Friday, April 28, 2017

back remedies

I used to have disabling back pain.  Now it's under control.  I attribute this to several things I've done that help my back.

1. Caltrate + Minerals.  This supplement has been really amazing.   I can't really use other mineral combinations, because either they aren't absorbed well enough, or they have too much magnesium, which gives me diarrhea. When the absorption isn't good, I still get back pain, or, alternatively muscle restlessness throughout my body

2. Shower, as recommended by a chiropractor: 5 minutes on my back as hot as I can stand, followed by 1 minute as cold as a I can stand.  I also do the yoga six motions of the spine under the hot water, every time I take a shower.  These are the cat & dog stretches, the puppy dog stretches, and twisting.  I've got to do a video of this, so people who don't know what I am taking about will understand.

3. Use of ice for the first 2 days after an acute episode of pain.  Again, as recommended by the chiropractor, it's 15 minutes of ice every hour, as needed.

4 Sleeping on my side with pillows between arms and legs — though recently I’ve dropped the pillows and added transfer to a lounge chair if lying down gets painful

5. Daily yoga, exercise and/or weight routines, many of which are geared around the six motions of the spine, as well as strengthening abdominal muscles and back leg lifts.  I keep meaning to do youtube videos of my routines.  I have six different routines, which i keep rotating through.  I haven't got round to posting videos.  As my ex used to say, there is a shortage of round to-its.  As of 2024, I’m doing yoga or sometimes weights twice a day plus the movements in the shower, which seems like a lot but, given that I’m not in pain, seems worth it. My morning routine, which is specifically aimed at sciatica includes, child pose, forward pigeon with introductory rocking, downward dog, the back twisting T posture, my chiropractors exercises (below), the back roller, and the yoga wheel. 

6. Loose clothing.  I find tight clothing tends to send my muscles into painful spasms.  This includes waistlines and underwear elastic.  I am most comfortable in loose dresses. If I were a guy, who might not feel comfortable with dresses, I would wear loose pants with suspenders.

7. Staying regular.  Constipation causes back pain.

8. Inversion.  See my headstand stool video

9. Avoiding long uninterrupted periods of sitting

10. Doing the child pose for at least 30s followed by the rotation pose on my back on both sides in response to low back pain.  Also useful: locust. 

11. Cultivating an attitude of insouciance regarding back pain. Anxiety worsens spasms. 

12. Chiropractic adjustment. My parents had fear and loathing of chiropractors. They always had horrendous back problems. When my back was in spasm, shortly after childbirth, the UPS driver told me That all the UPS drivers went to this one chiropractor. I decided to reject my parents’ attitude. However, recently, with all these things I’m doing I seldom have to go. Then, of course, I’m not carrying children either, but then they weren’t either after we got older and they continued to have back problems.

I should say, too, that carrying kids was a challenge.  I was in the chiropractor's office much more often when I was carrying pre-schoolers.

I am now using several devices for adaptive yoga. The back roller seems to be particularly good for back pain
  1. headstand stool
  2. garden kneeling pad for postures that involve putting knees on the ground
  3. back roller, first thing in the morning
  4. yoga wheel to improve stretches in the fish, the wheel, the plow, and side stretches
  5. elastic loops for 
    • side pidgeon (one end around foot, the other end around hand near head);
    •  sitting twist (to connect hands under upward pointing knee); 
    • cow-face pose (Gomukhasana)
    • an exercise that my chiropractor recommended (to be done in repetitions of 10): Sitting down, put the elastic around the lower legs below the knees.  Then separate the lower legs, while moving the elbows backwards and arching the back.  Then relax the legs, while moving the arms forward around the body and curving the back forward
    • Another exercise he recently gave me to combat scoliosis is repeatedly pressing a soft object into the wall with my left hip, to combat my right hip sticking out

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Apple update interfering with Microsoft Word for Mac 2011

This is very frustrating.  When Apple updates its operating system, suddenly old third party software doesn't work.  It makes me worry that Apple and the other software companies are in cahoots to force users to buy new software.  Unfortunately, I don't know if the government still cares about or enforces anti-trust laws.

In the present case, my Microsoft Word for Mac 2011 has developed a bug since an operating system update.  This is a screen shot of a "save as" function.

