Boomer Twilight

Mostly Humorous Observations of Most Anything, with a Boomer Slant

Posts Tagged ‘Health

Good Morning, Taiwan!

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I really enjoyed the movie Good Morning, Vietnam. Robin Williams was terrific in his role as Adrian Cronauer. He was a Disc Jockey for the American Forces Network and an English Teacher. Appealing to the differing musical tastes of soldiers from all regions of America is a task. Teaching Conversational English as a second language to the Vietnamese, although it was comical in the movie, was a challenge, as well. So that leads me into a period of time where I did basically the same thing; in Taiwan, rather than Vietnam (Pat Sajak was a Disc Jockey in Vietnam, but was given the Wheel of Fortune job over me because Vanna and I had a history).

In 1969 I owned a beautiful 1966 Aqua-colored Chevy Impala convertible with a white top, a 283 engine, and a 327 logo; a fraud perpetrated by the previous owner. After buying it from Bob Peck Chevrolet in Alexandria, I continued the lie. It looked cool and felt like a muscle car, with a nice sized trunk, making it possible to smuggle my girlfriend into the drive-in without paying.

One Saturday evening I went to Fairfax Village in Southeast DC to drink at a bar named The End Zone. At the time we only had to be eighteen to qualify for suds in Washington. My drinking partner was a friend, Ronnie Floyd, who had recently been drafted by the Army, but when he went to Ft. Holabird in Baltimore for his induction, a fellow from the U. S. Marines came in the room and chose him for their team. That’s how it was then. We had no choice.

That night it was snowing, and while preparing to leave the house, I joked with my parents about wrecking my car. Some joke. After celebrating Ronnie’s imminent tour in Vietnam for a few hours, I said goodbye to him and got in my car for the ride to Landover, where my family was living at the time. Of course I shouldn’t have been driving, but in those days no one paid much attention to that sort of thing, so while traveling NE on Alabama Avenue I began to slide in the snow, taking out a police call box. Oopsie Daisy! The upper half of the box landed in the back seat of the car, and the lower half was dragged several hundred feet under the vehicle, destroying all the hardware necessary for it to operate, as I experienced the twirling sleigh ride from hell, stopping at the corner of Alabama and Massachusetts Avenues. After looking around for Angels or pitchforks and realizing life would continue, I found the nearest pay phone (since the call box was useless) and called my parents.

It is just a bit foggy exactly how everything transpired, but I remember my parents showing up, and do not recall any police presence. My father and I pushed what was left of the call box from the middle of the road as he questioned me about my alcohol indulgence. Being a punk 19-year-old, of course I lied. “No dad, I haven’t been drinking,” but my stumbling behavior should have given me away. As a father, he was probably grateful to see me alive, and just a bit ticked about the inebriation, forgiving the lie for the survival. If given the same situation as a parent, I probably would have been as benevolent. But, the car was totalled and my life was soon to change.

The loss of transportation made it difficult to attend classes at Prince George’s Community College. It was my first semester, and hitchhiking to class was unreliable. After missing quite a few sessions, my grades were suffering, so I dropped out. In 1969, dropping out of school meant you went from a 2S draft classification to 1A immediately. Your lottery number was basically null and void. So, my induction was on the horizon.

I didn’t wait. Knowing Ronnie Floyd had been drafted and subsequently transformed into a Marine scared the heck out of me, so I went to DC and hit the Recruiter’s office. I signed up for the Air Force because it was my best chance not to be wallowing in the mud in ‘Nam. After taking their exam I qualified for several positions and agreed to enlist under the first one available, which was in the Administrative category. Whew! I avoided the draft. After Basic Training and Technical School, I was sent to Taiwan. My Radar O’Reilly career was beginning.

From July, 1969 through February, 1973 I was stationed at Tainan Air Base in Taiwan; assigned to the 2128th Communications Squadron. The United States maintained a presence in that country following the 1949 fall of China to the Communist regime (Peoples Republic of China) of Mao Tse-tung. The Kuomintang (Republic of China) led by Chiang Kai-shek escaped to Taiwan, which has never been disputed by either side as a part of China. Because of our staunch anti-Communist stand at the time and the invasion of Korea by Red China, the US elected to protect Taiwan from Mao, and 20 years later, I arrived.

