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  1. Seeing it through to the End

    by , October 18th, 2009 at 07:05 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    First of all, I do appreciate the fast-dwindling number of you out there in vloglandia who remain willing to follow the zeniths and nadirs of my occasionally swimming-related life.

    As you diehards know by now, the vlog has taken on a particularly confessional tone since returning to the wilderness and finding myself afflicted by a small lesion, no bigger than a match head, that looked like a teeny tiny mouth that was watering ever so slightly.

    I am not sure why any lesion, big or small, would be mouth-watering. Perhaps--and I concede here this may be wishful thinking on my part--the reason was because of said lesions proximity to my manhood. Can there be such a thing as a small, lustful, female, mouthwatering and mouth-like lesion?

    Probably not, but this, at least, is how it first manifest itself to me a week or so after my return from the Wilderness. Tiny, itchy, perhaps lustful, but really nothing too terribly serious. Nothing to write home about.

    You can follow the transmogrification of said lesion, from miniature to bear trap-sized, by simply going back and reading, in the following order, any of these vlogs that you might inadvertently skipped over (or simply want to reread for fun and enlightenment.)

    Wilderness Update Plus News About My Fungus


    (Oct. 14th: first official vlog mention of the lesion, though I suspect I had been bravely keeping its existence to myself for at least a little while before)

    Groin Disaster!


    (Oct. 15th: back in the Halcyon days when I still believed the lesion was as benign as crotch rot)

    Worsening Groin Disaster, Rated XM for Mature Medical


    (Oct. 16th: written after I went to a doctor, who told me it wasn't crotch rot but perhaps a tic bite that was now infected; he sent out my blood tests to Mayo Clinic to check for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and other possible arthropodial calamity; he also gave me antibiotic pills and an ointment, both of which I later discovered through internet research are used in the treatment of MRSA, or flesh-eating bacteria, as well)

    Update from the Ward


    (Oct. 17th: the most lugubrious entry yet, written after two full days of antibiotic treatment that had not seemed to help one bit; I did not even attempt to joke around in this vlog, for there was no jollity in Mudville that night, Mudville being my increasingly disgusting even-to-me groin region)

    Which bring us to today's entry:



    Seeing it through to the End


    (the first in what I hope will be a series of photographs documenting my return to health in the not impossible-to-imagine future. Since I am obviously biased by the fact that I am, well, me, and I variously think I see improvements, and think I see worsening catastrophe, depending on my mood and the pain level at the time, I am hoping that my readers and viewers can rate the lesion's nastiness in an objective way, thus helping me know--for real, not from hope or dread--if I am improving, staying the same, or slinking ever closer to perdition.

    For sake of consistency, I propose a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being utterly perfect groin health of the sort one might imagine exists in the inner thighs of the most alluringly beautiful young chaste milky white and unblemished prepubescent nun that ever could live. 1, on the other hand, is for decomposing wretches for whom leprosy is only the icing of the cake for a 1,001 other syphilitic, acne'd, pustulent, flesh-eating, pruritic, and foul smelling dermatological murderers that have shared the same damned dermis.

    We shall, for simplicity's sake, judge today's lesion of mine a ranking of 50.

    Tomorrow, if I am ambulatory to take and post another snapshot, and you think I have improved, then perhaps I will deserve your vote of 51. Or if things have gone the other way, perhaps a 37.

    One other quick note before the picture. I received this warning from the ever caring Mermaid. In addition to rating my lesion, I am wondering if the carefully couched legalese in the warning actually applies to me. I am planning to continue swimming practice. I don't think my infection is waterborne. Let me know your thoughts on this matter, too: To Swim or Not to Swim with the Lesion.

    Oh, and when you do look at the picture, consider singing to the tune of George Harrison's wonderful, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"--

    I look at my groin, which must surely be healing--
    Still my bu-
    boe gently weeps--

    With every unguent, it must surely be crusting--
    Still my bu-
    boe gently weeps--

    I don't know how-owow germs were inserted
    My flesh was inverted too
    I don't know how-owow skin got perverted
    No one alerted you.

    I look as it grows ever more like vaginas--
    Still my bu-boe gently seeps--



    Please rate the following
    on a 1-100 scale:



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  2. Kona Wedding Bells--sans mention of unmentionable)

    by , October 19th, 2009 at 06:17 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Since there have been several requests that I take a break from my lesion's progress, today's vlog is taking a temporary verbal sabbatical from groin pathology to groin excellence.

    A number of you may have met my good friends and Sewickley YMCA Sea Dragons (Elderly Division) teammates, the former Mr. Jeremy Cornman and the former Miss Jocelyn Smith.

    Jeremy is the only swimmer on our team to still have his name up on the Big Board where the Quaker Valley High School record times are kept. He is a superb sprinter, particularly in butterfly, capable of swimming a 50 SCY fly in the 24.8 range.

    Jocelyn is an adult-onset swimmer and former college running star who became more serious about swimming after A) meeting Jeremy and B) swerving to miss a groundhog on her then new $3000 triathlon bike and ending up with metal pins in her collarbone.

    In recent years, Jeremy has made a name for himself in two sports: triathlons and steam bath endurance. He is great at the former, and legendary at the latter.

    Both he and Jocelyn qualified for the Boston Marathon this year, then Jeremy qualified at Lake Placid for the Iron Man in Hawaii. Jocelyn almost made it but not quite.

    In any event, the two just got back from Kona, where Jeremy did quite well.

    If you have ever wondered what this is like, I highly recommend you look at Jeremy's blog where he deconstructs his race and provides some great pictures. Fascinating: http://jeremycornman.blogspot.com/

    The day after his slightly over 10 hour triathlon performance, the two got married and became, officially, Mr. and Mrs. Jocelyn Smith.

    No, just joking.

    I think they are now both Cornmans. Or Smith-Cornmans. Or Cornman-Smiths.

    Or Smiths.

    In any event, I present to you the incredibly lovely couple, J & J--both of whom, I would venture to bet, score close to 100 on the groin scale (though I have nothing to go on here, just imagining what it would be like, especially Jocelyn, while trying to explain to them both the concept of droit de seigneur, so far without much luck):



    Note: I am pretty sure J & J had this wedding picture taken in black and white because they knew they were coming back to Pittsburgh and wanted to prepare themselves for the shock.
    _________________________________________________
    As indicated in the title, there will be no verbal mention of the unmentionable here, however, I am going to add today's picture beneath yesterday's picture to see if you can detect any changes.

    'Nuff said about that.



    (Above photo taken on Sunday)




    (Above taken Monday)
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  3. Anatomy of a Nutty

    by , October 20th, 2009 at 01:28 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Regular vlog readers may recall that I have long made a distinction between two forms of hypochondria:


    • the delusional form, wherein a sufferer imagines he or she has a serious illness, becomes obsessed with it, and eventually cannot be dissuaded out of this belief despite all medical evidence to the contrary



    • the non-delusional form, which is identical to the above with but one subtle distinction, i.e., that the sufferer knows full well his or her beliefs are irrational but nevertheless still can't shake their obsessive hold


    The Masters swimming world, I have learned, has no shortage of both forms of this disorder. For purposes of lively debate, let me just throw out Leslie "the Fortress" Livingston and Paul "the Hulk" Wolfe as prototypical exemplars of Type 1, and myself as a text book example of Type 2.

    Note: if either Leslie or Paul happen to read the above paragraph and take even minor offense at my suggestion, I think we can all agree that this proves, beyond doubt, the validity of my diagnosis.

    Call their rancor a positive Thornton Sign.

