The road to Adobe Springs is a gentle, winding rise through serene foothills that border the central valley. This road follows a stream that runs with the same water that bubbles out of the spigot at the Adobe Springs self serve water station. As soon as you enter the valley you lose cell phone reception entirely. For the most part, it's cattle ranchers that call this valley home, and as you drive up to the spring you'll pass many pastures dotted with cows and bulls laying in the grass completely ignorant of the busy world that lays just 20 miles away.
We had learned about Adobe Springs on findaspring.com, a website that helps people find free sources of natural, mineralized, and untreated drinking water. While many of the listings in our area are for roadside springs with no testing and some level of risk, Adobe Springs is provided to the public free of charge by a land owner that sells the water by the truckload. Since they are a drinking water provider, they test the water regularly.
Adobe Springs is unique because the water contains 110 milligrams of magnesium per liter. Many mineral waters available contain virtually no magnesium or if they have a good amount, 5 or 6 milligrams per liter. If a person consumed 2 liters of this water each day, they would get half of the RDA of magnesium just from their water.
Water that contains minerals hydrates better and these nutrients are extremely bioavailable because they're already dissolved in the water. While municipal water may retain it's minerals, it is laced with fluoride and chlorine and must be filtered. The only reliable way of filtering fluoride is with reverse osmosis, which also removes all of the minerals.
Magnesium is absolutely essential for good health. It's involved in 300 different processes in the body, including helping regulate vitamin D levels. Interestingly vitamin D also helps the utilization of magnesium in the body. I take a magnesium supplement but I think water is the best way to get bioavailable minerals.
Once we arrived at the property the driveway "runneth over" with the previous living waters of the Adobe Spring. I was unprepared for this reality and decided to forge ahead through fast moving ankle deep water. I had to cross it several times and it was precarious. The water was deep enough to make me lose my footing and I almost slipped several times attempting to cross.
We met another couple, two bicyclists, and a rancher all filling up. The bicyclists were just leaving, the other couple had a few glass bottles in a back pack. We chatted for a bit about findaspring, the high quality h20, the dangers encountered with the stream during winter flooding, and about my 3 gallon glass carboys. Eventually it was my turn to fill up, and as I got my 3rd bottle filled the rancher came by. We offered him the opportunity to go ahead and he was very appreciative. He told us he has come by weekly to Adobe Springs for some 15 years. He said his daughter developed arthritis as an infant and the water from this spring was special and relieved her symptoms and when he stopped giving her the water, they came back, so he said he has just continued bringing it home.
As soon as we got in the car we topped up our cups and drank deeply. The water tastes similarly to other mineral waters. When I got home I put some through the Soda Stream and carbonated it. It is extremely bubbly and holds onto the carbonation better than water that's devoid of minerals. With 12 gallons of water, I'll need to return to Adobe Springs monthly, which seems like quite the task. I think I'll have to expand my water storage a bit so that I can come every 2-3 months, making sure to get enough in the late fall to hold me over until the spring, as the spigot can freeze over and sometimes the water can be unavailable.
All in all it was a small adventure driving so far for something as ubiquitous as water. Without water everything on this earth would die in a very short period of time. We all are aware contaminated water can kill quickly, but with all of the chronic illness that plagues our society, perhaps we might do well to think about "treated" water and it's long term consequences as well.
Simulating a forest environment
Forests are magical places. Viewing green light reduces pain signals in the body. The sounds of birds and flowing water reduce anxiety and lower blood pressure. Phytoncides released by pines boosts the immune system, specifically the cells that prevent tumors and viral infections. Just visiting a forest reduces blood pressure and anxiety as well as prescription medications. A forest lowers cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.
While most people have access to a park or forest, making time to visit these healing environments can be difficult.
For example, I work from home 8 hour a day and the closest pine forest is an hour or more. I decided to experiment with replicating a forest environment to see of it made me
feel better. I don't think it's the same or as beneficial as actually visiting the forest but I do think there is "some" scientific evidence that recorded sounds, essential oils derived from pines, and green lights have therapeutic benefits.
