Category Archives: Commentary

Reboot It, Renew It, Reshoot It!!

Yakko, Wacko and Dot were more on target with that song than I thought. Yet another CBS program has been rebooted, putting them in a tie with DC Comics for most reboots ever, LOL. Who is our unlucky victim this time? A cash cow that CBS decided could be milked further:

‘CSI: Vegas’ Gets Series Order at CBS

15 years wasn’t long enough, so here we go again. O_o 😀

The new series will feature a few of the “old guard” from the original series mentoring a new group of CSIs using cutting edge technology to help solve crimes.

I’ve got to admit, I liked the old show (not loved), but another reboot in the CBS line up? When is enough enough? Even half of Netflix’s shows are reboots anymore. I’m wondering when Zorro is going to be rebooted by Disney anymore…

Honolulu Car Rental Price Gouging

I got an email about this from my friend in Hawaii. It seems with the return of tourism to Oahu (which had been down 90% for almost the entire pandemic), that the demand for rental cars has gone through the roof compared to availability.

No doubt the car rental offices were selling off their fleets to help cover operating costs during the pandemic. Now that it’s ended, their short sighted move has caught them flat footed. In typical predatory capitalism fashion they’ve decided to charge over $700 a DAY for basic rentals and over $1000 if you want a convertible:

$1,000 a day to rent a car? Low supply, surging demand are pushing up prices in Hawaii (hawaiinewsnow.com)

Normally, I’m quite pro-capitalism. I understand that TO A DEGREE, supply and demand are going to factor into cost. Doing so covers the cost of increasing the supply to meet demand.

HOWEVER… Where do we draw the line in this kind of instance? Where does the law of supply and demand become predatory capitalism? I’m not sure I have an EXACT answer there, BUT, 10x the normal going rate would seem to be across that line. We rented a Mustang GT convertible a year and a half ago for our honeymoon and only paid $100 a day, which is still pricey compared to most other locations.

Wouldn’t an ethical business simply go out and buy some cars from local dealerships to increase their fleet size? At $100 a day rental rate, the car loan note can be paid for on 5 days of rental per month.

Just because you CAN do something doesn’t make it right. Look at the price hikes on insulin as another example. Somewhere along the lines the idea of business ethics got flushed and replaced with the SHORT SIGHTED idea that the only duty a business had was to provide as much short term profit as possible to it’s investors. If one has NO ability to ponder consequences, that sounds great also. In the long term though, it destroys a business’s reputation and customer loyalty. Look at Banks and Airlines as two other examples. They’re both hated.

Worse, these greedy businesses are only fueling the call for Socialism or outright Communism by people who don’t understand these are even worse alternatives.

Where Do You Draw The Line?

Yes, I’ve been away for a few days here, but trying to at least answer followed posts. I’ve been dealing with the fallout of yet another battle with my mother. I’ve tried for years to get along with her, and when she gave me her wedding (ring) set, I’d hoped we’d truly rounded a corner in a lifetime long shitty relationship.

Image from depedkto12.blogspot.com

This time around, it was over my spinal problems and how I’m supposedly not doing anything to contribute to the household here. I’ve shown the woman my first MRI report from years back, tried to explain it over and over for almost a decade, and she refuses to accept any of it. At best, I should just got get surgery because I have insurance. As if it’s that simple.

After dropping hints repeatedly, trying to explain the problem and it’s side effects, etc… I finally had enough after our last phone call. I snapped and sent her a fairly strongly worded email saying I was sick of it, and if she spent not even half the time she did researching my grandfather’s alzheimers, she’d know what I’ve been going through. Also that I was sick of her efforts to bully me and destroy my self respect.

Her response was that “maybe we shouldn’t talk anymore since she always seems to piss me off”. Typical emotional manipulation and playing the victim card. If she’d listened the countless other times I tried to explain it all, it never would have hit the point it did.

I shouldn’t be surprised. She reacts poorly to any criticism. I’ve cut her out of my life for years at a time on two previous occasions too. This is the woman who ripped into me verbally if I brought home a B and had my first step dad beat me for Cs while I was in school. When I went to college, I was supposed to take double a full time load and work full time at a “real” job. I got crucified for any little mistake to the point I went from a major extrovert in elementary school to an isolationist level introvert from about the fourth grade on.

Oh yes, and I was told I was too much of a wimp to go take martial arts so I could learn to defend myself from all the bullies that I attracted. Belts in 6 styles later (Shou Shu Chi, Tae Kwon Do, American Sport Karate, Parker Kenpo, Tracy Kenpo and Wing Chun), I guess she can kiss my ass on that one.

