My neighbor who called 911 when he saw me fall off our porch last week (and probably saved me from a more serious injury) dropped by to visit me the other day to see how I was doing.

Needless to say, all I could say to him was “Thank you, thank you.” All he could do was laugh.

I should point out that the fellow, whose name is Steve, hasn’t been a neighbor too long. He moved in about two months ago and I already owe him so much.

No, he’s not a Nisei, he’s a “hakujin,” which makes our relationship a little more special.

Since I missed two columns because of my accident, I have to recharge my battery so I can get back in stride in The Rafu.

One thing I learned during my stay at the hospital was how much I missed the Dodgers’ baseball games on TV.

Yeah, they had a TV in my hospital room, but the darn was turned off and the nurse said I wasn’t allowed to turn it on because I was sharing the room with another patient.

Well, I’m glad that the Dodgers kept up their winning ways even if I couldn’t watch them play. Don’t know how they will do in the post-season play-offs, but, hey, they were in the cellar just a month ago.

I see that the Dodgers have signed a young Japanese pitcher for next season. Will he be able to match the rookie Korean pitcher, Ryu, who sure helped the Dodgers in the past two months?

If the new Japanese pitcher can match Ryu’s performance thus far with the local  club, we may really have something to cheer about next year.

Is there baseball in heaven? Try this one: It seems Sam is dying and Moe comes to visit him every day. “Sam,” said Moe, “you know how we both loved baseball all our lives and how we played minor league together for so many years. Sam, you have to do me one favor. When you go to heaven, and I know you will go heaven, somehow you’ve got to let me know if there’s baseball in heaven.”

Sam looks up at Moe and from his deathbed and says, “Moe, you’ve been my best friend for so many years. This favor, if at all possible, I’ll do for you.”

And shortly after that, Sam passes on. It is midnight a couple of days later. Moe is sound asleep when he is awakened by a blinding flash of white light and a voice calls out to him.

“Moe, Moe.”

“Who is it?” asks Moe, sitting up suddenly. “Who is it?”

“Moe, it’s me, Sam.”

“Come on, you’re not Sam. Sam just died.”

“I’m telling you,” insists the voice, “it’s me, Sam.”

“Sam? Is that you? Where are you?”

“I’m in heaven,” says Sam, “and I’ve got good news and bad news. There is baseball in heaven. Better yet, all our old buddies who’ve gone before us are here. Better yet, we’re all young men again. Better yet, it’s always springtime and it never rains or snows. And best of all, we play baseball all we want and we never get tired.”

“Really?” says Moe. “That’s fantastic, wonderful beyond my wildest dreams. But what’s the bad news?”

“You’re pitching next Tuesday.”

This article opens with “Omigosh, teriyaki Spam straight from the can.”

Yes, a Minnesota-based Hormel Food LLC has formulated Spam Teriyaki and has chosen Hawaii (where else?) to be its exclusive launch point.

The first shipment has arrived in Hawaii and the purple-labeled cans picturing Spam musubi on the front and Spam-egg-bacon musubi on the back are making their way to store shelves via the usual distribution channels.

One obvious question asked: “What took them so long?”

Then again, maybe Hawaii and its eating habits aren’t the center of the universe.

While local folks take teriyaki for granted, it still is considered an exotic flavor to many on the Mainland.

Among U.S. states, Hawaii is the top consumer of Spam, five cans per person per year.

Mainland folks will get their chance eventually, as it is Hormel’s desire “to educate the Mainland about how wonderful and convenient” Spam is.

Hormel is well aware that Hawaii people take Spam musubi everywhere, eating it for breakfast, brunch, and snacks at almost every activity. Hormel is very excited to see how well Spam musubi will do in Hawaii.

The Hawaii launch of Teriyaki Spam brings with it a chance for someone to win a year’s use of a Ford Flex, which has been temporarily vinyl-wrapped to look like a can of Teriyaki Spam.

It also has been stuffed with a certain number of Spam cans, and the person who comes closest to guessing the number could win the vehicle.

Entrants must be Hawaii residents and at least 18 years old to participate.

The 10 contestants with Spam-can counts closest to, but not more than, the number of cans in the vehicle will be given keys at the official contest finale on Oct. 27. The person whose key opens the Ford Flex wins the car.

