The Cure to My MS…

The cure to my MS lies in being able to trick my brain.

The point is, don’t read this thinking you stumbled on a cure, the title was just a title.

During the time of Covid I’ve been making a point to take walks in the morning as frequently as I can. Being home and working from home has afforded me the opportunity to take advantage of the cool mornings even if the day would end up scorching hot.

On one of these walks recently I was thinking about the conflict between my body and my brain and how my brain (our brains) can be so smart but so stupid at the same time.

If you don’t how MS effects the brain, the short version is that MS attacks the Myelin sheath that covers the nerves in our brains and spines. In the absence of the Myelin the signals that run through the nerves may slow down, get disrupted, or get broken completely.

In my case, I presume, the signals are slowed down. I can still walk but often my legs are out of sync. For example:

  1. When getting out of the shower, I’ll put my left foot out of the tub but when I try to pull my right leg out, it doesn’t move.
  2. Changing walking speeds, my right leg doesn’t respond like my left leg does. My left foot moves forward quickly but my right foot is still moving slowly.
  3. When standing up or reaching high (standing on my toes) my body depends heavily on my left leg. After 10 years of this my left calve and ankle are noticeably (to me) smaller and weaker.
  4. Changing directions, whether walking or standing still, my entire body prepares and makes the adjustment but my right leg stays the original course or stays still.

You can imagine that this causes a number of trips and stumbles. Luckily the falls have been infrequent and mild.

Our brains are incredible. They can develop new pathways. They can switch from doing something deliberately to automatically seamlessly. Take a breath… now hold your breath… now continue to read this and begin breathing normally. Your brain functions at a level higher than you can even comprehend. It balances your body weight, controls your hands as you communicate, monitors your surroundings, takes in information from the people you are listening to but also from the things you aren’t listening to directly. Your conscience and sub-conscience work together seamlessly in order to create this marvelous picture of the world around you. Not just that you physically see, hear, smell, touch, and taste but also what you feel emotionally. Sadness, surprise, fear, excitement, jubilation are just a few. Do you realize that you can make yourself sad? Your brain has the power, even if you’re happy, to recall a sad memory. When at a funeral, in extreme sadness, your brain can still conjure up the happiest memory you have of the person you’re grieving. Seamlessly your brain can feel the sadness but at your command or someone else’s request can recall the happiest thought.

Take notice, have you given any thought to your breath in the last couples sentences? Assuming you’re not passed out, do you see that your sub-conscience takes over at will in order to keep you alive whether you are focusing on it or not. INCREDIBLE!!!!! That is AWESOME in the truest sense of the word.

When it comes to walking, the easiest solution to tripping when I walk fast is to walk slow. It’s called the KISS method, Keep It Simple Stupid, for the uninitiated.

But this is where our brains become so smart that they are stupid. I can’t override the signal to or from one leg or the other. Trust me on this, I tried. If I look drunk/silly dragging my feet around the neighborhood normally, watching me trying to walk and cheat my brain at the same time must be down right hilarious. My movements become exaggerated and uncoordinated and unfortunately I still stumble. So instead of having a simple limp I end up looking like the Tin Man in need of oil trying to Waltz.

See, as soon as I tell my body to slow down, the signals slow down. The normal signals act accordingly but the signal through the damaged nerve slows down too. I can tell my body to slow down but the communication to my right leg slows down automatically.

And here’s the last part of the equation because, if you’re healthy and your brain functions normally, you might be thinking “well Ryan, you fucking half-wit, I can make one leg move fast and the other move slow.” Here’s the rub with MS though. Even if I move a leg independently, the signal is still slow. Trying to lift my leg quickly engages spasticity. My leg and my foot end up shaking in a weird sort of Elaine from Seinfeld dance move.

If I can’t trick my brain, I’m left having to retrain it. To be Continued…

A Dream

It feels like its been a long time since I’ve had a dream with my dad in it. The last one I remember was being on a ride with him and seeing him in my rear view mirror. I woke up with an incredible sense of comfort and encouragement.

The dream last night was not encouraging but rather frightening.

It started with me being in a house that I could feel was mine. My wife and daughter were there but we were getting ready to leave. My family went to the car and I offered for my Dad to come with us.

He stayed and then I remember walking through the house to turn the lights out and lock the house up.

I walked towards the back of the house into a room that reminded me of the garage that I found him in after he committed suicide. There weren’t any garage doors in this room but it was warm, stuffy, and dark. I don’t remember what he looked like when I found him after he shot himself but I do know that he was on the floor just like he was on the concrete floor of this room when I found him in my dream.

