Succotash

October 19, 2017

Being a child of the North, I never ate succotash. My introduction to the word came via the exasperated utterances of Sylvester the Cat, who would sputter “Suffering succotash!” when things were not going his way.

A staple of the South, succotash fed people through hardship and depression, as it did the Native Americans who invented it. The indigenous root of the name relates variously to cracked corn, boiled corn or other preparations of corn. As Native American cultures are known to have understood, when beans are added to corn, complete protein happens. “Seaboard Algonquin” specifically, says food historian Michael Twitty, author of “The Cooking Gene,” fielding my succotash questions via Twitter. Twitty also admitted to not liking succotash very much, at least the traditional version made with lima beans. I have to admit, I haven’t found a way to really like it myself when it’s made with lima beans, or black beans , or kidney beans, or any number of other shelling beans. Combined with the corn kernels, the dish becomes too seedy, and I much prefer making it with string beans. The protein isn’t as high, but that deficit can be erased with bacon and mayonnaise (one of my favorite healthy cooking tricks).

Twitty steered me toward a southern Louisiana version of succotash, macque choux, that does not contain shelled beans but does allow the likes of tomatoes, green bell peppers, onions, garlic and celery. And bacon, of course. And shrimp, unsurprisingly. It’s a model roughly in keeping with my own protocols, minus the shrimp. Without the shell beans, a pan of succotash becomes like a pan of fried rice. Along with string beans and the above ingredients, one can use other veggies like collard greens, zucchini and hot, sweet and roasted peppers.

Allen Broach, who comes from an old Southern family and has fond memories of his grandma’s succotash, has given me some of my best recipes. He’s fine with people using string beans in succotash, although the closest they ever came growing up was to use “shellies,” the beans inside overgrown string beans. Here is his family recipe, which is lima bean-based.

Grannie Smith’s succotash

• Equal amounts of baby lima beans and corn cut from the cob. You should also “milk” the cob once the corn is cut off by scraping the cob with a knife to get all the juice from it.

• Use bacon drippings and saute the limas for a couple of minutes. Season with salt and pepper then add water to cover and cook until they are nearly done.

• Add a small onion, diced, and the corn. Cook until the corn is done. Most of the liquid should be cooked out. Just a few minutes.

That was it. Broach confessed to having modified grandma’s recipe by adding any number of the following to the average batch of succotash.

• 4 tablespoons butter

• Garlic (minced)

• 1 cup whole grain hominy

• 1 pound cooked beef brisket or country ham, chopped

• 2 oz. salt pork in one piece

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

• 1 boiling potato (about 112 pound) such as Yukon gold, boiled and diced

• 1 small turnip, boiled and diced

• 1/4 cup or so chopped red or green bell pepper (or a combination)

Among other parts of this recipe, I was intrigued by his country ham idea , so I picked one up at the farmers market, brought it home and diced it up. Into the pan it went, and as the greasy cubes sizzled pleasantl y, I proceeded to prep the veggies, adding them in layers, in the order of how much cooking they need. After the meat, which sometimes includes deer meat as well as the ham/bacon, I will add the onions, then the beans, then peppers, diced zucchini, butter and olive oil as necessary, and finally the corn on top. I let it cook like this undisturbed for a while, allowing the meat at the bottom to cook in the accumulating juices. When it’s finally time to stir, somewhere between when the veggies give up all of their moisture and when the bottom starts to burn, I add minced or grated garlic and dried thyme, and stir it up. I’ll stir again once or twice until it’s ready, and serve with cheese, parsley, salsa, roasted peppers and whatever else. Succotash, like the kitchen sink, can absorb practically anything you can throw at it.

Time for a little döstädning

October 15, 2017

It’s time for me to get rid of some stuff!!

=============================

From an article in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette 10/15/17 by Philip Martin

Last night the wife said,

“Oh boy, when you’re dead

You don’t take nothing with you

but your soul.”

Think!

— John Lennon,

“The Ballad of John & Yoko”

Some things only seem hard.

I am divesting myself of stuff—donating and selling and giving to friends the great bulk of my music collection and my books. Almost all of the CDs are gone now; several thousand of them went to a fine academic institution. Others went to or are earmarked for friends. I’m down to a couple of file boxes worth of material now, and I expect that to dwindle further over the next few weeks.

