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  1. Rare Swimming Obsessed Video-less Vlog

    by , October 12th, 2009 at 05:58 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    5:34 p.m., Columbus Day, Oct. 12, 2009, Sewickley Heights, PA

    My son Ben turned 21 today, which prompted my twin brother John to say, "That's amazing, bruddie. The first adult Thornton male in a generation!" He paused to reflect, then added, "maybe two generations."

    Ben and his friend Ben Armstrong just took off for the long drive along the Pennsylvania Turnpike from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, where Ben is going to Temple and his friend Ben is living with a girl who is going to Temple.

    It's not that I am feeling terribly old, exactly, but there is something about having your first born son turn 21, and your second born son getting his driver's license a couple weeks ago, that makes you realize that the Celestial Time Clock has not suddenly started running backwards. It is, if anything, running in its usual forward direction faster than it once did, i.e., those blissful childhood days of yore when the wait from Dec. 22 to Christmas seemed to last centuries.

    Now, it seems that if I blink just slightly longer than usual, Christmas has arrived again. Blink. Christmas. Blink. Christmas.

    The only thing that does seem to take forever is swimming distances that used to go by in a flash.

    Which brings us to tonight's Bill White workout, which is basically 4,000 yards in a 60 minute time allotment: warm up, 6 x 500 with assorted challenges--first one DPS, second one alternate side breathing, third one faster; repeat; then some sort of cool down.

    Maybe it is the nature of being in the middle of an age group where a certain slowing down appears to occur. Maybe it is the prospect of losing the cheating suits that have allowed me for so long to defy my age. Maybe it is a general weariness borne of my time in the wilderness, followed by a horrible swimming meet, followed by a bad cold, followed by a resumption of responsibilities, followed by the resumption of wintry conditions (I blink, and once again I find myself changing from my layers of clothing in a snow storm into my swimming costume! Blink! Christmas! Blink! Funeral!)

    In any event, what was that William Carlos Williams poem:

    An old man
    in a dry year
    dum dum de dum de dum
    being read to by a boy
    dum de dum
    waiting for rain.

    Or maybe it was Christopher Smart and his famous cat:

    for he is of the Tribe of Tiger
    for he can swim
    for he creeps

    So now it is 5:47 p.m., time to make my way down to the YMCA, perchance to do an old man's warm up, back and forth, paddling here, paddling there, dead man's floating hither, dead man's floating thither, Christmases passing by the edge of the pool like telephone poles on the speedway, and still I have not made it through the first 175 yards of the interminable 500...

    Am I just talking myself into decrepitude? Or am I railing against the dying of the light through jest and hyperbole?

    I shall force myself--force myself!--to try in practice tonight.

    The only thing that could possibly make me stop is last minute Christmas shopping, for it seems that the money extraction season is upon us once more, and we old men creakily bend over, assuming the position whereby the extraction can proceed with the least trauma to all involved!

    Wish me well, youngsters! I am your trailblazer and proxy for your fate!
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  2. Wilderness Update Plus News About My Fungus

    by , October 14th, 2009 at 05:36 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Upon my return from the Wilderness, I brought back the following types of data:


    • 27 minutes of footage from a borrowed Sanyo camcorder I was unable to download onto my PC but my son was able, eventually, to download onto his Mac. It's not the greatest quality footage, and the sound and the video are not well synchronized, giving the whole thing the flavor of a 50s era Japanese Mothra movie set, for inexplicable reasons, in the Rocky Mountains. Still, this footage represents my first day and a half in the wilderness, so I want to get this up before the subsequent serial installments. I think Jack can fix the audio-video dissynchrony and post the various installments on You Tube for me, since I have no idea how to do this with Mac software. However, getting him to do it in a timely fashion is proving difficult.



    • Nearly 60 minutes of Flip Ultra video, which is on my PC, and I can upload, but I am waiting for the first stuff first so as to be minimally confusing to what I suspect with be the paucity of vlog viewers who end up making the Big Commitment to watching the entire Jim de la Selva Americana mini-series.



    • Approximately 3 hours and 59 minutes of high quality digital stereo audio of me talking, talking, talking, weeping, screaming, laughing, singing, gnashing, stuttering, grunting, laboring, telling bears to scat, and for a very short time, yodeling in the alpine meadows.



    • 489 still photographs, many of them featuring me in various poses, almost always providing some sort of scruffian variation of the Blue Steel look pioneered by Derrick Zoolander



    • my precious memories of my personal resourcefulness and heroism from the lengthy ordeal, memories that can not ever be taken away or repudiated since I was the only one there and I shall not, will not, dispute any facts that I say occurred. I suppose some neurological researcher somewhere could hook me up to a fMRI to see if he can find any unusual activity patterns among the neurons of my brain's LBL, or Lying Bastard Lobes. But I will vigorously resist any such unlawful invasions of my body and mind and alleged soul with all the vehemence I can muster



    • a fungus that appears to have taken up residence on the left side of my groin. This may be the result of wearing the same pair of underwear briefs for five consecutive days and nights without taking them off, days and nights in which my nether regions were kept continuously irrigated by my own copious sweat production, dribblings of potable water rendered nonpotable by my kidneys, nocturnal clamminess inside the dank tent chamber and perhaps stoked by my readings of dread-inducing Stephen King, and regular dousings by creek water, rain water, and the odd melting snowflake.



    A fungus, of course, was not my initial diagnosis. I was pretty sure at first that I had once again contracted VPDC, one of the most common conditions known to men like me, and the women who love us. Well, pretty much just men like me.

    Despite how common it is, there is little if any research money available for its study, a consequence of the puritanism of the previous administration. There is also no cure for VPDC, or Venereal Punishment Disease Cancer. Among teenagers who practice excessive onanism, VPCD can lead to blindness, hair on the palms, and loss in a faith in a benevolent God (though paradoxically strengthening belief in a Horribly Vengeful One.)

    Thank god, my swimming coach Bill White told me he was pretty sure I had a fungus infection and not VPDC. He recommended an anti-fungal creme applied twice a day for the rest of my life or a week, which ever came first.

    It appears to be working. After three applications, the itch of this lesion has gone from merely maddening to Kierkegaardian. Evidently, the poison has caused the fungi to begin fighting for their lives, like daemons resisting extgermination by Max Von Sydow's Holy Water.

    The nonhuman, nonplant miscreants (what exactly are fungi anyhow?) are now Linda Blairing me furiously every waking hour, and I must tie my wandering hands to the bedposts at night to keep from scratching myself into a eunuch in my sleep!

    I plan to take my small tube of generic antifungal foot creme (what is the male groin if not a kind of third foot anyhow? one upon which we belly-crawl the earth, leaving a slime trail, impossibly desirable manly molluscs humping our way towards the little females of our kind!) to swimming practice tonight, and then afterward cauterize the area with yet another slather of exorcistic unguent!

    How I imagine the mushrooms will scream then!

    By the way, here is a picture of what Jock itch, also called tinea cruris or ringworm of the groin, looks like:




    Here, on the other hand, is what the Wilderness looks like:



    Coincidence that these two species of groin-stabbing pointy entities should look like identical twins?

    I don't think so.

    In fact, I have concluded that my itch is less the result of an infection per se, and more a case of the wilderness spirit claiming official possession over what has always been one of the wildest, least ruly zones of my body.

    There is a River of No Return somewhere out there in central Idaho.

    Now there is a much less famous, but equally wild, River of No Return somewhere inside my recently changed undies, as well.

    Wild they are, both of them, and leading nowhere you want to be. But, god help you, you cannot resist going!

    With luck, I will be able to begin posting footage very soon. Show of hands, please! How many want to see everything I can possibly show you?

    All righty then! It's unanimous!

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  3. Worsening Groin Disaster, Rated XM for Mature Medical

    by , October 16th, 2009 at 12:42 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    I went to the doctor this morning, explained the situation about my time in the Wilderness, and the gradual appearance of a smallish lesion sometime after my return from the woods, and how this has steadily blossomed--in spite of, or perhaps because of--the various self-treatments I had tried (OTC anti-fungal foot creme; powerful cortisone creme for thumb fungus; scalding hot water dousing).

    He had me drop my pants and Hog Sheathe to reveal the horrorshow lurking below. It now looks like an open stab wound, or some kind of attempt by my body to transform my gender against my will, or maybe like the first axe strike that will eventually lead to my left leg cracking and the need to cry "Timber" when the thing crashes on the ground, possibly making a sound, possibly not, depending on whether there is anyone around to hear it, and that person's philosophical leanings.

