Tuesday, December 6, 2016

T’ai Chi for Life
Paul D. Ellner
            My first experience with T’ai Chi was about thirty years ago on Taiwan. I was spending a month there giving a series of lectures to doctors at the major hospital in Taipei. I observed that every morning, people came into the streets in front of their homes or work places to engage in a series of exercises that looked like an Oriental dance in slow motion. I learned that these exercises were one of the Chinese martial arts, performed for health reasons rather than combat.            
            About a year ago, now in my nineties, I needed something to help my balance, which had deteriorated along with my vision loss. Having heard that T’ai Chi might be helpful, I was referred to Keith Mutch, a T’ai Chi instructor. I found Keith at the Torrington Family Kempo (TFK: 860-626-1114), a spacious studio near Lakeridge on Winsted Road. He explained the principles of T’ai Chi to me and I enrolled in his hour-long bi-weekly classes.
            Classes were small and I often had the benefit of what was essentially a private lesson. Keith patiently explained all of the movements and the breathing, which started with some gentle stretches before progressing to the actual positions called the form.
            T’ai Chi was started in the 14th-century in China. This series of exercises was developed over hundreds of years and conforms to the principles of Chinese medicine. Its benefits are physical, mental and spiritual. T’ai Chi increases range of motion, can decrease high blood pressure, improves balance and reduces the effects of stress.
            After three months of classes with Keith, Connie and I spent the winter in South Carolina where I continued to practice T’ai Chi in our apartment and even took a few private lessons. Returning to Lakeridge, I have since continued classes with Keith, to find Gail Hauss, another Lakeridge resident, as my classmate.
            Gail has been practicing T’ai Chi for years, along with classes in yoga. Yoga tends to advocate stillness, while T’ai Chi seeks constant movement.

            T’ai Chi is suitable for all ages and is particularly beneficial for seniors.  I have found that T’ai Chi helps me with meditation. It has definitely improved my balance and on a few occasions, helped me to avoid a fall. I plan to continue T’ai Chi indefinitely.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

OUR TIMES



            In 1776, the British behaved abominably to their American colonies, taxing almost everything, restricting their trade and quartering their troops in American homes.
            Thomas Paine, an American patriot, became exasperated with the situation. In a widely circulated pamphlet called Common Sense he wrote: “These are the times that try men’s souls” and urged revolution. Paine could never imagine how bad things would become.
            In the present day U.S.A., racial prejudice and financial disparity have caused alienation among a large segment of our people. Political acrimony rises to a new height with venom and vitriol in the media and the social behavior of some politicians reaching a new low.
            As the national debt continues ballooning, a recalcitrant Congress sends up bills rife with earmarks and pork and obstructs every effort of our first black President to make progress.
            Lobbyists influence Senators and Representatives in legislative decisions. Congressmen, secure in their sinecures, absent term limits, spend much time working to ensure reelection.
            A Presidential candidate, a liar, a sexual predator and paranoid, seeks election. The Supreme Court, shy one justice do to blocked Congressional confirmation, limps along.
            In our cities, tense police shoot unarmed blacks while, almost weekly, mad shooters with automatic weapons gun down innocents in schools and colleges.
            Rogue nations possess or are developing nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. In the lands of the sands, fanatic Muslims spread terror throughout Europe, Africa and America as thousands of desperate refuges flee the Middle East.
            In the background to all the above, global warming, the consequence of pollution from fossil fuels and the destruction of ecosystems of land and sea are insidiously changing our climate with violent super storms, drought, and rising sea levels promising the elimination of mankind from the Earth.

            These are truly times that try men’s souls.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

BEAR WITH ME

By

Paul D. Ellner


My eyesight began to change even before we moved to Lakeridge. While flying Search and Rescue missions for the Civil Air Patrol, my landings began to get bumpier, and I was diagnosed with AMD.  Age-related Macular Degeneration is a progressive retinal disease that causes most of the blindness in the U.S.  My flying days were over.

In Lakeridge, however, I was able to lead a normal life, recognize friends, and enjoy long walks with Heidi, my beloved Doberman. Eventually, my Dobie became lame and had to be put down. I was depressed.

I poured myself into my writing, published three novels, and wrote a book of poems.

Meanwhile, I tried every available treatment for my eyes, but inevitably there came a day when the ophthalmologists told me there was nothing further that could be done. At this point, I could not see more than about six feet ahead, distinguish TV, read, write, or see the food on my plate although I had some peripheral vision.  I became completely dependent upon my wife Connie to get around Lakeridge or anywhere else for that matter. Someone at the VA suggested getting a guide dog, but I was approaching the end of my 8th decade, and I wondered if I was up to it. Nevertheless, I applied to several organizations that provide service dogs. One of them rejected me because I was too old, and another required that I provide daily three-hour walks for the dog. A third one, Guiding Eyes for The Blind in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., agreed to consider my application. After 13 months of waiting, I was accepted into a class and reported to the large Guiding Eyes facility.

On the second day, my instructor told me, “We have a dog that we think is right for you. This dog was returned to Guiding Eyes by the client, so he is a year older than our other dogs.  The problem was not with the dog, but with the client.  The dog has been retrained.”

“No, thanks,” I said. “I’d rather have a fresh dog.”

The instructor persisted. “I think you should reconsider because this dog is really the best match for you.”

“OK,” I told her. “I’ll try him.”

