Monthly Archives: November 2011

WI-FI: unintended consequences for men’s health

REUTERS is reporting that Wi-Fi enabled laptops may be affecting men’s reproductive health.  The phenomenon was first documented in a report in the Fertility and Sterility medical journal.  According to a group that includes Conrado Avendano of the tongue-twisting Nascentis Medicina Reproductiva in Cordoba:

Our data suggest that the use of a laptop computer wirelessly connected to the internet and positioned near the male reproductive organs may decrease human sperm quality…  At present we do not know whether this effect is induced by all laptop computers connected by Wi-Fi to the internet or what use conditions heighten this effect.

What does this mean?  I may be trivializing the importance of the report, but it sounds like men may no longer need to assume the fetal position and cower in fear whenever somebody whispers “vasectomy.”  Instead, men who opt to manage their reproductive qualities may simply need to boot their laptops and surf the ‘net.  And while they’re downloading the latest apps and planning for the future, they can enjoy this blog.  It’s a win-win for everyone.

NBA deal evokes a little Magic?

NBA players and owners have agreed to a handshake deal that should – in theory – end the NBA lockout and ensure that an abbreviated season will start next month.  The agreement was struck in the wee hours of Saturday morning and still needs a heck of a lot of massaging before it can be considered anything that resembles an official, enforceable contract.  Still, the handshake deal certainly represents a very significant development in the ongoing labor strife.

Millionaires and billionaires certainly agree: basketball fans can now rejoice.  The holidays came early, the “nuclear winter” has been averted and the season is hereby saved.  It’s a Christmas miracle, Charlie Brown.

I know some folks are really excited, but the NBA lost me long before it became a reality television show starring LeBron James, before Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson climbed into the stands and assaulted fans, and before ex-referee Tim Donaghy was investigated for influencing the outcome of games and successfully prosecuted for federal crimes.  It’s probably not a surprise that I find the latest development about as enthralling as the completion of a reverse triangular corporate merger, a private offering of a preferred class of restricted stock, or the inherent joy associated with the application of innovative accounting standards to the depreciation of new or unique assets.

In other words, I weep for the current generation of hoops fans if this is their defining moment of professional basketball.  Personally, I’m having obvious difficulty appreciating the significance of the parties agreeing to apportion vast amounts of money – especially when the timing of the billion dollar development coincides with the anniversary of a truly transcendent moment for sports.  And humanity.

On November 7, 1991 – twenty years before yesterday’s agreement – Ervin “Magic” Johnson appeared on television announced to the world that he was HIV-positive.  At that time, I was just another somewhat pudgy kid who followed the game when I wasn’t tossing airballs from the chalk-marked free throw line in the driveway.  I was a also little too young to have followed Magic in his glory days, but I certainly knew that he was a legend.  And I certainly could appreciate the significance of the announcement: this legend wasn’t immortal, and he was going to die.  Soon.

This was, after all, a time when the country was slowly being introduced to the existence of HIV and AIDs.  We didn’t necessarily know much about the condition or the disease, except for soundbites and talking points that intimidated us and scared us and terrified us.  Magic quickly learned that we were a very nervous nation and that nobody – even legends and heroes and celebrities – were immune from this social and cultural confusion.  His teammates quickly questioned his participation in the all-star game and rivals expressed public concern about playing against him.  Heck, at least one country contemplated a boycott of the Olympics instead of taking the court against Magic and the rest of the Dream Team.

And, somewhere in the background, we were certain that Magic was going to die.  Soon.

Except that somebody forgot to tell Magic.  Instead, in his own cool, quiet and collective manner, he told us that he “plan[ned] on going, on living for a long time.”  He told us that he wasn’t going to run or hide but instead planned to “keep going on with [his] life.”  Instead of withdrawing from society or hiding from the problems, Magic courageously took the initiative to confront the issue, to encourage a national conversation about the epidemic:

And I will now become a spokesman for the HIV virus because I want people — young people to realize that they can practice safe sex. And you know sometimes you’re a little naive about it and you think it could never happen to you. You only thought it could happen to, you know, other people and so on and all. And it has happened, but I’m going to deal with it and my life will go on. And I will be here, enjoying the Laker games, and all the other NBA games around the country. So, life is going to go on for me, and I’m going to be a happy man.

It was, in a way, almost unbelievable.  Magic’s immortality was shattered, he was facing certain death, he was the subject of the scrutiny and fears of his peers and the macabre events were unfolding on a national stage.  Yet here was Magic, calmly demonstrating an almost tangible sense of leadership and stoically planning to make the world a little bit better.

And yet he’s still alive.  Twenty years later, after the discussion has shifted from the dangers of life-threatening conditions to the apportionment of billions of dollars, Magic is still alive.  And I still believe in the immortality of legends.