    I'm getting off the track.

    He looked at the lesion as I looked at his eyes. A doctor becomes steeled over the decades by human disgustingness, but this was of such a revolting caliber that I dare say even Edgar Allen Poe would have been moved to vomit at the sight of it.

    First warning: you, too, will soon have the opportunity to see this in a coldly sterile medical photograph taken by me on my Logitech QuickCapture internet camera.

    Do not look if you are underweight, for to look at this lesion as it has come to be over the course of the past few days is to virtually guarantee that you will lose both your appetite and your lunch.

    Indeed, it's only a matter of time before the Jim Thornton Groin Catastrophe Pictorial Diet Plan catches on with startlets all throughout Southern California and its surrounding valleys and nooks.

    So the doctor said, "It doesn't actually look like a fungus--more like an infection. Is it possible you might have been bitten by a tick?"

    He proceeded to list a number of suspects he wanted to run titers for, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and/or other germs of the rickettsia group.

    As Wikipedia sums up:

    Rickettsia is a [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genus"]genus[/ame] of [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motility"]motile[/ame], Gram-negative, [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endospore"]non-sporeforming[/ame], highly [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleomorphic"]pleomorphic[/ame] [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacterium"]bacteria[/ame] that can present as [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cocci"]cocci[/ame] (0.1 μm in diameter), rods (1Ė4 μm long) or thread-like (10 μm long). [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obligate_intracellular_parasites"]Obligate intracellular parasites[/ame], the Rickettsia survival depends on entry, growth, and replication within the [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cytoplasm"]cytoplasm[/ame] of [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eukaryote"]eukaryotic[/ame] host cells (typically endothelial cells).[1] Because of this, Rickettsia cannot live in artificial nutrient environments and are grown either in [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biological_tissue"]tissue[/ame] or [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embryo"]embryo[/ame] cultures (typically, chicken embryos are used). In the past they were regarded as microorganisms positioned somewhere between viruses and true [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacterium"]bacteria[/ame]. The majority of Rickettsia bacteria are susceptible to [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antibiotic"]antibiotics[/ame] of the [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetracycline"]tetracycline[/ame] group.
    Rickettsia species are carried as [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parasite"]parasites[/ame] by many [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tick"]ticks[/ame], [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flea"]fleas[/ame], and [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lice"]lice[/ame], and cause [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disease"]diseases[/ame] such as [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typhus"]typhus[/ame], [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rickettsialpox"]rickettsialpox[/ame], [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boutonneuse_fever"]Boutonneuse fever[/ame], African Tick Bite Fever, [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocky_Mountain_spotted_fever"]Rocky Mountain spotted fever[/ame], Australian Tick Typhus, Flinders Island Spotted Fever and Queensland Tick Typhus [2] in human beings. They have also been associated with a range of plant diseases. Like [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virus"]viruses[/ame], they only grow inside living cells. The name rickettsia is often used for any member of the [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rickettsiales"]Rickettsiales[/ame]. They are thought to be the closest living relatives to bacteria that were the origin of the [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondria"]mitochondria[/ame] organelle that exists inside most [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eukaryotic"]eukaryotic[/ame] cells.
    The method of growing Rickettsia in chicken embryos was invented by [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_William_Goodpasture"]Ernest William Goodpasture[/ame] and his colleagues at [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanderbilt_University"]Vanderbilt University[/ame] in the early 1930s.


    How typically inane of me to have worried about misadventure with wolverines, pizzlies, and porcupines when the real threat were non sporeforming highly pleomorphic obligate intracellular parasites!


    Warning number 2: do not look at my pictures if you are squeamish, prudish, or plagued a disturbing triumvirate of traits that include bed wetting, fire setting, and animal getting. These pictures will either greatly disturb you or enable you to begin acting on certain fantasies that are best left unacted upon. You have been warned twice!


    My friend and swimming coach, Bill White, who in a recent comment about yesterday's vlog, Groin Disaster! ( http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?b=5894--less than 50 hits and no 5 star ratings yet--honestly, would it kill you to click on this link and revisit!) banned me from swimming practice till the Pierian Spring in my groin stops producing liquid, anyhow, Bill and I got to talking today after my new diagnosis, and I told him that I would love to be able to show my regular viewers what exactly it is that I am suffering so egregiously from, but due to its location and the family values of the USMS community at large, which doesn't take kindly to rickettsia in these parts, anyhow, I lamented that I couldn't do so without inviting complaints and the likelihood Jim Matysek would be recruited into taking such a graphic vlog down.


    Bill came up with a great idea: simply cover over what EricOrca referred to as my "naughty bits" with a picture that provides a schematic sense of where the lesion is in relationship to a medically accurate if idealized anatomical drawing.


    Which will make much more sense once you see it.


    However, I must now issue Warning Number 3:


    Do not read any further, nor examine in any way, least of all great detail (which can be done by holding down the ctrl key and tapping the + sign on PC's, not sure exactly how to zoom in on lesions on a Mac.)


    Do not do this, please!


    Furthermore, if you are a woman who has secretly been harboring unrequited romantic leanings towards me, you have reached something of a fork in the road here.



    If you want to rid yourself forever of these tortured unrequited feelings, then looking will absolutely do the trick.


    If, however, you find that fantasizing about me gives your life a sense of meaning it had never known before, and you are holding out hope for the 1 in 10,000 chance, nay, 1 in 1,000,000 chance the lesion will ultimately (as the doctor predicts) heal, then do NOT look at these pictures, for the night bell once rung can not be unrung, and Jim's Groin Disaster, Rated XM for Mature Medical, shall surely haunt you all the days of your life, and more!


    Final warning.


    Do not look.





    The armamentarium now includes antibiotic ointment and antibiotic pills and bandaids to keep the poultice in place. The cortisone and antifungal cremes are no longer being used. The Wolverine Spirit God continues to be an important part of the incantations I speak when delirious.






    Male patient, 57, wearing an item of garmentry sometimes referred to as "panties" by his women friends but which he himself calls the Hog Sheathe







    Patient's suspected Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever lesion displayed beside an anatomically stylized locator graphic that keeps this photo from being erotic and instead renders it XM-rated for Mature Medical viewing only.
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  4. Update from the Ward

    by , October 17th, 2009 at 11:30 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Not much news to report.

    I awoke this morning to note that the inflammatory striations appeared to have diminished.

    I scalded the area in the shower at 5 a.m., put more antibiotic cream on, went back to sleep till 10 a.m.

    I had coffee and an antibiotic pill and spent the rest of the morning getting my affairs in order.

    Another scalding, another goo application, and a nap so deep it was like being folded into the Kafka nut.

    When I awoke, striations appeared to be restriating.

    I ate a sandwich, watched Pineapple Express, took another antibiotic pill, wondered at how truly disgusting human flesh can quickly become, tried not to dwell too deeply on the etiology of arachnidism and the like.

    To be honest about it, so far no positive developments. It is possible that the rate of worsening is slowing, but that could be wishful thinking.

    Another scalding now, another application of goo that is supposedly good for impetigo and MRSA, then we shall see how the night goes.

    Since I didn't know what impetigo was, I just did a web search and found out it is a common skin infection among kids:

    here are two types of impetigo: bullous impetigo (large blisters) and non-bullous impetigo (crusted) impetigo. The non-bullous or crusted form is most common. This is usually caused by staphylococcus aureus but can also be caused by infection with group A streptococcus. Non-bullous begins as tiny blisters. These blisters eventually burst and leave small wet patches of red skin that may weep fluid. Gradually, a tan or yellowish-brown crust covers the affected area, making it look like it has been coated with honey or brown sugar.

    Bullous impetigo is nearly always caused by staphylococcus aureus, which triggers larger fluid-containing blisters that appear clear, then cloudy. These blisters are more likely to stay intact longer on the skin without bursting.


    My friend Jack Martin told me he had a staph infecion on his foot, and had to be treated in the hospital.


    I am really hoping this doesn't come to that.
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  5. Seeing it through to the End

    by , October 18th, 2009 at 07:05 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    First of all, I do appreciate the fast-dwindling number of you out there in vloglandia who remain willing to follow the zeniths and nadirs of my occasionally swimming-related life.

