Pulling the string on the neon sign

On Main Street one would see an open sign.  The sign would be on and you would see it and know Jill business operator had come to work.

The window display was changed and you’d know they were thinking about what was new and special.  You knew that when you walked in that you would see a familiar face that could answer your questions and discuss your concerns.

Walking and moving about you would see people and they would know what you were up to.  How you were doing.  What was going down.

When people and businesses moved online, it was hard to let the passers by know you had the open sign on.  That one was getting on in the world.

Until one grew an email list and spoke to them.

At first. And even now, to some degree. It didn’t matter what one said to let the passers by know how you were keeping. So long as one let folks know something.

But one can do more than that.   One can help others.  Deliver value.  Enormous value…just by sharing their own life experience.

Pulling the string on the neon sign, via emailing those in my life, has been a great asset to my life.  I hope it has been for other, too.

Knee Knowledge

I came out of retirement from competitive rugby to give it another go this season with Santa Monica Rugby Club.  I was playing some really good (by my standards) footy and really enjoying myself as the games went on.  It all came to a halt, when against OMBAC, the #1 seated team in our division and certainly a contender for top national rankings, I hurt my knee.  We were in a maul driving down the field with solid pace that I got tangled up in the soup and someone crashed into my knee from the outside and I came screaming to the ground.  Talk about a wounded animal.  Holy Smokes!  I not sure I’ve ever cried out like that before, but it hurt.  Bad.  I had a bit of trouble catching my breath for a few moments and and when I did, the entire indecent seemed to blur.  My friends helped me off the field and my girl came over to see how I was and the trainer began the assessment.  Through a few structural tests (beding the leg in various ways) she determined that I had either torn or severely sprained my MLC.  The MLC is the ligament on the inside of the knee that helps to keep your leg straight and not buckling inward.  An appointment with an orthopedic and an MRI later, her determinations were confirmed.  I would be 3-6 weeks, at best, and probably more like 3-6 months before I would return to playing at the level I was, if I so chose.

Bummer, dude.

The fall out would come shortly there after.

I was sequestered to my bed and couch for days on top of days.   Even the simplest of tasks (ie – taking a shower, getting out of bed, putting on socks) loomed large and nearly impossible without help.  Working out was out of the question and even thoughI drive an automatic, getting in the car took 10 minutes as I would contorsion the rest of my body to accommodate my immobilized pole of a leg.

It was difficult to sleep in light of the acute pain and the medication helped to make everything a bit grey.  My temper soared and my tolerance dwindled.  From the stress and lack of exercise, I then developed a cold.   Headaches, a runny nose, coughing and sneezing, and generally feeling like cold poo would take over my waking hours.

Of course, during all of this time, I have been responsible to work and a small collection of commitments I previously made (organizing buying blazers for my rugby team, helping friends find a new place to live, etc.).

Now, I realize that I had what many might consider to be a relatively minor injury in the grand scheme of things, but man was I rain cloud.  Three weeks into it and I now beginning to hobble around pretty good without crutches and the acute pain has morphed into a sort of slow ache.  I can sleep and the cold has lifted.

What did I learn?

  1. My health is my #1 priority – Being able to get a solid sleep is an absolute must.  Eating clean and healthy food is crucial.  Filling my mind with uplifting content is paramount.
  2. My ability to reason and remain rational in the face of adversity while wounded is extremely difficult – I had blow outs with several of those closest to me during this time over what I see in retrospect as being relatively minor
  3. I must ask for help – I’m an independent guy and like to do for myself.  However, when I am having trouble even walking I need to swallow my pride and ask for help from those I know love and care for me so much.
  4. I must limit, as best I can, the number of important decisions I make – Having a skewed perspective on the world + really powerful pain meds + lack of sleep + generally feeling like shit = really crummy decision making.
  5. I must find the light – It is a fact that I had quite a few strikes against me, but I must remember to see the light and positive in my world around me, even if I am currently at the proverbial bottom.
  6. I must break a sweat – Even if its only by sitting there and clapping my hands, the endorphins and chemicals that get released when doing such, make me feel better.  Always.
  7. Sometimes I need to stop – I have struggled with telling folks no when they ask something of me.  When down and out, I must find the courage to say no to more commitments.  In fact, when I find myself circling toward the caldron, I must let go of the obligation sand bags if I plan to rise again before a total blow out.

