Posted by: JDM..... | March 16, 2014

Internet mine fields.….

…..and other lists of ways to cook rocks….

Much as I despise MSN, et al, I tend to emulate the other sheep and trot obediently to the website each day when I log on. There, I am (we are) anointed with inanities, interrupted randomly but frequently by pop-up ads and mouse-over triggered thinga-ma-jigs. Getting from one inanity to the next is like trying to race barefoot across a cow pasture on a moonless night without stepping in something.

I have been promising myself for the better part of an eon that I would dump the “cow pasture” and seek out a “home page” for those who might be above the average sponge on an IQ scale. Every time I dive into the process however, I run into a mine field of barriers, circular wild goose chases, and dead ends as I attempt to recapture my profile picture, shoe size, favorite vegetable, police record, seventh grade report card, and Santa’s other list, which I would prefer to destroy, if I can ever get my hands on it. Anyway, like most of us, I naively relinquished my birthright to my own business the very first time I followed the dulcet tones of the digital Sirens into Intellectual Let’s Pretendville. Pfffft! If I had been born a trout, I’d have been dinner at someone’s first cast.

Back to the issue at hand, or squishing up between one’s toes, or whatever one might choose to call it…..


….So, on one recent morning’s regularly scheduled journey into the mindless void of the MSN cyber-pasture, I suddenly realized that something titled “9 daily habits that are affecting your health”, being one of the more idiotic sounding blogettes on the menu, begged derision. I decided to risk the cow patties and jumped the fence.


I noticed that the list of “9 daily habits that are affecting your health” included ten items, but rather than stir that soup I moved on to the main course.

The Nine (sic) things were:

  • 1-Sitting with legs crossed at the knee can bump up blood pressure

  • 2-You stand with locked knees

  • 3-You sleep on your stomach

  • 4-You wear your belts tight

  • 5-You slouch

  • 6-You drive long distances without a break

  • 7-You stretch as soon as you get up

  • 8-You hold off on using the restroom when nature calls

  • 9-You chew gum

  • 10-You carry your purse the same way every day

1-The very first killer activity out of the gate was sitting with your legs crossed. The doctor whose “study” was referenced tilted his head forward, scrunched his eyebrows into a frown, and instructed Everyman to “avoid crossing your legs for longer than 10 to 15 minutes, and to get up and walk around every half hour or so.” I tried getting up and walking around every half hour or so back in 1959, which is probably, in part, why I got to do ninth grade twice.

2- The second epiphany, snagged from some journal article by an orthopedic doctor, instructs us to stand with knees slightly bent and not with knees locked. Heck, I learned to not lock my knees way back in AOCS so I wouldn’t do a domino drop on the Grinder in front of the CO. Other than that, though, I pretty much let my knees let me know what they prefer. When I try to stand around with my knees slightly bent, people scowl and tell me if I have to do that I should go outside or to the bathroom.

3- The third nugget of wisdom said one should not sleep on one’s stomach because that can compress nerves, causing pain and numbness. If I lay there worrying about neuroscience, I won’t get a pain in the neck but I won’t sleep either, which would be a real pain in the ass. Besides, I have no idea what position I sleep in because, well, I’m asleep at the time.

4- Fourth came the pronouncement that chasing the innermost hole on your belt might keep your pants up, but it can also lead to Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. That cracks me up. When I was diagnosed with GERD thirty-five years ago, my pants had nothing to do with it. However, there was a slight possibility that twenty years of hard drinking, a two pack a day smoking “habit”, and all of those jalapeño peppers and other gastronomic pleasures, some rivaling Naval Jelly and lye, might have been factors. I hiked up my drawers, cinched my belt to the point that I wouldn’t get arrested for indecent exposure or do an untimely face plant, and took my medications. I altered my diet too, but not enough to impress a blogging OCD gastroenterologist. So far, so good.

5- Don’t slouch. Good heavens, this is starting to sound like my mother on a bad day, may she rest in peace….(but not on her stomach).

6- Sixth on the menu was a little handwringing about “You drive long distances without a break.” So, some expert statisticator frets that a person driving 100-150 miles without taking a break could get leg clots. Frankly, I’ve always measured my journeys in increments of time, not miles. I was a salesman in Miami back in the seventies. Ever seen Miami traffic? If I’d gone by mileage, I’d still be there, clots, wet pants, and all. I take it the good doctor never drives farther than the local golf club, or else he doesn’t mind celebrating a few birthdays enroute on long trips. If people listened to their bodies they wouldn’t be reduced to learning the art of chewing food from a friggin’ blog. I always found it timely to take a break whenever had to drive with my legs crossed to keep from ruining the upholstery, or when “that funny noise” turned out to be the rumble strip on the side of the road. But, I digress.

