How to influence legislation

Note: I am not turning this into a political blog. I want to provide this information for the many who are feeling the need to become more active in influencing legislation at the state or federal levels.

I talked to a long-term legislative staffer last week, and I asked him if it was true that the best way to influence a legislator’s vote is to pay his/her local office a visit (or several) and get to know the staff, which is something I read online.

He said no. If the staff gets a whiff that you didn’t vote for the legislator or support his/her party, they write you off as not important for the legislator’s career (or their own). They’ll usually be polite and cordial, but secretly, they can’t wait for you to leave.

Instead, he told me that every legislator at both the state and federal levels uses a CMS. (I think this stands for Content Management System, and it’s a way to store, analyze, and summarize information.)

In the legislative arena, the CMS tracks upcoming bills and how their constituents want them to vote. My source said that most legislators check their constituents’ preferences before voting. Because after all, if they vote against their constituents’ interests often enough, those voters will remember when Election Day rolls around again and vote them out of office. Continue reading

Blog stats for 2016

Well, folks, I broke 100,000 views in 2016, something I never dreamed of when I started this blog at the tail end of 2009. This little blog got 108,999 total views in 2016. In 2015, I got 51,449, so views more than doubled last year.

screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-9-33-44-pmIt started in January. Total views jumped to over 10,000 per month. The main driver seems to have been a single post, How to drink water with lemon and preserve your tooth enamel. That post got 52,433 views in 2016, and only 10,715 in 2015. First published in January 2014, it only got 209 views that entire year.

I’m guessing that starting in January 2015, people were drinking lemon water, felt something different going on in their mouths, and they got concerned, Googled, and found my post. I wish I knew more about why that post went viral. Did WordPress feature it? Did it get reblogged elsewhere? Who linked to it? It’s a mystery to me.

So 2016 turned out to be the year of preserving tooth enamel. In response to the interest, and after a visit to my dentist, I wrote another post, Rebuilding tooth enamel after drinking water with lemon, in June 2016 that got 2,148 views last year. That was the only top post I actually wrote in 2016.

There was also a lot of interest in the posts Recovering from a virus, recovering from adrenal exhaustion, My experience with brainwave optimization, and Healing bruised, strained toes, which round out the top 5 posts for 2016.

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A breakthrough in massage and bodywork for fibromyalgia

I love it when researchers discover what’s actually happening with a medical condition and start finding ways to effectively treat it. That’s what is happening now with fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, stiffness, fatigue, and sleep disturbances.

An estimated 10 million Americans have fibromyalgia. I’ve done bodywork on just a few of them. They’ve fallen into two camps, one that likes deep pressure and knows they will pay a price with more pain the next day, and one that prefers very light pressure because their pain receptors are so sensitive.

Recent research has shed light on what’s going on in the soft tissues of people with fibromyalgia. You know about the autonomic nervous system, with its sympathetic branch (fight or flight) and its parasympathetic branch (rest and digest), right?

With fibromyalgia, the nervous system is stuck in sympathetic mode. There is a constant level of tension that causes the fascia — the web-like connective tissue that surrounds muscles, muscle fibers, and even muscle cells — to contract and become inflamed.

I haven’t read anything so far on why this happens to some and not others, but I can hazard a guess that there’s probably a genetic tendency — no one is born with fibromyalgia —that is activated by chronic stress or trauma. It’s common in middle-aged and older women and is increasingly being diagnosed in combat veterans, most of whom are male. Continue reading

Help for respiratory allergies

It’s cedar fever time again, and I want to share this story because it may help someone to suffer less.

Many years ago, I took prescription allergy medicine (Seldane and later Claritin) daily, all year round, and could count on getting at least one sinus infection each year. Austin is known for its allergens, so much so that the weather reports include the pollen and mold counts. We’re especially known for “cedar fever,” which comes on after the first freeze in the Hill Country, which is laden with Ashe juniper trees commonly called cedars here. The male trees release clouds of pollen, which some people are so sensitive to, they stay sick for weeks.

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What people are saying after Zero Balancing

So far in 2016, I’ve done 96 Zero Balancing sessions ranging from 15 to 45 minutes in length. Most were about 30 minutes.

Help me make at least 100 in 2016!

The part I love most about giving my clients a Zero Balancing session is after the fully-clothed bodywork has concluded, and the recipient slowly moves from supine on my massage table to sidelying to seated to standing to taking a few steps around my office.

I ask, “What are you noticing?” Continue reading

No more ads!

As of November 2, you will not see any advertising on this blog! WordPress used to charge $100 to run an ad-free blog, which I thought was too expensive, given that I’m already paying them to run this blog.

The price came down, as I learned when I helped a friend set up a simple, one-page website. It now costs $2.99 a month, payable annually, to remove all advertising. I can afford that.

Thank you, WordPress.

It’s not that I’m totally opposed to advertising. A lot of what we do in our human interactions is marketing goods and services, when we praise or disdain restaurants, books, movies, massage therapists, cars, candidates, jobs, insurance companies, and so on. I use Google to advertise my business, and Moo.com for business cards, and lots of word-of-mouth.

