Thursday, April 24, 2003

Calista - Star du toilette

Dave's at it again! This time with a genius rendition of his resident shower spider, aptly named Calista. Go check out his posts of Thursday, 20 March and Friday, 28 March, to read about the "tough bitch" who is easily the 21st century version of a Charlotte who's ditched her corset for some tight fitting lycra.


Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome

Scientists at CDC and other laboratories have detected a previously unrecognized coronavirus in patients with SARS.

This new coronavirus is the leading hypothesis for the cause of SARS, however, other viruses are still under investigation as potential causes.

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that have a crown-like (corona) bottle-cap appearance when viewed under a microscope. These viruses are a common cause of mild to moderate upper-respiratory illness in humans and are associated with respiratory, gastrointestinal, liver and neurological disease in animals. CDC scientists isolated a virus from the tissues of two SARS patients and then used several laboratory methods to characterize it. Examination by electron microscopy revealed that the virus has the distinctive shape and appearance of coronaviruses, and genetic analysis suggests that this new virus does belong to the family of coronaviruses but differs from previously identified family members.

A first on "Jeeem's Quiet Musings," is the rare electronphotomicrograph of an elusive CORONAVIRUS, never before seen by the public, shown below....


Wednesday, April 23, 2003

The possibility of suffering harm or loss; danger.

If you take a closer look at that definition then cut and paste it into everyday life, the whole context takes on a different tone. You cannot get through life without the possibility of suffering harm or loss, or facing danger; the very definition of risk.

Now take a look back through your life. Try and remember the various times you actually suffered harm, loss or were exposed to danger.

I can think of many. But my life was anything other than conventional.

I grew up in an alcoholic home, was beaten by my parents for the smallest transgression, lived in a violent and hostile neighborhood, found solace in my own intake of drugs and alcohol, watched both my parents slowly destroy themselves, became involved over time in the chaotic lifestyle that comes with doing and selling drugs and drinking oneself into oblivion every night to escape the fear of what the next day held in store for me.

Risk, back then, was just a part of life. Then suddenly, relationships came along and brought with them a different type of risk. I got hurt. Things didn't work out. I felt pain. Fear became a comfortable friend. I found out that sometimes emotional pain far exceeds the pain brought on by physical harm. Then somebody said, “Nobody makes you feel guilty, sad, depressed, mad or hurt. You make the choice to feel that way.”

You mean I can turn these feelings on and off? You mean that harm, loss or danger is a matter of my own perception?

Could it be?

Risk, in and of itself, is an individual experience. What is risky to one is a walk in the park to another, but one things for sure….if you don’t take the risk, you will never know.

Now imagine what your life would be like right now, if you could totally erase all the harms, losses and danger from your past life. In some cases, I’m sure, it would be an improvement, right? But never in all cases, unless you have chosen to live a life of total destruction.

We learn best from our mistakes, or at least I must say that I have. I wouldn’t be where I am now if I had never gone through all the crap that presented itself to me over the years. Some of it I asked for, some I didn’t, but it still came to be born out of my choices in life and some of it just happened out of chance....perhaps, or the odds at the time.

I would not be able to experience the love I now experience had I not lost in love before. I could not have the perspective I have now on the world, had I never traveled to places beyond. I would still be in the same job I hated, had I not taken the risk, with no place else to go, of quitting and freeing myself of a burden that was slowly killing me.

Recently, in my college night class, I was given an assignment to predict where I would be in ten years and what the world and our society would be like in ten years. A simple assignment I initially thought, but on closer examination, it wasn’t so simple at all. It was totally impossible.

Oh, I could have fudged the assignment easily, but I really put some thought into it. I approached the task by taking a peek back in time to ten years before today. Once I was there mentally, I gave myself the same assignment, “Where will you be ten years from now?” My answer was not a pleasant one.

You see, ten years ago I did not have much hope. I was in a lot of trouble and was facing a prison sentence. I did not want to live anymore and I was tired of all the pain I had endured. My outlook was shortsighted and I would have looked upon my professor’s recent assignment disparagingly.

But you know what? Things worked out pretty good. If you had told me ten years ago what I would be doing now, ten years in the future, I would have laughed my head off at you. I had no clue where life would take me, where my own risks would take me, but had I not taken those risks back then, I wouldn't be where I am now.

I took many risks in the last ten years. Most of them led me in the right direction, some brought harm, loss and danger. But, all of them taught me a lesson. I finally learned that even in the face of the worse circumstances and the greatest pain, there is a greater lesson to be learned. I learned that avoiding risk lessens the possibility of harm, loss or danger but the greater lesson is that with harm, loss and danger often comes the greatest payoff in life experience.

