Category Archives: Weirdness

Some Randomness

On Saturday night we attended the annual Mardi Gras Party at the Beckers. Any party at the Beckers is a great party and the Mardi Gras Party is the greatest of the great. I could have gotten the award for the lamest costume, Becky found me a sport coat that had a pattern of target logos all over it. The novelty of the fabric was one thing, but I wasn’t actually costumed as anything. Multi-targeted warhead? The host’s two older daughters pulled an good prank. They’re not twins, but they do look somewhat alike. One was dressed in a ball gown and the other had a wedding dress on, one was wearing flats and the other really tall heels. I noticed that they had done their hair exactly the same, but thought nothing of it. Midway through the party they switched costumes and I’m not sure anyone noticed.  The youngest daughter’s husband entertained on the piano, including accompanying her on some of  her songs that she’s preparing for her role in Guys and Dolls.

I’ve been obsessing about painting in Photoshop. I’m trying to upgrade my skill level with the Wacom, I’ve been drawing heads and figures and trying to color them, without much success. I’ve had some success scanning some of my pencil drawings and giving them simple color treatments, which is what I was most interested in doing with the tablet, so I can use them to get a little more visual interest here at HA. After all, as long as I have an published editorial illustrator in the office I might as well throw him some work. That, along with the drawing at left segues nicely into the next random topic.

I’ve been working out at the gym pretty consistently since I bolted the 9 to 5. I worked my way to the point that I think I’m in better condition than before the knee disaster. Motivation is a challenge for most of us who try to keep to a workout schedule and we have to find it where we can. One the things that brings me back to the gym is the people watching. I know it’s mean spirited to make fun of people, and God knows that I probably look as goofy as the next, but there are some folks who’s appearance is so odd that I just have to share it. If you recognize yourself here, I apologize. On the other hand if you don’t want people to make fun of you, try not to be so frickin’ weird.

I’ll start with the guy pictured. Older gent, probably around my age. Long stringy hair that doesn’t look like it’s been washed this century, held in place by a headband that probably was white in the Twentieth Century. He looks trim and fit, it seems like he’s there working out most times I am. Other than the hair, from the knees up he looks pretty normal, in an 80′s kind of way. But the thing that puts him over the top in the weirdness category is the fact that he always wears knee high brown dress socks and brown street shoes. I have to look away every time I see him to keep from laughing out loud.

Another guy, much younger, isn’t so much weird as he is scary. He’s always there, working the free weights. His arms are bigger than my thighs. I guess that’s not saying much, so much bigger is a better description. Yesterday while I was pumping some paltry weight on a machine, I watched as he strapped what had to be 50 pounds to his waste and knocked off about 20 pull-ups. I don’t think I can do one pull-up, even if I was in moon gravity.

Then there’s a guy who looks a little bit like John Belushi. He has shoulder length hair that he usually has tied up on top of his head some way. But this week I saw him with it down. He had it in a classic flip, like every girl in my ’67 high school year book. Think pretty hair on a jowly, pasty complected, five o’clock shadowed, scowling, hairy man. Another case where I have to practice smirk avoidance.

There is another man who it would be cruel to make fun of since he’s obviously overcoming some real challenges. But, being the mean bastard that I am… He has a hugely developed upper body, just massive. This barrel is supported by extremely short legs for it’s size. And one of those legs doesn’t work very well, he walks with a cane and it looks painful. He was wearing one of those wrestling style sleeveless t-shirts. One of his very hairy breasts had popped out, which was a disturbing sight. He passed me in the weight room as I was climbing into the crunch machine for my final set for the day. He sat down on the Cybex arm press machine and as he began to lift he let out a sound that I can only compare to the roar of  lions and tigers at the zoo, moaning at their captivity. Or maybe it was like the sounds I made while trying to take my first dump after surgery and a week of powerful narcotics. Whatever you compare it to, it was really loud and really frightening.

I don’t feel bad at all about ridiculing this last victim, because frankly he’s one of those guys that makes you dislike them almost at first glance. He’s about my age, very fit, very trim and has a silvery brush cut, like a sergeant in a comic book. When he’s in the weight room he speeds from machine to machine, lifting heavy weights too fast, looking gruff and impatient with anyone who gets in the way of his routine. He might as well have a sign that says “compulsive narcissistic asshole.” That’s opposed to me, I’m a compulsive narcissistic nice guy. He always wears one of those jerseys that you used to see in the eighties, the sleeves cut off and the jersey itself cut off, exposing his belly. And maybe I’d do the same thing if I had a six-pack at sixty. But I noticed last week that protruding from the front and back of his shorts are the edges of what looks like some kind of absorbent pad. I’m sorry but please don’t share things like that with the public. When I look away from him, it’s not to keep from laughing.

