140 over 80

...a cautious move back to exercising...


You could blow a gasket."

Those were the precise words a cardiologist said to me a week ago. My BP was somewhere around 190 over 110. Far too high to be exercising and hence I stopped. It didn't matter a GP told me the exact opposite a week earlier. "All the cardio you want, it's good for you."

Based on the GP's advice, I continued to exercise. There's a certain irony in exercising to be healthy and risking instant death in the process from a heart attack or aneurysm. At the moment, I'd like to avoid those thoughts.

In the past week I've been on BP meds. First 25 mg of atenolol each day and now 50 mg. I've been reading my BP and HR at intervals and my BP has come down. I've had readings of 140/80 in the last couple of days. That's the target. As a result, it seemed safe to get back to the gym and I did.

I wasn't pushing myself, wasn't overly exerting myself. I did 30 minutes on the treadmill. Flat grade and only at 5.5 km/h--a walking pace. When I started the workout my heart rate was around 60 bpm. I could time each beat with the tick of a second. When I was done, it went up to 72 bpm. I didn't break much sweat. I was amazed my heart rate was that low. I wonder if it even counts as a workout. The good news is I didn't experience any discomfort, shortness of breath, dizziness, pain etc. It was a light workout, easy.

I know my at rest heart rate is low. It's a result of my fitness regiment, lots of exercise, but during this past week I discovered how low: it's typically around 60 but ranges from 55 to 65. I was surprised by these numbers. I'm in better shape than I thought, except for my high BP which is coming down thanks to the meds.

I still don't understand why I have hypertension and low heart rate. It doesn't make sense to me.

One thing I've discovered from this: I don't need to exercise everyday. I can cut back. Free up time for, uh, watching ants.

Posted 2010/03/26 at 21h53ET in Exercise.

New Ideas

...where do the good ideas come from?...


ere's a quote from someone's Facebook wall,

Just when I think of a great script idea...I search and find out it is already 'in production' for 2012!

I know the feeling. I once started work on a story only to plop a DVD into the player and discover the story I started, the great idea I molded, was already a movie and before that a successful novel in hardcover. Ugh!

There was no point continuing with the same idea because it had been done--even though I had thought it up on my own--it didn't matter. I had to move onto another premise, another idea.

After I soaked in enough frustration from being deflated, I felt better when I realized I had come up with a clever idea for a story and others thought enough it to publish a book and make a feature film. That was something. Much better than no ideas or tired ones.

But any idea, clever or derivative, is nothing until it is formed into its being as a novel, script, prototype, beta version, or business plan in action. There are lots of ideas, what matters is the execution of it. Many people fail to understand this later part.

Darwin didn't come up with the notion of evolution, others had the idea. What Darwin did was develop the mechanism to explain how it happened, natural selection, and spent decades compiling the evidence to support his theory. (It's a theory that stands to this day. After 150 years, mountains of research and evidence support Darwin's work. Remarkable.)

So for our frustrated blogger on Facebook, keep at it, there will be many more ideas and some of them will make it into your next story or the one after that. Speaking of which, I have a novel to write. It's about a doctor possessed with the notion of creating life out of...

Posted 2010/03/25 at 19h30ET in Writing.

Can You Top That?

...a new plateau on Itunes...


continue to add albums (of course, they're called CDs) to my iTunes library and I went past both the seventeen thousand song mark and 100 gigabytes.

The numbers seem small and I have many more CDs to add.

This can't be good, but I do like to listen to music and these days, it's rarely anything played over the radio.

Posted 2010/03/22 at 21h47ET in Itunes.

Don't Need THAT

...don't need that...


was browsing some web sites looking for info on a Bax symphonic recording and came across this web site.

Here's another example of an unessential that,

I must confess that I was never particularly happy with this disc...

Since you don't need that, just cut it out,

I must confess I was never particularly happy with this disc...

You too can do it and say, I don't need that.

Posted 2010/03/22 at 21h47ET in Don't Need THAT.

My iTunes Genius Mix

...my iTunes genius mix...


thought I'd share my Itunes Genius mix page. As I add CDs, I update my mix and sometimes get different album art and a different order. The more I play a certain mix, the higher up it is in the order. That much I have figured out. The other factor appears to be the number of songs you have for a category. By far I have more Jazz and Jazz Vocal songs than pop or rock and they are ranked at the top.

And this is the list:

Jazz Mix

Vocal Mix

Classic R&B Mix

Smooth Jazz Mix

Singer/Songwriter Mix

Pop Mix

Classic Rock Mix

Classical Mix

Soundtracks Mix

Adult Alternative Pop Mix

Soft Rock Mix

Folk Mix

Posted 2010/03/20 at 17h16ET in Itunes.

Welcome to Middle Age

...Well, welcome to middle age...


felt the cuff tighten around my bicep. My forearm turned red--it reminded me of beets. Pressure radiated in my hand and I thought it would rupture. Damn it hurt. This wasn't normal. I watched with curiosity to see if it would explode, as if it weren't attached to me, as if it were a YouTube video, but without warning, the cuff loosened, the air released and my arm returned to the white I was used to seeing as the blood flowed normally.

