Monday, May 23, 2016

Ride of Silence

Last Tuesday, May 18 at 7 PM I participated in the Ride of Silence. Hundreds of cities all over the world hold these rides to remember and honor bicyclists who have survived and those who have died in car crashes. The rides begin with a reading of the names of those who have been killed in the previous year. In Philadelphia, where I live, these include a young man who just graduated college, and a young woman who was celebrating her 7th wedding anniversary. The reading of names takes about 15 minutes. Then the group group of riders, all wearing helmets, pedal their bikes in silence for an hour (about 8 miles) on a route through the city, with a ghost bike at the end, to symbolize all the riders who can’t ride with us in body.

The ride runs from 7 PM until 8 PM.  My first thought was that’s when I go home to relax.  Sure, I ride 8 miles or more in one day. But not in one ride. Such a long ride when I’m already tired seemed daunting. But I decided to try it.

The route was planned carefully. It mostly avoided hills. Police blocked traffic, so we only had to stop a few times. I had no idea how much of the energy of biking is spent stopping and starting. That 8 miles felt more like 4 miles. The pace of the ride is about 10 mph. Not tiring at all.

We attracted small crowds who had no idea why hundreds of bicyclists were hogging the road.

We were silent. They called out, “Are you all the cyclists in the city?” And “Go faster!” And, “Why are you here?” We did not answer. The ride had been announced in every paper. The ghost bike had a sign “Ride of Silence.”  If they cared, they could google us from their cell phones.

When we arrived at the ride’s end, younger riders lifted their bikes over their heads.  That was one activity I didn’t feel up for joining.

Since we were all silent, I want to take this opportunity to say that we rode through town to get people to notice bicycle riders. Not just once a year for one hour, but every day at all hours. We can only avoid accidents if people see us. Pedestrians have to look for us when they dash out into the street between parked cars.  Drivers have to watch out for bikes, especially when they are making turns. They need to be careful not to make a turn into the bike lane. And folks getting out of their cars the street side need to look in the traffic lane for bikes as well as cars, before they open their car doors.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Stuff they don't teach in PE

The stuff they didn’t teach me in PE.

What to do when I’m in pain.
What to do to avoid pain.

So, now, as a geezer I’m having to learn that stuff.

Several weeks ago, I woke up with what felt like bones grinding together in my low back.  The last time I felt that I went to the chiropractor who told me I had a slipped disk. I tried the exercises and bouncing on my yoga ball, like he prescribed last time. It didn’t work.

I went back to my chiropractor. This time, he said it was tight muscles. He didn’t give me exercises. He just told me to do exercises that don’t hurt.  That meant riding my bike even if I was only traveling a few blocks. The pain continued.

I surfed the web. Two types of exercise seem get the most recommendations: rolling a foam cylinder on thighs and back, and using either tennis balls or pinky balls to apply pressure to trigger points.

The pressure point balls helped in the morning, but by evening the pain was back.  I tried the foam roller in the evening. The rolling made me sore.  The rolling instructions said if you find a tender spot give it extra rolls.  I don’t like pain, so I figured that was a bad idea.  I was sore in the morning. Not the grinding sensation. Just all over ouch. I put ice on it. No progress.

I went back to the chiropractor.  He seemed to think I was getting better.  So, I asked, “Am I doomed to be an old lady for the rest of my life?”  He laughed.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Dexa Scans have No Predictive Value

I have a basically sane General Practitioner.  She understands why I refuse meds to lower my cholesterol or reduce the chance of getting cancer in my other breast by 2%.

But she sent me for a Dexa Scan.

At the Outpatient Imaging center, the technician felt obliged to give me a sell job on the wonderfulness of the dexa scan.  She insisted that the doctors who looked at the scan could tell me the likelihood of my breaking a bone within the next 10 years.  They could even tell which bone.  I told her that people who have dense bones can still have brittle bones that break.  She told me that I’m saying all the books are wrong.

I agreed – the books are wrong if they say that low density bones are the only ones that break.

The more she hyped the value of this scan the less I thought she was telling the truth.

When I got home, I surfed the web.
Here’s the basic data:   Age and family history are much better indicators of likelihood of breaking a bone than bone density. This only refers to minor falls – not accidents.

The only broken bone I’ve ever had was caused by a 2-ton car that hit me while I was riding my bike. My parents are alive in their 90's and they’ve never had broken bones.  My doctor had me exposed to unnecessary x-rays.  And she spent unnecessary insurance money.