I might be able to identify a few more lessons, but that’ll do it for now.

Rugby has now been reduced to cheering (heckling) from the sidelines and my schedule is quite a bit leaner as a result of my trimming the non-mandatories.  My breath is deep again and I hope to begin practicing yoga in the next week.  Things are looking up.

This injury has been a learning experience and I have grown from it.

Onward and upward!

Garner, you do not have to live this way. You really don’t..

So I visited White Deer Park last week and wrote about my experience here.  A fellow found my blog and commented on how the gal that I had the bad experience with was perhaps having a bad day or was dealing with other issues when I came on the scene.

I get it.

We all have bad days or perhaps become snarky when we are dealing with issues outside the realm of the issue at hand and the person in front of us gets to take the heat.  Do you know what the right thing to do is after you make a mistake?  You make it right, as quickly and best you can.

If you’ve acted like an idiot, which we all do at times, you simply go back and let whom ever you offended know what your true intentions were and move on.  Yes, its a hard pill to swallow, but its important, unless you want people to remain confirmed that you are in fact an idiot.  The mistake is made when you do nothing.  Or even worse, to do nothing even when you’ve had a chance to do something.  Did you see what happened to Southwest Airlines when they kicked Kevin Smith off his flight for being too fat and were assholes about it?  Or what about when United Airlines would not pay for a guitar they broke?

PR lesson #1 – Don’t let 8,000,000 views of a video take place before making an apology.  It hurts your bottom line.

Well, I assumed that Stephanie would have been made aware of my remarks, given Sean’s apparent affinity for her.  My hypothesis proved to be correct, not by her calling me to let me know what was really on her mind that afternoon or to explain what her true intentions were..

Nope.  I realized that Garner Parks and Recreation knew of my blog post because my father called to ask about something else and after hearing his name they asked him if he was related to me and that they did not like my blog post.

Well done, Garner.  So, you had someone act like a jerk, were made aware of it, and then aired your dirty laundry to a stranger on the phone? Well done.

Do you know what would happen if you worked for a solid company that was making money and did that?  I don’t think I need to spell it out for you..

Why wouldn’t you just call me? I not that hard to get a hold of.

But, I think there is an underlying issue here that needs addressing.  It’s more important than just a single person not acting professional or even an entire department., because I think it is the root of the attitude that I encountered the first time.

Why is it there is such a close mindedness?

Why does one get “No, we don’t do that.” or “Sorry, that isn’t part of the policy.” or “Well, this is just the way it always has been.  No, we aren’t going to try something different.”  I could go on and on.  These responses are the default.

And do you know who gets to reap the results of this attitude?  EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US.

Instead of an atmosphere of encouragement and expansion, there is reservation.  Instead of an open door for suggestions, there is a gate closed with bureaucracy and red tape .  Instead of offering alternatives and options, there are denials and dismissing.

We, all of us, even the trolls, bear the burden of this collective mind set.

It really is pretty crummy, because it doesn’t have to be that way.  It is a pity.

I’m going to use this as a lesson to teach myself to be a bit more open minded and accepting of ideas that I might not share.  I owe it to myself, right?  I owe it to my family and my neighbors and my community, right?  I owe it to you, Garner, right?

A good man said it most famously..

Some men see things as they are and say why.  I dream of things that never were and say why not ~ Bobby Kennedy

White Deer Park – Beautiful but watch out for trolls

I am visiting my parents in Garner, NC this week and visited White Deer Park for the first time.

Beautiful! But, you’re not allowed to use it.

My buddies and I learned how to hike and camp in these woods as kids. We knew them like the back of our hands. The short cuts, the creeks, the rope swing and the tobacco barns. Where there might have been a girl living at a distant cul-de-sac and how long it would take to escape the rock salt of old Mr. Thompson’s shotgun if found snooping on the edges of his peach orchard.