It’s not like I’ve really given anything away. I still have the music—nearly 15,000 albums archived on a hard drive about the size of a brick and (mostly) backed up in the proverbial cloud. The overwhelming majority of these files are in Apple Lossless, AIFF or WAV formats, which vinyl purists and high-resolution audio fans may sniff at but sound pretty good to me.

Besides, like most people I know, we mostly stream music these days. (I know how bad a deal that is for artists—you can stream my music on most of the services. Digitalization is a bad genie who won’t be restoppered.)

My music was organized alphabetically, by artist and chronologically by release date, with soundtracks and various artists’ compilations sorted separately. Our classical collection—only a couple of hundred of CDs—was arranged alphabetically by composer. A few oversize box sets were stored in my office, but most of them were stripped of their packaging and slipped into thinline jewel cases or sleeves and filed with the others. The attendant booklets and the boxes were packed away in the attic.

I might have some hoarding tendencies, but at least I’m a very organized hoarder. I could find a given CD within seconds.

But in an era when almost every sound ever recorded is findable with a few computer keystrokes, maybe I’m lucky I found a place that would take the media.

Now I’m working on the books. Central Arkansas Library System will end up with most of them—I’ve already dropped a couple hundred off for its River Market Books and Gifts shop—but I need to decide exactly what I want to keep.

I had two copies of Jack Butler’s Jujitsu For Christ, an inscribed first edition and one published by the University of Missippi Press a couple of years ago that features a contexturizing foreword by Butler and an insightful afterword by LSU literature professor Brannon Costello. Obviously I’m keeping the book Jack signed to me and suspect that at some point in the future I’ll miss the newer edition. But—too bad.

Similarly I’d love to keep all the Updike, all the Philip Roth, but it feels unlikely that I’ll dive back into those novels, and if I need to they’re all easily obtainable. (I’m keeping the Library of America editions of Roth’s works, so I’ll still have all that.) I’ll keep the first edition of In Cold Blood because it’s one of a couple of books my uncle handed down to me. I guess that’s the criterion—keeping books for which I can identify a clear reason to keep.

So long Willa Cather. Adios Cormac McCarthy. I’m bequeathing Dan Jenkins to my lawyer.

Next come the clothes. And then the golf clubs; I’ve got four or five extra bags’ worth of clubs I need to take down to the First Tee. (Maybe I can find a home for the 100 or so Scotty Cameron head-covers I’ve collected.) There’s camera equipment I don’t use anymore. I’ll probably keep all the guitars.

For now.

We have pragmatic reasons for clearing out this stuff, but mostly it’s an act of self-liberation. A week or so after our project started (Karen is getting rid of stuff too, more ruthlessly than I am though she has a lot less to part with) I became aware that one of the new lifestyle trends out of Scandinavia—the part of the world that gave us hygge and lagom—is something called döstädning, which cheerily translates to “death cleaning.”

It’s been popularized by Swedish author and artist Margareta Magnusson, whose book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning is making the book club rounds. The idea is that people over 50 ought to consider that their relatives are going to have to sort through all their junk after they die and streamline their lives by holding on to only those possessions that directly contribute to happiness.

I don’t care about how my death might inconvenience my relatives. (Some of them have never seemed too concerned about how the conduct of their lives has inconvenienced me.) But there has long been a tiny bit of tension in our house between my materialistic acquisitiveness and Karen’s zen aesthetic.

Her instinct is to get rid of things. She’s always been the type to give a book away after she’s read it, while walls of bookshelves tight with books have always given me comfort.

We’ve done it my way for nearly 25 years. I suppose it’s about time to give her a turn.

pmartin@arkansasonline.com

==============================

Bryce Molder Retires (From the Log Cabin Democrat 10/1/17)

October 2, 2017

Walking many miles over many years watching Bryce Molder

Time marched on and slapped me in the face last week.

Only a fraction of my 35 years at the Log Cabin Democrat has golfer Bryce Molder not been either a significant part or a popular element to our coverage.

Retire at age 38? Say, it isn’t so, Bryce.

I tried to figure how many miles I’ve walked or how many of Molder’s individual rounds I’ve recorded. The math eludes me.

