Category Archives: Guest Authors

MPF Eye on Technology – Brain Computer Music Interface – by Sarah Knapton

Brain Computer Music Interface Software

This is one of those, ” Wow, that is so wonderful ” articles. Technology is opening so many doors for things that we never dreamed possible, and is giving hope back to those that had lost it. We are living in amazing times, and I can’t wait to get to one of these concerts. Please enjoy Sarah Knapton’s article on the Brain Computer Music Interface Software.

Brain damaged violinist makes music for first time in 27 years with mind-reading technology

Rosemary Johnson had made music for the first time since suffering a devastating car crash in her 20s.

Violinist Rosemary Johnson at approximately aged 17

Violinist Rosemary Johnson at approximately aged 17 Photo: Paul Grover/The Telegraph

A member of the Welsh National Opera Orchestra she was destined to become a world class musician before the road accident in 1988, which left her in a coma for seven months.

Violinist Rosemary Johnson at approximately aged 19Violinist Rosemary Johnson at approximately aged 19  Photo: Paul Grover/The Telegraph

Miss Johnson suffered a devastating head injury, robbing her of speech and movement and meaning she could only pick out a few chords on the piano with the help of her mother Mary.

“The first time we tried with Rosemary we were in tears. We could feel the joy coming from her at being able to make music”
Professor Eduardo Miranda, Plymouth University

But now, thanks to cutting edge technology, she is creating music again, using just the power of her mind.

In an extraordinary 10-year project led by the Plymouth University and the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability in London, her brain has been wired up to a computer using Brain Computer Music Interfacing software.

Ground-breaking musical performance by severely motor-impaired people to be premiered at Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival.   Photo: Plymouth University

By focusing on different colored lights on a computer screen she can select notes and phrases to be played and alter a composition as it is performed by live musicians. The intensity of her mental focus can even change the volume and speed of the piece.

It is the first time Miss Johnson, 50, has been able to create music in decades and has been an emotional experience for the her, and the scientists involved in the program.

Brain Computer Music Interface,Ground-breaking musical performance by severely motor-impaired people to be premiered at Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival.   Photo: Plymouth University

“It was really very moving,” said Professor Eduardo Miranda, Composer and Director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research at Plymouth University.

“The first time we tried with Rosemary we were in tears. We could feel the joy coming from her at being able to make music. It was perfect because she can read music very well and make a very informed choice.

Violinist Rosemary Johnson at approx aged 25 after the accidentViolinist Rosemary Johnson at approximately aged 25 after the accident  Photo: Paul Grover/The Telegraph

“The great achievement of this project is that it is possible to perform music without being able to actually move. She is essentially controlling another musician to play it for her.

“It’s not yet possible to read thoughts but we can train people to use brain signals to control things.”

Ground-breaking musical performance by severely motor-impaired people to be premiered at Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival.   Photo: Plymouth University

Three other disabled patients who live at the hospital have also been trained to use the technology, and have been working alongside four able-bodied musicians from the Bergersen String quartet who play the music in real time as it is selected.

They are called The Paramusical Ensemble, and they have already recorded a piece of music entitled Activating Memory which will be heard for the first time at the Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival in Plymouth later this month.

Miss Johnson’s mother Mary, 80, of Hounslow, West London said the project had given her daughter new hope.

Violinist Rosemary Johnson at approximately aged 17Violinist Rosemary Johnson at approximately aged 17  Photo: Paul Grover/The Telegraph

“Music is really her only motivation,” she said. “I take her to the grand piano in the hospital and she can only really play a few chords, but that was the only time she shows any interest. She doesn’t really enjoy anything else.

“But this has been so good for her. I can tell she has really enjoyed it. When she performed I went to the hospital and that is the first time I have heard her make music, other than the piano chords for a long, long time.”

The technology works like a ‘musical game’ where the players select pieces of melody at certain times of the performance to augment the overall work, which was composed by Prof Miranda.

Each patient wears an EEG cap furnished with electrodes which can read electrical information from their brain. They are paired with a member of the string quartet who views the musical phrases on a screen as they are selected in real-time.