Never got any credit for it either after I’d achieved it.

At this point, I want to just tell her “Fine, kiss off!”.

All the self doubt she beat into me over the years always seems to factor into situations like this though. *I* should be doing more, I should do something different, word things better, be more understanding.

She’ll quickly point out this verbal abuse goes back generations also and blame her behavior on that. It’s as close as she comes to taking responsibility. Otherwise she just blames me for not tolerating it.

I’ve worked hard to grow the last few years. Longer than that really, but it’s been a snowball; slowly picking up momentum and mass. Every time I start to do better, she seems to want to throw a boulder into my calm pond. I’m at a breaking point here, or rather the relationship is.

So, yeah… When is enough enough? Because where I’m sitting right now:

I Got Stabbed on St Patrick’s Day!

with a vaccination needle. Nothing like a dramatic headline to get attention though. 😀 It works for the media. 😛

Being married to a diabetic with a heart murmur pushes both of us a little further up the priority list for getting the vaccine, it seems. We were told a few weeks ago that our group was now open for getting the vaccine, and we managed to snag an opening yesterday.

For the record, I’m still a bit wary about the vaccine and if it may have some long term side effects, etc… Given the high risk in the household though, I figure it’s best to play it safe and hope for the best as opposed to waiting and watching a while longer.

Thus far I have not spouted goblin ears, nor started ranting that Biden is too conservative, so it SEEMS some of the fears regarding it are unfounded, LOL

In fact, the only issues from the vaccine thus far were a bit of soreness at the injection site, and some fatigue. I’m not even sure how much of the fatigue was from the vaccine either given that I only got about 5 hours sleep the night before. I used to thrive on that level, now I’m old and get cranky without 7 or 8. 😀

We got the version from my least favorite scumbag megacorporation also:

That means, among other things, we’ll have to go back for a second shot. April 7th is the soonest we can do so, and that will probably require another appointment. I suppose the bright side is that we’re not getting as heavy a dose as the single dose versions, which theoretically means less chances of some of the body aches and other symptoms after getting the shot.

Interesting note also… We got vaccine cards showing we were vaccinated along with the vaccine manufacturer and lot number, AND expiration date. MUCH was made of how short a shelf life this vaccine has, and how the previous administration bungled so much around it (which is partially true). The lot we were given though doesn’t expire for over 3 months:

If you listened to the news, you’d easily get the impression this stuff has a shelf life of days, if not hours. There you see it though; Expires June 30, 2021.

Need I even get back on my “media bias and hysteria for ratings” soapbox? Didn’t think so. 🙂

ANYWAY… The whole vaccine site was weird. They needed an area that could serve as a LONG LONG drive through basically. They chose a hiking trail park in the hills at the edge of town:

There yah go; rednecks don’t take COVID serious. Just ask the news.

The whole park was a long narrow hairpin going back miles in one direction and then swinging back around and heading right back to the entrance. We drove so far down the road I was starting to joke they wanted a spot to hide the bodies more easily.

About 1/3 of the way back, we hit the big drive through tent and got our shots. The 20 minutes we were supposed to wait afterwards was taken up just getting to the last checkpoint before the exit. We had a 1pm appointment and got out of the park at 2:40pm.

Oh and did I mention the off and on monsoon level rain all day?

We’re going on 14 hours now and so far no real symptoms or side effects at all beyond mild annoyance at the thought of enduring that line again. So much for the doomsayers. Of course, if I start to turn into a chicken or a goat, I’ll be sure to let folks know. 😛

As you saw, the line to get a shot was crazy long also, and apparently stays that way. I see more folks than I’d like without masks, BUT people are taking it seriously. Even the “poor dumb people” down in the South.

Pfizer Planning on COVID Vaccine Price Hike

And I sometimes ask myself why I despise megacorporations….

Yes, you read the headline correctly. Per Business Week, Pfizer execs told investors there was a “significant opportunity” to hike the price of its vaccine.

They also said that it was possible that people would need a third dose to combat emerging variants of the virus, AND that yearly booster shots might also be needed. THAT, I can understand. Such is the nature of rapidly mutating viruses.

However, per the article, once the pandemic downgrades to just an epidemic with smaller hot spots breaking out here and there around the globe, Pfizer thinks that they will have room to boost the price of their vaccine.

