Saturday, January 28, 2012

These are a few of my favorite (music videos)

I thought I'd try for something a little lighter for a bit.

I love music. Love it. I have a large collection (I know there are plenty of people with collections larger than my ~ 500 CD's), covering a wide range of styles (country, classical, nu metal, symphonic metal, new age, trance, jazz, electronic, hip hop, synth pop, classic rock....),and artists (Mozart, Destiny's child, Dolls Head, AngelZoom, the Corrs, A-ha, Collin Raye, Enya, Manheim Steamroller, VinylGroover, Daft Punk, La Bouche, Milk Inc....).

I'm not quite so big on music videos. Some are... well... ok.... nothing special really, many are painfully repetitious, either relying on booty shakin' innuendo, or dramatic shocky-artsy-fartsy without a point (okay, that's entirely personal opinion, and not very politely presented. I apologize to those I offended).

But there are a few Music Videos I truly enjoy. Either for artistic reasons, or for the message they present. So here (in no particular order) are a few posts highlighting a few of my favorites (feel free to suggest others, always on the lookout for new stuff).

1. Adele - Rolling in The Deep
2. Garth Brooks - Standing Outside The Fire
3. Nickleback - (2 songs)
4. Piano Guys - 4 Songs
5. Linkin Park
6. Lindsey Stirling

Favorite Videos - Piano Guys

These Guys are a more recent find. They are tremendously fun to watch, and incredibly talented. It is hard to just pick a few of theirs to post here. But here are a few of my favorites from The Piano Guys.

Michael Meets Mozart
Cello Wars
All of Me
Paradise (Peponi)

Favorite Videos - Nickelback

This post gets two videos, both by the same artists. As with Standing outside the fire. I enjoy these two both for the music and the message.

The first,"Savin Me" has a very novel story. It is well done, touching and cleverly executed. It includes a few very nice touches (like the expecting mother), that give it a very nice emotional appeal. (As a super power it would probably be at least as depressing to have is it was cool...)

This song itself, well, it reminds me of a few prayers I have said in my time...

Number two, carries a very promising message, what the world could be "If everyone card"

If everyone cared and nobody cried
If everyone loved and nobody lied
If everyone shared and swallowed their pride
Then we'd see the day when nobody died

The video tells four stories of individuals who cared, and made a difference. It is another good one to recharge to.

Favorite Videos - Garth Brooks

I like this video both for the song, and the story it tells. It reminds me a bit of "The Race" by D. H. Groberg. I don't know if it was in any way an influence....

To me, this story conveys a message to recognize our weaknesses, and accept them, but not be defined by them. I can't watch this video with out feeling a bolstering of my resolve...

My favorite Videos - Rolling

I selected this video purely for artistic reasons.

First, the singers voice is INCREDIBLE! Rich, full, strong, controlled... Adele is amazing. I was quite suprised when I heard an interview with her, and discovered that she was not of southern rock/blues origin (I didn't even guess the right continent!). Just listening to her sing is a treat.

Then there is the video itself.

This is a video I want to watch in high def on a gi-normous screen. The stark, crisp imagery fits the song very well. The hundred (thousands? of water glasses and seismic effect is very cool, as is the smashing dishware against the plywood board. The use of color is poignant. The visuals are well thought out, with tremendous attention to detail.

Even more cool is the paper city on the table. The  white smoke and sparks are a great bit of imagery.

The highlight though is the flour dancing.  What an incredibly cool effect! Haze, "Explosions", "Smoke trails", all linked to the graceful flow of a dancing silhouette.

Love it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Mormon president: Do I really want one?

Perhaps it doesn’t make sense that, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I am not really sure I want a Mormon to win the presidency. But I do find myself sitting on the fence emotionally.

