reviews


Blog and family and reviews12 Sep 2019 08:17 pm
Years ago in physical therapy school, life was so simple. Eat, study, sleep, go to gym, go to class, study for exams, take exam, celebrate finishing exam, watch sports or watch movies to unwind, repeat cycle. I was very focused on what I needed to do to be successful in grad school. September 11, 2001 changed everything. This is the first time I’ve talked it about since then and it still hurts. It marked the end of our innocence. It was the first major life event our group of friends came up against. Most of our friends from college were moving along and preparing for the next major transition. Some were in grad school, while others were “becoming adults” and moving up the ladder in the corporate world“. Most of my friends from college moved to big cities like LA, San Francisco, Chicago, or New York. There were still a few of us in Michigan. I tried to start fresh in LA, but I decided to come home and go to physical therapy school in Michigan. I’ll admit it was probably for the best because there weren’t as many distractions. On Sept 10, 2001 – the day before everything happened I went to a Detroit Tigers game with some of my classmates. We were right behind first base on the field. I have never sat that close to the field. We were in prime position to snag grounder foul balls. We all brought our baseball mitts with the hope that we would be lucky enough to snag one. I don’t remember the intricacies of the game, but I do remember cheering for a player named “Wendell” cause he had an extremely uncommon sports name and we probably had a few refreshing ballpark beers. Anyways, to our surprise we were able to snag a foul ball and were ready to bring our “trophy” to class the next day to brag about all the fun we had at the game.

The next morning, I remember waking up and going through my regular morning ritual before our first class of the day. My roommate usually lagged behind me. He was still on the couch glued to the news when I left, but I thought nothing of it. I’ll admit that I was the nerd in grad school who liked to get to class early and review my notes before the lecture. I can’t say the news of the first tower strike really hit me until I arrived at school and it was all anyone was talking about. I thought that it must have been an accident. Then we heard about a second plane crashing into the other World Trade Center tower. We were shocked. This definitely was not an accident! Someone orchestrated this! And then I got a call from my girlfriend from undergrad saying that our friend Christina works at the World Trade Center and no one had heard from her! That’s when the gravity of the situation hit me. It hit me hard. Our crew used to hangout at her apartment all the time. I lost touch with Christina after graduation, but my girlfriend at the time was still pretty close to her. I called my other friends in New York to make sure everyone was OK. Many of my friends from undergrad were in New York and we were updated about everyone. Another one of my friends from undergrad worked there, but he wasn’t at the office that day! I got scared when we didn’t hear back from Christina. She used to be the “moron police” whenever me and my buddies were acting stupid. Her look of stern disapproval instantaneously evaporated any thoughts of mischief in anyone caught in her gaze. For the first time in my life I was genuinely concerned with a peer’s well being. No one had ever been sick or had any major life crisis. Having a friend caught up in the reality of the situation made me realize that although we were heading in different directions, we started the journey to adulthood together from the same place with similar ambitions and roots. It made me wonder how we grew apart. After graduation, everyone goes in different directions. Everyone gets busy and it takes work to maintain those friendships, especially with the people who helped mold you into the person you become today. I lost contact with her my senior year of undergrad because we both got busy pursuing our own interests. I remember driving from Michigan to New York City a day after with some friends who probably felt the same. I’m not sure what we could actually do there, but I’m pretty sure it helped being around others that had similar feelings. People came to New York City from all over but most notably: Ohio, Michigan, Maryland, and California. All I remember was a silent 10 hour car ride to New York, but things got really somber once we got to the tunnel into the city. Seeing most of our friends from undergrad together made us feel a little better, but everyone was missing the one person that united us. We needed each other at that particular moment because it was such a confusing time. We had no idea what to say to each other. Sometimes a hug from a loved one or friend is all the talking we need. I remember going to the site and looking at all the pictures posted of missing people and the crowd of people searching for friends and loved ones. My heart dropped. I felt sad and confused how this could have happened. I remember the look on the faces of the police officers doing crowd control. They probably felt the same helpless because there was nothing they could do. I made eye contact with one officer. I could tell he felt the same feelings of helplessness. He let our group come up to the front of the barricades and pay our respects/ say our prayers.

