Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Old Becomes New While The Hidden Remains Hidden

That sure is a freakin' big universe out there, isn't it? Often, I wonder why we're in such a hurry to explore other suns and planets when I'm perfectly secure with the concept that we and other life on earth most likely arrived here from somewhere else. In one form or another, we've already been "there." True enough, if we go for a visit to Uncle Ned's house on a speck of planetary real estate in Alpha Centauri, it's probable that he'll be half centipede and half squid, but he's made of the same stuff we are --but you gotta overlook the cellular arrangements and appearance because, after all, he's our Uncle Ned and he deserves respect. So what if he doesn't give us gifts for Christmas, when they don't even celebrate Christmas in Alpha Centauri? Hmm, unless they do, and then that would open up a whole other discussion. Well. . .

Besides, there's so much to discover right here on our miserable little overpopulated planet -- and it's particularly intriguing when we re-discover something.

Take energy, for instance. Have you noticed the proliferation of infrared heating devices recently? In the USA, the name EdenPURE comes to mind, Heavily advertised on Paul Harvey's radio show and others, the unit even shows up in full-page newspaper ads (I saw one this morning) boasting the benefits of its infrared abilities. I'm sure it lives up to expectations, but one would almost think they invented infrared.

They aren't alone. A few days ago I purchased a very inexpensive little infrared heater bearing the Westpointe name. Manufactured in China (well, that's certainly a surprise), the thing was on sale for $39.98 at a hardware store. The selling point for me was its distinction from competing non-infrared heater units which routinely require, what, 1100, 1500, 2500 expensive watts to function? The Westpointe feeds upon two settings, requiring only 400 or 800 watts. Remarkable! Breakthrough! Incredible! Star Trek is here and now!

Well, not really. Infrared isn't exactly new. The heat of the sun is infrared, and I think that's been standard procedure for a few years, at least. That's what infrared does, it heats.

What's really funny for me, though, is realizing that, if our society had wished to do so, we could have been heating with infrared energy decades ago. After I entered the Air Force and received technical training in physical therapy 40 years ago -- 40 years ago! -- I was treating patients with infrared lamps, and the technology (if that's the right word) was in place long before my entrance. In the clinics I recall using infrared in two forms. One required a Carborundum filament which emitted no visible light, but the heat produced could easily be felt. The other lamp, more common as time went on, needed a 1,000 watt bulb; oh yeah, it was bright, and when I wasn't using it on patients it wasn't uncommon for me to gently warm food and snacks with it (I guess I was ahead of my time, since individual-use microwave ovens hadn't been invented yet).

Yet, the Air Force hospital clinics I worked in didn't depend solely upon infrared energy. Indeed, there was electrical stimulation, electrical testing, ultrasound (we've explored ultrasound and possible UFO connections previously in this blog) and microwave energy (potential UFO relationships with microwaves have been explored by others). There was also something else ripped from the spectrum -- ultraviolet energy.

The older I become, the less I find to truly respect in our paranoid, common senseless, electronics-worshiping society. But I still respect ultraviolet, hoo-boy, do I ever. (Just great, now I'll get e-mails from everybody named Hoo-Boy, complaining of a smear campaign.) Nevertheless, ultraviolet is not necessarily your pal, pal. In the military I used small, portable cold quartz (also called spot quartz) ultraviolet lamps to treat patient bedsores and other lesions, and that was a beneficial use of UV. And then there were the floor lamp-sized units of standard ultraviolet, a device to which patients would be exposed for mere seconds or maybe a couple of minutes to relieve various skin problems. When using these, both the technician and the patient must wear special sunglasses for vision protection against UV rays.

And therein lies our human stupidity. You see, as the years went by, instead of taking the infrared spectrum of visible light by the hand, so to speak, and finding a way to heat our homes and lives somewhat efficiently with wonderful, soothing, health-beneficial infrared light, a myriad of entrepreneurs focused instead upon ultraviolet and decided to create "tanning booths" and "tanning salons." Grrrrrrrr!

