Dark Water in Paradise Springs @ Ocala, Florida

 

 

 

 

Dive #71. What else can I tell you outside the video? Paradise Springs is one of two Florida locations where diving a cavern to 100 ft can be done without an additional Cavern Diver certification; however, you’ll need proof of your Advanced Open Water certification. The other site is Blue Grotto in Williston, Florida. Before heading out to Ocala, Florida, double-check each diver brings enough money for covering the cash only entrance fee of $30 in US currency. If claustrophobic and/or fear the dark, there are other unique spring experiences perhaps more suitable like Devil’s Den. Lastly, while this family owned operation does offer air-refills and some equipment, be sure to square up any boutique gear needs ahead of schedule. During our visit, the nearest local dive shop less than a mile away, remains closed for business all Sunday.

After parking and paying the entrance fee, divers get to watch a homemade instructional video. This underwater guide provides a play by play of the descent including fossils in the walls, the guideline, assorted man made figurines and the max depth death sign. Some aspects of the surrounding area do get left out like the fog evaporating into the morning sunlight just above the watery entrance. Right above that view, a closed circuit camera is peering over the dive platform. Which makes one wonder, ”Why so many gun shell casings are littering some of the steps to the opening below?”

With that introduction out of the way, Florida freshwater springs are well known for providing excellent visibility and year round temperatures of around 70 degrees F. They make ideal targets for testing out dive equipment, physical and mental conditioning. Submerging into the mouth of the spring, the sun illuminates the water giving way to the next chamber. Looking backward, a bluish hue emanates over the debris mound recalling a church alter or a theater stage. The second portion of the cave is vast in width and height. The space is more than adequate for three pairs of divers. Moving into the third portion of the cavern, the space narrows. Glancing back to the surface, I can always see the lit opening. Following the guideline, the experience feels effortless.

At the bottom of Paradise Springs, it’s easy for your vision to fill with saturating white from a camera lighting rig. This is exactly what occurs on our little adventure. What follows are moments of complete darkness. For myself, a surge of endorphins make my heart race. With eyes still attempting to adjust, my emotions peak into a panic attack. At the same time, my dive partner slowly moves to photographing another limestone wall facing in the opposite direction. He is unable to hear the tapping on my tank because of a hoodie covering his ears. The catch for myself is cycling off blood pressure medication, specifically Beta Blockers. Beta Blockers happen to suppress your body’s natural adrenaline response. Without them, it’s like being exposed to “raw untamed power” that fire up your fight or flight response.

Now, any calm person knows Paradise Springs is devoid of any current, sharks, gators, devils and demons. We’ll “mostly.” With both of my dive lights operational and the entrance above, the challenge is relaxing and managing air consumption until re-establishing visual communication. After about five minutes of holding the guide rope, and burning through a ton of air, fear gives way to calm and an engaged dive buddy for an air check. In the open ocean, there are many other factors beyond your control. This is why I love Florida springs for diving. It’s about as close to ideal conditions a diver gets for trial run outside of a pool.

Whether you dive or not, on Beta Blockers or know someone, I suggest reading up on the many side effects of this powerful class of prescribed medications. Here is a starter article that might peak your interest; Side Effects of Beta Blockers and Weight Gain

More Information:
https://www.floridadiveconnection.com/paradise-springs/

A Journey into Wonderous Stories

This past Monday, I had placed my two week notice at the office. With that simple interaction, a new journey had started to surface on the horizon. Gone were the countless hours of shifting through different conversations and desires that makes one resolute in a final decision leaping forward; however, the trepidation accompanying such a decision was dwarfed by the acceptance of changing, if not ending, some of the personal work relationships from over the years. For those moments, I had encountered emotional conflict.

Some of these interactions had grown into friendship, perhaps even extending even beyond this reality. Yet, still my mind had wandered into the potential of tomorrow. “What now?”, I had thought reflecting on all the shared stories and jokes over the years. What defines my person was the very freedom of wandering, aimlessly sometimes, from one locale to the next. Though, what merit had held the journey without the company you keep?

Tonight, I had started thinking about the choices ahead giving rise to new adventures. Whether mental or physical, these steps were highlighted by starting with one moment, one muse at a time.

Experience More:
Muse (Wikipedia)
Yes – Wonderous Stories (Yes Official)

 

 

 

Managing anemia and scuba diving

Over the past year, I had picked up my Padi certification Open Water and Advanced Open Water through a local dive shop, Seminole Scuba in Lake Mary, Florida. One of my immediate concerns getting signed up was medical clearance for a reoccurring stomach ulcer. The reason for the heightened sense of awareness about the ailment was anemia. With periodic changes in my blood’s ability to carry oxygen, I had thought I might be unable to enjoy exploring this endeavor.

After reviewing my results with my family physician, I was provided written clearance for scuba diving; however, a piece of paper was the first hurdle to managing my anemia. For those unaware of your blood’s hemoglobin count, I had encouraged getting this number checked out periodically if engaging in this activity or any other athletic adventures. For myself, my hemoglobin had floated around 9 grams (gm) per deciliter (dL). Here are some posted normal ranges from per Medicinenet.com:

    • Children: 11 to 13 gm/dL
    • Adult males: 14 to 18 gm/dL
    • Adult women: 12 to 16 gm/dL
    • Men after middle age: 12.4 to 14.9 gm/dL
    • Women after middle age: 11.7 to 13.8 gm/dL

Here were few additional thoughts I had learned up to my last outing in the big blue Atlantic.

