Friday, September 30, 2016

Tiny Bits of Nonsense: September 2016

Here is the September 2016 edition of "Tiny Bits of Nonsense," featuring 10 of my tweets for the month:
Other bits of nonsense:
August 2016
Olympics Edition

June/July 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016

February 2016

January 2016
December 2015
New Year's Edition

November 2015
October 2015
Halloween Edition

September 2015
August 2015
July 2015

June 2015

May 2015
"Back to the Future" Edition
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
Valentine's Day Edition
January 2015
December 2014
Holiday Season Edition
November 2014
Thanksgiving Edition
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014

April 2014
March 2014

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Sting Of Googling Sea Urchins

Earlier this year, my wife and I went on our honeymoon to Hawaii. I'm often asked what we did while we were there. The answer is, we did a lot. We kayaked, snorkeled, we swam. And, in my case, I read.

I read articles on sea urchins. Many, many articles on sea urchins, and whether they are poisonous.

I became concerned after I was stung by a sea urchin -- nature's Koosh ball -- at one of the beaches we visited. Deeply, deeply concerned.

I made contact with the sea urchin while snorkeling. I was reaching for a ledge by the shore to steady myself when I accidentally set the palm of my left hand on the urchin.

I let out a curse word. No one heard it, except for maybe a couple of sea turtles and a clownfish that were nearby. And I said it while underwater, so it was muffled anyway. It came out as, "Fmmmmmk!"

I only felt the sting for five minutes or so. The pinching sensation went away after that. I didn't really think much of it after my wife and I left the beach.

But that night, as I lay on the couch in our hotel room, I thought back to my encounter with the sea urchin, and I examined my palm. Should I be concerned that I was stung? I wondered. Is a sea urchin sting harmful to my health? I better Google it, just to be safe.

Here's what I learned: It is not safe to Google it. It only leads to more confusion.

I searched the question, "Are sea urchins poisonous?" There were 87,200 results. I read approximately 65,532 of them.

I started with result #1. "Physical injuries from the spines of most sea urchins are possible, but only a few urchins are venomous," it stated. That was somewhat reassuring.

This was the headline for result #2: "Are Sea Urchin Spines Venomous? Yup!" That was not at all reassuring. Was the sting of the headline more painful than the sting of the sea urchin? Yup!

I dove deeper into the results, link by link, page by page. I discovered a published study on sea urchin toxin that was 67 pages long. Sixty-seven. If I was on my own on this honeymoon, it would have been reasonable for me to read it, but I now had a wife to consider. We hadn't blocked out much time in our itinerary for sea urchin research.

I decided to instead focus my attention on much shorter articles. After several hours of clicking and clicking, I passed out on the couch around 3 a.m. I was exhausted. Perhaps a side effect of the sea urchin sting?

The last thing I remember from that night was my skimming treatment tips from a doctor in Kansas City. (What, you don't seek medical advice on dangerous sea creatures from health professionals in the Midwest?)

The good news is that the next day I woke up and felt great. I'd recovered from the sea urchin and Google. I was relieved.

Not too long ago, my wife and I were dining at a seafood restaurant and the waiter informed us of the special of the day: sea urchin pasta. I told him I'd need a few more minutes to decide. I pulled out my phone. I Googled, "Are sea urchin pastas poisonous?" I began to click.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Keep Calm And Keep Your Eyes Closed

I attempted to meditate for the first time this week, and it stressed me out.

I'd seen an advertisement for a meditation workshop led by a yoga teacher, and I signed up right away. I thought I could benefit from it, both mentally and physically. 

I didn't realize how much my health had suffered this summer until my doctor tested my blood pressure during a recent visit. It registered higher than usual. As I sat there on the examination table, with my sleeve rolled up to my shoulder, flexing my bicep to impress my doctor, I wondered why that would be the case.

