Farm Kids Have Fewer Allergies?

I hear this over and over. So as a scientist, I thought I’d take a peek at this.

Research shows that farm kids have fewer allergies and asthma. It turns out that farm dust exposure in mice resulted in greater resistance to those allergens. Follow-up studies on both mice and humans confirmed these results. It also added more resistance to effects from dust mites. The converse of these studies suggests that maybe kids are raised in environments that are "too clean". Haha, when I think of my childhood growing up in rural Kansas, we were dirty all the time. And we don’t have allergies to anything. I don’t remember most of my friends having those kinds of problems either.

We also see that rural kids who eat fish and are regularly exposed to farm animals are immune to these allergies. Studies in Sweden evaluated 3,618 individuals and found this to be true.

There is something to this Hygiene Hypothesis. It seems like higher incomes result in more cleanliness and in turn results in more allergies. Additionally, exposure to household cleaning products may play a role. And think about all the toxins released from carpets and other home products. Whereas, when I was a kid, I spent nearly all my free time outside. My Dad had this whistle that he blew when it was time to come home. We could hear it from a mile away. Wherever we were in the woods, we’d hear that and run home.

Come to think of it, I had a very wealthy friend who I would have sleep overs with now and then. I remember how lavish his home was. And he had Atari and all the gadgets of the day. But he was a really nerdy kid. He got picked on a lot in school. He even wet his pants in class because he was reading a book and just forgot to go. I know that sounds terrible. But I always liked this kid. I was kind of an in-betweener. I was both a jock and a smarty pants. So I could pick and choose my friends. I do remember him being sniffly and having a weak constitution. These were the kids who didn’t spend much time outside. I had several friends from the city who were like that. When we would take them outside, they hardly knew sports and knew nothing about woodcraft. They couldn’t split wood or bust rocks with a sledge. I grew up doing those things.

My wife is prone to allergies. But it almost seems like they aren’t affected as much when we go camping. Also when we go to rural West or South, her allergies magically disappear. Some of it may just be in getting fresh, outdoor air. Sometimes she’ll be in a total fit, but if we open the windows, she gets a little relief. Its so strange.

https://www.theverge.com/2015/9/3/9256955/allergies-asthma-farm-kids-dust-endotoxins-a20

https://www.immunology.org/news/reason-why-farm-kids-develop-fewer-allergies-explained

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/04/health/dust-asthma-children.html

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/pai.12875

https://www.webmd.com/allergies/news/20140606/too-clean-homes-may-encourage-child-allergies-asthma-study#1

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121003082734.htm

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Be Happy

Yeah, its easier said than actually doing. But if you are happy to your core, then it is a lot easier to live it out.

I run into a lot of toxic personalities in my life; especially on social media. Its so strange how joyful they appear when you see them in person. But in the darkness of their minds, somehow they feel its ok to spew hatefulness online. I see it a lot on Instagram (IG). Although, the people who I know in person make up a very small percentage of people I follow online. People stay mostly tame on IG since clicking the unfollow is super easy to do. And yes, I’ve done that to people who are overly political or just plain mean. I’ve also unfollowed people for being super negative. Any “-ism” is something I run from. Especially, all these “-isms” that people cry about these days.

I take this quickly back to my upbringing in Kansas. Nobody had -isms out there. In fact, if someone said something silly or other-worldly back home, they’d look at you like you were some strange meteor that ended up in their backyard. For people who are up at the crack of dawn to tend to the farm, meaningless chatter is the furthest from their minds. For someone who swings a hammer every day, worrying about what to wear is useless. That’s the problem, sometimes we have so much time on our hands that we make up things to feel sad about. Its just not how I was raised.

To take this even further, I remember a Master Sergeant (E-8) who led an Infantry Scout unit when I was in the Army. I mean, I was an ex-Drill Instructor and I was a pretty hard guy. One of my troops, after knowing me for several years, finally asked me what my first name was. I told him “Sergeant”. I rarely let my guard down around these guys. But I am a compassionate, sympathetic person at times and some of those feelings probably leaked out now and then. But this Master Sergeant was way worse than me. You leave a helmet in the wrong place around him and you’d be doing pushups. You ask the wrong question? Pushups! You had to be on top of your game around him. Now, I was a respected Sergeant First Class (E-7), so he had no authority over me. But he still gave off this aura. I wouldn’t dare ask him about what kind of Latte he liked, or what his Zodiac sign was, or his favorite model of Birkenstocks. I’d probably owe him some pushups for that kind of nonsense. But honestly, I’m not that hard. I never was, even when I was a Drill Sergeant. I was like an intelligent tornado.