A second later the machine I was attached to started to beep and squawk and flash bright red around a number over 200. It kept squawking and chirping until a nurse came in and hit a button labelled 'alarm off'.

"Your blood pressure is high," she said. Her gaze fixed on the monitor.

"No shit," I thought to myself. Sarcasm might have made me feel a touch better, but it wasn't going to help the situation.

"And glad to see you came running at the sound of the alarm," came another thought I kept to myself. I wondered how long it would have taken for them to respond if I had, as they say, gone into cardiac arrest. Some things are better left undiscovered.

Later, a physician repeated the comment, "You know your blood pressure is high," but unlike so many times in the last couple of years, he added, "We're going to put you on medication," to deal with this hypertension.

I have to wonder why these nurses and physicians have told me I have high BP but offered nothing further until now. Am I supposed to know what to do? As I supposed to ask, please put me on Ditrexaine Hydrocholride Poxin, 50 mg tablets, four times a day, after meals, with a shot of apple juice. I should know this. I guess.

The medicine came in the form of a long needle in my left hand with a long tube and 50 ml IV bag. The solution cooled the surface of my hand as if I had rubbed ice on it. Later I had one of the biggest bruises I've ever had in my life. It lasted over a week. My right bicep was also bruised from the BP cuff.

There's was greater surprise to come during my visit with a cardiologist to have a stress test done. He wouldn't even consider putting me on the treadmill because my BP was too high. Is too high. Ugh!

What gives? I eat loads of healthy food, exercise... I don't smoke. Hell my at rest heart rate is in the 60s. I hit 58 bpm today. How many people can say that? Few, but I still have hypertension and I do notice it. I am reminded of Trudeau in a victory speech, "Well welcome to the 1980s." Well, welcome to middle age.

It's not about diet and exercise to solve the problem, it's meds and meds alone. Go figure. And here is the kicker, I'm not supposed to be exercising or otherwise exerting myself because "you could blow a gasket." The exact and sophisticated words of this heart specialist. Days before I asked about exercising and was told I could do all the cardio I wanted because it was good for me. It leaves me with little confidence when I'm getting contradictory advice. It seems more plausible to me I could "blow a gasket."

My hypertension, it appears, is related to age and genes and not my diet or exercise. While my lifestyle may have some impact, it's at a point where it's beyond my control. I am now on BP meds. Atenolol. A beta blocker, for what it's worth. I have no idea how the med works, but it is supposed to work, yet I have to see evidence of it.

When I picked up my meds, I also bot a BP monitor. An Omron model HEM-741CAN. It's a beauty with slick...never mind. I strap myself in and push a button. The machine does the rest. For some reasons I have images of Glenn Gould measuring and recording his BP with a hand pump and stethoscope. I know how that story ends. Was he taking beta blockers? Probably.

I don't like the fact I have shut down my exercise. I've averaged 6 days a week for the last four years and 6.6 days a week in 2010. Those numbers will fall when all I want is for my systolic and diastolic numbers to fall and I can get back to my workouts. Come on 140 over 80. I can hear the dice rattle across the table.

Posted 2010/03/19 at 20h24ET in Exercise.

Don't Need THAT

...you don't need THAT...


ere's an excerpt from WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL by Donald Maass, p. 14,

Over the years I have also noticed THAT first novels tend to feel small.

There is a superfluous 'that' in the sentence and you don't need THAT.

See for yourself.

Over the years I have also noticed first novels tend to feel small.

If you find it awkward without THAT, give it time. You'll come around.

Posted 2010/03/18 at 18h26ET in Don't Need THAT.

Back on line. Redux.

...some things don't change...


should just change the date on my last entry and say I wrote it today, but that would be cheating...

For various reasons I haven't posted any entries to this web since last October and today I am in a position to change that and hopefully on an ongoing basis. (Yes, my stay in club prison was enjoyable. Thanks for asking.)

I have two new categories to add to my web site. 1. Don't Need THAT and 2. iTunes.

Don't Need THAT is a play on words. There are certain things we think we need, but we don't. That's not the that I'm referring to, but THAT as in "I knew that I was in trouble..." The THAT in the quote just isn't needed. You don't need THAT. I hope to create a collection of examples from published books. Maybe with time we will see that disappear except for all the needed situations. As for other that, that's for you to decide. It's personal.

Then there is iTunes. I have joined the iPod generation. I've long since listened to MP3s and CDs with a computer, but only recently bot a portable MP3 player of any merit (The Sansa Clip from Scandisk. I like it a lot.) As you can see from the iTunes stats, I have over 16,000 songs in my library. 94 GBs. They are all from CDs I have ripped. No file sharing downloads. I have so many CDs to rip, I bot a two 1 TB external hard drives just to store the music files (one for the originals, the second as a backup). Plus other backup processes. Too much effort gone into creating this library to see something happen to the files. As I learn something knew about this quirky program called iTunes, I may post an entry.

Posted 2010/03/17 at 15h58ET in JamesPiper.com.