Ground-breaking musical performance by severely motor-impaired people to be premiered at Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival.   Photo: Plymouth University

Julian O’Kelly, Research Fellow at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability added: “This is a great means of transcending disability to offer individuals a unique experience of creating music with each other, and interacting with skilled musicians to create original compositions.

“In the case of Rosemary, the project illustrated the great potential this innovation could have for participants who may have once been gifted musicians, but now lack the physical abilities to engage in music making.

“You could clearly see in her broad smile during the performance how much she enjoyed the experience.”

The patient quartet are made of Miss Johnson, Clive Wells, Richard Bennett and Steve Thomas.

Speaking through an automated voice machine, Mr Thomas said: “I like music and I am very interested in the Brain Computer Music Interface. It’s more interactive with people actually getting my instructions.

“It was great to hear the musician play the phrase I selected. I tried to select music that was harmonious with the others. It’s very cool.”

The team are hoping that the technology could be used one day to improve mood and help them to express their feelings.

“If our patients were able to compose music to reflect their state of mind, that would be an amazing way for them to be able to express themselves and music therapists could then use that to work with the patients,” added Dr Sophie Duport, of Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability

Joel Eaton, PhD Research Student at Plymouth University’s said: “One of the key things about this system is that not only does it give a user the interaction and control of an instrument, it allows them to interact with each other.’

‘If this idea was developed it could have ramifications in all areas of someone’s life. Potentially I can see the ability for someone to express musically how they are feeling again without their ability to move their fingers, to communicate with words.’

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MPF Eye on Health – Green Tea and Cancer Cells – by Catharine Paddock PhD

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MPF Eye on Health – Save That Avocado Seed – An Article by Heidi Kristoffer

The Health Benefits of the Avocado Seed

This is a very interesting article on the health benefits of the Avocado Seed, which I’ve always thrown away. Looks like I won’t be doing that anymore. Hope you enjoy the read.

 

MPF Eye on Health - Save That Avocado Seed - An Article by Heidi Kristoffer, Avocado Seed, Mission Positive Films,MPF, MPF Eye on Health

The writer Alex Jordon showed us several benefits of eating avocado seeds, while many people still ignore its seed, what people have realized is that avocados are delicious fruits and provide tons of health benefits.

I have to say, consider well before you throw the seeds when eating avocados, as it may contain the key to combating a kind of cancer – Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).

What’s Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) And How Avocado Seeds May Help

Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) is a form of cancer that affects the bone narrow, it causes bone narrow cells to malfunction, which will creat an influx of non-mature myeloid cells to crowd the bloodstream, thus leading to leukemia cancer. People who’re suffering from this cancer may have uncomfortable symptoms, such as difficult breathing, serious joint pain, bleeding disorders and lack of energy. It’s essential treat it in time, and the avocado seeds may help!

RESEARCH

A 2015 study (S1) of the Cancer Research Journal showed that avocados could hold the key to helping beat rare form of leukaemia, and also noted that the compound was extracted from the seed of avocado and not from the flesh.

Scientists (S2) from the University of Waterloo and Mount Sinai Hospital in Canada and the University of Perugia in Italy have found that a simple compound in avocado seeds could kill cancer cells without any negative effects when compared with the traditional treatments.

Another study (S3) also found that a compound that exsited in the avocado seed may lead to a new treatment for AML without any harsh side effect. Means the part often tossed when you’re eating avocados could provide better surival outcomes for people who’re suffering from AML.

So, rethink about this next time. And the seeds,not only have the ability to help the patients with AML, also can help your health in other ways as well:

1. Actually avocado seed has 70% of the antioxidants found in the whole avocado, which is essential to prevent heart disease, lower cholesterol and prevent other types of disease.

2. Avocado seed has insecticidal, fungicidal, and anti-microbial properties.

3. The seed has more soluble fiber than almost any other food, which plays an important role in controlling high cholesterol.

4. The seed is very high in potassium.

5. Avocado seed also has a good anti-inflammatory ability to help relieve joints pain and arthritis.

6. The oil form of avocado seed has been shown to keep your skin youthful and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. It also helps get rid of dry dead skin as a simple skin care remedy.

7. Make tea with grated avocado seeds is great for stomach ache. Halve the seed and put it into a cup of hot water, leave it for 10-15 minutes and drink the tea.

