Harrison Farm

for now, the only thing we're growing on this farm is kids - not the goat variety

Month: July 2007 (page 1 of 4)

Back Pain Solutions

Here is what we’ve learned over the years about managing back pain:

  • Imbalances can be created that are very hard to rectify. (the “hump”)
  • In men, the back of the body generally needs stretching and the front needs strengthening.
  • Pilates is a very efficient way to maintain back health
  • Stress and the back
  • Back injuries I’ve suffered: bathtub, pallets, night before Smith kitch
  • Chiropractic and back pain — I’m skeptical
  • What I’ve learned about posture at a computer
  • Special Pilates add-ons we’ve developed to focus on back strengthening
  • proper lifting in one lesson

Drowsiness and Vitamins

Let me give you some simple anecdotal evidence for the powerful role of vitamins and minerals in human health:

  • A veterinarian can tell you that nearly any widespread non-contagious health issue among animals can be solved via vitamin/mineral supplementation.
  • In the oceans, life springs up abundantly anywhere there is enough mineral content “upwelling” from the ocean floor
  • Stress is known to exhaust the mineral supply of the body.

If you’ve tried the other things recommended in my articles at right, I recommend you look into a serious vitamin/mineral/antioxidant regimen. I added this to my life at a point where my drowsies were mostly beaten, and things have continued to get better. I don’t know how much to attribute to this one cause, but it’s just good sense to take this step.

Drowsiness and Toxins

One source of drowsy-at-work could be toxins.

I don’t have a lot of cause-and-effect here, but dealing with toxins was one of the things I did in my successful fight with drowsiness.

There are two separate issues here:

Keeping Toxins out of your System

Just think about it. All of those additives, preservatives, and medicines are going to have some residual effect. Enough said.

Dealing with the toxins already in your system

I had personally accumulated substantial anecdotal evidence that my own body was suffering under a load of mercury. This was partly due to an incident involving a broken mercury thermometer and partly due to amalgam dental fillings which seemed to set off a series of symptoms in me.

Anyway, I decided to have my mercury fillings replaced. (Most dentists are not set up to safely remove amalgam fillings. Do some research about mercury vapor toxicity and mercury-free dentistry if you’re serious about this undertaking.) This was done during the same time period during which I was taking the other actions recommended at right, so I can’t say for sure how pivotal this step was.

I did also research and use one heavy-metal-removal product.

Drowsiness and Digestion

Drowsiness occurs because something is imposing a load on your body’s energy supply.

In my opinion, the #1 most-likely suspect is your digestive system.

When I was studying nutrition during my twenties, it came as quite a surprise to me how much energy the body uses in digestion. I can’t remember the estimate, but it’s huge.

In fact, the way you eat determines the size of your digestive organs vs the size of other vital organs like the heart and brain.

I specifically recall reading Enzyme Nutrition by Edward Howell. He offers data on rodents that show that, for example, eating “dead” food caused the rodents to grow their pancreas 5x bigger to handle the extra load, and it caused their brains to be 25% smaller.

After all, the body only has so much energy to parcel out.

So what is this “dead” food?

Well, all food was once living right? In that living state, it contained the enzymes required for its’ own digestion. In other words, it is going to help you digest it, decreasing the workload on your digestive system.

Therein lies the case for eating things raw or with minimal cooking. There are, of course, lots of fine points and exceptions here. Don’t just go out and start eating raw eggs from Wal-Mart.

Nuts and seeds are an exception to this, since they are designed to hibernate indefinitely until planted. This is why we (as a family) soak our nuts and our grains before eating/processing them.

If you struggle with drowsiness, I recommend that you make time to educate yourself on this as soon as possible. Start here.

The Wonder of the MicroNap

Imagine lying down on the floor where you are right now. Imagine it is a hard wood or tile floor.

Now imagine that you could close your eyes, let your mind wander, and relax.

After about 2-4 minutes, you begin to notice that your thoughts have lost coherence.

Suddenly, you awaken, feeling as though you’ve had a good, 2+ hour nap.

Then you look at your watch and realize that you laid down only 12 minutes ago!!!

Seem impossible?

It’s not. I’ve done it hundreds of times. In college, I reduced the total time to 7 minutes, but since then I’ve found that the optimal time is about 10-15 minutes.

