Friday, October 29, 2010

Random Thoughts, Part 5

1. The subject of vote fraud has come up several times already in this election season, and Election Day isn't even until next Tuesday.  I think fraudulent voting is almost exclusively the province of the Democratic Party.  First, who regards it unnecessary -- even "intimidating" -- to require documentation of one's citizenship to register to vote, and then of one's identity to cast a vote?  A person almost can't urinate in this country without showing ID, yet we're to believe that the exercise of the greatest privilege of citizenship should be accomplished without the slightest proof of eligibility?  And, pray tell, what eligible citizen is going to feel "intimidated" by having to show at least a driver's license or other government ID before he can vote?  (On the other hand, who benefits when dead people, non-citizens, convicted felons, and impersonators vote?)  

And, second, when was the last time anyone saw a Republican come out ahead in a vote recount where he wasn't ahead in the count initially?  I can think of three dubious examples off the top of my head, however, where a Democrat "magically" won a close election after trailing in the first count: (1) the Washington governor's election in 2004; (2) the Minnesota senate race in 2008; and (3) the New Mexico portion of the 2000 presidential election, when Al Gore got the nod due to some late-arriving (i.e., late-manufactured) votes.  In fact, I believe the biggest reason Democrats were so upset about George W. Bush's victory in Florida in the 2000 presidential election -- which, of course, put him over the top in the Electoral College -- was that they thought the "fix" was in and, for once, the system didn't permit the theft to take place (though not for lack of effort on the part of the Florida Supreme Court). 

2. The other lovely thing the Democrats are wont to do is flout election laws, a prime example being the completely illegal substitution of Frank Lautenberg for Robert Torricelli as the Democrat candidate for senator in New Jersey in 2002.  The scandal-ridden incumbent Torricelli, who had secured the Democratic nomination unopposed, was going to lose to his Republican opponent, so the party apparatus convinced him to renounce his candidacy and then, with no primary and well past the deadline prescribed by New Jersey law for replacing him on the ballot, put forth Lautenberg as its candidate.  Predictably, the New Jersey Supreme Court agreed with the Democrats that the law wasn't really "the law" (and, after the 2000 presidential election debacle, the last thing the U.S. Supreme Court wanted to do was get involved in another election controversy, so it denied certiorari), and thus the Dems kept the seat.  Now we find out that Bill Clinton has tried to convince Kendrick Meek, the African-American Dem candidate for the Senate in Florida this year, to quit the race so that the white "independent" (and former Republican In Name Only) Charlie Crist would stand a better chance of beating the Republican Marco Rubio.  Sometimes if seems as though there simply are no means (legal or extra-legal) that are not justified in the Democrats' eyes when it comes to their achieving the ends of power and control.

3. I recently watched the film Quadrophenia, the 1979 production of The Who's "rock opera" of the same name.  (Of course, the screenplay isn't really opera, since, unlike in Tommy, the music only provides the backing track to the story.) It's set in mid-1960s London, when various groups of young people in Great Britain were trying to find an identity through fashion, music, drug use, Lambrettas, and various other media; however, the real story in Quadrophenia is the decline of England in the post-World War II era.  I'm not the first to say it, but Great Britain chose decline, as its rising generation was filled with self-loathing over England's imperial and class-divided past.  The process of decline is ongoing in Britain to this day, as the government, now faced with choices rising from decades of deficit spending to fund its "nanny state," has elected to slash defense spending to near-helpless levels.  I foresee a very dark future for England, which at the very least will involve an existential civil war between the "yobbo" criminal class and second- and third-generation immigrants, mostly Muslims.  Which one is left standing at the end is almost inconsequential to the demise of western-European democracy and, indeed, civilization.