Without risk no lessons are learned and life cannot be fully lived. Many people have been hurt in relationships or have had their trust severely damaged, only to make the decision to never trust again and to stay away from relationships entirely. Either that or they place so many “rules” or “conditions” upon their relationships, that you can’t call it a relationship as much as a dictatorship.

Another thing to keep in mind is that sometimes risks are disguised. They aren't always as clear as we might think. Sometimes you just have to follow your gut instinct and hold your head up high, forging ahead, even when everybody else is telling you to do otherwise. Some of the greatest gifts I've gotten in life came directly from risks that I took despite the advice others were giving me.

I loved powerfully once. Or should I say “differently,” than I was used to at the time. That love lasted eight glorious months and then it was over in the blink of an eye. I was devastated and paralyzed. Once the initial devastation and paralysis lifted a bit, a deep, dark depression set in and then came the anger.

I went to a counselor because I knew I was a ticking time bomb with the potential for self-destruction via substances and alcohol. Sometime around the forth or fifth session, my counselor asked me to leave the anger, the projection, the sheer hatred I was feeling aside and to just focus on the positive things I had learned in the relationship.

I didn’t want to do that. I wanted death, destruction, revenge, blood and gore. It took me a while but I got through it. I’m able now, to call upon that process, which helped me see that I often focus on the negative and not the positive lesson I learned from the harm, loss and danger of life. I learned that I had choices…to throw the covers over my head and stay in bed, avoiding risk…or take on a new view of life as being risky but having many rewards.

Five months ago I stood up from my chair in my office and made the comment, “I just can’t do this anymore.” I was full of fear, walking away from a paycheck and venturing into a risky undertaking to make more money. My plan didn’t work out as I would have had it, but little did I know that my decision would bring even more happiness than a fist full of money.

I’m still not out of the woods yet by any means but I’ve learned just how little control I do have over things and the little control I did exercise…..the decision process that brought me to this point, brought much more positive light into my life than I had ever bargained for.


Saturday, April 19, 2003

"Coming back to your angle on the engineering flaw during the construction of the penis - I guess the MAN UPSTAIRS was not a very good engineer eh? You may be right. Maybe that’s why his Son gave up his profession as a carpenter and became a healer and a teacher instead."

Woody Loh brings up an interesting question...."Did God mess up the human design? And if so, did he do it on purpose?"

That God....what a comedian!

I suppose you would have to approach this ponderance from several angles, taking into consideration evolution (Darwin's theory anyway...) and what our society has created along the way. Did God screw up or is the human being engaging the body in acts not meant for the design prototype?

When I was in high school, I had a biology teacher named Jim Lamb who was pretty heavily involved in research on the pineal gland and was dissecting some poor lizard, native to the New Mexican mountains and peering at it's innards through the use of an electron microscope at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Dr. Lamb was a small framed, hyper individual who was married to an Asian woman....not that being married to an Asian woman mattered but it certainly got my attention, having been raised in an "Asian" environment by parents who had lived in Asia a good part of their lives. I was interested in what Dr. Lamb had to say and made many visits to his office to pick his brain.

Dr. Lamb had a theory....that humans, in the far off future would be devoid of fingernails, body hair, an appendix and the sacrum. He said these "parts" were kick backs of evolution and that in today's modern world we didn't need them. Makes sense doesn't it? What I could never figure out was where Darwin left off and God picked up the ball. Or vice versa. You see, I was raised in a Southern Baptist environment where "Darwin" was a bad name. The "Big Bang" theory was not a viable option as far as the non-drinking, non-smoking, non-farting, non-cussing, non-dancing Baptists were concerned.

I was confused as a kid. What was right? Both the Adam & Eve theory and the Darwin theory sounded good to me, a case of early incongruity. But, as a kid I had other, more pressing matters that plagued me like hightops or lowtops? The six-million dollar man or The Incredible Hulk? So, my confusion became suppressed for the time being.

Pan a few years ahead....

After my short but "no big deal" stint as an astronaut (just kidding...that one was for Chris), I began working as a surgical a.k.a., "Operating Room Technician." Really, it was "No Big Deal" and it was fun, witnessing the human body all ripped open and glistening organs and tissues exposed for all to see. My favorite surgical services were general surgery and eye surgery, the latter due to the cleanliness of the field and the simplicity of setting up the instruments, which were all intricate and tiny.