  1. Eat your iron. Always keep a bottle of iron (OTC) or medically prescribed version available in your gym or scuba bag. For myself, this was paramount to making it through Open Water course.
  2. Get a thicker wetsuit! For myself, this was exceedingly apparent on my outing for the Advanced Open Water class. When underwater getting hypothermia, you had reduced your chance to relax while shaking like a low power vibrator. Think I had lost few pounds on that Saturday but, worse still feeling like a burden to my dive buddy and instructor(s). After trying to get by on the cheap with rentals of 3MM suits, I had conceded the point. I had shelled out about $400 bucks on 5mm Aquaflex medium from Seminole Scuba. The dividend after the fact was a more calm and fun dive time.
  3. Know your limits. Sounds obvious, though, I had understood a man’s ability to hold onto his maverick independent streak. The smarter person, the better diver, had kept themselves self-aware about their limitations including fatigue, alertness, and pain.
  4. Avoid anything that might exacerbate your anemia. In my case, avoiding irritating an ulcer was important before a scheduled dive. Recently, I had marked off the list alcoholic beverages (i.e. margaritas), caffeine and spicy foods few days in advance if in the midst of a flare up.

Again, if you were interested in scuba diving and anemic, talk with your family doctor. Safe travels!

Read More:
Overview of anemia and diving – Diving Medicine Online (scuba-doc.com)
Understanding Anemia — the Basics (WebMD)
How is hemoglobin measured? (Medicinenet)

 

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#3463, The Rescue Run Corporate 5K @ Lake Mary, Florida

On Thursday, March 27th, 2014 @ 6:30 PM, I had journeyed out on my first outdoor run since October 2013. The purpose of this endeavor was helping raise money and awareness to the plight of the homeless in Seminole County Florida. For myself, the point was just to see how my aging, 42 year old body might fair at the end of a business day. Some fellow work friends had inquired, ”Are you going to run or walk?” My response was, “Just have to see what happens!”

On the day before the run, a work email was sent out listing all the registered participants. Though registering for the event online, my name was missing. Following up with the in house organizer, I had requested being placed on standby for any cancellations. Writing off that possibility Wednesday night, I had awoke at 3 AM Thursday morning hoping to wrap up loose ends on an IT project; however, the day was marred by frustration and disappointment copying files from one portion of a SAN (i.e. fancy disk system) to another. The phrase,”Soooo slow” was echoed by one peer embodying the morning’s events. Think this was the theme for most of the day. Then, an unexpected chat window from an event coordinator had materialized on my laptop display. Someone from the list of registrants had called out sick. I was thinking, “Okay I’m in. Let me turn this day around.”

With the 5K kicking off promptly at 6:30 PM, I had cruised the first mile with a brisk clip. At 1.5 miles in, I had felt my calve muscles starting to cramp from too much afternoon caffeine consumption. In an effort to maintain pace, I had employed a routine from a friend alternating a walk and run every minute or so. With that technique, I was able to bridge the next 1.5 miles at a moderate clip. Coming around the final corner, I had switched to walking again. Pulling up on the left side, one of my co-workers had encouraged me to “finish strong!” For some reason, I was reinvigorated by his inspirational phrase. That act of comradery had provided me with a descent final run time.

At age 42, a 5k at 30 minutes 40 seconds were quantifiable, some say, respectable numbers. More important was bridging these moments to the failing health of someone close to me over the weekend. That person, age 38, had experienced a potential stroke including loss of facial muscle control. I had not known anyone that close to me or young to suffer such a physical setback. I had never felt so helpless to fix a problem. With each tomorrow, I had to waited to see what happens with his condition. For today, I had only hoped to motivate him, like my co-worker, down the road that lies ahead.

Update: The stroke was a misdiagnosis of Bell’s Palsy.

Read More:
The Rescue Run Corporate 5K (therescuerun5k.com)
Bell’s Palsy (Wikipedia)

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Wanderlust in Wekiva Springs State Park @ Apopka, Florida

“Wanderlust  …dissatisfaction with the restrictions of home … may also fuel the desire to travel…commonly described as an enjoyment of strolling, roaming about or wandering.”- Wikipedia

Two weeks after surgery, I had discovered an ever increasing desire to wonder around Central Florida. With a little help from my friends, I had tempered this flame with standard fare from walking at Lake Lily Park to Lake Eola; however, that was just the start. Hitting the road yesterday to Canaveral National Seashore, I had wrapped up the weekend back in the heart of Central Florida with swimming at Wekiva Springs State Park.

The latter two outings were less than ideal with chilling coastal winds to cloudy waters of an over populated springhead. The importance of the walking and swimming this weekend was an affirmation of a healthy recovery. In some sense, I was grateful in earning back more mobility. Though, in the back of my psyche, I had recalled dialing down my fervor a few notches. It wasn’t like I was playing with snakes seeking atonement, rather simple solace. This notion sometimes had seemed easier stated than done with an elderly lady power walking right by you as an adult male.

Recovery from surgery for anyone, was a measure of equal parts physical healing and mental attitude. With possibility of pain and discomfort acquiescing to a “pity party” was the lost opportunity in focusing a return to some sense of normalcy. Before surgery, I had blogged for folks to make the most of their day. Today, for those with a recent procedure(s), I had thought the same rule applies. I hadn’t needed to beat grandma, just redirect that intensity elsewhere. I had dared you to do the same no matter your circumstance, just live it up!