The first thing I noticed after landing on the island was the smell. They had an open sewage system, which was essentially vented, masonry-covered pits along the streets. This kept people from falling in, but allowed the odor to assault all the senses possible. It reeked, but after a short time, I didn’t even notice. Other than the odor, Taiwan was beautiful. Imagine a tropical paradise, where you spend most of the day dodging bicycles, scooters, motorcycles, taxis and pedestrians, in overcrowded conditions, and you have a pretty good idea. Taiwan is bisected by the Tropic of Cancer, so the weather in Tainan is similar to Havana, Cuba (without the Castros). I was delighted to be there.

In the early morning, Tainan was serene. Less activity and street breakfast, consisting of heated soy milk and a sort of airy bread stick that was deep fried and probably unhealthy, but “Oh so good.” I’m not sure my etiquette was acceptable, but I dipped the bread stick in the soy milk and enjoyed my “Ugly American-self.” I was on a four-year vacation, and didn’t care what anyone thought.

One of my favorite activities in Taiwan was eating from street vendors (we called them Noodle Stands). As a young, naive kid, I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it and contamination was not a concern. Everything was boiled or deep-fried and just awesome, with just the right sauces and spice. From 1895 to 1945 Taiwan was occupied by the Japanese, influencing the variety of foods. Fried tofu (smelled like feet), squid, snake, various poultry parts, eel, frog, noodles; you name it, I ate it. I’m sure today, based on my recent experience with Giardia, I would be hesitant to indulge, but in those days gorging on strange cuisine was my preference.

Tainan Air base was situated next to Air America (CIA), and our job was basically to keep the Communist Chinese from overtaking the island, and providing support for activities in Vietnam. For me, it was renting a house off base for less than $40 a month and partying with my friends. In the Communications Center we manned an old switchboard, probably left over from the Korean War (thus the Radar reference). Within the “secret” area we operated a General Dynamics computer that was a combination teletype, card reader, magnetic tape reader and printer; very high tech for the time. In the building next door there was the radio station, American Forces Network Taiwan, which was the only station in southern Taiwan to broadcast in English.

After a short time in the country, the local Baptist Church sought volunteers to teach Conversational English at the Chinese Air Force Academy in Gangshan, south of Tainan. I was dating an Elementary School teacher, Tsai-Yun (eventually my first wife and mother of our two wonderful children), who thought it would be a good idea to volunteer. So I did. The Robin Williams Experience began.

The classes were really nothing more than young Air Force Cadets asking me questions about my personal life and America. “Do you have a girlfriend?” “Is everyone rich in America?” “Are all American women blond?” “What do you and your girlfriend do for fun?” “Why do you say you know so much?” It was a good time and we laughed together quite often.

After several months of teaching, they had a graduation party for me. The Chinese like to eat. Their parties consist of many dishes on the table, where everyone partakes, family style. But the officers, particularly the General in charge of the school, liked Johnny Walker Black; however, they did not sip the beverage, they swilled. Every time a drink was poured one of them would shout “Gambei!” and we would all tilt our heads back and shoot the beverage down our gullets. After several “down the hatches” the food and drink was not sitting so well. Eventually it was time to grab the bowl with both hands, on my knees, and rid myself of the evening’s offerings. In the adjacent stall of the men’s room it was obvious someone was experiencing the same ordeal. I exited my area for clean up, and guess who came out of the other stall to do the same? The General. He smiled, then laughed and patted me on the back, while slurring something in Chinese. Apparently I had made a friend. Who would have thought Johnny Walker was such a match maker?

A couple of years, a few typhoons and some earthquakes later, I was looking for something else to do beside answering the switchboard and delivering messages to those showing proper ID at the window of the Communications Center. One of the Disc Jockeys, with whom I had become friendly, came over to our building one day and asked if I was interested in auditioning for a part-time position as a weekend broadcaster. It was volunteer work, but would be a lot of fun. I jumped at the opportunity and as soon as my shift was over, stopped by to meet with the Station Manager. He gave me a script to read, I passed the test, and “poof” I was given the job. My show was Saturday morning at 6:00 AM, in between Wolf Man Jack and Bob Kinglsey (both on tape), and Sunday at 8:00, right after a religious show (yeah, they were probably politically incorrect, but no one complained). From March 1972 through February 1973 I was a small-time star.

