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Some Thoughts on Chester Bennington

When I was 14, I had a Yahoo Geocities website. It was terrible. It was everything you expected from a 14-year-old’s personal webpage—autoplaying music, self-congratulatory inside jokes, and a whole lot of pop-culture (Invader Zim!) references. One of the sections of the site was a “shrines” page, which contained collages of whatever male celebrities I was crushing on at the time. One of these men was Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington.

No more were the posters of *NSync and Aaron Carter. What used to be 100.3 Z-100 hit music radio was now 92.3 K-rock. And crooning love songs were now replaced with angsty ballads of bitterness and betrayal.

I bought blue flame shoelaces from Hot Topic to mirror Chester’s blue flame wrist tattoos. I claimed to have a “thing” for men with lip rings. I made my middle school agenda book cover a meta-collage from my “shrines” page, Chester Bennington taking a prominent position near the top.

14 Years Later – 7/20/17

I was getting ready to go to therapy with my psychologist when I refreshed my Facebook page and found out Chester was dead.

The news broke via TMZ less than 30 minutes before my Facebook friends got to it.

I was supposed to see Linkin Park live for the first time in my life the next week Friday, July 28th – at Citi Field in Flushing, NY.

I didn’t have much time to process before I headed out the door to therapy. The shock was still fresh. “How did this happen?” “I was just listening to Linkin Park.” “What is going to happen to my tickets?”

The last time a suicide of a celebrity affected me was in 2008 when David Foster Wallace hung himself.

DFW understood depression:

The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.

While DFW’s literary musings on depression and suicide gave some insight into his mind in the final days, Chester Bennington leaves only a few interviews, regarding childhood abuse and the dissolution of his first marriage, and the lyrics to his songs.

“Breaking the Habit” seems oddly prescient.

The fact that it was Chris Cornell’s birthday was probably not a coincidence.

Drugs and alcohol probably didn’t help.

But we’ll probably never know what Chester was thinking as he was preparing to hang himself in the early morning hours less than a week before his tour with Machine Gun Kelly was about to start.

Suicide is an awfully complicated subject to wrap when your head around. When it hits this hard and this close, the emotional fallout is hard to predict.

“I don’t think this will affect me too hard,” I told my therapist. “There’s just so many celebrity suicides these days; I think I’m kinda numb to them.”

That was just the shock talking.

I felt it later that night.

David Foster Wallace once said that the purpose of good literature was to make readers feel less alone. I think I can say the same about good music.

Thank you, Chester Bennington, for helping me and many others feel less alone.

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Song About David Foster Wallace

BLAMMOS: Living with David Foster Wallace


“And. And but so. And but so then. We all fell in love with living again.”

Categories: music Tags: ,

Why I Won’t Switch to Hubble: No Silicone Hydrogel Contact Lenses

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I’ve been using Acuvue Oasys for years now. When they first came out, every eye doctor I had told me they were the best. They are both disposable and extended-wear, so can be worn for 24 hours and replaced every 2 weeks. They are made from silicone hydrogel, which is considered superior to regular hydrogel lenses for maximizing oxygen to the eye.

So when I first heard about Hubble’s offer for a free box of contact lenses, the first thing I wondered is, “Yeah, but I can I get my brand of lenses?”

The answer is no. Hubble instead focuses on users who change their lenses daily.

Here’s a medical opinion on Hubble lenses from an optometrist at Yin Eye Care:

Different contact lens materials let different amount of oxygen through the plastic to the front of your eye.  The oxygen transmissibility (Dk/t) of the lens material affects the long-term health of your cornea and your comfort.  Hubble contacts are made out of a 20+ year-old lens material called methafilcon A, which has a Dk/t of 18.8.  Research shows that a Dk/t of 24 is necessary to maintain cornea health and avoid swelling.  Dr. Yin recommends much newer lens materials that let in a higher amount of oxygen to prevent problems with discomfort, red eyes, blood vessel growth into the normally clear cornea and unexpected changes in prescription. Current contact lenses have Dk/t measuring over 80 which allow 4+ times more oxygen to your cornea than older lens materials.

