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Showing posts from October, 2016

COMFORTABLY NUMB

We are human beings, not human doings. Despite what the hustle and bustle of modern society would have us believe. To be is to tear yourself away from the fascination of the world around you. It is to turn your attention within, and simply enjoy your existence. For within you find the joy that is your true nature. Or at least that's what all the ancient books say. But when your gums hurt, it's hard to focus on your inner bliss. Being quickly becomes hurting, which leads to doing. So you schedule a check-up with your dentist, who is fittingly named Dr. Do. 

You are there and the dentist tells you that gum recession is the cause of your mouth tenderness. The gum has thinned to such a degree that the root of one molar is exposed. You are not alone. Periodontal disease affects 1 in 2 Americans. The good news is that a minor surgery will likely fix the problem. Called a gum graft, they take some tissue from the roof of your mouth and transplant it to the receded gum, to bulk up the …

TAKE MATTER INTO YOUR OWN HANDS

Yesterday my good friend Steve called me a Jew. Not sure whether that's a compliment or not. I am sure however that Kilmann meant Jew as in cheap. Leaving aside that my friend is himself Jewish, and that anyone who pays $50 each week to have their car hand-washed is not cheap - I think I know what prompted the epithet. Steve called me a Jew after I told him about my trials and tribulations with the gardener, who recently informed me it would be $350 to manure and seed the lawn, which he did just last January, and which will require extra watering during this drought we're in (today's downpour excepted). I decided to let the lawn be. That's a lot of green, pardon the pun. And after all grass is a weed. If removing it is so painstaking as to require heavy duty Roundup-type fertilizer, or suffocating it for months with newspaper and plastic, then I'll bet it can survive on minimal maintenance, as in once weekly watering. As evidence, I invite you to inspect the center…

THE VARIETY DIET

I was reading People Magazine's section called "What I Eat in a Day" featuring fitness competitor Tamra Judge, who is 49 and eats an astounding 4 meals, 3 protein shakes and 2 snacks each day. So nine times a day she is consuming food, or every 1.5 to 2 hours. The meals include a pre- and post-workout breakfasts as well as lunch and dinner and snack staples such as nut butter and yogurt. In the picture she looks a bit on the full side. No wonder. It says the total calorie count for this veritable feast comes to 2,700. She's 5'4 and probably weighs 120 lbs, which means she needs about 1700 calories to maintain her body at rest and burns another 1000 calories exercising. She admits to eating the same food every day, focusing on meal preparation to keep her on track and rarely indulging in alcohol. This is good advice. But I think it's better not to snack between meals. Let the stomach empty itself before filling it back up. Otherwise you're spending the ent…

THE VEGAN RETREAT

My five-month foray into eating animal flesh has come to a timely end. For nearly half a year I included 3 eggs and 5 to 10 ounces of fish in my daily diet. The fish was usually sardines or wild salmon. I adopted this dietstyle because I needed a change. At the time I reintroduced animal foods (after 7 years of being vegan) I didn't know how long it would last. If I felt good and liked the results, maybe being a flexitarian, as it's called, would be a lifelong thing. 

And there were benefits. I gained ten pounds of muscle, and got a whole lot stronger. Prior to increasing my protein consumption I had been experiencing nagging pain in my left leg from where I broke it in a bike accident 18 months before. At the time I was even considering surgery to remove the screws in my femur, even though the doctor said this wouldn't necessarily improve my condition. But shortly after introducing fish and eggs into my intake, the pain went away. The high quality protein must have repaire…

EXPAND YOUR ORISONS

Despite how carelessly and unthinkingly we at times toss them around, words are very important. So important in fact that it is believed we can achieve our wildest dreams by verbalizing our intention to be happy, to be free, to be well. And to win the game of life, and other games besides, there is really no more expedient method than through voicing our desires aloud in the humble spirit of prayer. 

The power of prayer is huge. I learned this when as a thirteen-year-old boy my nightly routine consisted of imploring the "power that be" for our baseball team to win our next game. I kept beseeching, we kept triumphing. First the district championship, where we bested cross-town rival Culver City in back to back one-run nail-biters, then onto section, and finally through division where we squeaked by a bigger and stronger team from Anaheim. We made history that summer of so long ago, no team in Beverly Hills before or since having made it as far as we did: all the way to the reg…

IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED...