Haven’t we seen enough Zaibatsu profiteering in the pharmaceutical industry already? Look at how the price of insulin has skyrocketed as one example:

I respect that businesses exist to make a profit. I’m generally very pro-business Crap like raising the price 700% on insulin that hasn’t changed at all in that time however? NO! Even more so when there were stories and pictures of one of the insulin companies executives proud as hell that he had done it.

Now Pfizer wants to do the same thing with a product they got government (ie taxpayers; the people they’re selling it to) help to create?!?

I’m bringing back my call to have people caned and flogged.

The Most Important Self-Defense Skill

Time for another promised Martial Arts and Self-Defense post. So what do you all think the most important self-defense skill is? Blocking? Footwork? Getting power behind your strikes? I’d probably get a variety of answers even from fellow martial artists.

I’d argue that the most important Self-Defense skill is “street smarts” or awareness; being able to notice details in your surroundings, and size up people and places as potentially dangerous or not so that you can avoid trouble in the first place.

“Best way avoid punch; no be there” – Mr Miyagi.

Yep, another Miyagi-ism, because it’s very valid.

Women (and some smaller guys) don’t need much convincing on this idea. It’s learned from an early age to be wary of strangers while out walking, jogging, at the mall, etc… A generally smaller size and less muscle mass necessitate developing situational awareness.

Guys, on the other hand, (and again we’re dealing with generalities here), tend to be either more cavalier about their safety, OR think they’ll be seen as weak if they cross the street to avoid potential trouble (as an example).

That’s silly because if nothing else, you have no idea if that person making you uneasy is armed, or has friends lurking nearby that you can’t see. A gun, knife, swung beer bottle, or a few friends jumping in can change the complexion of a fight REALLY fast, no matter how skilled you are.

Your potential opponent(s) being drunk or stoned out of their mind is another potential problem. Such people often shrug off blows that would completely debilitate a normal person. I used an example in a previous post of a fellow Shou Shu student who was mugged and landed several strong hits to the temple and kicks to the groin with heavy boots and the attacker kept coming. They may have needed an emergency room after they sobered up, but they kept fighting.

Legalities: The Other Consideration

Awareness of your local laws and how they view self-defense is another serious consideration. It’s part of the reason I left California. They treat somebody who defends themself as just as guilty, if not more, than the actual attacker. There’s some obvious exceptions; if you’re a woman who defends herself against a man, you’re not likely to face any blowback from the police unless he’s got the crap kicked out of him and there’s not a mark on you. Even in that case, there’s still every likelihood you’ll get sued by your attacker.

Tennessee, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. As long as the officer can be reasonably sure you didn’t instigate the fight and you used reasonable force acting in self-defense, you’re golden.

Laws vary widely across the country and even across some states. If in doubt, talk to the local police or an attorney to know how far you can go.

Let’s take half a step back and revisit the term “reasonable force”. Generally speaking, this means you respond with the same level of force that’s used against you. If somebody just slaps you, it’s not reasonable to break half their bones. On the other hand, if somebody attacks you with a knife or gun, that’s considered life threatening and countering with lethal force would be seen as reasonable in most locations.

There’s an annoying double standard that comes into play here however; the more training you have, the more it’ll be expected that you can handle a situation with minimal damage to your opponent. Law Enforcement faces the same problem, with people somehow believing that their training allows them to handle any situation without having to hurt anyone unless they really want to. Rather than get sidetracked on that topic, or chatting about if comic books and Kung-Fu movies are responsible for such expectations, I’ll simply say be aware that they exist.

Why The Training is Still Worth It:

I’m sure a few of you are wondering about that after reading the above.

The training is worth it for two main reasons. First is that ANY knowledge of how to defend yourself is better than none at all. If push comes to shove and you have no choice, every bit of training increases your odds. The more the better. That’s not even getting into the secondary physical and mental health benefits of training.

Second is that self-defense training can help you carry yourself with confidence when you walk down the street. Criminals and thugs target people that look weak and scared; poor posture, avoiding eye contact, looking around nervously, etc… Those all mark you as a target just as much as wearing expensive jewelry would.

For the record, I’m NOT advising strutting down the street trying to look tough and intimidating. That just tells others you’re looking for trouble. It’ll find you also.

What I’ve adopted is a posture, body language and facial expressions that project a quiet, comfortable confidence. When you can get that vibe down; where you don’t look like either a victim or a troublemaker, you generally won’t be bothered.

Political Correctness Has No Place in Self-Defense

One other note here: I’ve seen the SJW crowd try to guilt people for crossing the street or otherwise avoiding people that make them feel uncomfortable. Charges of racism in particular get tossed around if a minority is involved. My advice? SCREW THEM.