The first song I ever played was Doctor My Eyes, by Jackson Brown, and both shows opened with A Beautiful Morning by The Rascals (initially known as the Young Rascals). During every show, a young girl would call and ask to hear Layla by Derek and the Dominoes and I always played it for her, since she was my only groupie (plus she was awake at 6 AM to call, so I awarded her diligence). At the time my personal musical taste was pretty much Hard Rock. One Sunday morning I played six songs in a row, which included Mountain, Grand Funk Railroad, Jethro Tull (Aqualung), The Stooges (which had to be smuggled into the studio because they didn’t have anything commercially acceptable), Dr. John, and Humble Pie. I was having a blast; playing air guitar and banging pencils on the console like a wannabe drummer. Then the phone rang. It was the Station Manager. “You know, Bob, we have people stationed here with varying musical tastes. We are the only English Language station in Southern Taiwan; therefore, our people might want to hear something they like, rather than just what you like. So, could you mix it up somewhat and refrain from playing just the hard stuff at 8:00 in the morning?” That’s all he said, but I got his point, and grabbed some Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash and Stevie Wonder from the library. My morning became a little more boring for me, but the job was secure.

I really loved my time in Taiwan, but getting out of the structured military life was a little more important than being a part-time DJ. My full four years would end in May of 1973, but I was entitled to an early out in February, and took it. So, it was back to the States to begin civilian life at the end of February. A truly enjoyable experience had to end and new experiences would begin.

Good Morning, USA!

With Love,

Bake My Fish

I Went to the Animal Fair; the Germs and the Microbes Were There

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Many of you reading this probably attended the Maryland State Fair, or a fair or festival of some sort this summer; especially if you have children. Ours ran from August 22 through September 1st. It’s always the same number of days ending on Labor Day. My wife and I hadn’t been for several years. This year we were given free tickets from the car dealer where she purchased her auto. Oh boy, free! Gotta go, right? It’s free!!

The Sunday morning before Labor Day we went for a walk to get a little exercise. I enjoy our walks. It gives us some time to talk without interruption, and to share each other’s company. As we strolled I was trying to avoid the subject of the fair, because I really didn’t want to go, initiating conversation about anything I could think of just to keep the chatter going and suppress the thought of the fair. Even though I had agreed to go earlier in the week, it was not an enthusiastic endorsement. Then it came up. “What time do you want to leave for the fair?” she asked. “Do we really have to go?” I whined. “It’s kind of hot now, and later on, it’ll be too hot.” “You don’t want to go?” she asked, in that sort of wife way that tells you she’s annoyed, but not angry. “We don’t do much on the weekend,” she continued. The guilt honed-in and my love of hanging out at home was challenged. As a society we spend about a third of our life sleeping. Another third working. We spend a substantial amount of our income buying a home and equipping it with entertainment and furnishings so we can enjoy our stay. Personally, I want to hang out at my abode. But, I don’t want to be a creep and sloth of a husband, so I agreed to attend the fair. Fun, fun, fun. After all, the tickets are eight dollars each, and we have two, so we’re saving $16.

We left our home about 1:30 to drive the half-hour or so from Eldersburg to Timonium. In my mind I was singing “Our State Fair is a Great State Fair, it’s the Greatest Fair in our State.” It sounds hokey, but I really was (I bet you are right now, too). I’m just glad it wasn’t out loud, because that would be just too corny. Our drive was unimpeded and we made it with ease. The bowling alley across from the Fairgrounds was offering parking for $5.00. Another bargain. We pulled in and parked, and thus far our afternoon was thrifty.