    As you diehards know by now, the vlog has taken on a particularly confessional tone since returning to the wilderness and finding myself afflicted by a small lesion, no bigger than a match head, that looked like a teeny tiny mouth that was watering ever so slightly.

    I am not sure why any lesion, big or small, would be mouth-watering. Perhaps--and I concede here this may be wishful thinking on my part--the reason was because of said lesions proximity to my manhood. Can there be such a thing as a small, lustful, female, mouthwatering and mouth-like lesion?

    Probably not, but this, at least, is how it first manifest itself to me a week or so after my return from the Wilderness. Tiny, itchy, perhaps lustful, but really nothing too terribly serious. Nothing to write home about.

    You can follow the transmogrification of said lesion, from miniature to bear trap-sized, by simply going back and reading, in the following order, any of these vlogs that you might inadvertently skipped over (or simply want to reread for fun and enlightenment.)

    Wilderness Update Plus News About My Fungus


    (Oct. 14th: first official vlog mention of the lesion, though I suspect I had been bravely keeping its existence to myself for at least a little while before)

    Groin Disaster!


    (Oct. 15th: back in the Halcyon days when I still believed the lesion was as benign as crotch rot)

    Worsening Groin Disaster, Rated XM for Mature Medical


    (Oct. 16th: written after I went to a doctor, who told me it wasn't crotch rot but perhaps a tic bite that was now infected; he sent out my blood tests to Mayo Clinic to check for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and other possible arthropodial calamity; he also gave me antibiotic pills and an ointment, both of which I later discovered through internet research are used in the treatment of MRSA, or flesh-eating bacteria, as well)

    Update from the Ward


    (Oct. 17th: the most lugubrious entry yet, written after two full days of antibiotic treatment that had not seemed to help one bit; I did not even attempt to joke around in this vlog, for there was no jollity in Mudville that night, Mudville being my increasingly disgusting even-to-me groin region)

    Which bring us to today's entry:



    Seeing it through to the End


    (the first in what I hope will be a series of photographs documenting my return to health in the not impossible-to-imagine future. Since I am obviously biased by the fact that I am, well, me, and I variously think I see improvements, and think I see worsening catastrophe, depending on my mood and the pain level at the time, I am hoping that my readers and viewers can rate the lesion's nastiness in an objective way, thus helping me know--for real, not from hope or dread--if I am improving, staying the same, or slinking ever closer to perdition.

    For sake of consistency, I propose a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being utterly perfect groin health of the sort one might imagine exists in the inner thighs of the most alluringly beautiful young chaste milky white and unblemished prepubescent nun that ever could live. 1, on the other hand, is for decomposing wretches for whom leprosy is only the icing of the cake for a 1,001 other syphilitic, acne'd, pustulent, flesh-eating, pruritic, and foul smelling dermatological murderers that have shared the same damned dermis.

    We shall, for simplicity's sake, judge today's lesion of mine a ranking of 50.

    Tomorrow, if I am ambulatory to take and post another snapshot, and you think I have improved, then perhaps I will deserve your vote of 51. Or if things have gone the other way, perhaps a 37.

    One other quick note before the picture. I received this warning from the ever caring Mermaid. In addition to rating my lesion, I am wondering if the carefully couched legalese in the warning actually applies to me. I am planning to continue swimming practice. I don't think my infection is waterborne. Let me know your thoughts on this matter, too: To Swim or Not to Swim with the Lesion.

    Oh, and when you do look at the picture, consider singing to the tune of George Harrison's wonderful, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"--

    I look at my groin, which must surely be healing--
    Still my bu-
    boe gently weeps--

    With every unguent, it must surely be crusting--
    Still my bu-
    boe gently weeps--

    I don't know how-owow germs were inserted
    My flesh was inverted too
    I don't know how-owow skin got perverted
    No one alerted you.

    I look as it grows ever more like vaginas--
    Still my bu-boe gently seeps--



    Please rate the following
    on a 1-100 scale:



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  6. Kona Wedding Bells--sans mention of unmentionable)

    by , October 19th, 2009 at 06:17 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Since there have been several requests that I take a break from my lesion's progress, today's vlog is taking a temporary verbal sabbatical from groin pathology to groin excellence.

    A number of you may have met my good friends and Sewickley YMCA Sea Dragons (Elderly Division) teammates, the former Mr. Jeremy Cornman and the former Miss Jocelyn Smith.

    Jeremy is the only swimmer on our team to still have his name up on the Big Board where the Quaker Valley High School record times are kept. He is a superb sprinter, particularly in butterfly, capable of swimming a 50 SCY fly in the 24.8 range.

    Jocelyn is an adult-onset swimmer and former college running star who became more serious about swimming after A) meeting Jeremy and B) swerving to miss a groundhog on her then new $3000 triathlon bike and ending up with metal pins in her collarbone.

    In recent years, Jeremy has made a name for himself in two sports: triathlons and steam bath endurance. He is great at the former, and legendary at the latter.

    Both he and Jocelyn qualified for the Boston Marathon this year, then Jeremy qualified at Lake Placid for the Iron Man in Hawaii. Jocelyn almost made it but not quite.

    In any event, the two just got back from Kona, where Jeremy did quite well.

    If you have ever wondered what this is like, I highly recommend you look at Jeremy's blog where he deconstructs his race and provides some great pictures. Fascinating: http://jeremycornman.blogspot.com/

    The day after his slightly over 10 hour triathlon performance, the two got married and became, officially, Mr. and Mrs. Jocelyn Smith.

    No, just joking.

    I think they are now both Cornmans. Or Smith-Cornmans. Or Cornman-Smiths.

    Or Smiths.

    In any event, I present to you the incredibly lovely couple, J & J--both of whom, I would venture to bet, score close to 100 on the groin scale (though I have nothing to go on here, just imagining what it would be like, especially Jocelyn, while trying to explain to them both the concept of droit de seigneur, so far without much luck):



    Note: I am pretty sure J & J had this wedding picture taken in black and white because they knew they were coming back to Pittsburgh and wanted to prepare themselves for the shock.
    _________________________________________________
    As indicated in the title, there will be no verbal mention of the unmentionable here, however, I am going to add today's picture beneath yesterday's picture to see if you can detect any changes.

    'Nuff said about that.



    (Above photo taken on Sunday)




    (Above taken Monday)
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  7. Anatomy of a Nutty

    by , October 20th, 2009 at 01:28 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Regular vlog readers may recall that I have long made a distinction between two forms of hypochondria:


    • the delusional form, wherein a sufferer imagines he or she has a serious illness, becomes obsessed with it, and eventually cannot be dissuaded out of this belief despite all medical evidence to the contrary



    • the non-delusional form, which is identical to the above with but one subtle distinction, i.e., that the sufferer knows full well his or her beliefs are irrational but nevertheless still can't shake their obsessive hold


    The Masters swimming world, I have learned, has no shortage of both forms of this disorder. For purposes of lively debate, let me just throw out Leslie "the Fortress" Livingston and Paul "the Hulk" Wolfe as prototypical exemplars of Type 1, and myself as a text book example of Type 2.

    Note: if either Leslie or Paul happen to read the above paragraph and take even minor offense at my suggestion, I think we can all agree that this proves, beyond doubt, the validity of my diagnosis.

    Call their rancor a positive Thornton Sign.

    We armchair clinicians have long understood that delusional hypochondriacs always express a positive Thornton Sign when confronted with an accurate diagnosis of their disorder. The condition is, alas, ego alien, and sufferers will do anything in their powers to spit the hook, so to speak.

    Non-delusional hypochondriacs, on the other hand, just as invariably express a negative Thornton sign. To us, hypochondria is hardly alien to our sense of self; it is, alas, all too ego syn-tonic. Thus we will not debate our diagnosis but rather acknowledge it via a kind of hopeless existential shrug with which both Sartre and Kafka were so intimately familiar.

    The following passage by Mr. Kafka, I think, perfectly captures the mindset of those of us in the non-delusional hypochondriacal world.

    It was very early in the morning, the streets clean and deserted, I was on my way to the station. As I compared the tower clock with my watch I realized it was much later than I had thought and that I had to hurry; the shock of this discovery made me feel uncertain of the way, I wasn't very well acquainted with the town as yet; fortunately, there was a policeman at hand, I ran to him and breathlessly asked him the way. He smiled and said: "You asking me the way?" "Yes," I said, "since I can't find it myself." "Give it up! Give it up!" said he, and turned with a sudden jerk, like someone who wants to be alone with his laughter.