    We armchair clinicians have long understood that delusional hypochondriacs always express a positive Thornton Sign when confronted with an accurate diagnosis of their disorder. The condition is, alas, ego alien, and sufferers will do anything in their powers to spit the hook, so to speak.

    Non-delusional hypochondriacs, on the other hand, just as invariably express a negative Thornton sign. To us, hypochondria is hardly alien to our sense of self; it is, alas, all too ego syn-tonic. Thus we will not debate our diagnosis but rather acknowledge it via a kind of hopeless existential shrug with which both Sartre and Kafka were so intimately familiar.

    The following passage by Mr. Kafka, I think, perfectly captures the mindset of those of us in the non-delusional hypochondriacal world.

    It was very early in the morning, the streets clean and deserted, I was on my way to the station. As I compared the tower clock with my watch I realized it was much later than I had thought and that I had to hurry; the shock of this discovery made me feel uncertain of the way, I wasn't very well acquainted with the town as yet; fortunately, there was a policeman at hand, I ran to him and breathlessly asked him the way. He smiled and said: "You asking me the way?" "Yes," I said, "since I can't find it myself." "Give it up! Give it up!" said he, and turned with a sudden jerk, like someone who wants to be alone with his laughter.

    My non-delusional hypochondriacal twin brother, John, is good friends with the non-delusional hypochondriacal screen writer Jon Cohen (Jon's most famous screenplay was Minority Report). Jon, who could be our triplet psychiatrically speaking, coined a term for episodes of our form of the disease: nutties.

    I am slowly being sucked into a nutty right now, and I thought it might prove enlightening to those who have never suffered one to see the sequence--and perhaps reassuring to fellow travelers that you are not entirely alone in the murky world where "give it up! give it up!" is the best advice you will ever get.

    Step 1. An actual symptom appears somewhere on your body or within your mood. In this case, the actual symptom was the first tiny mottled skin lesion in, well, you know very well where the tiny mottled skin lesion was.

    Step 2. Attempt at John Wayning the thing away. Ignore, deny, and assume that the body is resilient, such buboes are temporary, the best cure for any medical problem is to ignore it.

    Step 3. Persistence of symptom, with or without worsening, though worsening does tend to get ones attention.

    Step 4. Attempts at self cure via over the counter products.

    Step 5. Asking friends about it; trying to corner a doctor on your swimming team into looking at the lesion and offering free medical advice.

    Step 6. Short-lived last attempt regression to Step 2.

    Step 7. Internet research

    Step 8. Go to a doctor and take his or her recommendation, expecting fairly quick improvement

    Step 9. When improvement fails to occur within 17 minutes, more Internet research.

    Step 10. Constant monitoring.

    Step 11. Attempts to clarify your thoughts on the nature of the buboe and its possible causes by writing these thoughts down.

    Step 12. Recruiting new technologies, like a Logitech QuikCapture webcam and blog capabilities, to contribute your thoughts to the Internet

    Step 13. Accidentally discover new possibilities for the buboe's cause, possibilities that actually have some plausible connection to your own case, such as a side effect to a drug you have taken for other reasons. Case-in-point:

    FDA issues warning for Provigil


    (Reuters) UPDATED 2007-10-24
    Provigil, a medication used to treat excessive sleepiness, may cause serious skin rashes and suicidal thoughts, according to a warning from the Food and Drug Administration. Rare incidents of life-threatening skin rashes and psychiatric symptoms in patients with a history of depression and mania have been reported with Provigil use. Patients with narcolepsy or obstructive sleep apnea who take the drug to help stay awake should stop taking the medication if they develop such reactions.

    Step 14. Follow up the new suspect with additional Internet research:

    Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis are two forms of the same life-threatening skin disease that cause rash, skin peeling, and sores on the mucous membranes.

    • Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis usually are caused by drugs or a bacterial infection.
    • Typical symptoms for both diseases include fever, body aches, a flat red rash, blisters that break out on the mucous membranes, and small areas of peeling skin (Stevens-Johnson syndrome) or large areas of peeling skin (toxic epidermal necrolysis).
    • Affected people are hospitalized in a burn unit, given fluids and sometimes corticosteroids and antibiotics and all suspected drugs are stopped.

    In Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a person has blistering of mucous membranes, typically in the mouth, eyes, and vagina, and patchy areas of rash. In toxic epidermal necrolysis, there is a similar blistering of mucous membranes, but in addition the entire top layer of the skin (the epidermis) peels off in sheets from large areas of the body. Both disorders can be life threatening.

    Step 15. Clammy dread begins to seep into ones pores, and the mind becomes increasingly hi-jacked with thoughts of ones dermis beginning to peel off in sheets, which leads to more frantic internet searches for photographs documenting this outcome

    Step 16. The word nonsense! echoes through the back eddies of the non-delusional hypochondriac's mind, often in close tandem with such worries are madness!

    From these early stages 1-16, of course, the nutty only begins to gain strength like a ligature being twisted with the help of an inserted stick to provide leverage and torque.

    How quickly the narrowing spiral tightens!

    Alas, it is only starting. And as much as we know what we must do, we cannot yet do it. We have not become sufficiently exhausted. The prospect of our flesh tearing off our bodies -- such worries are madness! --still seems a fate to be avoided. We remain too energetic to view flaying as salvation.

    Much further in the future still is the only mindset that ever ends one nutty and inaugurates the interlude of peace before the next one starts:

    "Give it up! Give it up!" said he, and turned with a sudden jerk, like someone who wants to be alone with his laughter.

    Pictorial groin update later today, after tennis.
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  4. Red Letter Day...So far

    by , November 3rd, 2009 at 12:09 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    I returned to the office of the beautiful blonde dermatologist sans merci and was escorted into her parlor by a brunette nurse. The nurse instructed me to remove my pants and underwear, the elastic in the latter of which she could not fail to see was exhausted. She gave me a paper drape with which to cover myself and then she briefly left the room, leaving my unguarded medical chart on the formica table.

    As soon as she was gone, I bounded over and looked at the results:

    Results negative for herpes simplex 1 and 2 and herpes zoster.

    Then the nurse reappeared, and I said, "So I don't have sexual leprosy?"

    And she said, "I don't know, I haven't looked at the test results yet. The doctor will be in to go over these in a minute."

    Despite this waffling, my heart was doing somersaults. The lesion was still idiopathic!

    The nurse snipped the stitch and pulled it out and left.

    A few minutes later, the beautiful blonde dermatologist knocked once and entered. Perhaps it is projection on my part, but she seemed to have found in the one week interlude a portion of merci for wretched minions like me.

    Wretched, albeit not incurably venereal, minions.

    She smiled and said the tests for herpes and shingles were negative.

    There is a certain obsessiveness in me that likes to narrow things down to the 10 to the minus 12th power of certainty.

    "So," I said, in hopes of clarification, "you are saying I don't have sexual leprosy?"

    She smiled again and said, "Leprosy was never one of the suspects." But then, perhaps having some familiarity with patients like me, she added, "You DON'T have sexual leprosy."

    So much for the swab test results.

    Unfortunately, however, the pathology lab results (cookie cutter biopsy) had not yet come back. The beautiful blonde dermatologist, who now seemed to kind of like me, promised to call my cell phone as soon as these did come in.

    I asked her if groin cancer had now emerged as the next likeliest suspect.

    "I don't think malignancy is very likely, given how suddenly the lesion appeared," she said. "Malignancies usually take a long time to develop."

    More likely agents, she thought, were some sort of fungus, bite, poison plant, or other cause of the inflammatory process. It could still theoretically be another form of bacteria, but that's unlikely given the fact that I already went through antibiotic treatment without benefits.