If you are young or have children, the fair can be a grand time. There are rides, treats, animals to pet, things to see, and you can act silly, unencumbered by embarrassment. When you are older, without children, it’s hot, noisy, dirty, stanky, boring, expensive, and the food really isn’t that good. But, the tickets are free, so we become two Old Coots walking around the grounds hoping for some excitement. They don’t even have bumper cars, so what the hell was I supposed to do? “I know, let’s get some bad food.” And the fair has the baddest. Deep fried Twinkies and Oreos? You mean they are not artery-clogging enough, that they have to be dipped in batter, and fried in the grease pit called a fryer? Those cookers have never contained zero-trans fat anything, and I doubt the grease has been cleaned during the entire event, and we were there the next-to-last day. No, thanks. I’ll pass on the “treats.” My mind was tuned to the thought of some lamb. Mmmmm. I like lamb.

The adult food is stationed next to the petting zoo. Nice and sanitary. That’s where you’ll find the pit beef, pork stuff, burgers, turkey legs, chicken parts, and the lamb. There are sanitation stations nearby, and there is the assumption the “chefs” are keeping their appendages clean. One would hope. The food is cooked, even though there’s no guarantee once it’s in the “keep it hot” containers the temperature is high enough to prevent illness. The servers are using utensils, and some are wearing plastic gloves, in compliance with the lenient Board of Health rules. But, the tongs and gloves are used over and over, without cleaning or changing, so we have to trust the heat is high enough to kill anything living within the grub.

My desire for lamb got the best of me. I cozied up to the stall, paid my $6.50 for a lamb wrap (a Gyro in a spinach wrap, rather than a pita, with less sauce) and devoured it standing, while my wife joined the pit beef line. She did have a bite of my wrap to taste it, but apparently missed the bad part. I inhaled my wrap, because it was falling apart and I was concerned about losing it. She brought her $6.00 pit beef sandwich, along with her $2.00 coke over to a table (she’s more sophisticated than me) and we sat down for a short time. Next to us a couple planted their lard asses, violently shaking the table, and began eating a pile of deep fried Oreos. They were both wearing fanny packs, no doubt stuffed with goodies of some type. The wife used a napkin to sop up the food-lube, and I thought, “To what food group does that belong?

We left the fair after a couple of hours playing Hop Scotch with critter feces, and seeing most of the livestock. I have to admit the babies are adorable, when there are a few. I see cows when passing a Chick-fil-A, pigs in any Walmart, chickens in the supermarket, and sheep when trying to go to sleep, so I don’t need to go to the fair. But, the tickets were free. Fun, fun, fun.

This was the beginning of a truly horrifying experience that was developing in my innards unbeknown to me. I’ve written posts about Parasitic Friends and pandemics One Flu Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but the two guys being given birth, although not considered the source of a pandemic, definitely are not friends. They were intent on mischief and evil.

That evening everything seemed fine. No problems. The next morning (Labor Day) my wife fixed a nice breakfast, which I enjoyed with a few cups of coffee. Still going well. Then around noon I started feeling a bit queasy as the incubation was beginning. I laid down for a nap, skipped lunch and reluctantly anticipated the rib steaks we were to have for dinner. I lounged around on the couch, dozing off occasionally, while trying to watch TV. Eventually dinner was ready, I had a few bites of the steak, wrapped it up as leftovers and went to bed. This was about 7:00; very early to retire for me.

Tuesday morning appeared to be a normal beginning. I felt a little under the weather, but not enough to stay home from work, so I got ready, had some breakfast, packed a lunch and headed to the office. There were a couple of bouts in the mid-morning with bathroom visits, but not an unusual number of sittings for me. Things seemed on par with daily life. At noon I had my sandwich at my desk, all the while feeling a bit groggy, attributing it more to age than illness. Around 2:00, the “boys” took over as I rushed to the latrine, in a state of emergency. I was feeling downright funky. After returning to my office, I packed up my things and left without saying anything to anyone, because I was feeling putrid. I drove home, clenching all the way, and made it to the potty (think Jeff Daniels in Dumb and Dumber). My dog was sitting outside the door because I had not properly greeted her upon my entrance. Little did I know at the time, she was in for a lengthy stay with Daddy. I changed into my home clothes and laid on the couch for a nap, and Holly joined me.