They’re not going to rush to your defense if you’re attacked. Nowadays, society being what it is, they’re more likely to egg on the attackers while recording the attack for YouTube.

Trust your observational skills and intuition. If you’re getting a predatory look and threatening body language, it’s reasonable to avoid that person. Body language, facial expressions, eyes and just general vibe are what I pay attention to. Even how somebody dresses isn’t always an indicator. Even in the poorest neighborhoods, most folks are decent and only want to be seen as fellow human beings. It’s their demeanor, not their race or social status that should determine your reaction for good or bad.

A Final Note:

Proper training is very important in my opinion. It gives you potentially life saving skills along with the self-confidence and discipline to not use those skills unless absolutely necessary.

I trained for 17 years total, the majority of that time with styles that were NOT sport focused. Kenpo was called “Scientific Street Fighting” by Ed Parker. It teaches joint destruction and other harsh tactics, BUT also to avoid a fight whenever possible and do only enough damage to stop the threat (while still training for worst case scenarios).

Thanks in large part to my training, Ive only been in one “fight” since I started at my first dojo. That without looking or acting like a coward or a bully. All it takes is being in tune with your environment and adopting an appearance of quiet confidence.

Another Lesson in Why I Hate the Media

Some of my longer term readers may remember my posts almost a year ago where I supplied stories from multiple news services about how the Wuhan Institute of Virology was reported to be an unsafe wreck, and almost certainly responsible for the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak. The main post with those links was about media bias in general, but here are the links to the actual Wuhan stories:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/04/14/state-department-cables-warned-safety-issues-wuhan-lab-studying-bat-coronaviruses/

https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/06/asia/coronavirus-china-wuhan-lab-origins-explainer-intl-hnk/index.html

https://www.thedailybeast.com/leaked-cable-shows-us-officials-flagged-safety-issues-at-wuhan-lab-years-ago

My point in the earlier post was that the media in general was more interested in discrediting the Trump Administration than reporting the truth. Wuhan was called a hoax, the lab was (not) imaginary, and we were told it was all racism and xenophobia.

Well, guess what? NOW, we have the media reporting the news of the 2018 reported unsafe conditions at the Wuhan labs as if it’s a brand new story. EVERYBODY on the Right and Left is jumping on it. Even Fox, who banged the drum pretty hard on the story while trying to defend Trump, is treating it like something new:

https://www.foxnews.com/world/top-state-official-coronavirus-bioweapon-accident

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/03/08/josh-rogin-chaos-under-heaven-wuhan-lab-book-excerpt-474322?utm_source=pocket-newtab

BTW, when every outlet from MSNBC to Fox is pushing the exact same angle, watch out! It means the entrenched swamp on both sides is all working together with the same goal. Conflict is coming.

This is NOT about Trump. The leadership (at the very least) of both sides should have known via national security briefings. Instead of doing anything before we had a global pandemic, they first chose to ignore it and then play political gamesmanship after all hell broke loose.

Was the media asking tough questions and getting to the bottom of anything? NO!

All the media did was help the bureaucracy point fingers at the other side and treat the public as idiots to be demagogued and lead around by the nose like idiots.

We the people need to start demanding better of our media; less bias and commentary, more hard facts and objective reporting. The media as it stands now is a biased, conflict driven joke. I pick usually on the “mainstream” media (as if Fox isn’t mainstream with it’s massive viewer base), but this time I’ll use an example from Fox.

THAT a headline to a story at their website.

Pig In A Blanket… REALLY. Is THAT “fair and balanced”? It’s nothing resembling proper journalism. It’s sensationalist, inflammatory red meat for the base, WWE level “color commentary“, and if Cuomo wasn’t such a creep, it’d be outright libel.

Is it REALLY so hard to just report the facts and allegations against him as they stand and give the public credit for the ability to draw it’s own conclusions on IF or how big a scumbag Cuomo is? Both sides do this all the time though, and Fox just spent FOUR YEARS bitching about how the rest of the media did to Trump EXACTLY what they’re doing here. Hypocrisy on all sides.

And the thing that irks me the most about the Wuhan story is that I successfully ignored the news for months only to see that damned story plastered EVERYWHERE.

I really hope people are getting fed enough enough to actually say “ENOUGH”.

Spent the Day in the Vault!

The VADER’S VAULT that is!

Yes, that’s right, THE Vader’s Vault; home of some of the best custom made lightsabers on the planet.

