Medium Articles

Monday, July 30, 2018

How Can I lose Weight Fast?

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How many people have Googled the question, “How can I lose weight fast ?” I am willing to bet that hundreds of thousands of people have. Well if you’re looking at this article for answers to that question , don’t be upset because you won’t find any answers here.
If you do a search for help in losing weight you will find hundreds of sites, mostly all useless. You will undoubtedly find results in sites such as “Wikihow”, “Ehow” and “Ezine” and if you look closely enough you will notice that the articles are almost exactly the same. Drink plenty of water, exercise, eat more fruit and vegetables, consume less fat and sugar and count your calories. This is information the average person would know, unless they have been living in a cave all of their life. Then you will find sites selling miracle diets or supplements, ranging from diet teas to exotic fruit from the jungles of the Amazon. Diet teas work great if you want to sit on the toilet all day and give up eating! Diet supplements usually are very expensive and consist of ingredients which have absolutely no effect on weight and can be very dangerous in many cases. Many of these miracle weight loss supplements raise your metabolism, which also raises your heart rate and blood pressure. Coffee is a much cheaper and safer alternative . You can also buy over the counter drugs that prevent fat from being absorbed by your digestive system. These work great as long as you don’t mind the occasional “accident” you have when you sneeze or cough, or when you thought “it” was going to be gas. If you take the these pills you should be very careful when you go out in public.
Aside from the supplements there are a number of alternative exercise techniques, like vibration plates that are supposed to shake the fat off you. Some of the advertising claim that you can burn 1000 calories in 15 minutes. None of the current research on these techniques have found any positive benefits for weight loss. I have known people who have tried the vibration plates and paid some hefty fees over a few months period. The only weight they lost was in their wallets!
Some sites advertise “body wrap” where they promise you can lose inches around your waist. Of course you do. The wrapping just moves the fat to another part of the body! If this doesn’t work maybe you can try electric muscle stimulation to shock the fat off your body. Once again all of the current research shows no evidence of any weight loss benefits. If you read any literature on the above techniques, you will find some extremely fine print at the bottom of brochures or customer testimonials, which say that success comes only when used in conjunction with proper diet and exercise.
The other sites you will run across will be legitimate sites which offer just that — proper diet and exercise. They offer advice on eating healthy, along with recipes and foods that will help you lose weight and keep it off. Other sites offer exercise programs and tips that will help you burn fat and lose weight in a healthy fashion. Of course there is always the tried and true methods offered by Weight Watchers. I have used that program and managed to lose quite a bit of weight over time. Of course it isn’t cheap. There are sites that advertise gyms or home exercise equipment to lose weight and keep in shape. Unlike weight loss miracles, supplements and the latest fat burning technologies, nutrition and exercise have been proven, over and over again to be effective for weight loss. Two very important factors for anyone who wants to lose weight are the proper motivation and emotional support from family and friends.
The bottom line is that for most of us, we are fat because we eat way too much of the wrong food and won’t get off our butts to do any exercise. We realize we are fat but we are too damn lazy to do anything about it except to waste our time looking for a miracle quick fix weight loss gimmick. There are really no excuses for anyone who wants to lose weight and is willing to try. It is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. The answer to the title question is very simple. Eat less, drink water and exercise more and don’t give up. You didn’t get fat overnight and you won’t lose the fat overnight, either!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

They Don't Make TV Shows Like That Anymore

Lately I have been seeing posts on Facebook with photos of old TV shows from the 50's, 60's and 70's, with the caption telling you to like if you remember it. I must admit that I remember all of these shows and become quite nostalgic when I look at the photos. I always "like" them and "share" the photos. So far I have seen "The Andy Griffith Show", "The Brady Bunch", "The Lucille Ball Show" and "Cheers".

Seeing these led me to reminisce about other old shows. Some of my favorites were "The Life of Riley", "Leave It to Beaver", "Father Knows Best" and "Our Miss Brooks" to name a few. There are many more TV shows that I and others around my age should remember. Not all are as old as the ones I just mentioned, but they are the ones I remember fondly.

