Tuesday, June 21, 2011



Photographer: Cassie Armstead
Photo: Clayton Andrade- Live Broadcast Session 2010

So I toured a little of Nor-Cal this weekend with my Brother and performed with him. Clayton moved to Nashville, Tenn. about a year ago to purse his passion in country music performance. Above is photo of him tunig his guitar prior to singing a few of his orginal songs live on a Lake County Radio Station. Clay's First album is in the early production stages. He starred recently in a country music video produced by the CASH CREEK Band titled UNLIKLEY ANGEL. A great song you can find on youtube.

I had a great time playig with him his weekend. I personally, don't care so much to perform by myself, but playing with my brother h away's been something I enjoy immensily. We both write songs and play guitar, I like singing back-up for Clay. His voice is very cutting edge, emotional, and strong. Perhaps, I can post some of his music in later posts!

Monday, June 6, 2011

On Saturday afternoon I came down with this horrible sore throat! I went from talking, eating chips, and sucking down coffee to croaking and drinking hot fluids in less than three hours. I couldn't believe how fast it hit me. By midnight the congestion in my head had grown unbearable and I decided to give-in and use a medical device my mother had given me as a birthday gift. (No I am not sick constantly, No I am not a hypochondriac) I think the original name for this device is The Netty-Pot. However, the one I have is called the NeilMed Sinus Rinse. Anyway how these things work is you pour a saline solution into luke warm water and stir it up. This mixture is then poured into a your Netty-pot, which is either in the shape of a tiny tea pot, or a round bottle like mine. With the pot you simple bend over the sink, twist you head, seal the nozzle of the pot against one of your nostrils and pour it in. The pressure from the water will force its way through the clogged up snot in your nose and drain out the other side and little may go down your throat, I know gross right? You then repeat this process with your other nostril. The one I have is actually a bottle that allows me to squeeze the saline water up my nose. I did this to hard, it came out my eye, I'm not kidding, It was horrific.

Now, I'm one of those people who hates being sick, and will do anything to overcome disease. So the idea of squirting salt water up my nose didn't sound so bad, of course the experience was worse than the imagination. It did work though, I slept sound through the night, and woke up with out that throbbing sensation between my eyes. Long story short being sick, is like seeing Rosie O'Donnell on the cover of Victoria's secret showcasing the summer bikini line...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

                                                     Long Live the Crocodile Hunter

Imagine Steve Erwin, the Late Crocodile Hunter, and an elderly librarian walking down the street. Mr. Erwin is strong, energetic, and enjoys close encounters with dangerous animals. The librarian, Ellin Klor, is a 56 year old woman from Santa Clara, CA. She is slightly overweight, a little clumsy, and normally stressing over how many things she has to do while franticly running from one task to the next. Both of these people were pierced through the heart by similar sharp objects. One of them survived and as we all know, one did not. Although, these two separate incidents have never been compared together by medical professionals, extensive research has been directed towards traumatic punctures to the chest cavity and heart. Standard, clear, and precise instructions on how to treat such injuries prior to hospital care are in wide use. Proper emergency care, given prior to patients reaching a hospital is often a critical factor in the survival of trauma patients. But before I draw conclusions from the details of these to incidents I will tell the stories.

The knitting needle that punctured Ellin Klor’s breastbone and jabbed into her right ventricle nearly killed her. She had chosen that night to attend a get-to-together with her knitting club that she had been teaching for about a year. She was really excited to share some new patterns with her friends. She arrived to find cars already parked outside the little ranch house where they gathered, so she knew some eager knitters were waiting inside. She hurriedly grabbed three bags full of books, unfinished knitting, and needles from her backseat. Turning down the little dirt path that led to the front porch she quickly jostled up the seemingly harmless steps to the front door. She could remember thinking to herself, “the scourge of a librarian, always carrying too much stuff.” Her toe caught unexpectedly on one of the steps and she was suddenly tumbling forward. She crushed into the ground chest first over her assorted bags and recalls scolding herself for trying to carry so many things. Rolling over she jumped up and gathered her bags before knocking on the door. She noticed her knee felt scraped and it hurt to breathe but didn’t give it much thought. One of the ladies in the inside answered the door and ushered her in.