Here's how I did it:
1: Bird sounds: Recordings of natural sounds help alleviate stress from man made sounds like traffic, stereos, and construction noises. Youtube has tons of these ambient recordings available.
2: Forest smells: Pine essential oil and Frankincense both have limited scientific evidence that they provide health benefits to humans. These include boosting immune function and lowering stress hormones. Essential oils from plants, especially the ones mentioned are antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral. While this evidence is limited, I put it in the category of being intuitive and low risk. I have bonsai inside but they are too small, so a diffuser and essential oils do the trick.
3: Solar charged water: When I first read about it I chuckled. A few years ago Giselle Bundchen was using a blue bottle to solar charge her water. It seems a bit extra. I discovered this after being curious if UV light has any effect on water. The summary is, I don't think there is any evidence that sunlight changes any measurable attribute of water. That being said, I do if anyway. Water in forests is exposed to sunlight, and I'm simulating a forest environment, so why not.
4:Green lighting: I bought a green LED bulb on amazon and I turn it on for 20 or 30 minutes once or twice a week. Viewing light through trees is also a way to achieve this.
5: Negative Ions: Negative ions are abundant in forests thanks to UV light and water moving in streams and waterfalls. Negative ions relieve stress and anxiety and attach themselves to pollutants which makes them inert. The best way to get exposure to negative ions is a hot shower or sunlight exposure. Salt lamps don't produce enough, ion generators also create ozone which can trigger asthma. Some suggest an indoor waterfall or table top fountain which may be practical anyway for the soundscape.
6: Blue light: Blue light is not bad. It promotes alertness and helps set the circadian rhythm. As soon as I wake up, I go outside and stare at the sky for 5-10 minutes. I also make a point of viewing sunlight every few hours.
7: Earthing / Grounding: There is very little proof that having contact with the earth is important for health, but it is intuitive and there are a few very small studies that show it improves wound healing, blood flow and sleep. Humans used to be in physical contact with the ground at all times. They had earthen floors in their homes, wore leather moccasins which are conductive, and walked barefoot. I take off my shoes when I go out in my backyard to get my daily sunlight exposure.
8: Sunlight exposure: To me this is the most important aspect of simulating a forest environment. Sunlight is absolutely critical for good sleep, and good sleep is critical for good immune function. On top of the benefits for sleep, UV light exposure boosts vitamin D which is also essential for immune function. UV light also kills bacteria and fungus on the skin. Sunlight exposure provides full spectrum light which includes UV A, UV B, blue, red, and green wavelengths.
Tying it all together, I think it's intuitive and a proven fact that forests are medicinal and promote health. To a much lesser extent there is minimal evidence that we can recreate some aspects of forest exposure and gain benefit. I would rate most of these activities as supplemental. I think they can help manage stress, maybe relieve some pain, and generally promote health, but they aren't miracle cures or going to make a person live forever.
The heavy hitter is sunlight exposure and simply being out doors where we can also get some physical activity. Unfortunately cities are heavily polluted from vehicles, natural gas burning, and industrial activity so it's important to do everything we can to lessen the body's burden from these sources. Keeping the immune system functioning by getting enough vitamin d from sunlight is really important. The immune system protects us against viruses and bacteria but also against tumors.
Whether or not simulating a forest environment has benefits or not, I can't be sure, but I do think anecdotally that it may have some stress management benefits so I'm going to keep doing it for a while.
A couple of months ago I noticed a rash, I go to the doctor, he gives me some cream and says to just keep going until it's gone. After 2 months the rash had barely improved, so I scheduled a follow up appointment and decided to take matters into my own hands. I used a UV bulb for 4 minutes and then 90 seconds every other day until my appointment. The rash improved and my doctor was positive it was the cream and laughed when I told him I used UV light.
The doctor insisted to keep using the cream but wanted to check my liver enzymes to make sure using it for so long wasn't harming me. My enzymes were 2x higher than normal but he wasn't worried about it. I hadn't been feeling well and had been having horrible night sweats, something I usually only have when I'm sick. In fact, I never had a rash in my life until I took antibiotics I didn't need because they couldn't drain a small boil for 3 days, but whatever.