    My non-delusional hypochondriacal twin brother, John, is good friends with the non-delusional hypochondriacal screen writer Jon Cohen (Jon's most famous screenplay was Minority Report). Jon, who could be our triplet psychiatrically speaking, coined a term for episodes of our form of the disease: nutties.

    I am slowly being sucked into a nutty right now, and I thought it might prove enlightening to those who have never suffered one to see the sequence--and perhaps reassuring to fellow travelers that you are not entirely alone in the murky world where "give it up! give it up!" is the best advice you will ever get.

    Step 1. An actual symptom appears somewhere on your body or within your mood. In this case, the actual symptom was the first tiny mottled skin lesion in, well, you know very well where the tiny mottled skin lesion was.

    Step 2. Attempt at John Wayning the thing away. Ignore, deny, and assume that the body is resilient, such buboes are temporary, the best cure for any medical problem is to ignore it.

    Step 3. Persistence of symptom, with or without worsening, though worsening does tend to get ones attention.

    Step 4. Attempts at self cure via over the counter products.

    Step 5. Asking friends about it; trying to corner a doctor on your swimming team into looking at the lesion and offering free medical advice.

    Step 6. Short-lived last attempt regression to Step 2.

    Step 7. Internet research

    Step 8. Go to a doctor and take his or her recommendation, expecting fairly quick improvement

    Step 9. When improvement fails to occur within 17 minutes, more Internet research.

    Step 10. Constant monitoring.

    Step 11. Attempts to clarify your thoughts on the nature of the buboe and its possible causes by writing these thoughts down.

    Step 12. Recruiting new technologies, like a Logitech QuikCapture webcam and blog capabilities, to contribute your thoughts to the Internet

    Step 13. Accidentally discover new possibilities for the buboe's cause, possibilities that actually have some plausible connection to your own case, such as a side effect to a drug you have taken for other reasons. Case-in-point:

    FDA issues warning for Provigil


    (Reuters) UPDATED 2007-10-24
    Provigil, a medication used to treat excessive sleepiness, may cause serious skin rashes and suicidal thoughts, according to a warning from the Food and Drug Administration. Rare incidents of life-threatening skin rashes and psychiatric symptoms in patients with a history of depression and mania have been reported with Provigil use. Patients with narcolepsy or obstructive sleep apnea who take the drug to help stay awake should stop taking the medication if they develop such reactions.

    Step 14. Follow up the new suspect with additional Internet research:

    Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis are two forms of the same life-threatening skin disease that cause rash, skin peeling, and sores on the mucous membranes.

    • Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis usually are caused by drugs or a bacterial infection.
    • Typical symptoms for both diseases include fever, body aches, a flat red rash, blisters that break out on the mucous membranes, and small areas of peeling skin (Stevens-Johnson syndrome) or large areas of peeling skin (toxic epidermal necrolysis).
    • Affected people are hospitalized in a burn unit, given fluids and sometimes corticosteroids and antibiotics and all suspected drugs are stopped.

    In Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a person has blistering of mucous membranes, typically in the mouth, eyes, and vagina, and patchy areas of rash. In toxic epidermal necrolysis, there is a similar blistering of mucous membranes, but in addition the entire top layer of the skin (the epidermis) peels off in sheets from large areas of the body. Both disorders can be life threatening.

    Step 15. Clammy dread begins to seep into ones pores, and the mind becomes increasingly hi-jacked with thoughts of ones dermis beginning to peel off in sheets, which leads to more frantic internet searches for photographs documenting this outcome

    Step 16. The word nonsense! echoes through the back eddies of the non-delusional hypochondriac's mind, often in close tandem with such worries are madness!

    From these early stages 1-16, of course, the nutty only begins to gain strength like a ligature being twisted with the help of an inserted stick to provide leverage and torque.

    How quickly the narrowing spiral tightens!

    Alas, it is only starting. And as much as we know what we must do, we cannot yet do it. We have not become sufficiently exhausted. The prospect of our flesh tearing off our bodies -- such worries are madness! --still seems a fate to be avoided. We remain too energetic to view flaying as salvation.

    Much further in the future still is the only mindset that ever ends one nutty and inaugurates the interlude of peace before the next one starts:

    "Give it up! Give it up!" said he, and turned with a sudden jerk, like someone who wants to be alone with his laughter.

    Pictorial groin update later today, after tennis.
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  8. Red Letter Day...So far

    by , November 3rd, 2009 at 12:09 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    I returned to the office of the beautiful blonde dermatologist sans merci and was escorted into her parlor by a brunette nurse. The nurse instructed me to remove my pants and underwear, the elastic in the latter of which she could not fail to see was exhausted. She gave me a paper drape with which to cover myself and then she briefly left the room, leaving my unguarded medical chart on the formica table.

    As soon as she was gone, I bounded over and looked at the results:

    Results negative for herpes simplex 1 and 2 and herpes zoster.

    Then the nurse reappeared, and I said, "So I don't have sexual leprosy?"

    And she said, "I don't know, I haven't looked at the test results yet. The doctor will be in to go over these in a minute."

    Despite this waffling, my heart was doing somersaults. The lesion was still idiopathic!

    The nurse snipped the stitch and pulled it out and left.

    A few minutes later, the beautiful blonde dermatologist knocked once and entered. Perhaps it is projection on my part, but she seemed to have found in the one week interlude a portion of merci for wretched minions like me.

    Wretched, albeit not incurably venereal, minions.

    She smiled and said the tests for herpes and shingles were negative.

    There is a certain obsessiveness in me that likes to narrow things down to the 10 to the minus 12th power of certainty.

    "So," I said, in hopes of clarification, "you are saying I don't have sexual leprosy?"

    She smiled again and said, "Leprosy was never one of the suspects." But then, perhaps having some familiarity with patients like me, she added, "You DON'T have sexual leprosy."

    So much for the swab test results.

    Unfortunately, however, the pathology lab results (cookie cutter biopsy) had not yet come back. The beautiful blonde dermatologist, who now seemed to kind of like me, promised to call my cell phone as soon as these did come in.

    I asked her if groin cancer had now emerged as the next likeliest suspect.

    "I don't think malignancy is very likely, given how suddenly the lesion appeared," she said. "Malignancies usually take a long time to develop."

    More likely agents, she thought, were some sort of fungus, bite, poison plant, or other cause of the inflammatory process. It could still theoretically be another form of bacteria, but that's unlikely given the fact that I already went through antibiotic treatment without benefits.

    I told her that the area, which is clearly healing, still itched like crazy. She asked if the steroid creme she gave me free samples of was helping. I told her I stopped using it because it didn't seem to be making any difference, and she replied that it can take up to a week for that to work. She recommended I resume auto-anointment (my phrase, not hers).

    She said whatever it was, it wasn't contagious anymore (if it had ever been), and that it was okay to resume swimming. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I had already done that.

    In any event, this whole episode has resulted in collateral damage of multiple stripes to the innocent. I will dedicate myself to making whatever amends are possible--and take the ongoing maddening itch in the spirit of much deserved punishment and penance for my sins.

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  9. Core + Recovery Swim, Monday, Nov. 16

    by , November 16th, 2009 at 05:20 PM (The FAF AFAP Digest)
    Drylands:

    This morning I was back and forth from my little one's school, so I didn't have time to hit the gym. So, I did the P90X Core Synergistic Workout (60 minutes) and the Ab Ripper (15 minutes). I was forced to take a break halfway through the first one.

    Core Synergistic:

    Here are the 20 exercises on the P90X Core Synergistic workout:

    I marked the ones I liked best with an *. However, the hardest exercises were the sphinx push ups, prison cell push ups, and the combo plank-chatarunga moves. These would be great exercises, but they're not so much for me with a creaky left shoulder. If you have no shoulder issues, they look fabulous. In general, the workout is pretty good because there are numerous exercises and all the core muscles are worked (mostly simultaneously with complex movements). The downside is that there is some injury potential for those with shoulder or lower back issues. I've seem comments on the internet that it is "very hard." Not so -- there are some tough moments, but it's not overwhelming.

    1. Stacked foot/Staggered Hands pushup*: One hand forward one back, one foot on top of the other--do 5 pushups and switch sides until you can't anymore

    2. BananaRoll: Start on back with legs and arms extended 6-12 inches off floor-hold for 5, roll onto side hold for 5, roll onto back hold for 5....Keep going!