8. It makes your smoothie more tasty and healthy. Make a delicious combination of avocado(fruit and seed), green apple,pineapple and cucumber.

Save the avocado seed, it’s good for your health!

Additional Sources: S1, S2, S3, omtimes.com

Source: Save That Avocado Seed – It’s Good For Your Health!

 

Mission Positive Films

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MPF Eye on Health – The Impact of Dancing on People With Parkinson’s

This is a very interesting story from NPR on the positive impact dance is having on those suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. At the end of the article, there is a link to the NPR website that includes an audio version as well. Enjoy.

Dance Returns The ‘Joy Of Movement’ To People With Parkinson’s

People with Parkinson's, MpF,Mission Positive Films,MPF Eye on Health - The Impact of Dancing on People With Parkinson's

The routines that students learn at Dance for PD classes in Venice, Calif., can be quite challenging, instructors say.

Courtesy of Joe Lambie and Laura Karlin

If you pictured a dancer, you probably wouldn’t imagine someone with Parkinson’s disease. Worldwide, there are 10 million people with the progressive movement disorder, and they struggle with stiff limbs, tremors and poor balance.

But over the past 15 years or so, a few thousand have taken dance classes that are part of a program called Dance for PD. It began in Brooklyn and has spread throughout the country and around the world. It has also attracted the attention of scientists interested in the ways dance might ease symptoms.

The program in Venice, Calif., is in its fifth year. One recent afternoon, “Broadway Baby” blasted from the sound system as nearly two dozen people tried to imitate the movements of instructor Linda Berghoff. The students are people with Parkinson’s and their spouses or caregivers. For the moment, everyone was seated, but with bodies pulled upright, arms stretched and fists pumping in time to the music.

It was a challenging routine, keeping a one-two beat with one arm, and a three-part rhythm with the other. Berghoff shouted encouragement over the music. She’s lean and fit and looks younger than her 65 years. Though never a professional dancer, she’s danced all her life — even after her own diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease 10 years ago.

“When I was diagnosed, the thought that I would no longer dance again terrified me,” she tells Shots. “I’d be stripped of the thing I love the most.”

The diagnosis was also a blow to Laura Karlin, a long-time friend who describes Berghoff as her second mother.

Karlin was looking for something she could do to support her friend. She asked Berghoff, “Do you want to do yoga together? Do you want to dance together? Do you want to start a dance class together?”

The dance class was the winner. And a reasonable choice, considering that Karlin is the artistic director of the Invertigo Dance Theatre, which has a performing company and also offers classes. Invertigo’s dance class tailored to people with Parkinson’s disease began in 2011; the company now sponsors five such courses around the L.A. area.

Dance students and teachers strike a pose at Invertigo Dance Theatre's class for people with Parkinson's.

Dance students and teachers strike a pose at Invertigo Dance Theatre’s class for people with Parkinson’s.

Ina Jaffe/NPR

And each one is a real dance class, Karlin says.

“We don’t dumb it down. I believe very much in making this a really joyful and challenging experience,” she says. “But it has to be both challenging and kind of satisfying.”

Karlin learned what she needed to know to start her Parkinson’s program at the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, where Dance for PD began about 15 years ago. David Leventhal is the director of the Mark Morris program. At the beginning, he says, it was trial and error because “there’s no one type of Parkinson’s, no one set of symptoms.”

There are some small, short-term studies that suggest dance might improve some of those symptoms, especially ease of walking. But Leventhal says the class was never intended as just physical therapy.

“There’s also an artistic quality,” he says, “where we’re hoping people are able to say something with those gestures.” This is particularly relevant to people with Parkinson’s, who start to lose their expressive ability and “feel themselves pull away from who they thought they were.”

The program at the Mark Morris Dance Center began as a partnership with the Brooklyn Parkinson Group. But for the past eight years, Mark Morris instructors have been training other dance companies — like L.A.’s Invertigo Dance Theatre — to conduct classes of their own. There are now programs in 40 states and 13 other countries.