So, cool background story… We had to run into Georgia today to take care of some other business. I’d also been gawking longingly at more lightsabers online, and found out that Vader’s Vault “store” (shop really) was only 27 miles away from where we had to go. I talked the spouse into a quick ride with the idea of checking out whatever kind of showroom Vader’s Vault had and asking a few questions.

In short, I wanted to try to get a handle on whether or not Vader’s Vault sabers are actually worth the money. Also get a look at a few sabers as well, I’d hoped. 😁

What I got was completely unexpected. Instead of a quick look and a few questions answered, we got… the grand tour!

We talked to somebody up front, and they went and got the boss (owner). He came out, gave us a quick run down of the stuff in the showroom and then asked if we’d like a tour.

The showroom included this case full of sabers and saber cases from their history:

That saber up at the top is one of only EIGHT real world copies of the “Twisted Fang” lightsaber available in the Star Wars: The Old Republic game.

A couple of other highlights from the showroom:

Their case of manufactured helmets.

More sabers, emitters and some toys on the bottom shelf. That’s a “mouse” droid in the lower right corner also.

That, unfortunately is all the pictures I got. The rear area of the shop had rooms for wiring work, CNC machining equipment, 3D printers, etc… I didn’t snap any pictures back there though because the owner was lamenting how any time he puts something online, there’s a cheap Chinese knock-off for sale a day or two later. They were also working on one completely new model and some tweaks to existing models (relocated power switches and a few other minor things). I have a sneaking suspicion that we MIGHT see that new model for a May the 4th sale too.

For any readers who may be wondering, I asked about the limited availability of sabers right now. It’s the usual supply chain issues. However, they expect to have a few models back in stock in the next few weeks. I did see them working on a batch of “Revancrist” sabers (Darth Revan’s lightsaber):

Those are one of the few sabers still currently “in stock” also.

One question led to a highlight of the tour also. I asked if their special made sabers with crystal chambers were duel worthy. The big guy brought out a Starkiller and explained in detail:

The cliff notes version is that the hilt itself is strong enough for it. The bracing rods on the chamber are full on steel. HOWEVER, their crystals are a piece of clear quartz which could break or break loose in heavy sparring. So, he advised against using such a saber for more than light to moderate horseplay.

Why quartz? Disney has “cool” 🙄 colored epoxy chunks that they sell for ONLY $30, you say? Well Vader’s Vault sabers have the ability to change blade colors, and the Starkiller will actually shine the same color as the blade into the quartz to make it look like that color Kyber Crystal. It will always match the blade no matter the color.

More importantly (lol) for a couple of moments, I got to hold a $2600 Vader’s Vault masterworks Starkiller in my hand. 😁 Well, minus it’s outer cover anyway.

We briefly talked about the differences in blades also. Plecter Pixel blades are just as combat worthy as the old LED tubes. Both are polycarbonate, and will eventually break at some point while dueling. The Pixel blade gives a much better and even light quality and is capable of producing effects that an LED “flashlight” type design can’t. All this at a higher price point, of course.

Personally, I’d probably save the Plecter Pixel blade for “show” sabers and use an LED one for dueling. We’re talking $30 vs $130 for a replacement when it finally breaks.

Bottom Line:

Are they worth the price and increased wait time?

I went in a little wary. Half of me was looking to rationalize buying elsewhere. They really are absolutely worth it in my opinion though. Here’s why:

Better Grip, Weight and Balance: The balance on every saber I got to handle was extraordinary. My two black series sabers (Dooku and Mace) and my Ultrasabers “Fallen” saber:

are just plain stout. They’re like wrapping your hands around an old “D Cell” battery Maglite police flashlight. The Count Dooku saber is majorly off balance as well. I got to hold a Vader’s Vault copy of that same saber. The hilt is slimmer, more in line with what a real sword might have, the finish was brighter too. The machining was done so well that it was hard to see where the parts of the hilt actually connected together.

Better Sound Quality: I’ve heard people complain about Ultrasabers and Saberforge being bad in poor quality or muffled sound. My Black Series sabers are fair in this regard. Not great, but fair. Every Vader’s Vault saber I heard sounded like I’d just stepped into one of the movies. Crystal clear quality with sound effects for everything from swings, blade clashes and defected blaster bolts (all of which a plexer pixel blade’s light will respond to also).