    I told her that the area, which is clearly healing, still itched like crazy. She asked if the steroid creme she gave me free samples of was helping. I told her I stopped using it because it didn't seem to be making any difference, and she replied that it can take up to a week for that to work. She recommended I resume auto-anointment (my phrase, not hers).

    She said whatever it was, it wasn't contagious anymore (if it had ever been), and that it was okay to resume swimming. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I had already done that.

    In any event, this whole episode has resulted in collateral damage of multiple stripes to the innocent. I will dedicate myself to making whatever amends are possible--and take the ongoing maddening itch in the spirit of much deserved punishment and penance for my sins.

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  5. Core + Recovery Swim, Monday, Nov. 16

    by , November 16th, 2009 at 05:20 PM (The FAF AFAP Digest)
    Drylands:

    This morning I was back and forth from my little one's school, so I didn't have time to hit the gym. So, I did the P90X Core Synergistic Workout (60 minutes) and the Ab Ripper (15 minutes). I was forced to take a break halfway through the first one.

    Core Synergistic:

    Here are the 20 exercises on the P90X Core Synergistic workout:

    I marked the ones I liked best with an *. However, the hardest exercises were the sphinx push ups, prison cell push ups, and the combo plank-chatarunga moves. These would be great exercises, but they're not so much for me with a creaky left shoulder. If you have no shoulder issues, they look fabulous. In general, the workout is pretty good because there are numerous exercises and all the core muscles are worked (mostly simultaneously with complex movements). The downside is that there is some injury potential for those with shoulder or lower back issues. I've seem comments on the internet that it is "very hard." Not so -- there are some tough moments, but it's not overwhelming.

    1. Stacked foot/Staggered Hands pushup*: One hand forward one back, one foot on top of the other--do 5 pushups and switch sides until you can't anymore

    2. BananaRoll: Start on back with legs and arms extended 6-12 inches off floor-hold for 5, roll onto side hold for 5, roll onto back hold for 5....Keep going!

    3. Leaning Crescent Lunges:Lunge forward at 45 degree angle while extending your arm in one straight line with your back leg holding dumbells.

    4. Squat run: Squat position with one leg in front, holding dumbells moving your arms back and forth like you are running--switch legs.

    5. Sphinx Pushups: Rest on forearms elbows under shoulders. Press up off forearms until arms are straight. Great lat exercise.

    6. Bow to Boat*: 5 seconds in bow flip over 5 seconds in Boat, repeat

    7. Plank to Chatarunga run: While in plank run your knees in for 10 seconds then go down to a chat positions and do a fast type of crawl while hovering!!

    8. Walking Pushups: I did this on the hardwood part of our basement. Get in plank with your toes on a towel and walk with your hands 4 counts forward and back keep repeating for a minute.

    9. Superman/Banana:* Alternating Superman and then roll onto your belly for arms and legs off floor position/ Go back and forth

    10. Low lateral skaters:* Slowly shifting side to side in a deep lunge while lifting your straight leg at the end of the movement

    Lunge and Reach*-With weight in hand reach down to front leg as if you are lifting something off of the floor, then reach up and twist as though you are putting it on a shelf. 30 seconds on each side. This is essentially a easier, lower weight, higher rep version of the twisting squat swing I do with a 25 pound plate.

    11. Lunge-Kickback-Curl and Press: 20 reps. Tough total body movement provided you use adequate weight.

    12. Reach High and Under Pushups:* Combine standard pushup then a sideplank from sideplank reach under like a pilates twist and repeat. Very tough. Oddly, side planks don't hurt my shoulders as much as regular planks.

    13. Prison Cell Pushup:
    From standing bend forward to plank do a pushup bring your right knee in and out, do another pushup, bring left knee in and out do another pushup, do third pushup and jump back to standing.

    14. Side hip raise:* Lying on sideresting on forearm. Lift hips up off of the floor and lower them. Do a bunch on each side.

    15. Squat X press: Holding weights do plie squats while you are performing a wide shoulder press to that your body forms and X. 30 reps. Pretty easy, would be harder with more weight.

    16. Steam Engine: Standing knee to elbow crunches-50 reps

    17. Dreya Roll:* From standing squat down, roll onto your back, kick legs straight up in the air, almost like a pilates control balance move, and roll forward coming to standing again. To make it harder, instead of just standing up do either: (1) a squat jump, (2) a split leg jump, (3) jump and twirl.

    18. Plank to Chaturanga Iso: Alternate 10 second counts between plank and chat position. Hard

    19. Halfback-Agility moves simulating going through football tire drills 60 sec. Easy.

    20. Table dip/Leg raise:* Get yourself into a yoga table. Raise one leg in the air keeping hips up, and do tricep dips changing after 5 reps. 60 seconds


    Ab Ripper:

    Still like this DVD with the exception of the Fifer Scissors. I used my ab wheel and did long arm crunches during these.


    Swim/SCY/Solo:

    Only swam for 40 minutes today. Went to the pool late and got kicked out by the high school swim team tryouts. That's OK, my legs were fried, so I just did the following recovery swim:

    Warm up:

    600 variety

    25s:

    4 x 25 shooters
    4 x 25 easy speed fly
    4 x 25 shooters
    4 x 25 alternate fast evil & EZ swim
    4 x 25 shooters
    4 x 25 easy speed fly
    4 x 25 shooters
    4 x 25 alternate fast evil & EZ swim
    4 x 25 shooters
    4 x 25 alternate fast evil & EZ swim
    4 x 25 shooters

    I did belly, back and twirling shooters.

    Total: 1700 yards

    5 minutes in the hottub.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Commentary:

    Didn't feel all that bad after my exercise mania yesterday -- until I hopped in the pool and tried to kick. Thus, I did all the shooters on cruiser speed. I think I'll give the legs a break tomorrow in the pool if I can. I'm tentatively planning on hot yoga and my team practice tomorrow night.
  6. Happy Thanksgiving One and All!

    by , November 25th, 2009 at 04:25 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Like Frank Sinatra's conspicuous absence of singing in the shower, or a busman's decision not to drive on holiday, or perhaps a harlot's avoidance of intimacy during rare leisure moments when the urge for vertical body postures must become overwhelming in its intensity--so has it been with this vlogger of late: the dictates of writing for a living have all but overwhelmed any time or inclination to indulge in tip-tap-tip-tapping of keystrokes for free.

    Even though I much prefer the latter, having not yet developed the "learned helplessness" that so frequently accompanies human endeavor in the paid environment.

    Sing this ditty, Frank! Contort your buttocks into this appealing lordosis configuration, harlot! Never again in the history of the world again utter the word Stetari, lackey!

    And so forth.

    I am sure everybody understands, with the possible exception of those who spend their days teaching 2nd graders how to draw finger turkeys, what I mean.

    On the other hand, it has been recently pointed out to me, by a person whose perspicacity is beyond dispute, that I have, of late, been inclined to a certain churlish sulkiness.

    Oh, how I wish not to be thusly inclined, not even for a moment!

    As one distantly former girlfriend once called me in apparent affection: Oh, Jim! My horrid little flower!

    Horrid, yes. Flower, true enough. Little, again, check! Especially if little is being directed at my generosity of spirit and not my guttage.

    But do not flowers, even little horrid ones, give back to the world a cheerfulness and color that brings only smiles to onlookers and ravenous pollinators, dusty with lemon-colored crumbs?

    In this spirit, that is to say, my flower side, and less my little horrid sulky side, I offer the following Thanksgiving greetings to my fellow swimmers the world over in the hopes you will find within this offering a smile, a cheerfulness, and a color--orange, as luck would have it--that might have otherwise gone unnoticed in this busy, busy time of Thanksgiving!

