View RSS Feed

Most Popular Blogs

  1. Streak Ends

    by , June 5th, 2009 at 01:29 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Greatest athletic streak since Joe DiMaggio ends with a migraine whimper

    Jun 5, 11:28 AM (ET)

    by Jim Thornton

    SEWICKLEY HEIGHTS, PA (AP) Not since Joltin' Joe's 56-game hitting streak in 1941, which the New York Times called "perhaps the most enduring record in sports", has so a serious contender for a new record emerged as Jim Thornton's "continuous daily exercise regimen."

    Thornton, a nondescript balding 56-year-old (FINA 57) swimmer from suburban Pittsburgh, was finally forced to end his amazing run yesterday, June 4, 2009, at 3 p.m.

    The cause: the first migraine he had suffered in years.

    [ame=""]YouTube - migraine art[/ame]

    Medical disorder or involuntary trip to an "outsider art" museum?

    "At least it indicates I must be in pretty good shape," said the ever jocular Thornton from his fainting couch the next day. "A headache specialist once explained to me that migraine frequency decreases with advancing years because the arteries supplying the brain tend to harden with atherosclerosis. To have a healthy headbanging migraine headache, you need flexible, youthful arteries that have the elasticity to spasm.

    "I guess all this exercise I've been doing recently has restored some flexibility to my carotids," Thornton concluded.

    His streak ended after 29 days of continuous daily exercise--arguably enough to meet his goal of a full month. Thornton technically achieved his own self-imposed goal a day earlier with a "normal February's 28 days worth of exercise." By making it to the 29th day, he guaranteed he'd exercised all permutations that February can throw at a person, both it's non Leap and Leap Year quantities of days.

    "It would have been nice to make it one more day to cover September, April, May, and November," says Thornton. "Two more days and I would have covered all the rest, including February."

    Ironically, Thornton had just recently made tentative arrangements to travel to Mexico to pick up medicinal drugs without a prescription and reimport these, hopefully legally and without any kind of bureaucratic rigmarole at the border. He was about to ride his Honda Metropolitan motor scooter to the YMCA and do weight lifting when the telltale "scintillating crescents" and tunnel blindness of a migraneur's early stage symptomatology began overtaking his visual field.

    As always, he hoped he was deluding himself and that these visual anomalies would pass. When they didn't, and he found himself unable to read, he knew what was coming.

    [ame=""]YouTube - Optical Migraine[/ame]

    The above might help you simulate what these scintillating crescents look like.

    He quickly went upstairs to his bedchamber, located a bottle of Roxicets, took a leak, dimmed the lights, turned on the radio to a very low volume to distract himself from woeful imaginings and other dire verbigeration that tends to run through the head of an active migraineur, popped a Roxicet, and launched into a body posture he'd developed as a much younger man as a way of coping with the intense one-sided agony of head pain to come.

    Thornton's technique, which he is trying to trademark under the name Body BloodLock (TM), is simple and may well provide relief to millions of other self-treating migraneurs across the country whose health insurance is inadequate (do not get him started!) to pay for actual treatment.

    Directions for Body BloodLock (TM):

    1. Lie down with head elevated (i.e., use several pillows)
    2. Do not move, not even the slightest twitch imaginable. Do not flex a toe nor point of finger.
    3. The only motion allowable is blood engorgement of the urogenital tract, if such can be facilitated by un-exciting thought alone (virtually impossible--Thornton, for his part, did not even try.)
    4. Once you have entered into the Body BloodLock (TM) posture of absolute muscular immobility (though movement through penile or vaginal blood engorgement, again, is allowable but only if achieved without any physical or mental stimulation whatsover), remain this way for the next four hours minimum, eight hours is preferable.

    • Explanation for the efficacy ofBody BloodLock (TM) migraine-ameliorating efficacy: As most of you will recall from high school biology, the venous blood system depends, in part, on the contraction of skeletal muscles to propel blood through veins back to the heart. Veins, of course, have one-way valves that prevent blood from moving backwards. There is usually enough blood pressure alone to ensure that circulation continues without muscular contractions, however, as fainting soldiers forced to stand for hours at attention will attest, immobility does cause a certain stagnation of blood in the circulatory system. TheBody BloodLock (TM) maneuver operates similarly. By remaining absolutely still, more of your total blood pools in the lower body and extremities, which means there is less available to be pumped to your brain where the crimson pressure would otherwise make the migraine pain even more unendurable that it already is.
    • That and the roxicet seem an excellent one-two punch.

    Despite his setback, Thornton hopes to start building a new streak soon, beginning as early as today.

    "I hope to swim at Trees Pool tonight," he says, massaging the eggplant colored blood clots that have appeared in his calves after 16 continuous hours of Body BloodLock (TM). "I'm not sure I can drive, and I know I can't walk. I will keep you posted."
  2. 13 ways of looking at catastrophe

    by , June 15th, 2009 at 09:20 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    1. I can keep paying 33.16 percent of my pretax income for health insurance premiums until I have exhausted our home equity credit line, or I can go naked--no health insurance at all, since what I have is all I can get. In the case of the latter, I will be one medical catastrophe in the future away from bankruptcy. In the case of the former, I will undergo bankruptcy on the installment plan.

    2. Come and listen to a story about a man named Jim
    A one-time bourgeoisie, easily kept his family fed,
    Then one day he was shootin at some peasants,
    And up through the ground came a bubblin crude.

    Toxins, that is, black sludge, DDT.

    Well the first thing you know ol Jim's a thousandaire,
    Kinfolk said "Jim move away from there"
    Said "Mumbai is the place you ought to be"
    So they loaded up the boat and moved to India.

    Slums, that is. Dupont spills, slumdogs.

    Well now it's time to say good by to Jim and all his kin.
    And they would like to thank you folks fer kindly piling on.
    You're all invited back again to this locality
    To have a heapin helpin of their organs bodily.

    Livers, that is. Kidneys, too, Take your pick. It's all there's left to sell!

    Y'all come back now, y'hear?.

    A change to the living will of James S. Thornton:

    In case of medical catastrophe, I hereby decree that I want to be kept alive with every possible expensive high-tech gadget and drug now known and invented in the future, until the entire $25 million coverage I have paid for to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota has been completely and utterly exhausted down to the final penny, at which point, I authorize plug-pulling from my exhausted remains. Moreover, I demand that even in the event that there is zero brain activity whatsoever measurable inside my ruined corpus during the decades that I am, quasi-posthumously, exerting my revenge, er, I mean, getting my financially obligated healthcare paid for by my usurious insurer, that I want the maximum sub lethal dose of morphine, Xanax, and (if legal) cocaine dripped intravenously through my system 24/7/365 till the $25 million is exhausted. (I want my estate to be provided with an exact accounting of every penny spent, too; no $4 aspirin tablets without justification for same in triplicate.) And finally, I would request that an ever-rotating squadron of Bible Thumping Palin-Supporter Abortion Clinic Bombing Evangelists be given access to my bed side during visiting hours to pray over me and do their best to stimulate my resurrection via the literal rhythmic thumping of their Bibles, not to mention a constant sneer of menace towards any doctor, nurse, orderly, or candy striper who even thinks of ending my so-called life before the $25 million is spent.

    4. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, of the estimated 50 million Americans currently without health insurance, only 1-2 percent are in the state voluntarily--i.e, they make enough money to pay for it, but just cavalierly choose not to pay for it

    5. Uwe Reinhardt of Princeton University told me that the current system is "cruel" and that the propagandists at the Wall Street Journal and the Murdoch Media Empire are reminiscent of infamous propagandists from his former country of Germany, but when I suggested the name Goebbels, he said, "You can't say that I said that."

    6. The little old lady that swallowed the fly is extremely familiar to me. Similarly, the sled dog that falls before its rapacious pack mates is a creature that I feel an almost Shirley McClain-like previous-life identification with. Between a hornet buzzing in my lungs, and scars on my jugulars, I am left to wonder: how many more incarnations before I get out of this hell hole?