The funny thing, people on Facebook (FB) are 10x worse than on IG. For some reason, I think FB friends assume that we all think alike. So they think its OK to preach to the choir when it comes to politics and social issues. You have to admit, they aren’t swaying opinion among people who think the same. But many of my friends are Yogis, bodyworkers, and people who enjoy the softer things in life. So they tend to lean one way, when I often lean the other. So they spew out their hatred and toxicity a lot on FB. The great thing about FB is that you can hide their evil sources of where they get their memes and talking points. But sometimes, there are too many to hide. So you have no choice but to unfollow that person.

I really feel sorry for people who live in such despair every day of their lives. They must wake up in a bad mood every morning. Then they put on a happy face when they are around people. But then they get on IG and never smile. There isn’t sunshine or roses. There’s only self pity and hatred for others. If you can’t love yourself, you can never love others. Its cliche but its true. I unfollowed someone on all their social media because they never smiled. One day I asked them to smile more. That led to a backlash about patriarchy and her Daddy treating her wrong. And this “friend” totally bent me the wrong way. I really enjoyed this person when she lived in town. I’d say we were good friends. But her social media was always dark. She only wanted to be pitied. Her happy face when I saw her was always a false front. I feel bad for her. But I don’t put up with drama. I don’t condone self-pity when you have tools to find value in yourself. I don’t drift into a person’s darkness with them. I’d rather draw them into the light.

I have friends who are yoga teachers. These are people others look up to. I always enjoyed their classes and I considered them mentors of mine. But the darkness they’ve felt in their past eventually takes over. They end up having trouble with relationships. And then they blame all of that on men. They say—

“don’t call me beautiful! I know I’m beautiful. Say something about my intelligence. But don’t say it in a way that you’re man-splaining to me. And be positive. But I can see through your fake s#$t. So don’t do that.”

—Haha, what can anyone do against all that negativity? I mean, these are people who are supposedly following yogic principles. But there isn’t anything yogic about them except that they can do poses. Yay, they’ve mastered the 3rd limb of Ashtanga. But they tossed the rest out the window. I really don’t get it.

Be happy? Its easy for some of us. But for those of us who know true happiness, we also have to shield ourselves from the Dark Side. They say one negative person can drain the energy out of a group of people. I believe that to be true. Yes, we need to help people. But when they stop refusing your help, you have to let them go. Otherwise, you’ll get sucked into the darkness with them. You’ll start being a victim just like they do. “Everybody is out to get me. The world is so mean to me. Oh my!!!” —- We can’t live like that.

Instead, find your independence. Stand on your own two feet. Take responsibility for your own actions. Major in the majors and don’t let the little stuff get you down. The founder of Rocket Yoga said “you are stronger than you think”. This is the truth. If you find challenges that make you stronger, do those things to make you stronger. Stand on the podium in front of everyone. Let them know how happy you are and how you are bound to succeed. That’s what we should do. If you’re a yoga teacher, walk the walk. Don’t just say frilly alliterations that amount to lipstick on a pig. Actually say what you mean. Make the root of everything happiness. Then your happiness will spread to others. That’s what we want out of yoga or anything we do anyway. We want happiness in our lives.

Patched

I was remembering the time when I was in the Army Reserves. Before my drill weekend, I always cut my hair to standard, which is how I wear it to this day. However this time, the attachment that keeps the length to like 1/2 inch or something popped off while I was cutting. So instead of 1/2", it cut a swatch down to the skin. Haha, I got patched!!

Man, the guys I drilled with were from Detroit, all Drill Sergeants like me, and they were brutal. I mean, they’ll rip a guy worse than you’ve ever seen in grade school. So, I kept my hat on as much as I could, but you can’t wear a hat indoors unless you are carrying a weapon, are wearing a Drill Sergeant smokey bear hat, or on KP (kitchen patrol). I mean, this was a bad patch. So I ended putting black shoe polish on my scalp to camouflage my patch. Fortunately, nobody ever said anything.