    It is a drawing by my step great nephew Cameron.

    I am not sure the Dramatis Personnae in his description of his drawing is super important, but to keep things straight:


    • I am Uncle Steppy.
    • Aunt Lizie is the beloved little sister of me (Uncle Steppy) and my twin brother John (Steppy)
    • Granny, AKA, Nancy, is the biological grandmother of Cameron and wife of my brother John (Steppy)
    • Daddy is Cameron's father and Nancy's son Darrin by her first marriage

    I am pretty sure that Cameron, after drawing the picture and getting John to scan it and email it to me, dictated verbatim his explanation for what is going on. I shall post this below the artwork.




    Hi Uncle Steppy and Aunt Lizie. The one in the orange is Uncle Steppy. And he has a hole in his underwear. Everybody is sticking out his tongue at him. Granny (middle) pulled down Uncle Steppy's pants. Granny has a silly hat. Daddy has a rotten nose. The cloud and the sun is sticking their tongue out at Uncle Steppy. The clouds are wearing sunglasses because the sun is shining right at the clouds.
    Love,
    Cameron
    PS Happy Thanksgiving!

    Final note: in the original version of Cameron's email, my beloved brother John dropped the "Uncle" after its first reference. I think he did this to spare my feelings, to make it seem as if it were him and not me whose pants had been dropped down, earning him ridicule from every corner of the firmament. But it is quite clear upon whom such ridicule belongs, so I have restored it to the accurate state.

    On this note, it is back to my labors on the drawbacks to novel hypnotics, irresistible as they continue to prove to be to the sulky likes of me.
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  7. Even More Thanksgiving Wishes

    by , November 26th, 2009 at 03:05 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    My brother Johnny boy already posted this in the comments section of yesterday's blog, Happy Thanksgiving One and All, which regular readers will recall featured harlots in lordosis configurations and other things we can be happy about.

    As an antidote to the occasional snifter of impropriety that our DNA has taken via the Jim morph, I present to you the utter wholesome and unadulterated joi de vivre life view of my twin, one of the nicest people to ever grace the planet earth.

    I am still trying to find out if John wrote this song on Garage Band, but I am 99 percent sure he did, for it has all the hallmarks of a John Thornton song: stirring melody, Noel Cowardly lyrics exhilarating in their brevity and cleverness, and a middle 8 that makes one think of the Beatles at their best, all of this ladled over with the kind of charming cornpone quality that made Woodie Guthrie such a giant at Communist union organizing rallies.

    At the risk of biasing your opinion of this film, I strongly urge you to gather your loved ones around the computer, which you have stuck for this occasion into your fireplace so as to symbolically turn the Internet into the very hearth of modernity, and play this instant classic of a Thanksgiving song for the gathered multitude of relatives, singing along as soon as you get a knack for the lyrics.

    Then throw away your BMI scales and engorge happily.

    We are humans.

    This is what humans have for Thanksgiving!

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjuGHksgvvM"]YouTube- What Humans Have For Thanksgiving![/ame]
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  8. Leslie's Buttocks vs. Mine, plus Exercising on Dryland

    by , November 29th, 2009 at 12:07 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    There is a school of thought in narrative tales that the easiest and arguably best way to present these is to start at the beginning and proceed, step by chronological step, to the end. Suspense in this standard form is built in a fairly straightforward manner: the reader, enraptured by event A, naturally begins to wonder, What oh what happens next? What is event B? Then C? And so forth?

    Such stories often begin like this:

    Once upon a time in Western Pennsylvania...

    or

    In the Pleistocene era, a patch of primordial ooze with the original signature genomic code of the Thornton family...

    or

    God so loved the world that he gave his only misbegotten son Jim to...

    In more recent times, perhaps because of earth's burgeoning population of story tellers, each trying to differentiate himself or herself from the other person's self, a new model has emerged, still a bit less common, but alas itself fast slouching towards cliche.

    In this model, pioneering narrators of the likes of Faulkner, Proust, Thornton, Joyce, Golgadkin, and so forth, purposely choose to begin their tales at the end, revealing the "denouement" or the "killer's identity" or the "money shot" or whatever else it might be that in earlier times would not be answered till the very last pages of the book or footage of film.

    Suspense here stems not from the reader's curiosity about what will happen, for we already know the final outcome. Instead, suspense depends on a growing rhetorically manipulated curiosity on the reader's part about how and why this ending has come to be.

    To reiterate: the author or auteur of such works, or in the case of a vlogger who combines the written word with the filmic art, the author-auteur, starts at the end, cuts back to the beginning, then leisurely fills in the intervening time.

    It is this secondary model I have chosen to embrace.

    Over this most Thanksgiving-worthy of Thanksgiving seasons, our Amish Mud hole-dappled region of the country was visited by none other than Leslie the Fortress Livingston, the single most beloved national champion that the USMS community has ever had the good fortune to grip to our collectively grateful bosom.

    Leslie, as some of you might know, is a strong advocate of weight lifting and the whole shooting match of other painful exercises conducted on dry land, from Bosu Balling to virtually anything you can imagine doing on a rack.

    During our precious several days with Leslie, she swam with our Sewickley SeaDragons, Geriatric Division, on Friday; then today, Saturday, after I had already done 68,000 lb. of Nautilus lifting (inspired by Leslie to give it a try), Leslie arrived fresh from her Seroquel-induced (off-label) beauty sleep at 2:05 p.m. sharp in the Y lobby, and the two of us proceeded back to the weight room. Here she showed me the elementary ropes of the non-machine strength training world.

    During the course of this, and I will be presenting many of her 1000s of demonstrated exercises over the coming days, weeks, months, years, and seeming centuries (in fact, no need to read Leslie's blog anymore--this vlog here, much more so than her own, has now become the one-stop official site for all things visually and auditorially Leslie), we also conducted the 25 cent piece "Quarter Test."

    By good fortune, Senor Haboush, the Spanish teacher at the local high school, was pumping iron at the Y, and he agreed to fire the quarter first at Leslie's buttocks and then at mine to see which set of glutei was firmer and therefore more bouncy to the quarter.

    The first of today's films features this long-awaited and much ballyhooed Quarter Buttocks test. In some ways, one could argue the test is really the end of the whole narrative. For the results here proved so unexpected, so paradoxical even, that the reader will--I am sure of it!--be seduced into unbearable, dumbfounding curiosity.

    Not about the "what happened?"--for it is indisputable that the quarter bounced much, much higher off my muscular buttocks than Leslie's firm but still somewhat squishy ones. Rather the dumbfounding stems from a seemingly unanswerable question: "How can this be?" After all, Leslie is obviously an amazing specimen of the weight lifting arts, and I am but a shlub.

    How oh how? Why oh why?

    I can't stand it! Help me see the reasons, Jim! I beg you!

    In time, my friends. Answers shall come your way in time.

    But first, the Quarters test...

    This first short film will be followed, in turn, by today's inaugural set of exercises Leslie has taught me. (Sadly for her, once I master just these two, my buttocksial advantage is sure to swell even further.)

    Please enjoy, especially now that the subtextual content is clear, and you don't need to think deeply or in an unguided way.

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hp59AtsOeM0"]YouTube- The Quarter Buttocks Test[/ame]

    Summary: Leslie loses convincingly to Jim in Quarters Buttocks Test and in a fit of pique refuses to continue with the moobs vs. boobs Coin Toss Test.


    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-TdHopNGuY"]YouTube- Getting Dry with Leslie Part 1: Shrug Dips and X Cross Squat[/ame]

    Summary: Leslie teaches Jim how to do dips safely by shrugging girlishly, then takes him into an area he has never ventured before to teach him the X-cross squat, AKA, Hot Crossed Buns.