Ellin was used to being a little clumsy. Falling over and banging into things was a little less than a regular habit for her so she wasn’t surprised at all she had. In the living room knitters were already getting started and Ellin was eager to join in. but the pain in her chest was rapidly getting worse and little panic messages were running from her nerves to her brain. She looked down at her red sweater and lifted it up. She will never forget what she saw. Protruding from her chest stuck a wooden knitting needle about the diameter of a number 2 pencil and almost four inches out of her chest. It was jagged and planted through her bra directly between her breasts. She whispered, “Oh my God.” Her friends immediately started to decide what should be done, should they pull it out? “No!” Ellin did not want anything to be done until she was in the hospital. This was her first life saving decision. Removing any object that has pierced skin tissue will often do much more damage as it comes out than when it goes in. It’s like pulling the plug on a drain, blood gushes out the open wound.

Note: This is the critical element in my comparison of these events. Steve Erwin was stabbed in the heart by a Bull Ray while shooting underwater film for his TV series. He immediately grabbed the barbed spear in his chest and tore it out. The experts who studied his death decided it was not the poison from the deadly fish’s stinger that killed him, but rather the damage caused by the violent removal of the serrated stinger which tore his left atrium and led to cardiac arrest.

Elinn refused to be rushed to the hospital by her friends; another life-saving decision because a slight movement of the needle within her heart could have induced cardiac arrest. She sat carefully down on the couch and noticed the irony that a wooden spear was jabbed in her chest and not a drop of blood was visible. The paramedics arrived and took all necessary pre-cautions before transporting her to the ER where she was run through a series of x-rays, scans, tests, and evaluations before being taken into the operating room. Her physicians informed her that they had removed every conceivable object from practically every part of the human body but had never seen her injury before. The needle had penetrated her sternum, the hard flat bone that lies in the center of the human chest to protect vital organs. The needle had grazed her right ventricle and internal bleeding was showing on all the scans. The doctors told her surgery was needed to stop the bleeding immediately and she gave them permission to start. Less than an hour from the needle penetrating her chest Ellin was laying on the operating bed as surgeons cracked into her chest.

You may be wondering at this point how in the world these two events have anything substantial in common. Steve was attacked by a predatory marine animal while diving on the Great Barrier Reef. While Ellin merely tripped over some stairs and unfortunately landed on a knitting needle. The truth is from a strictly medical standpoint they both suffered nearly identical injuries. A sharp object roughly equal in length and diameter punctured their chest cavity with significant force and entered the heart. The thesis for my paper is that the decisions people make in life-threatening situations often determine whether or not they survive. At this point I have yet to shed light on the mental or emotional aspects that dictate how a person responds to dangerous and chaotic situations. And for the sake of this paper I am going to focus strictly on the comparison of these two events. Come away from this understanding that I am not here to portray any cynicism or mockery against these two amazing people. Merely to deduce from the similar tragedies in their lives what factors led to Ellin’s survival and the unfortunate death of Steve Irwin.

A Stingray’s barb is approximately 10 inches long, serrated and loaded with toxin. However, the toxin only causes excruciating pain and eventually paralysis in small sea fish. Ray’s do not use the spines to hunt but rather as deterrents against attacks from larger predatory sea life. The toxin is not lethal enough to cause the death of a human on its own as many other animal injected toxins are.* The total number of reported worldwide deaths caused by attacks from stingrays is not more than thirty; although, the accuracy of this number is questionable because no organizations are employed in recording these events specifically.* I do not believe that one individual trauma led to the Steve Irwin’s death. Instead it was the contribution of all the dynamics involved in the incident. His environment and the nature of the attack are just two examples of these.

One factor, that undoubtedly played a significant role, was Steve’s own past life experiences. Mr. Irwin hosted a TV show where he had many close encounters with dangerous animals. The mind can overcome fears when it is constantly exposed to them. Once a fear becomes familiar, a person becomes comfortable with the environment or danger and basis his/her actions around the idea that it is harmless. Because it hasn’t hurt me yet, it won’t hurt me now. It’s just like learning to drive. New drivers tend to be wary and cautious while driving because the mind is adjusting to the new threats and functions of the environment. Experienced drivers, talk on cell phones, eat, listen to the radio, and behave as if they are not performing one of the most dangerous habits in our society. So, it is reasonable to assume Mr. Irwin was too comfortable swimming with the generally mild sea creature.