Generally speaking, it really shouldn’t matter. Let’s assume he is a relatively typical “mainstream Mormon”. Then his guiding Values are:
  1. A belief in God, and Jesus Christ – That isn’t really a crucial quality for a president, I suppose… I do think there is something to be said for having a president who believes in a higher power. We need all the divine help we can get.
  2. A belief in choice and accountability – A Mormon president would generally be on the side of individual rights, with the caveat that the individual making the choice be accountable for those choices. With specific regard to religious freedom, one of the 13 Articles of Faith – a set of fundamental beliefs of the church – states “We claim the privilege of worshiping almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”
  3. Careful Compassion – The LDS church has a fairly amazing welfare system. It is based on the idea of helping individual in need to become self-reliant. Instead of handing out money, they provide the basic necessities – food, clothing, they provide career mentoring and financial counseling. Welfare efforts are focused on helping people to become productive and self-sufficient again. It is a model our government welfare administrators would do well to mirror. Unlike doubters in this forum, I think it could be successfully scaled. 
Sounds like desirable qualities in a President (or any leader for that matter).  So then why the reluctance on my part? Why am I uncertain about having a Mormon for president?
Because nobody is perfect, and because everyone will be watching him. Everything he does will be reflected onto the church.  If he has a weird quirk of personality, a strange personal belief, and undesirable character flaw. It will be attributed to his religion. If he fails to live the fundamental principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, it will be portrayed as an example of the hypocrisy of the religion.

I don’t know either of the LDS candidates personally (Though as I write this, Mr. Huntsman is no longer running, so Mr. Romney is now the person of interest). I don’t know that I trust either one of them to represent my faith.

Silly of me, isn't it?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Health Update 14 Jan

An update on my health game...

The Farina (I said Cream of Wheat, but it was Farina) week seemed to go well. No noticeable problems. It did occur to me, that quantity may be a factor, in addition to food type. Perhaps a small bowl of Farina every morning is fine, but more than one bowl a day, or a bowl of that plus some other grain is too much. Not sure what the best way will be to test that yet.

The week after that I tried rice. I had some problems, but, That was also the week I lowered my medication dosage again (down to one pill every other day), so it is possible that the rice was not the problem. I will need to re-test once I am stable again. I am stable now, and just starting another run at pork (fingers crossed). I could really use a bit more variety. Chicken and turkey is a pretty limited protein pool. fish is okay, and good - I have really been enjoying the occasional steel-head, baked with butter, dill and lemon, but fish is mostly $5 or more a pound, so I really can't do that too terribly often.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Beauty Deconstructed

This isn't so much a blog post, as a place to link three video's, with a similar theme, which I like to hunt up now and then, and remind myself of the (dangerous) power of the marketing machine, with respect to self worth and self-image.

First one is part of a campaign by Dove. It is the first one I ever saw on YouTube on this subject.
Dove, Evolution...

This next one is a recent find of a friend. A rather funny, fake commercial selling technology as the health and beauty cure.
fotoshop by Adobe'...

 The last one is not quite so funny. It's actually downright disturbing. But it does an excellent job of driving the point home, about the need to arm ourselves, and our children, to deal with the all out war being waged against their self-esteem, for the sake of profit.

Dove, Beauty Pressure...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Possible Crohn's Alternatives

This post is a place to list the possible Alternatives to Crohn's (one of the options from my original post on my health status (option 2 near the bottom of the post)). Here, I will keep a running list of options, along with description, testing methods, etc... I will flag them as ruled out when they are sufficiently tested. an informational link that seems trustworthy for each entry, and as time permits, I will build a links list for each one as I research them.

1. Mastocytic Enterocolitis
Increased mast cells in Intestinal tract.Possible triggers include parasites, food allergies, stress, presence of Crohn's or Ulcerative Colitis.

Diagnosed by taking tissue samples from the intestinal lining and testing for presence of excess mast cells.

Primary treatment is an antihistamine regimen.

2. Leaky Gut Syndrome
Limited recognition by conventional physicians presently, but increasing evidence may change that. Problem with intestinal walls allowing undesirable substances into the blood stream.

No present means for accurate diagnosis.

No proven treatment, but suggestions are diet, replenishment of "good gut bacteria" (specifically Lactobacillus GG). glutamine supplements, and increased intake of essential fatty acids.

3. Ulcerative Colitis
Another autoimmune disorder, causing ulcers in the Colon. Symptomatically very similar to Crohn's. The key differentiators are the location and spread of inflammation in the gut.In Ulcerative Colitis, the inflammation originates at or near the anus, and progresses upward. With Crohn's, the inflammation can be random patches, rather than a continuous streak, and typically appears near the connection between the  bowel and small intestine (in some cases going into the small intestine as well).

Diagnosis by Colon Biopsy and Blood tests.

