Mouth breathers unite!

I made an interesting discovery. I’m a mouth breather.

No, not in the sense you’re thinking where I’m a mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging, ignorant trumpanzee. No. I mean when I exercise, I breathe through my mouth instead of my nose.

I only just realized that. Generally, I don’t think about how I’m breathing when I exercise, particularly running. I’m too focused on all the other mechanics to pay much attention to breathing. After all, I’m not suffocating. I’m not passing out from lack of oxygen. So, how I breath never entered the equation.

But I did notice that after runs in cold weather (like today, it’s 19 degrees F with a wind chill of 13), my throat and chest feel a little sore, like the cold, damp weather is freezing my insides.

To solve this, I went and purchased a face mask. I bought the Fitwhiz Unisex Ski Mask. It’s made of neoprene and looked like it would work well.

Fitwhiz Unisex Ski Mask Neck Warmer

Looks cool, sure. And if you’re a nose breather, it probably works great. I’m only a nose breather for about a block or two, then I become a mouth breather, because I have small nostrils, or possibly a small sinus passage, and I can’t get an adequate amount of air into my lungs when I’m doing aerobics, so I revert to breathing through my mouth.

I’m not gasping for breath, mind you, just breathing through my mouth.

The issue with this mask? It’s neoprene. Neoprene isn’t very permeable. There’s a nice big hole for your nose, but for mouth breathing? Those little holes aren’t enough and that little circle thing that looks like a vent? I think it’s just for show. It doesn’t do anything, not when you inhale nor when you exhale.

And exhaling is the other thing. Those small holes again aren’t enough during exhalation. Your breath goes up and out the top of the mask. In my case, that means fogging my glasses so I can’t see.

I’ve used it twice now. Both times after a few blocks I had to rip it off my face because I wasn’t getting enough air. Which reminds me of a funny story from my Navy days.

We were taking shipboard fire fighting classes in Norfolk, Virginia. We’d put on our fire fighting gear, which included an Oxygen Breathing Apparatus (OBA) and we’d enter this large square brick building. Inside, there were catwalks and below us was some sort of inflammable liquid. They’d set it on fire and we’d enter and have to knock down the fire using different techniques.

Well, we were inside and I started having a panic attack that I couldn’t breath. My OBA unit wasn’t working, I wasn’t getting enough air. The damned thing must have been defective. Just my luck, right? In a blind panic, I ripped the mask off and took a deep breath …

… of extremely hot, noxious gases!

Yes, the OBA was working just fine, thank you very much. I quickly replaced it and went along my merry way trying not to think about how it was much more difficult to breath life-giving good air compared to deadly, burning fumes.

Anyway, that’s how I feel when I wear this mask. Like I’m suffocating. I’ve tried it twice and both times I had to remove it.

I’m sure it’ll be wonderful when it comes time to shovel snow or just walk to work when it reaches single digits, but run in? Hell no.

So that’s my story of how I learned I’m an exercising mouth-breather.

By the by, I never did apply for the scuba team while in the Navy either because of this need to breath air thing.

Oh, and I bought a new pair of running shoes, Brooks Ghost 10. I’ve run in them about five times now. Just wonderful cushioning on the cement. I don’t know why I bothered trying other brands. I love my Brooks. Run Happy.

Keep running, peeps.



Wisconsin blue wave

This morning, Wisconsinites woke to great news. Our long, agonizing, state-wide nightmare has finally come to an end. Scott Walker, our hapless governor was voted out.

Additionally, barring a recount, we have a Democrat as Attorney General and our great Senator, Tammy Baldwin, successfully defended her seat.

A lot of money was spent by the Koch brothers and other out-of-state Tea Party special interests to spread lies, fabrications, and racist fears, but in the end, intelligence and truth won the day and the sun has risen over our state, filling us all with hope and a promise of a better future.

Maybe the pendulum is finally swinging back to sanity.



Trombone Tuesday – Melba Liston


I’ve been remiss in mentioning female trombonists and I intend to make up for that today.

melba liston
Melba Liston on trombone

Let me introduce you to Melba Doretta Liston. Melba was the first woman trombonist to play in big bands during the 1940s through the 1960s. She was born on January 13, 1926 in Kansas City, Missouri. At the age of seven, as part of her elementary school’s new music program, the instrument she chose was the trombone, because she thought it was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen (which, of course, they are).

Melba decided at the age of 16, after years of music lessons, including being part of a children’s big band with Alma Hightower, to become a professional musician, joined the musicians union, and became a member of the band of the Los Angeles Lincoln Theater. During her time there, she started composing and arranging.