“It’s such a natural, intuitive idea that dance should be a good thing for Parkinson’s, that people have just gone ahead and done it” without scientific verification that it actually helps, says Dr. Pietro Mazzoni. He teaches neurology at Columbia University Medical Center and heads the Motor Performance Laboratory there.

Mazzoni says the few small studies that have been done don’t explain why dancing can help people with Parkinson’s, or what routine might be better than another, or how long the effects last. So he’s beginning a larger study that may answer those questions.

Scientists are only beginning to study whether dance does something for people with Parkinson's that more typical physical therapy can't achieve.

Scientists are only beginning to study whether dance does something for people with Parkinson’s that more typical physical therapy can’t achieve.

Courtesy of Joe Lambie and Laura Karlin

One of the theories he’ll be testing is that people with Parkinson’s move less because the disease triggers more than tremors and other physical symptoms — it also robs them of their ability to enjoy moving.

“I’ve heard patients spontaneously describe the beginning of their symptoms using language like, ‘I didn’t enjoy walking with my husband anymore,’ ” Mazzoni says. ” ‘I could do it; it just wasn’t fun.’ ”

So Mazzoni’s work will look at psychological factors as well as physical ones. Then he’ll compare the dancers to people getting traditional physical therapy.

“It may be that dance is not just a nicer form of physical therapy,” he says. “It may be that it has the key to producing long lasting changes.”

It seems to be helping 76-year-old Willie Marquez. He and his wife Lenore heard about the dance class from his doctor, when Marquez got his Parkinson’s diagnosis three years ago.

“We got in the car and ran over here,” he says.

Marquez says taking the class is a “no brainer” because he and his wife have been dancing together since they met — 52 years ago. Willie Marquez was teaching salsa in those days. The couple still moves confidently across the floor, now side by side, surrounded by fellow students.

They’re all trying out a new routine and it looks pretty rough. But they throw themselves into it. As Laura Karlin always reminds them, there are no mistakes in dance — just solos.

Direct Link to Article:   http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/01/23/463222589/dance-returns-the-joy-of-movement-to-people-with-parkinsons

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If Children Lose Contact With Nature They Won’t Fight For It | George Monbiot

This is a very important look at the interaction between today’s children and the natural world, and how each impacts the health and well being of the other. Please take a moment to give it a look.

 

Daniel Pudles 2011

‘The great indoors has become a far more dangerous place than the diminished world beyond.’ Illustration by Daniel Pudles Guardian