The “boys” made it impossible to sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time without a bathroom rush. I was popping generic Imodium like mints, but no relief was given. Eventually I read the label and realized the limit is four per day. Eight had already been consumed on Tuesday. The pill popping had to stop. It wasn’t working, anyway. I was drinking G2, Powerade Zero and water in “beer bong-style” gulps, hoping not to become too dehydrated, but it seemed nothing could stop the assault on my body. The exhaustion was overwhelming and frankly I thought I was dying. It continued into Wednesday.

Wednesday morning the first thing on my mind was Gene Upshaw (not to mention the wallpaper in the bathroom), who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on Sunday, August 17th and died on Wednesday, August 20th. He was only five years older than me, so I was worried I might be next. The difficulty I was experiencing was worse than any other episode in the past. What little time I could muster to stay awake was used to delete files on my computer and organize my passwords for my survivors. The same routine (by now it was routine) from the previous day continued into Thursday.

Thursday morning I called my doctor’s office and they were able to fit me in at 4:00. By the time I arrived for the appointment, I was sweating profusely. The intervals were now about every hour, so I didn’t have an emergency situation in her office. While I was signing in, practically laying my head on the counter, the receptionist made sure I had my $10 co-pay. “No problem, I’ll give you my house for a cure.” After examination, “Doc” surmised it was something I ate, and she gave me a lab form to get the vials for samples. On the form she wrote the word Giardia, which at the time made no sense to me. I asked if there was anything she could give me to halt the deluge, but she said not until it is determined what was attacking me. So, I obediently went to the lab, got the necessary equipment (eight vials) and returned home to continue my suffering.

About 3:00 AM Friday morning I collected the samples, and started searching on the Internet for Giardia. It is such a common parasite, I’m surprised I had escaped its wrath until now. Based on my symptoms I self-diagnosed that my doctor’s suspicion was correct. Since she couldn’t prescribe anything, the Imodium wasn’t doing the trick, and a large cork was out of the question, I searched for natural remedies. Goldenseal Root and Garlic were mentioned in several different articles. After making my lab delivery around 10:00 AM, I mosied on over to GNC and bought a bottle of Goldenseal Root for $15.99 and Odorless Garlic for $12.99. And guess what? By Saturday morning, I started feeling better. Now, many of you may think it just ran its course. Everything I read indicates Giardiasis untreated lasts about two – three weeks. I’m convinced I “nipped it in the butt” with a natural remedy.

Here‘s the best part. My doctor called me on Wednesday — which was five days after dropping off the samples — to give me the results. “Which do you want first, the good news, or the bad news.” she joked. “I guess the bad news,” I replied. “Well, you have two things, Giardia and Clostridium difficile (C. diff).” I knew about Giardia because I had just researched it, but the other condition was puzzling. “So, what’s the good news?” I asked. “We have one pill that can get rid of them both,” she said. “If you were older the C. diff could have been an even more serious problem. And you must have gotten both from the State Fair.” C. diff is sometimes rampant in hospitals among older patients. I guess I was lucky. Now, I’m taking Metronidazole three times a day for ten days.

The next time you want to attend a fair to see cute and cuddly animals, keep in mind the possibility of illness. I probably won’t go again, but if we are fortunate enough to get free tickets, I’m going shopping for a new outfit. Since this fair cost me $42.48 net (plus time off from work), I’ll have to factor in the cost of the new clothes for the next event.

I should’ve had baked fish.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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Written by Bake My Fish

September 13, 2008 at 6:32 am

One Flu Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

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My wife and I were sitting on the couch the other evening watching TV. When I got up to get a soda, she noticed what appeared to be a blister on my butt. Immediately I screamed, “Oh no!! It’s Smallpox! It’s Bubonic Plague! I’m gonna die!!!” It turned out to be just a contact lens we thought was lost forever.

My panic attack was probably caused by just having watched Episode 6 of Season I of Deadwood, which was dedicated to the Smallpox epidemic that swept through the town during its infancy, not to mention a general fear of dying from one of the Pandemics we seem to hear so much about these days.