According to CLspectrum.com the dt/k of my lenses, Acuvue Oasys (Senofilcon A) is 147, surpassed only by the Air Optix’s Night and Day (Lotrafilcon A) with a dt/k of 175.

Price Comparison

So Hubble advertises $30 for 60 lenses. Only a $1 a day sounds like a pretty good deal right? Well, that’s $365 a year if you wear them every day.

I get my lenses on lens.com which slightly undercuts buying directly from my optometrist’s office.

My eye doctor told me because I take my 24-hour lenses out for 12 hours at night, I can actually wear them up to a month without throwing them out.

12 Acuvue Oaysis Contacts are: $41.99

I have astigmatism in my right eye, so 12 Acuvue Oasys Contacts for Astigmatism are:  $66.40

I get a year’s worth of the one of the best contacts on the market for $108.39 plus taxes and shipping. Even if I wore them 24 hours and doubled the cost, I could still get them at a fraction of what Hubble charges.

Consider your eye health and check the price of your eye doctor’s recommended contacts if you’re thinking of switching to Hubble.

The MTA Released Alternative Travel Plans for L Train Shutdown and They’re Awful

New Yorkers are fearing the impending April 2019 shutdown of the Manhattan to Brooklyn L subway line. The contract for Hurricane Sandy repairs spanning the train tracks between 8th Avenue and Bedford Ave, Williamsburg, was awarded two years ago and plan to last at least 15 months, ending by August 2020.

The issue has been a hot topic among local politicians who are generally pushing for alternative travel routes including other subway lines, a new inter-borough bus line, and expansion of select bus services.

The L train services over 400,000 commuters daily with at least 250,000 depending the line to travel between the connecting boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

So what’s New York state going to do about suddenly losing this essential subway line? Well, the MTA released a 38-page PowerPoint presentation explaining their plans and they’re not pretty: http://web.mta.info/sandy/pdf/Canarsie-6-08-17_website.pdf

train lines

  • 75% – 85% of commuters will be shunted to other subway lines. The M and J lines connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn will bear the brunt the burden, with the G suffering on its connections going up to Queens.
  • The MTA admits 75% is the ideal target to avoid overcrowding. They have not yet released specific plans on how frequently trains will be running to accommodate all the new riders.
  • Only between 5% – 15% of riders are estimated to use a proposed inter-borough shuttle bus service.  This is where plans get messy. THERE IS NO DIRECT SHUTTLEBUS ROUTE PLANNED IN BETWEEN 8TH AVENUE AND BEDFORD AVE.

Bus Route.png

  • As you can see, the shuttle buses will run from Grand St. L stop to no further than Prince St./Broadway.  This means if you want to get from Bedford Avenue to 8th Avenue you will have to transfer 3 times in between shuttle buses, subways, and select bus service.
  • The rest of anticipated ridership will consist of ferries, bicycles, and taxis.  The MTA has not yet released plans for increases in ferry ridership.

The Democratic Primaries this year fall on September 12, 2017.  When you vote please pay close attention to the travel agendas of your city council candidates.  Hopefully, local politicians can address this mess of a plan and fight to keep New York City’s subways running effectively and efficiently.

Click here to register to vote.

My Profound Disappointment in Ronda Rousey

December 31, 2016 2 comments

[UFC 207 Spoilers]

The fight on December 30 between Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes did not go the way I expected. I always knew it was a possibility given Ronda’s history of partnering with poor trainers and her fragile mental state after her last lost. But she exceeded my expectations in the wrong direction. Since the fight was only 48 seconds long, there won’t be much technical analysis here, but I’ll expand further on my thoughts about the past of Rousey and the future of Nunes.

Rousey’s mother, AnnMaria De Mars, published a supportive blog post following her daughter’s second devastating loss. She lists some of Rousey’s past accomplishments and reaffirms her support for her daughter despite acknowledging some of her poor decision-making.