“’One woe doth tread upon another’s heel, So fast they follow”. That radical green pressure group PriceWaterhouseCoopers warns that even if the present rate of global decarbonisation were to double, we would still be on course for 6C of warming by the end of the century. Confining the rise to 2C requires a sixfold reduction in carbon intensity: far beyond the scope of current policies.
A new report shows that the UK has lost 20% of its breeding birds since 1966: once common species such as willow tits, lesser spotted woodpeckers and turtle doves have all but collapsed; even house sparrows have fallen by two thirds. Ash dieback is just one of many terrifying plant diseases, mostly spread by trade. They now threaten our oaks, pines and chestnuts.
So where are the marches, the occupations, the urgent demands for change? While the surveys show that the great majority would like to see the living planet protected, few are prepared to take action. This, I think, reflects a second environmental crisis: the removal of children from the natural world. The young people we might have expected to lead the defense of nature have less and less to do with it.
We don’t have to disparage the indoor world, which has its own rich ecosystem, to lament children’s disconnection from the outdoor world. But the experiences the two spheres offer are entirely different. There is no substitute for what takes place outdoors; not least because the greatest joys of nature are unscripted. The thought that most of our children will never swim among phosphorescent plankton at night, will never be startled by a salmon leaping, a dolphin breaching, the stoop of a peregrine, or the rustle of a grass snake is almost as sad as the thought that their children might not have the opportunity.
The remarkable collapse of children’s engagement with nature – which is even faster than the collapse of the natural world – is recorded in Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods, and in a report published recently by the National Trust. Since the 1970s the area in which children may roam without supervision has decreased by almost 90%. In one generation the proportion of children regularly playing in wild places in the UK has fallen from more than half to fewer than one in 10. In the US, in just six years (1997-2003) children with particular outdoor hobbies fell by half. Eleven- to 15-year-olds in Britain now spend, on average, half their waking day in front of a screen.
There are several reasons for this collapse: parents’ irrational fear of strangers and rational fear of traffic, the destruction of the fortifying commons where previous generations played, the quality of indoor entertainment, the structuring of children’s time, the criminalisation of natural play. The great indoors, as a result, has become a far more dangerous place than the diminished world beyond.
AdvertisementThe rise of obesity, rickets and asthma and the decline in cardio-respiratory fitness are well documented. Louv also links the indoor life to an increase in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other mental ill health. Research conducted at the University of Illinois suggests that playing among trees and grass is associated with a marked reduction in indications of ADHD, while playing indoors or on tarmac appears to increase them. The disorder, Louv suggests, “may be a set of symptoms aggravated by lack of exposure to nature”. Perhaps it’s the environment, not the child, that has gone wrong.
In her famous essay the Ecology of Imagination in Childhood, Edith Cobb proposed that contact with nature stimulates creativity. Reviewing the biographies of 300 “geniuses”, she exposed a common theme: intense experiences of the natural world in the middle age of childhood (between five and 12). Animals and plants, she contended, are among “the figures of speech in the rhetoric of play … which the genius in particular of later life seems to recall”.
Studies in several nations show that children’s games are more creative in green places than in concrete playgrounds. Natural spaces encourage fantasy and roleplay, reasoning and observation. The social standing of children there depends less on physical dominance, more on inventiveness and language skills. Perhaps forcing children to study so much, rather than running wild in the woods and fields, is counter-productive.
And here we meet the other great loss. Most of those I know who fight for nature are people who spent their childhoods immersed in it. Without a feel for the texture and function of the natural world, without an intensity of engagement almost impossible in the absence of early experience, people will not devote their lives to its protection. The fact that at least half the published articles on ash dieback have been illustrated with photos of beeches, sycamores or oaks seems to me to be highly suggestive.
Forest Schools, Outward Bound, Woodcraft Folk, the John Muir Award, the Campaign for Adventure, Natural Connections, family nature clubs and many others are trying to bring children and the natural world back together. But all of them are fighting forces which, if they cannot be turned, will strip the living planet of the wonder and delight, of the ecstasy – in the true sense of that word – that for millennia have drawn children into the wilds.
• Read a fully referenced version of this article at www.monbiot.com” http://gu.com/p/3cvey/sbl

Contact the Author  GeorgeMonbiot

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Please Welcome Contributing Author – Mack Dryden

Mack's Blog Writers Pic

Mack Dryden is a very funny man ! He’s also a double cancer survivor. Born and raised in Mississippi, with a MA degree in creative writing, he decided to spend a little time in Europe before settling into career, and by a strange turn of events, ran head on into a Moroccan prison. After having entirely too much fun there, he came back to the U.S. as a newspaper reporter, won some AP writing awards, and then finally found his calling; as he puts it ” making people laugh until their face hurts “.
He has been on ” The Tonight Show “, with Johnny and Jay, had numerous acting roles, including ” JAG ” and a recurring role on ” The Guardian “, and was hand picked by Bill Maher as a staff writer for ” Politically Incorrect “. To top that off, he’s a black belt Karate champion, and a published author.
He is now based in Louisville, KY, and spends his time writing and traveling the country bringing his special brand of Motivation, Inspiration and Jubilation to thousands each year.
To see more of this very funny mans’ work, visit his website  www.MackDryden.com

So here we go with Mack’s First Article on this site

One-Man Avalanche

One-Man-Avalanche-270x300

Driving through the Smoky* Mountains recently, I was reminded of the time I kicked off our summer vacation by nearly killing my parents. Now part of family lore, the episode was a knee-buckling example of the adage that God watches over morons. (*Look it up. That’s how they spell it at the park)

I grew up on in a marshy area that was as flat as a mud puddle. We used to go to a construction site and play on a 20-foot-high pile of dirt, which was the highest point of land I’d ever seen until the fifth grade. When I was 12 and my brother 10, our parents took us to the Smoky Mountains. The terrain was as mind-bogglingly alien to us as Jupiter’s moons. We couldn’t process the fact that we could look up and see rocks a half a mile up in the sky. We started begging Dad to let us climb one, and he finally pulled into a rest stop and we sprinted to the base of a mountain and began our assault.