I still had some splotches of black hair when I would receive short news releases from Barry Molder, Bryce’s father, about this young local golfer (he began playing at age 5) who was winning all kinds of tournaments in Arkansas and later nationally. I watched how he rose to become one of the top-ranked junior golfers in America. I chronicled how he became one of the few NCAA four-time, first-team, All-Americans while at Georgia Tech.

His inspiring story drew national attention because he had Poland Syndrome (born without a left pectoral muscle). He had two surgeries for webbed hands before age 5.

But he never used physical limitations as an excuse.

After Molder was carried off the 18th green by his teammates after helping clinch the Palmer Cup for America on the historic Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland, Mike Hengel (the LCD publisher the time) instructed that we never surrender the high ground on coverage of Molder.

Consequently, we’ve literally followed Molder from coast to coast. I’ve covered every round Molder played at NCAA tournaments at Hazeltine in Minnesota, Opelika (Auburn), Alabama and at the Duke Golf Course in Durham, N.C. I’ve recorded every round at U.S. Amateur tournaments at marquee courses at Pebble Beach in California and Baltusrol in New Jersey.

Colleagues were amazed that while they were covering hundreds of golfers at at tournament, I was primarily assigned to one.

Molder twice won the Jack Nicklaus Award as Collegiate Player of the Year (1998 and 2001). He also fired a 60 when playing with President Bill Clinton at Chenal Country Club in Little Rock, just missing a chip shot for a 59.

When he turned pro in 2001, my primary association was covering many FedEx St. Jude Classics in Memphis. In some years, he would draw galleries of friends and supporters (rivaling that of John Daly) that stretched halfway down a par-4 fairway. One of his best efforts as a pro was when he finished in a tie for second with David Toms in 2009.

I’ve seen Molder make an assortment of fantastic shots (mostly chips and putts). I’ve observed the tremendous highs and wrenching lows. All the while, he displayed the same character, humility and honesty. He’s always had a wonderful ability to analyze a shot or a round with captivating insight and wit that went well beneath the surface. I’ve often thought he could be a great golf TV commentator if eventually he chose that direction.

And then Thursday during his induction into the Arkansas Golf Hall of Fame, Molder announced his retirement at age 38 because of the challenge of playing as a job vs. his role as a family man. He was running out of gas as far as fulfillment and fun on the sport he loves.

Molder doesn’t go into anything without a lot of thought.

Two of many scenes and stories about Bryce that capsulize him come to mind today.

When Molder filled out some form after he turned pro, the routine question came up of average weekly earnings. He wrote, (truthfully) “between zero and $1 million dollars.”

When Molder walked up the 18th fairway at Duke Golf Club at the NCAA tourney for his last round as a collegian, one of his playing partners was Ryan Hyble of the University of Georgia and an arch-rival. As he approached the green, Hyble’s father began a loud clap that was immediately joined by the gallery and crescendoed about the green. It was a heartwarming and spontaneous salute to a great career.

“I tried not to think that 18 was Bryce’s last hole until he putted,” said Georgia Tech coach Bruce Heppler, his voice breaking, his hand wiping away tears. “I didn’t want to think that this was it for the best player in the history of college golf.”

As a collegian and as a pro — by fans, golf commentators, reporters, officials and fellow competitors— Molder was considered one of the good guys.

You can’t describe him without using some form of the world “class.”

He was that way in high school, in college and he’s that way as he leaves the game as a pro.

Thanks, Bryce, for giving me a bunch of thrills and and some of the greatest highlights of my career in watching you grow, develop and now move smoothly to another stage of your career.

Class indeed.

Garvan Woodland Gardens

August 3, 2017

We need to plan and make the trip over to Hot Springs to see this beautiful place! This article appeared in the magazine “Local” July/August 2017 issue.

Garvan Woodland Gardens

Buffalo River Trip

August 1, 2017

Visitor center holds history of Buffalo River

A photograph at Buffalo National River’s Tyler Bend Visitor Center shows an extended family who lived near the waterway a century or so ago.

TYLER BEND — The vast majority of the 800,000 or more visitors expected this year along the Buffalo National River are here for the pleasures of the present — swimming, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, fishing, camping and other fun in the sun.