    Updated November 29th, 2009 at 12:14 AM by jim thornton

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  9. Two More Squats Visually Demonstrated by L & J

    by , November 30th, 2009 at 05:05 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Many people who know me well think I don't work.

    This isn't entirely true.

    The truth is that I rarely work.

    However, when I do engage in these rare episodes of work, or perhaps work-like endeavor is more accurate, it is like doing an unbelievably difficult distance and sprint set for the mind that goes on, week after week, until the entirety of my soul is as empty and dessicated as the ears that feed the Children of the Corn.

    Like all such exacting demands upon human performance, what I am expected to achieve, and what I can achieve, are often wildly disparate propositions.

    But since my livelihood depends upon delivering what I am incapable of producing on my own, I have, in recent years, been forced to increasingly rely on PEDs to get the job done.

    I am, for instance, now drinking my 14th cup of coffee of the day, and I must say, I am feeling a bit like an insect that has made the mistake of biting into a coffee bean 10,000 times his size. That is to say, I am feeling poisoned.

    On top of this, I have the degrogification effects of one 100 mg tablet of Provigil, a drug FDA approved only for narcoleptics, shift workers, and those of us able to mimic the symptoms of these first two conditions well enough to convince our physicians to write us a prescription.

    On top of my 14 cups of coffee, this Provigil tablet is working extremely well.

    I have no doubt that tonight's swim practice, wherein the main set is 5 x 500 on 6:45 followed by 5 x 100 on 1:15, will barely dent my degree of alertness, unless, of course, my heart happens to explode, dispatching me forthwith to the Great Resting Reward, a dispatch which just might be the best unintended medicinal side effect of all time.

    I kid. I am nothing but a raw ganglion these days, hoping for immortality!

    Tonight, the raw ganglion shall return to its office/sleep chamber, which sleep hygienists have long suggested should not be combined, but sometimes one has no other option; watch the second half or final quarter of House depending on when I get back from practice; maybe have another training dinner exactly like last night's--i.e., three pork chops and a bowl of ice cream; then prepare for bed. I have Sonata, which has been deemed almost entirely ineffective; and two bottles of NyQuil, which personal experience has shown to be highly effective. I may find a little more of this and that to add to the soporific brew.

    With these drowsy syrups of my own concoction, I shall -- with luck! -- slip into the sweet embrace of sister Morphine, perchance to dream of the squats Leslie has shown me and I have appendaged below, perchance to wake up again tomorrow morning, and brew some more coffee, and pop another Provigil, and begin once more the form of livelihood which will surely one day prove the death of me.

    On this note, here are the right and wrong ways to do two more forms of squats:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1Frkbya3zY"]YouTube- Overhead squatting and swing squatting with Leslie[/ame]
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  10. More Dryland, Right and Wrong

    by , December 5th, 2009 at 02:08 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Slowly but surely, I hope to post all the exercises that Leslie tried to show me over Thanksgiving. As regular readers will recall, I got to the Y early, lifted 68,000 lb. as measured by the Fitlinxx computer system, and only then did Leslie arrive to put my shaking bulk through additional dryland paces.

    Pathetic as the first of these were, things got even worse as each new exercise began requiring more and more skill, coordination, balance, and flexibility, none of which I have. Brute strength? Sure. But these other things? Even with practice, they may be beyond me.

    In the attached video, Leslie looks sweet enough in her virgin white Nike attire, but she has a dark side. Think angry school marm with a ruler. She uses the ruler to measure her disobedient male students. When they fail to measure up, and we always do, she uses the ruler to beat us.

    Here is Leslie in her dark school marm Nike outfit. She is saying, "Okay Jim, it's your turn now. You may need to break your hips, but you will do a split by the day's end, so help me god! Oh, stop snivelling! Why oh why must you make me hurt you?"



    When she arrived at the Sewickley Y, she brought along a hand-scribbled document with the exercises she had decided to teach me. These ranged from the twisting medicine ball slam, to the superman banana.

    Careful scrutiny of this primary document shows evidence that Leslie has been practicing all this weight training stuff seriously for years. I ask that you give particular scrutiny to her lower case i's. Note how there is nary a single heart-shaped dot above any of them.

    I fear Leslie is slowly but surely lifting all the girl out of herself, but who am I to judge?

    Here is the primary document:



    I am hoping, by year's end, if I ever finish my new article on novel hypnotics and the mayhem they can cause, to post all Leslie's dry land lifting and related exercises in a well-labeled, one stop vlog. It has not escaped me that my vlog is not always the most pragmatically useful source of swimming-advice, that I more often than not have appropriated this space for purposes of jotting down and sharing with the wet world at large my seemingly always bubbling spring of [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weltschmerz"]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weltschmerz [/ame]


    In this, I sometimes delude myself into believing I am doing my fellow swimmers a service of sorts. You know how our Christian brothers recommend praying for "those more miserable than ourselves"? I have, in my mind, put a palpable, if not punchable, face on such recipients of God's mercy.

    In any event, I do hope to contribute the complete Leslie dryland inventory soon, which I suspect might prove more helpful to most viewers than the certain knowledge you are better off than at least one wretch!

    For now, here are a few more bricks in the Sisyphusian wall.

    I hope you enjoy it.

    All my best,



    J I M M I E

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMszfqhdPdA"]YouTube- 1-legged squats hip hinges dead lifts done right and wrong[/ame]
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  11. The Pig who would be Pug and other Solstice Miracles

    by , December 21st, 2009 at 09:08 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    This afternoon, I went into our kitchen to check on the three quadrapedes: lefty, the male pug; biscuit the little female pug; and linus, the guinea pig who is convinced he, too, is a pug, albeit one who prefers vegetative matter to hard to described meat byproducts.

    The twelve legs were all in the kitchen. Left and Biscuit had dog pillows upon which to lay about when the mood for rest strikes then. sometimes, in a rare expression of drive, Lefty will sit in one dog bed and grab the other dog bed in his mouth, and shake it brusquely, as it attempting to snap its spinal cord. these pillows have sheeps hair and do look, like pracice murder scenes, must give them that much.

    The ambien dance has begun, theletters swimnging bosa nova style, swayingagainst one anotherscurvesand indetations and convexities invaginating conccavite, and with squintimng the imeprssion is fmoredd.

    so cure, this camily of mistamtched creasedtusethat iasste markign onwaerds tlike armu ants ofrlleadrfdctter ant.sll i ccnanan;t aaseee what thsi all abot now. the whole jump;ing ni==hmjjjjiiveing stufss. teh ''

    the huger is raising p a a bit..

    so whatis next cucmbers and gargazono with ambine andn dskldsalllk;fjjjajjjjjthekvikiking shiops with speekrs fread o float what is gereek for swine snowt'
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  12. Lost Person Behaviour

    by , December 22nd, 2009 at 01:25 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    It's 12:33 p.m., and I am sitting around at my desk here in wintry Pittsburgh waiting for experts on lost person behaviour to call me back. I spell it with the British "u" because many of these fellows are Canadian, possibly because there are so many places to get lost in Canada. My hypothesis for why: the absence of nocturnal light pollution and similar whatnot to guide one to a mall or other safe haven of human civilization.

    During this period of waiting, it occurred to me that a rare (of late) un-Ambienated vlog might be in order, if for no other reason than to test the ongoing functionality of whatever rational faculties I have left.