In the dream, I asked if he was ok. I can’t remember if he said anything but I feel like he said it was hot. I told him it was hot and asked him again to come with us.

“No I’m gonna rest.” He sounded exacerbated. He sounded sick and sad.

There was another part to the dream, like a second act. It had similar characters, myself and my dad, but the scene had changed. I was still getting ready to go, my wife and daughter were still in the car, but he wasn’t on the floor in that room anymore.

I was about to leave though I didn’t have shoes on. I asked if he needed anything. He said to “come with a camera, now, there was a cockroach.” When I got there I couldn’t see it. He was between the cement wall and a sheet of dry wall so it was hard for me to see him or what he was seeing. This new room was connected to the other room but was more like a utility room.

He said “up there, its coming through the crack.” I looked up but what came out wasn’t a cockroach, it was a long “bug”. It had multiple sections to its body of varying shades of black and brown. It was scary and large. I remember it was an inch or more wide. Each section was an inch or more. The sections were longer than they were wide and shaped like the back end of an ant or spider.

I looked down and when looked back it was a different bug. A large spider looking thing 4 or 5 inches wide and long but it didn’t have legs. It fell to the floor very near me. I don’t recall being scared because I had the thought it would move slowly without legs and that’s when I woke up.

I’ve had quite a few dreams about my dad but I’ve never dreamed about him on the floor. After 16 years, I still don’t remember exactly what I saw when I walked into the garage. I don’t recall seeing blood, his body, or his face. I only remember seeing his feet. This dream is the most I have seen of his face and body since the last time I saw him alive.

I’m kind of afraid that my memory of that day is coming back to me.

Dad dream – uncut

Dad was in house with family

Family went car

Offered for him to come

He stayed, came back in to turn the lights out and lock house

He was on the floor in a room like the garage but in this house there weren’t any garage doors.

I asked if he was ok. I can’t remember if he said anything but I feel like he said it was hot. I told him it was hot and asked again to come with us.

No I’m gonna rest. He sounded exacerbated.

Next part of dream. I was still getting ready to go, family still in car.

I didn’t have shoes on. Asked if he needed anything. He said to come with a camera, now, there was a cockroach. When I got there I couldn’t see it. He was betwee the cement wall and a sheet of dry wall so it was hard me to see him or what he was seeing.

He said up there, its coming through the crack. What came out was a long “bug”. It had multiple sections to its body of varying shades if black and brown. It was scary and large. I remember it was an inch or more wide. Each section was an inch or more. The sections were longer than they were wide and shaped like the back end of and or spider.

I looked down and when looked back it was a different bug. A large spider looking thing 4 or 5 inches wide and long but it didn’t have likes. It fell to the floor very near me. I don’t recall being scared because it moved so slow but that’s when I woke.up

Penny Stock Trading: Behind The Scenes

Covid-19 is changing our world and lives in a lot of ways. One way that might not be apparent to everyone is the incredible influx of amateur stock traders. Flush with time but with limited ways to make money has led many people and their limited knowledge and experience to the stock market.

If you follow the right people on Twitter you’ll see that there are a LOT of novices. You can spot them by the type of questions they ask. Questions like, but not limited to, “is this a good time to buy X stock?”, “What is a form S-3?”, and one of peoples favorites “when should I sell?”.

Confession time, I am one of the people using this time to learn day trading. Granted, I have been actively purchasing and selling stocks for over 10 years and while I have a decent understanding of financial statements, e-trade tools, and day trade patterns/indicators, I’m still a novice. I’m guilty of asking my own dumb questions, making dumb mistakes, and showing my ignorance in spectacular fashion.

On this journey I’ve done a lot of reading and watched a lot of videos. Something that has stuck with me is that stocks move on emotion. It makes sense if you think about it. All of those fancy indicators are basically just ways to measure the intensity of the emotions that are moving a stock’s price. Past indicators tell us what happened, future indicators predict what will happen, and we hope that putting them together will uncover patterns we can use to increase our odds of winning.

Here’s where it gets interesting: What creates the emotion?

Why do we see multiple stocks everyday day gain 100’s of percentage points and others drop by similar percentages? The easy answer, and what most people think, is that they move based on financial metrics. A company beats earnings and the price goes up. Their new product has a recall and the price goes down.

Sometimes its an emotional response, like when a CEO turns out to be a crook or a liar. The company financials don’t change but the markets perception of the company changes.

You don’t need to study the market in order to see that the market is wildly irrational at times. Some days Wall Street is on Mars and Main Street is on the Moon and we think there is no way that the two could every intersect. Other days they seem to be intimately connected like a dog and his tail. Which street is the tail and which is the dog is anybody’s guess.