Massive Customization: Vader’s Vault has features that Ultrasabers and Saberforge don’t even offer; hilt lighting and illuminated power buttons for starters. Some of their options they don’t advertise on their site. I suspect that has to do with variable costs involved. I saw sabers that were mirror polished, powder coated, weathered, acid etching engraved, inlaid with wood, leather wrapped… you name it.

THIS, I found out today, was done in the owner’s garage when it was just him and his wife. Imagine what they can do now!

Good Company Working Environment and Customer Service: Why is that important? Because even if you don’t care about the workers’ conditions, a happy staff is highly motivated to excel at their job. That means you get a defect free product.

Customer service should be self-explanatory in importance. If you have any doubts about Vader’s Vault though… Keep in mind they COULD have just run me off, or spent a couple minutes answering a few questions and then politely said they had to get back to work. Instead we got treated to an almost hour long tour with Q&A, looks at all their work areas, a demonstration of all a plexer pixel blade can do, peeks at several models in various stages of manufacture or remodel, and even a sneak peek at a pre-production prototype of an upcoming release.

How often do you see that nowadays in ANY sort of business?

Bottom line, you’re going to get a better saber made of higher quality materials and machined to tighter tolerances, better electronics, more bells and whistles, made almost any way you want, and better customer service.

What you’ll get elsewhere is poorly fit together sabers that can’t even hold up to a Disney toy:

Spinal Decompression Treatment; 6 Months Later

I got asked a very legitimate question a little while ago regarding if I thought my spinal decompression treatment was worth it. Given that I’m still having issues with my back, *I* consider it a reasonable question anyway. 🙂

The very short answer is YES.

The detailed answer, with all the wheres and whys takes a little explaining however.

First, let me start with the obvious caveat that lawyers have none the less made mandatory anymore; your medical professional is the best person to advise you if ANY form of treatment is suitable for you Specifically.

Likewise everything I’m going to write here comes from a layperson. A moderately well read layperson who has put the advice given to personal use and seen benefits, but I am NOT a licensed health care professional in any form. Everybody’s physiology and biochemistry is a bit different too, so results may vary.

A Little Background:

Yes, I am still having troubles, but they’re largely focused on my lower back at this point. The area that I had decompression on was my neck or cervical spine area.

My neck was worse off, which is why the doctor decided to try it first. The degeneration there caused all manner of problems. I had sleep issues, severe headaches that were a mix of extreme tension headaches and migraines, brain fog and trouble focusing, and probably a dozen other issues, including a Parkinson’s-like tremor in my left arm. All that from pinched nerves in my neck caused by the spinal degeneration. My neck was at stage 3 spinal degeneration per the diagram below.

My lower back / lumbar region, on the other hand was at phase 2.

I had the headaches since the mid 1990s also. Since there was no real neck pain to accompany them and the other symptoms, I had NO idea for years that it was actually a spinal issue. Flair ups were bad enough and I was scared enough of addiction to opioid pain killers that I was taking 8 extra strength Advil pills at a time. If I didn’t have a constitution like Charlie Sheen’s, I probably would not have a stomach or liver left at this point. DO NOT do what I did there.

The real breakthrough came about 9 or 10 years ago. I was sitting at the PC, suffering through another severe headache when I heard something on the balcony of our apartment (probably just a bird or the neighbor’s cat). I turned my head to the left, and my neck popped so loud it sounded like a gunshot going off. My pain almost instantly went from an 11 on a 1 to 10 scale down to a 2, and a zero within minutes.

Over the following years, we tried multiple treatment options. Chiropractic treatment was variable. My first chiropractor actually tore a disc in my neck! The one after that was much better, but could only hold the situation at bay pain-wise. Acupuncture did wonders for the pain itself but nothing to fix the actual degeneration either.

By the time I was considering the spinal decompression, my MRI scans showed I was getting close to the point of either surgery or letting the bones fuse themselves together.

Side Note: You can see that process in the diagram above. it’s the body’s answer to protecting itself when it can’t actually heal the compressed disc(s) on it’s own. The vertebrae will literally grow out towards each other and try to fuse together.

Surgery, as I pointed out in previous posts, is expensive and has a very high fail rate over time. Decompression is $4000 vs anywhere from $100,000 and frequently more for surgery that fails regularly, and typically transfers the strain to other parts of the spine. I also saw enough benefit from the earlier alternative medicine that I had legitimate reason to believe decompression could work.

So, LONG story short, I was in nearly 25 year, long-term bad shape and out of options when I tried decompression. It still helped me.