Treatment by diet (low fibre, low fat). It is also possible in severe cases to remove the inflamed portion of the bowel. This will generally cause remission.

4. Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth
In Short, evil bacteria has taken over and killed off the good organisms that normally live in the small intestine.

Diagnosis by Small Intestine Bacteria culturing, or a Hydrogen breath test. bacteria culturing is more accurate (and less convenient).

Treatment by antibiotics or probiotics. Antibiotics are problematic because they don't necessarily deal with root cause, which means It often comes back. That means frequent use of antibiotics, which can lead to antibiotic resistance. It is still questionable how effective probiotics are. The theory is you introduce good bacteria, which helps to crowd out the bad bacteria and restore balance.

5. Fibromyalgia
This one is only recently being accepted as a legitimate diagnosis. There is still some controversy around it. Originally it described non-intestinal symptoms, primarily pain sensitivity, or constant pain in skin, muscles and joints, it was initally introduced to the world of Crohn's as a secondary syndrome that some Crohn's patients could end up experiencing as their condition progressed. More recently, there has been some re-thinking of that, and there is now the suggestion that the Crohns-like symptoms some people experience and in fact not Crohn's, but additional manifestations of Fibromyalgia. I learned about this through a friend who grew up under the diagnosis of Crohn's but whose diagnosis was recently changed. to Fibromyalgia.

Since they don't really know what Fibromyalgia is, or what causes it, there really aren't good tests for it. Treatment is similarly an uncertainty. Though there has been some success with serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor's (milnaciprin being the most recent of these cleared for use in the treatment of Fibromyalgia).

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Health Blog

I have been resisting doing this. I didn't want to blog about my misery. But ultimately I have concluded their are two good reasons to do so:

1. My experience documented may be helpful to others who "travel this path".

2. Someone with a sharper eye than mine, might catch something I have overlooked, which may help me.

 So here goes.

This first post will review the history to present, and outline future plans as currently established.


26 June 2011 - Experienced Intestinal Flu or Intestinal Flu like symptoms.

10 July 2011 - Experienced Intestinal Flu or Intestinal Flu like symptoms.

24 July 2011 - Experienced Intestinal Flu or Intestinal Flu like symptoms. Followed by internal pain just above and left of belly button.

27 July 2011 - Office visit to r. Vera Carlsen. CT scan was ordered, to check appendix.

27 July 2011 -CT Scan: Appendix normal, but cysts observed in kidneys. Ultrasound recommended. By this time, my weight has dropped to 130. (I was 150).

29 July 2011 - Ultrasound: Presences of cysts confirmed, some identified as hydrocephalic (? I believe that is the term he used, though I can't find it in web searches. As I recall, the concern was that the cyst was a fluid fill blockage, which might be preventing kidney function). (Note: I had no bowel movement from 24 July, until today).

5 August 2011 - Bladder/Kidney exploratory operation. I was sedated, injected with dye, and my kidneys were scoped. Cysts were determined to NOT be a cause for concern. There was no blockage, and my kidneys were healthy and functioning properly.

10 August 2011 - Visit Gastroenterologist (Dr. Vikram Garg). Endoscopy was performed. This ruled Celiac out. A higher than normal level of stomach acid was observed and Prevacid was prescribed.

25 August 2011 - Colonoscopy - 2 Polyps were discovered and removed (benign), and Inflamation(ilieitis) was Observed. Dr. Garg made a preliminary diagnosis of Crohn's and Began treatment with Entecort.

1 September 2011 (approximate) - Prevacid discontinued after experiencing severe stomach muscle spasms as a side effect.

2 September 2011 (approximate)- I begin experiencing Random Join Muscle Pain, typically in Lower back, but also in Back, Hip, and Fingers.

8 September 2011 - Followup visit with Dr. Garg. Promethius test results are inconsistent with Crohn's. test has an accuracy of approximately 80% however, and based on the Joint/Muscle pain, which Dr. Garg concludes is traveling Arthritis (commonly occruring in Crohn's patients). The Diagnoses of Crohn's is retained.

? October 2011- 2nd Opinion with Dr. V. Duane Bohman. He concludes that although my symptoms are not precisely classic Crohn's, they are possibly Crohn's. By this time I am having regular bouts of the "traveling arthritis". It occurs more frequently in the early morning, but also occurs at other times of the day. I am also experiencing  severe pain in my back, focused around my Kidney's, at approximately 5:00 am, and lasting for 2-3 hours. this occurs nearly every morning.