Fast forward to 2019, I decided to symbolically fly on 9/11 back to Michigan to clean out my mom’s basement. As I sit back and recall all the emotions from that tumultuous week, I’m glad that there were people around so that we could go through the emotions together. I still miss Christina, but I’m sure she would be proud to see we are are still there for each other AND how much we’ve grown since our days at “the apartment”.

movies and Random blog and reviews09 Sep 2019 06:29 am
Movies aren’t as scary as they used to be. It has been a LONG time since a movie really freaked me out or scared me. Sure, the “jump scares” still get me, but I haven’t been freaked out after seeing a movie in a long time. I saw IT: Chapter 2 this weekend, but the ending of the movie didn’t haunt me as much as the original TV Series did. Scary movies that are open ended and seem realistic used to scare me a lot. I’ve never been able to sit through the entire run time of classic horror movies like the original Nightmare on Elm Street, the Exorcist, and the Ring. Actually, the movie Scream freaked me out the most because it had the jump scares and was very “meta”.

Maybe the reason why movies don’t scare me is because they aren’t geared towards me. The scary movie formula typically involves a kid and something Supernatural. I’m not impressionable like I was as a kid. I am becoming cynical and question everything. I never understood willingly watching something that scares you and gives you nightmares. Movies are supposed to be an escape from reality. Why would I want to escape to something that freaks me out. That is why I’ve always preferred geeking out to a good sci-fi movie, cheering for the hero in an action movie, laughing at a silly comedy, or learning something new in an interesting documentary.

Well, I’ll try to blog more frequently. We’ll see what happens next. I have more exciting things in the works. Stay tuned.

Blog and geek and movies and reviews05 Jul 2018 02:14 pm

Movies have always been my preferred mode of entertainment and an “escape” to another reality. Reading books also fulfilled this need for entertainment, but it is very time consuming because I’m a slow reader. For a little while, watching TV was great, but has become depressing with an abundance of commercialism and so much negative news. Yes, people need to be informed about what is going on and informed about what products/services are available, but sometimes you just need a break. Movies on Netflix got me through the first few years of brain tumor survivorship since my mobility was limited and I had a hard time physically leaving my apartment. Going to the movies has been the only constant. When I was younger, my dad used to take my brother and I to movie matinees all the time on the summer breaks. He also used to take us on weekly trips to video stores/ Meijer to rent movies. Watching the original Star Wars Trilogy, Rocky III, Rocky IV, the Back To The Future Trilogy, and the original Karate Kid were huge influences on me! My addiction to movies continued throughout high school and college because most of my dates involved going to movie theaters or watching movies on VHS/DVD. Now I go to movies by myself because: 1) it’s too hard to coordinate times to get people together and 2) I have MoviePass so I get to go to one movie/day.

For the year, I have already broken even on my $90 yearly MoviePass membership.  I have seen 14  movies in 3 months! That on top of a Netflix subscription means I watch A LOT of movies. I enjoy going to matinees because the theaters are less crowded and therefore easier to find a good seat.  I tend to gravitate toward comedies and action movies.   Since I am a HUGE comic book geek, my favorite movie so far this year has been Avengers: Infinity War.  Although I’m an adult. I’m also fascinated by a good animation movie.  The amount of time and skill it takes to piece together each individual frame/shot of a cartoon character’s speech and movements is AMAZING!  The last great animated film I watched in the theater was Moana.  It was so cool to see cartoon characters who actually reminded me of my family.

The summer blockbuster season is starting, so I’ll probably be ramping up my trips to the movie theater.  Wanna join me?  Maybe I’ll start reviewing them…

Blog and reviews22 Dec 2015 07:38 pm

Here is another entry from my first travel journal in 1995.

May 12, 1995
sm1Well, here goes another entry into my “journal”.  Yesterday was kind of boring.  My nephew, Paolo, came over to my uncle’s house yesterday morning!  After breakfast we played for a while.  At around 1PM, we went to the mall in Makati: Quad and Shoemart.