But the human past is also a visible and fascinating presence in one of Arkansas’ most treasured natural resources. Nearly all people living within the preserve’s boundaries were required to move elsewhere when the 94,293-acre federal enclave was established by Congress in 1972.

Some of those rural residents deeply resented having to give up their long-held family land for a greater cause. They were losers in the worthy effort to preserve one of the few remaining rivers that still flows freely in the lower 48 states after a century of damming by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

To get a quick sense of life along the Buffalo in former times, the place to begin is the National Park Service’s Tyler Bend Visitor Center, near the river’s south bank in Searcy County. That can be followed by stops near opposite ends of the park at Rush Historical District and Big Buffalo Valley (aka Boxley Valley) Historic District.

Vintage black-and-white photographs at the visitor center show the rough-hewn circumstances in which pioneering residents lived. National Park Service information notes that from 1880 to 1915, “the remaining public land was entered both by prospective homesteaders and timber companies.

“At times the two came into conflict, as ‘squatter land’ was legally entered by outside interests. The homesteaders of this period in many cases were trying on a wilderness lifestyle for the first time and needed help in even constructing a simple one-room log shelter.

“Most of these homestead entries were located on less desirable land, away from the river valley and main tributaries. However, new road systems and travel made the ridge-top dweller more accessible to the rest of the world than the earlier settlers would have been. In addition, the increase in schools, churches and community centers aided in decreasing the isolation of these later settlers.”

Near the national river’s east end in Marion County, Rush Historic District is said to be the only visible ghost town west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains.

Rather than gold, zinc was the ore that brought transient prosperity to Rush, which was founded in the 1880s and saw its population peak at 5,000 during World War I. That’s when armament needs for the 1914-1918 conflict drove the price of zinc to record highs.

After that, Rush slowly faded away, with the last residents moving away after the post office closed in the 1950s. What makes a visit evocative today is sight of ramshackle structures built in the town’s heyday. Efforts by the National Park Service have countered the decay by time, weather and vandalism.

More idyllic is Big Buffalo Valley Historic District in Newton County, near the national river’s western boundary. Also called Boxley Valley Historic District, it is a likely place to spot elk in roadside meadows soon after sunrise or before sunset. It is also the setting for scattered family farms that were allowed to continue operation under some restrictions after 1972.

When the district was established, a principal reason was that many of the original structures remained untouched by modern development. These include log cabins, barns and spring houses. By squinting just slightly while driving along Arkansas 43, it is possible to imagine that the calendar has been turned back any number of decades. There’s one definite difference: The road is paved.

Buffalo National River’s Tyler Bend Visitor Center, 11 miles northwest of Marshall off U.S. 65, is open 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily. Admission is free. Go to nps.gov/buff or call

(870) 439-2502.

Exercises to avoid bad gait

August 1, 2017

Avoiding Trendelenburg gait (how many older people walk)

Exercise #1: Single-Leg Step-Over

“This exercise is one step removed from walking,” Stare explains. “It makes you more conscious of what you want to do when you walk.”

How to do it: Like the self-test, you want to do this one in front of a mirror. Roll up a small towel, and place it perpendicular to the instep of your right foot. If your feet are shoulder-width apart, the towel basically connects the insteps of both feet. Put your hands on your hips. Lift your left foot, and tap your toes on the floor in front of the towel. Keep your weight entirely on your right leg and your hips level.

Immediately lift your foot again, and tap it on the floor behind the towel. Alternate between tapping in front of and behind the towel for at least 30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat.

Sets, reps, and frequency: “Doing something daily is the best way to learn,” Stare says. If you struggled with the self-test, you can try step-overs multiple times per day. “You can do it once a day or 20 times a day, and it’s not likely to cause any problems. The more you do it, the more you change your habits and improve your motor control.”

Exercise #2: Side Plank

If you work out in a gym, you’ve seen lots of people doing side planks, and if you work out with a trainer, you’ve probably done your share. They’re popular for a reason: They work everything on the side that’s supporting your weight, especially the core muscles in your hips, abs, and lower back. That means they also work the gluteus medius, Stare says.