I began a restricted diet, based primarily on SCD diet, with some ideas from Paleo:
No Grains, Seeds, Nightshades, or White Potatoes. Proteins limited to poultry, eggs and fish. Calorie shortfall due to elimination of grains covered 40% by increase in protein, 60% by increase in fruits and vegetables. This seems to be more effective than the Entecort at controlling abdomen pain.

I tried a fish Oil supplement for Crohn's- No observed benefit.

Started a Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM, supplement for Joint pain - result is inconclusive.

? November 2011(early) - Meet with Rheumatologist - He indicates my arthritis is a clinical diagnosis, and no tests can be performed to verify. I research entercot and discover that Joint pain can be a Side effect, as well as Kidney pain.

10 November 2011 - Allergy skin tests for food allergies are performed. Result are negative.

14 November 2011 - Gluten sensitivity and Rheumatoid Blood tests are performed by Dr Carlsen. Results are negative.

22 November 2011 - I attempt to return to a normal diet. Symptoms worsen within 3 days. Restricted diet is resumed.

Early December 2011 - Call Dr. Garg to  discuss (at least temporarily) going off Entecort, to determine whether pain is a side effect or a symptom. Dr. Garg says I can reduce dosage from 3 capsules daily to 2 daily, but he wants to meet with me to talk about reducing further. He is unavailable until January.

Mid December 2011 - Contact Dr. Bohman to  discuss (at least temporarily) going off Entecort, to determine whether pain is a side effect or a symptom. He recommends staying at 2 capsules daily for 2 weeks, then reducing to 1 capsule daily for at least 2 weeks, then 1 capsule every other day for at least two weeks, then stop taking.Contact him two weeks after Entecort is fully stopped to review condition.

4 January 2012 - I am presently at a dose of 1 capsule daily. The Kidney is almost completely gone. The random joint/muscle pain seems to be significantly reduced as well, though more time is needed to confirm that.

I seem to be able to control abdomen issues with diet.
Breakfast is typically homemade turkey breakfast sausage, an egg, fruit (typically an orange, kiwi, or banana), yogurt, and milk (occasionally with a carnation instant breakfast).
Lunch and Dinner are a chunk of Protein (usually chicken, sometimes turkey, occasionally fish (I'd have it more often, but it is expensive)), 2 or three pieces of fruit, and a salad.

I am attempting to add other foods to my diet one at a time, by selecting and adding one new food each week and having it several times.

First attempt was pork, I had some problems at the end of the week, but I didn't follow the rules precisely (introduced other unapproved ingredients at the end), so I need to re-test.

Second was beef, this cause very unpleasant abdominal spasms within 2 hours of eating. No Beef.

This week I am trying a cream of wheat cereal, it appears to be okay. I missed my serving today, so I will need to go a few days longer to be certain.

The next few items I plan to try (still unsure of the order):
white rice, pork, legumes (beginning with red, pinto, and black beans), milkshakes (specifically as a calorie booster. I have had a couple at random points with no apparent adverse effects, but I have not thoroughly tested yet). white bread.

So at this point here is what I know about my health status:

Something is wrong with my digestive system. It hurt really bad for quite awhile, had(/has) inflammation, and had polyps. It still doesn't feel ... "right". I kinda feel like I have someone else's guts in my body. That the only way I know to describe it. It just doesn't feel quite right, I get little feeling of discomfort that I don't know what they mean.

I had Joint/Muscle/Kidney pain, but that appears to be primarily/entirely a side effect of the Entecort, rather than a symptom of a health problem. I should know this for certain, once I stop taking the Entecort (3 or 4 more weeks).

The possibilities for a diagnosis as I see them are:
1. I have Crohn's, but it is mild.
2. I have something similar to Crohn's:
(I have created a separate page on which to list and track possible alternative diagnosis).
3. I have something that is presently indistinguishable from Crohn's (example: they used to think Celiac and Gluten Sensitivity were the same thing. recently they have discovered biological/chemical differences).
4. I had some sort of one time event (inflammation), which in time, will completely clear up, and everything will return to normal.

So, that is where we are today.