    As my fellow devotees of novel hypnotics may know first hand, these drugs can have some heavy duty discombobulating and bamboozling effects. In my case, oftentimes the first things to go are those items to which I have only the weakest tether lines under the best, most rational of circumstances. Propriety, the hope not to offend others for the pure mean-spirited joy this can bring me, self-pity, and finally what in male dogs is sometimes described as "that little red thing"--all these tend to change drastically in me under the influence of zolpidem. The first two (propriety; kindness) run for the hills; the second two (self pity, ribaldry) burst out in ways that are hard to restrain. I have been de-friended on Facebook because of such boorishness and indecency.

    In fact, the only things that reliably restrain self pity, libidinous inappropriateness, jabberwocky, and the like is the phenomenon dubbed by researchers at the Mayo Clinic as a new drug-aided variation on SRED, or sleep related eating disorder. This morning, I went down to the kitchen and found a bottle of Real Lemon lemonade, my favorite beverage, stowed not in the refrigerator where it belonged, but rather in the cupboard beside the cups and glasses.

    I suppose it could have been worse.

    Some of us so-called Ambien Zombies have been known to pour a glass of bleach in the night, the better to chase down the buttered cigarette sandwich we have made for ourselves as a snack.

    I am digressing a bit here.

    VIA, or vlogging under in the influence of ambien, has a good side and some bad sides.

    On the good side, I have now--on at least two separate occasions--discovered vlogs that "I" have written but which I have almost no memory of having written. I can thus read such entries the way I imagine the non-Jim reading audience reads them: with total amusement and the utmost respect for the writer, perhaps even just a smidgen of jealousy for his evident genius! Oh, if only I could write like this "Jim" in his full reverie mode.

    Actually, just joking about that. Reading these amnestically-penned vlogs, in truth, only gives me the chance to do what I really DO imagine my readers often do: Laugh AT me, not WITH me.

    It's nice when a blowhard can laugh AT himself without totally feeling responsible for it. I suppose what I am really doing on such occasions is laughing at my reptilian brain in action. What a peculiar fellow this nutcase is...though I do admire his lack of self-censure.

    The bad sides of Ambien have already been suggested. One additional example: I seem to have made an enemy of the brother of a female swimmer I occasionally correspond with on Facebook. It appears I will not be attending that family's Christmas party this or any other year in the foreseeable future.

    The cure for all this, of course, is simple. Either stop taking Ambien, or take it and immediately go to sleep. The problem is that I have found that taking Ambien and fighting off sleep leaves me in the Tiger Woodsian Ambien haze. Though I have no floosy to enjoy myself with while thusly enfogged, I nevertheless enjoy the tranquility and relaxation and freedom from worry this mood bestows. I enjoy it so much, in fact, that I know it will be a while before I am able to wean myself from it.

    Note: Ambien and its cousins are not benzodiazepines like Valium, though they target one of the brain's many subtypes of benzodiazepine receptors in the GABA system. Sleep researchers maintain there is no evidence that Ambien and the other Z-drugs are anxiolytic, or anxiety relieving. Thus it is entirely possible that my perception of calm is either a placebo response or idiosyncratic. That said, I will add one penultimate wrinkle here for those, like me, who include amongst your various hobbies an interest in amateur psychopharmacology.

    Zolpidem, the generic name for Ambien, has been shown to trigger speech in a certain type of schizophrenic patient who is suffering mutism because of catatonia. It might have helped Al Pacino, for instance, at the end of Scarecrow.

    Perhaps my reaction is simply some variation on a positive Zolpidem Test.

    Now, final wrinkle: though I do believe that this drug is, in some regards, capable of reducing my control over my behavior somewhat, it is clear to me that my decision to keep taking the pill and vlogging and/or otherwise accosting the etherous internet world at large is something of which I am fully culpable. As an expert in the burgeoning field of sleep forensics told me, there is voluntary and involuntary intoxication.

    Taking the pill exactly as directed and then going on a blue streak of mayhem is involuntary intoxication, especially the first time it happens.

    But taking the pill the way I have been lately, knowing the likely consequences, and doing it anyway, qualifies as voluntary intoxication. In fact, one might argue my case is very voluntary intoxication.

    Let me know if I go too far.

    Note: this is NOT a cry for help.

    Now, on another note, after last night's 4100 yards, I asked some of my swimming teammates if they might help me identify my elbow bone. We could not, for the life of us, decide whether the pointy bone is attached to the upper arm bone or one of the lower arm bones.

    So I took a picture with my finger right on the painful jabby bone in the hopes that Drs. Dixon and Jaegermeister, and fellow sufferer Jim Matysek, might better zero in on a diagnosis.

    PS what do you think about my peace symbol within a heart medallion?

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  13. Merry Christmas & Mood Tips

    by , December 24th, 2009 at 08:31 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Comrades!

    Merry Humanist Christmas one and all.

    I suspect today's vlog may not be exactly the "big present" you were hoping for.

    In fact, it might not even qualify as much of a "stocking stuffer" for those of you whose minds are "right."

    However, if somewhere out there in the greater community of swimmers there exists a single seasonally affected soul, and if this solitary seasonally affected soul have already watched ad nauseam Its a Wonderful Night and/or A Christmas Story and/or any of the other innumerably rerun TV shows that are on tonight and tomorrow night and every night for the foreseeable future, it is to you--fellow traveler in this veil of tears!--that I dedicate this brand new Yuletide triple feature.

    The first film is a brief introduction by me to the second film, which is an overly long review of some of the current psychiatric literature on mood improvement.

    You will note I have left out some of the strategies that have received attention of late, particularly data from the TC-5214 phase 2 trial, which indicated that targeting Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors may prove to be a beneficial augmentation treatment with promise for providing relief to millions of patients who do not respond well to first-line SSRI therapy.

    I jest!

    Everyone is familiar with that research, so I have concentrated my droning lecture on other findings that are not only of scientific note but which will perhaps prove a little more actionable in the near term for patients like you and me.

    The final, and without doubt best, of tonight's triple feature is yet another Christmas mood enhancing charmer by my twin brother John.

    I think those of you who live in hot house climes like California, Florida, Texas, and Arizona may find this brisk little glimpse into the world of snow quite refreshing and soul cleansing.

    Again, Merry Christmas one and all! And I will not be at all offended if you use my two filmic contributions as a form of sleep aid. I have been told that my haltingly monotonous lecture style may soon attract the attention of regulators at the FDA itself, so powerfully soporific is its influence of listeners.

    Turn the lights down low, get under your comforter, click the first film, and....
    You are getting very sleepy....


    1. Introduction to Jim's Seasonal Mood Tips for Swimmers:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eb8es8vh778"]YouTube- Introduction to Jim's Seasonal Mood Tips for Swimmers[/ame]



    2. Jim's Seasonal Mood Tips for Swimmers:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Kfa-R_yOS8"]YouTube- Video 17[/ame]


    3. Jingle All the Way:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoA3WUda6OU"]YouTube- Snow Day[/ame]
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  14. Fortress Locks

    by , December 26th, 2009 at 06:57 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Our dear Leslie is thinking of changing her hair color for the 2010 swimming season. In an effort to help her decide which way to go, I asked my brother to put together a sampling of some of the more fetching colors worn by fashionable women this season.

    Please vote for your favorite, and provide a rationale in the comments section below.

    To make voting easier, simply indicate either:


    1. Aquamarine/Scope Mouthwash
    2. Lady Carrot Top
    3. Papal Purple
    4. Scott's Turf Builder


    Note: to vote, please visit this thread by clicking here: [ame="http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?p=202158#post202158"]Leslie "The Fortress" Hair Color Poll - U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums[/ame]

    I think the one thing we can all agree is that all of these colors would look great on our Leslie--she really can't go wrong with any of them.