    7. 13 ways is an awful lot of ways to look at something this revolting

    8. Who knows what combination of depression and sleep disorder throws cognition for a ringer? Who knows what causes these disorders? To make enough money to pay for their treatment, I asked my doctor about Provigil, a "wakefulness promoting agent" that is used by the military to keep our combat pilots awake and at peak mental functioning for days at a time. To prescribe it, he needed an FDA approved condition--take your pick, shift work disorder or narcolepsy. Alas, there was nothing on the form for "getting old, hard to think intensely hour after hour after hour, in the hope of eking out enough of a so-called living to pay for taxes and health insurance and social security I will never see, all the while crippled with sleepiness induced as a likely side effect of antidepressants." So he picked narcolepsy. Which I don't technically have, but nevertheless appears now to make me utterly uninsurable if I try to change health plans.

    9.As kids, my brother and I were once playing in a sewer pipe. I went in and got stuck. I could not back out. The only way out was forwards. But the more I tried to wriggle in this direction, the tighter the grip of the inside diameter. I can still remember that feeling of suffocation, a rat stuck, no exit. Somehow, miraculously, my brother managed to stick his legs in and push me out. I don't think I will get out this time.

    10. Most people, myself included, have felt some sympathy for the underclass--those who are stuck in horrible situations, in places where the nearest fresh vegetable, for instance, is three bus transfers away in the suburbs, and meanwhile they get criticized for eating junk food. I know my current situation is nothing like this. But I also suspect we are hardwired to feel worse about change for the worse than something bad that has been that way so long we are used to it. All I am saying is that when you feel things are rigged for the benefit of others, and when you furthermore feel that these other "beneficiaries" are cloaking their greed in virtue, wrapping themselves in platitudes like Freedom and The Unseen Hand of the Market, when in fact it is nothing but a license to grab for themselves not just an extra spot at the trough, but THE ENTIRE TROUGH, well it just makes you think how satisfying it might be to rise up and go berserk.

    O thin men of Haddam,
    Why do you imagine golden birds?
    Do you not see how the blackbird
    Walks around the feet
    Of the women about you?

    12. Prediction: depression, plague, World War, halcyon aftermath; repeat.

    13. Tonight's practice: 5000 yards.
    My fastest of our 14 x 200s was a mediocre 2:10. Must work and try harder. It is, I think, important that I keep my body in as close to age-adjusted superb shape as possible so that when the inevitable medical catastrophy strikes, the body will be able to survive long enough to exhaust the entire $25 million in lifetime benefits that my health insurer has promised is coming to me, and which I hope--with my last dying, brain-dead breath--to use to the final penny, out of nothing more than spite.
  3. Femme, Freestyle, Flu, and Flip

    by , July 2nd, 2009 at 07:24 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)

    It has been seemingly forever since one of my Vlogs has attracted 850+ hits (Spatulizaton Surgery) or 2000+ hits (my feature on swimming teammate, Meera "Will Swim For Polish Vodka" Ramsooksingh).

    I thought that perhaps the fault was in my recent propensity for depressive ruminations, so it seemed reasonable that throwing a CreamPuff swim in might counter the trend towards melancholia and downerville descent. However, the recent posting that featured the velocitudinous maiden generated not much more, if any more, vlog traffic than the preceding entry, which compared modern life to the urge to vomit and the hope you can avoid vomiting but can't.

    Neither extreme seems to have captured much of an audience. Thus today's entry will be my attempt to appeal to many, many different volg-experiencing constituencies.

    1. Femme. As you can see, I am leading this vlog with a picture of our favorite Mermaid, a former Miss Junior Teenager Pennslvania who is clutching in her very dainty mitts in the picture above the official paper documenting that she has finally managed to ditch her slave name and re-adopt her maiden name in its place. Congratulations to our cheerful teammate who is no longer the linguistic chattel of what some have described as a living "devil." Today is also her birthday. Mermaid, this vlog--and the extreme free publicity it is likely to generate for any of your future money-making schemes and/or attempts to get a greater number of Facebook friends than me--well, this is your birthday gift from me.

    What's that I hear?

    Nonsense, you must keep this present! I know it's expensive, but I wouldn't think of accepting it back.

    Okay, so much for the lecherous subset of the vlogging viewership.

    2. Freestyle After last Sunday's 4 hour tennis beating, during which the combination of exhaustion and defeat conspired to drive me into the ground, I went to swimming practice on Monday and was unable to make the intervals! I ended up doing the whole practice and then some, however, I was slow, exhausted, achy, chilled (despite the chronically high temperatures of our Y septic tank), and riddled with stomach pains (though this could have been the fault of a training meal of french fries, a chocolate milkshake, and chicken wings.) Anyhow, I didn't do anything on Tuesday save lie around and ache in a fluish way. On Wednesday, I forced myself to go to practice but gave myself permission to go extremely slow, swim nothing but freestyle, and leave at any time. I ended up feeling okay, provided I did not swim hard. Of 3400 yards, only two 50s were swum out of my comfort zone.

    Audience for above: swimmers looking for excuses to take it easy during practice when they imagine they might be sick.

    3. Flu. I've been reading about the 1918 Pandemic and trying to arrange some interviews for what looks to be my next article--i.e., what the worried epidemiological world is doing now in the hopes of preventing a mass casuatly tag-team scenario or bird and swine flu strains, coming back with a vengeance. In the process of preliminary research, i came across the theories of one Paul Ewald, Ph.D., one of the founders of evolutionary medicine. I had assumed that he subscribed to the notion that viruses, for the most part, evolve in the direction of less virulence (rather than more of it) over time, under the theory that it does a rider little good to kill the horse upon which he is speedily galloping. It turns out the evolutionary biology of pathogens is infinitely more complex, and the "lesser virulence" scenario holds mainly when transmission from host to host becomes more difficult. I don't want to bore you with concepts I myself have not yet mastered, but suffice it to say, and you heard it first here, I predict a relative paucity of deaths come this winter, though a reasonably high infection rate. If you are lucky enough to have already caught flu, but the case was so mild that you wrote it off as a cold, then you, madam or sir, are almost certainly sitting in the catbird's seat.

    Audience: me. I am really hoping that the last few days of achiness will be the only price I have to pay for not dying in November.

    4. Flip. In the regular threads, Anna Lea Matysek, blushing bride of our web master nonpareil, AKA, MR. Anna Lea Matysek, or "Jim" Matysek as he was known before he married Anna Lea, recently posed a question about cheap video equipment. I answered her question in words there on the thread itself. Then, desirous of a break in reading about virulence evolution, I decided to do a video review of my recommended cheap camera, the Flip Ultra.

    Here 'tis.

    [ame=""]YouTube - Untitled[/ame]
  4. Tue Jul 28th, 2009

    by , July 28th, 2009 at 11:13 AM (Ande's Swimming Blog)
    Tue Jul 28th, 2009

    Swimming Bans High-Tech Suits, Ending an Era

    13th FINA World Championships 2009 - Roma (Italy) are going on
    Day 3 finals begin at noon EST / 11 central
    Watch it on Universal Sports


    6:00 - 7:30
    whiteny Coached
    Garrison pool

    400 fr
    100 k
    400 fr
    100 k

    Main Set

    4 x 200 on 2:45
    4 x 150 on 2:20 breathe 6, 5, 4, 3 times per length
    4 x 100 on 1:20
    4 x 050 on 0:50 breathe 6, 5, 4, 3 times per length
    100 IM

    repeat above set again
    todd did the 200's on 2:40, had trouble with em, skipped a 100
    felt a little out of shape from missing work outs last week and sore from my long walk


    looking for a couple SCM Meets in Oct Nov or Dec, we'll see, want a fast pool & a big meet to provide more rest between events
    Swim Workouts
  5. FINA's Body Suit Ban: Unintended Consequences

    by , August 4th, 2009 at 02:06 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    First of all, I apologize to my multitudinous vlog fans for the past several weeks (months?) of summer sabbatical. As is often the case with my vlogging schedule, it periodically needs to take a backseat to my actual job of writing for money. If USMS would simply agree to pay me the same $3.37 per word that I have been getting from my employer, I would be able to buy beers for all my alcoholic competitors at Indy the night before we race.

    In any event, I have been so busy trying to answer a topical question that I have neglected my vlog entirely, and for this, I apologize.