    3. Leaning Crescent Lunges:Lunge forward at 45 degree angle while extending your arm in one straight line with your back leg holding dumbells.

    4. Squat run: Squat position with one leg in front, holding dumbells moving your arms back and forth like you are running--switch legs.

    5. Sphinx Pushups: Rest on forearms elbows under shoulders. Press up off forearms until arms are straight. Great lat exercise.

    6. Bow to Boat*: 5 seconds in bow flip over 5 seconds in Boat, repeat

    7. Plank to Chatarunga run: While in plank run your knees in for 10 seconds then go down to a chat positions and do a fast type of crawl while hovering!!

    8. Walking Pushups: I did this on the hardwood part of our basement. Get in plank with your toes on a towel and walk with your hands 4 counts forward and back keep repeating for a minute.

    9. Superman/Banana:* Alternating Superman and then roll onto your belly for arms and legs off floor position/ Go back and forth

    10. Low lateral skaters:* Slowly shifting side to side in a deep lunge while lifting your straight leg at the end of the movement

    Lunge and Reach*-With weight in hand reach down to front leg as if you are lifting something off of the floor, then reach up and twist as though you are putting it on a shelf. 30 seconds on each side. This is essentially a easier, lower weight, higher rep version of the twisting squat swing I do with a 25 pound plate.

    11. Lunge-Kickback-Curl and Press: 20 reps. Tough total body movement provided you use adequate weight.

    12. Reach High and Under Pushups:* Combine standard pushup then a sideplank from sideplank reach under like a pilates twist and repeat. Very tough. Oddly, side planks don't hurt my shoulders as much as regular planks.

    13. Prison Cell Pushup:
    From standing bend forward to plank do a pushup bring your right knee in and out, do another pushup, bring left knee in and out do another pushup, do third pushup and jump back to standing.

    14. Side hip raise:* Lying on sideresting on forearm. Lift hips up off of the floor and lower them. Do a bunch on each side.

    15. Squat X press: Holding weights do plie squats while you are performing a wide shoulder press to that your body forms and X. 30 reps. Pretty easy, would be harder with more weight.

    16. Steam Engine: Standing knee to elbow crunches-50 reps

    17. Dreya Roll:* From standing squat down, roll onto your back, kick legs straight up in the air, almost like a pilates control balance move, and roll forward coming to standing again. To make it harder, instead of just standing up do either: (1) a squat jump, (2) a split leg jump, (3) jump and twirl.

    18. Plank to Chaturanga Iso: Alternate 10 second counts between plank and chat position. Hard

    19. Halfback-Agility moves simulating going through football tire drills 60 sec. Easy.

    20. Table dip/Leg raise:* Get yourself into a yoga table. Raise one leg in the air keeping hips up, and do tricep dips changing after 5 reps. 60 seconds


    Ab Ripper:

    Still like this DVD with the exception of the Fifer Scissors. I used my ab wheel and did long arm crunches during these.


    Swim/SCY/Solo:

    Only swam for 40 minutes today. Went to the pool late and got kicked out by the high school swim team tryouts. That's OK, my legs were fried, so I just did the following recovery swim:

    Warm up:

    600 variety

    25s:

    4 x 25 shooters
    4 x 25 easy speed fly
    4 x 25 shooters
    4 x 25 alternate fast evil & EZ swim
    4 x 25 shooters
    4 x 25 easy speed fly
    4 x 25 shooters
    4 x 25 alternate fast evil & EZ swim
    4 x 25 shooters
    4 x 25 alternate fast evil & EZ swim
    4 x 25 shooters

    I did belly, back and twirling shooters.

    Total: 1700 yards

    5 minutes in the hottub.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Commentary:

    Didn't feel all that bad after my exercise mania yesterday -- until I hopped in the pool and tried to kick. Thus, I did all the shooters on cruiser speed. I think I'll give the legs a break tomorrow in the pool if I can. I'm tentatively planning on hot yoga and my team practice tomorrow night.
  10. Happy Thanksgiving One and All!

    by , November 25th, 2009 at 04:25 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Like Frank Sinatra's conspicuous absence of singing in the shower, or a busman's decision not to drive on holiday, or perhaps a harlot's avoidance of intimacy during rare leisure moments when the urge for vertical body postures must become overwhelming in its intensity--so has it been with this vlogger of late: the dictates of writing for a living have all but overwhelmed any time or inclination to indulge in tip-tap-tip-tapping of keystrokes for free.

    Even though I much prefer the latter, having not yet developed the "learned helplessness" that so frequently accompanies human endeavor in the paid environment.

    Sing this ditty, Frank! Contort your buttocks into this appealing lordosis configuration, harlot! Never again in the history of the world again utter the word Stetari, lackey!

    And so forth.

    I am sure everybody understands, with the possible exception of those who spend their days teaching 2nd graders how to draw finger turkeys, what I mean.

    On the other hand, it has been recently pointed out to me, by a person whose perspicacity is beyond dispute, that I have, of late, been inclined to a certain churlish sulkiness.

    Oh, how I wish not to be thusly inclined, not even for a moment!

    As one distantly former girlfriend once called me in apparent affection: Oh, Jim! My horrid little flower!

    Horrid, yes. Flower, true enough. Little, again, check! Especially if little is being directed at my generosity of spirit and not my guttage.

    But do not flowers, even little horrid ones, give back to the world a cheerfulness and color that brings only smiles to onlookers and ravenous pollinators, dusty with lemon-colored crumbs?

    In this spirit, that is to say, my flower side, and less my little horrid sulky side, I offer the following Thanksgiving greetings to my fellow swimmers the world over in the hopes you will find within this offering a smile, a cheerfulness, and a color--orange, as luck would have it--that might have otherwise gone unnoticed in this busy, busy time of Thanksgiving!

    It is a drawing by my step great nephew Cameron.

    I am not sure the Dramatis Personnae in his description of his drawing is super important, but to keep things straight:


    • I am Uncle Steppy.
    • Aunt Lizie is the beloved little sister of me (Uncle Steppy) and my twin brother John (Steppy)
    • Granny, AKA, Nancy, is the biological grandmother of Cameron and wife of my brother John (Steppy)
    • Daddy is Cameron's father and Nancy's son Darrin by her first marriage

    I am pretty sure that Cameron, after drawing the picture and getting John to scan it and email it to me, dictated verbatim his explanation for what is going on. I shall post this below the artwork.




    Hi Uncle Steppy and Aunt Lizie. The one in the orange is Uncle Steppy. And he has a hole in his underwear. Everybody is sticking out his tongue at him. Granny (middle) pulled down Uncle Steppy's pants. Granny has a silly hat. Daddy has a rotten nose. The cloud and the sun is sticking their tongue out at Uncle Steppy. The clouds are wearing sunglasses because the sun is shining right at the clouds.
    Love,
    Cameron
    PS Happy Thanksgiving!

    Final note: in the original version of Cameron's email, my beloved brother John dropped the "Uncle" after its first reference. I think he did this to spare my feelings, to make it seem as if it were him and not me whose pants had been dropped down, earning him ridicule from every corner of the firmament. But it is quite clear upon whom such ridicule belongs, so I have restored it to the accurate state.

    On this note, it is back to my labors on the drawbacks to novel hypnotics, irresistible as they continue to prove to be to the sulky likes of me.
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  11. Even More Thanksgiving Wishes

    by , November 26th, 2009 at 03:05 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    My brother Johnny boy already posted this in the comments section of yesterday's blog, Happy Thanksgiving One and All, which regular readers will recall featured harlots in lordosis configurations and other things we can be happy about.

    As an antidote to the occasional snifter of impropriety that our DNA has taken via the Jim morph, I present to you the utter wholesome and unadulterated joi de vivre life view of my twin, one of the nicest people to ever grace the planet earth.

    I am still trying to find out if John wrote this song on Garage Band, but I am 99 percent sure he did, for it has all the hallmarks of a John Thornton song: stirring melody, Noel Cowardly lyrics exhilarating in their brevity and cleverness, and a middle 8 that makes one think of the Beatles at their best, all of this ladled over with the kind of charming cornpone quality that made Woodie Guthrie such a giant at Communist union organizing rallies.

    At the risk of biasing your opinion of this film, I strongly urge you to gather your loved ones around the computer, which you have stuck for this occasion into your fireplace so as to symbolically turn the Internet into the very hearth of modernity, and play this instant classic of a Thanksgiving song for the gathered multitude of relatives, singing along as soon as you get a knack for the lyrics.