I’ve never told that whole story in 3+ years of time here because I try to avoid personal drama online. It’s toxic and it focuses on the problem instead of moving forward. In this case though, it’s important to understand how bad off I was before treatment.

The Right Doctor Makes All the Difference:

The reason the lower back pain is still there and there are a few minor ongoing neck issues is that I chose the wrong doctor. He was very hands-off, letting his office staff run the computerized automatic decompression table, didn’t communicate well, etc…

We also got off on the wrong foot when we did my initial test treatment to see how I’d respond. The treatment did OK for my neck but he refused to look at my lower back that day, and sent me home in so much lower back pain that I could barely get in and out of the Mustang. I verbally lit him up when I showed up for the next treatment and told him if he did that again, I’d cancel treatments, get a refund for the balance and trash him on every review site I could find.

I didn’t have a treatment problem after that, but needless to say, we were politely cold to each other from then on. My original neck treatment pack was 24 treatments with a review of progress at that point and possible continuation for the full normal package of 36 (12 extra treatments).

He also just gave me the vibe of somebody more interested in dollars than patient well-being, but that is only a personal opinion.

So second long story short, assuming you have options in choice, is to find a doctor you feel comfortable with, will answer questions, and gives the vibe of caring as opposed to wishing you’d hurry up so they can be off to something else. In the case of the greater Nashville area, I had at least 4 other clinics I could have looked into beyond the local one.

My actual progress, combined with my dislike of the doctor meant I never even went back in for the re-evaluation or possible lower back treatment.

The Process Will NOT Be Fun, At First

I wrote about this in my earlier posts. I had quite a bit of subdermal scar tissue along my spine at the neck. Normally this kind of scar tissue only forms as a result of surgery and other “invasive” incidents or procedures. It DOES happen otherwise though, and the longer term your injury is, the more likely the scar tissue is there, or at least fibrous tissue that VERY closely resembles surface scar tissue. In the case of spine problems, the tissue will or may form to try to protect and reinforce the area around a damaged or compressed disc.

Even if you don’t have any subdermal ‘scar’ tissue, keep in mind that you’re still stretching muscles, tissue, etc… that have been constricted and tight for a while. Discs will try to expand to their natural shape also, and nerves will shift. It’s all going to hurt.

With all the scar tissue that broke loose in my neck, I was miserable for the first week. I lived with a cold pack on my neck. I could feel the difference in the type of pain though, and a reduction in the secondary issues I was dealing with. No brain fog, muscle ache pain vs severe migraine pain, etc… The cold packs really did help also and are important for fighting inflammation caused by the treatment.

About half way through the treatments, the pain was minimal, and I was “Hell yeah! let’s keep the ball rolling!”. By treatment 24, my neck felt like it did when I was 20.

Post-Treatment Makes ALL the Difference:

If you want to make sure you get your money’s worth out of treatment, doing the right things afterwards makes ALL the difference. Lead a dumb lifestyle and stress your back, and I’ll guarantee you’ll reverse everything you gained in a matter of mere months. Our forced move away from Nashville (mainly doing it ourselves), and a few other events put a definite strain on my lower back and neck so I’ve felt it first hand.

I’ve also stuck with the therapy and other habits that are undoing that strain and continuing my healing progress.

Here’s the work you’re going to expect to have to do:

Dietary Changes: Simple and sometimes obvious. If you’re overweight, that puts an extra burden on your spine. Sugar causes inflamation. Highly acidic food leach calcium from your bones. Changes do NOT have to be instantaneous. It’s awesome if you can quit cold turkey. If not, work on slowly reducing unhealthy foods while you search for healthy alternatives and ways to cook them where you enjoy eating them. If you’re a sugary drink junkie, like me, slowly reduce them and substitute with water. I do NOT recommend the vast majority of diet drinks as their artificial sweeteners often cause more issues than they fix. Stevia and Monkfruit ‘sugar’ being notable exceptions and natural.

Nutritional Supplements: specifically those designed for bone health and nervous system support. Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium in particular are important, if not outright vital. Get them naturally via food as much as you can. Use high quality supplements otherwise. That means no junk sold at the local drug or grocery store.

Personally, I take Animal Pak vitamins intended for competition bodybuilders. I’m anything but a bodybuilder. However, the vitamins and minerals are top quality and sourced from easily bio-absorbed sources. There are no nasty fillers or binding agents either. Did you know that many cheap vitamins use Plaster of Paris as a binding agent or silicon dioxide (ie sand) as a filler ? Think either of those are good for your digestive system?