Another unique element in this incident was the fact that it occurred under the water. People are not designed by nature, to spend more than seconds submerged. Although modern technology allows us to spend more than an hour at certain depths if anything goes wrong, we try to react to threats as if we were on land. It’s purely instinct. For example: divers who encounter extreme difficulty like air flow problem have a strange tendency to attempt removing their masks while underwater in panic. It is completely illogical and counter-productive to survival until you are above the surface. That’s instinct and sometimes it kills you. When the spine of the ray drove into Steve’s chest it caused an overbearing sensation of pain, panic, and confusion. He thought two things; get it out, get to the surface. He almost instantly grabbed the barb attempting to wrench it from his chest. The serrations along the spine, like fish hooks are designed to prevent removal. Steve was a very strong man, it’s very likely he was nearly successful at removing the barb despite it’s design, but the spine had entered his heart and dragging its teeth across his internal organs did devastating damage. He was unconscious seconds later, due to cardiac arrest.

Emergency personal pronounced him dead on arrival. The medical treatment of penetrating injuries is very clear and consistent. Do not remove the object until in intensive care because it helps prevent loss of blood and if not done correctly, removal of the object will cause extensive damage to internal organs. This was Steve’s mistake. He had to make the decision to jerk the barb from his chest even while submerged. Ellin adamantly refused the needle to be touched. While no can say, that had Steve not removed the spine he would have survived, medical science say’s that he would have survived longer possibly until paramedics arrived and he could receive emergency treatment.

Now, from what I have written you may deduce that I am laying the fault of Mr. Irwin’s death in his own hands. I have no desire to do that. I do believe that many people who die in traumatic accidents make decisions or behave in manner that is adverse to their survival. It is also true that most of these decisions were made because the person believed it would save his/her life. I’m as certain as anyone can be this is what happened in Steve’s case. In some instances we can pin-point exactly what caused victims to die, in others it’s multiple factors. But the most common and shocking factor of every life-taking emergency is that; if only one thing had been done differently or not at all, the victim would have survived.

I just wanted every one to know I’ve always been a fan of the Crocodile Hunter. Ellin Klor was something of a medical celebrity after her accident. The x-ray’s the surgeons used to extract the needle from her chest also revealed the early stages of breast cancer. Because the cancer was found at such an early stage the doctors were able to successfully eradicate the infection. So the needle that almost killed her, also saved her life.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pay Dirt

Photographer: Cassie Adel Armstead
Titled: Bronc Tack
Date: March 2011

If a stranger asked me where my favorite place in the world is I know exactly where I would answer and I seriously doubt with all the luck in the world he could guess where it is. Because the place I love the most is not a comfortable place, it’s not a safe place, in fact it’s not even place you can stay very long. Most people wouldn’t go there and even less will understand why somebody like me would want too. I’ve never spent more than seconds there. But cut those seconds in to tenths, into hundredths, maybe even into thousands and I can remember as vividly as the taste of blood in my mouth the moments that passed.

For some people death is an elusive mystery they spend life pretending isn’t there. For others it’s the hammer stroke that crushed them into pieces. For me, it’s the shape in the shadows I’m staring at but can’t ever seem to glimpse. I’ve called to it like a ghost in the darkness, taunting it, annoying it, trying like the damned to bring it out of the black and expose it for the miserable wretch I sense it is. If you’re starting to question my sanity you’re not the first and you won’t be the last; so please don’t worry about offending me. I’m not suicidal, emotionally damaged, troubled, or fearless. It’s just that I’ve spent most of my life chasing a feeling; a feeling strong enough to shake the fear of dying, being maimed, scared, or broken, away. Eventually, I had to ask questions about myself, what exactly I was after and where the hell had I been.