    Then throw away your BMI scales and engorge happily.

    We are humans.

    This is what humans have for Thanksgiving!

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjuGHksgvvM"]YouTube- What Humans Have For Thanksgiving![/ame]
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  12. Leslie's Buttocks vs. Mine, plus Exercising on Dryland

    by , November 29th, 2009 at 12:07 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    There is a school of thought in narrative tales that the easiest and arguably best way to present these is to start at the beginning and proceed, step by chronological step, to the end. Suspense in this standard form is built in a fairly straightforward manner: the reader, enraptured by event A, naturally begins to wonder, What oh what happens next? What is event B? Then C? And so forth?

    Such stories often begin like this:

    Once upon a time in Western Pennsylvania...

    or

    In the Pleistocene era, a patch of primordial ooze with the original signature genomic code of the Thornton family...

    or

    God so loved the world that he gave his only misbegotten son Jim to...

    In more recent times, perhaps because of earth's burgeoning population of story tellers, each trying to differentiate himself or herself from the other person's self, a new model has emerged, still a bit less common, but alas itself fast slouching towards cliche.

    In this model, pioneering narrators of the likes of Faulkner, Proust, Thornton, Joyce, Golgadkin, and so forth, purposely choose to begin their tales at the end, revealing the "denouement" or the "killer's identity" or the "money shot" or whatever else it might be that in earlier times would not be answered till the very last pages of the book or footage of film.

    Suspense here stems not from the reader's curiosity about what will happen, for we already know the final outcome. Instead, suspense depends on a growing rhetorically manipulated curiosity on the reader's part about how and why this ending has come to be.

    To reiterate: the author or auteur of such works, or in the case of a vlogger who combines the written word with the filmic art, the author-auteur, starts at the end, cuts back to the beginning, then leisurely fills in the intervening time.

    It is this secondary model I have chosen to embrace.

    Over this most Thanksgiving-worthy of Thanksgiving seasons, our Amish Mud hole-dappled region of the country was visited by none other than Leslie the Fortress Livingston, the single most beloved national champion that the USMS community has ever had the good fortune to grip to our collectively grateful bosom.

    Leslie, as some of you might know, is a strong advocate of weight lifting and the whole shooting match of other painful exercises conducted on dry land, from Bosu Balling to virtually anything you can imagine doing on a rack.

    During our precious several days with Leslie, she swam with our Sewickley SeaDragons, Geriatric Division, on Friday; then today, Saturday, after I had already done 68,000 lb. of Nautilus lifting (inspired by Leslie to give it a try), Leslie arrived fresh from her Seroquel-induced (off-label) beauty sleep at 2:05 p.m. sharp in the Y lobby, and the two of us proceeded back to the weight room. Here she showed me the elementary ropes of the non-machine strength training world.

    During the course of this, and I will be presenting many of her 1000s of demonstrated exercises over the coming days, weeks, months, years, and seeming centuries (in fact, no need to read Leslie's blog anymore--this vlog here, much more so than her own, has now become the one-stop official site for all things visually and auditorially Leslie), we also conducted the 25 cent piece "Quarter Test."

    By good fortune, Senor Haboush, the Spanish teacher at the local high school, was pumping iron at the Y, and he agreed to fire the quarter first at Leslie's buttocks and then at mine to see which set of glutei was firmer and therefore more bouncy to the quarter.

    The first of today's films features this long-awaited and much ballyhooed Quarter Buttocks test. In some ways, one could argue the test is really the end of the whole narrative. For the results here proved so unexpected, so paradoxical even, that the reader will--I am sure of it!--be seduced into unbearable, dumbfounding curiosity.

    Not about the "what happened?"--for it is indisputable that the quarter bounced much, much higher off my muscular buttocks than Leslie's firm but still somewhat squishy ones. Rather the dumbfounding stems from a seemingly unanswerable question: "How can this be?" After all, Leslie is obviously an amazing specimen of the weight lifting arts, and I am but a shlub.

    How oh how? Why oh why?

    I can't stand it! Help me see the reasons, Jim! I beg you!

    In time, my friends. Answers shall come your way in time.

    But first, the Quarters test...

    This first short film will be followed, in turn, by today's inaugural set of exercises Leslie has taught me. (Sadly for her, once I master just these two, my buttocksial advantage is sure to swell even further.)

    Please enjoy, especially now that the subtextual content is clear, and you don't need to think deeply or in an unguided way.

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hp59AtsOeM0"]YouTube- The Quarter Buttocks Test[/ame]

    Summary: Leslie loses convincingly to Jim in Quarters Buttocks Test and in a fit of pique refuses to continue with the moobs vs. boobs Coin Toss Test.


    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-TdHopNGuY"]YouTube- Getting Dry with Leslie Part 1: Shrug Dips and X Cross Squat[/ame]

    Summary: Leslie teaches Jim how to do dips safely by shrugging girlishly, then takes him into an area he has never ventured before to teach him the X-cross squat, AKA, Hot Crossed Buns.

    Updated November 29th, 2009 at 12:14 AM by jim thornton

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  13. Two More Squats Visually Demonstrated by L & J

    by , November 30th, 2009 at 05:05 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Many people who know me well think I don't work.

    This isn't entirely true.

    The truth is that I rarely work.

    However, when I do engage in these rare episodes of work, or perhaps work-like endeavor is more accurate, it is like doing an unbelievably difficult distance and sprint set for the mind that goes on, week after week, until the entirety of my soul is as empty and dessicated as the ears that feed the Children of the Corn.

    Like all such exacting demands upon human performance, what I am expected to achieve, and what I can achieve, are often wildly disparate propositions.

    But since my livelihood depends upon delivering what I am incapable of producing on my own, I have, in recent years, been forced to increasingly rely on PEDs to get the job done.

    I am, for instance, now drinking my 14th cup of coffee of the day, and I must say, I am feeling a bit like an insect that has made the mistake of biting into a coffee bean 10,000 times his size. That is to say, I am feeling poisoned.

    On top of this, I have the degrogification effects of one 100 mg tablet of Provigil, a drug FDA approved only for narcoleptics, shift workers, and those of us able to mimic the symptoms of these first two conditions well enough to convince our physicians to write us a prescription.

    On top of my 14 cups of coffee, this Provigil tablet is working extremely well.

    I have no doubt that tonight's swim practice, wherein the main set is 5 x 500 on 6:45 followed by 5 x 100 on 1:15, will barely dent my degree of alertness, unless, of course, my heart happens to explode, dispatching me forthwith to the Great Resting Reward, a dispatch which just might be the best unintended medicinal side effect of all time.

    I kid. I am nothing but a raw ganglion these days, hoping for immortality!

    Tonight, the raw ganglion shall return to its office/sleep chamber, which sleep hygienists have long suggested should not be combined, but sometimes one has no other option; watch the second half or final quarter of House depending on when I get back from practice; maybe have another training dinner exactly like last night's--i.e., three pork chops and a bowl of ice cream; then prepare for bed. I have Sonata, which has been deemed almost entirely ineffective; and two bottles of NyQuil, which personal experience has shown to be highly effective. I may find a little more of this and that to add to the soporific brew.

    With these drowsy syrups of my own concoction, I shall -- with luck! -- slip into the sweet embrace of sister Morphine, perchance to dream of the squats Leslie has shown me and I have appendaged below, perchance to wake up again tomorrow morning, and brew some more coffee, and pop another Provigil, and begin once more the form of livelihood which will surely one day prove the death of me.

    On this note, here are the right and wrong ways to do two more forms of squats:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1Frkbya3zY"]YouTube- Overhead squatting and swing squatting with Leslie[/ame]
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  14. More Dryland, Right and Wrong

    by , December 5th, 2009 at 02:08 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Slowly but surely, I hope to post all the exercises that Leslie tried to show me over Thanksgiving. As regular readers will recall, I got to the Y early, lifted 68,000 lb. as measured by the Fitlinxx computer system, and only then did Leslie arrive to put my shaking bulk through additional dryland paces.

    Pathetic as the first of these were, things got even worse as each new exercise began requiring more and more skill, coordination, balance, and flexibility, none of which I have. Brute strength? Sure. But these other things? Even with practice, they may be beyond me.