I’m amazed

I’m amazed by the power of internet advertising. The other day I was doing some research on e-commerce solutions and I spent some time on the Volusion site. Now about 65% (that’s a wild guess not a statistic) of the sites I go to that have advertising serve me a Volusion ad.  Crafty buggers.

More Naked Truth

Remember when I said that the key to social media marketing was to post teasers with the word “naked” in them? I had exceptionally high number of hits when I used this technique. But the next day when I put out teasers for the post that offered that hypothesis and used the words “secret to social media marketing, the naked truth,” I even got a bigger turnout. So the real secret is to offer to divulge a secret about how to achieve social media success so you can work naked.

And while you’re here have a look at my latest Image a Day post. I think it’s a keeper.

The Worm Turns (My Stomach)

I first heard about this experimental treatment for Crohn’s disease several years ago when the University of Iowa was doing research on it. The treatment consists of exposing the patient to infestations with worms, specifically N. americanus and A. duodenale. Hookworms to me. This radio broadcast from WNYC Radio Lab contains a fascinating interview with Jasper Lawrence, the founder of Helminthic Therapies. The pertinent stuff comes in at about 30 minutes.

Jasper, a transplant from England, living in Santa Clara, suffered from severe allergies and asthma. He was hospitalized twice a year, suffered from a nagging cough, he had the dark, sunken eyed, pale complected look of a severely allergic person. While visiting his Aunt on a vacation to England, she asked if he had heard about new breakthroughs in the study of allergies and the immune system that she had heard about on a documentary on the BBC. It seems that it had been discovered that people with hookworm infections were 50% less likely to have asthma, and that other diseases like Crohn’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis were virtually non-existent in the developing world, where sanitation was, to say the least, less than optimal, and hookworm, spread by contact with human feces was prevalent. The explanation for this is that somehow the presence of hookworms in a person’s system has a dampening effect on the overactive immune systems that are bent on attacking the cells of their own body.

This sounded like a pretty good deal to Jasper so he immediately went about trying to purchase hookworms so he could infect himself. No one was selling any. It wasn’t an approved treatment and there weren’t any to be had. So, taking the matter into his own hands he spent two weeks in Cameroon on the west coast of Africa, which he describes as “the armpit of Africa,” traveling about in the bush looking for latrines to walk through barefooted. After 30 or 40 such treatments he returned home with a pretty good hookworm infestation as a souvenir. When the next allergy season rolled around, he found that his symptoms were gone.

In the early twentieth century, backed by a million dollar gift from John D. Rockefeller a commission was formed to eradicate hookworm from the U.S. The five year program had great success in wiping out the parasites and reducing the anemia and other health problems they cause. And so, isolated from hookworms in my youth, never getting the chance to dance through human shit as a lad, my immune system went nuts and started attacking my digestive system.

Jasper Lawrence decided that he would form a business treating auto-immune diseases by selling patients hookworms and the means to infect themselves. I’m not sure what those means are but I’m sure they’re fun. The treatment is still not approved by the Department of Health or the DEA or for that matter any government agency, but Jasper’s pretty upfront about that fact and his site is loaded with caveats and disclaimers, but also a number of endorsements from satisfied customers. “Thanks for  the infestation, Jasper.” The price tag for a good worm infestation: $2900. And where does Autoimmune Therapies get it’s raw material. Jasper provides all the worms needed in his own poop. Talk about pulling a business out of your butt.

I have to ask myself the question. Given the severity of my Crohn’s (not particularly severe, but certainly not pleasant) and given the cost and side effects of supporting a colony of parasitic worms in my guts, would I try this treatment? When I first heard about it, I thought, “hell yes” dish me up a platter of worm eggs! I’ll do anything to get rid of this curse. But after reading these articles, and hearing what the cost is and thinking about those squiggling little buggers sucking blood from my intestinal walls, well, maybe not. I’ve had low hemoglobin before and it’s not a fun thing, and although I get a little anemic during a long flare up, I guess I can deal with that, knowing it eventually will pass and I’ll get a nice period of remission. There’s just something about the ideal of having blood sucking worms in me that sends a shiver down my spine. So the answer is, no freakin’ way.

I’d love to hear what you think about worm therapy, autoimmune disease and bloodsucking, please leave a comment.