Nako! Maraming tao doon! Mayroon mga magandang dalaga rin! Pumenta tayo sa bookstore at mga clothing stores.  Bumili akong mga libro may “Pilipino culture”.  Bumita ako tagalog libro.

OK, enough Tagalog.  I figured I should practice it a little since I am in the Philippines.  I tried getting in touch with my other cousins from the States that were also visiting, Eileen and Janice.  They were out until 10PM last night.  (This was before email, texting, voicemail!)  What’s crazy though is that I went to bed at 9PM!

(I’m noticing that whenever I travel overseas, I got to bed early and wake up early!)

I’m noticing that this entry was a “filler.”  Not much to talk about… they do get better (I hope…) here is another entry

May 14, 1995

On Friday, I finally got to meet up with my cousins Eileen and Janice.  I went over to their Uncle’s house for dinner,  We ended up watching a video of their 25th Wedding Anniversary Celebration.  It seems like the Filipino here are a lot like the ones in the States:  lots of food, laughing, and loud screams of joy.  It was kind of funny looking at everyone’s reaction at seeing themselves on TV.  After that, we ended up going to a night club in Makati:  CATS.  Actually, it was like “Asian Persuasion Thursdays at Nectos” in Ann Arbor, only it wasn’t.

The next day I had to get up early to go to San Pablo.  On the way there, we stopped at the Galvez resort:  “Balik Bayan”.  (I think my Aunt owns another one in San Pablo, “Makiling Breeze”.) When I finally got back to San Pablo, I wanted to do some site seeing.  Actually, this entry sucks cause I don’t feel like writing anything now.

HAHAHA!  I had to force myself to write stuff down back then.  The early stages of something that would eventually lead to a blog.  At 19 years old, my main interests were in going out and meeting pretty girls.

Blog and reviews20 Dec 2015 08:23 pm

airbending-symbolThe second entry from my journal… It was one long flight to the Philippines!

 

May 10, 1995 (cont)

Captain’s log, supplemental (I was/am such a geek!)  My voyage to the Philippines has just begun.  I arrived in Manila at 2100.  God, I was so tired when we got to Osaka for our connecting flight to Manila.  I was just waiting to get on the plane and fall asleep.  When we boarded the plane, we were greeted by the most beautiful flight attendants I have ever seen.  They were all Filipina + cute too!  Wow, I was in shock!  Me, being the “stud” that I am, flashed them a flirty smile in return I got a bunch of giggles.  That’s cool, but too bad it didn’t actually happen like that.  I always act really stupid around pretty girls!  The whole 4 hours I couldn’t sleep, partly because of the gorgeous flight attendants and partly because I was really excited to be back in the land where my parents were raised.

When I stepped off the plane it was so damned hot.  It didn’t help that the walk to the baggage claim was like 30 miles away and I was carrying 3 tons of carry-on baggage.  The second I noticed was the smell in the air.  There is no other smell like it in the world.  It’s hard to explain but it’s really “thick” and hard to breath, yet it fills your lungs like a good meal would fill your stomach!  I don’t think it was smog, but I’m not completely sure it wasn’t.  I’ve breathed smog before in NYC and Paris, but this was different.  Oh well, I gots to get some rest!

I have a few more entries I’ll post while on vacation… they get more interesting..

Blog and reviews20 Dec 2015 06:34 pm

di9rXzB4TI found this old journal while cleaning out my room.  I was going back to the Philippines with my Lola (Grandma.) I was in college and traveling overseas for the first time as an “adult”. This was my first overseas “adventure.”

May 9, 1995

Well, I’m on my way to the Philippines again.  The last time I was there was when I was in the 6th grade for my Grandma and Grandpa’s 60th wedding anniversary.  I stayed there for only a month.  This time around, I’m going back with my Lola (my other grandma.)  I guess she’s going back and staying there for good. (She actually moved back to Canada for health reasons.)  When I first heard about her plans, I jumped at the opportunity to go back with her!  I don’t know… I guess there’s a part of me that’s looking for something back there.  Maybe I’m looking for an escape from the “real world” or some sort of cultural enlightenment, or maybe I’m looking for a wife… j/k!  Right now I’m on the plane to Osaka (Northwest airlines)  God, this is boring.  “Jurassic Park” is on, and everyone is asleep.  Looking after Lola is so weird because she was the one who always looked after me when I was little.  It’s kind of strange how things come full circle in life.