Read More:

Wekiva Springs State Park (Florida State Park)

Wanderlust (Wikipedia)

Courtesy of Florida State Parks

Courtesy of Florida State Parks

What do scars tell us?

Some say scars build character, others maybe misfortune, for myself I had believed these markings tell us about our own story. Having come out of initial recovery from hernia surgery, I was thinking exactly what do these new etchings mean? For my story, I had looked back to my first big physical trauma.

One day leaving the military grocery store in the UK, my mother and I were headed to the parking lot.  As with many children, I had wanted to treat this rudimentary chore as a chapter in a whimsical fantasy. For most young boys, most had periodically idolized Superman and his super strength. So in my best physical impersonation, I had decided to pry off one of the car doors from the inside out. Now, the visual counterpoint were tiny preschool boy hands wrestling with modeled sheet metal. If Superman had crushed cars, so could I. Unrelenting, I had become entrenched in a battle against this unwavering construct. On the other hand, my mom had focused on efficiently loading up the day’s groceries in the trunk. Then, the slam of the car door had brought reality to a screaming halt, literally. Under the door hinge, my left hand had laid.

Awaking from the shock, I was walking with my mom through a courtyard at a hospital. Looking at my left ring finger, it was dolled up in cotton gauze. Under the gauze had existed the bloody bludgeoned shortened fingertip. If I hadn’t told, you might not had been any wiser to this scar. The only physical challenge I had ever experienced, learning to play guitar with a little more effort on the frets. In reflection, it was small penance in embracing my childhood ethos of Superman. From my mom’s point of view, she had felt enormously guilty about the mishap; however, in retrospect accidents and boys had seem inseparable facts of life.

Looking at the incisions from repairing two hernias, I had thought of how this experience compares to the first. In certain sense, the same spirit was at play. Men and boys had always wanted to reach beyond their grasp, sometimes reality. Looking at the some of my other noteworthy scars, from my right wrist, left forearm, and right knee, all had echoed moments of being more than ordinary maybe, even super. Scars in themselves were just a reminder of the body’s frailty.

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Surgery, stand and deliver!

Before this year had started, I knew the day would roll around for my hernia surgery. The important part of the adventure was confronting any loss of mobility post the procedure. For myself, a loss of mobility had meant a loss of freedom to randomly travel wherever on a whim. With any luck, I had hoped to work through recovery in a reasonable amount of time. On this Friday, I had thought to ask you to assert your own freedom to explore the world we live in. Face some fear that had held you back from enjoying living. As I had set this to autopost to WordPress at the time of my procedure, consider your day without such a constraint, stand and deliver!

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Hear More:
Stand and Deliver by Mister Mister (Youtube)

Valentine’s Day, whatever we deny or embrace, for worse or for better!

Love like refracting light had come in various hues whether a crush, platonic friendship, paternal instinct or a long-term relationship. Earlier this week, I had recalled my connection to my mother through the distinct perspective of a childhood embrace. Some of the biggest moments in my life were colored by other shades of this very word, love.

One weekend while going to Florida State University, by coincidence, I had caught up with a childhood friend from the Bahamas. This interaction had sparked the possibility of reaching out to my estranged father in Asia. At that point, I hadn’t spoken to my dad in a number of years. I was so angry with disappointment of the dissolution of his marriage to my mother. Topping it all off, was his reckless spending of my college fund. I had recalled thinking, “How do you forgive something like that?” Then I had remembered all the good times growing up on military bases. I had remembered the smell of coffee, doughnuts and slight odor of cigarette smoke when hugging his side. With that perspective, I had decided to write an open letter detailing missing him. I wasn’t sure if he would respond; however, the act of popping the envelope into the mail was a cathartic one. It had afforded solace through forgiveness in place of anger.

In the end, I hadn’t ever heard from my father until receiving word from an uncle of his unexpected death years later. In my mind, that open letter was therapy for closing out a portion of the past. Before my father’s service, I was given the duty of providing his eulogy. I had again recalled some of those great memories of playing chess, fishing and snorkeling off the Bahamian coast. This mental anchor had provided strength in gathering words in a difficult time. By letting go of the anger before, I was able to bridge an emotional gap from estrangement. Like my mother had said,”He was still your father!” I was grateful to express my love for him then and others down the line. Whatever life had tossed your way, for better or worse, your better man or woman, for fearlessly saying you love someone. The only epic fail was allowing anger from preventing saying otherwise.

Read More:
Pat Benatar (Wikipedia)

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Across the Universe Happy Valentine’s Day Mom!

While in elementary, I had remembered immersing in pages of books with graphic illustrations of the planets in our solar system. My mom was never a fan of anything science fiction or science fact related; however, one thing she had always enjoyed profusely, my explanation of how much I loved her. In my response, I had stretched my out my arms to their furthest expanse saying, ”I love you from the planet Mercury to the planet Pluto.” That familiar exchange of affection had seemed big enough to fill my existence through the edge of the Milky Way.