Well, wouldn’t you know. It happened again. This past weekend, I was in a rush. I decided I’d shave my face and just run my clippers over my head. Then, my attachment popped off and I patched myself. I mean, who cares about old dudes anyway? Our hair looks goofy as is. So I just trimmed my hair down really short all over; like close to bald. But nobody said anything, so no big deal. Its still a little embarrassing to do something so silly again. I didn’t use shoe polish this time.

(pic: not me, but looked like this)

What a nightmare!

I woke up this morning after having what seemed like a very long nightmare. I was in a cold sweat. I’m not someone who dreams often or remembers dream very well. But this one is still vivid in my mind.

I’m not going to describe it since I don’t want to re-live it. I’m sure the scenes from a movie I must have seen in the past. I often think about the things I’ve seen and wonder how it could affect my life.

I don’t remember specifics, but I think about memories during the Vietnam War. And I remember how my Mom and Brother reacted to those scenes. My brother would cry and say "don’t send me to war". In fact, he is very pro-military. He has always honored my service in the Army. And he has two sons who went into the Marines. But he never did himself. It makes me reflect back to the Vietnam War. I still see those images that were popularized in the media. I can’t imagine the horrors. And being in the Army myself, I gravitated toward movies like Platoon and Apocalypse Now. Scenes from those movies are still etched in my memory.

Then I think about horror movies I’ve seen. I was never one who was fond of those movies. My Mom loved them. There was one that scared me to death. It was this doll that would terrorize and kill people. The final scene was one that haunts me today. And reading books like The Amityville Horror still makes my mind race. Oh and the Exorcist. Wow! I wish I would have never seen those movies or read those books.

Even worse, like the Vietnam War, are things that happened for real. I think back to medieval times and scenes from the Bible. My curiosity always gets the best of me. I remember in Junior High School, I stumbled on a book that talked about torture and experiments done during the Holocaust. I can’t fathom how far humanity has stooped in the past. Reading about the Bataan Death March and POW camps in the Philippines. It can’t get much more horrible than that.

Once we were driving to Toronto from Detroit and a body somehow ended up on the highway. It must have happened moments before we came upon it. I can’t take that scene from my mind. Its something I’ll never grow callous of seeing. It has nothing to do with being tough or weak minded. Its the reality of our thoughts. And those thoughts can’t be erased. Yes, when we are awake we can condition ourselves to distract and move on. But when you’re asleep, your subconscious has a mind of its own. We have no option but to live it out.

I wish all of you peace of mind. Please be protective of your own thoughts. And seek help if it ever becomes a problem. I’m certain our dreams and nightmares are the cause of lots of problems in our lives.

Pec Update

I was telling you how I had my pectoralis major (right chest) worked on this past Friday. It was a required received session of Thai Yoga Massage before my training weekend. He compressed, stretched, worked on antagonistic muscles, and muscle liberated (using a massage tool that looks like a jigsaw). My chest muscle was so sore over the weekend through Monday.

On Mondays, I usually do bench presses and other chest work. So that’s what I did. The first bench press reps even at 60 kg felt tenuous. I could still feel the pain a little in my chest and shoulder. But after a few more reps, I started to open up a lot. I used to compensate for the pain by actually lifting my head off the bench when I lifted. I got up to 110 kg and didn’t feel the pain that I usually felt. I’m so amazed!!! I need to have someone give another few sessions on it and I think I’ll be completely healed. I’m also devising ways I can work on it myself.

I’m so exciting to begin this next stage of my Thai yoga journey. I am branding what I do as Thai Yoga Therapy. It does violate in purely yoga terms the use of the word “therapy” by Yoga Alliance. But it also stays somewhat away from the soft tissue work of “massage” or “bodywork”. And, essentially, what I do is not really relaxation like going to a spa. Its actually working toward healing bodies. Even bodies that are seemingly healthy need myofascial release and lymphatic drainage. So “therapy” seems like the best term to use.

Enjoy life my friends. My free sessions end mid-December so get in to see me soon. I am thinking about discounted rates for members of the yoga studio where I teach and do sessions.

Deep in the Weeds with Thai Bodywork

I’m into the latter part of my Thai yoga massage training, which I continued this past weekend. Wow, just when I thought I had a good handle on this, my brain flips a 360 inside my skull.