This was our home. Every day, from around 6 years old through high school.

So today, my father and I took my dog through the woods that once were our stomping grounds. Lovely walkways meander through the relatively mature pine and deciduous forest.  Small bridges led me across those creeks and where that hay barn stood is now a pleasantly designed patio structure that would be great for a cookout.

Just beyond the parking lot is the learning deck. It boasted a lean design with lots of stone work and panel glass and had a canter-levered deck that solidly allowed for an aerial view of the forest below.

I thought ‘Wow! Garner is really moving up. This reminds me of Denver or Lake Tahoe’, as the clean lines and exposed pine brought me back to another time. I greeted the middle aged gal working the lone desk in the lobby/foyer and peered through a large glass wall/door at 2 people sitting opposite each other in a room probably 60×40. I exclaimed to her how nice I thought it was.

Me – Its great.  Its beautiful. This was built recently..! Super!  You know, I grew up right here.  As a kid I used to run around in these woods.  It looks really great, what you guys have done with the place.  So, do you guys have wifi here?

Gal – No.

Me – When do you plan to add it?

Gal – We don’t?

Me – (head turn sideways ponder look on face) Ever..

Gal – No. We’re to far into the woods for wifi.  (click here to see just how far into the woods it is – map)

Me – Ohh..

Walmart delivery guy walks in. Gal directs attention to him

I walk toward glass wall/door to see what the room is all about

Gal – You can’t go in there.

Me – Me?

Gal – Yes, they are having a meeting.

Me – Those 2 people?

Gal – Yes.

Me – Is there a schedule as to when I might be able to use the room?

Gal – No. You can rent it.  You’ll need to call the number in the pamphlet.

Me – So you mean that the general public is not allowed in this room to say, ‘read, write, watch the forest..?’

Gal – No.

Me – Can someone sit outside?

Gal – Yes. I guess (huff..face of frustration)

Me – But not inside this beautiful room?

Gal – Correct (attention directed back to Walmart guy with smirk)

Me – Who does get to use the room?

Gal – We have programs and you can rent it. (hmmmfffffff back to Walmart guy)

Me – Thank you very much.

I guess some parts of Garner haven’t changed. What a pity.

Facility, landscaping crew whose work I witnessed and spoke with, overall park – World class!

Smug attitude and policy of troll bridge keeper – Massive fail!

The Olympic Spirit

Today marks the close of the  2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver Canada.

Watching the montages of highlights and heartbreaks got me a little thick in the throat.

Seeing the glory and spirit of winning it all  in a competition’s ultimate test is a feeling that I do not believe can be accurately articulated.   The other side of that same indescribable coin is the disappointment and sadness of coming in 2nd or farther back.

But that isn’t the point.

The point, to me, is that they tried.  The men and women that aspire and do compete in the Olympics, or any contest for that matter, are a breed apart.

I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed. – Michael Jordan

They take risks.  They train their asses off.  They make sacrifice.  They desire to accomplish something that is much bigger than themselves.

I am humbled by the Olympic spirit and the undeniable effort put forth by those that embody it.

It makes me proud to be an athlete.

Basket Ball Court Philosophy

It amazes me.

I like to contribute but I love to absorb the passion and theory and smack and opinion and call and excuses and glory.

I live in Venice Beach California and try to play hoops at least 3 times a week at the Venice courts.

The mix off the court if a circus as it is, but the players, the players are a gong show..and they’re good.

Last night, the court contained the following:

College player

Homeless guy that had been drinking since early

Professor of history

Guy that could probably be a professor of history is he gave a fat baby’s ass about anything

3 guys between 30 and 50 (its hard to tell in the light) that have never not been there when I visited

2 guys from France

Me

It was sunset on a Sunday.  The air was cool and there was a light breeze wafting back and forth.  The boardwalk emitted curio of every size and shape and smell and sound.