    Updated December 26th, 2009 at 07:08 PM by jim thornton

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  15. Lost Trove Found

    by , December 29th, 2009 at 07:51 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    When I first got on Facebook, what we young people who text and so forth refer to as a "social networking site," I accidentally replaced what is known as my "wall" with an alternative known as the "advanced wall" or maybe the "super wall" or possibly the "fun wall" or the "amazing wall."

    The one benefit of this advanced, super, fun, and/or amazing "wall" was that it allowed you to do cartoons, albeit ones that must be drawn with the mouse.

    As regular viewers might note, I have trouble drawing recognizable features, such as, for instance, a squirrel or a gall bladder, under ideal conditions.

    Drawing a squirrel or gall bladder with a mouse proved to be exceptionally challenging.

    In any event, I did a series of nightly mouse drawn cartoons that required captions to make even a little wee tiny corpuscle of sense.

    My beloved brother John collected these together, asked me to provide a capsule description of the cartoon itself and the circumstances under which I drew it, and then posted the entire collection on the web.

    Eventually, I realized that none of my Facebook friends had an "advanced" "super" "fun" or "amazing" wall, and thus none of them ever got any of my messages. Nor did they ever respond to me in any way! It was almost as if they were giving me what the prison authorities gave Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky after his arrest for alleged subversion to Tsar Nicholas: i.e., the "silent treatment" where the guards even wore velvet-soled boots!

    Utterly ignored for two years -- all the while me thinking it was only because I was pathetically unpopular!

    It took quite a while, but finally I figured out how to restore my "wall" without adjectives--or as our British friend SwimStud might say, in his continental way--without sans adjectives.

    I have not been able to do mouse drawn cartoons since.

    If you would like to befriend me on Facebook, please do a search for James Scott Thornton--my full name, which narrows the possibilities down from 12,842,117 Jim Thorntons to merely 87,423 James Scott Thorntons.

    I like to think of myself as The James Scott Thornton, but the use of the article will not refine your Facebook search for me.

    Do not worry about befriending an "unpopular" person, whose "unpopularity" might somehow wipe off on you, tainting, staining, and causing to putrefy your own reputation.

    I am actually quite the Facebook dandy, if I do say so myself, averaging at least one "notification" per month, and often two. Plus, if you look at the advertisements that adorn the right hand of my "profile," you will be pleased to note that an ever revolving assortment of women appear to be trying to find me, though I do not remember ever meeting these women. If I did, it must have been at a medical convention of incredibly beautiful 20 somethings seeking breast reduction surgery, for this appears to be their one common feature.

    But I babble.

    Here is the lost treasure trove of mouse drawn cartoons with explicatory subcaptions, rediscovered by me accidentally several minutes before I wrote this word here.

    http://www.jrtart.com/Jim/

    There are worse ways to spend the end of 2009 than to read and view my lost but found cartoon corpus of work. I am not sure exactly what these worse ways are, but I am certain they exist.
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  16. Victus in Aughts; Invictus TK!

    by , December 31st, 2009 at 04:57 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    State-dependent memory is a phenomenon that at least partly explains why ones life, when viewed from the perspective of current happiness and triumph, seems to have been always thus; likewise, present suckiness seems to trigger recollections of nothing but former suckiness, thus lending the impression that it's all been a Full Catastrophe from the get-go.

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHAqdZ2f5cM"]YouTube- Zorba - "the full catastrophe"[/ame]

    No stranger, me, to state-dependent memory's bamboozling effects in both the up-and-down directions, as well as the full catastrophe's dual nature, for without said catastrophe, would there be any point whatsoever?

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VscVP_Gt_s&feature=related"]YouTube- Peggy Lee - ♫ Is That All There Is ♫[/ame]

    It is against this waffling backdrop (Life tastes great! Life's less filling! Tastes great! Less filling!) that I momentarily cast aside the feigned cheerfulness of recent vlogs to assess the Aughts.

    My knee jerk analysis here is that the decade between Y2K's unfulfilled promise of global high tech disaster to 2009's unfulfilled swine flu monster plague, and all the pointless if passionate rancor in between, has been the most dispiriting decade in memory.

    I'm not much of a reader of literature myself, but every once in a while, I will read something that strikes me as particularly insightful. The following quote, by Louis Ferdinand Celine, seems to my state-dependent-melancholic side to perfectly sum up the past ten years and the effect this has had on me and all my grubby personal aspirations, career and otherwise:

    I didnt understand. I was being hornswoggled by everything and everybody, women, money, and ideas. I was a sucker, and I didnt like it. I still run into Musyne now and then, every two years or so she crosses my path, as people one has known well tend to. Two years is the time it takes to perceive at one glance, a glance as sure as instinct, the ugliness that can come over a face, even one that was delicious in its day.

    For a moment you hesitate, then you accept the face as it has become, with its repugnant cumulative disharmony. What can you do but acquiesce in this slow, painstaking caricature which two years have etched, but accept the passage of time, that portrait of ourselves. Then we can say that weve really recognized each other (like some foreign banknote that one hesitates to accept at first sight), that we hadnt taken a wrong turn, that each on his own wed traveled the right road, the inevitable road to decay, for another two years. Thats all there is to it.


    But then I ask myself, is such a view of the past ten years really accurate? Or is what is actually hornswaggling me not so much money and ideas and all the other literal and metaphorical Musynes of the world, but rather my own sense of X--whatever X might be, character defect or unreasonable sense of entitlement or some other thing that cries out to be filled, or perhaps more accurately, plugged?

    If forced to make a list of my personal ups and downs of the Aughts, the former would clearly outnumber the latter. In early 2000, for example, I got to go to the jungles of Ecuador and made it out without being speared by the Taigeri; in late 2009 I got to go blindfolded into the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area and made it out without being disembowled by wolverines.

    In between, I enjoyed innumerable other little adventures, and if the price for doing so was to have to write, then rewrite, about these experiences, only an utter ingrate would complain too much. I watched my beloved sons grow into young men, and made a number of wonderful friends--many of them among the incredibly likable ranks of USMS. Along these line, I managed, by fluke of the timing of national meets, to place 4th in the World in a couple FINA masters tabulations (twice in LCM and once in SCM).

    Throughout the decade, I suspect I have worried more than perhaps the average fellow that something horrible might happen. But these worries, for the most part--no, for the entire part--have come to naught.

    Into every life, some rain must fall--but realistically looking at things, there was no more rain falling in mine from 2000 to 2009 than in any preceding decade.

    In fact, were my present (and transiently disconcerting, I admit!) circumstances just a wee bit rosier, I dare say it would be easy to sum up the past decade as the best decade in the history of the world.

    Of course, you cannot always be making love to a young Ursula Andress while simultaneously eating a Baby Ruth candy bar and taking a phone call from the National Magazine Awards committee informing you of your lifetime achievement award--or similar set of circumstances that, for me, at least, tends to recallibrate my own state dependent memory in another direction entirely.

    Still, there is no reason besides fear itself to imagine that the coming decade will be anything but a new grand adventure for us all, with worries as always but worries that invariably come to naught--a bit of endurance and ability to cope with a bit of pain, the hallmarks of swimmers, to be sure: best wishes for the teens, or whatever the next decade is likely to be called.

