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I once helped an old blind woman cross Queens Boulevard. And what nerve! She actually resisted my entreaty to help … which I ignored for her own good. Well, okay, she probably would have made it without me because she was hooked up to a guide dog. But, look, I wanted to help the dog, too. I don’t think ol’ Fido knew the light was gonna change so quickly. (I think he and all his brethren are color blind.) So I took control of the situation and all three of us survived the treacherous crossing which, if you know that road, has smitten many pensioners before us. I would have felt pretty guilty if something had happened to them and I hadn’t intervened. I’m glad I did it. And, you know what, I’ll tell ya something else: I felt pretty good doing it, despite the fact that I had to drag this old porpoise and her canine assistant kickin’ and screamin,’ ( they just didn’t get it about the light about to change).
Well, believe it or not, my good feelings about my good deed are supported by science. The evidence, based on some long term studies, suggest that those who help others help themselves. Yes, those that help actually increase their own life expectancy. No joke. Really! (From a Carnegie Mellon University study on volunteerism; June, 2013.) And longevity is only one of the perks. Other benefits from volunteering to help others include reduced stress, improved self-esteem, lower high blood pressure and, would you believe, fewer hospitalizations! That’s right. And add to all of that, the general satisfaction and fulfillment that your good turn brings. Also, it provides some sense of purpose for your life. It can enable you to finally attain some of that elusive ‘self-actualization’ that Maslow was talking about (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; famous 1943 paper). I mean the state of Nirvana will finally be within your reach (it’s somewhere between Montana and Idaho).
I’m not saying that giving is always better than receiving (I’d rather receive a thousand bucks than give a thousand bucks), but you can’t ignore all of these health benefits one accrues by participating in a program such as our’s. So, bottom line: Volunteering is heart healthy. More specifically, volunteering at Ping Pong Parkinson for an hour and a quarter a week can make you a centenarian. Guaranteed. (Full disclosure: You get a slice of pizza for free approximately every 3 months for volunteering at Ping Pong Parkinson. This may limit your longevity somewhat. You may only become a nonagenarian and live only until age 99. ) Lao Du
Warning: This is part of the flapdoodle (screwy-hooey) series of blogs by Lao Du. PPP is not responsible for any of it.
You know anybody who’s bought one of those Fitbits or any of the knockoff fitness trackers that have caught on with two-legged lemmings (a subspecies of homo sapiens)? I do. I know two of these gadget devotees … and I can tell you categorically that they’re both NUTS! We’re talkin’ big league nuts. Lemmings, as everyone knows, suffer from mass extinctions because they jump off cliffs (this may not be true, but let’s just say it is for this metaphor). Well, guess what? The lunatics wearing these faux watches, will also jump off cliffs if only to get their 10,000 steps in. I’m tellin’ ya, it’s crazy.
In case you don’t know (in case you’ve been hibernating), these sensory machines can do a lot of things (that you don’t need). Lots of people will tell you that they can do ANYTHING or, at least, almost anything. For example, they can tell you how many calories you’ve burned and it can give you data about your sleep. Listen to this amazing news: The Fitbit can tell you if you’re sleeping or if you’re awake!!! (Do I really need this gizmo to tell me that? Huh?) Hey, maybe it’s good for sleepwalkers, who knows. Maybe you can do 10,000 steps while you’re asleep? Great.
You can even use it for swimming, too. They made ‘em waterproof. Wow! And get this: There’s a “coach” (according to the manufacturer) inside the thing (he must be a liliputian) that tells you what swimming stroke you’re using (you mean you wouldn’t know?), your speed and distance and maybe how much water you’ve swallowed. (The expensive model may tell you how much more swimming pool water you need to drink before achieving a lethal amount of chlorine.)
What I wanna know is, how the hell has mankind been able to cope without an oximeter on his wrist for the last 60,000 years? And why does ‘modern man’ (and all his little lady friends) require precise information about his VO2 (oxygen consumption) while he is running? Answer: He (and She) doesn’t. It’s all junkola.
All right, now I’ll tell you what these little machines can’t do. Are you listening? It won’t tell you what an idiot you are for buying this thingamajig. Take it from Lao Du, you don’t need it. Just put on some grey sweat pants and get your ass to the track and start running.
You heard it here first. Lao Du
This so-called joyous time of the year has its perverse, paradoxical elements. Christmas and New Year’s Day can make things markedly more stressful than they already are. Your cortisol levels (a stress hormone) can skyrocket. Here are some hints at combatting these seasonal stressors, annoyances and frustrations.
Take a deep breath. Hold it for a 5-10 minutes. (Hint: if you do this underwater, you can get yourself into the Guiness Book.) If you’re still with us, try repeating it. (Caution: Once rigor sets in, it’ll be very hard to relax your muscles – especially if you’re breathing has stopped.)
Another breathing exercise is the alternate nostril method. This is slightly disgusting and offensive to many delicate people, so you might not want to put any of your fingers near those orifices when there are squeamish people in the vicinity. My informed recommendation is to use leftover corks from wine bottles. (Caution: Do not use two corks simultaneously.)
Many gurus out there suggest you get into the lotus position and meditate. I personally found this very unsatisfactory, as my meditation turned to mostly concentrating on how to get out of the lotus positon … which was killin’ me. If you insist on meditating, I would advise getting comfortable. Do it from a chaise lounge or a hammock.