    BTW, the topical question is fairly straightforward:

    What does the public thinks is more likely to kill them: novel H1N1 adding virulence factors, H5N1 adding more efficient human to human transmission, a hellish recombined chimera of H1N1/H5N1, seasonal flu, or some other as yet off-the-radar "ethereal liquid from the heavens"?

    Stay tuned for the answer to the above.

    For now, as I prepare to embark in the Honda Conestoga Prairie Schooner to cross the Great Plains and amber fields of grain smothered in buffalo herds, the skies blackened by flocks of passenger pigeons from one end of the horizon to the next, stopping only to refuel the Civic and repel Indians, all the way from Pittsburgh to Indiana, my left arm exhibiting strange tingling numb sensations, my weight--despite gluttony--plummeting from stress and occult infections, all of this to reach what is surely to be my final LCM Ragnarok wearing a high tech body suit of water repelling armor---

    it has occurred to me that FINA may just possibly be making a mistake in its insistence that men return to the yesteryear of briefs.

    Oh, this may be fine for your Popov's and your Lochte's, your Phelps's and your Spitz's.

    But for many an aging hirsute flabbmeister of a male masters swimmer, the last thing that is likely to encourage meet participation is MORE REVEALING SWIMSUITS...

    Bad enough that our loved ones and proctologists must see such nightmares. But the innocent public?

    The truth is that human males, like silver back gorillas, become more disgustingly hairy (and paradoxically attractive to the young female gorillas, but that's beyond the scope of today's vlog) with every passing year.

    Despite the best efforts of Bruno and the Gillette Shaving Co., body depilation remains the province of the metrosexually insecure and the porn star, both of which apparently subscribe to Gillette's latest slogan: The Tree Looks Taller When Its Base Has Been Cleared Of Underbrush.

    For those of us who have long ago made peace with the fact that our saplings will never be mistaken for sequoias, this bandillaro stuck deep into the insecurity lobe draws no blood.

    We are of the generation who will go to our graves believing with all our hearts a central tenant of masculinity:

    Real Men Do Not Bikini Wax.

    Hence the dilemma posed by the back-to-the-future return to the Spitz brief era.

    Trying to cheer myself up for this prospect, I recently had an occasion to don an old pair of Speedo briefs. On the private grounds of my estate, I arranged a private photo sesssion of myself so garbed and simulating a variety of swimming poses likely to be seen by thousands of fellow swimmers and gawking spectators at future national masters meets where I shall have no choice but to swim thusly equipped.

    I had very much hoped that the subsequent photos would prove my reservations laughable, that I would look perfectly fine, no cause whatsoever for concern.

    But when the prints came back from Helmut Newton's Professional Photo Lab, and I saw for the first time just what these suits do to the body of a 56-year-old man who will, starting Thursday, be swimming as a FINA-57-year-old Master, I must say I fear this new rule could literally kill our sport.

    Kill it, bury it, dig it up from the grave, kill it again, bury it again, then spray accelerants on the grave site and burn the whole Mother ****er down.

    But that's just my fear. Perhaps I am just being paranoid.

    Perhaps you should decide if you want to see me, and guys like me, in these outfits at a pool near you as early as Jan. 2010!

    And thus I herewith present a photo gallery of a typical man's man at 56, wearing a Speedo brief:

    I have chopped off my head for this first image so that you can use your imagination to stick the head of a teammate of your choice upon a very typical aging male swimmer's body.

    Here, I add my head but do so in a way, admittedly, intended to flatter me. But does a victory pose become me? I can't decide.

    Here I am, showing off my sinewy physique in the hopes of distracting the viewer's eyes from dipping towards my nether regions. For some odd reason, I am having trouble getting the Joseph Conrad quote out of my mind: "The horror!" he wrote. "The horror!"

    I prefer the traditional start, and in this pose, I mimic what legions of masters swimming fans will be seeing soon at meets near you when I, and guys like me, mount. The blocks, that is.

    Probably best that the track start came too late for me to master. Of all my various action poses, this may be the least flattering.
  6. World Premier

    by , September 3rd, 2009 at 05:14 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    [ame=""]YouTube - Ocean City Selkie[/ame]
  7. Bobinator, Wet and Dry: an Introduction

    by , September 10th, 2009 at 04:39 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    1. Preamble to Introduction

    A couple years back, I used to write a column for National Geographic Adventure magazine that I called "Oddventures." The idea was for me to go out and experience various eccentric activities--from powered paragliding to jet-skiing to Siberia, swimming through a feeding frenzy of sharks to blowgun monkey hunting in the jungles of Equador.

    Your standard kind of participatory journalistic fare.

    One time they sent me to set my own personal land-speed record on the Bonneville Salt Flats during the annual summer "Speed Week."

    When I was checking into my hotel in Elko, Nevada, home of Floyd "Poolrat" Fisk (who is rumored to be very fond of his tomahawk, but that is an entirely different story), there was this somewhat seedy road person sitting on one of the lobby couches, looking weary and in need of a shower.

    After I checked in, the fellow asked me if there was any spare room in my room. He was pushing 60, had weather-beaten skin, wore glasses and was smaller than me but appeared wiry in a way that signaled sans doute he could beat me up. He spoke with a very pronounced New Zealand accent, something that had not yet been popularized domestically by the arrival of The Flight of the Conchords. If anything, he seemed the sort who might shoot Mauris for fun.

    Anyhow, I let him stay.

    The next morning, when we woke up on our respective twin beds, I said, "Thank god I'm still alive. Don't take this the wrong way, but I was a little worried you might be a serial killer."

    He chortled New Zealandly and replied, "I was a little worried you might be a serial rapist."

    Tony Jones turned out to be an extremely nice guy and lifelong race car aficionado who helped me in innumerable ways with the story itself and later when I had to put the fear of bodily harm into a fraudulent stock broker in Salt Lake City who had stolen a bunch of money from my recently dead aunt.

    Over the years, Tony has managed to track me down several times in various parts of the US and freeload in an utterly charming way, what the New Zealanders might themselves call "brilliant."

    I have patterned myself after him.

    2. Introduction to Today's Film

    In the world of masters swimming, a generally (but not always) affluent sport, the very first freeloadee that I had to convince I was not a serial rapist is everybody's favorite FAF sister, Leslie the Fortress Livingston.

    As some of you may know, Leslie has let me stay at her guest house--I use the "her" here in jest, for I have stayed so often that laws applying to squator's tenancy are by now so much in play that calling the guest house "ours" is even risible. Virtually every legal scholar I've hired conclude that I now own the guest house outright. Of course, given the generosity that Leslie expressed to me in the past when I was propertyless myself, now that I am landed, I would not think of turning her away unless I really, really have need for some solitude!

    Enough tortious technicality.

    This arrangement has actually worked very well, at least for me. There are virtually no USMS meets in the Sewickley area, so if I want to try to make the Top 10, the closest opportunities are in the D.C. area, many held in the George Mason University pool. That's why owning a guest house within a few miles of this facility has been such a boon.

    Leslie gets a lot out of this arrangement, too. I don't mean to be putting words into her mouth, but one example I know she will agree with is that she is much less tempted into overeating during my frequent homecomings. The reason: I take way more than my fair share of the community food. Ah, let's not mince words here. I eat like a rutting swine.

    A win-win.

    Which, alas, brings us to the problem of last summer's Long Course Nationals in Indianapolis. This is a drivable distance for me, but the prospect of having to actually pay for a room when I got there made any chance of attending pretty much impossible. I desperately needed to find a Leslie the Fortress Livingston Midwest.

    The thought that there might be, in all of Christendom, another woman a fraction as saintly in her generosity as Leslie seemed, at first glance, so ludicrous as to make me ignore even trying to find one.

    Most women in USMS, being toned babes with very high gorgeosity , or G Factor, already have husbands or boyfriends who are able to provide them with the one other extraordinary athletic talent that I am gifted with beyond swimming with an almost preternatural slow grace: yes, you guessed my other talent, that.

    I suppose it is possible that some lingerie model, miserably lonely because she isignored by men who consider themselves way below her league, might need the likes of me to remedy her loneliness. But in Indianapolis?