Here’s where it gets scary: Who creates the emotion?

Im not talking about the CEO who gets caught, I’m talking about the people who can move the market simply by speaking. You can count CEO’s and other high level company people in this category but it doesn’t have to be a scandal, sometimes they just need to show their face on TV. Other times certain analyst can gain enough clout to move a stocks price. They’ll pass a judgment based on their research and depending on the outcome, the stock will move accordingly. You can also find people on CNBC and other media outlets that have a loyal enough following to make things move. But, in this article, I’m not talking about Fortune 500 companies, huge blue chip names, powerful CEO’s, or Celebrities. I’m talking about Penny Stocks and asking who makes these stocks move?

You’ll notice that I haven’t used names and I’m not going to. This isn’t about calling people out. I’m not on a crusade to bring people down. I’m on a crusade to tell people things that I didn’t find out when I was researching trading. The truth about trading gets buried by the Google algorithm that gives precedent to guys and gals who pay real big money to make sure their websites are at the top of the page.

You can find these people on YouTube also but the best place to see them in action for free is to follow them on Twitter. Their systems typically include stocks that meet these components:

  • Low Float
  • Price ranges anywhere from $0.01 to $5 with the random $10+
  • Incredible setups…. they’ll tell you about these for a couple thousand bucks.

In some cases these guys seemingly act alone but know that they have a team of people, hype men if you will. In other cases it is clearly a team effort. These individuals and teams don’t always require you to pay anything to trade with them but they almost always get kick backs from selling someone else’s product.

Why low floats? Well, because if there are only 5 million shares available and the team can hype a stock enough they can easily get it on the radar. 50 people buying 1000 shares is a full 1% ownership.

Why stocks with low prices? Well, 1000 shares at $1 is only $1000 bucks, easily palatable for most small time traders. If they are pumping a $0.50 stock to 50 people with $1000 to spend they can make a full 2% move on that stock. It doesn’t sound like much but when you’re talking about 100,000 shares moving in 15 minutes of a stock that might not move 100,000 shares in a typical day, its a big move. Right now, it’s 2:23AM EST and there are over 3000 people online between a couple of the chat rooms I follow. There are over 50,000 people subscribed to them. You can make your own guesses about how many people are online at 7am and/or 9:30 AM but think about the math above. What if the team had 1000 people pumping a stock? What if it were 10,000? Could they get into a stock before they pump it and out before the stock falls again? How much money could be made if you could predict these moves?

Again, I am NOT about to start bashing the guys that run these forums. In fact, I have an appreciation for what they do. They are all (most) really smart. They understand the market and how to research companies. What they do isn’t illegal (I don’t think) and you know what they say about a sucker and his money so I say, more power to them.

However, the playing field isn’t exactly level. It never will be so don’t get your hopes up. But here’s what you can do. You can understand the game. These guys will always tell you to do “due diligence” or “DD”. Its great advice. You should understand the stocks you’re buying. You should also understand who else is buying them. You should understand why they are telling you to buy them.

Again, a lot of these guys are good guys. They have found a way to make great money. As much shit as they will talk about each other, I won’t talk shit about any of them… except maybe one. They are making the market. They are creating the opportunity. Its up to you to do your own DD.

A couple tips:

  1. Figure out what types of things make you feel comfortable with a stock – only invest in those stocks
  2. If you read that a stock is about to blow and its up 25% already – Be careful
  3. Set Stop-Losses. If you don’t know what a stop-loss is DO NOT trade until you do
  4. Don’t try to hold a stock until the top of its price range
  5. Figure out what your target gain is and then figure out if the stocks movement will allow you to meet your target
  6. Follow every trading group you can. Follow the good guys close and the less ethical ones closer
  7. Learn how to spot the unethical guys. They post things like “this thing has just gotten started” even though the stock just ran 40% and dropped 20% with no signs of stopping
  8. Start small! You’re gonna mess up. You’re going to think you know enough until you find out that you don’t.
  9. Concentrate on winning consistently. Go for small wins at first. Win small, lose smaller.
  10. Don’t trade with $100 if all you have is $100.

The End of Social Media. Brought to You By… #SocialMedia

Imagine my surprise when I discovered the end of social media!

Of course, when I say “I discovered it” I literally mean that someone else discovered it.

Specifically it was discovered and built by the team at The Scene, a startup, that came to my attention via a connection suggestion on #LinkedIn. Curiosity got the best of me and I ended up on their website where I was met with a team full of young faces who were developing an app with a very specific goal: “enhance the users’ social life, not just an online persona”.