4. I wonder if we'll ever really see the rise of hydrogen-powered cars.  The regulatory environment for a new automotive industry will strongly inhibit private investment, and the government will never provide the impetus for that kind of innovation, especially as greater percentages of tax revenue have to be used to service debt previously incurred.  Rather, the emphasis will be on mass transportation, smaller habitations, lower levels of consumption, sharply curtailed child-bearing, and, in general, a lower standard of living.  When you come to view human beings as a parasite on Mother Earth, instead of her greatest resource, why wouldn't you try to halt their spread?  (Various entities, both government agencies and NGOs, have also been trying to unlock the secret to nuclear fusion -- which, of course, would provide the means for generating unlimited electricity with no radioactive byproducts -- but I see that effort eventually going by the wayside, too, and for the same reasons.)

5. I've now been released from my temple calling, although it was left open that I could return if either (a) I started feeling better, or (b) Dorine became available on Wednesday nights to work in the temple with me on the same shift.  Since I have no real reason to think either one of those conditions will ensue, I think I'm done.  I will miss it in some ways, and I really didn't mind it when I was there; however, given that I spent the rest of the time dreading it, releasing me was the right thing for the temple presidency to do.  I've gained a new appreciation for Job of the Old Testament -- worms aren't eating my skin, but reverses in one's health tend to have a corrosive effect on one's faith, and it isn't something I needed at this point in my life.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Our Pets

I've found it somewhat annoying that Dorine and I accumulate pets, not by choice, but by default when our kids have left home.  It's sad, in a way, that the pets we've been landed with don't get as much love as other people might give them, although we certainly don't abuse them.  At this writing, we have three pets: (1) an old gray cat named "Baloo"; (2) Darren's old leopard gecko "Gekker"; and (3) Kiley's (and Heidi's before her) miniature pinscher "Mischa" (or "Meisha," as Kiley prefers to spell it).  Baloo, who must be about fifteen years old now, is clearly on his last legs.  Once a fierce fighter (and adventurous -- we had to bail him out of Animal Control multiple times when he was younger after neighbors, who evidently objected to his killing doves and pigeons in their yard, trapped him and delivered him to the pound), he never leaves the yard now and is constantly hungry.  We've doubled his allotment of "soft" cat food to a full can -- two servings -- a day (in addition to the dry food that he now only eats when he has no alternative), but he simply never gets full.  The fact that he's become thin and extremely scraggly suggests either that his digestive system isn't working properly (meaning he just poops his food right out before he can absorb much in the way of nutrients) or that he's hyperthyroidic (meaning his metabolism is running at warp speed despite his recent indolence).  If I were my sister Kristen, I'd have long ago taken Baloo to the veterinarian and would be spending hundreds of dollars on medication for him.  But, alas, I'm not Kristen, and whereas we're willing to spend a little more on food to try to assuage Baloo's hunger, there's no way we'd consider incurring big vet bills and medication costs to attempt to improve his health or extend his life.  

I can't remember when Darren got Gekker, but I'm sure it was at least 11-12 years ago.  Dorine had initially understood that leopard geckos have a lifespan of 2-3 years, which was probably all we could reasonably expect Darren to care about him; however, it wasn't much later that Dorine found out that leopard geckos can live upwards of twenty years.  We have a "cricket account" with a local pet store, and crickets seem to provide a healthy diet for Gekker; anyway, he's still going strong.  (At one time we had two other leopard geckos, Zoey and Spot, but I can't even recall what happened to them; I assume we gave them away.)

Mischa (see photo) is probably the most exasperating of our pets, as she, if left alone inside to roam around, will invariably upset all the trash receptacles in the house to get at anything that smells remotely like food (and you'd be disgusted to know what she thinks smells like food).  She would be fat as could be if she were allowed to eat as much as she craves, which is why she generally gets only limited quantities of dry, weight-control dog food.  She's a smart little thing, however, and she clearly recognizes me as the "alpha dog" of the house -- for one thing, she loves to sneak out the front door and go explore the neighborhood, and my going out and yelling at her is the only thing that makes her see the wisdom of coming back immediately; and for another, she laps up any affection or attention I pay to her (which she hardly ever gets from me at this juncture, mostly because I feel like I have to go wash my hands after touching her).