In 1944, after leaving the LA Lincoln Theater, she joined a new band formed by trumpeter Gerald Watson. During this time, Melba worked with many emerging names in the bebop scene. In 1948, when Watson’s band broke up, she joined Dizzy Gillespie’s big band, which included John Coltrane. At first, she was nervous to solo when asked but she soon grew comfortable and became a featured voice in the bands.

Her musical journey took her on tours with Count Basie, Billy Holiday,  and Duke Ellington; she recorded with Art Blakely’s Jazz Messengers, formed her own all-woman jazz quartet, and accompanied Billy Eckstine with the Quincy Jones Orchestra.

A stroke in 1985 forced her to stop playing, but she continued arranging. In 1987, she was awarded the “Jazz Masters Fellowship” of the National Endowment for the Arts.

After a series of strokes, she passed away on April 23, 1999 at the age of 73.

Melba was a pioneer, the first woman in the strictly male-dominated jazz field, and despite the sexist walls she had to climb, the abuse she had to constantly deal with, she became a legend in her own right on the trombone.

Here’s a sampling of some of Melba’s music:

I hope you’ve enjoyed listening to Melba and it’s encouraged you to look deeper into her music and career.



Vote dammit

Tomorrow is Election Day in the United States. It’s a mid-term election, meaning traditionally no one bothers to vote because it isn’t a Presidential election.

This year though, Your Vote Matters as if it were a Presidential election.


Because if enough of us Vote Democrat, we could swing the House and Senate back to the side of good and prevent the further erosion of all our rights and freedoms that the Orange Turd and his facist cronies are slowly taking away.

Don’t kid yourself. This most likely will be the most important election in your lifetime aside from 2020.

We already screwed up in 2016 when we allowed all the bigots, racists, homophobes, and misogynists to put the Orange Turd into the White House, where he has systematically taken the USA backwards using Executive Orders and a colluding GOP.

Tomorrow’s election won’t get rid of the Orange Turd, but it will swing the pendulum back a bit, preventing any further erosion to all the gains our country has made over the last 100 years.

Who needs to vote?

Everyone who has lost their rights due to the current facist regime.

Are you a woman? You need to vote!

Are you a minority? You need to vote!

Are you gay or lesbian or part of the LGBT community? You need to vote!

Are you a worker? You need to vote!

Are you any religion other than Christian? You need to vote!

Are you elderly? You need to vote!

Do you have pre-existing.conditions? You need to vote!

In fact, anyone who isn’t named Trump needs to vote because all the changes he has been making benefit only him.

We need to descend upon the polls enmass like an overwhelming blue tsunami to sweep as many Democrats into office as possible.

And if any if you can’t be bothered to vote whatever happens then, any further erosion to our democracy, is your fault.

Your vote does matter.

Use it wisely.


Aging isn’t for the weak

Monday last week, I dropped a pen on the floor.

While sitting in my chair, I leaned forward to pick it up. Suddenly, I was struck with excruciating pain on my left side just below the rib cage.

I gasped and sat back, the pain continued as I pressed my hands into the area.

A heart attack? No. A stomach muscle cramp. It felt like the scene from “Alien” as that muscle bulged painfully.

After several minutes, the cramp went away, but the pain remained. I had pulled one of my abs and it twinged whenever I did anything the rest if the weak, making me congnizant of how much we use our stomach muscles throughout the day.

Lean forward? Pain. Twist? Pain. Reach for something overhead? Pain.

Then Friday, I was sitting in a chair relaxing. Honestly, I don’t remember doing anything. I shifted position and numbing pain shot through my right shoulder.

Somehow I had pulled my trapezius, the muscle the goes from your neck across your shoulder. It another muscle you’d be surprised at hiw much it’s usednduring the day. Turn your head? Pain. Reach for something? Pain.

I’ve been putting muscle rubs, heat, and vibration on it since.

And now today, I was standing in front of my dresser changing the time on the alarm clock. Suddenly, it felt like someone took a sledgehammer to my back. From below my shoulders to just above my hips, my entire back seized up. I had trouble breathing the pain was so great.

Somehow, I had managed to pull every muscle in my middle back.

And you use your back for every single movement! I feel pain just reaching for my coffee cup.

I can’t wait to see what I pull tomorrow.

Yes, if you have low pain tolerance, aging isn’t for you.


The good, bad, and the jerks

Back a long time ago when I used to be a fan of the Green Bay Packers — long before I realized the majority of their championships (11 of them) came in their first 50 years and they haven’t done shit these last 50 — back when they were going through their 25 year drought before they hired Ron Wolf and stopped being a laughing stock, I was asked the question, “Would you rather have a team filled with players who were classy, believed in good sportsmanship but had average skills, or would you want a team filled with assholes who won consistently and took you to the playoffs?”

