Ricky's Riffs:

Random Thoughts on Travel, Education, Health, and the World in General


Travel, Fear, and Misperception: Burma as Destination and Metaphor

April 13th, 2011

I first traveled to Burma in 1996, co-leading an educational tour with a group of eighteen students from New College of California.  Burma had just opened to the west after thirty years and Aung San Suu Kyi, the democratically elected president, who had been under house arrest by the military regime since her election in 1988, had just been released.Read the rest of this entry »


Norm and Normal: The Social Construction of Health

February 16th, 2011

You go for your yearly medical check up. The doctor listens to your heart and feels your pulse.  Your blood is drawn and your blood pressure is taken. Looking at the sphygmomanometer (blood pressure cuff), she reports a number: 120/80.  “Perfect”, she says and when your lab results come in showing all of your serum levels falling within the normal range, you are declared healthy and told to return in a year for another evaluation.Read the rest of this entry »


Rock and Roll Ergonomics, Part Two: Low Back Protection

August 2nd, 2010

It’s the second set of the night.  The Les Paul strung over your shoulders pours out hard and soulful sounds through the Mesa Boogie Mark IV (78 pound, 85 tube watt) combo amp. As you reach for that perfect note, bent over in trance, you feel a twinge in your lower back, then a sharp stab deep in your spine, and the life is suddenly sucked out of that singing lead.  Coming down from the clouds, mind and body are re-connected, your body telling your mind to stop doing what it is doing.  And you think about loading the amp into the car after the gig.Read the rest of this entry »