I shake my head when I see how many people treat their pets like children, largely because they can't be bothered to have actual children, and thus their pets take on the role of surrogates.  I much prefer children and grandchildren to pets, however, and I look forward to the day when we no longer have any of the latter (and we can't be saddled with the ones that our kids no longer want).

Friday, October 22, 2010

The 2010 Mid-Term Elections

Well, we're less than two weeks away from the 2010 mid-term elections, and I'm interested to see how it all turns out.  It appears that the Republicans are a near shoo-in to regain a majority in the House of Representatives, although the Republican candidate in our district (NM-1), Jon Barela, has been polling behind the one-term Democrat incumbent, Martin Heinrich.  (On the other hand, the polls I've seen were conducted by what I regard as left-leaning organizations, so I don't give them much credence -- it won't surprise me if Barela wins, and by a comfortable margin.)  The big question is whether the Republicans will win enough Senate seats nationwide to regain control of the "upper chamber."  The 'Pubs would need to pull out a number of close contests that are, at best, toss-ups even with the ill winds that are blowing for Democrats this year, which include those races in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Illinois, Colorado, Nevada, Alaska, Washington, West Virginia, and California.  (Neither of the New Mexico seats is in play this year.)  I personally would find it tremendously gratifying if both Harry Reid and Barbara Boxer were sent packing, even if control of the Senate stayed with the Democrats.  As for the New Mexico governor's race, it appears that Republican Susana Martinez, currently the district attorney in the 3rd Judicial District (Las Cruces and environs), will defeat Diane Denish, the current lieutenant governor whose dreams of being governor were ruined first by inquiries into Bill Richardson's ethics and now by what only can be described as the Obama Economy and the Great Democratic Legislative Overreach of the 111th Congress.

Regarding President Obama, his residing for so long in an ivory tower, where never was heard a discouraging word, has left him almost completely clueless about our country in general.  If Obama were Bill Clinton, he'd be certain to pivot to the center now in order to position himself to win in 2012, but he's so certain of his own intellectual superiority and the self-evident brilliance of his ideas that I think re-election is only a minor concern of his.  The irony is that with a Republican majority in the House, and at least a non-filibuster-proof Democrat majority in the Senate, the economy is almost certain to start rebounding -- not due to anything the Democrats have done, but as a result of what they're no longer going to be able to do -- which rebound, the mainstream media will assure us, inures to Obama's credit.

Others have asked this question, but it bears repeating: Why are the Democrats seemingly so eager to follow the European model when many EU countries, from Germany to France to England to Greece, are admitting it doesn't work and are trying to move back in a more free-market direction?  We have the benefit of being able to look across the Atlantic (or, simply, to California) and see our future -- why do the Democrats insist on averting their eyes?

[Update, 11/3/10: Well, things went well nationwide for the Republicans, as they picked up at least 61 seats in the House, including one in New Mexico, and at least six seats in the Senate.  Susana Martinez, the Republican, likewise won the governorship of New Mexico.  However, I am mildly disappointed that Harry Reid and Barbara Boxer both won re-election to the Senate, and that Martin Heinrich will still be the congressman from our district.  Perhaps, with the new redistricting to happen next year, the new governor can help push a few Democrat strongholds into one of the other districts and thus make our district more 'Pub-friendly.  Still, it's a hopeful sign that the Dems will no longer be able to jam unpopular leftoid legislation through Congress for the next couple of years -- and we no longer have to put up with Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House.]

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Homosexuality--pardon my ignorance, but....