How to do it: Set up on a mat or towel with your weight resting on your right forearm and the outside edge of your right foot. Set your left foot on top of your right. Lift your body so it forms a straight line from neck to heels. Rest your left hand on your right shoulder, or place it gently on the floor for support. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, switch sides, and repeat. If you can’t quite do 30 seconds, hold as long as you can.

Sets, reps, and frequency: Do up to three sets of 30 to 60 seconds per side. You can do them every day. If that’s unrealistic, shoot for a minimum of three times per week.

Exercise #3: Single-Leg Squat

It works the whole lower body on the side of the working leg—from the foot to the calf, thigh, and hip—along with the core muscles. The gluteus maximus and medius work especially hard when all your load is on that side of your body, plus you also improve the stability of your ankles and hips.

How to do it: Stand with your back to a chair or bench with your heels a few inches away from it. Cross your arms over your chest, and lift your left leg off the floor. If that’s too difficult, keep your left foot on the floor but shift your weight to your right leg. Tighten everything in your torso, and carefully push your hips back. Lower your body until your glutes touch the chair or bench behind you. Push through your feet to stand back up. That’s one rep. Do four or five reps, switch sides, and repeat.

Sets, reps, and frequency: Aim for three sets of four to five reps per leg. Try it three times per week on nonconsecutive days. If you’re stronger and more ambitious, you can work up to 15 reps per set.

Tip: If you are new to squats or working on mastering the basic squat, you can use a chair for support and to learn good form. Watch this video for a step-by-step demonstration.

Posture

June 24, 2017

Step 1: Determine What Good Posture Looks (and Feels) Like for You

Find a floor-length mirror, and turn sideways. Stand as you normally do, and take a peek. This will likely be less-than-stellar posture. Now, engage your upper back to bring your shoulders back and down, says Nicholas M. Licameli, D.P.T., a physical therapist at Professional Physical Therapy. Your chest should now be a bit higher, but be careful not to puff it out to the point that your upper back rounds. Pull your chin back so that your neck and upper back are as vertical as possible.

Next, turn your attention to your ribs. Do they point straight down, or do they flare out at the bottom? Try shifting your rear (you may need to tuck it in or stick it out a bit) until your ribs point straight down over your hipbones. Once you find this alignment, squeeze your core muscles to tighten your midsection, and hold that position. That’s your perfect posture. While this exercise helps you find it while standing still, it’s the same spinal posture you should maintain when walking, lifting weights, or sitting at the dinner table.

It may feel like a bit of work at first, but it shouldn’t feel uncomfortable. And as you follow these next steps, it’ll become second nature.

If you use a wheelchair or have a spine condition like scoliosis, talk to your doctor about what good posture looks like for you. What is right for someone else may not look exactly right for you, but many of the principles of good posture still apply. Proper positioning in a wheelchair can help you breathe better and avoid strain in your upper body, and strengthening the body can help your posture if you have scoliosis.

Step 2: Notice When You Break Your Posture

Once you know good posture, it becomes easier to pinpoint when it starts to break down. “I tell my patients to let pain be their reminder,” says Brad Allison, D.P.T., an orthopedic specialist at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush in Munster, Indiana. “If you have neck or mid-back pain, that’s a sign to correct your posture.”

Your posture is most likely to break down when sitting or using gadgets like phones or tablets. No matter the activity, it’s important to keep your ribs over your hips, shoulders pulled back, and—this can be a tough one with electronics—your face pointed forward.

“Try to keep things at eye level,” says Dr. Pierce-Talsma, noting that looking down at whatever’s in your hand or on your lap puts a huge amount of tension on your neck. While the average human head weighs about 10 to 12 pounds, if you tilt yours forward to look down at your phone, you put up to 60 pounds of pressure on your neck, according to research in Surgical Technology International.

Step 3: Don’t Sit for Longer than 30 Minutes at a Time (If You Can Help It)

The more active you can be, the better. Activity keeps the muscles that stabilize your spine as strong as possible and prevents muscles in your hips from getting tight, which can throw off your alignment. While exercise definitely plays a part in staying active (we’ll get to that next), it’s also important to reduce the amount of time you sit each day. Research from Northwestern University shows that women who exercise regularly sit just as much as their less-active counterparts. That’s bad news.