You will note that the "save as" window now extends past the bottom of the screen.  This prevents me from accessing the security options, such as adding passwords or removing identifying information from a document.

I had this problem earlier, because I was forced to buy Quickbooks 2016 and replace Quickbooks 2011, because of an operating system update.

This type of arrogance towards forcing the consumer to buy new software is infuriating.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Song Release and photos from Villain contest

I've recently released my single, "Villain Song."



I originally wrote this song for a contest. In 2014, Jaguar had an ad at the Super Bowl with the slogan "good to be bad." link to ad The ad featured British actors who had played villains in Hollywood movies.

I wrote -- maybe tweeted -- Jaguar and told them I wished I could be a villain in a Hollywood movie. They told me that they couldn't help me achieve that goal, but that I could participate in their Villain contest. The prize was a trip to New Mexico and lessons from a race car driver driving their f type around a racetrack. 

I decided that I would like to win this contest, because it might help me position myself as an actress who wants to play villain roles.

I originally understood the rules of the contest to include writing a villain song. Later, when I read the rules again it said that we only had to name a villain song that we liked, but I had already written the words and melody to this song. I put a YouTube video up of me singing only the melody. a capella video It's not my best singing, because I had an undiagnosed GERD issue due to the chemo.  I tweeted them the link to the YouTube video, but I also named another villain song that I really like, Mordred's Lullaby

I didn't win the contest. I wasn't considered most villainous. 

However, I still had this song, so I decided to get it arranged. I hired my friend Stoddy Blackall to do the arrangement. He's a young singer/songwriter/pianist who is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music. I met him, because he was accompanying musical improv comedy in NYC and I have been studying musical improv comedy. I was always very impressed with his work as an improvisational accompanist. I found him to be exceptionally creative in a field of creative pianists. I think he's done an amazing job here.

Then I had this piece professionally recorded at the Outlook Recording Studio in Bethel, Maine. Conni St. Pierre, one of the co-owners, added a bit of percussion, to make it even spookier and more foreboding.

Cover photo on the album by my son, Joseph McKenney-Barschall

Warning: violent, sociopathic lyrics -- but it's really for fun. I don't want to kill you. I just want to play a villain.


I will use you. I will shed you
In my path, you are my tool 
I will use you. I will shed you
In my path, you are my fool.

Verse 1
In life, I choose to step with style,
And others serve, but for a while,
To fall beneath my striding boot,
Their slimed remains my triumph's root.

Verse 2
And those who think to thwart my plot
Will lie in shallow graves and rot
As I in glory rise to reign
And ever broaden my campaign

Compassion is a weak one's flaw
And friendship others' cloying maw
Alone I scheme to dominate
And soft ones see me far too late


I'm also working on a music video for this song. 

In the music video, there will be a dancer who is my character's victim.  

The director of the video suggested that the song might by symbolic of my fight against cancer and that the dancer might represent the cancer.

At the time, I replied

I think, when you're talking about a dream, the dreamer is every character in the dream. I am the villain.  I am the cancer. I am fighting the cancer.  I am fighting me. The dancer is the cancer. The dancer is me.  That's how the subconscious works.  I've found that about my fantasies.

In retrospect, though, I don't really think the song is only about fighting cancer.  I think I'm angry about a number of things.  The villain character is also the personification of my general rage, not just about cancer.

Link: Stills from video shoot


Addendum: here is a link to the rough cut of my video from the shoot of May 2017  rough cut video

I ended up being very dissatisfied with this shoot and I am restarting in 2018, currently interviewing new directors.  I did think that the dancer, Olga Bogdanova, was amazing -- but the rest I was not happy with.


Stills from when I was in chemo and writing this song

Here are some photos Sheila Furjanic took of me when I was participating in the Villain Contest sponsored by Jaguar USA in 2014, which inspired this song.  They wanted a photo of me with the f4.  I am normally very frugal with cars.  My last two cars that I bought were used Dodge Caravans.  I must say though that this car was *very* enticing.  I did wish I could have driven it.

I was in chemo when I participated in the contest.  That's why I was bald. I hoped it would give me a more villainous look.  I may be in chemo again soon, so this may be my future as well as my past.