My mom's memorial service is coming up. If you live nearby or would like to attend, it will be held at the Good Shepherd Church on Santa Monica and Roxbury in Beverly Hills at 10 a.m. on Saturday, November 12th. Both my brother and I will probably deliver eulogies on this great lady, and thinking about what I'd say I remember giving my brother Justin's eulogy after he died of cancer in 1996 at the age of 22. I went through his bedroom for inspiration and came away with a scrapbook of his in which I found the words, "In pain lies happiness." Yes, with his numerous accidents and surgeries and mishaps, Justin experienced more than his fair share of physical pain, and his threshold was so much higher than the rest of us mere mortals. The boy had such a hard head, in both senses of the term. But Justin also suffered a lot. 

I thought about the difference between pain and suffering, then about the meaning of suffering, and the purpose of life. Because though the terms a…

ALL-STAR FOODS

I am continuously bombarded by requests to prescribe the perfect meal plan. A stand-alone diet that can not only meet nutritional needs and satisfy caloric requirements, but also increase athletic performance while leaning a person out and, perhaps most importantly, making her feel fulfilled so that cravings disappear. Is this too much to ask? From the preponderance of diet books on the market, each offering a different and sometimes mutually exclusive version of "the truth," one would think that such a diet doesn't exist. While it is true that people are unique, we all have similar digestive apparatuses. So there should be at least some common ground.

What I've noticed after years of following a high carbohydrate vegan diet is that a higher fat intake can help improve dietary compliance. In short, fat makes you feel full and satisfies you for longer periods of time. It also tastes hella good, and please permit the coarse figure of speech.

And so, to keep matters simpl…

WINGS ARE OVERRATED

The 1987 movie Wings of Desire is about angels. These invisible, immortal beings move among the unsuspecting populace, hearing their thoughts and comforting those in distress. It is set in a Berlin which though 30 years old resembles most big cities today: throngs of distracted cosmopolitans are constantly rubbing elbows but everyone feels isolated and estranged. This was before smart phones! One angel falls in love with a human, a lonely trapeze artist, and chooses to become a man himself to enjoy food and other sensory pleasures. He craves the genuine if limited existence in the world, and takes a body to experience human love. They unite in the end, and when they meet it's as if they've always known each other. Their romance is continued in the sequel Faraway, So Close! Both movies are now cult classics. The film didn't impress me when I saw it in my early twenties. I couldn't get past the subtitles. But the notion of angels in our midst did stick. And I'm not a…

LOVE FEST

The scriptures discuss the various paths by which one comes to realize God. Three major ways are mentioned. The way of knowledge (jnana); the way of action (karma); and the way of bhakti (love and devotion). Respectively, these paths involve a life of study, a life of selfless service to others, and a life of surrender to the Self that is the soul of all. 
Each path has its proponents. Lovers of wisdom say that the path of action (karma) is prescribed only for purification of the mind, not for realization of the Self, while bhaktis counter that knowledge of the truth of the Self (jnana) is out of the reach of the mind and only obtainable by devotion to a higher power. But you are that Higher Power.
This talk of various paths is based on the illusion that you are somewhere and the Self is someplace else and you must go and strive and attain it. But in fact the Self is here and now and you are always It. The Self is synonymous with Love. Let its radiance shine as Love. The path of Love tr…

INNER SPACE

In January of 2013 National Geographic magazine published an article entitled "Restless Genes." It was about "the compulsion to see what lies beyond that far ridge or that ocean - or this planet," and how it's a defining part of human identity and success. The article discusses the uniquely human obsession with filling in the Earth's maps and exploring distant poles and high peaks, with sailing all the oceans and even leaving the planet. The question gets raised as to what gives rise to our "madness" to explore, what drives us to the moon and beyond? 

Of course there are genetic candidates, such as a gene called DRD4, which controls dopamine. Dopamine is instrumental in learning and reward. Roughly 20 percent of all humans carry a variant of this gene, which researchers tie to restlessness and curiosity. These risk-takers explore new places and opportunities, including drug and sex, and generally embrace change and adventure. I can think of a few f…