care. I started to ask about each item and Ed would go into detail about where it came from which battle he was in and what happened during the battle.

The reason there were so many boxes was Ed didn’t just fight in WWII he also fought in Korea, and Vietnam. and when he finally retired he went back to Vietnam for a certain government agency that shall remain nameless. As Ed put it “We weren’t flying milk into Laos”. After we had spent a considerable time with Ed talking and me listening Ed hands me an old copy of Yank magazine and said that everything in the story was true.

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You see the article was about Ed, The Army’s Zaniest Hero. What a story you can read excerpts of the article in the News article Turning the Rules Upside Down” in the St Augustine Record http://staugustine.com/stories/042307/news_4550948.shtml#.Vpht7n0rLnA I added a link, Its worth the read. I treasure my gifts from Ed and yes my house looks like a War Museum, but I don’t care. I know the stories behind each and every one. Just a side note. Ed raced motorcycles, Started the Army parachute team, and was the welterweight champion second division 1948. Ed also has 8 purple hearts silver stars, Bronze stars and Presidential Citations. Just an amazing guy with an amazing life. I miss you Ed, Cheers!

Upper Back and Neck Pain

In previous posts I wrote about lower back pain but many of us suffer from back and neck pain. Most people feel the pain during movement of their neck and shoulders. These pains can be stress related, Sleep related, work related, exercise related. but the cure is the same, and if you don’t treat it as soon as possible it can lead to disc damage, nerve damage etc.I suffered from neck and shoulder pain when I was younger working as a pastry chef. I would stand twelve hours a day six days a week looking down at my work table. This caused the disk to shift in my neck and pinch the nerve causing pain that began in my neck and radiated down to my shoulders. I went to my Physical therapist, “Mom” and she gave me a booklet. This booklet gave a few exercises that increase mobility and help put the disk back into the proper position. I don’t suffer from this problem anymore and haven’t for years but I am very conscious of my neck and any possible injuries. I have noticed lately that my neck makes an audible clicking and grinding noise when I rotate and  turn my head so into the internet I go looking for answers, and this is what I found.

The real reason for this was fighting, I was having difficulty in my training keeping my chin tucked in, I noticed that I had some minor posture issues also and when I began to do exercises to correct the problem I felt and heard the popping and cracking in my neck. It sounded like breakfast cereal had taken up residence in my neck (Snap, Crackle and Pop). This was a serious concern because the last thing you want during a match is to have your chin sticking out. So Possible causes

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Proper posture in the neck is a big reason most people have neck and upper back pain. Working on my feet and having  my head in a downward position for 10 to 12 hours a day, I have done some serious damage to my posture but it is correctable.

Cervical Osteoarthritis, although this often goes un-diagnosed, it is common to have a stiff neck and pain occasionally and most people just think they slept wrong, or they strained there neck (Somehow). fortunately this condition is not degenerative and neck exercises can help with this condition.

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I do these exercises as part of my martial arts warm ups and it does help with my flexibility and seems to ease the pressure in the back of my neck. but I still have the popping and grinding when I roll my neck. So on with the search for answers. Next up is probably one of my favorite subjects, Diet. A diet high in omega 3 fatty acids and high in antioxidants,fiber,  Calcium and Vitamin D can aid in the building and maintaining good skeletal health. This is also the diet for high blood pressure, Diabetes, weight loss, In other words,and I know this is getting old, A proper diet is the biggest and best thing you can do for over all health.

Water is another key ingredient. Drinking plenty of fluids aids in keeping your fluid filled inter skeletal structures healthy and flexible.

There are other things that can lead to skeletal degeneration. The big two are alcohol and tobacco products. The alcohol depletes the  calcium and magnesium, and tobacco products is damaging to your bones.