Try chanting. The professionals recommend an hour or two of this. I recommend one to two seconds (because if someone hears you, they’ll probably call Bellevue and have you admitted to a locked psych ward).
Finally, do not talk politics with anyone who voted for someone who raises your blood pressure. Have a bat ready to curtail any such discussion.
If you faithfully follow these thoughtful measures, then you’ll probably have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. If you don’t, then at least come to the club and play ping pong on January first, which should be your New Year’s first and foremost resolution. Lao Du
I’m not what I used to be. (None of us are.) These days I find myself getting tired playing ping pong, frequently needing to sit down and take a rest. There was a time, not that long ago actually, when I could play for hours at a time, and I could do hard physical labor from sun-up to sun-down, practically nonstop. Now my ‘breaks’ are longer than my actual work time. And it’s not just the energy factor, either. It’s hard to admit, but my skills in doing things have also deteriorated.(Where did my backhand go?) I suppose this (gulp) is aging (don’t want to admit it). So what am I (and everyone) supposed do about it? (I dunno exactly, I’m asking you.)
Well, I guess we can try to be positive and optimistic. (Kinda hard to do that when you’re losing to everyone playing ping pong). People tell me to be flexible and be open to change. Adapt, they say (use a sponge paddle). Don’t look back. Look the other way, towards the future. They tell me to reinvent myself. Reinvent myself? What the heck does that mean? (Get a smart phone? Nah, too expensive.) One woman told me to take the regrets out of my life. Another told me to stop keeping grudges (I’ve always loved keeping grudges). Someone else advised focusing on good stuff, not the bad. I guess those are all reasonable and prudent recs, but I just continue on my old, well-worn, somber pathway.
When I joined the Ping Pong Parkinsons group, I was actually embarrassed that I had become this chronic complainer, a crybaby. It was seeing this contrast with the members in the group, that I discovered that I had no right to my chronic whining and acting as though I was the victim. Because here were people with the bad luck to be afflicted with a horrible neurodegenerative disorder who were fighting courageously to hold on. These are really courageous people, I was thinking. I mean they don’t have a choice, but their facing this illness with valor and a truly gritty resoluteness in fighting it was (and is) inspiring to me. And I don’t hear them complaining – truly astounding.
Yes, our ‘Pongers’ are indeed inspirational. They have influenced me positively. And I have been reminded how lucky I really am. Lao Du
PS: Currently, I’m reformed and I give myself a quota of only three complaints a day – mostly on the high prices at the supermarket. Take tomatoes, for example. Why should plum tomatoes cost two bucks a pound? And how come they have no taste? Ah, that’s another story. LD
Ping Pong Grieving
(Warning: the following blog contains more flapdoodle [screwy hooey] from Lao Du. PPP is not responsible for the inanities contained below.)
Losing a close match can change your life for the worse. It’s like a death. Pure despair. Although losing is a part of life – and after all, we can’t win all of the time – it’s very painful. So, how do we respond to these losses? How do we grieve?
Well, for sure, there are many ways to grieve and, indeed, many paths to recovery. Me? I just roll up into the old fetal position and bawl like a baby. Hey, works for me. We’re talking crying your guts out. Lotta tears. I try to do this in private, as you could readily understand how embarrassing it would be to see an old shnook crying right there at ping pong table # 3 in the big hall. And, then, after the crying transforms to weeping, and the weeping to intermittent sobs, I stop playing ping pong. That’s right! Maybe for a few weeks or a couple of months. Maybe a year. And, then, you know what? I’m feeling great. As I said, works for me.
But then you have your stoics who remain dry … and approach it in what might be regarded as a more mature response to adversity. These guys (and gals) have obviously been instructed by their shrinkologists to manage life’s challenges – the sadness and sorrows – with something they’d call more positive. The shrinkapoos provide these loser patients with cognitive therapy (an intellectually appealing way of fooling the loser into thinking he can make sweet lemonade from sour lemons). And they also use relaxation therapy and other various sorcerous means to reduce the stress of their ping pong defeats. I mean they’ve got machines with bio feedback and brain stimulation – the whole megillah. (All well and good, but my way is less expensive. Lao Du)
Of course, there’s a lot more. For more information on how to handle ping pong grief, we’ll send you your own personal copy of Overcoming Ping Pong Tribulations for only 3 easy payments of $43.99. Act now and you’ll also receive an autographed free photo of Lao Du in the fetal position. Please include 3.99 for shipping and handling.
Tai Chi II
In 2012, there appeared an article in the New England Journal of Medicine (a gold standard) about tai chi and Parkinson’s Disease which basically endorsed it as beneficial. Subsequently, the National Parkinson’s Foundation came on board with the same conclusion and recommendation. I have checked out several reviews (meta-analyses which combine statistical results from multiple trials) relating to Tai Chi training (none available that I could find for the last few years) and the consensus concurs with the above opinion. The bottom line (with a caveat by some reviewers in these analyses that the sampling size is too small): Tai chi training reduces falls and improves postural stability and also improves strength and balance. I think it is safe to say, therefore, that tai chi is a good choice for joining our other modalities (stretching, aerobics, ping pong, juggling, boxing etc.) in the treatment and management of Parkinson’s Disease. ART
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