It was a decision I will never regret. I was introduced to Ray, a three- year old black Labrador, and it was love at first sight. We bonded and for the next three weeks, from 6 AM until 9 PM, Ray, my instructor, and I worked together. Initially I learned to care for him, put on his harness, and to pick up the “poop” he left several times a day when I took him out. I began to learn how to work with him in the city, in restaurants, malls, and in the country. The instructors are highly motivated and trained young people who love dogs and are committed to having their clients succeed. After graduation, I came home with Ray, and another instructor came for several days to ensure that Ray and I became familiar with Lakeridge.

My life had definitely improved. With Ray‘s help I am now able to walk all around Lakeridge on the roads and also on the new trails through the woods. Ray is a friendly, gentle companion, but strictly business when wearing his harness.

I had heard that there are bears around Lakeridge, but I never saw one. That is, until a few days before writing this article.

The day started about seven, when Ray and I walked to the West Lodge. In the locker room he waited while I changed my shoes for sneakers and then lay patiently along side of the treadmill while I did my thirty-minute workout. On the way home, we stopped at the Maintenance yard to see if the short cut to Old Farms Road had been shoveled free of snow.  It was, and we took it starting down the left edge of Old Farms. About halfway down the street, Ray suddenly stopped abruptly near one of the garbage bins.

“Why are you stopping?” I asked him.  “Let’s go!”

Ray didn’t budge. It was as if he was anchored in place. He looked pointedly at the garbage bin, and then I saw it. A large black bear about five feet away from us.

“Forward,” I commanded, but instead, Ray made a right turn taking me to the yellow line and then down the street while constantly looking alternatively at the bear and then ahead. The bear remained on all fours, didn’t move, or utter a sound. Ray remained silent while continuing to take me away from the bear at a normal pace. I was too stunned to feel fear until later, when I considered that if Ray had growled or barked, the bear might have felt threatened and attacked us. I think the bear was probably confused, and I know that Ray was scared, but he kept his cool and continued to do his job taking me safely home.

I think that if we ever encounter this bear again, it will consider us harmless and leave us be. Nevertheless, it is comforting to know that come hell or high water, Ray does his job guiding me safely.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Slaughter in Newtown, CT



“What can President Obama tell the parents of those first-graders when he meets with them today?” my wife asked.
“There is nothing he can say,” I replied.  “The act was too horrendous and heart-wrenching for mere condolences.”
If the President had the power, which he doesn’t, he could make if a federal offense for military type assault weapons to be sold or owned by civilians.  There is no possible use for them by civilians. These guns are not used in hunting or for target practice. The opposition to such a federal law by the NRA is political.   Our country has been characterized by repeated episodes of mass shootings in schools and this latest butchery will cause international attention.  Something has to be done! And it has to be done in Washington now!

12/16/12

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Marika

“Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul…”
- William Ernest Henley



With apologies to Henley, I’m back! This time with a new book called Marika. There are several Marika titles around, but I think you’ll enjoy this one. It’s all about the life of a remarkable woman, richly fictionalized to fill in the many personal events in her life.

Marika grows up in Budapest during WWII, and as a child and preteen, does what she can to help fellow Jews by carrying forged documents.

At 16, she escapes to New York, proceeds to college in Tennessee, and becomes a leading psychologist.

Her life is marred by a series of painful marriages, but she perseveres to reach her goals.

If you would like to follow the adventures of a courageous woman, try this book - Marika

Sunday, October 2, 2011

American BW Experiments on Americans

When writing my novel, And Evil Shall Come, I remember how startled I was to learn about the temerity of our government in performing field tests of biologic agents on unsuspecting American communities.

For example, in 1950, ships of the U.S. Navy sprayed a cloud of bacteria over San Francisco. Many residents became ill with pneumonia-like symptoms. Three years later, in experiments conducted jointly by the Army, Navy and the CIA, the populations of New York and San Francisco were deliberately exposed to airborne bacteria.

Most of these tests utilized organisms believed to be non-infectious (non-pathogenic). However, present day populations contain significant numbers of individuals whose resistance to infection have been compromised by underlying diseases like AIDS, cancer, or by medical treatments. These persons might have been infected by the test organisms. Of course, information about these experiments was classified at the time.

The government continued with these experiments without the knowledge or consent of the “guinea pig” populace. In 1956 and again in 1958, the U.S. Army released mosquitoes infected with yellow fever over Savannah, Georgia and Avon Park, Florida. Some people became ill and some died. At the time, I was teaching at the University of Florida’s College of Medicine, but the results of this experiment were kept secret.

In 1966, the U.S. Army dispensed bacteria throughout the New York City subway system, exposing more than a million civilians to these germs. During this time, I was teaching in New York City at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, but again knew nothing of these tests.

Two years later, a U.S. submarine sprayed bacteria over the island of Oahu.

In 1972, President Nixon signed an Executive Order banning the production and use of biological agents, and the above type of tests on Americans appeared to be halted.

By the 1980s, details of the above experiments were de-classified and became public knowledge.

But in 1994, Dr. Garth Nicolson, of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, made a startling discovery. Using a technique called “gene tracking”, he found that many American soldiers returning from Desert Storm were infected with an altered strain of Mycoplasma incognitus, a microbe commonly used in the production of biological weapons. The molecular structure of this organism contains 40 percent of the protein coat of Human Immuno-deficiency Virus, the cause of AIDS. This observation indicates that the organism was man-made.

I find this frightening. It strongly suggests that government agencies may be covertly using its citizens, civilian or military, as guinea pigs for research on biological weapons.

For a detailed non-fiction description of biological weapons, read Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War by Judith Miller et al, Simon and Schuster 2002. For an exciting story on the subject of biological weapons and mini-nukes, read my book And Evil Shall Come that may be obtained from my website www.ellner.com.