Solaray is another good supplement company that I can recommend. Anywhere my main multivitamin falls short, such as the aforementioned Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium, I supplement with Solaray.

At Home Physical Therapy: It will take work to finish rehab of your injured spine. Because my back and neck were in such bad shape initially, I have two home traction units I use (updated reviews on them coming soon). Overall, I think they’re a worthwhile investment if you get the right ones and use them properly and regularly.

If your spine wasn’t in as bad a shape or suffering for such an extended period of time, you can possibly get away with with a massage wand, stretching, yoga and relaxation exercises. If you’re inclined to label yoga as some new age BS for soccer moms, consider that Diamond Dallas Page’s yoga program has literally saved the life and restored the health of some former big name wrestling stars. Scott Hall being the biggest success story.

Bottom line is that you have to maintain flexibility and range of motion as part of maintaining and strengthening your back.

I should include using proper lifting techniques and such as part of the general category of “therapy”. Continue lifting with your lower back instead of your knees and you’re just asking for a return to back pain. Trying to lift more than you safely can; also trouble. Take care of your body and it will take care of you. 🙂

LASTLY; IF You Were Long-Term Sedentary Because of Your Injuries: Remember it will take time to undo all of the muscle loss and weight gain. DO NOT push yourself in some blind determination to return to your glory days overnight. At best, you’ll be so exhausted you can’t do anything. At worst, you’ll re-injure yourself.

Go slow, keep your exercises as low-impact as possible (which is why I like rowing), and progress at a rate your body is comfortable with. Save the macho, “no pain, no gain” stuff for the military, and kids who will end up with their own back issues eventually. You’ll get stronger and more active, it just takes time and a sensible approach to it.

ALL of this should be considered life long stuff also. The biggest mistake that people who injure their backs make is to only do these kind of things until they start to feel better. Inversion tables are a great example. They’re frequently bought by people in the early stages of back pain. They really work too so long as you don’t have bad knees or a couple of other medical conditions that can make them unsafe.

The new owner will use them for a few weeks, feel better, and immediately toss the thing on Craigslist though. Inevitably they end up hurting again eventually too because they didn’t change the habits that got them hurt, or continue doing what they needed to rehab and strengthen their back.

Yes, the exercises and therapy takes time. Quality nutritional supplements cost money also. Consider the alternative of an unproductive, pain filled sedentary lifestyle though.

PAST SPINAL DECOMPRESSION POSTS:

Treatment, Days 1 & 2

Spinal Decompression; Day 5

Where I’ve Been; Grappling with Changing Realities

Spinal Decompression; Day 14

Pronex Traction Unit Review / How I’ve Learned to Use One

Brief Spinal Decompression Update

One Last Spinal Decompression Update

Quickie Review: Coming 2 America

Nope, not the original, the NEW sequel:

I’ll TRY to keep the spoilers minimal here. The premise is that Eddie Murphy’s character Prince Akeem, who has three daughters at home in Zamunda, finds out he has a son back in Queens that he didn’t know about.

Off he goes to New York to find his “proper” heir, bring him back to Zamunda and teach him how to be a proper royal.

There’s also a sort of villain in this one in the form of Wesley Snipes’ character; a General who runs the neighboring country and is trying to force an arranged marriage to have a claim on Zamunda also. In keeping with this being an Eddie Murphy comedy, the villainy is fairly light hearted. Snipes is nowhere near as intense as he is in the Blade trilogy. 🙂

Ultimately the movie comes down to Akeem learning NOT to be his father, and the new Prince finding his place in his newly expanded family.

Worth A Watch?

This one is getting ripped across the internet, and I’m not quite sure why. It’s fairly good, even if not on quite on par with some of Murphy’s earlier work.

The biggest problem for ME was that it came off at points as trying too hard to be Coming to America 1 on steroids. Everything was pushed just a little bit further for the sake of humor. Snipes’ initial entrance into the Zamundan palace looks something like a pro wrestler making their grand entrance at Wrestlemania; just a bit too over the top.

That said, again overall I think it’s fairly decent. If you have an Amazon Prime subscription you can see it free also, so what the heck right?

The movie does do a good job of playing on nostalgia with almost EVERY character from the original having at least a cameo in this one. The only exception being Akeem’s mother and Duke Brothers from Trading Places who Akeem unintentionally put back in business in Coming to America. We do meet a grandson though. 🙂

I’d give it 3 1/2 stars. Give it a look, it’s fun even if it does try too hard at times. It’s worth it for the nostaglia if you’re a fan of the first one.