A dexa scan is not a preventive or a treatment. It is not a predictive tool.  It is only used to sell unnecessary drugs.

There are drugs that help make bones stronger, by improving the crystalline structure of the bones themselves. They are non-prescription vitamins K2 and D3.  These vitamins also help prevent arterial plaque because the calcium that could form dangerous plaque gets used to build strong bones instead.

I sent all this information to my basically sane GP.  I hope she stops prescribing this useless test.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Vote for the Delegates

I’ve been excited about this Presidential election.  For the first time in many years, a candidate who has a chance of winning is saying what needs to be said.  Yay, Bernie!

I’ve been giving out literature telling people where and when their polling place is open.

Only yesterday, I learned that pressing the button beside Bernie’s name isn’t enough.

In addition to voting for Bernie, I need to vote for delegates to go to the National Democratic Convention.

Philadelphia PA gets 10 delegates.  The ballot listed 6 Bernie delegates and 10 Hillary delegates, plus 1 Hillary alternate. Since it is unlikely that either candidate will get more than 60% of the vote, voting for 6 is enough.  But it looks like voting for the delegates is more important than voting for the candidate, since they will cast the votes at the convention where the decision will be made.

I see no sense in this extra layer of voting.  Since it exists, I see no sense in keeping it a secret.  I’m one of those people who never read the agreements when I install software on my computer. I just agree to whatever it says.  When I actually have a choice, I want to know the full meaning of all the fine print.

Vote for the delegates.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Your Face Will Freeze That Way

Google Hangouts was slow and pixelated.  One of the threats from my childhood finally came true.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Dust Masks

This morning, while walking my dog, I saw men using power tools to destroy sidewalk. They looked like somebody had hired them to do this – it wasn’t wanton destruction. Powdered cement filled the air.  I walked my dog upwind and noticed that the men were not wearing masks.

I stopped and asked them if they had dust masks to wear.  No, they hadn’t been given masks. They seemed to think this was an odd question.  I thought about going to the hardware store, buying masks and bringing them back. But I didn’t think these men would wear them unless their boss ordered them to do so.

Instead, I called 311.  This is the number for all and sundry city questions. Clearly the representative had never had such a question before. I kept being put on hold.  Finally she said she’d take care of it.

I’ve heard that before.  I’ve been trying to get a collapsed sidewalk over a street drain repaired for months.  The sidewalk now has two orange warning cones on it.  No repairs.

I’ve been trying for years to get them to repave Girard Avenue. They repave other streets in far better condition every few years (they buy poor quality asphalt, probably for short term savings), but they ignore Girard.

When I reported a fallen electrical line, they had that fixed within a few days.

When my husband reported a monster pothole, they sent him an email claiming they had fixed it. They hadn’t.  He reported it again, with a photo from his cell phone.  They came out and really fixed it.

Sometimes calling them works.  These guys won’t be working on this spot in a few days.  This is the kind of thing that needs to be done today.  I think it would be great if police cars had stashes of dust masks in their trunks and police, doing their rounds, could hand them out.  The men would not refuse to wear something the police gave them.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


No humans are native to the Americas.

Everybody who lives in the Americas today either came here personally, or is descended from someone who did, or who was dragged here against their will.

The people who live in this hemisphere are adventurers, people who want a better life for themselves and their families, explorers, pioneers, and survivors.

We can discover where people came from by looking at the DNA in their mitochondria. Mitochondria are transmitted by eggs only.  Not sperm. Mitochondria are in every cell of our bodies. They contain DNA that is not in the cell nucleus. This DNA is from the mother only. Mitochondrial DNA is the same in all children of the same mother, the same maternal grandmother, and so on through the generations.

The so-called “indigenous people” or “native Americans” have 4 unique mitochondrial DNA sequences.  These mitochondrial DNA sequences are also present in Siberians. Therefore, all the so-called “native Americans” are descended from four Siberian women who probably came here with men, or possibly traveled while pregnant.

People aren’t native to Siberia either. People originated in Africa. But since that happened a long time ago, people tend to describe themselves in terms of the country they lived in before they came to the Americas.

Therefore, I propose the term Siberian-Americans or First Americans as the most accurate term to use, rather than “native Americans” or “indigenous people.”