When you do find yourself sitting, make it a priority to take frequent mobility breaks. “For each 30 minutes spent sitting, try to stand up at least once,” Licameli says. “If you’re watching television, stand during commercials.” The important part isn’t just standing. It’s standing with correct posture and, ideally, engaging in some light activity such as walking or even foam rolling your back, glutes, and hamstrings. Do whatever helps you reset, ease any tight muscles, and maintain a strong posture.

Step 4: Strengthen Your Core

Fixing your posture ultimately requires more than awareness and practice. Your spine doesn’t act on its own. Dozens of muscles that surround and connect your spine, pelvis, ribs, and shoulders are in control. To do their jobs correctly, they need to be strong, Allison says.

That’s where a balanced strength-training program, with an emphasis on your core, comes in. It’s important to realize that your core is more than your abs. It’s actually your entire torso, including your chest, abdomen, back, and even glutes—all of those muscles that are in charge of your posture, Allison says. To strengthen them all, make sure to include a range of:

Learn more in this beginner’s guide to strength training for older adults. And remember, what’s right for someone else may not be exactly right for you. Try a smart tweak to make an exercise easier so you can maintain good form, or talk to your doctor if you have a spine condition or injury, or use a wheelchair.

Chris Chandler’s M.U.S.E. .A.N.D. .W.H.I.R.L.E.D. .R.E.T.O.RT. JUNE, 2017

June 5, 2017

All rise for the National Anthem…

This land is your land
This land is my land
From California
to the New York island;
From the red wood forest
to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

I grew up on a dirt road…. As the deep south’s only city Atlanta was expanding… Swallowing my little town,
leaving me feeling like Jonah
sitting in the belly of a leviathan known as Coca Cola…

The dirt road I grew up on saw encroaching subdivisions everywhere…
I remember walking through some of my sacred woods that Were now disappearing …
with my brother Kevin…
and lo and behold… I saw something that I had never seen before…
It was a no trespassing sign… it read, “No Trespassing Violators Will Be Prosecuted”

and I thought, “What we have here is a failure to punctuate!”

And my brother Kevin replied with something for which I will forever be in his debt…

He sang me the “no trespassing” verse of our national anthem…

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

I knew from an early age that i wanted to be a folk singer…
So at the age old 16 I did what
Woody Guthrie woulda done if he had been born in the early 60s…

I dropped out of school and joined a punk rock band…
called The Weasels
Not as a band member but as the the Roadie..
And at an early age I got to see….

This land is your land
This land is my land
From California
to the New York island;
From the red wood forest
to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

I got so into running lights
that even though I was a high school drop out…
… I still earned a scholarship top a prestigious university…
And as I said, “I come from a long line of trailer trash”
and in my family…
This was a big deal….

However, when I was in that prestigious university… I began writing these monologues… For plays…
And I wanted to try them out so I went out on street corners… Only people just looked  at me like i was crazy a crazy guy talkin to him self – because the cell phone had not yet been invinted….

So, I done what Woody Guthrie woulda done…
I went down to the thrift store
and bought a cheap acoustic guitar…
Now I didn’t even know how to play the guitar..
But I just held it…
as I told my little stories…
and that made me… A folk singer…
And I knew it would not be long before I would be walkin that ribbon of highway….

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

Now when I graduated from that prestigious university,
I had to go audition at theatres
around the country,
and the way I paid for that trip
was by being a street musician…

and that got me all the way to New York City,
and my friends, I am not makin this up!
I landed a job on Broadway
as an assistant lighting designer…

Now all I had to do was get back to Stone Mtn, GA,
get my stuff
and move to new York City…

but on the way back down…
my friends,
a miracle transpired…

I picked up a hitch hiker,
and he told me…

This land is your land
This land is my land
From California
to the New York island;
From the red wood forest
to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

Now that Hitch Hiker
also told me of an event in Philadelphia
called the People’s Music Network…
a gathering of people who sang political folk songs…

So I went, and for what ever reason,
I landed a spot in their big concert – to sing one song…

I had never played in front of a big crowd before – and I was nervous!  Gonna make it my last hoorah!

I carefully selected from my repertoire…
A song called “Watergate Generation.”