When I think about watching these shows I think of a simpler time when I was younger than 12. I had nothing to worry about and nothing to fear, except for maybe not getting my homework done on time. I can remember sitting in front of the old black and white General Electric television in my living room and watching these shows with my parents and older brothers. The plots were simple, usually nothing more serious than getting a failing grade in school or not getting the chores around the house done. There was no sex. The parents slept in separate single beds and  heck I don't remember even seeing the parents' bedrooms until "The Dick Vandyke Show". There were no drugs, no swearing or profanity and no violence. The only gun play was in the westerns, but there was no gore or mass shootings. In all of these shows the neighbors were all friendly, well dressed and  well to do middle class people. They were nothing like my family, or the family of anyone else I knew.

None of these shows portrayed poor families, homeless people, handicapped people, Blacks, Asians or Hispanics. Everybody was white. No one was Catholic or Jewish and certainly not Muslim.  There were no gays or even people who could have been gay. Everybody seemed to be married or widowed. None of the mothers worked, even though the very young and  older women worked as either librarians or teachers. Even though these shows took place during the Cold War, there was no mention of it.  There was absolutely no mention of any social issues whatsoever. It was a perfect world of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Americans, undoubtedly all Republican too.

We may look back and think about the old days, when everything was peaceful and simple, with no problems and no worries. In reality though these TV shows portrayed an America where everyone was hiding their heads in the sand. The plights of minorities, such as Blacks and Women were ignored and not talked about in public. Children were going hungry and being physically and sexually abused and there was a great deal of domestic violence that was ignored by everyone, including the authorities. There was gang violence, there were drugs , race riots and all manners of discrimination that was legitimized by looking the other way. Everything was perfect only if you were White. The only reason life was so simple was the fact we did not know about all of the suffering taking place, not only in our country, but in our own neighborhoods of our home towns.

I look back at my childhood and have warm memories and feelings when I think about these old TV shows. I wonder if , no I hope, that all people my age can look back at their childhood, when also thinking of old TV shows and feel the same warmth as I do.


Adam and Eve: The First Dysfunctional Family?

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I grew up Catholic and attended Catholic schools through high school. So naturally I had to attend religion classes where the Bible was the central textbook authority. I can remember being taught about the Creation and the story of Adam and Eve, just like every other Christian, Muslim or Jew has been taught. We were taught that God created Adam from the dust of the earth and then created Eve from a rib taken from Adam. The Bible also teaches us that Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. That was it. No questions asked, just believe it.

 Now that I am older and have completed my formal education and am still being educated in life, I have developed numerous questions. I actually think about these questions quite frequently. Years ago in biology class I learned that in order for the population to increase and be healthy, men and women must reproduce, as in the union of egg and sperm. I also learned that in order for humankind to flourish there must be diversity in the gene pool. This means that the offspring of closely related parents can and will be genetically defective.

 I have also learned through history and civics classes that in most cultures it is illegal to marry first cousins or siblings, even though this may be common in some parts of Appalachia or some third world countries. Marrying close family members is called incest and is considered immoral by all religions and societies, regardless of whether or not it is part of a country’s laws.

 This is where problems with the story of all humankind descending from Adam and Eve arise. According to the bible Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. Some religious scholars say that the Adam and Eve had as many as many as 56 children (poor Eve). So did the rest of humanity come to be as a result of Cain and Abel fathering children with their mother, Eve or all 56 of these children fornicating with each other and their mother? Many hard core fundamentalists argue that somewhere in the Bible it mentions that Cain had a wife and could not have had an incestuous relationship with his mother, but where did he find his wife? Did he share her with Abel, his brother? And did they have children? Strict fundamentalists, wearing blinders, insist that the Bible is correct in saying Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel were the first family, and refuse to entertain any other ideas to the contrary.

 The stories of Creation and Adam and Eve are very confusing, unless you accept them blindly like many people do. I accepted the stories of the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus until I became old enough to question them and see the faults in these myths. Even though I knew they didn’t exist it was fun making believe. I think that instead of believing that Adam and Eve were incestuous and the Bible was promoting such a relationship, I would rather believe that the story is just another fun myth, which was used by the authors of the Bible to teach an illiterate and uneducated populace lessons of religion. Just like Santa Claus, making believe Adam and Eve was real can be fun and educational.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Myth of Saw Palmetto





     I have been taking saw palmetto for over 20 years.  I first started taking it when I read that it prevented prostate problems, including benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer.  Before I started taking the supplement, naturally I did some research on it to determine it's efficacy and safety.  At that timeI learned that it had been used for years in Europe to treat prostate problems.  Much of the research added that it is as effective as  prescribed medications, such as Avodart and Flomax.  If a Google search is done one can also see that saw palmetto can also reduce the size of the prostate gland which would reduce the annoying symptoms of BPH. 