The next day I wake up to find a new rash on my thigh. My doctor prescribed a steroid cream which I never picked up. Instead I went to my mom's house. She uses a rife machine which generates EMF frequencies (like a wi-fi router or cell phone tower) and she thinks it cures everything. If the doctor couldn't cure me with western drugs I'd do something else.
I don't know if rife works, I'm a skeptic, but my mom is very healthy and I've let her use it on me many times and it has never hurt me. I felt a strong pain in my rash, it burned during one of the sets of frequencies she ran. She assured me that meant it was working. The next day I woke up and it looked better, but after a few hours it was red and angry looking again.
She had me come back on the following day and blasted me with EMF again and when I woke up the next day it was still very inflamed but no longer itched.
On Thursday I was off from work so I stood in the sun and grounded myself by taking my shoes and socks off and standing in the grass. I did this for an hour Thursday and an hour Friday.
The first photo is Thursday morning, the second photo is Friday afternoon.
Did the rife machine, sun bathing, and grounding fix me? 🤷🏻♂️ But I'm going to keep doing it when things go wrong and probably before I go see another doctor.
I was looking for some products to flip on Amazon and went over to Alibaba. I found these dupes for a viral skincare tool that were probably made in the same factory as the original. There are a few versions and a couple of different suppliers. I pick out one supplier, place an order, then pick put some cheaper ones from a second supplier to compare. I kid you not I had only $40 worth of stuff in the cart. I keep browsing but did not finalize my order, suddenly a DM pops up. Hmm?? It's a person named Lucky who wants to know why I didn't check out. I explain I'm still browsing and possibly have changed my mind. Lucky starts sending over suggestions, asking questions, and spends over an hour talking to me. Literally an hour for $40 worth of product. I have gone car shopping and spent less time with a sales person. I have no idea how this is a profitable use of time.
When it comes to China I think many Americans have a negative opinion because of the fact that they're technically communists and they're our #1 competitor. Their culture and world view are much different than the American, but I have always found my interactions with Chinese people to be polite, friendly, and enjoyable. Idk if I will follow through with this business idea yet or if I will ever do business with Lucky again, but the hour I spent shopping was quite enjoyable and left me perplexed for days after. It's just mind blowing to me that there is a giant online marketplace where you can buy wholesale goods in small quantities to run a business from anywhere and sales reps from these factories will spend an entire hour of their life to answer your questions for a $40 spend. It just doesn't make any sense!
It's the 1980s, Japan is booming. People are miserable and unable to keep up with the monotonous grind of modern life. The government of Japan, relying on the collective intuition of an ancient forest society proposes public policies to help people return to the healing power of nature. Forest bathing is born.
Decades later, scientists would discover that the forest does hold magical fern gully like powers. Trees share information and food among themselves using the wood wide web, bees count and use their imagination to play games, and the human body, when exposed to the fragrant oils of pine, cypress, and cedar trees heals itself.
Forest bathing can lower blood pressure and improve mood better than prescription drugs. Exposure to the forest boosts natural killer cells and stimulates them to produce more cellular weaponry which makes them more efficient killers.
Scientists have found that while forests rejuvenate us, we can get some of the benefit just from smelling oils distilled from fragrant trees. That could be achieved from visiting a local park, or using common steam distilled essential oils.
Some other amazing fact, just one visit to a forest for a few hours has benefits that last over a month.
Viewing green light reduces pain signals in the body. One of the few places on earth to find green light, forests, as light passes through the foliage.
So forests are good. We should all go to them.
A few years ago I learned about the critical importance of sleep for our health. I gave up alcohol immediately to improve my sleep and it improved it so much that I developed trouble sleeping. I had too much energy and felt restless, often at the wrong time of day.
I figured to solve that problem, I'd just exercise more often, harder, and if that didn't work I'd take some melatonin. I went through bottles of melatonin and bottles of NyQuil Z.
Finally I stumbled on the importance of sunlight. Doesn't sunlight cause cancer? Aren't I supposed to avoid the sun like the plague?