Advertising is so prevalent in our 21st century American culture: on signs, billboards, the sides of trucks, bumper stickers, television, and rampant on the internet. It feels distracting, like I’m being yelled at or grabbed without my consent. It’s insidious and annoying.

I thought I could I ignore the ads, but when I began to use AdBlock, I must say it feels satisfying to view websites without the ads. I can appreciate the design, and it feels like a more peaceful, relaxing experience I can savor.

I know that some good websites rely on the income from ads. My response is, give me the option to subscribe without ads. If I like it, I might pay a few bucks to keep it ad-free.

I had no choice about which ads appeared on my blog. Wanting to be in integrity, when I saw a McDonald’s ad on my blog about wellness, I stopped allowing WordPress to freely run ads. (Not that I ever had enough views to earn anything.)

The single ad WordPress insisted on making me pay to remove is now gone. I hope you enjoy your ad-free experience.

Relieving forward head posture: full body myofascial release (aka Deep Massage)

This is the fourth post in a series about Cate and me partnering in bodywork to relieve her forward head posture. Click here to read the first post, here for the second, here for the third, and here for a special post about the Still Point Inducer.

by Cate Radebaugh

Since I was in Austin for several days early this week, I opted to go to MaryAnn’s on Wednesday instead of Friday. She told me that it was time for a full body myofascial massage and gave me the familiar intake paper with four sketches of a human body — front, back, and both sides — and instructions to circle where I feel discomfort, pain, tension, etc.

It’s always the same for me: neck and shoulders, lower back, and feet — so that’s where I made my circles.

Then MaryAnn went out while I undressed, got on the table, and under the sheets. I’ve had massages before, so I knew about putting my face in the little face holder, but she also had a special pillow with holes in it that I could put my breasts in, and that was wonderful, because typically, they get smooshed between me and the table, which is not so great. With my breasts in a safe space, I felt completely comfortable for the first time ever laying prone on a massage table.

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Cate uses the Still Point Inducer

This “in-between-isode” in our series of posts about working together to release her forward head posture is Cate’s review of the Still Point Inducer, which I lent her to try at home for a week. Read the first post here and follow the links to read the series.

by Cate Radebaugh

Last Friday — September 30 — MaryAnn lent me a red rubber thingy called a Still Point Inducer, which I put in my purse and promptly forgot about until Sunday, when I set about exploring its properties. It is one piece, neither hard nor soft, flat on one side and shaped like two little boobs on the other.

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It didn’t have any instructions with it, but I figured, since Mary Ann had been messing around with the back of my head, it would probably fit back there. After some fidgeting and fussing, I got the bumps settled at the base of my skull with the flat part on the mattress. All I had to do was move my head up or down to shift the position of the bumps, which shifted the feeling I got, which is kind of like big thumbs pressing into my head. Continue reading

Relieving forward head posture: integrating bodywork techniques, plus, a still point

This is the third post in a series about my bodywork sessions with Cate to relieve forward head posture. Go here for the first post, here for the second.

by Cate Radebaugh

This session on September 30 is hard to write about because it was so fluid. I’d like to start, though, with something I left out of my last post, which is, I have a hard time figuring out where I am on the table. I’m supposed to lay centered on it, but I’m either too far to the left or right at my shoulders and too far the other direction at my hips, and sometimes, the direction I think I’m going in is not the direction I’m actually going in. This is an issue with proprioception*, and probably explains why I bump into things a lot. I don’t know where my body is in space or where my parts are relative to each other.

Anyway, our first task every session is getting me aligned on that table. I keep waiting for MaryAnn to say “goodgodamighty, get straight, Cate,” but so far she hasn’t even sighed.

I don’t know what modalities MaryAnn used in the session*, and I couldn’t recall the sequence of things after I left because the session felt so fluid. One discrete experience flowed into another, except for the first one, which was me on my back while MA held my heels in her hands and pulled on both my legs at the same time. It really does feel like my legs get longer as she pulls on them. Continue reading

Fermenting more stuff: I made natto at home!

A day after attending the Austin Fermentation Festival, where I sampled various kombuchas, krauts, a beet kvass, pickled veggies, mead, cider, raw milk cheese, and more, and thoroughly provided my gut with a wide array of probiotics, I am eating homemade natto for breakfast.

No one was selling or giving away samples of natto at the festival, which is a shame. Maybe that’s because, as one natto fan describes it, it’s like a vegan stinky cheese. I’ve heard some Japanese restaurants in the U.S. even seat natto eaters in a separate section! But I believe this crowd would have loved the opportunity to sample it and make up their own minds about it.

I got interested in making natto, a Japanese dish made of fermented soybeans, after learning it’s the highest known food source of Vitamin K2.You can also get K2 from Gouda and Brie cheeses, liver, egg yolks, butter/milk/meat from livestock eating green grass grown on good soil, fish eggs, and other sources.

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