Stay tuned for more old journal entries…

Blog and mAss Kickers news and reviews19 Oct 2015 05:44 pm

The 2015 Celebration of Life was this past Friday.  A group of tumor/cancer survivors created this event five years ago to say thanks to the people that were there for us during the most difficult times in our lives:  our family, our friends, and fellow survivors.  This year Patti McDonald, Vi Ariola, and I did the toasts.  We showed the latest Tumors Suck videos.  It is getting harder to get people together because everyone is very involved in a variety of different organizations, most notably: Relay for Life, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Stupid Cancer, and First Descents.  We welcome ALL to come and celebrate another year together!  The purpose of the “Celebration of Life” is to formally say thanks to the people who were there for us in the most difficult times in our lives!  We rarely get to do that.  I don’t think I ever officially said “thanks!” to all my supporters.  We formally recognized them by honoring them with toasts.

Something strange happened that night…  I’ve noticed that I always get choked up whenever my family is there for a presentation!  My mom, my dad, and my brother went through so much because of me.  It is very humbling.  Somehow I got them to write “essays” about their experiences with having a loved one going into surgery!  Very surprised they did it!  When they aren’t present for a talk, I’m fine.  I still can’t believe how strong they were for the situation I put them in!  I’ve spoken at numerous universities, hospitals, ceremonies, and events all over the world, but put me in front of the people that were there for me when I was “lost”… I get very emotional.  I can’t help it! I was confused, scared, and for the first time in my life not confident.  I’ve noticed that I now wear my emotions on my sleeve, which is funny because before surgery, I was a very stoic guy!  When I’m excited about something, you can tell. I’m also more apt to have an emotional responses to heart-wrenching stories.  I always blame my “allergies” when that happens.  The past year was particularly tough losing a couple close friends to brain tumors.  It does not get any easier.  There is a part of me that realizes how close I was to leaving this world or having severely debilitating side effects.  It is very humbling.  I strongly believe that my prior and current physical activity level played a very large role in my survivorship and subsequent “thrivership”.  I’m VERY interested in WHY my survivor friends who are physically active tend to do better after treatment.  I’m very curious.  The human body is not supposed to be stationary. I think that there must be some relationship between physical activity/exercise and post oncology treatment quality of life.

Anyways, after a very busy September of traveling, I can finally rest!  Actually this week, I’m experimenting with the Google hangout in a classroom setting.  I’ve done it a couple times, but I’m still trying to perfect it!  Then I can rest!  I will try to take some screen shots and post it on facebook!  Starting to plan MKF activities for next year!

Blog and reviews05 Oct 2015 10:18 am

unc-chapel-hill-logoMy first trip to UNC-Chapel Hill was packed!  I am very interested in their PhD program in Exercise Physiology with an emphasis on post-oncology treatment exercise/physical activity.  I’ve noticed that most of the post treatment “thrivers” that are physically active after treatment are actually doing quite well.  I always wondered why.  Are they more physically active because they take advantage of what they can do (thrive) OR are they able to thrive as a result of their physical activity?  There must be some correlation between “post-treatment thrivership” and physical activity and exercise…  I do know that exercise/physical activity has benefits. In Physical Therapy school my research mentor, Dr. Jacqueline Drouin, looked at the Effects of Moderate Intensity Exercise on different parameters in Women Undergoing Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer.  I was initially drawn to her research before my brain tumor diagnosis because sadly my family has been affected by cancer on multiple occasions!