The fact is you cannot have good health without good sleep and you cannot have good sleep without light exposure. Our circadian rhythms depend on bright light exposure in the morning to set our metabolic clock for the day which winds us down at night.
Even on a cloudy day, the brightness outside can be 100,000 lux, inside, you may have 5,000 or 10,000 lux. Scientists have found that sunlight improves sleep, which improves immune function. Sunlight improves vitamin D status, which improves immune function. Sunlight's UV-A rays kill bacteria, fungi, and viruses, which also helps keep us healthy. Sunlight prompts our blood vessels to release nitric oxide which lowers blood pressure and helps us to relax. Sunlight exposure also improves mood.
I like to get my sunlight while barefoot and touching the earth. This grounds us and we know that this is true. Whether or not it has any benefit is not known, but there is some evidence that grounding improves wound healing and blood flow. The idea behind grounding is that the earth has a negative charge and when we're connected to it we become a grounding rod which allows electrons to flow through us into the earth which can (in theory) neutralize free radicals, which damage cells. While there is very limited scientific proof that grounding helps mitigate the damage the sun does to our skin, it is intuitive. Step outside in the sun and take off your shoes and you will instantly feel more relaxed.
To avoid skin damage, I avoid burning. I use an app called D Minder which tells me the limits of what I can spend outside and then alerts me to go in. We will all get old eventually, and as a guy, getting a few wrinkles doesn't bother me at all. I'd rather have wrinkles than cancer or a million other chronic illnesses that happen as we rack up damage from viruses, senescent cells damaged blood vessels etc.
Finally I use red light therapy. I have 200 watts of red led flood lights, I use them for about 10 minutes a day. Each bulb cost me about $10. You don't need to spend $2000 on a 1500w red light panel. In fact, you can get plenty of red light in the early AM or at the hour before sunset (golden hour).
The body's clock benefits from light exposure during the day and viewing the sun at different angles in the horizon helps adjust the clock in your brain if it's gotten off track from too
Much screen time or too much time indoors.
I had some REI bucks and used it to pick up the Leatherman Skeletool in black topo. I already have a stainless skeletool but I just find them immensely useful for bags and gloveboxes. Its main features are a combo blade, pliers, and bit driver. I use the knife the most out of any tool, and I am not bothered by the combo blade as some are. I think its a good tool for days when the jeans may be a little tighter or the pockets are smaller.
I would like thicc hams
The other day my back went out. I hurt it carrying a 100lb generator, normally carrying 100lbs isn't too bad for me but I slipped in some mud and twisted my back but didn't fall. That was in January during the big storms. We had a power outage which is why I was lugging a generator around.
Anyway, Its been in and out for the last 3 months. I decided to do something about it. I don't have room for a full size power rack. This is a trap bar. While my back is healing up I loaded it up with 70lbs and the frame weighs 30. I'm doing dead lifts, squats, shrugs. I also have a curling bar coming and a lot more weight. 100lbs just isn't heavy enough.
My legs are strong, my shoulders are strong, but my lower back, core, glutes, and hamstrings need work. My chest and arms also need to grow. This will get me my way.
I would like to Golf
I watched "Full Swing" on Netflix and decided right then and there golf is my sport. What got me interested is first off there's no real exercise involved. Then I noticed that a lot of "pro golfers" are 40 year old dad bod types. You can be one of the top golfers in the world and not win a "major" for a decade. Colorful outfits? Check. Tiny Cars? Check. If you want to break into pro golf you just cough up some cash and enter a tournament. I found out one of the rules is if you ask anybody what club they used you have to add a stroke to your score card.