Cherishing those memories now, I had reflected on friends and other peers living through their mother’s passing. Life had never seemed to offer convenient times for interrupting with bad news. A few weeks ago, my mom had come down with this year’s seasonal cold eventually leading to admission into to the hospital. Luckily, she was on the mend and off to Vegas by the following weekend. Funny thing, I was a bit frantic about being unable to reach her for my weekly Saturday morning call. I hadn’t felt such anxiety since my childhood. A childhood that was filled with obsessing about my parents dying. Maybe it was fear of nuclear war during the 1980s or a separation phobia. Who knows? Who cares?

One thing that hasn’t changed since childhood that distant memory. That reverence still fills my heart expanding across my existence. Nothing summarizes that feeling better than the Beatles song, Across the Universe.

johnlennon

Happy Valentine’s Day from tu adorado tormento (your beloved torment)

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Read More:
Our Solar System (NASA)
Across the Universe by the Beatles (Wikipedia)

Hernias and someone drinking a little too much beer?

Two months ago I had travelled out to southern California for work. Upon my visit, a friend of mine, pointing to my stomach, had mentioned, “Someone drinking a little too much beer?” Much to my chagrin, I had stated, “Only my belly button.” After about a month, I had noticed my navel protruding more than ever. It had crested with bluish tint and tender to the touch. On New Years’ Eve, I had decided on sending a picture to my general practitioner for some feedback. He had responded “umbilical hernia.” At first, I was writing off the protrusion as more cosmetic than a functional issue. For over two years, it really hadn’t bothered me much until getting the seasonal cold this past January. With each respective sneeze and cough, pain had bellowed through my chest cavity with a greater degree of discomfort but, still manageable.

Somewhere along the way in January, I had also noticed another protrusion in my lower pelvic area while working out. Maybe it was from doing leg presses or just lifting something incorrectly (i.e. a scuba tanks). Regardless, the mental toll of having two hernias, especially a lower pelvic one, really had lowered my spirits. I had wondered, “If I had surgery, how long until I recover to go run, hike, swim or scuba? Will I be the same man afterward?” In my 40s, I had really started to ponder every new ache with the progression of aging. I had started to channel, Stone Temple Pilots’,”Half the man I used to be.”

Now at first, I had written off a decision for surgery until later in the 2014. I had really wanted to focus on getting more reps scuba diving with a friend; however, I had figured, ”Why not schedule an appointment for a medical consult?” Two days before my appointment, I had gone out for Karaoke with a buddy. While there, I had an unexpected shift in my lower abdomen while going to the restroom. A sharp pain had begun emanating from my lower torso feeling like someone literally kicking constantly  in the groin. With the pain increasing in severity, I had opted to bail on my friend at the bar in lieu of rest. Choosing to avoid a repeat of the previous night outing, I had chosen to skip the next morning at the gym. I had grown fearful of what might inadvertently occur. I was wondering if my intestines might pop out like the many ghastly depictions online including a story from Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock.

This past Thursday, I had finally caught up with my surgeon for a consult. Much to my surprise, he had mentioned the recovery time should be quick, even for activity like scuba diving or the gym. With that appraisal echoed by my family doctor, I was ecstatic. Now, all I was waiting on scheduling the surgery and getting back to a full range of activities. If you had a hernia before, what was it like? How long did it take you to return to a fully functional battle station?

Read More:
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on Hernia Surgery: “Those Were Sexy Times” (US Weekly)

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Cheat Day with double dipping hot dogs and Oreos!

With 2014 had come echoes of New Year Resolutions for eating right and exercising for some folks. What I had wanted to share the importance of having that day for a meal of whatever you desire once a week.

In that spirit today, I had started with scarfing down a friend’s Oreos before swimming. Returning home, I had fell sleep waking with an unmanageable hunger. With my eyes passing on protein shake mix and bananas, I had wondered onto the frig discovering a rogue package of  bacon flavored Oscar Meyer wieners! Firing up the skillet, I had thought two links should work. After consuming those, I had fired up two more hot dogs gobbling them immediately. Maybe it was the cheese, ketchup, or even the salty stuffing in the casing. Regardless, I had consumed four weiners and 10 Oreos. Had I felt guilty, nope, only the raw power of passing satisfaction!

Staying focused on your food selection while dieting was important but, flogging yourself mentally will likely bring non-compliance. Be real, be consistent, have a cheat meal once a week, Bon Appetit!

Dieting? Try Cholula Hot Sauce with Chunk Light Tuna and/or Peanut Butter (GarzaFX)

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Beautiful day for a swim @ Wekiva Springs State Park, Florida

Most of this week in Florida, the weather had gone back in forth between warm to cold and back again, sometimes with variations of 30 degrees or more. Now, normally I hadn’t cared one way or another regarding the elements outside for going to the gym. Though, starting Sunday, I was blessed with a touch of the cold making the rounds with my fellow bipeds. Monday and Tuesday, I had conceded to resting and hydrating. Entering into Wednesday, two of my good friends had wanted to visit La Fitness. One had inquired if any interest? As with most days, I had stuffed my backpack for either a morning or afternoon gym interlude. In my mind, like the weather, I had switched back and forth on deciding on following through on some basic cardio.