    As luck would have it, I found the best of all possible worlds in the person of today's film subject: Robin "The Bobinator" Walker, a former 2:47 marathoner, mother of a professional skateboarder, kindergarten teacher with more G Factor than you can shake at thick stick at, and a very likable boyfriend who appears to suffer fools gladly.

    Many of you know Bobinator from her posts and blog. In today's film, I attempt to alternate between the swimming and the general living Bobinator in her domestic element.

    3. Dramatis Personae
    in order of appearance:

    Bobinator.......Robin Walker
    Disembodied Voice......Jim Thornton
    Emma, Mayor of the Bobinator's Household.....Emma
    Silver Medalist....Bill White assortment of USMS swimmers and functionaries

    4. Final Note

    This is the first of a planned series of short films from LCM Nats. Please check back for more soon, including the highly titillating Stephanie, Megan, and Jim Sandwich (snippets of which appeared in Ocean City Selkie.)

    Note: I just noticed that I spelled Bobinator wrong on YouTube. Sorry, Bob. Think of Bobintor as a shortened endearative, and thanks once again for a spectacular degree of generosity that has you in the running for this year's Jimmy Award.

    Leslie, if you are reading/watching this vlog, you best be on your toes come Sprint Classic Time if you hope to hoist another Jimmy atop "our" mantelpiecein 2009!

    [ame=""]YouTube - Bobintor: Wet and Dry[/ame]
  8. Swimming Meeted Out

    by , September 14th, 2009 at 04:21 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    This has been one of those days wherein sluggishness, Aleve, exertional headache, overdue library fines, sleep inertia, nausea, political dopamine triggered by hatefests on the left and right, poor swimming performances recalled in tranquility, generic Tylenol, self-disgust, dyspepsia, pricklings of anxiety, eye floaters that include a fresh crop of red blood cell b-b's, isolation, neuralgia, stirrings of desire, premonitions of disaster, sneezing, boredom, impossible to resolve ultimati, and a thousand and one other petty somatic sensations and borderline neurotic tendencies have conspired to make me wonder if I should have just taken more soporifics upon first stirring this a.m. and written the whole business off as a mistake to let the conscious mind even briefly surface and skitter about, looking for some vague raison d'etre that does not for the moment exist.

    (We have all been here, I am sure!)

    But surface the quasi-conscious mind has, breeching the barrier between bad dreams and their awake counterparts, and I am hoping to make it till practice has the chance, at least, to bludgeon me into a better frame of mind and set me up for a repeat.

    The silver medalist Bill has included plenty of hypoxic set in tonight's workout, and surely depriving the brain of oxygen can only help!

    I understand that methamphetamines are fairly addictive to those with weak temperatments, but I am fairly confident that I do not fall into this category.

    Oh, to be artificially awake once more before the Great Resting Reward takes over completely!

    Fully, vibrantly, utterly awake and on the edge of my seat tingling with excitement and anticipation!

    Who among you has spent your own desultory Monday free of craving exactly this?

    Yesterday, we had our first meet of the Allegheny Mountain YMCA Masters Swimming Association season , for whom the impresario and meet director was the inimitable Mermaid at her "home" pool of the Bairyl Family YMCA in the Wexford, PA area, former temporary home of one Christina Aguilera .

    Unlike another AMYMSA swimming venue, the Meadville YMCA, where it is at least possible that the waters in which we race were once shared by Meadville's celebrity vixen, Sharon Stone

    there is no possibility whatsoever that Christina Aguilera's body has graced the Bairyl Family YMCA pool, because by the time this was built, she was long long long gone from our hickish region.

    In any event, my times in yesterday's meet were terrible, this despite wearing a B70 in the hopes of getting a little tiny bit more life out of it before my times get even more terrible, and the illusion of youthfulness is ripped asunder forever!

    100 free 54.07 pretty much says it all, though it is conceivable that swimming a 50 relay less than 5 minutes before my heat of the 100 could have slowed me a bit.


    To the list of weasely emotions that begins today's blog, let me just add one more: the weirdly disconsolate sense of self-castigation that we whiners and excuse-makers actually DO feel on some level of our alleged souls, though the fact that we whine and make excuses in the first place suggests that this weirdly disconsolate sense of self-castigation is certainly not enough to make us change our ways.

  9. Crazy Little Thing in Indianapolis

    by , September 17th, 2009 at 12:18 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Today's vlog, part of an ongoing series from last summer's Long Course Meters Nationals in Indianapolis, does not require a whole lot of explanation. I do think, however, that a short glossary might be in order:

    Novelty stimulus females: women unfamiliar to a male and hence able to induce the Coolidge Effect during initial encounters

    Refractory period: the amount of time after a "swim" that a "swimmer" requires before being able to "swim" again with any kind of meaningful vigor and/or forward progress. Example: Leslie Livingston swims the 50 backstroke on August 12th, 2009. Seventeen years later, i.e., August 12th, 2026, she is ready to try it again.

    Sexual harassment: words, deeds, actions, inuendo, and the like that are unwanted by those upon whom such is foisted; the kind of boorish behavior that guys like Jim Thornton have dedicated their lives to preventing

    Hymenopterans: stinging insects in the bee, wasp, and yellow jacket families, sometimes linked metaphorically with human love

    Fiction: a work of art that has not actually happened in "reality" but is nevertheless "true" in the greater scheme of things and may, in fact, have happened on an almost nightly fantasy basis since an author's chance meeting with a comely Canadian emigre/soil entomologist/swimmer protagonist (just to use a random example) who has subsequently refused to respond to any or all of his Facebook postings, again, not that any of this is "real" though, again, its essential "truth" is a different story entirely.

    Note: Jealousy welling up within the breast of anyone with any romantic affiliation whatsoever to any of the entirely fictional characters in today's film (despite these characters' resemblance to real people with the same names) is absolutely unwarranted.

    Hanky? No!

    Panky? Decidedly not!

    Nevertheless, please enjoy the most tragic of all human situations...what wasn't but might have been:

    [ame=""]YouTube - Birds, Yellow Jackets, and Novelty Stimulus Teeammates[/ame]

    Updated September 17th, 2009 at 12:27 PM by jim thornton

  10. Lost in Idaho

    by , September 18th, 2009 at 04:32 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Today's vlog, perhaps more than some of my other recent ones, demands more of the viewer than usual. The reason: unlike Ocean City Selkie, which was leavened by my twin brother John's wonderful film making skills, or Crazy Little Thing in Indianapolis, which features no shortage of everybody's favorite human beverage dispensers in their most comely forms, today's film Lost in Idaho features neither cutting edge filming techniques nor the promise of vixens potentially going wild off camera with the likes of me. Which, of course, would only make it not only possible but likely they could be cajoled into going similarly wild with the likes of you.

    Instead, today's film is devoted entirely to me preparing for my next magazine article, this one for Backpacker , a truly wonderful publication that, like me, has been nominated for multiple National Magazine Awards , but unlike me, has actually won more than one of these things.

    My last article for Backpacker involved me spending a dank and sweltering summer in a hypoxic tent to simulate sleeping at an elevation of 11,000-12,000 feet, followed by an autumnal trip to Mt. Elbert, 2nd hightest peak in the continental US, and climb it. Anyone even slightly interested in reading my lowlander's account of this is invited to drop me a line at and I will send you the story in .pdf form for your vicarious amusement and education about HACE, HAPE, and HAFE (high altitude cerebral edema, high altitude pulmonary edema, and high altitude flatulence expulsion, respectively.)

    Jim summits Mt. Elbert. Note: Photo is not to scale.

    Making today's film even more challenging that its sheer length (Flip video cameras come with a little editing program that doesn't make it easy to trim out much detritus, I must say)....

    ... is the fact that it is told entirely in the plodding voice of me, Jim Thornton, who was described by both A) my University of Michigan academic counselor, and B) my Indian guide in the Amazon jungle in the same terms.

    I found out about A) when a Freedom of Information Act dossier arrived at my door and I was able to read my counselor's heretofore confidential "recommendation" for me. This began, "You may be quick to dismiss Jim when you first talk to him, concluding he is retarded. He is actually rather bright but suffers from a severe speech impediment..."