A lot of people complain about how hard golf is, but not having any experience I feel qualified already to say that they're looking at it wrong. Golf is so hard, nobody ever gets really good at it. Step back and think about this for a second, the ball is tiny, the course is huge, the golfer cannot control the wind, how wet, dry, course, or thick the grass is. A golfer cannot control if the sun is in his eyes or if it's raining. All a golfer has is a bag of mallets with which to whack the tiny ball. Idk about you but aiming with any degree of accuracy is probably pretty tough, it is more like hoping it goes in a general direction and figuring out what to do next. I watched a 6 hour tournament, this guy hits it perfectly onto the green. Perfect shot, easy put, but the wind blew it over this hill and it rolled down the hill into the sand trap and everybody was like "Tough break, no do-overs" and that was it, he had to try again. There are sand traps, water hazards, and rough areas all over where you don't want the ball to go, and guess what? It goes there a lot. All regulation basketball courts are basically the same, the balls used by professionals are all the same, the hoops are the same height, the keys the same size, court materials are all regulation, so you can improve your game by consistently practicing. Golf is interesting because the courses are huge, the weather is different every time, clubs come in all shapes and sizes and styles, and there are all kinds of different balls, it's just not possible to replicate the same conditions every time you play to be able to measurably improve. Sure you can work on your puts and work on your drives and work on your chipping but ultimately the environment is going to be different even if you're on the same course every time you play.
I also found out the Golf as it is today appears in the 1500s, some Scottish king banned it because he thought it was a distraction from learning archery, an actual useful skill, which the nation depended on for its defense. Then this king got a set of clubs and unbanned it. That's just funny.
The world's longest drive was set in 1974 by a guy in his 60s. 515 yards. This was before computer aided design and modern manufacturing made it possible to analyze every aspect of a club to make sure it was optimized for maximum distance. Every year golfers spend billions getting the latest club designs which have the "latest technology" and nobody has ever beat the record set in the 70s. The guy was like 65 years old, and shaped like a bowling pin and was playing a round of senior golf when he did it. Definitely not your typical elite athlete / sports record holder.
So that's why I'm in, worst case you get to go on a walk, best case you have a good game of golf.
Quitting Cell phones
I watch my screen time on my iphone a lot. I had been shocked during pandemic to see that my screen time had ballooned up to about 8 hours per day. Some days, I spent 10 hours on my phone. Looking back, I think this is obscene and ridiculous.
I decided to set a limit, and that 2 hours per day was plenty, if not excessive. Phones are great, they do everything. Maps, money, social contact, etc are all in the phone. It's our stereo, our camera, and holder of all precious memories. Pick it up to look up something important and the next thing you know 30 minutes has passed and you're fighting with a random stranger on reddit over something completely meaningless, or watching stupid tiktok videos.
I've tried just willing myself to not use my phone, but phones work on the same neural pathways as crack cocaine. They were intentionally designed to be addictive. The pings, vibrations, and touch interfaces are designed to activate all of our pleasure centers in our brain.
I bought a $20 lockbox on amazon called "Keepin Box". Drop the phone in, set a timer and walk away. Initially when I tried this I felt a lot of anxiety. What if I needed to call 911? What if my elderly parents had an emergency? What if I needed to go somewhere and didn't have directions?
I have an apple watch, and that works OK for messaging, but if I needed to call emergency services, I would not feel comfortable relying on it. It has limited battery life and requires a connection to my phone to work so I did something counterintuitive. I bought a second phone.
I bought the cheapest google pixel I could find, the 6a, for $299. I have a $5 a month cellphone plan, installed whatsapp for messaging, zoom for meetings, and firefox for simple web browsing.
After two weeks, I've been able to keep my screen time to about 2hours on average. Some days, it's 1H 30M. In the first two weeks, I've finished reading a book that I've been trying to get through for 2 years. Wrote 10% of a novel that I've been thinking about for 5 years, binge watched a sports documentary on Netflix etc. I have so much extra time that I have found myself going outside just to stand in the sun and get some vitamin D. I work from home, and while I always got my work done, now I run out of things to do 2 hours before it's time to clock out. I have to find new things to do. My productivity at work has at least doubled.
The most surprising thing about quitting cellphones is that telling people gets a negative response. Nobody wants to try it. I realized quitting crack is good but your friends who are also crackheads wouldn't be happy to hear it. Over the last 3 years, I've become well aware that I'm just not like most people and it doesn't bother me one bit.
I'm committed to keeping my phone usage low, and I'm thinking about getting a flip phone at some point, but I'm not sure it would significantly reduce my time. Ultimately I think 45 minutes per day would as much time as I'd like to spend with my phone, but we'll see if I'm able to get my time down that far.