When we got about 60 feet up, Mom took a picture. Fantastic. We’d have photographic evidence to show our fellow swamp rats that we’d climbed a mountain. Finally, my dad yelled, “That’s high enough.” We sat there 100 yards above the parking lot, savoring the moment. Being a boy, savoring got old quickly. I had to do something with the moment. I noticed a roundish rock about the size of a small washtub, so I braced against a tree and shoved with my legs and found I could make it jiggle. I said to my brother, “Let’s see if this rock will make it all the way to the bottom of the hill.”

Understand that this was the first mountain I had ever actually touched, so I knew nothing about the physics involved. Back home, to get something that big and heavy to go anywhere at all was a major project involving men and machinery, and I was a skinny 12-year-old. My brother declined to help, being a future judge with better judgment than I. So I shoved and strained against that brute until it started down the hill, and I immediately saw that it wasn’t just going to make it to the bottom–it might make it to Gatlinburg.

I screamed, “Daddy!” and my poor dad looked up to see a 200 pound battering ram screaming down that mountain like a runaway train, headed for cars, kids, families. He ran around screaming for everybody to get out of the way and then watched helplessly as that rock–now going probably 60 miles per hour– missed our car by about six feet, bounced across the parking lot, and disappeared into the woods on the other side after hitting…nothing. It was a minor miracle. My mom sobbed into her hands. My dad leaned on the car to keep his legs from collapsing under him. I looked at my brother, who was looking at me with an expression that was easy to read: “Dead man walking.”

I knew exactly what was waiting for me. I climbed down very slowly to give my Mom as much time as possible to remind Dad that he had wanted children, and to give Dad some time to cool down so his response would be measured. The belt stung, but he didn’t cross the line into child abuse. He impressed upon me the fact that education doesn’t stop when school is out, and put particular emphasis on a lesson in rock technology that I will never, ever, ever forget.