And my friends I saw that pitch, and I swung hard… and my friends… another miracle transpired… I knocked it out of the park!

but that is not the miracle I am referring to.

Ya see,  I had no idea at the time –
but Pete Seeger himself was in that audience…
and he came back stage just to tell me how much he liked my song…

and I told him all about my plans to give up being a folk singer and get a job on Broadway instead…

But he told me – and I am not making this up –
that I should turn down that job on Broadway
and keep being a street musician.

And I did. And I thought…

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

Also at that event,
was someone else that would forever change my life
– a woman named Anne Feeney –
and she told me all about a place called Kerrville, Texas

and my friends,
I roamed and I rambled,
and I followed my footsteps…
to the sparkling sands of her diamond desserts
and that is how I got to the Kerrville Folk Festival

This land is your land
This land is my land
From California
to the New York island;
From the red wood forest
to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

Check http://www.chrischandler.org/ for more information on Chris and his adventures.

 

Long-term use of antihistamines to treat insomnia is not advised

April 23, 2017

From Ask the Doctors in the Conway Log Cabin 4/23/17
by Robert Ashley, M.D.

Dear Doctor: I’m leery of sleep drugs, so I’ve been taking Benadryl to help me sleep. Now I read that it should be taken only for a limited time. What’s the story on this drug?

Dear Reader: Diphenhydramine HCL, or Benadryl, is a sedating antihistamine. The medication has been used since 1946 for allergies, but because it is sedating, or sleep-inducing, people have also used it to help them sleep. Unlike the allergy medications Claritin, Zyrtec or Allegra, this medication blocks histamine receptors in the brain. Histamine is necessary to promote wakefulness, motivation and goal-directed behaviors; when the receptors for histamine are blocked, drowsiness occurs. Many companies have marketed diphenhydramine and doxylamine (another sedating antihistamine) for insomnia under different brand names.

Researchers have conducted many studies of diphenhydramine for insomnia, but most have been small. One of the larger studies looked at individuals with an average age of 44 years who had mild insomnia. In this study, people either took diphenhydramine or a placebo. The diphenhydramine group switched to a placebo after two weeks. The participants kept diaries of how long it took them to fall asleep, their total sleep time and the number of times they awoke.

Researchers found no difference between the drug group and the placebo group in the time needed to fall asleep. However, sleep quality improved significantly among those taking the drug. Total sleep time also improved with diphenhydramine, but only by 29 minutes. The authors did not find significant adverse effects and did not find rebound insomnia when the participants stopped diphenhydramine. The authors concluded that, for the short term, the drug does have benefit in treating insomnia.

As for the merits or risks of taking the drug for more than two weeks, there are no good long-term trials of diphenhydramine, and prolonged use raises the potential for problems. Further, two weeks of using sedating antihistamines can create some degree of tolerance to their sleep-inducing effects, so their effectiveness may wane.

In its guidelines for sleep medications, the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine does not recommend the use of antihistamines for chronic insomnia. Sedating antihistamines can lead to dry mouth, constipation, retention of urine in the bladder, blurred vision and a drop of blood pressure upon standing.

Further, diphenhydramine’s half-life, the time it takes for the drug to lose half of its activity, is nine hours in adults, but 13.5 hours in elderly individuals. That means the drug is still having effects long after one awakes. Sedating antihistamines also can cause grogginess, confusion and memory loss. This is especially concerning in the elderly.

I would re-evaluate whether diphenhydramine is really helping you sleep. You should also consider whether the medication is causing any side effects. Other medications can be used as sleep aids, but the best move, especially for the long term, is to improve your sleep hygiene, such as using the bed for sleep and not for watching television.

If you have trouble doing this on your own, a professional who specializes in sleep therapy might be able to help. Though sleep therapy is a relatively new field, it has shown significant benefits.

Robert Ashley, M.D., is an internist and assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Making war on the people

April 2, 2017

Article from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette by Philip Martin

We don’t need our best and our brightest involved in politics; genius should be out curing cancer and writing novels that sound the black depths of the human heart. It doesn’t take any particular talent to serve in a state legislature or even in Congress (Jefferson imagined an amateur government might be run by yeoman farmers and tradesmen); they just need to be reasonably honest and, as Harry Truman said, “work in the interests of the common people and not in the interests of the men who have all the money.”