My least favorite service was orthopedics. This was way too much like carpentry and I practically failed at shop class in high school. Screws, pins, reciprocating saws, chisels, drills and the like. It was brutal. But, being a well-rounded CST (Certified Surgical Technician) and having to carry an on-call beeper, I had little control over what came through the Emergency Room doors in the evening.

My favorite orthopedic surgeon was Dr. Ratchet (name changed to protect the guilty). He was a kind, soft spoken, elderly man who wore a large, wooden cross around his neck. Naturally, to me this symbol meant Dr. Ratchet was a man of God who did not drink, smoke, fart, cuss or dance. He had devoted his life to the honorable profession of medicine and had undergone the hippocratic oath.

Well, as fate may have it, one sunny afternoon I was beeped. A college football player had injured himself during a game and had blown out his knee in the worse way. I arrived at the hospital, set up my gown and gloves and went off to scrub as the circulating nurse was preparing the room. Dr. Ratchet sidled up next to me and peered over his half glasses at me....

"Sports Medicine," he said.

"Huh?" I replied.

"My specialty. I'm only slumming here, bidding time until I can open my practice." he commented.

"Ah...I see," was my intellectual reply before rinsing and backing into the surgical suite.

The patient prepped and draped, we moved up to the field and I handed Dr. Ratchet his scalpel blade. (This was well before the advent of fiberoptics) Up went the tourniquet cuff and the time was recorded, then Dr. Ratchet began to cut. We entered the knee and soon we were swimming in irrigation fluid, the glistening surface of bone gleaming in the overhead lights.

The surgery shifted from exploration to a complicated ACL repair (Anterior Cruciate Ligament to you laypeople). Sweat beaded on Dr. Ratchets forehead as he manipulated the knee to and fro, the alert circulating nurse prompting Dr. Ratchet from time to time to turn away from the sterile field so she could dab at his moist forehead before a bacteria laden drop of sweat was allowed to drip onto the sterile field.

The majority of the case complete and the repair being tested, Dr. Ratchet broke the silence in the surgical suite with:

"God sure fucked up when he made the knee!"

The anesthesiologist snickered....

The circulating nurse harumphed....

I was in shock. What blasphemy!

Mentally I cowered, waiting for the bolt of lightning to come out of the ceiling and ignite the anesthetic gases used to keep the patient under. But nothing happened that afternoon. We stitched the kid up, placed a bandage on his knee, wrapped the leg in ace bandage and placed his leg in an immobilizer. He was ushered out and I began breaking down my set-up when Dr. Ratchet came up and thanked me for my assistance.

"Yup," I managed....

...somehow feeling that my opinion of this "Man of the Cloth" had changed....along with my feelings about God. Now I had doubts. Perhaps God wasn't as "perfect" as the Baptist's had initially taught me....perhaps "Sports" weren't a part of the game plan.....perhaps Jim Lamb was right and we were just a kick back product of evolution.

Well, I'll probably never know the true score, but of late I've got more pressing concerns to deal with, such as....

Pissing a straight stream.


Headin' into the final stretch....

Twelve more days here and then I'm gone, like the wind. Picking up Jims World and moving it to a new location after ten years in the same spot. That is the longest I've ever stayed in one place in my life. Currently, I'm sitting here in my middle room, surrounded by boxes and clutter but the rest of the house is beginning to look vacant.

It echos now.

The bank assessor came by today and it looks like the closing is right around the corner. A lot can happen in five months. My days remain organized and peaceful in the midst of all this chaos though, as I am careful to structure every day the same so I will have some grounding to look forward to. My routine is getting up, checking and sending e-mail, showering, doing my workout and stretching exercises and then making my JeeeMcmuffin.

A JeeeMcmuffin is easy just half a sour dough English muffin, toast it, top it with some mayo, a slab of cheese, fry an egg and throw that on there, sprinkle it with a little onion salt, some pepper and table salt, fry up a greasy pork sausage patty and toss that on there and PRESTO! A JeeeMcmuffin. I swear, on a clear day you can hear your arteries hardening.

Then......I go for my walk. I'm up to five miles a day now. I was doing four up to last Wednesday and suddenly thought I'd bump it up a notch. Well, let me tell you....that one extra mile makes all the difference in muscle pain. Yessiree! Been a bit stiff lately but I'm pressing on. For the next twelve days remaining here I'm gonna stay at the five mile limit until I move and then we'll see.