With the witching hour upon me, I had chosen to go. Either way, I was going to be congested. The logic for going, I had thought, “I’ll be so exhausted afterward quickly succumbing to sleep!” Plus, I had figured another means of working phlegm and other impurities out of my body. The good news was after this outing and each on Thursday and Friday achieving deeper sleep and feeling better. Then, Saturday had arrived. I was key on alternating to swimming for resting my knees joints and legs muscles. I had decided on hitting Winter Park’s La Fitness for their salt water pool. After completing my mundane chores for the day, I had started driving to the gym. While jamming to tunes on my iPhone, a friend had texted me up about visiting Wekiva Springs. My immediate response was absolutely. I had pondered hitting one of the state parks during the weekend anyway.

With all the weather fluctuations in Florida recently, some people had wondered, “Why bother?” Well, if you were in one of the snow ridden states today, Wekiva Springs constantly maintains a 72 degree temperature. For some folks maybe too cold but, as another park visitor had eloquently responded later in the day, “Warmer than the North Atlantic!”  Picking up my pal, we had driven out to the park. The sun had started breaking through the clouds shedding heat and light. It had reminded me of the early days of spring. At the gate, the park ranger had stated “That doesn’t look like you?” while looking at our park pass without a photo ID.  I had followed up by turning the card over pointing to a big yellow flower on the opposing face. He then had smiled big waiving us forward.

After parking, we had walked down to Wekiva Springs swimming area. Having affixed  swimming goggles to my eyes, I had submerged into the fresh spring waters. Exhausting myself with just a lap, I had exited looking up to sky. I had reflected on what a great reason to skip inhabiting the walls of any place including the gym. In contrast to the rest of the country’s weather fortunes, I had thought, ”What a beautiful day for a swim @ Wekiva Springs!”

Read More:
Wekiva Springs State Park – Apopka, Florida (GarzaFX)

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OMG! shaving facial hair

A few months had gone by since shaving my face completely. Sure I had trimmed here, shaved there, but, not completely. In my last blog regarding this topic, OMG! Facial Hair!, I had spoken to most of the differing reasons for letting go of the act of shaving facial hair. Part of me really had really enjoyed being so unkempt. Along the way, there was a lot of temptation for shaving out of conformity at the behest of my brother or mother; however, two reasons had remained for keeping it unruly. Of those two goals, one public and one private, I had left unmentioned in the last post.

So today, I had wanted to round back in explaining my public goal. The purpose was reducing my weight slowly to see my abs. For myself, this goal was stewing for about a good year or so. To that end, I had succeeded, almost a month late but, still through all the colds, anemia, and indigestion, done. My point here for you, especially those in my age group of 40 something, keep striving toward improving your health whether for the new year or not. The overall objective was not to be unhappy eating a strict food regime but, enjoying edible delights in moderation while attaining a certain look vs. weight.

From a quantifiable point of view, I had moved down about 20 lbs depending on the day a year ago to 155 lbs. The important aspect of this goal wasn’t the scale but, self image. For the first time in probably 5 years, I was generally pleased with my physique. Now part of me obviously had wanted to push further to get more cut. Though, for a few reasons I had opted instead to make some adjustments going into the future. Here were some of those points;

  1. Dropping another 10 lbs. on my frame would definitely reveal the rest of my midsection. The cost was flirting with an overly gaunt appearance. So for now, I had thought to pass on this objective.
  2. My doctor had recently diagnosed my protruding belly button as an umbilical hernia. By the time I had addressed that through surgery, might be worth having those 10 lbs. to spare.
  3. Going forward, I had wanted to focus more on muscle mass vs. cardiovascular conditioning.

Those points aside, I had made a few discoveries during this process.  First, I had reduced consumption of sports drinks and caffeine. On one hand, both had offered caloric or energy enhancement.  On the other, without them, they had provided a fall sense of cardiovascular health and endurance. Another recent epiphany was front loading carbs in the first half of my day or right before hitting gym. This had helped food cravings for pizza, rice or anything counterproductive. The last revelation was keeping exercise routines or activities challenging yet, fun.

As for that other goal, the private one, we’ll I had thought, “A man’s grasp should exceed his reach but, some aspirations require free will!” For now, that goal I had placed on the back burner being a deliberate man. For those just starting up with getting fit in 2014, be varied, keep at it, I was a work in progress last year and will continue to be in the future. With respect to shaving again, I had already loathed the exercise today! Yeah, think I had wanted to continue avoiding that chore as much as possible.

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Read More:
OMG! Facial Hair! (GarzaFX)

Road Laughter

There had existed a world and universe that physically reaches beyond our grasp. There had also encompassed a vast expanse within your mind. Recalling parts of my youth, I had spent summers in Tallahassee, Florida and Singapore. Each experience was remarkably unique; one illuminating, the other frustrating.

Without question, there was a key difference regardless of location. It was a positive mindset looking up to the big blue sky imagining possibilities. That precedent had made for years of wonderful new memories in Tallahassee, Florida. A good friend had told me, “It is not where you are but, what you do.” On that point I had wanted to share this memory with you. I had thought to also say, ”Don’t limit yourself with your state of mind or location in life.” This was more about aspiring to find yourself and bridging that gap to your family, friends and loved ones.

Imagine, reach out and make contact, listen, maybe even laugh a little, we’re all human after all.

Safe travels.

Dieting? Try Cholula Hot Sauce with Chunk Light Tuna and/or Peanut Butter

For a lot of folks starting the New Year had meant resolutions for working out and modifying diet. Whether the purpose was looking better or just being healthy, eventually being creative in food selection reduces mental fatigue when changing habits during the first 90 days. Outside of having a cheat day, finding flavorful options probably had come a close second for staying on track. For myself, I had a decent record of incorporating foods like protein shake mix, bananas, chicken, eggs, and Chia. In common with all these things, they had a limited appeal with respect to richness in flavor.