Anyways, I was very fortunate to know a few people in Chapel Hill who could help me navigate the campus.  My cousin Nick Galvez (who is also a physical therapist) picked me up from the airport and dropped me off at my friend Dr. Carmina Valle’s place.  Carmina is a professor in the UNC School of Social Work.  She was gracious enough to let me stay in the guest room of their house close to campus.  I had a very busy schedule because the following day:  I was going to lecture at the DPT program, then talk to someone about returning to school for a PhD, and then explore the accessibility of the campus in Chapel Hill. On top of that I wanted to meet the members of the North Carolina chapter of the Philippine Nurses Association. The campus reminded me of Ann Arbor with the historic architecture, the rich traditions, the school pride, the rivalries, and the restaurants. It is a great College town!  After my meeting I got to meet up with some old friends from First Descents for dinner at this fancy-smancy restaurant in Chapel Hill.  It was great to catch up with them!  After dinner, they dropped me off for dessert at the house of a member of the Philippine Nurses Association.  It was great meeting with them and there is def a sense of family in that community!  I def felt like I was at an uncle or auntie’s house!

dept of exercise and sport scienceOn day 2, Carmina gave me a driving tour of the UNC-Chapel Hill campus before she went to work.  It definitely reminded me of Ann Arbor!  Later that morning, I had the opportunity to attend a presentation at the School of Social Work by Dr. Ted Trimble, Director of the Center of Global Health at the US National Cancer Institute.  It was very interesting to see that internationally there are many cancers associated with obesity.  Diet and exercise play such a large role in overall health and well being.  I personally am addicted to SUGAR, but at least I’m more aware of it when I eat.  I’m doing better limiting my sugar intake, but the Western Diet is so high in sugar.  Seriously, start reading labels… notice that there is no “Recommended Daily Allowance” for sugar!  That’s kinda weird… I started out by eliminating carbonated drinks and limiting my cookie/dessert intake, but I’m still trying to figure out how to decrease my overall sugar intake.  I have noticed that almost every processed food has some form of sugar in it!  Even the “heathy ones”!  Later in the day, I got to meet with and check out Dr. Claudio Battaglini‘s lab.  He is really cool guy looking at the role of exercise post oncology treatment.  I was very impressed with all the equipment in his lab.  I am familiar with much of it, but I do realize that I need to get more lab time.  I’ve been out of academia for over 10 years!

Anyways, here are pictures from Day 1 and Day 2.  It was cool because you walk everywhere at UNC, and all the buses were free to ride!  I am really concerned about returning to school because I haven’t been in school in over 10 years!  I figured that my passion for “post treatment oncology thrivership” will only help to drive my goal of getting involved with oncology exercise research.  I was VERY impressed with UNC.  The only knock on UNC was the weather, but I’m comparing it to near perfect weather in San Diego.  It was cooler temperature-wise and raining, but a welcome change of scenery.  Except for the the weather, it was a great trip and has me thinking… I was concerned about the accessibility of the campus.  I will definitely visit the disabled student office the next time I come to Chapel Hill! I was pleasantly surprised, but I would have to look at manual chair option + wijit. I’m not 100% confident that the mAss Kicker Mobile could navigate the bus system and drastic changes in weather.  Rain is one thing, but hurricanes/snow is a whole different beast.  This trip definitely got me thinking…

In a couple weeks, we are having the Celebration of Life.  I will be a 10-year survivor on Oct 25.  I’m inviting all the people who were there for me in the beginning to say “thanks” for helping me get through the first few years.  But more importantly I wanna personally say “thanks” to the people who helped create the “post-brain tumor version of myself!”  It will be a very emotional night for me.  If you can’t make to the event, please support me here so mAss Kickers Foundation can continue international outreach!

Blog and reviews13 Jul 2015 04:52 pm

Had an AWESOME time at ComicCon!  I haven’t been inside the convention center since 2010, but I still went downtown to experience the festivities on Friday and Saturday!  This popped in my head as I rode the trolley home surrounded by costumed freaks and geeks… In college, I took a couple classes in Classical Mythology…  Greek Mythology and Roman Mythology.  We read the classics like Homer’s The Odessey, Homer’s The Illiad, and Virgil’s The Aeneid.  After a weekend at ComicCon, it dawned on me that modern comic books have themes that are very similar to Classical Mythology.  You have:

  1. heroes and villans;
  2. heroes with super powers that need to commit “trials” to save people;
  3. “ordinary people” who step up and become extraordinary heroes (the hero’s journey).