The Team (Top Left to Bottom Right): Ravi Kodali, Nicolas Walker (CTO), Rehan Chaudhry, Gavin Wolfe, Maggie Lavoie, Cal Reyes (CEO), Spyridon Catechis, Jonathan Kopp, Clayton Forman (COO), Kevin Turner, Levi Weible, Ishiun Kuo.

As I eluded to above, I don’t know this young team or have any affiliation with them. In fact, I wrote the initial draft of this article having only reviewed the information about the app on their website. I could sense that they don’t have any desire to compete with social media giants like Facebook, Snapchat, or Instagram. They aren’t trying to give people another Twitter like platform where they can make their worldly views known via witty memes that they stole from someone else. No, these guys are building something different. It was the realization that their app represents something larger than another money-making scheme that led me to write about them.

The Scene’s problem statement isn’t completely unlike what other social media apps have tried to solve: “We’ve experienced problems and fragmentation in our social lives that we were frustrated with.”. Like many great thinkers they saw an opportunity and a need. It’s the solution that is really remarkable and what drove them to create “the platform that will best facilitate the social experiences and movements of this era.” It’s the solution that separates the thinkers from the innovators.

Case in point, Zuckerberg’s problem was similar; the internet needed a better way to connect people i.e. he was frustrated with how he was (or wasn’t) connecting to people. His solution was Facebook, a way for people with school email addresses to connect with people that had online profiles. Fast forward 10 years and it was clear he solved that problem and more. Fast forward another 5 years and it’s clear that we have a whole new set of problems.

Notice the difference between Facebook’s original Mission Statement and The Scene’s current

Naysayers will try to stack The Scene up against #Facebook, #Twitter, #Snapchat, #Instagram and other big names. They’ll even try to use the same arguments against The Scene as they did with the big names when they were new. They’ll say “yeah, it’s cool but how are you going to monetize it?” Shortly after they say that they are likely find themselves in a conference room with “the Bobs” trying to explain what it is they do there. (If you don’t understand this reference, for humanities sake, please go watch Office Space)

Office Space (Left to Right): Bob, Bob, Michael Bolton (seriously, go watch it)

Meanwhile, the big-name social media networks have become petri dishes for narcissistic behavior. They are platforms for people to show the best version(s) of themselves. This phenomenon and the effects of it have been studied extensively. Scholars have linked the use of social media to depression, increases in narcissistic behaviors, isolation, and several other disorders. In short, the case has been made that the increased use of social media has led to a decrease in social connection.

Enter The Scene, a social media app with the designated focus of bringing people together. They aim to connect people who want to discover events with the people who are administrating them.  Considering Covid-19, this might seem like bad timing. It might even seem like the business model is flawed now. But let’s be real, Covid-19 isn’t going to last forever. Zoom, FaceTime, and other online ways of meeting have emerged as stop-gaps. They are ways to cope with the situation at hand. The use of these services has increased and the ways that we communicate will remain changed long after a vaccine for Covid-19 is developed. That said, however modified our social gathers look, we will return to the days of being around people and enjoying it.

Spoiler Alert: People want to be with people.

This young and bright team, members of Generation Z, are creating an app that reflects, what I interpreted as, their generation’s desire to shift social media from a platform to get noticed by their peers to a platform to engage with their peers. A good portion of the Gen X (me) and Gen Y (also probably me) population has been consumed with getting online and getting noticed. We brought the rise of social media influencers, reality TV, YouTube celebrities, and so many other isolating and narcissistic endeavors. I am not suggesting that Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are going to the grave with MySpace but I do hope that the era of mass isolation is coming to a close. Replacing it will be Gen Z’s version of social media, platforms like The Scene.

Since my initial draft of this article the stories of Ahmaud Aubrey, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd have come to light and (re)ignited a level of unrest and activism that we should all hope will be sustained until change is realized. As we come to acknowledge that our society is in desperate need of empathy, we will also come to realize that empathy given through a screen isn’t enough. This is why it’s important to protest; one word said by 100 people can be more powerful than 1000 words said by one person. It’s good to show your support by making a post or changing your profile picture but REAL change, the type of change this country needs, requires us to show up in the physical sense. The change we need requires white people (me) to actively listen which can only be done in person. The Scene isn’t shying away from this, rather they see it as a responsibility and further justification why their app is needed. Typical of their generation they want to be involved and they want to be an active part of the solution.

“The Scene is a product of your environment. We have personalized The Scene for every user by giving them the ability to find or create their niche. With that foundation, we empower any organization, group, or individual to easily spearhead events and causes that they find impactful, and quickly share them with people who want to hear about them.”