My training to this point was mostly on the poses, sequences, positioning, tempo, and all that goes into a traditional Thai bodywork session. I’m now entering into the clinical aspects of the treatment. There is a chain of events that happens when you feel pain. Its a cascading flow with a network of interrelationships.

It starts with your feet. How do you stand? Is one leg or one pelvis longer than the other? How does that affect your spine? Do you have tendencies toward sway back or hunch back? What activities do you do on a daily basis? Sitting in an office or driving 8 hours a day? Do you do yoga, weight training, or sports? Or are you sedentary? What is your a dominant side? Do you have inherited or other pathological predispositions? All these play a role in treatment.

Then, we begin to describe pain. But what many doctors and therapists aren’t aware of is referred pain. You come in with knee pain, so they work on the knee. They diagnose something physical in the joint itself. They may prescribe strengthening exercises and stretches. But they never really find the source of the pain. For instance, outer knee pain may stem from a tug from the IT band. So the trainer has you roll your IT band (which, btw, does nothing at all). The real problem could be your tensor fascia latae (TFL) is in contraction which in turn pulls on the IT band, which it is attached to. But they don’t think to look there. But the complicating culprit to the TFL is adductor magnus, so you have to work there too. There are so many referrals that don’t start where you would think. You have to study trigger points and referral pain to understand how the nociceptors send signals to your brain to put out bracing or support wires to prevent pain or injury. And those trigger points aren’t always in obvious places. Its really amazing how it all works.

So we were working on protocols to treat pain. Its not “I have knee pain so work on my knee”. There is a whole process that works toward the source of the actual pain. Otherwise, you get a bodypart worked on, the pain returns, and then you have to go back for therapy over and over again. They never solve the source of the pain.

Another interesting thing I found out was about how pairs of antagonistic muscles work synergistically. I worked on someone last week with painful mid-anterior thigh pain. I was able to find trigger points and work through the pain. But now that I look back, a source of the problem is also tight hamstrings, which were present in this client. So instead, I need to open up the antagonistic muscles as well. The same is true with a client with intense inner pelvic pain. But the source likely isn’t the pelvis at all. It comes down to antagonistic muscle groups.

I still have lots of learning to do. I feel like I’m only on the tip of the iceberg with this. Sure, I can therapeutically work and help people. But my full understanding is a long ways away. And I’m super excited about that. Its a never ending process of learning.

Just Say No to Credit Cards

So, I was at Home Depot picking up some things. I was in a really good mood since I also had a full belly of Thai food that made me all warm and cozy. So when I got to the checkout, I showed my license with proof that I’m a Veteran for my discount. Its one reason why I prefer Home Depot these days.

This bubbly checkout fellow said, "how would like $25 off on your order?"

I replied, "why not!".

Then he asks for my social security number. I usually have my guard up since the military is trying to remove the need to use your SSN# to protect our security. I have a duffel bag from Army basic training that has my full name on it and SSN# marked on it with Sharpie permanent marker. That thing used to go through airports and anyone could write down my info. Nowadays, you have to watch out. I’ve since marked out my SSN# on that duffel bag.

What I didn’t realize, though my wife did [and she didn't say anything], was that I was signing up for a store credit card…

So here is one of my rules in life that I learned the hard way when I was young, don’t have more than one credit card. Only use one with good reward points. Always pay it off. Try to never use it if you can. I say that tongue & cheek because its what I use for Amazon and I use Amazon a lot!! But never carry a balance on your card. You may have your Bank ATM debit card as a backup. But use that even less because there is less protection from someone draining your bank account.

Yeah, I got my $25 off, which is kind of OK in my book. And I suppose the small print somewhere that I wasn’t shown and apparently didn’t ask for probably says I need to hold this card to keep my discount. Now, somewhere down the road, I’ll have to remember to cancel this account. What a pain!!!

Don’t sign up for credit cards. You don’t need a good credit rating. You’ll get one anyway if you pay off your credit card every month and keep in good stead with your bank. And make all your mortgage payments on time. And buy cars with cash from savings and not credit. Build your savings. Build your retirement. I can’t say that enough. When you get to be as old as I am, you’ll start wondering, will I have to take odd jobs to make ends meet when I’m 70? Will I end up sorting through the stale bread bin for meals? Will I have to buy a double wide trailer and live out on Federal land without a pension or health benefits? You don’t want to be asking those questions of yourself when you are 70. Believe me!