    In the attached video, Leslie looks sweet enough in her virgin white Nike attire, but she has a dark side. Think angry school marm with a ruler. She uses the ruler to measure her disobedient male students. When they fail to measure up, and we always do, she uses the ruler to beat us.

    Here is Leslie in her dark school marm Nike outfit. She is saying, "Okay Jim, it's your turn now. You may need to break your hips, but you will do a split by the day's end, so help me god! Oh, stop snivelling! Why oh why must you make me hurt you?"



    When she arrived at the Sewickley Y, she brought along a hand-scribbled document with the exercises she had decided to teach me. These ranged from the twisting medicine ball slam, to the superman banana.

    Careful scrutiny of this primary document shows evidence that Leslie has been practicing all this weight training stuff seriously for years. I ask that you give particular scrutiny to her lower case i's. Note how there is nary a single heart-shaped dot above any of them.

    I fear Leslie is slowly but surely lifting all the girl out of herself, but who am I to judge?

    Here is the primary document:



    I am hoping, by year's end, if I ever finish my new article on novel hypnotics and the mayhem they can cause, to post all Leslie's dry land lifting and related exercises in a well-labeled, one stop vlog. It has not escaped me that my vlog is not always the most pragmatically useful source of swimming-advice, that I more often than not have appropriated this space for purposes of jotting down and sharing with the wet world at large my seemingly always bubbling spring of [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weltschmerz"]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weltschmerz [/ame]


    In this, I sometimes delude myself into believing I am doing my fellow swimmers a service of sorts. You know how our Christian brothers recommend praying for "those more miserable than ourselves"? I have, in my mind, put a palpable, if not punchable, face on such recipients of God's mercy.

    In any event, I do hope to contribute the complete Leslie dryland inventory soon, which I suspect might prove more helpful to most viewers than the certain knowledge you are better off than at least one wretch!

    For now, here are a few more bricks in the Sisyphusian wall.

    I hope you enjoy it.

    All my best,



    J I M M I E

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMszfqhdPdA"]YouTube- 1-legged squats hip hinges dead lifts done right and wrong[/ame]
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  15. I'm Late, I'm Late for a Very Important Date

    by , December 6th, 2009 at 10:34 PM (Meet Director's Path to Tranquility)
    "Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow."
    -Mark Twain

    The meet deadline is about seven weeks away, and so far there are two entries. From past experience, one half of all entries will show up in the week before the meet. Since we make the best attempt to treat our swimmers to their benefit, we select a deadline as close to the meet as possible. Our deadline is determined by the deadline for tee shirt orders, which is Monday before our meet.

    If we did not have tee shirts, I would set the deadline for two days before the meet. It takes one minute to push the computer button to seed the meet, and half a day to copy the meet program at Office Depot. I never understood why local meets have a deadline two weeks before the meet.

    We send our tee shirt order in Monday before the meet. The shirts are ordered and delivered to the printers on Tuesday. The shirts are printed on Wednesday, and ready for pickup on Wednesday or Thursday. That leaves a day or two for unforeseen problems:
    1. Washington has seen some snow at that time of year. Everything shuts down here and people freak out at the thought of snow (from someone who grew up in upstate New York) And, there is a possibility that we could get a real storm.
    2. The printer could make a big goof and need additional time to make the shirts right.

    One year I sent in my entry to the local Albatross Open. I got a call from the meet director that went something like this:
    MD: We received your meet entry today, but the entry deadline was yesterday.
    ME: Sorry; it was mailed a day or two ago. Is it a problem?
    MD: Yes, it was a day late. You need to deck enter and pay an extra fee at the meet.
    ME: Did you do the seeding yet?
    MD: No.
    ME: So what is the problem? Why can't you enter me in the meet?
    MD: Because your entry was received past the deadline.
    ME: But if you haven't done anything yet with the entries, why is it a problem entering me in the meet?
    MD: It isn't, but you are a day past the deadline, so I can't.


    I did not attend the meet that year or the next. The MD returned my check. It was obvious that conforming to rules was more important than getting swimmers into the meet.

    I vowed not to repeat this attitude in our meet. Of course there are a few entires that trickle in after the deadline. I just enter them, and hope that if there is a tee shirt order in a late entry, we have an extra shirt ordered. Sometimes, a few people will contact me to ask if it is too late to enter. I tell them no, but don't order a tee shirt and I get an entry received WITH payment before Friday when I do the seeding.

    One year, I got a call from someone's mother pleading to let her son into the meet late. (CUBU swimmer, 18 y.o.) Sometimes I get overnight entries sent by Express Mail. Sometimes Santa (or the meet fairy) drops entries into my home mail box overnight (entries go to our team post office box.) I have also had entries personally delivered to my office during the day. In all, about five entires out of 150 arrive late. I can handle that.

    I enter swimmers into the meet database the day their entries arrive. There is too much to do days before the meet without becoming a hermit monk frantically holding and then copying all entries into the database at once. We also need to keep a daily tab on the number of entires in our 500-free, since we limit the entires and update the count daily on our web site meet page.

    BOOK OF WISDOM
    Be real. Lose the attitude - it's easy to find one as the deadline approaches.

    Updated December 6th, 2009 at 10:40 PM by Rnovitske

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  16. It's fun to swim at the Y-M-C-A!

    Now that my SCM season is done and Iíve had a few days to mull things over, Iíve decided that my three highest priorities for the next few months are to (1) do more sprinting in workouts, (2) re-establish some kind of aerobic cross-training routine, and (3) make it a priority to do weights consistently. Injuries had prevented me from doing much weight-bearing exercise or from rowing since early summer. I actually got the ok from my ortho and PT to resume these about 2 weeks ago, but I put off restarting them until after my taper. The trick now is to be disciplined enough to ramp things up gradually, so that I donít injure myself again.

    I did lift weights through the fall until I tweaked my arm about 5 weeks ago, so itís just a matter of resuming that routine after the layoff. As for the more sprintingómy 50 times have slowed ever since I stopped playing water polo a few years ago. I donít know if Iím quite ready to take up that sport again, but I can work more of the anaerobic training that polo involves into my swim workouts. Sometimes I get discouraged that team workouts do not involve more real sprinting, but I should instead focus on getting what I need by swimming on my own and by tweaking the group workouts to create opportunities for speed.

    With those thoughts in mind, today I went to gym and did arm and leg weights, rowed on the erg machine for 8 minutes, and did a thorough stretch. The rowing was a testólast time I tried it, it didnít hurt as I was doing it, but made my heel sore the next day (my injury was to the sheeting that attaches the Achilles tendon to the bone, and itís the range of motion involved in rowing that can irritate it). So I just did a bit today, and will evaluate how things feel tomorrow.

    Then I just had time for a mini swim workout. Hereís what I did:

    1000 warmup (400S/200K/200P/200S)

    12 x 25 @ :30, odds easy FR, evens sprint FR

    300 warmdown

    That was it! The swimming felt good after the weights.




    Good luck to everyone headed off to a meet this weekend! I hope you all amaze and delight yourselves with your performances!

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  17. The Pig who would be Pug and other Solstice Miracles

    by , December 21st, 2009 at 09:08 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    This afternoon, I went into our kitchen to check on the three quadrapedes: lefty, the male pug; biscuit the little female pug; and linus, the guinea pig who is convinced he, too, is a pug, albeit one who prefers vegetative matter to hard to described meat byproducts.

    The twelve legs were all in the kitchen. Left and Biscuit had dog pillows upon which to lay about when the mood for rest strikes then. sometimes, in a rare expression of drive, Lefty will sit in one dog bed and grab the other dog bed in his mouth, and shake it brusquely, as it attempting to snap its spinal cord. these pillows have sheeps hair and do look, like pracice murder scenes, must give them that much.

    The ambien dance has begun, theletters swimnging bosa nova style, swayingagainst one anotherscurvesand indetations and convexities invaginating conccavite, and with squintimng the imeprssion is fmoredd.

    so cure, this camily of mistamtched creasedtusethat iasste markign onwaerds tlike armu ants ofrlleadrfdctter ant.sll i ccnanan;t aaseee what thsi all abot now. the whole jump;ing ni==hmjjjjiiveing stufss. teh ''

    the huger is raising p a a bit..

    so whatis next cucmbers and gargazono with ambine andn dskldsalllk;fjjjajjjjjthekvikiking shiops with speekrs fread o float what is gereek for swine snowt'
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  18. Lost Person Behaviour

    by , December 22nd, 2009 at 01:25 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    It's 12:33 p.m., and I am sitting around at my desk here in wintry Pittsburgh waiting for experts on lost person behaviour to call me back. I spell it with the British "u" because many of these fellows are Canadian, possibly because there are so many places to get lost in Canada. My hypothesis for why: the absence of nocturnal light pollution and similar whatnot to guide one to a mall or other safe haven of human civilization.