The place I’m going to describe is very real in both the physical sense and in the emotional one. And if you have ever been you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about if you haven’t I’m going to do my best to bring the experience to you. In the emotional sense it can be reached through almost any traumatic experience. Survivors of life-threatening accidents often describe their moment of redemption as a euphoric episode where the truth that they are alive is revealed to them in astonishing undeniable clarity. No matter how hard that may be to accept. At one point in a car accident, plane crash, or near drowning a person realizes death; something that seconds before was so unforeseeably distant is now horrifyingly close. The fear brought on by the immediate threat of dying grabs them hard. It’s like a firm pair of hands choking your senses and it causes what is known as tunnel vision. The funny thing is you don’t feel like your dying, yet, instead you feel more alive than you have ever been. The contrast of your emotions against your reality is sharper than a black and white picture. And that is why it’s so incredible, to survive.

Now believe it or not there is a place you can go get this feeling, actually it’s a better one. Why? Because when you survive this wreck you stand up to a screaming crowd, an arena of admiring competitors, and a wad of cold, hard, cash. It’s called a rodeo, the sport is bull-riding, and the place is pay-dirt…

I’ve climbed over a chute gate onto the backs of countless bulls. Some were mean, some were ugly, and some seemed to enjoy the performance as much as I did. A few years after I started a news-reporter at small town rodeo asked me what it felt like to ride bulls. I was barely fifteen and didn’t have a clue what to tell him. But that question hung around with me ever since. This is my third attempt to answer that question in writing. Maybe that’s because I’m just an adrenalin junky who’s trying to make his cause feel noble but I don’t think so. Most professional athletes can relate to the idea that there is a lot more to a sport than the rules. There are elements and dynamics that can only be seen and felt by the players themselves. In bull-riding there is 1 wreck for every 7 times the chute gate is opened. People die, people get paralyzed, maimed, broken, and crushed. I know the MMA fans are going to throw a fit when I say this, but on a strictly success to injury ratio it’s America’s most brutal sport. When your slung underneath an 1,800lb rampaging animal it’s not much different than getting in a head-on-collision at 105mph. it happens to fast for you to react, it smashes your body to shards, and the possibility that you won’t ever walk, talk, make love, or eat solid food again is right in your face.

If you stand to lose your life or well-being then you stand to win it; as frightening as that sounds it is also incredibly exhilarating. I believe Sebastian Junger described this concept exceptionally well in his recent book titled War. “In some way’s twenty minutes of combat is more life than you could scrape together in a lifetime of doing something else. Combat isn’t where you might die – though that does happen – its where find out if you get to keep on living. Don’t under estimate the power of that revelation. Don’t under estimate the things young men will wager in order to play that game one more time.” This concept is the emotional current that carries you to the place I am talking about.

When you nod your head on bull you’re turning to all your fears and telling them to get f---. Then for 8 seconds you’re on the back of a black tornado twisting, leaping, and plunging in every possible combination. What most rodeo spectator’s belief is that you ride a bull by holding on as tight as you can. Even though common sense dictates that unless you’re Hercules you’re not going to hold on to 1,800lbs of twisting muscle. Its balance that gets a bull rode; it’s more like a dance than a fight. Pro cowboy’s train hard just like any other athlete, they train there bodies to counter-balance the forces of gravity, centrifugal energy, and a bull’s strength. That’s the game and if you play, you play for keeps.

If you make the 8 second whistle the ride is over and the door to the place I love swings open. But you are not ushered in on a red carpet don’t forget you’re still on the back of a bull. Most bulls can’t be ridden for very long, it takes to much energy from your body. So when it’s over your defiance of gravity is going to come to an abrupt end and the laws of physics are going to hurl you threw that door. It’s beautiful. No matter how hard you hit the ground it feels like cotton pillows. Then you can hear the dull roar of the crowd over the torrent of blood pounding through your veins. If it’s a night performance the dust hanging in the glow from the stadium lights seem to sparkle. You’re drinking it all in, basking in the glory of the human spirit, that in a way unlike anyone else; you know is still free and still alive. And all the while you’re crawling, struggling to your shaking legs, and attempting to run from the beast. Then you’re gone. You left that place as quickly as you came. The crowd fades, the adrenalin starts to wear off and you feel first stabs of pain, from what is sure to be bruised ribs.