To see more of this very funny mans’ work, visit his website  www.MackDryden.com

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Ko’olau Summit Trail 2012

This was a replacement trek after a recent change of jobs, and was supposed to be relatively easy when compared to my planned John Muir Trail trek. Only three days along the Oahu Ko’olau mountain range starting at Pupukea trailhead. The adventure is an annual trek led by Gordon Lau, a local experienced trail guide, endurance athlete, hunter and more who is also slightly older than both of the other two hikers: I’m 40 and Jim Masterson is mid-40’s. I want let out Gordon’s age for absolute fear of unleashing the beast. Jim is just off the plane from Korea where he is stationed with the Army. He is also an endurance athlete in excellent, crazy conditioning.
On Memorial Day weekend starting at 8am on Saturday May 26th, 2012 three trekkers set out on to attempt a 3-day trek along the Ko’olau Summit Trail (KST here out) ending at Kamehameha Highway only a few long, never-ending miles away. The terrain was tropical rain forest with a gradual paved road to start. The weather was overcast and slightly misting with a few showers and mid-60’s. Not too bad overall and a good conversation along the road. Then we stop and I realize my first misgiving – both Jim and Gordon put on knee-length gaiters, protective glasses, protective gloves and brandish their machetes. I had some small gaiters covering my low-profile trail running shoes. And that was the last view of the road until Kamehameha Highway. The trail continues uphill since this is a summit trail. We ascend up the thumb gradually making our way to the spine or hogs-back to about 2,200 feet. The winds begin to pick up as does the mud that is overflowing my gaiters. The brush is thick and getting thicker along the way. Gordon leads the way with amazing pig-hunter navigational skills that were obviously absent from a recent soloist who got lost for five days before rescue. Thankfully, we had a Gordon!
The trail opens up at times, then disappears just as quickly with only surveyor ribbon (yellow, blue, orange, etc.) to search for making this a game of follow the leader, dodge the plants that pulls at every piece of clothing and skin, duck from the objects darting towards your eyes from the wind, stay back from the person in front so not to find yourself the recipient of a recoil, keep upright in the every increases mud pit and of course stay hydrated and eat. I almost forgot to not grab anything to keep your balance since I had no gloves. OK, I think I have everything planned for the next 72 hours of fun.
The raw uninterrupted beauty of the natural setting of the Ko’olaus is truly spectacular. Yes, there are invasive species and many groups are working to remove these plants and control the animals that encroach on the beauty of the island. Until you walk in these harsh places, never assume that they are just hanging our picking weeds. They are truly amazing people working in some of the world’s most extreme places.
As we trekked slowly towards our first destination, Koloa Cabin, I began to realize that I needed to stay at least 10 feet from Jim who was in the middle to avoid getting smacked in the face from all the brush, but somehow keep an eye on him in the misty air and undulating ground where the trail twists and turns with the nature contours of the terrain. Each step is a risky proposition with rocks that move, mud that swallows your leg, brush that grabs at you with passion and just relentless concentration. Then at times, I found myself crawling behind Jim under fallen trees as if we were taking enemy fire from above. On the KST we moved onward to the Kahuku trailhead arriving around 9:30a then over to the Malaekahana trail by 12:25p. Stops for rest were very few as each of us are very familiar with eating on the move, and making steady progress from our years doing ultra endurance runs. And those years came together on this effort. Gradually, the Laie trail came closer around 1:05p with a short section until we took a longer break to get water at the Kawailao area by 1:37p. Time always crawls by in the head, then hours are gone without any realization of how far you’ve gone and what your body is capable of enduring. We filtered our water, Gordon and I with hand pumps and Jim with his cute UV pen and bottle filter. The Go-Lite packs were tossed back over our shoulders, and we finally reach the Koloa cabin by 2:56p on Day One. The rain was ever-present and a cabin setup by the Army was very nice reprieve to the wet and cold day.
I did my best to clean my clothes thinking the monster wind would blow them dry on the make-shift clothesline. But the mist and humidity along with the cold temperature made certain that was not to happen. In our metal cabin / container with a few bunks, we rested and slowly began to settle in with warm meals from the hot water provided by the two stoves that Jim and I had. My Jet Boil versus Jim’s MSR WhisperLite, no competition. The Jet Boil rocked. Jim began his hour long yoga poses that Gordon dubbed downward cricket (versus dog) and I just stretched out the body and watched the wind pass by the windows. Night came slowly as did the heavier rains letting us know Day Two was to be another adventure.
While we woke up early, we didn’t depart the comfort of the cabin until 8:15a. This was partly due to the weather and also due to a plan by Gordon to stop short at the Army cabin only a few miles away. Apparently, this was a very nice cabin and Gordon really wanted to stop there. By 10:35a, we reached Castle trail and despite the harsh wind and quicksand type mud, we were making good time. This meant that the Army cabin was reached very early at 11:24a and there was no logical way that we would stop here. Gordon cried and waved slowly bye-bye to the cabin. It was a very sad picture indeed, but onward. The steps ahead were the worst conditions on the entire trail, and challenging was an understatement. The only thing to do was to hope the mud pits didn’t eat your shoes and keep your mouth closed so not to splash any mud into your mouth. But with all the weather hazards, I continued to see beauty all around me. I might slip on a hidden log, and see the ohia flower looking at me. Or almost have my eye poked out, and see the strangest twisted tree that could only come from the mind of Tim Burton or the KST.
By 12:25p we made it to Peahinaia and pushed on to the Cline Memorial by 1:45p with markers of all trailheads and distance along the KST. We moved along the fence line erected to control the pig population and also caused one injury to the team. While moving carefully over a metal spike holding tension for the fence, Gordon landed on top of the spike impaling his right knee with serious damage. Some duct tape and a few curse words made the injury much better. That is one tough dude. He picked up his orange handled machete and pushed on. By 2:05p, we reached Poamoho cabin covered in deep mud, soaking wet and exhausted. And on the front porch of the cabin was a clean couple eating homemade sandwiches. I think we scared them since they departed rather quickly, allowing us to have the cabin to ourselves, Jim to do his yoga, Gordon to sleep and me – well I tried to get some weight off my clothes and body by taking a shower in the water catchment slightly warmed with the introduction of two-cups of boiling water from my stove. That was pure luxury. We rested, then ate and played with rubbing alcohol fires.
While the sound of rats racing along the back of the cabin woke me, I was still able to relax listening to the rain and crazy wind. By sunrise, the skies opened allowing some beautiful views all the way to the ocean. Day Three would prove to be a taxing day from the pure wind impact of the effort alone. And when I describe the wind, it is not like a gentle trade wind at 15 mph. These winds were truly epic and dangerous. If your jacket had any flap, it would slap painfully across your body. The force was strong enough and also amplified by the cliffs on Day Three to push over each of us. As we scrambled along the Schofield terminus by 8:47a, we were blasted with tough footing and heavy winds that sent each of us grasping for anything to hold on to. The cliffs are beautiful from below, just not something you want to visit on a freefall. We made it to the end of our section of the KST at Ka’aumakua and down Waikane trail at 9:12a holding fast to every piece of protection that trail could offer. Along this entire section, I rated every step with a 1-2-3 scale. One meant that a fall would be survivable with a self arrest. A two meant that I would get injured but likely not die. A three meant that a sudden stop would be a few hundred or thousand feet below, not good. And this rating was literally made with every step as the trail was razor thin, holes would form and the wind would knock your center of balance off line. At one point, I reached up in time to grad the pack of Jim as the wind pushed him unexpectedly close to the edge. We smiled, and continued. The decent down Kahana lowback and to the water tunnel was gradually getting easier and eventually turned into a hike. Once we made it down to Kamehameha Hwy, we found a certain Fishman waiting for us with a cooler, food, drinks and smiles.
This was an awesome trip with friends, and an amazing part of Oahu that is mostly undisturbed by people. The efforts by the researching, mountain clubs and universities are truly amazing and unseen. The conservation efforts in the most remote places are protecting the beauty of Oahu for everyone. Until you walk in these places, you can’t imagine how rugged Oahu is and how strong people are that attempt to hike the KST. Total distance, just over 22.6 miles.

