Sunday, September 28, 2008

I'm a secret parkour admirer

Checked out Eric Robertson's PT blog this morning and found this post: Safe Falling. Don't you just love culture-based hyper-regulated technological solutions for prevention of potential injury of all our un- and undereducated contact with gravity and environment?

I like watching people move at high velocities and escaping unscathed - I enjoy watching figure skating, So You Think You Can Dance? (now in Canada too), and parkour. I'm definitely not anyone who would actively participate - now or at any time in my personal trajectory through life - rather I'm an appreciative voyeur. I love having my mirror neurons jazzed with incredible high-velocity human movement, and revel in the fact that it's possible without consequence (much of the time at least.. there are probably collisions with buildings or hands stabbed by glass or other mishaps, but not in these videos).

This parkour phenomenon is non-institutional, maybe anti-establishment even. It's unregulated, free, wild, eccentric, thoroughly primate. Looks like only boys perform parkour so far, if internet videos are any indication. One of my favorites, and one of the oldest I've found, is called russian climbing. Note the lack of any protective equipment. It would just be in the way, obviously..

It blows me away to think of the depth and quality of graded exposure that must have gone into developing all this physical capacity, the associated balance and equilibrium mechanisms that accompany it, and the frank conditioning.

Here is an example from France, which is credited with being the birthplace of this form of human primate display.

The other effect it has on me is the creepy one of feeling that I must always remember to lock my doors and windows no matter what floor I may happen to live on. Guys who can do this are like spiders - they could crawl in anywhere thieving their way through life.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Happy people and unhappy people

I recently had an opportunity to think long and hard about an observation that some people seem to be just naturally happy while others seem to be (just as naturally) unhappy.

The "Happies" find life relatively effortless, and other than minor speed bumps and hurdles everyone has occasionally, seem to capably move on and move smoothly. The "Unhappies" seem to go along ok for awhile, then inexplicably, any joy they may have found in a given activity seems to collapse and drain away all by itself, quite suddenly and for no apparent reason, leaving them floundering, frustrated, exhausted, unmotivated and burnt-out. Everyone can catch glimpses of what it's like to be the other, and can even inhabit each other's shoes, learn from each other's responses, but I think there is likely a default experiential bottom to selfhood which is either mostly one or the other, at a genetic level. And after a lot of life has passed by, one is required to suck up one's relation to life and come out of the closet as authentic, warts and all, even if one is (gulp) an Unhappy.

I am quite aware that I was born an "Unhappy." Luckily, I recognized it early on and was able to construct a life that could accommodate this quirk, spot it in others, ignore it most of the time, and keep going in spite of it.

If life could be compared to modes of transportation, the Happies would be like captains of their own sailboats. Their trip through life has ups and downs but is mostly broad and flat and smooth, few obstacles, good leverage, small energies needed, good control over response to one's environment, lots of opportunity to stargaze, a three-sixty view, a telescope through which to assess potential beaches/shorelines/rocks and either avoid danger, or maybe deliberately court it, testing their own control. Stiff headwind? Adjust sails and tack. Whitecaps? Adjust sails and lean. Keep sailing, keep moving. One must watch for obvious dangers but there is no inner inertia to be overcome. The Happies are the ones that mainstream culture becomes modeled after, which can make the Unhappies or Less-Happies feel even less congruent, inside, and delay their authentication/integration process.

A transportation metaphor for an Unhappy, I think, would be an engineer on a train that has to climb a mountain over a lifetime. Not only does the engineer have to move that train against gravity, he or she has only so much track to work with. The big stall periods are when the engineer (the nonconscious) has to stop the train, go back and rip up all the track that has been traveled, go ahead and lay it all down again in front of the train, get back on the train, drive it forward as far as it can/will go until the cycle must be repeated.

With any luck, and with sufficient insight, an Unhappy can learn to live with this luck of the draw, can learn to not be in any hurry, to stick as much as possible to the least steep grades, not be disoriented by switchbacks, to even, some day, be able to lay track and keep moving all at the same time, even attach sails to the train and learn to work them to advantage. Eventually the long stalls decrease in length. The Unhappies can treasure the small but genuine hope that if and when they ever get to the top, the view will probably be astounding, and they'll maybe even be able to share it with the Happies, and their life will have counted for something, been worth the sturm und drang und struggle after all. Plus they can remember that a sailboat will never make it up a mountain, nor carry as much cargo.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Arthroscopic knee surgery does little for arthritis pain"

This just was broadcast on local BC news:
Popular surgery does little for arthritis pain.

Gee, I could have predicted that.. but it's nice that there's been a big study to provide support for the idea, and it's commendable that MDs can now withdraw this vain attempt at helping people with knee pain by poking around inside it.

"Each patient received physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Eighty-six patients also received arthroscopic surgery.

The researchers found that all of the study subjects had similar improvements in joint pain, stiffness and function.

However, the patients who had surgery did not experience any additional benefits... doctors say the pain can be managed through exercise, regular physiotherapy and anti-inflammatory drugs."

Here is a link to a review of the article: Arthroscopic Knee Surgery- No Better than Placebo?; A Healthy Lifestyle Prevents Stroke, by Robert A Wascher MD.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

This is just plain funny

Check out the thread on Chirotalk called The Chiro Zone.