I've started my last college course on "Society and the Individual," and man is this class interesting. Right up my alley with the recent conversations I've been having with Chris, who is sharing his Belfast Philosophy with me, concerning the separation of Church, State and the Individual. Some interesting perspectives are discussed in my evening college class, which brings my life of social deviance into a better limelight. My research paper will be titled, "Living Outside the Box - A lesson in Social Deviance."

But all that neat shit aside and back to the food thing.....

I love food and I hate dieting. So, in my class the other evening, the professor showed us a taped lecture series by a famous Social Psychologist who was talking about stress and how to manage it. She quoted Red Fox as saying, "What do all those health nuts do when they are in the hospital dying of nothing?" Makes you think. Then she said something that really hit home with me...."Can you imagine eating low fat food when you're pissed off?"

Ha! Never! So there, I've got a brand new outlook on life.

Speaking of new outlooks, a recent forwarded e-mail landed in my lap and had some really nice thoughts in it that I thought I'd share with all of you...I'm not much one for regurgitating things found on the internet, but since some of these applied to my life and my philosophy, I thought I would include them in tonights blogging...

1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve
great risk.

2. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.

3. Follow the three Rs: Respect for self, respect
for others and responsibility for all your actions.

4. Remember that not getting what you want is
sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them

6. Don't let a little dispute injure a great

7. When you realize you've made a mistake, take
immediate steps to correct it.

8. Spend some time alone every day.

9. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of
your values.

10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best

11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get
older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a
second time.

12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the
foundation for your life.

13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with
the current situation. Don't bring up the past.

14. Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve

15. Be gentle with the earth.

16. Once a year, go some place you've never been

17. Remember that the best relationship is one in
which your love for each other exceeds your need
for each other.

18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in
order to get it.

19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

Some of these really hit the nail on the head for me, especially the lessons I learned in the last five months, which relate to some of these thoughts. But, the one that really hits home is number one. I am hoping to blog on the subject of risk someday soon, as my life has been filled with it and I consider myself a risk taker of a certain sense. I have embraced risk and I've tried avoiding it, suffering anxiety and stress on both fronts, but finally realizing that risk does not include anxiety and stress in the package deal, it is something I created all on my own.

Number 19 is pretty cool too!


Friday, April 11, 2003

The China Chronicles

Sitting here, headphones on, listening to a melodic CD of Mandarin violin music I purchased while in Beijing last March. The memory it conjures is one of my daily strolls down Chegongzhuang Lu, towards the subway station in Beijing, heading to some planned destination. Every day was an adventure and a mental assault of activity, too busy to focus on all at once. On my return trip, heading back to the comfort of my hotel room in building #3 (the cheap seats), room #3403 of the Xindadu (pronounced Shin-da-doo) hotel, I passed a small music store jammed between other shops, banks and department stores.

In China you have to be alert to your surroundings or you'll miss something important. Fantastic shops and bargain palaces exist in cubby holes, not easily discernible to the naked eye unless you brave the throngs of people and their penetrating stares and explore a bit. A single entryway may give way to five shops of miscellaneous variety, normally missed from the comfort of the wide sidewalks near the road outside.

When first I ventured into this music shop, I was met with both curious and unfriendly stares. It's a bit unnerving actually and something you just have to experience to really understand what it's like. Chinese people quite literally stop what they are doing, turn and stare at you. You can paralyze a whole department store simply by walking in and carrying about your business. People will turn completely around, their mouths hanging open and gawk, not just stare, but gawk at you. Eventually, after days, weeks maybe, you get used to it.

Well, let me rephrase that.

You don't get used to it, but more accurately you learn to deal with it. You see, in a city roughly the size of the state of New Hampshire (which contains about 2.8 million people), Beijing, who's population is quintuple that of New Hampshire's, when you stand out like a turd in a fishbowl, it's rather hard to remain anonymous in a city that large. So, I began to fantasize I was a movie star.....hey, it worked for me.

The music store consisted of two rooms. The first room, upon entry, was filled with stereo equipment, speakers and the like, trance music booming into the street. The second room was full of DVD's, CD's and cassette tapes. All, if not most, were pirated. How do I know that? Well, first off because I had read in my research online prior to traveling to China, that pirated CD's and DVD's were a big industry there. Also, the price. For the price I would have paid for a single DVD in the U.S., I purchased around ten of them in Beijing.

I was in heaven.