My intention is not to ridicule the seriousness of various ailments in our history. The Black Death killed more than 25,000,000 human beings throughout Europe from 1347 – 1352; an average of 5,000,000 a year, which was 1/3 of the population. One of every three people someone knew at the time keeled over. That’s kind of scary, and kept the Cadaver Patrol quite busy. It is estimated that worldwide up to 50,000,000 people expired from the Spanish Flu of 1918. Probably more people died from that outbreak than smoking. The Asian Flu of 1957-58 caused the death of more than 70,000 in the US. Asian Flu is still around, but hasn’t circulated in humans since 1968. That means if it reels it’s ugly head again, no one under 40 is immune. Pandemics are devastating. Many people die, and many more become seriously ill.

What should we do? Wash our hands more often? Kill our neighbors if they seem ill (or are mowing on our side)? Wear a surgical mask 24 hours a day? What? My suggestion is just “Go with the flow.”

I’m not picking up any dead birds on the street. And, I’m not planning to pal around with any sick chickens (we still don’t know why they cross the road). Avian Flu is real and the most troubling strains start within fowl. My precautions are warranted, because our feathered friends are here on earth to kill us all. Influenza A viruses use wild birds as their host. Unless the virus undergoes Antigenic Shift it is harmless to humans. When it mutates we are at risk.

How many of you get a flu shot every year? And how many of you who felt immune got sick, anyway? I’d venture to guess more than should, considering we tend to believe the innoculation is the shield. Is it really? The immunization contains three strains of flu to protect you. Influenza genes are composed of RNA, rather than DNA, and are more prone to mutation than DNA. When Antigenic Drift occurs after the vaccination, it is ineffective.

Personally, I don’t trust science over viruses. Germs, squiggly things and potentially deadly microorganisms have been around longer than humans, and their ability to adapt to hostile threats is far more superior than our own. Birds evolved from dinosaurs; they were here first. We can’t win.

I just hope Home Depot carries plastic bubbles big enough to cover my house.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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Soy To The World

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I have really been enjoying soy products lately. Tonight my dinner was Peanut Noodles made with soy pasta. Add a little spinach and/or bok choy to the recipe, and you have a home run. Mmmm. You might be turning your nose up at the thought, but it was really good. Tasty.

I’m by no means a Vegan. Meat is a part of virtually all my meals. The occasional nibble of a hunk of jerky is within the realm of my dietary kingdom. I haven’t chomped on the side of a buffalo lately, but I do eat meat. My joy for soy is not because there is any particular concern over chewing on carcass. It’s just that soy products are so healthy and are now more like familiar food. And honestly, they please the Buds of Taste (sounds like a movie).

When I was a kid, one of my favorite journeys was to the Chinese restaurant with my sister and parents. We always got a kick out of my father eating the hot mustard and pretending the beads of sweat were not rolling off his brow. “Naaa, it’s not hot. It tastes good,” so he said. We knew better. His red face and fire-eyes were a dead giveaway. Dad was cool.

When the food came, the first thing I reached for was the soy sauce (bet you do, too). If I had known then my sauce would turn into Peanut Noodles as an adult, I would have prepared myself for the evolution.

Soy crisps make a great substitute for potato chips. A dripping, sloppy cheeseburger; with a side of Roasted Garlic Soy Crisps, is more healthy than a dripping, sloppy cheeseburger; with a side of dark russet oil chips; probably about 70 calories.

It seems with all the diets there is an emphasis on high protein. Soy contains hearty amounts. The standard grocery chains are carrying more and more diverse soy products. You don’t necessarily have to go to the natural food markets and pay an exorbitant price for healthy food. It has always bothered me that to eat healthy, you have to pay way too much. It’s as though you need to take out a loan to live. Why is that? I know supply and demand economics is at work here, but is it really fair?

When I saw soy noodles on the shelf it was exciting. I love pasta, and this gives me a chance to eat it and get the near equivalent of the protein contained in meat. Another really good dish, Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, is great using soy pasta. The recipe calls for minced garlic, but if you slice it real thin and brown it in olive oil, it’s better. Maybe use a little more because the chunks will be bigger than minced garlic, which emits more flavor than sliced.

As a society we have grown bigger and broader. The clothing industry and models of the clothes seem to be telling us we shouldn’t be allowing this to happen. Yet, we continue to expand. Obesity is a major concern, and our health is challenged by our abnormal growth. “Fat is not where it’s at.” We do little to counter the expansion of our torsos. Food made with soy will help. And for the tree hugging, animal saving public, it can be the answer.