Do you exercise regularly? my doctor asked. Well, of course I do, I answered. Of course, I don't, but I would never tell him that. I never tell my dentist I don't floss regularly, either. I do, however, lie to health professionals regularly. I'm not proud of it, but I'm too ashamed to admit the truth to them. It's why I only see them once or twice a year. It has nothing to do with insurance.

I can only speculate, but I don't think that a lack of exercise, or my diet, or any other factor within my control contributed to my elevated blood pressure. Rather, I think it's the result of a trying summer in which a spambot accused me of being an imbecilean airline screwed me out of a donut, and several stand-up comics called on me while performing at a comedy club.

Whatever the reason, I knew I had a problem that needed to be addressed. I had to lower my blood pressure. I had to eliminate the stress in my life. And I had to make sure my doctor didn't find out that I wasn't exercising regularly.

Hours after the visit with my doctor, I came across the advertisement for the workshop in a local magazine. I read it as a sign, a call to action. Meditation was the answer, a way to strengthen my body, mind and spirit, through quiet thought and reflection. It would be freeing.

And it would be free. The teacher wasn't charging admission for the workshop -- important, because the idea of spending money to manage my stress only adds to my stress.

I was optimistic. I had a lot of confidence in the teacher. I'd Googled her, and her credentials were impressive. She was the bestselling author of four books on meditation, had appeared on a number of news programs, and had taught classes around the world.

I was certain she could help me -- nay, I was certain she could heal me. This was my expectation: I would walk into the room, she would listen to my story, and then, through the power of meditation, she would take away my anxiety and release my stress. They would evaporate into thin air, and I would become happier and more relaxed than I've ever been.

This is what I thought would happen, essentially:



That is not what happened. Quite the opposite. The yoga teacher didn't heal me. She confused the heck out of me.

The start of the workshop was promising enough. She asked the participants -- 11 or 12 of us, altogether -- to close their eyes. Easy. I've been closing my eyes for 35 years.

I closed my eyes. And then I opened them, to make sure the others had closed their eyes. They had. I closed my eyes again. I opened them again. Should I still have my eyes closed, I asked myself. Yes, I should, I discovered. I closed my eyes again.

After that...well, the teacher didn't take away my anxiety or release my stress, I can tell you that much. She spoke for approximately 10 minutes, stringing together words that, to me, collectively held little meaning.

I wish I had written down what she'd said after the fact. Here's a brief list of words I remember hearing:

- "Fame"
- "Audacity"
- "Merchants"
- "Bro"
- "Taylor"
- "Ray J"

I may be mixing up my experience at the workshop with my experience watching Kanye West on the VMAs telecast last Sunday. But the teacher's speech made just as much sense to me.

For 10 minutes, my eyes were closed. And for 10 minutes, I was completely and utterly lost. I didn't know if she was providing instructions, or sharing an inspirational message, or something else entirely.

Don't take my word for it. Watch this clip from the workshop:


Once the teacher finished speaking, she asked that we open our eyes. I did, and I took a good look at the other participants. What I saw surprised me. They were smiling. They were calm. They were relaxed.

I was none of those things. I was upset. I was frustrated. I was demoralized. My anxiety and stress hadn't evaporated; they'd condensed. What had the others heard that I hadn't?

I quietly slipped out the door, I went home and I turned on the TV. Maybe watching a movie would help me relax. I searched Netflix for The Green Mile.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Tiny Bits of Nonsense: August 2016

Here is the August 2016 edition of "Tiny Bits of Nonsense," featuring 10 of my tweets for the month: Other bits of nonsense:
Olympics Edition
June/July 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016

February 2016

January 2016
December 2015
New Year's Edition

November 2015
October 2015
Halloween Edition

September 2015
August 2015
July 2015

June 2015

May 2015
"Back to the Future" Edition
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
Valentine's Day Edition
January 2015
December 2014
Holiday Season Edition
November 2014
Thanksgiving Edition
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014

April 2014
March 2014