Back at my hotel room, the twelve some odd television channels were beginning to wear on me. First off, I don't speak or understand Mandarin and there was only occasionally an old Western movie (typically John Wayne) dubbed in English. So, I scarfed up DVD movies left and right. My first haul was four DVD movies. On successive trips I was walking out of that store with twelve and twenty of them. Most worked fine, typically two discs, no menu, no reverse so you had better watch all of one disc or risk having to start all over again. Some didn't work at all, but for about .50 cents to a dollar and a half per DVD, I felt I could afford to be cheated a bit.

The DVD police never showed up at my door, I enjoyed full length movies and I began to develop a relationship of sorts with the sales girl in the shop. She, like others in markets or department stores, would follow me wherever I went, hovering close in case I needed assistance. At first, due to my American programming, I thought I was being watched in case I decided to steal something, but later discovered this was only the helpful way of the Chinese.

One day, just short of my departure back to the states, after a particularly busy day out sightseeing and getting in some last minute shopping, I stopped into the music store to sift through the DVD's in the rare chance I could find something I hadn't seen. I walked from isle to isle, the petite salesgirl in tow, and suddenly heard Jingle Bells being played over the speaker system. We both looked at one another and began to sing, both of us smiling widely, reminiscent of the final scene at the Chinese Restaurant in "Christmas Story."

We both had a good laugh after the last few bars of Jingle Bells, I paid my fee for my two DVD's and the Mandarin violin CD I'm listening to now, and said a final goodbye, mentioning that I was returning to the U.S. the next day. "Ahhh. Yes, yes. I see, I see, you too, you too," she said, smiling widely as I exited the shop....

She had no clue what I'd said.....


Thursday, April 03, 2003

My daily walk has become something I truly anticipate every morning. It is a time where I can explore my philosophies while looking at the beauty around me. I kept a steady pace today, rummaging around in my brain for answers to questions I am asking for today, which may not be of importance tomorrow.

I am anything but ambiguous towards life and I struggle almost every day to find the answer - thoughts slamming into my head that demand attention. Something I read today gave me a bit of satisfaction that I thought I would share with all my readers…

“Happy isn’t everything; other emotions are important too: anxiety, self-doubt, loneliness, frustration, anger, self-pity. It’s an unequaled opportunity for self-reflection, learning to face these things head on, without distractions.”

That passage gave me direction today and answered questions. You see, I was angry and struggling with it. Struggling because I’ve been conditioned to think anger is bad and happiness is good. So, my self-doubt kicked in and I was searching for a way to let my anger go, which I believe was the wrong thing to do at the time.

Last night I heard of one man’s actions that were damaging to another human being. This man took it upon himself to give his opinion, which was damaging to another person whom I care about. In re-thinking this situation, I do not question his opinion so much as I question his motive. Again, this morning, I read an e-mail that disturbed me. Someone gave their opinion without really knowing me or the other person who was involved, which frankly pissed me off. Again, I came to a place where I did not question their opinion so much as I questioned their underlying motive.

My dad used the saying “They’re talking out their asshole” to denote someone who was blathering on about something they knew nothing about. People seem to be good at that. When I say “people” I have to include myself because I am a “people” too. But, there exists the phenomenon in life of those who make things happen, those who stand around waiting for things to happen and those who stand there saying, “What the fuck happened?”

Motive is a subtle, shady figure that lurks in the back alleyways of one’s mind and is often disguised as opinion. People on the receiving end who are less savvy than most (i.e., don’t have a clue) never really get it. It doesn’t affect them. It can’t. They are the innocents. I worked with handicapped people, more appropriately labeled “mentally challenged,” and have seen the benefits they obviously have. Others, myself included, who are fairly adept at taking a pragmatic view of people’s motives that are stealthily disguised behind their “opinion” are affected by this onslaught and it pisses us off.

If I had not become angry at these two instances of gutless motive disguised as opinion, I would not have been able to process it. My question is what was the motive? That question you can only guess. One cannot, even in today’s highly technological world, understand one’s motive without delving into somebody’s thoughts. I’ve often said, and truthfully so, “I could be locked up for what goes through my mind.”

People just are not what they seem.

You see, I believe that our world is not as we see it. It’s rather achromatic, for lack of a better word, and we color it based on our own perceptions. Life is just one big coloring book and as we grow and mature, we’re “given” some crayons of different colors. Some of us get by with the little tiny boxes of eight and others have the big box of 96 with the sharpener.