We ran full court and the exchange was dynamic.  Weaving from religion to sports to the foul to redemption to travel to sex to sleep to paint to a pass to a block to a steal to politics to time theory to to to to to to

The banter, endless and relentless, completely random but with purpose and furious rapture.

I love this town.

Why I Decided To Become An EMT

I just finished a 3 1/2  month course at Cape Fear Community College to become an emergency medic.  My reasons for doing so are 5 fold..

1. Unfortunately, my college girlfriend passed away during her sophomore year.  She had a brain tumor and upon having surgery to remove it, developed meningitis and died.  It killed me.  I went from being a social butterfly to a recluse to a work fanatic…and back around and around again..I stopped playing rugby.  I started paying football.  I graduated from school and moved to the woods to build a house.  I thank the good Lord my father was able to give me the opportunity to build that house, as the woods provided solace.  Even with time, the pain remained.  I have had difficulty maintaining relationships with women, with old friends and new friends, with business associates, et al.  Not to say that her death was the cause of this, but I believe it contributed.  I held on to guilt, to pain, to unanswered questions…When I faced angst with a companion, I became very good at simply leaving, which is perhaps the worst thing one can do.  I felt that if I could learn the science behind her illness and death, that perhaps some of the emotion would move from ignorance and pain to understanding and relief.  I also felt that if I helped some others, even if I did not know them, that I would also feel better on the inside.  I was correct in my assumption that I would feel better if I knew what happened, physiologically.

2. I do a lot of risky things, thus i felt that being able to identify a personal medical emergency would be a good thing.  I camp alone in the middle of the desert.  I hike mountains solo to see where it goes.  I travel to foreign countries where I do not speak the language.  I fly airplanes, play rugby, and drive motorcycles entirely to fast…and those are the big things…So now, when my blood pressure is dropping and my heart rate is increasing after falling off a cliff, ill know that I may be going into shock and how to deal with it.  I read Emergency, by Neil Strauss, where he illustrates the importance of being able to take care of one’s self, should the shit hit the fan, which it does over and over.  I took his advice.

3.  No matter where I go and what I do, I feel it is a good thing to know how to save someone’s life on a basic level.  What if all…i mean everyone of them…the stars line up and I find a compatible mate and have kids, as a neighbor, a son, a citizen…to be able to help someone that is in a critical medical emergency would be pretty damn cool.  While I do not want anything bad to happen to anyone, it is inevitable that shit happens…Im thankful I can now aid in relief.

4. My company, InternetCE.com has sold, until now, only financial continuing education.  We provide mandatory CE to licensees such that may remain in good standing with their prospective boards and departments.  Inasmuch, I would like to offer medical CEU’s as well.  I feel that it is always a good idea to speak from experience, so while I am not a doctor (yet) I can still explain curriculum and procedure based upon my experience as a medic.  Expect to see medical CE in the coming months.

5.  I want to work part time and/or volunteer with emergency relief in Los Angeles, CA and Wilmington, NC .  I believe that being able to remain poised and level headed in the face of adversity is a strong suit of mine, or at least it was in competitive sports, so I believe I’ll be an asset in the face of an emergency.  I like helping people.  My soul is renewed when I am able to help someone in need.  I am helped when I am able to help.

Patients have spoken with their feet, seeking [emergency department care] in unprecedented numbers. We are the ones you come to when you’re really sick, possibly sick, or kind of sick and in need of rapid evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment. We are the place you come to when you cannot or will not wait for others to find a place in their schedules for you, and the site of medical refuge when you don’t know where else to turn. Despite limited resources,unrealistic expectations, and impossible demand, emergency medicine delivers on our promise to provide the best possible care to every patient regardless of their ability to pay or what time of day they choose to seek care.

Alan Kay once said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” We’re in an inventing mode and are being presented with a historic opportunity to define both the future of our specialty and of American medicine. The opportunities in emergency medicine are endless and by choosing this career you will become a leader and a champion for the health care needs of your patients. The challenges before our health care system and emergency medicine are significant, but the rewards and honor of providing care to our communities are limitless.

– Dr. Brian Keaton