"Beauty confronts us with the requirement that we place ourselves among...the redeemers, the leaders in the protection of life. Once you have seen the bush on fire, you are not going to get out of the assignment unless you close your eyes to the beauty.... [You] either have to close your eyes or go back to Egypt and set the people free." - Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, "Rising to the Challenge of Our Times"

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Inspired by my sister's recent acquisition of an affordable, attractive bed frame, I ventured into an Ikea store today for the first time EVER.

My favorite thing was the bin of plush, cuddly giant mealy bugs with big mouths that zipped open, perhaps so that they can devour and/or store small children and pets.

I liked the mac 'n cheese a lot. The meatballs were okay but I should have had the vegetables with my mac 'n cheese instead. Next time. Next time I'm going to take someone with me so I don't get lost and totally overwhelmed by all the stuff, and then maybe I'd be able to consider actually buying something besides the mac 'n cheese and 15 meatball special. At least if you get too lost there you can always just move in to one of the little model apartments / compartments they have set up.

Friday, December 21, 2007

It pays to take a long lunch sometimes.

This is where my truck was parked about 45 minutes earlier...where it's been parked for hours and hours at a stretch...where I nearly always park. I'm glad it wasn't parked there at around 1:30 today. The people who usually work in the offices on that end of the building weren't at work either when branches came right through the roof and into the floor. Lucky day.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

On the other foot?

I seem to be wearing mismatched running shoes today. Similar in style and color, but from two different pairs. On Monday I accidentally put on one of each and went to the gym, then I accidentally left them at the gym, so this morning before I went to the gym I had to put on the other two. I then retrieved the original two at the gym, but I forgot to bring other shoes for work (very casual though they likely would have been), and forgot all day to switch my running shoes so that at least I had a matching pair.

I don't think anyone noticed, or even blinked that I came to work wearing running shoes, and I wasn't seeing any clients today. I like my office.

Plus the whole knee thing gets me some extra slack. I wore my brace yesterday because (drumroll...) I Rode My Bike to Work! Otherwise, for general walking around, no brace!

I drove today but I think I'll ride again tomorrow. The doctor said on Monday that it's okay for me to ride a bike, it's just not okay to fall off.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

football on my (subconscious) mind

I dreamed a few days ago that I was on the field with Brett Favre. The "old" guy has been on my mind since I saw the Green Bay / Dallas game last week, in which Brett went down with an elbow injury and local boy Aaron Rodgers got to step up. "Young" guy did a decent job even though he looks like he's about twelve years old compared to Brett's grizzled mug. Sadly, though not really unexpectedly, Dallas won. Not by a lot. Anyway, in my dream, I was suited up, and I don't think we were actually playing in a game but I ran up to Brett and chest bumped him a couple times, all the while thinking how I could hardly wait to tell my friends (especially some lifelong Green Bay fans) that I chest-bumped Brett Favre! For those not familiar with all the forms of celebratory behavior among football players (and players of other sports, I've heard), the chest-bump is performed by facing the co-celebrant and jumping up and forward, perhaps even with a small running start, with your shoulders back, so that you hit your numbers together. And yes, women football players do it too, and no, it doesn't hurt. Demonstrated here by some USC Trojans. (This photo is intended for demonstrative purposes only and is not an endorsement of the Trojans.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

For free

Imagine there were a God who did nothing but make the world amazingly beautiful every day, in a variety of short-term and long-term creative projects, even finding interesting ways to incorporate our refuse and exhaust (and dirty / cracked windshields) into some of the set pieces.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Home improvements

Aren't they pretty? I can't stop staring at them, and how nice objects look sitting on them. And I can look at them and think about building them with my dad, and putting them up today with my friend Lisa. Or, more accurately, watching her put them up and offering a third hand here and there. They are the nicest built-in feature of my kitchen. There is a fourth shelf that we...um, Lisa...put up in a corner of the living room, which is also lovely. She asked me if I wanted to do it since I'd watched her do the other three, and it just seemed like by then she was so good at it, it was a more efficient use of resources if I let her do the fourth one. I made her dinner though.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Word Wars

I just saw this documentary about the Scrabble tournament circuit...which I recommend with the caveat to some viewers that there's some pretty rough "street" language and a bit of illegal drug use. For one thing, it was comforting to see a film about people who are so odd in such a benign way. For another, it made me want to start reading the dictionary. Not necessarily to improve my Scrabble game. I learned that there is at least a 200 point average difference between me and people who do nothing but play Scrabble. Not long ago I had an informal tournament with one of the smartest people I know in the whole world and beat her in very close matches by taking advantage of her nurturing--motherly, if you will--nature (though it's true I was taking narcotic painkillers at the time) so I think that's really as, um, high as I need to climb in the Scrabble world. But in the universe of words known and unknown I'm feeling like I barely know a few that I tend to repeat over and over.