People have typically seen my exploits on this earth as rather “out of the box” to coin a phrase of a man I used to admire. I loved that phrase because it told me that there is a world out there, beyond the box I had fit myself into. So, my push has been to live outside the box and when you do that, somebody is always going to complain about it. The man I admired used that phrase a lot but truth be told, his motive eventually came out, which was to razzle and dazzle by appearing different, when in fact he wasn’t and lives in his own tight little box. When this man learned of my planned move to China, his response was, “I thought you would eventually grow out of that.”

Guess my plans were a little too out of his box.

Opinions are most definitely like assholes. Everyone has one, but the question to ask is, “Is this a real opinion or is there an ulterior motive behind it?” For me anyway, the unexamined life is not worth living. You can’t change the past or the nasty little annoying things people will tend to do, but you can at least try and make some sense out of it.


Tuesday, April 01, 2003

At the young and impressionable age of eight, my mother placed me in a martial arts school, purchasing a "lifetime" membership in the Bujutsukan Institute of the Martial Arts. At first it was a gas but the initial wonder wore off quickly as I began to become impatient with the meditation and the sheer drudgery of the workouts. This wasn't your average, macho, learn-to-kick-ass Karate Dojo, but a traditional Japanese Dojo which integrated the calmness of mind of the great Okinawan master, Gichin Funakoshi.

I lost interest quickly and began to silently "drop out" of classes, playing hooky and ditching my Gi in a nearby bush. Soon, my instructor, Ty Hayashi, called my mother to report my absence and the truth came out. Since her "lifetime" membership was non-refundable, we came to a negotiation of sorts, cutting my class time in half during the week. The initial reason for these classes was to learn to protect myself, both from my hoodlum classmates and my drunk father.

Long story short, I continued with the classes and slowly, but surely, began to love the art. In my early teens I threw myself into my practice and was in the best health of my life. Edgar Miles, my compadre in crime and I would run, jog, walk to the top of a radio tower bearing ankle weights, wrist weights and backbacks full of addition to our rigorous workout beforehand.

Eventually I quit the Bujutsukan Institute and moved on. By my early twenties, before drugs and alcohol had staked their claim, I was into tournament fighting and kata exhibition, bringing home trophies, ribbons, welts, bruises and torn hamstrings. I went into semi-retirement from the tournament circuit and settled on teaching kids in the martial arts for a relatively famous name in the martial arts field, Gene Wagner. I was in tip-top shape back then and as flexible as a wet noodle.

Pan to the present....out of shape, chubby, stiff but with a head full of the training I once received, I put on my Gi last week and began my well-remembered workout of loosening up exercises and stretching. It's incredible how much my body has tightened up. My neck sounds as if there's gravel in there somewhere. My joints ache. My legs are not as limber anymore, but I pressed on....stretching ever-so-carefully, fully aware of my potential to push things too far and pull something out of whack, a sure-fire reason to stop the whole process.

This new thing, most likely fueled by my renewed interest in the philosophies of the Chinese culture, is making my life turn around. I feel better, feel refreshed and my vitality is coming back ten-fold. It's like a miracle and every day I get out of bed wondering if it was only temporary and has somehow disappeared.

Today I'm increasing my daily walk to three miles. Not much by today's standards but I'm careful not to push this too much or risk sabotaging this wonderful process. I read today how the Chinese are in tune with their bodies and their "space," and found myself desiring that feeling again. I haven't quite torn myself away from cholesterol, my two cigarettes a night or junk food, but at least the thought is there. Can't mess with nature too much ya know!!


This is a "RIBBON BURNER."

I have just authorized the purchase of not just ONE, but SEVENTEEN of them! (You never know when you'll need a ribbon burner...)

You see, for those of you who are confused, I got a call from Annie on the phone this morning.....

"Hi Jeeem! I am calling you from work."

"Hi Annie! From work?" (suddenly realizing that it was near midnight in Kuala Lumpur)

"Yes! I am training someone here." Suddenly it dawned on me....I had received an e-mail from Annie yesterday telling me that she would be working a sixteen hour shift because it is the end of the month. She sounded tired on the phone and reasonably so. We discussed my travel plans to China and Annie told me of a TEFL school near her home, which is more affordable than the one I am looking into. Suddenly, our conversation was cut short as her phone card ran out of time, an event we are used to by now.

So, I e-mailed her to "finish" our conversation. I received an e-mail from her a little later, telling me....

"I can barely open my eyes right now," as she was so tired. Then a couple minutes later, I got an e-mail from Annie, addressing me by another name and asking permission to purchase a ribbon burner.

Feeling powerful, I "authorized" the purchase of seventeen of them.

I love starting International Incidents....

Get some sleep Annie!!!!

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