7- I never stretch when I get out of bed, though not because some genius decided that is is a bad idea to stretch as soon as you get up. I usually get plenty of exercise trying to scramble to my feet so I can get rid of a leg cramp or to launch a slipper at the cat for leaping on my bladder at 4:30 a.m. Actually, the first thing most reasonably normal people do when their feet locate the floor in the morning is fart. For me, that activity is a hell of a lot riskier than doing calisthenics; I’m not twenty any more, you know!

8- Number eight on the list of this “YOU’RE GOING TO BREAK YOUR NECK!!!” list is why women shouldn’t delay using the bathroom when nature calls. I can appreciate the challenge that must present for women. How does one NOT delay the moment of “AHHHHH….” when in line at the grocery store, though, or on an elevator, or in the commuter lane during rush hour? We men face different parameters, the first consideration not always being the location of an appropriate place to relieve one’s self, but the second occasionally involving the odds of being arrested, or at least experiencing a little embarrassment. I could tell some stories.

9- I like Number nine: “Don’t chew gum”, obviously the edict of a dentist, a school teacher, or, once again, my mother. Everybody chews gum. The good Doctor sez “The jaw joint is designed to chew food, not gum…. ”. Cool. Ninety percent of the required ADLs and rituals of modern civilization are unnatural, for crying out loud. If we did what the body “was designed” to do, most of us would be in jail and the rest would still be on the lam. I chewed gum until I had to spend an hour trying to scrape the Chiclets off my new dentures one evening. “Gumming it” describes a whole new scenario now. Avid gum chewers don’t give a crap about jaw pain, doc. If they did, you’d be flipping burgers. Besides, the only pops and clicks I ever overheard emanating from my oral cavity were caused by a fist, not a silly little wad of synthetic rubber. That reminds me. When I was a kid, I actually worked in a chewing gum factory one summer, so I KNOW ABOUT THESE THINGS.

10- I can’t comment on number ten, “You carry your purse the same way every day”. I understand men carrying purses is accepted in parts of Europe, San Francisco, Key West, and few other enlightened milieus, but here in rural Maine the Enlightened Male is more likely to have a big black billfold stuck in his back pocket, attached to his belt with a chain. I have neither a man-bag nor a trucker’s briefcase, but I can still buy a cup of coffee when the mood strikes me or produce my driver’s license when someone in a uniform suggests I should do so. A physical therapist did advise me once that carrying my wallet in my back pocket probably contributed to my back pain and sciatica. I still carry my wallet in my back pocket, but the therapist managed to lighten it for me

I learned something by reading the MSN article, however. I learned that these medical professionals, most of who were still in diapers when I was flying barstools and Navy trainers upside down, read too much. My own doctor did, too, until I just sat there like a bump on a gurney saying nothing until he got his nose out of the computer and looked me in the eye. And then, at my age, I’m not paying him $150 plus per quarter hour to shake his finger at me and deliver some condescending oration about how to live a long and healthy life. I’m there for some magic potion to reduce the sensory consequences of having done pretty much what I damned well pleased for 70 years, a lifestyle I see no reason to willfully change at this point.

When my knees don’t want to walk any more, they won’t. I don’t usually stand around long enough these days for it to matter whether my knees are locked or not. When I’m on my feet, I’m going somewhere.

I haven’t slept on my stomach for decades. The laws of physics and a modicum of abdominal lard forbid it.

I may slouch a bit, but at least I’m vertical and on the sunny side of the lawn. Deal with it. The Drill Instructor said “At ease” fifty years ago, and my body agreed immediately.

I must concede that I don’t drive long distances without breaks anymore. First of all, I don’t usually drive farther than the local store anyway, but if I do I make sure I take a catnap every once in awhile. I pull over, most times.

I realize that the writer was probably focused on a woman’s viewpoint (after all, MSN is the twenty first century version of those sleazy tabloids sold at the grocery checkout or in the smoke shop next to where the men found their favorite skin mags), but neither the writer nor the physicians referenced seemed to have a practical understanding of male plumbing, especially that of a senior citizen. I rarely delayed decanting of the bladder as a pup, and I usually got away with it. After all, those truck drivers pulled off along the Interstate and standing on the grassy side of their rigs aren’t just enjoying the scenery. At this point, though, it’s not exactly a choice. Sort of like passing gas while standing in the checkout line at the grocery store. I never do that intentionally just to be funny, not any more. The fact that it is funny simply represents fortuitous happenstance.

I don’t chew gum anymore, as I explained earlier. It doesn’t matter that my jaw hurts anyway. Heck, everything hurts. You just have to learn to ignore it. If my jaw hurts, it’s probably hurts because my teeth don’t fit. That $3.50 tube of Super-Glue saved me $3,500, but there are some minor consequences, of course. Sometime I amuse myself by just taking them out and practicing wrapping my lower lip over the tip of my nose or doing a Moms Mabley shtick. Out of deference to my loving and tolerant spouse, I no longer do that in public restaurants or at the dinner table. At least not when we have company or when she is looking.


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  1. Great stuff. I can totally relate!!

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