    During this period of waiting, it occurred to me that a rare (of late) un-Ambienated vlog might be in order, if for no other reason than to test the ongoing functionality of whatever rational faculties I have left.

    As my fellow devotees of novel hypnotics may know first hand, these drugs can have some heavy duty discombobulating and bamboozling effects. In my case, oftentimes the first things to go are those items to which I have only the weakest tether lines under the best, most rational of circumstances. Propriety, the hope not to offend others for the pure mean-spirited joy this can bring me, self-pity, and finally what in male dogs is sometimes described as "that little red thing"--all these tend to change drastically in me under the influence of zolpidem. The first two (propriety; kindness) run for the hills; the second two (self pity, ribaldry) burst out in ways that are hard to restrain. I have been de-friended on Facebook because of such boorishness and indecency.

    In fact, the only things that reliably restrain self pity, libidinous inappropriateness, jabberwocky, and the like is the phenomenon dubbed by researchers at the Mayo Clinic as a new drug-aided variation on SRED, or sleep related eating disorder. This morning, I went down to the kitchen and found a bottle of Real Lemon lemonade, my favorite beverage, stowed not in the refrigerator where it belonged, but rather in the cupboard beside the cups and glasses.

    I suppose it could have been worse.

    Some of us so-called Ambien Zombies have been known to pour a glass of bleach in the night, the better to chase down the buttered cigarette sandwich we have made for ourselves as a snack.

    I am digressing a bit here.

    VIA, or vlogging under in the influence of ambien, has a good side and some bad sides.

    On the good side, I have now--on at least two separate occasions--discovered vlogs that "I" have written but which I have almost no memory of having written. I can thus read such entries the way I imagine the non-Jim reading audience reads them: with total amusement and the utmost respect for the writer, perhaps even just a smidgen of jealousy for his evident genius! Oh, if only I could write like this "Jim" in his full reverie mode.

    Actually, just joking about that. Reading these amnestically-penned vlogs, in truth, only gives me the chance to do what I really DO imagine my readers often do: Laugh AT me, not WITH me.

    It's nice when a blowhard can laugh AT himself without totally feeling responsible for it. I suppose what I am really doing on such occasions is laughing at my reptilian brain in action. What a peculiar fellow this nutcase is...though I do admire his lack of self-censure.

    The bad sides of Ambien have already been suggested. One additional example: I seem to have made an enemy of the brother of a female swimmer I occasionally correspond with on Facebook. It appears I will not be attending that family's Christmas party this or any other year in the foreseeable future.

    The cure for all this, of course, is simple. Either stop taking Ambien, or take it and immediately go to sleep. The problem is that I have found that taking Ambien and fighting off sleep leaves me in the Tiger Woodsian Ambien haze. Though I have no floosy to enjoy myself with while thusly enfogged, I nevertheless enjoy the tranquility and relaxation and freedom from worry this mood bestows. I enjoy it so much, in fact, that I know it will be a while before I am able to wean myself from it.

    Note: Ambien and its cousins are not benzodiazepines like Valium, though they target one of the brain's many subtypes of benzodiazepine receptors in the GABA system. Sleep researchers maintain there is no evidence that Ambien and the other Z-drugs are anxiolytic, or anxiety relieving. Thus it is entirely possible that my perception of calm is either a placebo response or idiosyncratic. That said, I will add one penultimate wrinkle here for those, like me, who include amongst your various hobbies an interest in amateur psychopharmacology.

    Zolpidem, the generic name for Ambien, has been shown to trigger speech in a certain type of schizophrenic patient who is suffering mutism because of catatonia. It might have helped Al Pacino, for instance, at the end of Scarecrow.

    Perhaps my reaction is simply some variation on a positive Zolpidem Test.

    Now, final wrinkle: though I do believe that this drug is, in some regards, capable of reducing my control over my behavior somewhat, it is clear to me that my decision to keep taking the pill and vlogging and/or otherwise accosting the etherous internet world at large is something of which I am fully culpable. As an expert in the burgeoning field of sleep forensics told me, there is voluntary and involuntary intoxication.

    Taking the pill exactly as directed and then going on a blue streak of mayhem is involuntary intoxication, especially the first time it happens.

    But taking the pill the way I have been lately, knowing the likely consequences, and doing it anyway, qualifies as voluntary intoxication. In fact, one might argue my case is very voluntary intoxication.

    Let me know if I go too far.

    Note: this is NOT a cry for help.

    Now, on another note, after last night's 4100 yards, I asked some of my swimming teammates if they might help me identify my elbow bone. We could not, for the life of us, decide whether the pointy bone is attached to the upper arm bone or one of the lower arm bones.

    So I took a picture with my finger right on the painful jabby bone in the hopes that Drs. Dixon and Jaegermeister, and fellow sufferer Jim Matysek, might better zero in on a diagnosis.

    PS what do you think about my peace symbol within a heart medallion?

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  19. Merry Christmas & Mood Tips

    by , December 24th, 2009 at 08:31 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Comrades!

    Merry Humanist Christmas one and all.

    I suspect today's vlog may not be exactly the "big present" you were hoping for.

    In fact, it might not even qualify as much of a "stocking stuffer" for those of you whose minds are "right."

    However, if somewhere out there in the greater community of swimmers there exists a single seasonally affected soul, and if this solitary seasonally affected soul have already watched ad nauseam Its a Wonderful Night and/or A Christmas Story and/or any of the other innumerably rerun TV shows that are on tonight and tomorrow night and every night for the foreseeable future, it is to you--fellow traveler in this veil of tears!--that I dedicate this brand new Yuletide triple feature.

    The first film is a brief introduction by me to the second film, which is an overly long review of some of the current psychiatric literature on mood improvement.

    You will note I have left out some of the strategies that have received attention of late, particularly data from the TC-5214 phase 2 trial, which indicated that targeting Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors may prove to be a beneficial augmentation treatment with promise for providing relief to millions of patients who do not respond well to first-line SSRI therapy.

    I jest!

    Everyone is familiar with that research, so I have concentrated my droning lecture on other findings that are not only of scientific note but which will perhaps prove a little more actionable in the near term for patients like you and me.

    The final, and without doubt best, of tonight's triple feature is yet another Christmas mood enhancing charmer by my twin brother John.

    I think those of you who live in hot house climes like California, Florida, Texas, and Arizona may find this brisk little glimpse into the world of snow quite refreshing and soul cleansing.

    Again, Merry Christmas one and all! And I will not be at all offended if you use my two filmic contributions as a form of sleep aid. I have been told that my haltingly monotonous lecture style may soon attract the attention of regulators at the FDA itself, so powerfully soporific is its influence of listeners.

    Turn the lights down low, get under your comforter, click the first film, and....
    You are getting very sleepy....


    1. Introduction to Jim's Seasonal Mood Tips for Swimmers:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eb8es8vh778"]YouTube- Introduction to Jim's Seasonal Mood Tips for Swimmers[/ame]



    2. Jim's Seasonal Mood Tips for Swimmers:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Kfa-R_yOS8"]YouTube- Video 17[/ame]


    3. Jingle All the Way:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoA3WUda6OU"]YouTube- Snow Day[/ame]
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  20. Fortress Locks

    by , December 26th, 2009 at 06:57 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Our dear Leslie is thinking of changing her hair color for the 2010 swimming season. In an effort to help her decide which way to go, I asked my brother to put together a sampling of some of the more fetching colors worn by fashionable women this season.

    Please vote for your favorite, and provide a rationale in the comments section below.

    To make voting easier, simply indicate either:


    1. Aquamarine/Scope Mouthwash
    2. Lady Carrot Top
    3. Papal Purple
    4. Scott's Turf Builder


    Note: to vote, please visit this thread by clicking here: [ame="http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?p=202158#post202158"]Leslie "The Fortress" Hair Color Poll - U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums[/ame]

    I think the one thing we can all agree is that all of these colors would look great on our Leslie--she really can't go wrong with any of them.

    Updated December 26th, 2009 at 07:08 PM by jim thornton

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