Our society, or perhaps the world, doesn’t need another social media platform that serves individuals. We need something that centers on events and experiences. The shared experiences that create empathy. The shared events that drive change.

Tell me, if you’re reading this from another country or the perspective of another culture, can you relate to this? Do you agree?

If Instagram helped usher in the era of the individual-influencer, why wouldn’t we expect an app like The Scene to usher in the era of the collectively-empathetic?

Additional Info:

In preparing for this article I communicated with Nicolas Walker, CTO at The Scene. He and the team provided some insight that I used in the article, but I think their full response warrants being added to the back end here; their passion is too contagious to ignore:

The Conspiracy to End Them All.

I was going to write something about how #TuckerCarlson needs to be stopped and how terrible he is but I think the vast majority of people know know this already. So, instead I’m going to post my theory about how tucker is slowly changing the color of his skin to orange.

So, here it goes. I believe that tucker carlson is changing his skin color to orange. Why you ask? It would be safe to assume its because ofchis bromance with trump but I think its bigger than that. I do think that carlson’s transition is inspired by trump but that the ultimate goal is to normalize trumps color similar to the way he attempts to normalize racism and to create a new race of people.

At some point I believe tucker will become so orange that the media won’t be able to ignore it any longer. They will eventually ask trump if he thinks tucker is doing it on purpose in order to look like him.

At a press conference trump will respond ‘we’re not orange. we’ve got the healthiest skin. people tell me all the time how healthy my skin is, they like it, a lot of people say they like it, doctors tell me they wish more people had my skin. maybe tucker and I have the same doctor, maybe not, i dont even know him.’

After tucker is done getting his daily pegging he’ll turn on the news, hear trumps comments, jump on his show, and restate trumps comments as if they are fact like he usually does.

Something like ‘doctors have been saying since the beginning of time that carotene is important but the left doesn’t want you to know that. They don’t want you to be healthy. #PresidentObama has begun buying all the carrots so that you can’t find them at the store because he wants you to die. Thats a fact.’

White people, fearing for their health, afraid that without carotene they will die, and not wanting to be the only one of their friends who isn’t orange will immediately make a run on carrots. A shortage will ensue, President Obama will get the blame, and the price/lb of carrots will skyrockets. The front page article by @CharlieLuffD about trump and tucker co-owning a carrot farm, profiting immensely, and how they frolic in the fields of the farm will get lost in the new 10 second news cycle.

The theory doesn’t stop there though. No, its not about carrot profits!

The white supremacist, run-of-the-mill racist, and trump supporters who “don’t have a racist bone in their bodies” and that “have a black friend” will begin to embrace the color orange.
Anderson Cooper will go on record to say that tucker and the “whole orange thing” is bananas.

Seizing the opportunity to divide the country further and take advantage of Cooper’s play on words, tucker declares that all white people who do not support trump are “bananas” and urges all trump supporters to start painting their faces orange. Doing this effectively separates the Orange right from the Banana’s, POC, Mexicans, Asians, Middle Easterners, and other non-Oranges. “Orange” and “Banana” will become proper nouns as they are now affiliated with the identification of classes of people.

This won’t last forever though. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Eventually the people who can’t pull-off the color orange, the less committed trump supporters, and those that remember that there is a movie called A Clockwork Orange will lay off the carrots and return to their lives as covert racists.

Finally tucker, a few fox news people, and trump and his family realize that they and white nationalist are the only people who are still Orange and can no longer disguise their racism.

In their attempt to divide the people OF the country they have only succeeded in dividing themselves FROM the country.

And that’s the theory of how tucker created and ultimately destroyed his own race.

If you’ve made it this far, I hope you chuckled a little reading this. While the theory is obviously fake, I encourage you go to YouTube and watch a tucker carlson video or two. Watch a full trump speech too. After watching, I think you’ll see that the type of poison it would take for white people to turn themselves orange is the same poison that tucker and others like him use to turn white people against POC. It’s the same rhetoric they use to scare people and keep the status quo in check.

I’m also a bit hopeful that tucker, trump, and the people who think like they do are slowly painting themselves into a corner. I sincerely hope that we’re getting closer to the point where they can’t hide anymore. That the number of people who are complacent with following trump, tucker, and others are diminishing. White people are understanding how important it is to break with their silence. This may be causing the right to speak louder but we are speaking more frequently, with greater resolve, and a cohesive message.


When #BlackLivesMatter, all of our lives will have greater meaning.
When #BlackLivesMatter, our society will be stronger.
When #BlackLivesMatter, #OrangeLies can’t survive.