Considering Rousey’s poor footwork in the past and her recently seen failure to make any progress in this area, her number one poor decision is apparently staying at Glendale Fighting Club and training her MMA game under head coach Edmond Tarverdyan. Edmond is widely known for his identity fraud and sketchy bankruptcy filings. But more importantly, he seems to completely fail as a primary and striking coach.

Here’s Ronda’s corner audio with Edmond at UFC 207:

(If this gets taken down due to copyright, just Google “Ronda Corner Audio.”)

Edmond: Head Movement!

Ronda: You apparently never taught me that.

Ronda’s lack of head movement, lack of a defensive jab, and complete failure to prepare for an opponent who has plenty of footage on her and not a particularly dynamic game can only be the product of poor coaching. (Edmond’s “Nooooo!” was also the anguish of his career ending.) Ronda’s boyfriend, Travis Browne, and the only other prominent MMA fighter training under Tarverdyan is 1-3 in his last UFC outings. Ronda’s shadow-boxing is legendarily bad and Tarverdyan’s “Beautiful work, champ!” after round 1 of the Holm fight has been a long-standing meme.

Ronda trained a couple times with the Diaz brothers’ striking coach Richard Perez and this is what he said:

You know to be honest with you, I don’t know how she is being trained over there [at Glendale Fighting Club]. I know I trained her for a couple fights before and she did really good,” Perez recalled. “I mean I trained her really hard, she loved it. She said she never had anybody train her like I did. You know, I don’t know what they do over there so I can’t give an answer on how it’s gonna come out.”

 

Nobody ever trained her like Richard Perez did. Being the elite of the elite, I’m sure Ronda could choose to train at any place she wanted. Even if she didn’t want to leave California, Rafael Cordeiro over at Kings MMA (trainer of former champs RDA, Machida, and Werdum) extended an invitation for her to train with them. At this point, anything seems better than Edmond “Beautiful work, champ!” Tarverdyan. Ronda’s mom said she got Ronda good at Judo as a child by having her train everywhere. But now, as an adult, Ronda seems to content to live in the echo chamber of self-congratulatory nonsense and babying that only Edmond provides.

I still feel like Ronda could have won on the ground if she had the opportunity to clinch. As pointed out in my last blog post, Nunes still has significant holes in her ground game. Nunes also did not adopt Holly Holm’s style like I thought she might. She came out orthodox and swinging her power right hand as per usual. But simply being Amanda Nunes was enough. There were a bunch of blocks, parrys, and counters available to Ronda at the distance Nunes was throwing, but her lack of knowledge was profound and fatal in the fighting sense of the word.

Rousey is still one of my favorite fighters. Her wins over Meisha Tate, Alexis Davis, and Cat Zingano were some of the most exciting seconds in her career. But she does not have a championship mindset anymore. Conor McGregor, by contrast, has a championship mindset. When he lost to Nate Diaz in an embarrassing fashion, he took half a year and a break from media to tighten his holes, gameplan for his opponent, and rededicate himself wholly. Ronda Rousey took twice as long off after her embarrassing loss and did none of those.

Unless she switches gyms and completely revolutionizes her striking game, Ronda’s time in MMA is over. The future of the bantamweight division is Amanda Nunes and there’s a couple of interesting matchups for her in the rising stars. She’s beaten most of the top 10 already, but there’s a couple women left that could give her some trouble if the fight goes all five rounds.

The first is Raquel Pennington. At #5, Pennington has some solid hands and good takedown defense, only losing recently by split decision to Holly Holm. She is sturdy and consistent and I imagine could be a durable test for Nunes if she makes it into the later rounds.

The second is #3 Julianna Peña. She is the dark horse in the division right now and became the TUF champion by exceeding everyone’s expectations. She is well-rounded and has probably just as powerful as Nunes, if not just as accurate, striking. If she wins her fight on January 28 against #2 Valentina Schevchenko, she will no doubt be next in line for a title shot.

