Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hogan, where are you going with that double-chin?

I have lived with a beard for most of my life. Add the years I wore a mustache and I have had facial hair for nearly two-thirds of my existence. I was always shocked on the rare occasions I cut the beard off and (re)discovered how alarming fat my face really was. Not Renee Zellweger cute, chubby-cheeked, more like General Burkhalter from the 60s-70s television series "Hogan's Heroes."
But it was big cheeks, and big cheeks only. So big, though, that--to paraphrase my wife--my eyes would get lost in my face. Now in my fifties, with pitiless gravity taking over, my weak chin has become a real eye sore. I'm glad this hairless face (sorry for the stubble, folks) is only a temporary thing.

After the operation, scheduled for inside of two weeks, I will grow it all back. Why did I shave it off so soon? Damn good question! Why didn't I let it grow back the minute I noticed I look like a fictitious Nazi or a real quasi-Nazi (see Karl)? Another good question. I'm working on these, dear fans. I'll get back to you.

Stay tuned!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Friday, August 22, 2014

Losing My Hearing and Night Vision Goggles!

Today I went through a battery of inner-ear tests. First, a set of Audiogram tests performed by a sweet lady doctor. One of them where I sat in a sound-proof booth with noise-cancelling headphones on and responded to beeps at various frequencies and volumes. Next, I needed to repeat the words a recorded male voice said. 

Please repeat each word you hear clearly.
"Pizza," the voice said. "Beer!," I returned. 
"Ham," the voice intoned. "Cheese!," I gleefully replied.
"Nag," the masculine voice spoke.  "Wife!" I shot back.

The doctor stopped the test there, and feigning laughter she said, “Mr. Jockomo, please repeat the work you hear, not what first word comes to mind.” I couldn’t help, but use the test as a word-association game--I was bored with a little bit-o-fear behind that. Since the mega-vertigo episodes in May, I have seen the inside of many a clinic and it sometimes feel like I will be a permanent residence on these things sooner than later.

I finished the test correctly and two others. The doctor told me I have high-frequency hearing loss in both ears and she wants to see me in a year, but does not believe this diagnosis is related to my vertigo. This was another one of those special "Hey guess what? You're getting old" treats. Just like the one I wrote about on DATE where I went in about vertigo and came out with skin cancer. So, I'm going deeef. Great, but what about my vertigo?
Silence of the Lambs

In the afternoon I had Electronystagmography (or ENG) testing done. I did the ENG to determine if I had a vestibular dysfunction. The ENG measures nystagmus (a type of involuntary eye movements) and other eye movements. There are also tests where warm, and later, cool, air is blown through my ear canal. 

Most of the testing is done with IR goggles on your head. Since, I cannot see how absolutely stupid I look I had to do a Google image search. Think the night vision goggles the serial killer in "Silence of the Lambs" used at the climax of the film with Jodie Foster. "It puts the lotion in the basket."

Anyway, that's over. I'll find out what all this testing is all about on September 2. From there, who knows. Oh yeah, I have skin cancer surgery later that week.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Dru-Zod Does Yoga!

When he is not duking it out with Superman General Dru-Zod is a yoga instructor!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Tough Business of Our Mortality and the Legend of Super Stu

Evel Knievel
My father spent the night in the hospital the other night. His illness is not uncommon for a man his age. My brother had surgery a day or two before that. Then there's me with some weird strain of chronic vertigo and skin cancer. It always comes in threes--er wait, is that fours? That's rather macabre. Still, when this stuff happens to you and the people you love it reminds you how we are not invincible. It also reminds me of my youth. While I was so afraid of baseballs traveling in my direction in what I believed to be at a lethal velocity or riding my bicycle or trail bike faster than a crawl for fear that a limb would tear off * some kids were fearless.

Enter Stewart, the next-door neighbor who held the record for most trashcans successfully jumped with a bicycle (at least in our neighborhood). Stewart wore an old-fashioned "brain bucket"-style helmet he got from my father who no longer used it. After my dad tore up his ear while racing in an enduro or scramble he moved to a three-quarter Bell helmet.

Stewart re-painted it and, using a magic marker, created his new personae right on the side of the helmet, “Super Stu” with a four-leaf clover for luck. As far as I could tell he needed that charm. It scared the shit out of me seeing him start in the street, peddle like a madman jump the gutter with only a split-second to re-gain his form before his front wheel hit the ramp. 

The passing of this helmet and this trashcan jumping is germane to the hospital story. My father raced cars, boats, and motorcycles. He found enjoyment in pushing his body. He almost died in a boat racing accident years before he got into racing dirt bikes. He wasn’t a dare devil, but he had injured himself enough to know his body had limits, but that’s about as far as it went. Super Stu was just crazy, but I like to think there is poetry in the passing down of a helmet even if it is not to his son, who, let’s face it, was a pussy.

I don’t know why we set up the ramp in the area we did. While the landing zone was on grass that’s about where the OSHA-mindfulness stopped. There was precious little real estate at the end of the last trashcan before Super Stu’s family fence (and surely the Grim Reaper) stood. He had to hit the breaks the second his back wheel gained purchase.