There is definitely a structure to each hero’s journey and the heroic archetypes.   I realized that there are so many similarities between modern heroes and the ancient heroes.  Check out these similarities…

Superman: Hercules, invincible but with one weakness (cutting his hair=kryptonite)
Batman, Spiderman: Odesseus,  tragedy breeds a call to action,
Superman, Luke Skywalker: Perseus, orphaned son with special powers
Alfred Pennyworth (Batman), Aunt May (Spiderman), Obi-wan Kenobi (Star Wars):  The wise guide
X-Men:  “imperfect” greek demi-gods with special powers

Superman14Harvard Classics Professor Gregory Nagy explains it by saying, “It’s not that they were ‘believed’ . . . Rather, myths about heroes were accepted as valid narratives about moral truths”.  In a way, comic books recreate these myths, but for different reasons.  In the “Golden Age” of comic books (late 1930’s to 1950s), the superhero archetype was created, and many famous characters debuted, including:  Superman, Batman, Captain America, Wonder Woman, and Captain Marvel.  The world needed heroes to look up to for World War II.

In the Silver Age of comics, from 1956 to 1970, the popularity and circulation of comic books about superheroes declined following World War II.  Comic books about horror, crime and romance took larger shares of the market.  In contrast to previous eras, Silver Age characters were “flawed and self-doubting”.  Characters such as Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Hulk popped up during a time period of social upheaval and the rise of a youth counterculture in the 60’s. Comic book readers of the Silver Age were more scientifically-inclined than previous generations. Thus, comic books of the Silver Age explained superhero phenomenons and origins through science, as opposed to the Golden Age, which commonly relied on magic or mysticism.

Secret_Wars_8The Bronze Age of comics 1970-1985 was characterized by more mature and modern comic books.  More ethnically diverse characters were also created such as Marvel‘s Luke Cage (who was the first black superhero to star in his own comic book in 1972, followed a year later by Black Panther in Jungle Action), Storm, Blade, DC‘s Green Lantern John Stewart, Bronze Tiger, Black Lightning,Vixen, Cyborg and Monica Rambeau.  Characters such as Luke Cage, Mantis, Misty Knight, Shang-Chi, and Iron Fist have been seen by some as an attempt by Marvel Comics to cash in on the 1970s crazes for Kung Fu movies.  In the 70s, there were also a lot of  super hero Team ups / Cross overs.  I remember getting my first comics books in this period.  My parents actually let me subscribe to comic books via mail.  I’ll never forget the first comic book I got in the mail… The Amazing Spider-Man #238 where the Hobgoblin first appeared!  Part of me thinks it was a ploy for me and my brother to check the mail daily because as a kid, you very rarely receive anything in the mail box.  When we got mail it was exciting!  It worked because it got me reading and appreciating good stories.

In the Modern Age of Comics (from the mid-1980s to present) we are seeing more of these stories in Pop Culture (popular culture) because the “hero’s journey” is constantly repeated yet still an entertaining escape from reality!  The super hero has evolved from socially moral god-like characters  in the 1930s to the modern anti-hero with particular character flaws.  Regardless, they have become a major source of entertainment in Hollywood because everyone can relate to them.  It’s no coincidence that many of the big summer block buster movies are comic book related… Spider Man, the Avengers, Batman, Superman… all with great super hero stories.  These stories are filed with classical mythology concepts.  These modern mythology themes makes me wonder how people in the future will look at our 20th Century Pop Culture and our “Modern Mythology”.

There is so much that can be learned by understanding origins of things…  On the surface these comic book stories appear to be for kids, but in actuality they represent evolution of centuries of classic mythology.  I found this great article online that discusses this deeper.

housekeeping and PT shop talk and Random blog and reviews22 Dec 2014 08:10 am

One of the 1st videos…

Next Page »