These are the women who will carry the bantamweight division now that Ronda is no more. Ronda will always be remembered as a trailblazer and the top paid women’s MMA fighter. She has contributed more to the sport than almost anyone and deserves to be recognized for her accomplishments. Like Ronda’s mom, whatever bad decisions she’s made about her training, I’ll always support her. I hope she has a bright future maybe teaching or doing seminars and I will always remember her as “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey.

Why Ronda Should Win Her Comeback at UFC 207

December 27, 2016 2 comments

 

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On December 30, Ronda Rousey will make her first return to the Octagon since her devastating loss last November to Holly Holm. She is fighting the current champion, right-hand powerhouse Amanda Nunes. Now a lot of people are questioning whether Ronda still has it and whether or not she can handle the power and proficient grappling of Amanda Nunes.

Have no doubt, Amanda is a beast and a strong starter. She has very heavy hands and is definitely capable of a knockout. But I believe Ronda will win, probably by her classic armbar technique, and the main reason I believe this is because Amanda Nunes is not Holly Holm.

Holly Holm is a Southpaw, has excellent lateral movement, clean jabs, and has devastating headkicks. Amanda Nunes mostly stands Orthodox, has okay footwork, relies heavily on her right hand, and I can’t recall her ever throwing a headkick. But most of all, I think she is susceptible to the clinch. And that’s exactly how Ronda wins her fights: She bullrushes, she clinches, she throws, and she armbars.

Here’s the last fight Nunes lost:

 

Nunes’ fight with Cat Zingano was very telling. She lost handily over the course of all three rounds on the ground to a superior wrestler. She showed a willingness to clinch that could go right into Ronda’s game. She also made a poor decision to grab a leg at one point while she was on bottom and got reversed. When she was down, she stayed on her back and had trouble mounting offense from the bottom.

Now ATT is not a dumb team and they will be drilling to avoid the clinch at all cost. It’ll be interesting to see if Nunes can change her style and incorporate some better jabs to complement her powerful right hand. Holm’s straight left is what kept Ronda at bay for most of their fight.

Holly also did a smart thing to avoid the clinch where she pushed off the hips instead of wrapping her arms around Ronda.

 

It’ll be interesting to see if Nunes can emulate that move. In her Sarah D’Alelio fight at Invicta 4, which she also lost, she lost handily to double-legs and also in the clinch. There was a point in the Nunes-McMann fight as well where McMann almost had her back. Rousey almost never does wrestling takedowns but she certainly has advanced Judo trips and throws that Nunes will have to train with high level judokas to learn to defend. If her judo defense is anything like her wrestling defense, she’s in serious trouble.

Nunes did win the fight against wrestler Miesha Tate, but Meisha was overly cautious and her tentativeness to engage probably cost her some wrestling exchanges which she could have capitalized on. But Ronda Rousey is not Miesha Tate and her style is all aggression all the time. Rousey may have to endure some punishment for her takedown attempts, but her relentless aggression and Nunes’ sloppiness in the clinch go hand in hand.

In short, I believe if Nunes adapts to be more like Holly, she could win. But if not, (I’m leaning towards not because fighters often retain bad habits.) Ronda will clinch and win from there. Nunes is always capable of a knockout and she’s sure to have improved since her losses, but if Ronda can muscle through her mental blocks and play her usual game, I think it’s a game she can win.

Allergystop: A $50 Epi-pen (Epinephrine) Alternative Device

September 14, 2016 Leave a comment

Since my last post was a serious criticism of an indiegogo campaign, here’s one that I feel has a legit product.

It’s an epinephrine injectable device designed to save the lives of patients suffering from anaphylaxis.

Twin cities allergist, Dr. Douglas Mcmahon, invented the device a few years ago while tinkering in his lab. He now hopes to get funding to help bring the pocket-sized epinephrine injector to the market and at a much lower price than the recently price inflated $600 Epi-pen.

Check out Allergystop’s indiegogo campaign here.

Other Epi-pen alternative devices are bulky or involve syringes that require special training. Dr. Mcmahon hopes to open the device up to investors to get it FDA-approved and doesn’t want the cost of Allergystop to go above $50.

They have a long way to go to hit their $200,000 goal, so help them out if you can!