    I found out about B) when I heard Javier tell his brother Stalin something in Spanish, and when I demanded Stalin translate it, he said, sheepishly, "My brother say you talk like slow child."

    Anyhow, please bear with this, and I offer you a money back guarantee that you will find the logistical preparations of a world class professional paid adventurer like Mathiesson or me to be quite eye-opening.

    Let me check now to see if YouTube is finished processing this nine-minute extravaganza, at which point I will let my spoken words speak for themselves....

    No, still processing. Soon, very soon, we can all enjoy.

    Hum dee dum dee dum. Let me see. Hmmm....

    I know, let me say a word about swimming.

    On Wednesday, I did the most butterfly by far in a single practice than I have done in probably 5-7 years: a total of 700 yards worth. I am thinking that since I know what my times for freestyle are in the speed suits, and since the speed suits are looking to go away, I will use this year to reinvent myself as a butterflier. My times here have always been pathetic, so I won't know the difference.

    I hope this makes sense. But if it doesn't, don't worry. You have nine more minutes of enjoyable sense, or possibly nonsense, to go!

    And on this note, I present
    Lost in the Woods
    [ame=""]YouTube - Jim: Lost in the Woods[/ame]
  11. A star is born, and quickly shuffled off stage

    by , September 23rd, 2009 at 10:14 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    A short vlog tonight, one that I don't think I can link to directly. But if the screen doesn't pop up automatically, just click on the inserted link at the bottom of today's writing and then start the movie entitled USAS Masters Jeopardy. It is this year's skit from the Convention in Chicago.

    Our very own special Little Mermaid, an adult-onset swimmer originally from the Alabama portion of Pennsylvania, who has subsequently landed in the big city of Pittsburgh and is struggling valiantly to learn the ways of the civilized world (secular humanism good; nutcase birther movements bad), makes a riveting screen appearance in this film beginning approximately at the 1:19 mark and ending with her being shuffled off the screen around the 1:41 mark.

    The rest of the movie, before and after, might be good too, but I think you might find yourself mesmerized by the 22 seconds that ensnared my own attention, and find that after watching this snippet several dozen times in a row, well, your life beckons and you must tear yourself away. If you can.

    Here, by the way, is a still from this performance to whet your appetites for more. Whet? I think that's how it's spelled.

    Say what you want about Alabama within Pennsylvania, but it does nurture some pretty fine womanflesh of the sort that deserves ribbons at pretty much any fair from Sewickley to Elko, Rocky Mount to the backwaters of Phoenix.

    Click here for the Little Mermaid/Vanna White chimera in languorous motion:
  12. 57 Year Old Heads into Wolverine Country

    by , September 24th, 2009 at 10:01 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Alarm clock set for 6 a.m., I shall be making my rendezvous with destiny and wolverines sometime beginning Saturday afternoon in the middle of the Frank Church River of No Return Wildlife Area in Idaho.

    Today was my 57th birthday, and I must say that 57 really does feel like the new 56, at least after a nap.

    On Facebook, I received so many heartfelt Happy Birthday wishes that I was unable to answer them all with individualized vlogs, so I shall simply attempt to answer the ones that find their way here with this vlog.


    You have taken the fear of death-by-wolverine out of my ruminations by showing me just how grand would be the Jimby funeral in the case that the little creatures of the like pictured below decide to mince me up as some kind of pablum for their screeching kits.

    Eat well, little kits!

    And do not cry for this old multiply pierced by wolverine claws and teeth version of Argentina! I have had as good a run as a person like me can reasonable expect to have.

    And if I do perish in the great woods, do not give up all hope that my spirit, and quite likely DNA, will be extinguished. Thanks to global warming, the Pizzly Bear is a fully recognized mutant that now roams the melting ice fields of norther Idaho, the only one of its kind, tragic really, but nevertheless the kind of compelling image that must set the hearts of teenage girls and their milfish moms aflutter with hope the ursine incubus might come a' roamin' some night for unattended garbage!

    Who knows how many Jimzies might similarly roam the desolate open spaces of the wilderness, how many Jimverines and even Jimcupines and the odd Jameskunk.

    So, enjoy my funeral in the reasonably likely event this is in the offing. And if it is not, I will be back a' vloggin' sometime in early October.

    Until then, if you need to contact me for any reason or about any topic, please do so via the comment section below.

    Leslie, I am catching up. Slowly. Surely. Inexorably.

    And if I perish in the wilderness, let this become the new Wailing Wall where all humanity itself is mourned with poesy and inappropriate jocularity!

  13. I shouldn't be alive!

    by , September 30th, 2009 at 10:24 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    ...but I am

    --from idaho by Iridium satellite

    hallucinating, heaven, or salvation for your soaked exhausted and half-frozen to death vloggist

    not sure if this place is real, but i don't think i would have made another night in the wilderness.

    soaked, rain turned to snow, unbelievably rugged terrain, lost 7 lb., glad to have found this place.

    landing strip in elk meadow.

    flying out of wilderness at 11 a.m. tomorrow.

    i hope i am not freezing to death in a mountain creek, hallucinating this vlog.

    check the link and pray there really is a Root Ranch.

    wrong link above, thank god!

    try this one instead:

    Updated September 30th, 2009 at 10:32 PM by jim thornton

  14. Out of Idaho

    by , October 6th, 2009 at 11:14 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Back to my own little corner of civilization, such as it is, with clothes now dry but not my nose.

    I am not sure how exactly I came into contact with a rhinovirus in the middle of Idaho's nowhere, but apparently I did, and I am back to my sickliness and malaise.

    One of the most interesting facets of being alone in the wilderness is how quickly one realizes that whining is literally a waste of breath when there is no one to whine to. I suggest amending the old chestnut about trees falling in the woods, and whether or not such make sounds if no one hears it.

    Does Jim's whining in the forest make a sound if there is no one there to hear it?

    Unlike the Zen-like precursor question upon which this one is loosely based, the Jim Whining: Noise or Not? Conundrum does have an actual answer.

    No, Jim's whining does NOT make a sound in the forest.

    Babbling, on the other hand, might be a little different.

    My babbling began some time after the third day, when the weather started to turn nippy, and clouds mottled the previously unbroken cerulean heavens.

    It started with me singing a medley of songs with no apparent transition between them oh we love to go a'wandering along the mountain treks, yodelay, yodelee! a'waltzing Matilda with me, and we loaded up our bilabongs and kookaberry sat on his old Dan Tucker!

    And from this music the babbling only intensified and has gotten a hold on me ever since returning to swim two days later in an overheated 25 m pool in the boonies of Pennsylvania oil country yodelay yodelee! and then the next day after our practice of 4,000 pitiless yards through the high grass country losing the trail here and there I remembered the spirit who guided me safely through the wilderness, my only cranially gifted friend, in this he was somewhat different from my two walking stick companions whom I named Hayzeus and H.G. for the one sitteth on my right hand and the other on my left...yodelay, yodelee!

    ...but fevers doused with flooding toddies of Nyquil do eventually break, and I suppose today's vlog will simply serve as a sop to my fans and a teaser of footage I hope to come but for now let me just include a few quick pix of me in my hypothermic lonely despair and the spirit god of the wolverine who provided me inspiration when the hours were darkest....

    there is admittedly some controversy about the species nature of my spirit god--some (i.e., hunters, woodsmen, naturalists, and scientists) claim he is a coyote whose skull has been prominently punctured by a gunshot as evidenced by the small hole on the right side of his brainpan and the larger one on the the left) while others (me) maintain this is the skull of Old Man Wolverine himself, who has taken me under his savage claw and will protect me from evil here ever after.

    You decide.