Soy ice cream is terrific. We can feed our fat fetish, while saving our hearts. It seems to me that is a good way to go.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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Written by Bake My Fish

March 7, 2008 at 8:47 pm

Rome Wasn’t Filth in the Day

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Our bathroom habits are routine. We have privacy whenever and wherever we want. There is never a necessity, other than a serious emergency, for us to use an outside facility. During the realm of the Roman Empire your routine would have been challenged. Sitting on the bowl in the wide open, waving at Julius Caesar (he made such a great salad) during a Triumph through The Aventine, would be a stunning scene in today’s world. Considering the Roman diet was decidedly higher in grains and fiber than ours, these holes would have been put to good use.

I can’t imagine sitting on a pot with the person next to me, scrunch-faced and chatting as if we’re waiting for a bus. No walls, no barrier, just our bloomers around our ankles, shooting the breeze. It’s tough enough remaining quiet when there are stalls. In the open, you can’t be mum. The guy sitting on the adjacent hole may want to talk. You can’t be rude and avoid the conversation. Otherwise you will be considered a jerk. I suppose it was fairly awkward reading slate tablets, rather than the newspaper or a magazine, but without the solitude, you had to lay down the newsoid and listen.

I’ve written about the over and under TP roll. Sitting in the open during number two, beats any lack of proper materials or the direction of the pull. Are the mores of today any better for us than during the days of open potties? We think it’s nasty, but for the Romans it was the norm. Louise Pasteur wasn’t around, so they didn’t really know about bacteria and stuff. Our exposed genitalia wasn’t considered as naughty and disgusting as now. We were humans, with normal needs. Society didn’t really care that we emitted waste.

Fortunately the lack of stalls eliminated most of the bathroom graffiti. It is important to note; however, that the series of privy poems about The Young Man From Nantucket or Azores, originated during the reign of Caligula. The felt-tipped pen wasn’t invented before this period. Potty Laureates had to be creative.

A friend came into my office the other day to discuss “Urinal Protocol.” I do agree with him that indeed we have developed habits. If a man walks into an empty bathroom, which receptacle does he use? If there is more than one user, with more than one trap, where do you line up? In Ancient Rome it was no problem. For us it is perplexing.

Imagine a day at the Coliseum during a Gladiator/Wild Beast massacre with 50,000 spectators drinking wine, eating whole grain bread smothered in Garum, a hunk of cheese, and some kind of carcass from the stadium vendors; all of which were very likely bacterial-infested. I would guess they might want to visit the facilities on occasion. Now, I could probably live with the idea of sharing a booth with another person, given the culture of the time. But, 50,000? I’m glad to have been born a Boomer.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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Written by Bake My Fish

January 30, 2008 at 10:58 pm

Parasitic Friends

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There is speculation that parasites may be useful in combat against food allergies. That’s comforting. In the back alleys of filthy cities around the world, those rummaging through dumpsters and trash heaps are leaping for joy. They’ve been fighting parasites for years. Liver worms and maggots are a common irritant. The occasional fatal beating by a rampant band of teenage rumblers is a bit of a nuisance. But, food allergies will not be their issue.

In becoming a more sanitary population, we have triggered the side effect of food allergies. It is now common for people, particularly children, to have allergic reactions to many of the foods we take for granted. Eight foods identified with 90% of allergic reactions are: milk, egg, peanut, tree nut, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. I am a big advocate of wheat and all the other vittles that could prove fatal to some. I love them all. There is no religion or cult that can keep me away. Allergic reactions could do the trick.

When I was a kid, PB&J was an awesome sandwich. It still is. It’s the only entree where the recipe absolutely has to include white bread, grape jelly and crunchy peanut butter. Served with a glass of whole milk. Not the sissy, lactose-free, non-fat swill I usually drink. If I’m out to commit suicide, gimme a good freaking dairy product. Throw in some real ice cream. “Give me gravy on my mashed potatoes.” It’s not so funny that peanuts and milk can kill. There are about 11 million sufferers of food allergies. That seems a lot.