Here's one I learned in the movie: exordia.

I, and many of us, may be a bit more interested in the meanings of the words than a ranked Scrabble player tends to be, apparently. They have to memorize too many words to bother with definitions most of the time. Also there have been relatively few female Scrabble champions and in the film some of the women interviewed speculate that this may be due to the fact that women just can't bring themselves to care about Scrabble with quite the same obsessive intensity of some of the menfolk. I smell a thesis or dissertation here. Anyone? Anyone?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

where have all the muscles gone?

Or more importantly, when will they return? They were here last Thanksgiving for this run in the park. Maybe if leave a dish of kibble, or some cookies and milk, on the balcony for them I can entice them back. Heeah, muscle muscle.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Coprinus comatus(?)

aka Shaggy Manes. These are new arrivals and haven't melted into the black goo that gives the Coprines their nickname "inky caps."

Shown here growing along Branscomb Road. Supposedly edible if one catches them early in their lifespan, though anything called an inky cap isn't all that edible-sounding to me. [Reminds me of Shel Silverstein's Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book wherein he asks the children, "What rhymes with Ink? Dr---"]

Monday, October 29, 2007

It's the time of the season for mushrooms

This weekend near Westport, I found some type of Bolete family mushrooms fruiting in the glen...and having looked them up, I'm reasonably sure they are Suillus caerulescens, aka Fat Jacks. I didn't take this picture but it happens to be a picture of Fat Jacks growing elsewhere in Mendocino County near the Frogwood Retreat Center in Boonville. [I'm plugging them in consideration for using their mushroom photo without permission. Sounds like a neat place though. Would be fun to go there some time and tell 'em Fat Jack sent me.]

I haven't found this kind before, though maybe they've been fruiting in that glen by our house year after year and I've just not shown up at the right time to see them. I'm still rather a beginning amateur mycologist and so many of the 'shrooms one encounters are somewhat anonymous, it's a thrill to find one that pretty obviously matches a photo and description. I can't quite explain why it's a thrill. Only once have I eaten something I found, honey mushrooms, after triple checking them in two different books and using the MycoKey web application. Just the easy, free online version of MycoKey seems pretty helpful. Though I just checked and Fat Jacks aren't in there. Mykoweb, the huge database from whence came the scientific description of Suillus linked above, says (in case you didn't quite read all the way through it) that Fat Jacks are "edible, but of inferior quality." Still, it was so fun to find them. I was explaining to a friend how the mushrooms that pop out are just the little fruiting body tips-of-the-iceberg of massive underground networks of mycelium and she found the concept somewhat unnerving. Paul Stamets says that mycelium is the earth's internet. He says quite a lot of things, though. He believes in fungal intelligence.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Week 6 Multimedia Update

Here is one of the clearer drawings I've seen of where the ACL is and what it looks like.

And HERE is the newly installed right ACL of the author, as it appeared six weeks ago Thursday. That shiny pulled-taffy looking bit in the middle.

On the sidebar you'll notice the green Gcast box. I posted a couple updates on the way back to work from the doctor's office today.

Doc says my range of motion looks really good. As you'll hear in my cellphone podcast though, weeks 6 - 12 are actually the weakest time for my ACL graft, even though the rest of me is starting to feel much better like we all ought to be out riding a bicycle soon. What was once a tendon gets somehow changed, by virtue of its relocation and careful reading of its job description, into a ligament. But right now it's at that point where it's tendon personality has been sort of worn down and its ligament personality hasn't been well established yet. So I have to be a bit cautious for six more weeks.

Next victim...Bwahahahaha!