He only had one contender (read: someone stupid enough) to try to match his record. But Dan didn't ride a Schwinn Stingray like Super Stu and everyone else, for that matter except for Dave, who had a Huffy. (Poor Dave, always the one with colored socks when everyone else had Adidas and Puma white sweat socks, green cords when everyone else had blue jeans, loner parents whereas everyone else’s parents where social.)

Dan had a route bike. Basically, a beach cruiser with a significantly longer wheelbase than a Stingray and heavy racks in the back and on the handlebars for his newspaper sacks. I suppose Dan could have used one of the stingrays that we were all sitting on in kind of a festival “banana” seating fashion, but then again I doubt anybody would have agreed: "No man, I’d be in Dutch if you died on my bike. I'd be grounded forever and ever."

Dan had plenty of room for his approach, but he timed his peddling wrong—hitting the gutter with one peddle down creating magnificent sparks behind him! The gutter/peddle business made him lose his balance and one foot and hand slipped off his bike. He shot by the ramp, missing it by only an inch, and hit my parent's Albizia tree carving a large chunk out of the trunk.

In my later years--when Dan had moved down to SoCal and he was now only a memory to me (to manipulate in my mind at will) I used to fantasize of him not missing the ramp, but hitting it—launching him with one hand and leg flailing—into what would be the closest thing I would ever see in-person to the remarkable footage of Evel Knievel's legendary 1967 Caesar's Palace jump and wipe-out landing.

Super Stu once told me that he thought he was immortal, that he couldn't die (unlike Dan or my mother’s poor silk tree, or me and my skin cancer and vertigo, or my father with his medical condition). I don't know if Super Stu was joking or if it was pure hubris, but when he decided to do some urban skiing behind my brother's Kawasaki 80 he found out that at least he could bruise. His crash and rash was spectacular! I only wish I could have seen it up close and not from down the street. This YouTube video is close to the his epic fail.

Which brings me back to how we all are mortal—even Super Stu, whether he believed it or not. Sitting in my father’s hospital room hearing about his ailment and how he has had problems over the last few years or so and has just adapted to them rather than ask a doctor about them, I am reminded of how growing old is a tough business.

My father has adapted, but there will be a point when his body finally fails. I don’t like to think about that. My family is taking it very well. I have broken down and cried a couple of times when I was alone. When that time comes we will be left with precious memories. Clear images that will stay with us the rest of our own moral lives, just like Super Stu’s record trashcan jump and Dan’s near-colossal fail!

* For more about me, my father and dirt bikes read my On Certain Sundays post. For a redemptive (of sorts) story on me and baseball read my The Triple (Or Why Running is Not My Exercise of Choice) post.

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Cold Brew with Buddha

Having a cold one with Buddha in a wicked lotus posture.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Yoga for Dawgs

I didn't get into yoga to look at the pretty, young women. Even when I find myself practicing with an attractive woman in front of me I am too preoccupied with my own breathing and form to "check out the nice ass." I don't know whether to laugh or cry over this video. At least the Bunny isn't naked.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

BOOM! A must-watch!

Jeff Daniels' character from the cable TV show "Newsroom" gives quite possibly the most honest assessment of the United States of America you will ever see on American television this side of Bill Moyers or Amy Goodman.


If only news anchors were this honest in real life. Funny, Daniels' character also suffers from vertigo. That's two things his character and I have in common!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Skeleton Yoga

This is pretty cool.

What are Chakras? I'd Like to Know, But I am Distracted!

So, with my skin cancer and my ENT specialist’s prognosis that I might have permanent inner ear damage (not finished testing yet), I'm trying to stay positive and reading things like what are chakras and how yoga can balance them. I’m trying to stay focused and upbeat, drinking coffee at my favorite coffee haunt during my morning break. 

Then she sits across from me. She is eating something sticky like a bear claw. When did Temple Coffee start selling bear claws? What will they sell next, donuts? Will they cut a deal with Cinnabon? She keeps sucking her fingers—LOUDLY!

My karma goes suddenly dark.

She sticks the tips of one or two of her sugary fingers in her mouth, sucks while pulling them out with a jerk to get every bit of that bear claw. Yes Facebook friends, I’m staring at her. This is not a child, by the way; this is a woman in her mid-50s or early 60s. She does not notice me. She just keeps on reading the ads in the paper and sucking her fingers. Amazing!

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Sean Johnson's Contemplative Practice

I listened to this during my lunch break. Very interesting! Check it out when you are on your mat.

Sean Johnson's Contemplative Practice

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

No Hollywood Ending to My Problems

Scottie is finally cured of vertigo (Spoiler Alert, if you haven't seen the classic Hitchcock thriller). Me? Well, the ENT Specialist thinks I was attacked by a virus that knocked out one of my inner ears either temporarily or (gulp) permanently. I go in for testing at the end of the month and will discuss the tests' findings early in September.

In the meantime I will be seeing a dermatology surgeon about my soon-to-be scheduled Mohs surgery. I trust neither the skin cancer nor the mysterious form of vertigo will end as spectacularly as Jimmy Steward's bout with a Hollywoodish variation of vertigo.