Studies indicate parasites might actually be good. Some patients with irritable bowel syndrome can improve when exposed to porcine whipworm, which is a pig parasite. In tests comparing lab rats with wild rodents, immune cells from the critters were tested in petri dishes exposing them to plant protein. The cells of the lab rats, who do not live in infectious and parasitic conditions like the wild guys, had a much higher reaction to the protein. Kids who grow up on farms and are constantly exposed to dirt and animals, are allergic to fewer things than those raised in a more sterile environment. The conclusion is parasites are beneficial. They help us build our immune system.

There is no worse feeling than removing a tick from your pet, child or yourself. We always have that unsettling fear there may be something lurking beneath the skin where the tick was attached. Time normally proves there are no ill effects, but the cringe while you’re squishing or burning the creature takes a little getting used to. Ticks are officially classified as ectoparasites (external parasites), but I don’t believe anyone would suggest they are beneficial.

I applaud our desire to be a sanitary nation. I applaud washing our hands after a trip to the latrine (so many don’t). It’s unfortunate the proliferation of food allergies is a result of our need to be clean. Maybe our children should eat a little dirt when we aren’t looking. Or the next time we yell at them for picking their noses, we can think twice about how hideous it may appear. They could be just immunizing themselves when using their sleeve as a handkerchief.

I need to go and take care of this rash. Thanks for the audience.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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Written by Bake My Fish

November 13, 2007 at 8:36 pm

The Quils vs. the New Stuff and How Ice Changed the World

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Have you recently tried to buy any original NyQuil (introduced in 1968) or DayQuil (1974), or the generic brand of the same product? You have to give your name and address, possibly show identification and sign for it; if the store even carries the stuff. Most of it has been replaced with a non-pseudoephedrine containing impostor. If these new products were tested on anyone, I want the phone numbers of those people.

The New Stuff doesn’t work, especially the new NyQuil. They have replaced pseudoephedrine with phenylephrine in DayQuil, because methamphetamine is manufactured by Speed Freaks using pseudoephedrine as a key ingredient. It has been eliminated completely from NyQuil. Now the rest of us have to suffer through severe colds with inadequate medication. We are forced to purchase a lesser product containing phenylephrine so Crank Heads don’t have their faces eaten away by the sores that develop from their addiction. Let’s save them all! It’s the humanitarian thing to do! There are several street names for methamphetamine, including: crank, crystal, meth, ice, speed, glass, and chalk. You can read more about the reasons for the changeover at new stuff.

Original NyQuil worked. It flat out did the job. I could take it at night before going to bed, and wake up feeling myself. With The New Stuff, I wake up feeling like crap. The same goes for original DayQuil. It worked great during the day, when you wanted to avoid drowsiness. They simply removed one of the ingredients, doxylamine succinate, from original NyQuil when producing original DayQuil, which is the antihistamine that makes you sleepy. Both pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine are nasal decongestants, but the newly formulated NyQuil doesn’t contain either of them, and the new DayQuil, which does include phenylephrine doesn’t work as well as original DayQuil. NyQuil is now made with acetaminophen, which most people know as the ingredient in Tylenol, dextromethorphan (a cough suppressant), and the aforementioned doxylamine succinate. New DayQuil contains all those ingredients except doxylamine succinate, and pseudoephedrine has been replaced by phenylephrine. Confused yet? I am. The final result is we now have another inconvenience caused by illegal activity.

I guess the crystal-meth manufacturers are pretty smart, even though some of them are blowing up their homes making their batches. How do they even extract the pseudoephedrine from the medications to produce their drug? I can’t imagine any of them have degrees in Pharmaceutical Engineering. But, criminals are usually more genius at whatever activity they pursue, than those pursuing them. And, they seem to have more resources to use in their ventures than those assigned to put them out of business.

Apparently the decision was made to stop the manufacture of crank by taking away the source of pseudoephedrine, and give us ineffective products in return. How did we end up being the bad guy? I didn’t ask for the cold. I am sure the criminal minds will figure out a way to produce ice using phenylephrine, Drano, rat poison or whatever people are willing to consume.

Well, I have to run. My cold is killing me . . . . and I need to buy some chalk.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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