Since I recently spent four days in the hospital from falling on my face, the following article was submitted to me by reader “Retired Mas.” I thought I would run it so other old-timers like me might avoid such an accident. It was written by Junji Takano and reads:

One of the main health concerns of elderly people is falling, which is often related to poor balance. In fact, many studies show that people begin to have balance problems starting at age 40 years. The older we get, the weaker our physical body and sensory abilities will be, which are all factors in having poor balance.

In Japan, more than 7,000 people a year die from falling accidents, which already exceeds the number of traffic accidents.

In this article, we will examine in more details the cause of falling and why you lose balance as you age.

Test your balance by standing on one leg. You can determine how good your balance is by measuring the length of time you can stand on one leg.

The following shows the average time by age groups in a study conducted at a Japanese health institute.

Average time with eyes open:

20-39 years, 110 seconds

40-49 years, 64 seconds

50-59 years, 36 seconds

60-69 years, 25 seconds

Average time with eyes closed:

29-39 years, 12 seconds

40-49 years, 7 seconds

50-59 years, 5 seconds

60-69 years, less than 3 seconds

If your balance time is below average, then you’ll have a higher risk of falls or slipping and tripping accidents.

In the above study, women tend to lose their balance more than men but only by a small margin (1-2 percent). From this study, it is also evident that there’s a sudden significant decrease in the ability to maintain balance among middle-aged people (40 and over).

Please take note that the numbers stated above are only averages.

There are people who were able to maintain balance much longer and there were also those who were only able to maintain their balance a much shorter time regardless of age and gender. The reason why they vary is explained further below:

The soles of your feet have sensors. The skin all throughout your body has a significant amount of tiny pressure sensors or mechanoreceptors. Some areas have few pressure sensors, while other areas have thousands, like the soles of your feet.

The pressure sensors on the foot soles provide information to your brain to help balance your body. As you get older, the sensors will get weaker and your foot sole loses sensitivity. But there are also other factors that can lead to weaker pressure sensors.

Poor blood circulation can disrupt the pressure sensors. In our study, people are almost twice as likely to be in a fall accident caused by poor blood circulation. This can be simulated by soaking your feet in ice-cold water for about 3 minutes. Because of the cold temperature, the pressure sensors on the foot sole begin to lose sensitivity.

Pay attention to your forward-moving foot. If your forward-moving foot hits something, your body will be off-balance, causing you to fall or trip. Well, it’s a matter of common sense to always have your eyes on the path and watch where you are going. Remember the old adages — “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” “Look before you leap,” etc.

But that’s not the only problem. Here are the other major reasons why you stumble while walking.

1. Your forward-moving foot is pointed down. If your foot is pointed down while making a step, then you are more prone to falling. To avoid this, your forefoot or toes should be flexed upwards.

2. You walk like a pendulum. The height of your step can greatly increase your risk of falling. To prevent this, your forward-moving foot must be higher off the ground (at least 5 cm) while the knee is raised high.

Actually, all the mechanoreceptors located throughout your body as well as the soles of your feet are sending information to the brain that include muscle contractions and joint angles.

When this information is not transmitted well to your brain, which happens as you get older, then the movement will get weak or ineffective, making it hard for you to maintain your foot higher off the ground.

How to prevent yourself from a fall, trip, or slip:

1. Keep your house clean. There are a lot of things in your house that can contribute to clutters that can cause you to trip or fall. Always make sure to put away or store properly all personal belongings and other unnecessary things even if it is only a newspaper, remote control, and laundries scattered on the floor or carpet.

2. Stretch your feet and ankles. You might think that your feet do not need exercise or stretching compared to other parts of your body, but in reality, feet-stretching exercise can really help your feet maintain balance.

3. Keep your house warm and ensure adequate lighting. Cold muscles and pressure sensors work less well and are less responsive to signals. A decreased temperature will also cause your muscles to have less strength and less flexibility, which can lead to accidents.

Always try to keep your house warm or wear proper clothes and footwear, especially during winter. Since most falls occur indoors, make sure your house has adequate lighting.

(Junji Takano is a Japanese health researcher involved in investigating the cause of many dreadful diseases. In 1968, he invented Pyro-Energen, the only electrostatic therapy machine that effectively eradicates viral diseases, cancer, and diseases of unknown cause. To find out more, visit www.pyroenergen.com.)

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via email at horsesmouth2000@hotmail.com. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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