 Because your brain can’t tell the difference between a real and an imagined experience finishing a bull ride and standing up to talk about it feels a much the same as surviving a firefight in Iraq. You feel bullet-proof. After the show, back behind the chutes you’ll be talking smack with your buddies, making plans for the evening, and packing up your gear. You are covered head-to-toe in cold sweat and dirt with a trickle of blood running down your leg staining your jeans. You probably look like a dog that just rolled in something dead but your persona is the only part of you anyone can see. Because tonight you did what nobody else could, you’re living the dream. And you’re not going to shower until tomorrow cuz’ son, you’re covered in pay dirt…

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"the viking stood on a tower over a city he had conquered. The viking smiled as men smile when they look up at heaven; but he was looking down. His right arm was one straight line with his lowered sword; his left arm, straight as the sword, raised a goblet of wine to the sky. the first rays of the coming sun, still unseen to the earth, struck the crystal goblet. it sparkled like a white torch. its rays lighted the faces of those below. "To a life," said the Viking, "which is a reason unto itself." We the Living. Ayn Rand.

It is often said, "There are no unselfish good deeds." So many assume that man is at his root corrupted and it is impossible for him to achieve true virtue, true selflessness. I myself have been victim of this philosophy. Until, I flipped my perspective to align with my ideals. I believe that man is capable of good, of being truly virtuous, of changing his world for the better. But if I believe that, how can I believe that man is ultimately a corrupt entity, or at least in part a corrupt entity? Absolution, Selfishness is a virtue, selflessness is vice. If there are no unselfish good deeds then only truly malignant acts would be selflessness. Any act of true selflessness would demand a sacrifice whether in the material or meta-physical; the code of morality defined by the supposed of virtue of selflessness, demands that to achieve moral purity man must be a sacrificial animal. And by his nature man is not a sacrificial animal. The laws of the natural world within which we the living reside, do not reward sacrifice with value; man does. I.E. If a man living alone on a island decided to sacrifice the best of his food to a deity, he would eat the the worst of his food.

Monday, April 11, 2011


In honor of my mother, who dedicated her life to raising and teaching her boys. Because she has insisted for long enough, I have a gift for writing, that even I am starting to believe it.

2011 has been a year of achievement for me. I set out with a few modest new years resolutions (which I never really took seriously before) and made it my priority to see them through. Yes, this blog is one of them. No, I do not have any prior experience or expertise on public blogging. So, I do not expect this endeavor of mine to blossom with instant success. In fact, I have yet to decide for what purpose I will use this blog. Currently, it is merely a tool for my own personal enjoyment and for now that is enough to satisfy my aspirations. Perhaps my following posts should be an introduction of myself, in summary? Or maybe, I should jump right into my opinions on a current political issue, or describe one of my recent life experiences (product of my relentlessly hazardous pursuit of happiness)? If for some reason you happen to stumble across this post and read it through, then please feel free to offer your topic suggestions, blogging tips, or cyber-hate comments. Maybe I'm deranged, but the idea of somebody tucked into their computer cubicle angrily responding to my less-than-amateur blog excites me on a cellular level...

I feel like it is necessary to explain my name "AisA" and the quote posted in the About Me Box. As of a few weeks ago I finished reading the book Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. If you are familiar with this book then you will understand what I mean when I say it has induced profound changes in my life. If the strongest pillar in your life rested on the premise that you would never read any book, for any reason, ever. I would recommend you break that promise to yourself and risk the consequences, to read this book. If reading the Bible, can save your soul. Then reading Atlas Shrugged, can save your life. A is A, is the expression of the law of Identity. The law that states, Man is Man, existence exists, and that rights are an undeniable condition of human existence, not a gift from a government or a society or a divinity. Because man's rights are required due to his nature for his proper survival. The quote posted in my self-description is the covenant of the book's hero John Galt which he made to himself of his own volition. To express the full value and meaning of that promise I would have to write a blog nearly the size of Ayn Rand's Novel. So, if what I have said thus far is interesting to you just go read the book... You will not regret it...

P.s. I do not stand to gain any financial or material reward should you purchase the book.