I've mentioned homosexuality in a number of previous posts on this blog, but up to now I've side-stepped addressing it directly.  However, a number of things that I've read or heard lately have got me thinking about it, and perhaps this post will help distill my thoughts in that regard.  My "default" opinion regarding homosexuality and gay people in general is informed by my Mormon upbringing, and of course the church teaches (a) that although a person may be particularly "susceptible" to temptation of a homosexual nature, no one is "born that way"; and (b) that homosexual conduct is, by its very nature (or its going "against" nature), wicked and sinful.  (It was instructive that one of the seventy gave a talk in General Conference several years ago in which he implied that homosexuality was, or at least could be, an innate characteristic.  But in the very next conference, Elder Boyd K. Packer, the senior apostle, pointedly scotched that notion.)  Reinforcing the church's position in my mind, at least, has been the fact that I'm about as "straight" as I can be and have always been repulsed by the idea of having sexual relations with another man.

Still, I've known quite a few gay people in my lifetime, and the paradox for me has always been that these people, with a couple of irritatingly militant exceptions, seemed like pleasant and thoughtful company.  A few were queer as the proverbial three-dollar bill -- such as my old boss's wife's associate, a real "flamer" who helped her run a charitable foundation here in Albuquerque.  Others showed few, if any, signs of homosexual tendencies -- such as the church missionary with whom I went through the MTC in 1979 (and who [i] projected a very orthodox, spiritual image to all who knew him, and [ii] spoke admiringly of an older friend/advisor of his who, I believe now, was probably his "mentor" in matters both personal and sexual).  And, finally, some showed signs that were only apparent in retrospect -- such as my friend Dickerson Watkins, with whom I palled around a lot in my singles-ward days in 1981-1984 (and who, I found out recently, was killed in Houston in 2006 by a hit-and-run driver).  I never stopped to question why Dickerson didn't seem to have much interest in girls -- in fact, at the time it seemed entirely reasonable for him to avoid them in light of the frustration they generally caused me to feel -- but I found myself thinking, after hearing that he'd come "out" and was living with another man, "Yes, I can see that now."

Thus I was interested the other day to read the theory (stated by a poster on a website that I read quite frequently) that homosexuality manifests itself in our society in a sort of standard bell-curved distribution.  According to this theory, the "outliers" on one end of the distribution were clearly born to be homosexual and could never have been anything else (think Boy George and Ellen DeGeneres), whereas the "outliers" on the other end of the distribution may, due to strictly environmental factors, have dabbled in homosexual behavior but decided it wasn't for them (think Jon Moss and Anne Heche).  And most of the broad "center" of the homosexual population is, therefore, influenced by a combination of innate and environmental factors.  Although this theory comports with neither LDS church doctrine (which still suggests that homosexual tendencies and, especially, practices are signs of moral weakness) nor the prevailing politically correct dogma (which seems to insist that environment is irrelevant to the discussion and that all gay people are simply "born that way"), it makes intuitive sense to me.  On one hand, I can't reconcile the notion that all homosexuals are grimy perverts with my generally pleasant personal interactions with them, nor does it seem entirely reasonable to judge the sexual proclivities of others by my own orientation and upbringing. 

On the other hand, it seems absurd to suggest that all gay people are equally innately disposed toward homosexuality, as I feel certain that most people know, for example, either (a) a lesbian who turned to homosexuality after being molested or raped at a young age by an older man or (b) a gay man who was recruited and seduced, also at a young age, by an older man.  My own half-sister Joan, who lived all of her adult life as a lesbian (after being molested as a young girl by a stepfather), confessed once to my mother that if she'd had her life to live over again, she'd have got married -- that is, to a man -- and had a family.  And the fellow I knew long ago as a missionary had, at the time he died from AIDS a number of years back, abandoned his homosexual lifestyle and been rebaptized in the LDS church.  It's difficult to gauge how much a natural predisposition may have impacted their lives, but to say there was no choice involved, or that environment or events in their lives had no role, is to fly in the face of all logic and reality.