Anyways, I realize that I probably come across as old and jaded when I reflect upon these historic events.  That’s okay, and I’m sure that I’ll evolve into one of those guys who lectures youth about the good ‘ol days, when I had to walk miles to and from school, uphill both ways, in sub-thermal temperatures, without shoes.  Did I mention that we couldn’t afford gloves and that I needed to carry a warm potato just to keep frostbite from settling into my extremities?  It’s true.  I promise.

FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS for the morning: common sense, wounded warriors and compression clothing

This September, I completed the toughmudder course in Austin, Texas.  I can honestly say that it was the most physically demanding challenge that I’ve ever voluntarily undertaken. I chipped a tooth, I’m still sore, and to this day I’m continuing to find leftover dirt and mud in remote places on my body that I never knew existed.  This is probably an indication that I lack judgment and common sense.

Toughmudder was my first introduction to the Wounded Warrior Project.  From what I’ve read and heard, the organization is a top notch charity that really does a great job of helping those who truly deserve our help.  The organization is featured in a number of articles and videos on the web.

Also, if you’re a fan of Under Armour, you probably already know that it has a line of products dedicated to the Wounded Warrior Project.  They’re also offering this gift set for wounded veterans, and if you’re looking to make a donation you may find that this package gives you more bang-for-your-buck.  And no, I don’t get a commission if you donate or purchase anything – I just think that it’s a heck of a good cause that deserves as much awareness as possible.

Speaking of Under Armour, I really wish some folks – and you know exactly who you are – would use a little bit of discretion when purchasing and wearing compression or fitted exercise gear.

Never underestimate the motivational quality of the right song at the right time.  If you’re looking for a little bit of meaningful inspiration this weekend, you may want to check this out.

FITNESS AND FRAPATHINGIES. How gourmet coffee and television combine to form a unique experience at the gym.

DISCLAIMER:  I’m probably going to offend a handful of the folks who are reading this blog.  I probably should plea for forgiveness or ask that you not take offense, but that really wouldn’t come across as genuine or honest in the context of this post.  This is the Internet, after all, and the least we can ask from anyone using the medium is to be genuine and honest.  Or something like that. 

Anyways, I’ve been a member of the local gym for a couple of years.  It’s a pretty basic place, and it therefore doesn’t have the most advanced cardiovascular equipment.  These machines get the job done, but there really isn’t anything luxurious or extravagant about actually getting the job done.  That’s fine, and doesn’t seem to keep your typical gymrat from getting in shape, killing a bit of stress or just posing in front of the mirror.

The gym does, however, have a handful of community televisions hanging from the rafters.  These little miracles of modern technology are typically tuned to some type of sporting event, a national news network or a bad movie featuring a washed-up cast that’s shown on a irrelevant cable network.  It’s not a terrible deal, and there’s something to be said about combining exhaustion and exercise with a bit of spoonfed entertainment.

Now, however, a new breed of weekend warriors have recent invaded this domain and claimed the community televisions as their bounty.    They come dressed in sparkly new fitness uniforms and are typically armed a frapathingie from the local coffee shop.  They tend to lumber on over to the nearest elliptical or treadmill, prepared to stroll the morning away and do everything they can to avoid spilling their frapathingies and getting sweat on their sparkly new fitness uniforms.

And, of course, they regularly change the channels on the community television.  Gone are the days of sporting events, national news and bad movies.  Now we’re treated to programming that focuses on iced cupcakes, lavish pies, thick sauces, and a heck of a lot of sugar and sodium.

That’s right: everyone else is now watching the Food Network.  The freakin’ Food Network.

Now, I’ve got nothing against the Food Network.  A lot of people obviously love its programming.  It’s not my first choice for spoonfed entertainment, but it probably ranks somewhere between late-night infomercials and the black and white grainy snow that used to flow from rabbit ears and coat hangers before we were introduced to the wonders of cable television.  Not great, but certainly not a disaster.

But really… the Food Network?  An entire channel that’s mostly dedicated to providing a first-hand account of the rise of obesity and related diseases?  An entire channel that focuses on a lifestyle that has caused many folks to truly need to come to the gym to reduce significant risks to their own health or, in more extreme cases, even save their own lives?  Is this the environment that we want to foster at the gym?   Apparently so.

Anyways, that’s my rant for the day.  I’d write more, but I’ve probably spent too long picking on these folks and it’s just about time to retrieve my double-chocolate triple-fudge iced cheesecake from the oven.

Happy Thanksgiving…

It’s Thanksgiving, and I have a heck of a lot of reasons to give thanks.  There’s just no way that I can reduce these heartfelt thoughts and feelings to words and text.  I’m either not that good, or these thoughts and feelings are just too powerful.  I’ll simply leave everyone with the warmest of wishes for the holiday.

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