My response was, I’d prefer the team filled with players I can look up to, who I can be proud of as human beings, and who don’t embarrass me or the team.

I still believe that. Luckily, skill and good sportsmanship aren’t an either/or proposition. There are quality athletes who are also quality human beings.

None of them are playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, it would seem.

Until the playoffs, I had never given the Dodgers much thought. The Milwaukee Brewers had played them a few series during the regular season, but none of their players triggered my Asshole Meter.

Not like players on some of the other teams we play, like Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals (who pegs the needle on the Asshole Meter), Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds, and Jose Bautista of the Philladephia Phillies, for example.

But now, closely watching the NLCS, I can see upclose how many assholes they really have, not only on the Dodgers team itself, but in the stands, as well.

Manny Machado — Milwaukee was in talks with this guy before the Dodgers acquired him. I did not want him as a Brewer and his play with L.A. is proving that point. He has deliberately tried to take out two of our players while he was running the bases. Twice he tried to injure our shortstop sliding into second, and he kicked the leg of our first baseman as he ran past.

Breaking News: MLB has fined Manny Machado for running into Jesús Aguilar.

Rich Hill — He literally had a temper tantrum in the dugout that would have made any two-year-old proud, kicking and throwing containers of candy because he failed to strike out a batter.

Yasiel Puig — Another hot head who breaks bats over his knee when he strikes out. Someone needs to get him a pacifier STAT.

Clayton Kershaw — OK, I take it back that I didn’t notice any assholes on the Dodgers. Kershaw triggers my Asshole Meter with every pitch. Why? Because he balks every single time. Also, his hair is greasy and his hat is stained with grease. You can’t tell me he isn’t doctoring the ball. But because he’s the great Kershaw, he gets away with it. It was nice to see him crying on the bench after we knocked him out early in game one. I hope we can do the same today.

The Fans — Yes, the fans. When our pitcher injured his ankle and walked off the field their fans did nothing. Nothing. I guess being from the midwest, I found that to be terribly rude. If an opposing player gets injured at Miller Park, we stand, clap and cheer when he is taken off the field to show our support. He may be an opposing player, but we still show that we care and hope he gets better. And seriously. L.A. is still booing Ryan Braun? It’s been ten years. Get over it.

I don’t understand fans who can cheer for assholes, and understand even less those who actually admire these types of players. I can’t condone dirty play, immature outbursts, or downright cheating.

“But you guys have Ryan Braun.” See above. Get over it. It was a decade ago. He’s guilty of making a poor decision, then compounded the situation by lying about it, but that doesn’t make him an asshole. Stupid, sure. But he’s been clean since. He served his punishment. And taking PEDs is a far cry from being a spoiled, entitled, little jerkoff asshole, like Bryce Harper. Braun is a good clubhouse leader, a good representative for baseball and the Brewers within the community, and has even been in the running for the Alberto Clemente Award.

Anyway, the thing is when the Brewers finally do get past the Dodgers, they’ll more than likely face a team filled with even more assholes when they play the Boston Redsox.

The sad thing is the national media, as well as Major League Baseball itself, would prefer a World Series where the L.A. Assholes face off against the Boston Assholes.

Go figure.


Musical Monday – The Revivalists

This time around I thought I’d feature a modern band instead if my usual obscure bands from the 1970s.

I tend to listen to an alternative rock station more than anything. I mean, yes, I do listen to some “oldies” stations that play various music from the ’70s and ’80s, but to be honest, I like new music, too.

I just roll my eyes when people say, “There is no good music today!” They start sounding like my parents did. “Why can’t you listen to good music, like Benny Goodman or Glen Miller?”

Good music is out there, still, if you have an open mind and realize musical styles change over time. But if you’re going to be an old fuddy duddy, then I guess you’ll keep listening to the music you grew up with and complain about today’s music.

That said, let me introduce you to The Revivalists. They’re an American rock band out of New Orleans that formed in 2007.

In March 2016, they were named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the “10 bands you need to know.”

In September 2016, their song, “Wish I Knew You” reached No. 1 on the Adult Alternative Songs chart and in May of 2017, it reached No. 1 on the Alternative Songs chart.

Their sound has often been described as a “Crescent City-rhythm spin on Jam Band Jubilee,” whatever the Hell that means. I just think they’re an extremely talented and fun band.

Here is their most recent song release, “All My Friends,” and the song I immediately fell in love with.

Here is “Wish I Knew You,” which I had heard before, really liked, but until “All My Friends” came out, I hadn’t gone out of my way to find out about the band.

Here’s “It Was a Sin.”

Here’s “Navigate Below.”

Here’s “Criminal.”

I hope you enjoyed listening to the Revivalists. If you want to learn more about them, here is their home page.

Let me know what you think in the comments.