    Exhaustion sets in

    A man and his spirit god compare dentition

    When I prove incapable of making sense of the map, my spirit god offers to take a look and offer directional advice provided I lend him my reading glasses. (Note what some "experts" claim is an exit wound behind his left orbital socket. I prefer to think of this as the channel through which Old Man Wolverine's etherous vapours could easily flow into my own worried and alleged soul, comforting me in that way only Old Men Wolverines can.)
  15. Heisenberg and the Hand-Timed 25 Freestyle

    by , October 8th, 2009 at 11:46 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    In [ame=""]quantum mechanics[/ame], the [ame=""]Heisenberg[/ame] uncertainty principle states that certain pairs of physical properties, like position and momentum, cannot both be known to arbitrary precision. That is, the more precisely one property is known, the less precisely the other can be known. When applied to swimming the 25 yard freestyle, especially when such is performed at very high speed, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle suggests that the eyes of observers can be very deceiving indeed. One swimmer may appear to "beat" the other swimmer, sometimes by a full body length. However, because of photon bending quantum effects at very high speeds, appearances are wrong. In such cases, it is critical to go with the respective precison hand chronometers held by qualified teenaged timers.

    --top rated Internet encyclopedia written by knowledgeable volunteer experts

    In the following film, you will note that I, your narrator, Jim Thornton, am swimming in the end lane. My teammate Mark Cox, known in his youth (which was not very long ago) as a "swimming god", is swimming in one of the other lanes far to my left.

    Mark appears to have beaten me by a full body length, at least according to some observers who were evidently duped by a failure to grasp quantum effects at the speed at which I was swimming. Speed at which photons themselves begin to bend and warp and woof and otherwise confuse the eyes like a game of three card Monty dealt by a Cal Tech post-doc.

    Take a look for yourselves at this classic "optical illusion":

    [ame=""]YouTube - Jimby & Mark C @ 25 Free SCM[/ame]

    According to the crack team of high school aged swimmers who had nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon than hand time us, Mark swam a 12.00 for his 25. I, on the other hand, swam a 11.12.

    When converted from short course meters to yards, our times were as follows:

    Mark--highly respectable:


    Your time of 0:12.00 in short course meters

    converts to 0:10.75 in short course yards

    Jim--well, I daresay the word great would be an understatement:


    Your time of 0:11.12 in short course meters

    converts to 0:09.96 in short course yards

    In the 55-59 year old age group of the AMYMSA league, I daresay that my
    9.96 25 yard freestyle is a record that will never be beat. Ever.

    Alas, not everyone is celebrating with me the way I had hoped.

    Our swimming coach, the great Bill White, who really should know better, given his study of chemical engineering at the University of Louisville,
    did some sort of timing of the YouTube video itself and came up with these two times, which he proceeded to immortalize in a screen capture modes.

    Me touching the wall, Bill claiming my time is 13.0

    Mark "Swimming God" Cox, top of screen, appearing to beat me by a full body length when quantum Heisenberg effects too difficult for lumpkins to understand are ignored

    When Bill emailed us his "evidence" (wait a moment for my choking chortles to die down!), he also wrote:

    I went through the 25m video and found out the following using an online

    1. Mark's time was pretty much right on. I timed it twice and got 11.9 and

    2. Jim's time [his 11.12] was slightly fast. I timed it three times and never got less
    than 13 seconds.

    I quickly wrote both lads back, trying to explain as best I could in "Quantum Mechanics for Dummies" and "All I Learned about Heisenberg Uncertainty Principles I Learned in Kindergarten" style language, but without wanting to sound patronizing:

    I know it is hard for you guys to believe, itís a tiny bit hard for me to believe, too. But I am very confident in my 9.96 25 yard freestyle time, converted from meters, which I think we can all at least agree is so fast as to very probably bend the time-space continuum in mind-altering ways.Yes, it does look like Mark beat me.Yes, it does appear that Billís online stopwatch has unearthed some sort of discrepancy.But once again, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is a powerful force that must be reckoned with, and not in a cavalier, dismissive manner.I have thusly reckoned with it.And after reviewing the play...The ruling on the Field stands. New all-time record: Jim Thornton!!!


    Bill, to his credit, quickly conceded:

    Here! Here! Jim our majestic time-bending hero! We have much yet to learn from the master so don't count out our Jimby out yet Mark. I do have some questions because I was of the impression that the Jim-particle could not be measured (or in this case) timed) without destroying the sample yet he is still here among us.

    And Mark has made sounds along these lines, too, though he seems somewhat less sincere, one almost detects a snifter of "humoring me" here.

    Jim congratulations on your record. I don't think anyone thought it would be possible to beat Brad Sluss' 25 fr record of 10.05 set at Erie in 10/08. He is my arch nemesis in the 40-44 age group. He goes to every meet and seems to score a lot of points. If I lose high point this season it will be due to him, so I'm glad to see you took him down a peg. I think

    his head was in danger of getting too big anyway.

    Are we certain that Mark is really talking about Brad Sluss's oversized head (it is, I will concede, irradiated squash-like in its enormity, but still, methinks he had another swollen gourd in mind with his "congratulations" here.)

    I am hoping that somewhere in USMS land there is a person with as much knowledge of physics as me, but who is perhaps not burdened by quite so much genius as it is my sad fate to cart around with me, genius that can make it hard to relate to those of more ordinary, wholesome, enviable, pedestrian intellects.

    Could you please help explain to my teammates why they should always trust me and my formulae, and not their own eyes and "beliefs", when it comes to the designation of victory status in our little for-fun competitions?

    I would appreciate it.

    Final unrelated note:

    Soon, the complete unexpurgated two hours of video of me in the Wilderness will begin being serialized in 2-5 minute installments.

    With luck, we shall all be freed of it by the first warming lights of springtime!

    Updated October 8th, 2009 at 11:52 PM by jim thornton

  16. Life Doctor, Death Doctor, Bad Grrrlll, Jane's Tongue,and Me

    by , October 10th, 2009 at 05:50 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    As I wait for my beloved younger son Jack to get some of the early Wilderness video footage uploaded to our Mac, being held hostage by the youngster's foot-dragging and teenaged lack of fatherly OCD by proxy, probably a good thing, all in all, nevertheless, as I wait for this, which I hope will be completed by nightfall of Columbus Day, here is yet another video from the recent long course nationals at Indianapolis.

    Today's film was inspired by a NSR thread [ame=""]MCATs? - U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums[/ame]

    Seagurl51, who bills herself as the littlest FAF sister, an acronym Leslie has explained to me several times but I can never remember for sure what it means--furious and fanatical? footloose and fancy-free? fun at ****ing?--in any event, Seagurl51 recently graduated with a degree in advertising and decided she might want to take the next logical step in our consumer-driven economy and go to medical school.

    That's what the thread is about: her casting about for advice on the MCATs,
    or exceedingly difficult medical school entrance exams, which swimming Drs. nonpareil Kirt Dixon and Heather Reitz evidently negotiated with the dexterity of sober spiders, and which I never took but almost certainly would have scored a bit higher on them than they did had I taken them, though we will never know for sure. Kurt and Chris Stevenson and Gull and Vivebene and Allen Stark many others offer sage counsel; I offer an alternative route to prosperity as a doctor without officially going to medical school and the always witty Leonard Janzen Cher-ed my Sonny, etc.

    Anyhow, it inspired me to put together this little film that introduces one of our all time favorite viewers of this vlog, the melancholy Mormon from Arizona himself, Dr. Kirt.

    He and the minx, Heather, it turns out, may share some sort of tent encampment history, but that's not entirely clear. Soon, Michele wafts by, usurping my attention with her I See Dick t-shirt and announcement of taking a shower, etc.

    And we end the merry melange with Jane's tongue.

    If you see one feel-good swimming video before Columbus Day, this one should be it.

    Our cast of character's in
    Life Doctor, Death Doctor, Bad Grrrlll, Jane's Tongue, and Me include:

    Kirk Dixson as.......the dashing ER physician

    Heather Reitz as.....the alluring pathologist who studies corpses

    [no picture available]

    Jim---as the tragi-comic patient trying to decide which doctor is right for him

    Michele Kagy-Schwartzenegger....Janet Evans, Jr. who teaches Jim how to urinate in his B70 and stirs his pulse back to life

    {picture available but I can't find it}

    Jane's Tongue....which just has to be seen to be believed

    [ame=""]YouTube - Life Doctor, Death Doctor, Bad Grrrlll, Jane's Tongue,and Me[/ame]
  17. Rare Swimming Obsessed Video-less Vlog

    by , October 12th, 2009 at 05:58 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    5:34 p.m., Columbus Day, Oct. 12, 2009, Sewickley Heights, PA

    My son Ben turned 21 today, which prompted my twin brother John to say, "That's amazing, bruddie. The first adult Thornton male in a generation!" He paused to reflect, then added, "maybe two generations."

