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Massage Today
March, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 03

Of Parables and Other Things

By Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCBTMB

A parable can be a fun way to make a point. It is up to the reader to figure out what the storyteller is really talking about - there is always a deeper meaning or lesson to be learned.

This month, I would like to share a parable submitted by a reader, James McFarland.

There was a river that only had one crossing, but two ferry operators. One of the ferry operators was subsidized heavily and charged a total sum of $100; the ferry ride required a copayment of $20, and those who subsidized it paid the remaining $80. The other operator dealt with self-paying customers, and charged $50. A woman was hoping to cross the river using one of these two options, but wasn't sure which one to take. She decided the subsidized ferry would be cheaper for her, so she took that one. Halfway across the river, the owner of the ferry called his ferry operator back so he could load up more customers; as a result, the lady would have to cross the river again and pay an additional $20. (They don't give refunds for not getting all the way across the river.) She reasoned to herself, "Well, I am still ahead of the game. If I had paid $50, I would be there, but this way, I'll only be paying $40 instead of $50."

They began the trip across the river again, and once again the ferry was called back - this time because one of the passengers hadn't done his paperwork right. Now, she was going to have to pay an additional $20 for yet another attempt (and they don't give refunds for not getting all the way across the river). She began to regret not taking the $50 ferry, which had crossed and come back several times already, but she reasoned that since she had invested so much time and money in the subsidized ferry, she should stick with that one. Still, she wasn't across the river (and they don't give refunds for not getting across the river). This happened three more times. She ended up paying a total of $100 (five $20 copayments), double what she would have paid if she had just taken the other ferry in the first place.

Finally, she took the other ferry anyway, even though the subsidized ferry owner cautioned her about the self-paying ferry. "She really ought not to do that," the subsidized ferry operator explained. "After all, someone else had paid for most of her partial trips across the river. She had saved a lot of money as a result of the subsidies!" The woman took the self-paying ferry anyway, after explaining to the man, "I am taking a ferry to get across a river, not just to keep paying something to somebody. It seems you folks are in the business of getting paid, not doing a job!"

Wasn't that special? So many want something for nothing. Few realize the true cost they pay for a free lunch. Thanks to James for the story. He says he wants everyone to remember, "If you want to be part of the herd, you have to be willing to be milked."

Got Pox?

Smallpox vaccinations have begun. My home state of Iowa is one of the first to vaccinate. I am so proud. This will wake up a dead disease. Smallpox is not explosively contagious and does not make for a good bioterrorist weapon. However, by implanting the virus in thousands of health care workers, an epidemic is quite possible. After all, they will become infectious to others for up to 21 days, while working around people most of whom already have weak immune systems or they wouldn't be in a health care facility. Of course they say it is only contagious by coming into contact with the infected site, which will be covered. If in fact smallpox can only be spread by physical contact with another individual's infected site, how could smallpox be introduced into a population, much less spread through it, except by vaccination? So, who are the terrorists, and where are they from? We will soon see. I Hope I am wrong. Stay tuned for more on smallpox next month.

Until then, if you are concerned about your health and want to know more about vaccines, health, and other interesting stuff, check out Another good site is - osteopath Joseph Mercola's weekly health newsletter is a wealth of alternative health information. For those of you interested in the battle between health and medicine, check out Tim Bolan's or

Pass the Carbs

Speaking of health, I just found a study showing that animals fed nothing but white sugar and pure starch (organic white sugar and pure starch, by the way!) died sooner than those who received no food at all. This should tell you something about the dangers of high-carbohydrate diets.

A Clinical Question

Every now and then, I can't resist incorporating a little technique into this column. So, ponder the following question, and I'll provide the answer in next month's column month:

In relation to posture, what are the three most important bones in the human body to have properly (correctly) aligned on the horizontal planes?

Until then, take good care of yourselves - you deserve it. Tune in next month for more good stuff.

Click here for more information about Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCBTMB.


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