Saturday, October 20, 2012

Essay on Lovecraft

Sun Rays inside Ruins of Church; source: ; taken by:Robert & Mihaela VicolI'm trying to read all the Britannica Great Books and I am now over half of the way there. I just finished Montaigne's Essays and I have to say they're not only full of wit, but many are disquieting as he humbly goes against the current. What strikes me most at this point, nonetheless, is how he goes about writing them. Sure, an essay is supposed to be a free, unconstrained text, but Montaigne's go beyond what I expected. His essays are nothing like your usual high school assignments. He doesn't have a structure that I can point my finger at, or build a case around whatever he's writing about, much less get to a conclusion. He just lets himself go with the flow and keep on writing on and on until he feels he has exhausted the topic. He could easily stop at any point and no one would be the wiser. Length is no impediment whatsoever; a couple of his essays could fill a volume each by themselves. I do not mean to limit myself, but I feel that I couldn't write like that, firstly, because I lack his knowledge, wisdom and style; and secondly, because I do feel the need to get somewhere with whatever I'm writing about; if I'm going to take pen and paper, or more likely keyboard and text processor, I better give the reader something that is worth her while, that is, getting to the point I want to get across. The absence of the point, or kicker, bothers me. Notwithstanding, I'm going to give it a go right here, right now and see what it's like.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

How I beat back pain

Second (and probably last) in the series of solved physical troubles. Back pain is probably the most difficult challenge that I have faced. This is partly because of the uncertainty and doubts of any given treatment, but mostly because results take a long while to show up. Of course, the pain itself  is nothing to scoff at. First, the usual disclaimer that what follows should not be taken as medical advice and that you should consult your doctor. Now, to give you an idea of what I felt extend your hand palm down and pinch with your other hand the fleshy part between the thumb and the index finger; if you're averagely strong, aim for three quarters of your strength. Now, mentally place the sensation on your lower back and you'll know what I felt.

Doctors ruled out herniated discs or degenerative diseases and surgery was never considered.

  • What didn't help me:

  • Long-term anti-inflammatory drugs.

  • Staying put and trying to reduce movement. It is counterintuitive, but if  I stayed put, negative thoughts began to creep in with a pain increase following

  • Chairs with lumbar support. These  supposedly give support to your lumbar area, but after trying them I have to agree with someone who accurately described the sensation as having "someone's F** elbow jabbing you on your back"

  • What helped me:

  • Cold, then warmth applied to the area. Just for some minutes. After some months I reduced the cold component and then entirely dropped it.

  • Some physical therapy. One should be wary though, because many therapists expect you to get well right away with their treatment, even if you are not out of the woods yet

  • Swimming. Great exercise, makes you move all the muscles in your body and it is pretty tame. I still do it.

  • Getting up and moving around at least once every half an hour

  • Regular stretching exercises. The trick is to find which ones to do.

  • Overcome Back Pain by Kit Loughlin. Only Incorporated five or six exercises from the first part and by then I was already well, so I didn't push for more.

  • Relaxation recordings. I may talk of these in a later post.

  • What I am uncertain if it helped or not:

  • The Herman Miller Areon chair. In desperation I got one. The back support in this one is in the sacral area rather than the lumbar and can also be tweaked.

  • Placing a pillow under my knees while sleeping or lying down

  • What I didn't try, but could have:

  • Healing Back Pain by Dr. John Sarno. This one came to my attention too late to play a role. I would encourage you to check it out nonetheless if your initial treatment does not work, the pain moves around your body (i.e. from the right side to the left side), or if you have been suffering for more than a month. Also, good alternative is Rapid Recovery from Back and Neck Pain by Fred Amir, which includes a treatment plan.

  • Acupuncture

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Sacking of Rome: Community Service

What follows is the sequence of events from the death of Theodosius leading to the sacking of Rome by Alaric. This was extracted from Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Thought this list might come handy to someone who is doing research and in a hurry.

Theodosius dies in January. Honorius crowned as the Western Emperor
Goth revolt in autumn. Low subsidies & Rufinus incitation. Alaric demands title and command.
Pillage of Greece. Oversight of Corinth and the Thermopylae
Stilicho navigates to Greece. The Goths besieged. They escape
Constantinople asks for the exit of Stilicho
Constantinople honors Alaric, gives him authority
Alaric arms himself in Greece. May have been reinforced at the Danube
Alaric enters Italy. Stilicho defeats him. Alan and English garrison as Imperial reinforcements.
Stilicho pacts peace (403?).
The Huns enter Germany
Radagaisus enters Italy. 200K versus 30K/40K
Stilicho encircles and defeats Radagaisus at Florence
Radagasius' allies overcome the Franks at Gaul
Revolt at England. Constantine rival Emperor
Constantine takes parts of Gaul, Spain
Attack from Italy to Gaul
Alaric demands presents from Ravenna for alliance
Stilicho intercedes in favor of Alaric before the Senate. This approves
Commoners, soldiers, Honorius (thanks to Olympus) suspect Stilicho
Officials executed by Olympus. Stilicho executed
Family members of the executed auxiliary units join the Goths. 30K
Alaric enters Italy a second time. Embassy from the Senate. Ransom paid
Slave (40K) and Hun (10K), reinforcements
Renewed demands for gifts (land, title and subsidies) are rejected by Olympus
Alaric's threats make the Senate crown Atalus
Veterans reinforce Ravenna. Failed African expedition. Attalus disgraced
Negotiations between Alaric and the Emperor break down when the former is attacked by auxiliaries
The city of Rome falls when its doors are opened. 410