    Ben and his friend Ben Armstrong just took off for the long drive along the Pennsylvania Turnpike from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, where Ben is going to Temple and his friend Ben is living with a girl who is going to Temple.

    It's not that I am feeling terribly old, exactly, but there is something about having your first born son turn 21, and your second born son getting his driver's license a couple weeks ago, that makes you realize that the Celestial Time Clock has not suddenly started running backwards. It is, if anything, running in its usual forward direction faster than it once did, i.e., those blissful childhood days of yore when the wait from Dec. 22 to Christmas seemed to last centuries.

    Now, it seems that if I blink just slightly longer than usual, Christmas has arrived again. Blink. Christmas. Blink. Christmas.

    The only thing that does seem to take forever is swimming distances that used to go by in a flash.

    Which brings us to tonight's Bill White workout, which is basically 4,000 yards in a 60 minute time allotment: warm up, 6 x 500 with assorted challenges--first one DPS, second one alternate side breathing, third one faster; repeat; then some sort of cool down.

    Maybe it is the nature of being in the middle of an age group where a certain slowing down appears to occur. Maybe it is the prospect of losing the cheating suits that have allowed me for so long to defy my age. Maybe it is a general weariness borne of my time in the wilderness, followed by a horrible swimming meet, followed by a bad cold, followed by a resumption of responsibilities, followed by the resumption of wintry conditions (I blink, and once again I find myself changing from my layers of clothing in a snow storm into my swimming costume! Blink! Christmas! Blink! Funeral!)

    In any event, what was that William Carlos Williams poem:

    An old man
    in a dry year
    dum dum de dum de dum
    being read to by a boy
    dum de dum
    waiting for rain.

    Or maybe it was Christopher Smart and his famous cat:

    for he is of the Tribe of Tiger
    for he can swim
    for he creeps

    So now it is 5:47 p.m., time to make my way down to the YMCA, perchance to do an old man's warm up, back and forth, paddling here, paddling there, dead man's floating hither, dead man's floating thither, Christmases passing by the edge of the pool like telephone poles on the speedway, and still I have not made it through the first 175 yards of the interminable 500...

    Am I just talking myself into decrepitude? Or am I railing against the dying of the light through jest and hyperbole?

    I shall force myself--force myself!--to try in practice tonight.

    The only thing that could possibly make me stop is last minute Christmas shopping, for it seems that the money extraction season is upon us once more, and we old men creakily bend over, assuming the position whereby the extraction can proceed with the least trauma to all involved!

    Wish me well, youngsters! I am your trailblazer and proxy for your fate!
  18. Wilderness Update Plus News About My Fungus

    by , October 14th, 2009 at 05:36 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Upon my return from the Wilderness, I brought back the following types of data:

    • 27 minutes of footage from a borrowed Sanyo camcorder I was unable to download onto my PC but my son was able, eventually, to download onto his Mac. It's not the greatest quality footage, and the sound and the video are not well synchronized, giving the whole thing the flavor of a 50s era Japanese Mothra movie set, for inexplicable reasons, in the Rocky Mountains. Still, this footage represents my first day and a half in the wilderness, so I want to get this up before the subsequent serial installments. I think Jack can fix the audio-video dissynchrony and post the various installments on You Tube for me, since I have no idea how to do this with Mac software. However, getting him to do it in a timely fashion is proving difficult.

    • Nearly 60 minutes of Flip Ultra video, which is on my PC, and I can upload, but I am waiting for the first stuff first so as to be minimally confusing to what I suspect with be the paucity of vlog viewers who end up making the Big Commitment to watching the entire Jim de la Selva Americana mini-series.

    • Approximately 3 hours and 59 minutes of high quality digital stereo audio of me talking, talking, talking, weeping, screaming, laughing, singing, gnashing, stuttering, grunting, laboring, telling bears to scat, and for a very short time, yodeling in the alpine meadows.

    • 489 still photographs, many of them featuring me in various poses, almost always providing some sort of scruffian variation of the Blue Steel look pioneered by Derrick Zoolander

    • my precious memories of my personal resourcefulness and heroism from the lengthy ordeal, memories that can not ever be taken away or repudiated since I was the only one there and I shall not, will not, dispute any facts that I say occurred. I suppose some neurological researcher somewhere could hook me up to a fMRI to see if he can find any unusual activity patterns among the neurons of my brain's LBL, or Lying Bastard Lobes. But I will vigorously resist any such unlawful invasions of my body and mind and alleged soul with all the vehemence I can muster

    • a fungus that appears to have taken up residence on the left side of my groin. This may be the result of wearing the same pair of underwear briefs for five consecutive days and nights without taking them off, days and nights in which my nether regions were kept continuously irrigated by my own copious sweat production, dribblings of potable water rendered nonpotable by my kidneys, nocturnal clamminess inside the dank tent chamber and perhaps stoked by my readings of dread-inducing Stephen King, and regular dousings by creek water, rain water, and the odd melting snowflake.

    A fungus, of course, was not my initial diagnosis. I was pretty sure at first that I had once again contracted VPDC, one of the most common conditions known to men like me, and the women who love us. Well, pretty much just men like me.

    Despite how common it is, there is little if any research money available for its study, a consequence of the puritanism of the previous administration. There is also no cure for VPDC, or Venereal Punishment Disease Cancer. Among teenagers who practice excessive onanism, VPCD can lead to blindness, hair on the palms, and loss in a faith in a benevolent God (though paradoxically strengthening belief in a Horribly Vengeful One.)

    Thank god, my swimming coach Bill White told me he was pretty sure I had a fungus infection and not VPDC. He recommended an anti-fungal creme applied twice a day for the rest of my life or a week, which ever came first.

    It appears to be working. After three applications, the itch of this lesion has gone from merely maddening to Kierkegaardian. Evidently, the poison has caused the fungi to begin fighting for their lives, like daemons resisting extgermination by Max Von Sydow's Holy Water.

    The nonhuman, nonplant miscreants (what exactly are fungi anyhow?) are now Linda Blairing me furiously every waking hour, and I must tie my wandering hands to the bedposts at night to keep from scratching myself into a eunuch in my sleep!

    I plan to take my small tube of generic antifungal foot creme (what is the male groin if not a kind of third foot anyhow? one upon which we belly-crawl the earth, leaving a slime trail, impossibly desirable manly molluscs humping our way towards the little females of our kind!) to swimming practice tonight, and then afterward cauterize the area with yet another slather of exorcistic unguent!

    How I imagine the mushrooms will scream then!

    By the way, here is a picture of what Jock itch, also called tinea cruris or ringworm of the groin, looks like:

    Here, on the other hand, is what the Wilderness looks like:

    Coincidence that these two species of groin-stabbing pointy entities should look like identical twins?

    I don't think so.

    In fact, I have concluded that my itch is less the result of an infection per se, and more a case of the wilderness spirit claiming official possession over what has always been one of the wildest, least ruly zones of my body.

    There is a River of No Return somewhere out there in central Idaho.

    Now there is a much less famous, but equally wild, River of No Return somewhere inside my recently changed undies, as well.

    Wild they are, both of them, and leading nowhere you want to be. But, god help you, you cannot resist going!

    With luck, I will be able to begin posting footage very soon. Show of hands, please! How many want to see everything I can possibly show you?

    All righty then! It's unanimous!

  19. Worsening Groin Disaster, Rated XM for Mature Medical

    by , October 16th, 2009 at 12:42 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    I went to the doctor this morning, explained the situation about my time in the Wilderness, and the gradual appearance of a smallish lesion sometime after my return from the woods, and how this has steadily blossomed--in spite of, or perhaps because of--the various self-treatments I had tried (OTC anti-fungal foot creme; powerful cortisone creme for thumb fungus; scalding hot water dousing).