Governance is more like medicine than music. The prime directive of its practitioners should be to do no harm to the body politic. Certainly there are times when tough measures are called for, but any scars that are inflicted should be in service of achieving a greater good. We might disagree on what actions our elected representatives should take at any particular point in time, but we have a right to expect that they govern with a degree of empathy for the folks back home.

Ha.

We all know an individual American’s worth directly correlates to the bank account size. Money buys access, money changes minds. Money warps reality in ways that are absurd until you consider who stands to benefit from the absurdity. Poor people just don’t matter to some of those who are supposed to protect us. Our government is free to make war on the poor and powerless.

Most of us have become something less than citizens. We are more like crops to be harvested or resources to be exploited. Fictive personalities have been granted a better set of rights than you have because those stateless corporations have the ability to write much bigger checks to the people who pass laws than you can. So these corporations have been given the right to sell information they’ve surreptitiously gathered by spying on you.

You might think that your information belongs to you. Too bad. You’ve been outbid.

At the same time, a lot of these lawgivers have decided that the privacy of the world’s most public self-proclaimed billionaire matters more than national security. Despite promises to comply with decades of electioneering tradition by releasing his tax returns, despite real questions about what foreign entities might hold the note on his gilded existence, our president won’t tell us about his finances.

Because, as he’s said, he’s president and you’re not.

And if you want quality health care, prepare to pay for it. Or get yourself elected to Congress. Because these people are beholden to super-citizens like insurance companies and pharmaceutical firms. Because they have bigger things to worry about than whether you can afford to get sick. (Besides, if you amounted to anything, you’d have plenty of money to pay your doctor. After all, do you really need an iPhone or a curved-screen TV?)

The world is a hard place and you probably shouldn’t expect these denizens of marble halls to help you out. Because they’ve either got theirs or are in the process of getting same. And because you’re dumb enough to let them operate as they do, to let them get away with not doing the right thing.

To be fair, the world is a complicated and nuanced place and it’s sometimes hard to decide which course is the right one to take. So it’s not surprising that human beings might look to professional explainers, for people who can make the world seem simpler. While there are plenty of people willing to try to do this in exchange for your attention (which they can sell to advertisers), most of them are guessing just like the rest of us. And worse, their guesses are incentivized by third parties who have their own versions to propagate. Most of us prefer to hear stories that reassure us and flatter our sense of ourselves as decent and smart. Any problems we have are most decidedly not our fault—they’re the fault of whoever the professional explainer finds convenient to demonize.

Some of us understand this and take into consideration that the talking heads on television—whether they’re paid by MSNBC or Fox or by the taxpayers—are entertainers whose mission is to convince us that what their corporate sponsors would do is precisely the best thing.

This is how they get you to vote contrary to your own interest.

That’s your right, and it’s sometimes a noble thing. I can think of many things I would gladly support with higher taxes. You probably can too—most of us want a government able to protect us from threats we can’t handle on our own. Most of us would prefer old people not starve, that sick people not be denied medical attention.

Most of us believe there are some legitimate functions of government. A lot of us would prefer a government that doesn’t overly intrude on our daily lives.

I don’t think it’s wise to put much trust in government. Not because everyone who seeks or holds office is venal and corrupt but because it is so easy for human beings to rationalize whatever course they’d prefer to take. For cultural and psychological reasons, lots of us desire firearms; so someone provides the rationale that lots of firearms somehow makes society safer.

For cultural and psychological reasons, lots of us feel uncomfortable around people whose sexual identities seem less rigidly defined than our own; so someone provides the rationale that these people are disturbed and morbid, that they represent a threat to the way others would live.

For cultural and psychological reasons, some of us would prefer not to deal with vocabulary and nuanced argument; so someone provides the rationale that feelings trump facts and that there’s something unreliable and effete about thinking too much about anything.

This is why so many of us believe things that are demonstrably untrue; because someone has cynically supplied us with a set of talking points with which we can argue any absurdity. They’ve set us against each other, to squabble about what scares us most. We’re playing their game.

Maybe they’re smarter than we think.

pmartin@arkansasonline.com

Read more at

http://www.blooddirtangels.com