Archive for the ‘casual observations’ Category

Adrenaline and Endorphins

August 5, 2008

Endorphin & Adrenalin

Endorphin: The true opiate of the brain

Endorphins are known as the neurotransmitters of pleasure. The reason: we are dealing in fact with natural opiates. The effects of these are the same as those of synthetic opiates such as heroin, morphine, and cannabis, but without the harmful side effects. They are produced in the interior of the brain, within the hypothalamus, and its receptors are spread throughout the body. When we suffer from an injury or from pain, endorphins are released into the blood stream which act as analgesics. Furthermore, they have a positive euphoric effect on a person’s disposition. Endorphins are released in great quantities during many pleasurable moments; for example, during sex (especially during orgasm), during extreme sports, when we listen to good music or when we eat chocolate.

Furthermore, studies have shown that intense exercise, even a brisk thirty second run or a series of repetitions with weights can elevate the levels of endorphins within the bloodstream seven times than that of normal sedentary levels measured over several hours.


Adrenalin is associated with positive stress. During a short-term crisis, stress reaction can be beneficial, but harmful during prolonged situations. The first phase of stress reaction is initiated with the stimulation of the senses, which transmit information via the nervous system to the thalamus where the sensory information is organized. The information reaches the cerebral cortex as perception and the limbic system as sensory information. Based on the information that is received the joint cerebral cortex limbic system is formed. If the information received indicates danger, the cortex will activate fear within the limbic system.
The heart responds with speed, which makes more blood flow to the muscles and brain. Other asociate hormones induce vascular constriction, which accelerates blood flow, and fear causes coldness in the extremities accompanied by sweating producing the “cold sweat.”

The Combination of Both:

During intensive muscular activities, such as weight lifting, endorphin levels rise but there is no significant influence of adrenaline since there is no connection to the fight or flight response (stress reaction). On the other hand, with Internet games, we do have these elevated levels of adrenaline since the fight or flight reaction is the dominant of these types of games.

We know that endorphins are capable of lowering stress and causing pleasurable sensations similar to opiates but in a natural and healthy way. The enthusiasm of the adrenaline combined with the introduction of endorphins in the blood stream combine euphoria with pleasure, competitive enthusiasm with relaxation due to the elevated levels of endorphin which will not allow the game to continue beyond healthy time limits while the stress will make weightlifting have the stimulating component they lack for being routine.

We can then conclude that the combination of endorphin and adrenaline will provoke a healthy addiction to physical activity. This will practically eliminate the negative effects of prolonged stress (information overload syndrome) since its benefits will be reached through the synergy of physical and psychological.

I can’t seem to get enough bicycle time anymore. In the past month I’ve also taken up a jogging/calisthentics workout 3 or four mornings a week, and tennis thrice. This in an effort to replace all the exercise I exerted just living day to day in Belize. I believe myself to be healthily addicted.  This morning, as I was returning from a cycling foray {to replace a canceled tennis session}, I got a healthy dose of adrenaline as adjunct to my streaming endorphins. The bright red truck ahead of me, donning Yucatan plates, signalled a right turn going into the intersection. We were both racing to beat the yellow light. All the streets here in Merida are one way, and as it turns out, his was the wrong one. So he’s halfway into the turn, with me on his tailgate. And then here he is, back in my lane! Adrenaline rush. Yes, I cursed him at the time, but had forgotten the whole incident a block later, as the endorphin stream continued to roll.

Cycling has always done this for me, probably even as far back as my childhood days. Running does it too, but is much more taxing to the body–joints and such. I’ll continue to do both as long as my body lets me. Out on the bike, I feel invincible. I like to ride fast, with the traffic. I sometimes try to reel myself back in on both counts, with little effect. Maybe I am invincible when in that psychological space. There are places I won’t ride. The road to Progresso is one of them; a suicide run, in my opinion. And I like to stay out of the extreme city center, and anywhere else that a lot of buses tend to congregate. I tend to be at my most aggressive when dealing with city buses–probably not a healthy thing. But they bring it out in me, so I try and keep clear when i can. Generally though, Merida and its surrounds is THE most bicycle friendly location I’ve ever had the pleasure of riding through, including many parts of the US, Belize, Guatemala and Canada. I’ve seen places in Nicaragua an Nova Scotia I’d like to try out someday though.

I’ve been told by some that it’s a heinous crime to hit a bicycle with a car, here in Mexico, and that makes me tend toward more aggressive riding.  And then I’ve been told that it’s everyone for himself out there on the road.  The one thing NOBODY wants is for the police to show up.  Except maybe the more damaged party.

I don’t want to alarm anyone out there.  All you endorphin/adrenaline junkies can relate though, I’m sure.  We all do what we need to do to get through the day.  Some need heroin, or marijuana, or alcohol, or coffee.  I need endorphins and adrenaline.  And coffee.  In Belize, my adrenaline level was naturally heightened by the ever present fear of the tommygoff, a deadly snake which is quite common in that area.  I hardly put my foot down without having scanned the immediate area first.  I find this sort of acquisition preferable to that.