    He had me drop my pants and Hog Sheathe to reveal the horrorshow lurking below. It now looks like an open stab wound, or some kind of attempt by my body to transform my gender against my will, or maybe like the first axe strike that will eventually lead to my left leg cracking and the need to cry "Timber" when the thing crashes on the ground, possibly making a sound, possibly not, depending on whether there is anyone around to hear it, and that person's philosophical leanings.

    I'm getting off the track.

    He looked at the lesion as I looked at his eyes. A doctor becomes steeled over the decades by human disgustingness, but this was of such a revolting caliber that I dare say even Edgar Allen Poe would have been moved to vomit at the sight of it.

    First warning: you, too, will soon have the opportunity to see this in a coldly sterile medical photograph taken by me on my Logitech QuickCapture internet camera.

    Do not look if you are underweight, for to look at this lesion as it has come to be over the course of the past few days is to virtually guarantee that you will lose both your appetite and your lunch.

    Indeed, it's only a matter of time before the Jim Thornton Groin Catastrophe Pictorial Diet Plan catches on with startlets all throughout Southern California and its surrounding valleys and nooks.

    So the doctor said, "It doesn't actually look like a fungus--more like an infection. Is it possible you might have been bitten by a tick?"

    He proceeded to list a number of suspects he wanted to run titers for, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and/or other germs of the rickettsia group.

    As Wikipedia sums up:

    Rickettsia is a [ame=""]genus[/ame] of [ame=""]motile[/ame], Gram-negative, [ame=""]non-sporeforming[/ame], highly [ame=""]pleomorphic[/ame] [ame=""]bacteria[/ame] that can present as [ame=""]cocci[/ame] (0.1 μm in diameter), rods (1Ė4 μm long) or thread-like (10 μm long). [ame=""]Obligate intracellular parasites[/ame], the Rickettsia survival depends on entry, growth, and replication within the [ame=""]cytoplasm[/ame] of [ame=""]eukaryotic[/ame] host cells (typically endothelial cells).[1] Because of this, Rickettsia cannot live in artificial nutrient environments and are grown either in [ame=""]tissue[/ame] or [ame=""]embryo[/ame] cultures (typically, chicken embryos are used). In the past they were regarded as microorganisms positioned somewhere between viruses and true [ame=""]bacteria[/ame]. The majority of Rickettsia bacteria are susceptible to [ame=""]antibiotics[/ame] of the [ame=""]tetracycline[/ame] group.
    Rickettsia species are carried as [ame=""]parasites[/ame] by many [ame=""]ticks[/ame], [ame=""]fleas[/ame], and [ame=""]lice[/ame], and cause [ame=""]diseases[/ame] such as [ame=""]typhus[/ame], [ame=""]rickettsialpox[/ame], [ame=""]Boutonneuse fever[/ame], African Tick Bite Fever, [ame=""]Rocky Mountain spotted fever[/ame], Australian Tick Typhus, Flinders Island Spotted Fever and Queensland Tick Typhus [2] in human beings. They have also been associated with a range of plant diseases. Like [ame=""]viruses[/ame], they only grow inside living cells. The name rickettsia is often used for any member of the [ame=""]Rickettsiales[/ame]. They are thought to be the closest living relatives to bacteria that were the origin of the [ame=""]mitochondria[/ame] organelle that exists inside most [ame=""]eukaryotic[/ame] cells.
    The method of growing Rickettsia in chicken embryos was invented by [ame=""]Ernest William Goodpasture[/ame] and his colleagues at [ame=""]Vanderbilt University[/ame] in the early 1930s.

    How typically inane of me to have worried about misadventure with wolverines, pizzlies, and porcupines when the real threat were non sporeforming highly pleomorphic obligate intracellular parasites!

    Warning number 2: do not look at my pictures if you are squeamish, prudish, or plagued a disturbing triumvirate of traits that include bed wetting, fire setting, and animal getting. These pictures will either greatly disturb you or enable you to begin acting on certain fantasies that are best left unacted upon. You have been warned twice!

    My friend and swimming coach, Bill White, who in a recent comment about yesterday's vlog, Groin Disaster! ( than 50 hits and no 5 star ratings yet--honestly, would it kill you to click on this link and revisit!) banned me from swimming practice till the Pierian Spring in my groin stops producing liquid, anyhow, Bill and I got to talking today after my new diagnosis, and I told him that I would love to be able to show my regular viewers what exactly it is that I am suffering so egregiously from, but due to its location and the family values of the USMS community at large, which doesn't take kindly to rickettsia in these parts, anyhow, I lamented that I couldn't do so without inviting complaints and the likelihood Jim Matysek would be recruited into taking such a graphic vlog down.

    Bill came up with a great idea: simply cover over what EricOrca referred to as my "naughty bits" with a picture that provides a schematic sense of where the lesion is in relationship to a medically accurate if idealized anatomical drawing.

    Which will make much more sense once you see it.

    However, I must now issue Warning Number 3:

    Do not read any further, nor examine in any way, least of all great detail (which can be done by holding down the ctrl key and tapping the + sign on PC's, not sure exactly how to zoom in on lesions on a Mac.)

    Do not do this, please!

    Furthermore, if you are a woman who has secretly been harboring unrequited romantic leanings towards me, you have reached something of a fork in the road here.

    If you want to rid yourself forever of these tortured unrequited feelings, then looking will absolutely do the trick.

    If, however, you find that fantasizing about me gives your life a sense of meaning it had never known before, and you are holding out hope for the 1 in 10,000 chance, nay, 1 in 1,000,000 chance the lesion will ultimately (as the doctor predicts) heal, then do NOT look at these pictures, for the night bell once rung can not be unrung, and Jim's Groin Disaster, Rated XM for Mature Medical, shall surely haunt you all the days of your life, and more!

    Final warning.

    Do not look.

    The armamentarium now includes antibiotic ointment and antibiotic pills and bandaids to keep the poultice in place. The cortisone and antifungal cremes are no longer being used. The Wolverine Spirit God continues to be an important part of the incantations I speak when delirious.

    Male patient, 57, wearing an item of garmentry sometimes referred to as "panties" by his women friends but which he himself calls the Hog Sheathe

    Patient's suspected Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever lesion displayed beside an anatomically stylized locator graphic that keeps this photo from being erotic and instead renders it XM-rated for Mature Medical viewing only.
  20. Update from the Ward

    by , October 17th, 2009 at 11:30 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Not much news to report.

    I awoke this morning to note that the inflammatory striations appeared to have diminished.

    I scalded the area in the shower at 5 a.m., put more antibiotic cream on, went back to sleep till 10 a.m.

    I had coffee and an antibiotic pill and spent the rest of the morning getting my affairs in order.

    Another scalding, another goo application, and a nap so deep it was like being folded into the Kafka nut.

    When I awoke, striations appeared to be restriating.

    I ate a sandwich, watched Pineapple Express, took another antibiotic pill, wondered at how truly disgusting human flesh can quickly become, tried not to dwell too deeply on the etiology of arachnidism and the like.

    To be honest about it, so far no positive developments. It is possible that the rate of worsening is slowing, but that could be wishful thinking.

    Another scalding now, another application of goo that is supposedly good for impetigo and MRSA, then we shall see how the night goes.

    Since I didn't know what impetigo was, I just did a web search and found out it is a common skin infection among kids:

    here are two types of impetigo: bullous impetigo (large blisters) and non-bullous impetigo (crusted) impetigo. The non-bullous or crusted form is most common. This is usually caused by staphylococcus aureus but can also be caused by infection with group A streptococcus. Non-bullous begins as tiny blisters. These blisters eventually burst and leave small wet patches of red skin that may weep fluid. Gradually, a tan or yellowish-brown crust covers the affected area, making it look like it has been coated with honey or brown sugar.

    Bullous impetigo is nearly always caused by staphylococcus aureus, which triggers larger fluid-containing blisters that appear clear, then cloudy. These blisters are more likely to stay intact longer on the skin without bursting.

    My friend Jack Martin told me he had a staph infecion on his foot, and had to be treated in the hospital.

    I am really hoping this doesn't come to that.
Page 4 of 14 FirstFirst 12345678 ... LastLast