A more-pertinent question to me is what will happen if, over time, public attitudes and/or activist legal precedents bring great socio-legal pressure to bear on the LDS church to accept homosexuality and encompass it doctrinally.  It's reasonable to argue that the church's (a) abandoning plural marriage in the 1890s, (b) reversing in 1978 its long-standing ban on conferring the priesthood and extending temple ordinances to persons of black-African descent, and (c) "softening" certain temple ordinances in 1990 (and at various stages thereafter) to remove controversial -- and, to some, offensive -- material, were more the result of societal and political pressures than divine revelation.  From this point of view, then, it's plausible to believe that the church will eventually alter its stand on homosexuality, and I know at least a couple of Mormon families with gay relatives who seem to be banking on it.  (On the other hand, the church was partly responsible for the non-ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment back in the late 1970s, which non-ratification seemed to deflate feminist protests against the church for its not extending the priesthood to women.  In that light, it doesn't appear wholly inevitable that public opinion will continue to incline increasingly toward homosexuality.) 

My point is that the church could abandon polygamy, then reverse its policy on blacks and the priesthood, and then change temple ordinances, and still plausibly claim it hadn't really changed its doctrine -- even though at one time these things certainly were regarded by most church members as doctrinal in nature.  However, a reversal of the church's stand on homosexuality would constitute a seismic doctrinal shift, leaving rubble that could not simply be swept under the rug.  Just how the membership at large would react to such a shift, regardless of their personal feelings on the matter, is difficult to say.  Some people already claim that today's Mormon doctrine is a watered-down version of what Joseph Smith and Brigham Young taught.  And I look at the present-day Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints -- which tellingly has changed its name to the "Community of Christ" -- and see an organization so watered-down that it has almost no reason to exist, at least separately from any number of protestant churches.  (It was formed in the 1860s as a sort of "patriarchal revival" of the church that Joseph Smith had started, but it has since all but abandoned any pretense of adhering to his prophetic legacy.)  

Could the LDS church follow suit?

[Update, 10/22/10: I've become more aware that there is a significant dissident "Mormon intellectual" movement, as is manifest in publications such as Sunstone and Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.  It's evident, judging from the tenor of these publications and various symposia or conferences associated with them, that if their publishers and contributors had had their way, the church would have long since embraced homosexuality, extended the priesthood to women, rejected the historicity of the Book of Mormon, and injected all sorts of other "progressive" notions into the church's teachings.  In other words, they would have watered the church down every bit as much, or even more so, than the "Community of Christ" has done to itself.  Two thoughts occur to me as I write this.  One is that there is nothing in this world so tedious as a Mormon who fancies him- or herself an intellectual, especially about LDS theology and cosmology.  And the other comes from the famous quote by William F. Buckley that he'd sooner entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 (or was it 2,000?) people listed in the Boston phone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.  Well, notwithstanding the issues I have with church membership, I'd sooner see the LDS church run by the 400-or-so new missionaries who will report to the Missionary Training Center in Provo next Wednesday than by the "Mormon intellectual" community.  There's no question it would be in better, safer hands.]

Friday, October 8, 2010

Hike to Cole Spring PG via the Faulty Trail, 10/8/10

The pictures above are cellphone photos taken on my hike in the Sandias with Dorine on Friday, October 8, 2010.  It was the fall holiday for the Albuquerque Public Schools, so Dorine had the day off; however, since it was my "on" Friday, I had to use a vacation day.  I had long wondered about the condition of the Cole Spring Picnicground, possibly the prettiest such place in the Sandias, given that about eight or nine years ago, a landowner in the area had blocked off the road leading to the picnicground to vehicular access.  (This is a sore point for me: rather than force the issue with the landowner -- there had been public vehicular access to the picnicground for at least forty or fifty years prior to the landowner's action, leading to the conclusion that, if nothing else, a public right-of-way had been established by prescription -- or even share the costs of periodically grading the road, the U.S. Forest Service essentially rolled over.  The unofficial policy of the USFS seems to be that anything that reduces use and impact is, ipso facto, a good thing, even if it entails being metaphorically sodomized.  There's your government, hard at work protecting your interests!)