So my recommendation were the following two options;

1)      Chunk Light Tuna in Water (any brand) with Cholula Original Hot Sauce. The combination of these two items had generated a flavor profile very similar to sardines in hot sauce, less the texture of bones, scales and skin. Now, the Cholula Original Hot Sauce was a mild choice for a hotness despite labeling. In difference to many other brands like Tabasco, Wild Pete’s, or Louisiana’s, Cholula had a certain thickness. This viscosity had provided a heaviness complimenting the rather light tuna flakes. Additionally, Cholula Original Hot Sauce had not overpowered the Tuna with heat. The overall combination was extremely low on calories and high on protein. This option I had used for supplementing afternoon meals.

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2)      Peanut butter. This was a recommendation from a fellow co-worker. At first, I had thought maybe too much sugar in the way of carbs; however, using in a targeted fashion, it was great means of energy before working out and as a quick snack mid-morning. The great thing about peanut butter for me was the rate which your body metabolizes it for energy. For myself it had took time leveraging all the calories versus bananas or a sport drink. Peanut butter was great source of energy for extended gym sessions or running. With respect to brands, I had just stuck with generic Walmart brand. If traveling, I had just packed my spoon or other plastic ware.

For those embarking on resolutions, good luck, for those just looking for other options, I had hoped to provide something new to consider. Happy 2014!

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Read More

Great Value Creamy Peanut Butter Nutrition Facts (Walmart)

StarKist Chunk Light Tuna in Water Nutrition Facts (StarKist)

Cholula Original Hot Sauce (Cholula)

The Arrival @ Anaheim, California

This past Saturday, with my hiking bag popping out onto the luggage pickup carousel at LAX, I had arrived in California. Texting my friend for pickup, I had waited on the side street like a tired, desperate hustler or hooker. Despite pulling more hours on the road this year in a day, I had still felt like a caged animal sitting in economy class, Row 29, Seat B on Delta flight 1061. Standing in the cool crisp 50 F degree air was a welcome break before hopping into my friend’s car heading to Anaheim. Punching the destination into his navigation system, we had embarked onto a 30 minute ride across LA’s darkened highways.

With lights from descending airplanes piercing the night time sky, we had started talking about upcoming travel plans. My friend had rattled off quite a few states for the upcoming year including; Washington and South Carolina. Myself, I had spoken only to the trip before me in California. In casual talk of work and living in LA, we had soon drifted to health. The conversation had gone into detail about my friend’s confrontation with testicular cancer. After verifying a self-diagnosis, he had one of his testicles removed around 5 years ago. For a man still in his late 30s, I was shocked a bit. Normally, I had imagined men in their golden years for such a diagnosis. Then again, I was not a medical professional.

Arriving in Anaheim, we had started joking around with sexual and other politically incorrect humor. I hadn’t hung out with my friend in years but, in 30 minutes, we didn’t miss a beat. With the ride over, I had gathered my belongings heading toward check-in at the Disneyland hotel. On Delta flight 1061, I had wandered down to the onboard restroom. There I had seen an icon for tampon dispenser. With all the challenges of this work week, I had whined about the crazy work hours, jet lag, and indigestion. In the context of ride to Anaheim, I had reflected on the fortune of having two testicles versus my buddy. Regardless of the disappointment of seeing more of local topography, I had thought important to insert my mental tampon for the remainder of the visit. If this trip was about that 30 minute moment with my friend, then time well spent.

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There will be blood!

Until recently, I had experienced a certain degree of squeamishness watching blood draws from a phlebotomist. Receiving a call from the doctor’s office, the time had arrived for another joyous extraction from my body. In commuting to work today, I had debated whether or not to blog about this bloody affair. On one hand, by sharing the experience, I had figured speak to freewill, fear and health. On the other hand, I had coveted the opportunity to maybe gross out someone with a description and/or depiction of fluid squirting into a vial. With the titillation of documenting a blood draw, I had decided to face my own phobia while providing a specimen.

Scheduling the appointment Wednesday, I had thought about the various friends and family with varying degrees of health issues. With all of these folks, blood had played an instrumental role in providing feedback for possible treatments. Each one of those people had experienced one form of blood defect or another; anemia, bad cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, HIV and beyond. Perplexing to me, the number of people with good health care that had avoided any type of medical care, let alone leveraging the results. Maybe some folks had romanced the idea of dying at their desk? Maybe not?

Walking back from a work break yesterday, I had engaged in conversation with a fellow coworker speaking to a mutual love of food. The man had talked about his quality of life deriving from all the wonderfully fattening food out in the world. My mind’s eye had quickly filled with images of BBQ ribs, pizza, hot dogs and fries. All of a sudden, my food selections for the day; bananas, protein shakes, and tuna had seemed awfully bland. Before breaking for his desk, the slightly obese man had made another comment,” I know what I got coming. I just wanna enjoy life while I am here.” Morbid? Yes; however, catching me at vulnerable moment of hunger, I had thought, ”Awe yah! Real food!” I responded verbally with the following,” I have seen quite a few skinny sad faces out there. They just might be happier with a burger and a milkshake.” The point was a familiar theme, freewill to determine one’s quality of life.