    Now that I am 70 years old I am one of the millions of American men who suffer from the symptoms of BPH.  These include frequent nighttime trips to the bathroom, weak urinary stream, urgency and incomplete bladder emptying, among others.  Apparently saw palmetto didn't work, at least for me!  Each of the primary care physicians and urologists I have visited over the years knew I was taking saw palmetto, but never advised against it or even mentioned it. I continued taking it , I guess in the hopes one day I would begin to see a benefit.

   In the past couple of years as my nighttime trips to the bathroom became more frequent I began once again to research the efficacy of saw palmetto treatment for BPH.  As before I saw the same testimonials regarding how great the herb was for millions of sufferers.  But unlike before I discovered that there is actually very little scientific research to substantiate the claims that saw palmetto can be beneficial in the treatment of BPH or any other prostate conditions.  I came to doubt the claims of the relief of symptoms offered in reviews of prostate support supplements containing saw palmetto, which I read on prostate health forums and Amazon product review pages.  I found more and more people like me who found no benefit from taking the supplement.  So finally I decided to stop my daily regime of supplementing with saw palmetto and other prostate health supplements.  It has now been over 2 months since I have stopped the supplements and my condition has not changed a bit!  I'm not saying that saw palmetto may not help some men, but for me it is of no use.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Christianity Now Has A Different Meaning to Me


    I was raised a Roman Catholic and was educated in Catholic schools through high school.  When I was growing up if you were asked about your religion you responded either Protestant, Catholic, or Jewish.  Rarely did anyone answer with the name of a protestant denomination.  No one ever simply said "Christian".  Even though there was some prejudice towards Catholics and Jews in my home town, usually nobody cared about your religion.  The religions I knew when I was growing up were the mainstream established religions such as Catholic, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist.  There were really no storefront churches or so called evangelical churches yet. I didn't really give much thought to religion, other than going to church because my parents made me or during religion class in school.  The only time I felt uncomfortable with religion was when the nuns and priests condemned gays as sinners as I expected at that time that I was gay.  I thought this was odd as I found out later that many of these teachers were gay themselves!

    When I was in college I almost began  to accept myself as being gay, while at the same time seeing the rise of the "born again" Christian movement.  After graduation I began questioning some of the teachings that were hurled at me in Catholic school and in Catholic church.  I saw the hypocrisy of many of the teachings and the teachers.  As I began to accept myself more I became braver in questioning my religion or any religion for that matter.  With the growing strength of the Civil Rights movement and the gay rights movement, I saw the growing strength of new "Christian" churches and religions .  It seemed as though anybody could start a church with a couple of followers and a vacant storefront.  When I was growing up, my church and other mainstream churches held festivals, bake sales and food and clothing drives to help the poor.  After all that is what Jesus Christ taught us to do. What was obvious to me was that these new "Christians" were not teaching the love of Christ, but were constantly preaching hate and intolerance.  They were against anyone or anything that was different or that they did not understand, including other religions. It seemed as though every time I went shopping in downtown Boston, where I lived after college, there was some deranged "Bible thumper" filling the air with vitriol about gays, gamblers, atheists or anyone who was in the least way slightly different from what they believed to be a true Christian.  Even at work I met a few fellow employees who were insistent that I was an atheist because I was a Catholic.  Their church taught them that Catholics were not Christians.

    With the advent of cable TV these so called "Christians" soon took over the airways.  I was annoyed by having to pay for religious channels that attacked me and others who did not fit their idea of a human being.  Christianity was no longer a religion but a business.  It was sickening to see the poor and elderly being promised a place in heaven for turning over a large portion of what little money they had to a religious business tycoon!  Once they were on the airways they metastasized to the political arena to spread their hatred and to fleece their ignorant followers.  They have become known as "the Christian Right" and have taken over the Republican Party.  Instead of espousing true Christian values the have been bastardizing the Christian faith to form strong opposition to such issues as gay rights, abortion, same sex marriage, women's rights and even public education.  The time honored bastion of our democracy, the Separation of Church and State, is slowly being obliterated.  They are now attacking the basic human rights of millions of Americans with the implementation of religious liberty laws that basically give right wing Christians the right to legally discriminate against anyone whom they find to be different, on the grounds that these people offend their religious values!