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Cancer Never Ends

This past month has seen some reality checks when it comes to the ongoing fight to endure the battle with cancer.  On Sept. 12, I lost my uncle that raised me when my father and mother had their own challenges.  Ironically, he was my father’s identical twin and just like twins, he died from the same cancer that took my father 5 years ago.

The funeral was both a reunion and one of the more difficult emotional times of my life.  But as a family, we made it through.

Once back in Hawaii and looking to return some normal routine of family life, training for endurance events and work, I was slapped with another reality check.  My radiation therapy to my face 5 years ago had caused some damage to the nerve in a tooth.  These things happen despite everyone best efforts.  I’m surprised it took so long to present.  So, I had a wonderful root canal performed to take care of the never ending side effects of the treatment.

I almost forgot the topical chemo for basal cell and many stitches from a little cyst on my back.  These didn’t slow me down although they did keep me from swimming for a while.  I didn’t want to be easy shark bait.

So, as I continue to look for the normalcy in life, I’m once again reminded of the never ending battle.  Last week, I awoke to a chubby upper lip.  I guess if I wanted to look like one of the reality TV stars with their big lips, I would have been pleased.  On the contrary, I knew there was something up.  Now, the swelling is into my cheeks, upper and lower lips and eye lids.  I look so cute.  It’s likely lymphedema due once again to the life long side effects from my treatment.  My system was damaged permanently, so this is what I must manage.  I’m working to isolate the trigger which is eluding us at the moment.  But, I do look rather interesting.

So, one would assume that these events would allow for a lull in my attitude.  Actually, just the opposite.  I feel better than ever and more motivated that ever.  Date nights with my wife, beach time with the boys, camping with my older son and training for long hours smelling the lilikoi, mountain apples and white ginger along the lovely Hawaiian trails that always brings a smile to my heart.  With life we can either succumb to the events that we are faced with, or continue to live the journey.  It may not always be pleasant, but that’s life.  Live while there is life to live, and save the complaining for when the living is done.  Because of these challenges, I go out of my way to help others, especially those that can actually help themselves.  Sounds strange, but in a circular logic, I am showing them that because of my challenges, I am still able to do more than you without complaining and with a smile.  What’s your excuse?  I can’t find one.

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