Merida is

June 29, 2008

Merida is a very crime-free city, and it is also heavily patrolled by at least two different police departments, the state and the city.  I would be shocked and amazed if I were to find out that the Federales were not also here.  This afternoon as I was returning from the mall on my bicycle, I was passed by a motorcylce cop.  City, I think.  He was wearing body armor, at least on his upper body.  He had an automatic rifle slung over his back.  His belt held two extra magazines (Sports Illustrated and Cosmopolitan), and at least one sidearm.  There were other weapon-like objects dribbling down his legs toward his boots.  The state guys ride around in 4 wd pick-ups.  There are two guys in front and at least one always in back.  The back guy has his automatic unslung (for better comfort while seated on the bench?), with his finger on the trigger and his thumb on the safety.  The mall I’d just come from had at least a half dozen armed guards, stationed one at each door and the others scattered about.  Who in their right mind would want to attempt a violent crime in these conditions?

As a result, any and all of us can walk, ride, jog, (almost) anywhere in our fine city at anytime of the day or night, with no fear of assault or battery.  Is it a police state?  I think not.  Tourism drives the economy here, now that nylon rope has wiped out the sisal business.  Complete and utter safety goes a long way in making a tourist destination attractive.

The Warmest Day

May 3, 2008

I imagine we surpassed the 100 degree mark today, though we don’t have a thermometer yet. May is traditionally the warmest month of the year, as we reach the end of the dry (verano here). The same was true in southern Belize, except there the rain doesn’t traditionally come until the end of June. We’re told that in comes in early June here. In our experience, the days and nights grow continually warmer, right up until that first rain of the season. Immediately the temperature drops between ten and twenty degrees, and the humidity increases significantly. This dry season has been very bearable, as opposed to those we experienced in Belize, a big reason for this being the presence of electricity, and thus, fans. Still it is hot.  But we’ve adapted over the past 6 1/2 years.

The Cassia Grandis (golden rain trees) are blooming not quite profusely, but steadily. There is another yellow-flowered tree also blooming–a very large one. I’m trying to find out what it is.  The Enterolobium (guanacaste) are dropping pods and Mayplums are everywhere, as are Haas avocadoes, several varieties of mangoes and 3 types of custard apples (red, pink and white). We had a flurry of guanabana (soursop) a few weeks ago, but they appeared and disappeared inside of a week. Canteloupes (melon china) seem to be more prevalent too, though they seem to be a year-round thing.  And Jicamas are making the scene–large piles of large tubers.  We are steady consumers of many these delectables. Pitaya (dragon fruit) are here in July, but are they here earlier? I for one certainly hope so! They seem to grow wild on walls all over the city and in the surrounding countryside there are great plantations. But the greater bulk of them, I’m told, come from Tabasco.

My Sunday bike rides have become reduced to just getting out and riding into a stiff wind for a couple hours, in 100 degree heat and no shade for miles, just for a good workout. I’m currently shopping for running shoes, and am hoping to renew my career as a jogger as well, for some mid-week huffing and puffing.

I am happy to report that I now have enough Spanish to argue with the various service providers here. I’m in a bit of a stand-off with the garbage collector, after an angry encounter a couple weeks ago. I also have accused our internet provider of overcharging us (true) all the while delivering substandard service (untrue)–this one over the phone. It’s much more difficult speaking a foreign language on the phone than it is in person.


March 24, 2008

I’ve been sick with a head cold these past few days. While resting in the outside hammock this afternoon, I first observed the black vultures soaring overhead. I truly admire the flight skills which have been bestowed upon the vultures of the world. Someday I’d like to try it. Next, while absently gazing around the yard, I thought I saw a bloom on the bribri tree. Getting up to check it out, I realized that it was indeed a clump of blooms. But different from any bribri bloom I’ve seen in the past. This one looks more like the bloom of a wild cherry, rather than the white puff that I’ve seen on all previous bribris. I’ll check out my Mexico tree guide and see if I can identify it. And ultimately, I’ll await the fruit. The fruit will tell the tale.  Clearly this tree is not a bribri.  We were confused by the winged petioles.  I will await the fruit.


March 13, 2008

I don’t know what it might be like in your locality, but here in Merida, if you are between the ages of 14 and 24, you just DO NOT go out in public without your earbuds in place. Now I suppose that some of those earbuds are simply that–they’re not connected to anything playing music. But they ARE a significant part of the uniform, and woe be to the joven who is seen without them. I’ve noticed, also, that a single earbud is permitted as long as the cell phone is lodged in the other ear. This past Saturday night, by some odd conjunction of the god particle(s), I was present at the opening, down the street, of The Catherwood Museum, where hang Frederick’s original drawings, and at least one large painting. The single young woman I saw there was wearing her earbuds. I guess, in case she was seen by anyone in the know. I asked her what she was listening to, at the food table, but didn’t understand her answer.

The camera down at the park appears to be in need of having it’s medication adjusted. Wild mood swings, whereby at times, it is pointing straight up in the air, only to swing violently back down and around, as if attempting to give the impression of an aerobatics routine to whomever next views the tape.

casual observations

March 12, 2008

I was walking down the street, near my home today, and as I approached the park and the elementary school, I noticed what appeared to be a Tesla coil hidden in the cupola of the school. My eyes being already drawn upward, I also noticed what appeared to be a hawk sitting on a rather tall pole. As I approached, it became clear that it was in fact a camera. And it was moving! Someone was evidently actively monitoring that intersection. A man was walking at a right angle to me as we both approached the corner, and as he reached the corner, the camera moved decidedly down to apparently point right at him. I’ll continue to monitor that camera.