Our five-mile route to get to the picnicground avoided private land entirely -- we started at the South Crest Trailhead at Canyon Estates, hiking up to the southern terminus of the (lower) Faulty Trail and then going north several miles on the Faulty Trail to the streambed that marks the short descent into the picnicground.  My question about the state of the picnicground was answered immediately: the USFS hasn't made improvement one since the last (and only) time we had a family picnic there in roughly 1991.  In fact, it appears that the feds are allowing the picnicground to fall apart and fade back into the forest, as it is almost in ruins at this point.  Still, Dorine and I were able to enjoy a nice, quiet lunch there; I took my backpacking stove, and we heated up some soup and ate it with blueberry bagels with strawberry cream cheese.

As for the hike itself, it was manageable for me.  I let Dorine lead and set the pace the entire way -- thankfully, she doesn't walk as fast as Jimmy Romero or John Brewer -- and, apart from a couple of places, there is no sustained uphill hiking on the route we took.  In short, it was a beautiful ten-mile walk in the woods to and from one of the most picturesque places in the entire range, and I got to share it with Dorine.  The low-res photos above show (a) Dorine sitting at the dilapidated table at which we had our lunch, (b) one of the stone staircases from what was the parking lot to the lower level of the picnicground, and (c) me sitting on the extant outlet for the spring itself.

[Update 3/11/11: Here is a photo from the above-mentioned picnic we had at Cole Spring in ~1991.  It should be obvious why I rave about the place -- it is an awesome picnicground, or at least was at one time.]

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Evolution of Victimology in the United States

The concept of "victimology" (defined by Webster as "the claim that the problems of a person or group are the result of victimization [i.e., being made victims by some other person or group]") has long been a huge component of American culture.  We simply wouldn't be the same country without the constant clamor for favoritism or reparations by various groups claiming to be victims of one invidious sort of discrimination or another.  In fact, under-representation relative to the general population -- of almost any type, in almost any activity or field, of just about any group constituting a minority -- is regarded by the intelligentsia as prima facie evidence of unlawful and/or immoral discrimination.  (But just try to posit that the relative lack of white guys in the NBA somehow violates the law.  [That's a joke -- the NBA, like all professional sports leagues, is a meritocracy, and rightfully so.])

With that in mind, it's interesting to note that not all the "victimized" are regarded as equal; in fact, there seems to be some trendiness associated with a de facto hierarchy of victim groups.  First, it was black people who reigned supreme.  (They had obvious disadvantages in America after three centuries of slavery, and then another century of Jim Crow and other practices constituting institutionalized racism -- although it's natural to wonder at what point we will really judge individuals "by the content of their character" and not by the color of their skin.  By modern lights, non-meritocratic favoritism of any kind must be considered suspect.)  In recent years, homosexuals seemed to displace black people at the top of the "victim" heap, which probably left a lot of the latter feeling a little bewildered, wondering how they were eclipsed by a group that isn't distinguished by race or ethnicity.

However, the "victim" flavor of the month now seems to be Muslims, which is an exceedingly curious phenomenon to me.  As at least one commentator once noted: just as "gay" used to be the "new black," now "Muslim" seems to be the "new gay"; in other words, "Muslim" has become the victim group that trumps all other victim groups when they contend among themselves.  Okay, take it as read that Islamist terrorist groups and jihadists don't speak for all Muslims and that they're perverting Islam as a religion. However, by any reasonable western standard, Islam is still misogynistic, homophobic, intolerant in at least a hundred other ways*, and authoritarian.  Which begs the question: why does the west (especially Europe, but increasingly the United States) bend over backward to accommodate Islam when the latter is so indisposed to assimilate or even to tolerate liberal western values (such as -- let's see -- not killing a daughter or sister who does something displeasing)?