To that freewill part, I had arrived at my appointment for blood draw this morning. I was starving like a rapid bear. I had asked the phlebotomist about recording her routine. She had gracefully granted my request. Sitting down, I had focused a mobile phone camera upon my elbow. Wrapping a tourniquet tightly around my upper right arm, the phlebotomist  had proceeded to wipe down my skin with an alcoholic pad. Flipping my thumb across my phone’s camera options, I had gleefully recorded some pictures and video. For a change, I had lost focus of the small needle pinch to the skin. With each passing second of recorded video, the stomach curdling feelings of watching blood squirt away had vanished. All I had needed to work on now, suppressing my lust for food!

Read More:
dying @ your desk (GarzaFX)
Eat According to Your Blood Type (Men’s Fitness)
Human Anatomy: Blood – Cells, Plasma, Circulation, and More (WebMD)

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Music by GarzaFX.com

Prepping for the apocalypse with Fish Mox?

I had started writing on WordPress for providing insight to my adventures on the road and in the home. With the discussion of Fish Mox, a fish antibiotic, some of my interests had converged into this one posting. One night, while watching an episode of Doomsday Preppers on cable, a fact had caught my attention. In preparing for the apocalypse, an individual had mentioned a survivalist tip of using fish antibiotics from a pet store. After finishing the show, I had jumped onto the internet to read about this possibility.

Before proceeding, I had wanted to outline a couple of obvious statements regarding this discussion.

  1. I am not a medical profession, just some guy behind a keyboard.
  2. Always consult a medical profession when ill!
  3. Currently, I have the privilege of having decent healthcare.
  4. I don’t believe everything on the internet.
  5. I don’t believe everything on television.

Continuing, my keen interest in fish antibiotics had come from traveling. I had really enjoyed being outdoors from hiking trails to fresh water springs to even a top of a mountain. Nothing I had dreaded worse than being on a road trip, or about to travel, then being stifled by some sinus infection or strep throat.

After getting over my first cold at the beginning of the year, I had come to the conclusion of ordering Fish Mox (i.e. Amoxicillin) from fishmoxfishflex.com. The deciding factors for the purchase were the online discussions relating to the quality grade of contents and pill labeling, despite the manufacturer stating for fish use only. For a few months, I had set this bottle in my kitchen corner. After a couple of trips, I had taken the sealed bottle with me. The opportunity for usage had finally arisen after a cold front this fall. The Sunday night following this change, I had developed congestion the next morning with an awful brown nasal discharge. At this point, I had decided to cycle on the Fish Mox. By day three, I had started to feel better. Some of my friends, during that same weather transition, had fared far worse. One had gone to the hospital receiving a prescription for Amoxicillin. The other, visiting a family doctor, had received the same prescription. Being funny and smart, I had enjoyed seeing my doctor; however, for the price and time, in this case $30 for a bottle of Fish Mox, I had figured keep a container around in case of emergencies.

After sharing some of the above information with a co-worker and my brother, the response was be wary of careless use of antibiotics. The consensus was save the Amoxicillin when appropriate, versus overuse. That opinion was echoed by many medical professionals from various media resources. With respect to bacteria tolerant of antibiotics, that time had arrived with this recent article, “Why the post-antibiotic world is the real-life version of the zombie apocalypse.” As species, we had opened the door for a “super-bug” pandemic with over prescription of medications and animal application of antibiotics. Should this apocalypse develop, consider a statement by Jim Morrison of the Doors, he had stated eloquently,”Did you have a good world when you died?”

Read More:
Why the post-antibiotic world is the real-life version of the zombie apocalypse (theweek.com)
Fish Antibiotics (preparednesspro.com)
Amoxicillin (drugs.com)

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What’s inside me? A water world of swimming and scuba lessons

Returning today from a scuba lesson from Florida’s Alexander Springs in Ocala National Forest, I had pondered a question by a fellow classmate, ”Why challenge yourself with learning both things so close to together?” I had responded, “To expand possibilities.” Inside my mind, I had thought different motivations exist. With my 42nd birthday this December, how much time was left for my sight, muscles, joints, heart, or brain to carry out the maximum potential of certain experiences? No one knows when life had played your last card. Maybe, it was the competitive nature of keeping up with a friend younger than myself. Maybe, it was just fun or another avenue for cardio. For the most part, ego had provided the motivation for a journey back into water.

With swimming, I had never learned really how to swim confidently without fins, mask or snorkel as a child in the Bahamas. This bad precedent, a decision of my own, I had never revisited until this year. As a Navy brat, I had lived most of my life within an hour or less from the ocean. After returning stateside from Andros Island, Bahamas to the murky delta waters of the St. John’s River and Jacksonville Beaches, I had lost an inspiration to adventure out to the shore. The contrasting experience, in my opinion, was insurmountable. This October, with recent wear and tear on my ankles and knees from jogging, I had figured, “What a good time to switch horses for cardio!” The past two months, I had rotated to swims at my pool, the gym, fresh water springs, and the ocean. Steadily, I had improved but, elderly men and women left me in their wake leisurely. Part of the frustration of learning swimming was expending too much energy on keeping my head above water and engaging appendages full throttle. Reflecting on weight training from my 20s to now, this activity was counterintuitive. Swimming was not about power but, graceful breathing. This past Monday, I had finally gotten to 16 laps in the gym pool. This Friday, I had finally achieved an uninterrupted lap around the perimeter of Wekiva Springs swimming area. Both events had underscored the value of swimming as a good substitute for running and learning something new!