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zetcb-ny0Fg"]YouTube- Celebration - Ronald Bell (Greatest Hits)[/ame]
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  17. Meditations on a Swimming Bubble

    by , January 2nd, 2010 at 09:36 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Age/ Yearly Miles/ Weekly Average/ Best 100 SCY free / age rating / suit



    1. 46 / 221.11 / 4.25 / 53.68 ... 86.4 Speedo briefs
    2. 47 / 207.78 / 4.00 / 54.42 ... 85.6 Speedo briefs
    3. 48 / 264.34 / 5.08 / 52.09 ... 89.8 aquablade
    4. 49 / 374.77 / 7.21 / 52.46 ... 89.5 aquablade
    5. 50 / 411.77 / 7.92 / 53.02 ... 89.0 FS1
    6. 51 / 390.04 / 7.50 / 52.83 ... 89.7 FS1
    7. 52 / 363.90 / 7.00 / 52.87 ... 90.1 FS1
    8. 53 / 272.42 / 5.24 / 53.97 ... 88.7 FS1
    9. 54 / 373.28 / 7.18 / 52.69 ... 91.4 FS1
    10. 55 / 372.07 / 7.16 / 52.90 ... 91.6 FS1
    11. 56 / 406.70 / 7.82 / 52.86 ... 92.2 B-70
    12. 57 / 330.59 / 6.36 / 54.08 ... 90.7 B-70


    Comments:

    Greek Olympian and man-god Chris Stevenson posted this age ranking calculator athttp://www.vaswim.org/cgi-bin/rcalc.cgi He includes an explanation for how it works and plenty of cautionary language about why not to take it too seriously, etc.

    You can use Chris's brain child to age grade any of your different races in all three courses. But for the sake of this vlog, I decided to just pick the 100 SCY freestyle. If you are getting to the point where your times are starting to plateau a wee bit, you might find this age grading stuff to be a fresh source of motivation.

    A couple different factors seem to clearly correlate with my personal swimming performance. The first one that jumps out is the introduction of the first speed suit, the Speedo Aquablade. My time dropped by a little over 2 seconds from the age of 47 to 48, and my age graded ratings jumped from the mid 80s to the cusp of 90--mainly because the norms were probably based on non-speed suit swimmers (thus giving me an artificial advantage once I started wearing one.)

    With the FS1, my times also improved relative to my age, and I think part of this was the faster suit, but my training--inspired, I am sure, by times I hadn't done since my young youth--also escalated significantly. The first time I cracked the "90" rating barrier was at age 52 in a FS1. The next year, however, I dropped back to an 88.7 rating in the same suit. The difference seems, that year at least, to be explained by a significant drop in yearly mileage--from 364 to 272. Clearly, the suit matters greatly for me, but training apparently makes some difference, too.

    My highest rating of all was a 92.2, achieved last spring at Colony Zones Championships. This was the first meet where I ever wore a B70. The year before, in a FS1, I swam only .04 slower. Was it the faster suit--or the increase in yearly mileage (from 372 to 406) that allowed me to swim a tiny bit faster at age 56 than I had at age 55?

    Soon, it seems fairly certain, speed suits of any sort are going to be outlawed. It is hard to know for sure what effect this is likely to have on my swimming performance, but it would be nice to at least discount the psychological change.

    So far, at age 57, I have swum the 100 at a couple of our local Y meets, and I've worn my B70 while doing so. It's been a bit disappointing for me because even with this advantage, my best 100 this fall/winter season has been a 54.08, albeit in less than ideal swimming conditions.

    Until today's exercise in Big Picture assemblage of personal swimming statistics, I have been dreading to think how truly slow I will become once the suit is outlawed.

    But let's say that I do end up adding roughly 2.5 seconds to my 100 post body suit ban. This is about what I subtracted in my 100 time from age 47 to 48 when the Aquablade was first introduced.

    I would thus be swimming, say, a 56.5 for the 100 free, which seems to me truly awful. But when I plug this number into Chris's age rating calculator, it cranks out an 86.8. This is almost exactly what I was doing, age-graded wise, at 46, before the speed suits were even introduced.

    So it would be just a return to historical norms.

    Perhaps this past decade in swimming performance, not just for me but for all who have "benefited" from suit enhancement of their swimming times, will be viewed by future historians as just another bubble of our bubble-bursting era of excess!

    And in the meantime, I shall set my sights on breaking 56.5 in jammers!
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  18. New Legal Suit Technology for Men!

    by , January 4th, 2010 at 12:20 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    My talks with industry are going very well indeed.

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  19. Doo-B-Do-Over

    by , January 7th, 2010 at 01:57 PM (Chicken's Nuggets)
    Doo-B-Do-Over
    Posted January 6th, 2010 at 09:33 PM by Chicken of the Sea
    As the self appointed Chicago branch of the Sewickley SeaDragons, I've been receiving Bill White's excellent workouts via email on a daily basis.

    Bill was on holidays over the recent Christmas break, though, so I was in a bit of a panic until Vlog the Inhaler stepped in with the Jimcentric "B" level mediocre workout. I received this fabulous looking workout on Dec 28th and was so excited that I raced to the pool two days later to do it.

    About 10 minutes into the swim, I was ejected from my lane by a noodler class consisting of 4 ladies. A polite plea for compassion from the instructor resulted in "YES WE NEED 2 LANES FOR THIS CLASS YES OF COURSE WE DO!!!!!!". Said instructor then moved 2 of the women into the second lane so as to occupy it and I had to wait until a nice man offered to share his swimming lane.

    Anyway......I was very grumpy and, although I got to finish the workout, I didn't enjoy it as much as I should have.

    So yesterday I did a do-over!!!

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  20. Craigslist Posting

    by , January 8th, 2010 at 10:16 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    pittsburgh craigslist > for sale / wanted > business opportunities

    Avoid scams and fraud by dealing locally! Beware any deal involving Western Union, Moneygram, wire transfer, cashier check, money order, shipping, escrow, or any promise of transaction protection/certification/guarantee. More info

    1952 Vintage Brand Magazine Writer Identity: Jim Thornton


    Date: 2010-01-08, 9:08PM EST
    Reply to: sale-tzk87-1544006339@craigslist.org [Errors when replying to ads?]

    Four time National Magazine Award Nominee and One-Time NMA Winner http://www.magazine.org/asme/magazine_awards/searchable_database/index.aspx Jim Thornton is now seeking the best reasonable offer for his brand.

    Jim Thornton is a nationally respected magazine journalist/brand who/that several tens of people have heard of.

    Jim Thornton, the man/hollowed-out husk, (not to be confused with Jim Thornton, the still robust brand), has, unfortunately, reached a point of linguistic befuddlement where he can no longer execute the demands that come with maintaining the Jim Thornton brand.

    Despite this, husk Jim Thornton continues to receive assignments and tries his best to execute these. In the past several years, both his wall and skull have come close to complete ruin due to the nearly continuous banging of the two together.

    Freelancers, current staff writers, or even aspiring writers interested in purchasing the Jim Thornton brand can look forward to actual assignments. Do not worry that any talent whatsoever will be required once you assume the Jim Thornton brand identity. Jim has spent years lowering his standards and throwing hissy fits with those editors who hire him and demand quality.

    At this point, even the slightest ability to put simple sentences together with the occasional period, question mark, or exclamation point in the general vicinity of the end of word chains should be more than sufficient to guarantee any Jim Thornton brand-assumer work and kill fees for weeks, maybe even a month, to come.

    In the event no reasonable offers are forthcoming, Jim Thornton is also willing to sell his brain to researchers with grants to conduct fMRI scans 24/7 -- or is it 24/8? on the Swiss cheese yogurt concoction of synaptical mush inside his skullcap.

    • Location: Blackburn Rd Sewickley
    • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

    Important note:

    Payment can be made by any of the following: Western Union, Moneygram, wire transfer, cashier check, money order, shipping, escrow, or promise of transaction protection/certification/guarantee.

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