The answer, I think, lies in the old adage "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."  Partisan hatred, particularly that aimed at conservatives by "progressives," has made for some strange bedfellows, and none are stranger than those who would share a bed with the abjectly intolerant in the name of "tolerance."  Islam may be antithetical to virtually every value ostensibly held by the Left, but, well, at least Muslims aren't lousy, rotten conservatives who believe in American exceptionalism and the inherent decency of their country.

* I found one prime example in a news story I read a couple of weeks ago. In it, a Muslim man was reported to have registered some kind of official complaint concerning how he was offended when some non-Muslim woman bent over within his sight and he was thus "forced" to contemplate how that woman uses mere toilet paper to clean herself after defecating and doesn't wash herself with water (at least until her next daily shower -- which, I'll warrant, is more frequent than the average Muslim woman in the third world bathes). You can't make this stuff up!

[Update, 10/21/10: National Public Radio has fired Juan Williams (one of its African-American commentators) now merely for stating -- regretfully, it must be added -- that he personally feels nervous when he gets on a plane and sees a passenger dressed in Muslim clothing.  I rest my case -- the Left's obeisance to Islam is so complete that they'll eat their own over it.]

[Update, 9/17/12: It occurs to me to mention that conservatives have their own strange bedfellows in the culture wars, a good example being Ted Nugent, a person who, by his own admission, is about as libertine in his sexual habits as one can possibly be, but is, at the same time, an ardent advocate of the Second Amendment, a foe of drug use, and a strident fiscal conservative.]

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Seeing a Neurologist

I have now had an initial consultation with a neurologist about my (self-diagnosed) problems with mal de debarquement.  He did a cursory neurological exam on me last Tuesday, September 28, and ordered blood tests and an MRI of my brain.  I had the MRI done on Friday, October 1, and I expect the neurologist to get the results of both the blood work and the MRI in a day or two.  Finally, I have another appointment with him in mid-November to run electrical tests.

All of this is a process of elimination, and if all goes as I expect, we'll have eliminated multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, brain cancer, etc. as causes of my condition.  Which will leave me in the same boat (no pun intended) I've been in since January, with an extremely debilitating malady for which there is no affirmative method of diagnosis and no real treatment.  I almost wish I had some fatal illness, as I don't want to live like this indefinitely.

The doctor's neurological exam did reveal some loss of feeling in my lower extremities, something I already knew about (and which pre-dated my dizziness), as I have a constant burning sensation in my feet.  I'm interested to know if the blood work will reveal the origin of this peripheral neuropathy.

[Update, 10/8/10: The results of the MRI and most of the blood tests came back.  The MRI showed no sign of a tumor or damage from a stroke, and the blood tests have come back normal thus far.  Just what I expected.]

The Stationary Bike versus the Treadmill

I've now been riding a stationary bike for my exercise, instead of running on a treadmill, since roughly the beginning of July.  This was a big change for me, since I'd run on treadmills since the early 1990s -- first at home in our garage and then, beginning in December 1999, at a gym.  However, two factors finally convinced me to switch to the bike: one, with a bike I constantly have five points of contact with the apparatus (compared to only one, or even none, with the treadmill while running), making it highly unlikely that that my mal de debarquement dizziness would cause me to fall off; and, two, the bike is much easier on my joints.  (I finally pulled an achilles tendon on the treadmill, which pull I aggravated every time I ran; the only way I could get it to heal was to do some lower-impact exercise, and the bike fit the bill.)

A big change for me was how I'd measure progress with a stationary bike; I mean, with running I'd simply count up the miles I ran, but a mile on a bike is a totally different unit of measure.  I quickly decided just to bike for thirty minutes on each visit and go as far as I could at a certain of level of resistance that is neither too easy nor too difficult.  And that's where I'm at.  My brother Kelly gave me a nice stationary bike that he was getting rid of, so I actually have a "home" option now, too, although (a) it doesn't have an odometer (making me "guess" about the mileage), (b) I had to go get a "gel" seat cover for it, since it has a "prostate punisher" racing seat on it, and (c) I generally just go to Planet Fitness with Dorine and Mike and Judy P______.