The thing about ultraviolet, the product of sunlight that causes "suntans" as well as serious burns, is its ability in a brief period to destroy your skin cells and burn your epidermal layers to a frazzle. Then, there's the cancer risk. At the very least, UV can -- well, just look at folks in Florida who spend their waking moments on the beach; after a few years of sun, their faces tell the tale. What's that you say? Sun blockers? Oh yeah, right, just slap on some sunblock cream and you'll be fine. May I sell you the Brooklyn bridge today, too?

The truth is, I'd sooner appear naked on "Dancing With The Stars" -- no, no, wait -- I'd sooner actually WATCH "Dancing With The Stars" than let anybody drag me off to a tanning booth. When I remember the lengthy list of warnings of which I had to be aware when treating patients with ultraviolet energy, and the potential instantaneous or long-term complications, you'd better be at least a dermatologist, and not some bubblegum-chewing, so-called tanning salon expert before I even think of getting a UV hit that doesn't come from brief exposures to the sun strictly for Vitamin D production.

Maybe I shouldn't be so hard on the tanning industry. While I was stationed at a hospital in Georgia, one day actress Joan Crawford came to town to promote Pepsi-Cola. I think that's because her then-husband was on the board of directors, so she was making a promotional tour. I know that many remember her as "Mommy Dearest," but by that time I don't believe she packed coat hangers in her luggage, not even the wire ones she reportedly despised, just bottles of Pepsi.

Anyway, during her Pepsi tour and in commercials, former queen of the cinema Joan would proudly extol the virtues of drinking a Pepsi with breakfast every morning. I think she said she started every morning off with a glass of Pepsi. The scene might be similar to one from the yet-to-be made movie, "Apocalypse Now," except Queen Joan could easily have stepped from a helicopter, attired in high fashion, and announced, "I love the smell of Pepsi in the morning!"

Now, I like Pepsi myself, and could hardly confabulate a better way to obtain a sugar high if I were Godzilla himself let loose in a sugar cane plantation, but I rather don't believe that Pepsi could ever replace orange juice or cereal for the sort of nutritional values pounded into our heads by medical professionals as they attempt to ruin the fun in our lives themselves with their constantly changing life-and-death advice. Yet, I'm confident old Joan had her admirers, and I have this vision where many thousands of them threw out their toasters, eggs and marmalade, subsequently stocking their refrigerators and cupboards with Pepsi. Hey kids, don't be heading off to school before ya drink a bottle of this. . .

Barrow, you're thinking, what tangent are you off on today? Well, I think it's about choices to some extent. We first chose the dangerous ultraviolet demon over the angel of infrared. The quick dollar and the scam and the quackery always seem to come first. We trust the knowledge and endorsements from Hollywood actors who, strangely, frequently spend their lives engulfed in pure fiction and fantasy and/or drugs and may not have the ability to judge the difference between truth and a coat rack.

So now I'm waiting or not waiting for another choice to be made: The choice for our government to come clean with us about the UFO issue, you know? There's an "energy crisis," and what happens? Infrared pops out of the box as if it never existed before, yet it was there all the time and we knew it. Ultraviolet lay dormant, too, until the appearance of a good tan became more important than the personality or lack thereof behind the tan. Pepsi-Cola was just soda-pop until Ms. Crawford declared it a breakfast drink and turned it into an Andy Warhol-style Soda POP. Then there's the UFO thing.

Yes, the UFO thing. Dormant sometimes, sometimes not. Kind of laying around like a lazy teenager waiting for a party invitation, and then the phone rings and all hell breaks loose -- until the caller mysteriously hangs up without saying a word and the teen resumes the previous position, waiting for another call because he knows there's a party somewhere and the only thing missing is the right call, and the only things there are many, TOO many, of are the hang-ups. Too many hang-ups, too many days filled with them, too many good and bad occasions that lie in wait until exactly the right or wrong time to surface. Who deludes us? Who?