That second point had brought me to Scuba lessons. A friend had floated the suggestion of getting certified. I had figured why not add another dimension to adventures for the upcoming year; however, the past couple of weeks, I had stressed myself out with budgeting money, time, and health to work through tomorrow, my final day of a Padi Scuba class. During training, an instructor had rightfully told me, “Relax underwater.”  I had translated that into “don’t freak out man.” Easy to say, if failing was a familiar refrain. My instructor, Bob, had gladfully provided support to make this endeavor, fun and fulfilling. If you hadn’t understood his memory imprinting with certain repetitive tasks, perhaps you might be missing the point in the real world.

With final day of class tomorrow, I had aimed to “freak out” less, relax and the enjoy the submersion into the waters around Rainbow Springs State Park. Epiphanies had never come when you expect them but, with effort lies opportunity. In that potential, I had asked the question to try to find, “What’s inside me? What’s inside you?”

For Scuba lessons:

In Central Florida, I had recommended checking out Paul and Bob at Seminole Scuba. For more information, www.seminolescuba.com Address: 3869 Lake Emma Rd, Lake Mary, FL 32746 Phone:(407) 333-8856

For swimming:

Checkout,  Wekiva Springs State Park – Apopka, Florida, or if too cold, La Fitness’s heated saltwater pool in Winter Park, Florida

Read More:
Alexander Springs – Ocala National Forest – Florida (GarzaFX)
Rainbow Springs State Park -Dunnellon, Florida (GarzaFX)
Wekiva Springs State Park – Apopka, Florida (GarzaFX)

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dying @ your desk

Nicolas Tesla had obsessed over numerology, specifically the number 3. This past week, life had thrown 3 challenges my way, a radiator leak, my cat not leaking (i.e. urinary blockage) and a reoccurrence of anemia. With Tesla’s obsession passing through my mind, my car headlights had illuminated 333 on a mailbox while driving at dawn to the gym. I had believed in coincidences before, on the verge of turning 42, maybe not. Recalling my father’s passing at age 65, I had surmised doing good health wise with my birthday around the corner; however, the anemia had really caught me off-guard. All I can say, I hope you never had known the sensation of blood pumping into the capillaries of your fingers, straining to maintain adequate oxygen flow. Luckily, leveraging most of my tricks in my health playbook, I had avoided missing the first part of scuba class this past weekend. An appearance in class of being intellectually daft, I had concluded unflattering but, small penance for staying on task.

Last night, I had reflected that staying at my desk last week, unwise. Yet somehow, I had rationalized subconsciously, nothing more romantic and honorable than dying at your post. Perhaps, Star Trek and my dad’s service in the military had communicated that idea to me in one medium or another. So today, I had read some intriguing job openings at work. Interested yet, in light of recent events, I had quickly dispensed with those ideas, in lieu of sticking to a plan towards personal endeavors.

The reality, if reading this and a US citizen, more than likely, you had slim chance of retiring by age 65, more like 80. With an inevitable budget crisis, corporate welfare (i.e. oil subsidies, etc.), maybe a war for good measure, I had deduced an inevitable hard correction for the Dow Jones.  All the above had reinforced avoiding staying at work.  So, I had requested for some last minute time off. In earnest, I had wanted to catch up on lost time for some Padi Scuba studying. I had chosen to embody the tattoo on my right arm, a star with the letter M inside. It had served as reminder putting myself, yourself first. Nothing in this life had offered the ability to undo regret. Again, recalling my father, I had wanted to leave you with that idea and a country tune from Tim McGraw, “Live Like You Were Dying.”

Read More:
Find Your Inner Tortoise  (AARP.org)
Nicolas Tesla (Wikipedia)

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Repost: Magnesium x2

So the past month, I had my share of life’s ups and downs physically. Part of approaching age 42, was maintaining my varied body parts. This week had opened with a co-worker limping around valiantly from a bump knee. Recovering from my own “gimpy” adventures (i.e. knees, ankles, etc..) recently, I had suggested Epsom Salt aka Magnesium Sulfate.  The other ordeal was a reoccurrence of an ulcer. Thankfully, I had avoided any stomach ailments since my gallbladder surgery about 2 years ago; however, unsure of the source of the issue, I had fired up some iron pills to alleviate a bout of anemia and addressing certain color (black) and smell of the #2.

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The hat trick was the standby, 250 Mg Magnesium pill. After stirring up the acid in my stomach during the week, this had calmed my stomach avoiding purchase of over the counter pills or drinks. After taking one pill, the indigestion and bloating had subsided where I can now sit up, post, and read my scuba manual.

With those two experiences, I had thought it important to repost two different shout outs to my favorite element, magnesium! Be well my fellow humans, be well!

Read More:

1) The 12th Element, Magnesium  (GarzaFX) – This post talks of general and unexpected uses for Magnesium, can’t overemphasize the value there.

2) Healing Water: Part 1 (GarzaFX) – A piece regarding testing Epsom Salts, just remember the more you hurt, the longer to soak (i.e. 30 minutes or more)

As always, consult with a medical professional when making changes to your diet or any possible interactions with other medications!

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