    These hate mongers, posing as Christians and wrapping themselves in cherry picked Bible quotes, are so filled with hate and bigotry that they have mocked Christ by supporting an adulterous, misogynist, racist, sexual abuser as president.  The very ideals of Christianity, which would preclude a really religious Christian from supporting Donald Trump, are completely thrown aside in favor of promoting bigotry and racism.  Decades of advancement in civil and human rights are in danger of being destroyed by Trump and his Supreme Court nominees and his racist Attorney General, who support religious liberty laws.  With what is happening with the Trump administration's war on immigrants, more correctly, non-white immigrants, one would expects religious leaders and churches to actively oppose the disgusting actions of our government, but it's not happening! The mainstream Churches are stepping up, but what is surprising is that the far religious right either remain silent or are in lock step with Trump.

    I probably now pay much more attention to religion, than I did when I was younger, but for a different reason.  Now I pay attention to religion more of a means of self protection or self preservation!  Years ago when a person told me what religion they belonged to I considered it as a point of information and nothing more.  But today when someone tells me they are Christian I immediately shy away from them.  Today when someone says they are Christian I interpret that as being a white supremacist or a bigot.  (The same way I view the confederate flag.)  Being gay I automatically mistrust them. They are not the Christians I knew growing up.  I see them as enemies trying to destroy my marriage and denying my civil and human rights.  I have heard Christian preachers call for my death, simply because I am gay!  That's not what Christ would do!

    To these fake Christians I would say if you don't like abortion, don't get an abortion. If you disagree with same sex marriage, don't marry a member of the same sex. If you don't like transgender people, don't become transgender. My being gay or being in a same sex marriage does not affect you in any way, but your hatred and intolerance affects me and millions of others.  I don't care how you live your lives, but don't try to legislate how I live mine. Live and let live and as Christ said "Love thy neighbor as thyself", even the Gay, the Brown, the Black, the Muslim, the Jewish, the transgendered and sinful neighbor!


Thursday, July 12, 2018

I Just Can't Catch My Breath



For about 12 years now I have had a continuing problem with shortness of breath. I am particularly effected by changes in weather, especially changes in the barometric pressure and humidity rather than certain allergens. I become short of breath when I exercise or whenever I am outside after the sun sets.  Before I begin having difficulty breathing my sinuses begin to drain and my post nasal drip increases dramatically.  I have had post nasal drip 24/7 for about 12 years. About 10 years ago I underwent sinus surgery which did nothing. My sinus CT scans show no abnormalities and my lungs are clear. I have used every kind of inhaler that is on the market with no success.  There are many activities I would like to do, but am unable because of this breathing problem.

I have been to numerous doctors in Boston, Penang, Malaysia and Rochester, NY.  Each of them have said I have asthma.  I was referred to a cardiologist who "guaranteed" that my shortness of breath was due to anemia. He did a blood test which proved him wrong. I then underwent stress tests, ECG's and echocardiograms that showed nothing. He surmised my shortness of breath was attributed to asthma.
I was referred to an allergist who tested me for a variety of allergens, all of which were negative.  I tried to explain to her that the weather caused my breathing problems, but she poo pooed my assertion, even when I had an attack as a sudden thunderstorm went through the area.  After trying a variety of inhalers and steroids, which constantly made me dizzy, and scheduling a pulmonary function test, which showed asthma, she quit scheduling any more appointments.  Her office says that have no record of me ever being there!  Needless to say I gave up on her, as she gave up on me!

I was then referred to an ENT specialist who was the most honest yet. After examining my sinuses and CT scans he admitted that there was nothing wrong with my sinuses and he had no idea what was causing my asthma. He also told me not to expect that doctors know everything!

Next I went to a pulmonologist, who was the most useless yet! I paid $50 co-pay and $125 for the tech to take an inhaler out of the package to show me how to use it! As if I didn't know anything after 12 years of inhaler use!  She arrogantly told me I had asthma and her treatment was to continue using my inhalers!  I refused to make another appointment with her as it would be a waste of time and money.  It doesn't take a specialist to tell me to continue to take my medication that doesn't work!

I told my PCP about all of my experiences and he agreed that the specialists were  of no help. He agreed not to give up and encouraged me to keep researching my condition, as he would also.  I am continuing to research vitamins and natural supplement in hopes of finding something that offers positive results. So far nothing has helped, but I will keep trying.
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