Once you’ve trained your body to do it (using an alarm), your body will find its own optimum time.

The micronap is amazing, but it is not in itself a solution to drowsiness. After college, I struggled with drowsiness even though I knew of the micronap. Rather, the micronap is a small part of the whole picture.

I look at it as a solution for tiredness rather than drowsiness.

Veganism and drowsiness/sleepiness

Milkmaid and I became convinced of the health benefits of veganism in our mid-20s. Like everything else, veganism was pursued with unrelenting zeal by our family of (at the time) three.

We read books, grew a garden, and spent a bunch of money at the local Golden Temple (yes, that’s actually what our local health food store was called — it is/was in Southside Birmingham).

Now, I’ve found that changing your diet is a lot like changing shampoos. They always seem to help. At first.

But, over time, we noticed the following trends in our veganism:

  • we were always hungry
  • we were getting thin (Milkmaid’s very straight-shooting grandfather who fought in WWII told her “you look like you just got out of a concentration camp!”)
  • I was drowsy… a lot!

Every evening around 8pm, I would literally begin to nod off, no matter what I was doing. I would fight it until about 9 and then finally give in. I was usually up at 6 am. That’s a nine hour sleeep. (extra “e” intentional)

Our veganism lasted about 2 years and ended partly for practical reasons (it wasn’t working!) and partly for research reasons (we learned more about nutrition).

Let me contrast that with my life today. I still wake up at 6am. But now I head to bed at around 11:30 or midnight. And when I go to bed, it’s mostly out of principle rather than being forced to bed by drowsiness.

Some days I do take a 10-15 minute micronap. See articles at right.

Non-solutions to the drowsiness problem

Quick-fix solutions to drowsiness tend to have the following effects:

  • Be addictive
  • Increase the scope of the original problem, ultimately making you more of a drowsy basket-case
  • Increase the toxic load on your body leading to ?? (cancer, etc.)

Here’s a brief list of drowsy-at-work solutions I recommend against:

  • Caffeine and other quick-energy drinks and pills
  • Shocker Glasses — dumb
  • Energy Supplements – ginseng, cordyceps and ashwaganda. These don’t get to the core problem.

Again, the real problem is something is imposing a load on your system. You can’t fix that by adding something else onto the top. (Unless there is some basic nutritional element that your body isn’t getting: see the articles on veganism and vitamins.)

Drowsy? How I kicked Drowsiness.

Being drowsy at work is the absolute, absolute worst experience. I hate it.

You try so hard, but it’s like having a giant weight attached to your body. You’re afraid that in a moment of drowsiness, you’ll make a decision that will haunt you for a lifetime. Or else you’ll miss some critical piece of information in a discussion.

And if you are like I used to be, getting more sleep at night doesn’t help.

I know that world well, and thank God, I no longer live in that world. I spend my days feeling alert and attentive.

I can’t say exactly which one/ones of the things I tried (detailed in the links at the right) was/were the ones that gave me the breakthrough. Most likely it was the combined effect of all of them.

But the bottom line is that, over the course of a few years, the drowsies have left me and have been gone for about five years now.

It is clear to me now that sleepiness during the day is an effect of something burdening your system. It’s like a tax. Part of your energy is being diverted into something and you’ve got to figure out what that something is and deal with it. You can do it.

I recommend that you start with the nutritional issues, then look at toxins, then vitamins, then finally sexual moderation. This was the order I tackled it in, and by the time I got to vitamins and sexual moderation, things were back to normal and — to my amazement — moved past normal to the point of my sleep requirement going down to 6.5 hours per night average, compared to 8.5 hours during my twenties. See articles at right.

Camtasia, Flash, and WordPress

Update in September07: the page with the most direct info is the “Essential Steps…” I’m keeping that page very current and actually use it each time I perform an embed.

The links at right detail my quest to get the camtasia flash player embedded into a WordPress post or page.

I had previously embedded video players such as Youtube with very little problem (usually the trick here is to publish directly from the “code” side of the editor without letting the “visual” side tamper with it), but the Camtasia Flash player turned out to be quite a bit harder.

The solution ended up being a special modification to the Kimili plugin code as well as a modification to the Camtasia output.

If it doesn’t all add up, please put your questions below.

Nursing while Sick

A stomach bug recently made its way through most of the family. Continue reading

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