At the co-op today they had these cute lettuce, snap pea, and marjoram starts. Some of them in recycled styrofoam cups, which added to their urban garden charm (kind of looked like the cup was lying by the road, and the farmer picked it up and used it to put the starts in, but I've made that story up based on what I'd like to be true, not what necessarily is).

There are quite a few...vacancies...on my balcony of late, you see. Room for one more, honey?

Really though, I've tried to keep the plants alive, but they've not much will, apparently. I hope my NEW plants are of a more stalwart character. heh heh...heh heh heh...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Message from Annie Lennox

This clip is being shown in conjunction with her tour and new album "Songs of Mass Destruction."


I've been trying to do some things that I've meant to do for a long time, that have been somewhat hanging over me and impeding my forward progress, much like big mean row of defensive linepersons in my head.


I have recently:

• made a list of my expenses and income

• determined that my income really needs to be a bit higher

• taken a flyer to the local law school offering myself for tutoring services (did this Thursday, flyer has to be approved by the Dean, and I'm hoping that when the students get their midterm grades back soon, I'll get a few bites)

• photographed some things for e-bay that I will list this weekend

• made a commitment to sort out some old bills by the end of the day today (though what is the 'end of the day' may be open to interpretation)

• decided to stop avoiding the library and pay my fines today so I can check out books again (though I've not yet left the house today, this is something I'm intending to do)

• taken some things to a jewelry store to find out what the cash value might be

• thought about playing my guitar on the outskirts of the farmers' market, but slept in and stayed in my pajamas half the day instead (so far)

• vacuumed, because you can do this wearing pajamas

• made some payments toward my sleep debt

• decided to make a get well / birthday / el dia de los muertos card for my sister (why send three cards when one really good one will do?)

Not all of these things have felt terribly good to do or to think about, but I think they will all make way toward feeling better.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Wade in the water children

Besides saving a bit on gas, the one other advantage of not driving is that when someone calls to say they're going to the gym, do you want them to pick you up, it's harder to resist than if it were just you offering to drive yourself to the gym. Today I rode a recumbent bike for about 15 minutes and actually worked up a little sweat. Had a sensation of exercise. Then did some upper-body stuff, and some of my PT exercises, and headed for the therapy pool (has a higher temperature than the lap pool, and no lanes).

As I hoped, there was aqua jogging gear in bins by the pool so I strapped some weights to my ankles and put on a styrofoam belt, and tried it out. It felt good to be out in the sun, and to be able to move that freely. I'll ask my PT about it tomorrow. Not sure if it's better to use the ankle weights or not. I liked the resistance and the help keeping myself pointed in the right directions, but from the articles I've read today it sounds like part of the workout comes from trying to maintain your balance and position in the water. I read that it is actually a comparable workout to running on land. I'm not yet fully convinced, but I want to try again. Would be great to start getting some running muscles back. 'Running' in the water feels like trying to run away in a bad dream when you can't get any traction. Apart from that, great fun. My legs move back and forth, but are they running? Doesn't feel like they are. Maybe next time I'll see what it's like to try 'running' in the pool for 30 minutes at a time. I could do a whole mini triathlon, just in a slightly mixed up order. Bike, swim, run.

People ask how long I have to wear my giant brace. If I was actually told this information I don't remember. I will definitely wear it (other than around the house, when I don't) until my next appointment with the doctor on Oct. 22, when he will be ever so impressed by my progress, and perhaps will tell me I can downgrade (upgrade?) from Forrest Gump (it even makes that clickety-clackety sound) to my stealthy sports coupe brace.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

What's next

Report from week 3: On Thursday I had to lie down on the floor in my office because my lower back was so sore. All the hobbling around finally got to it. I've been using my cane instead of my crutches for several days, greedily wanting at least one free hand, and I'm wondering if I need the crutches to distribute weight better. If they might have some function other than just stability for my knee.

Heat feels good on the back, though. Still sore but I hitched a ride to the gym last night, where I discovered there is such a thing as a recumbent stair climber, with handles for upper body resistance. Such a device was never on my workout radar before but it seemed like just the thing. Also rode a stationary bike. I can't go fast enough with enough resistance to raise my heart rate much or even break a sweat. But I'm trying to remind myself that the motion and muscle strengthening is the important thing. I get that back, I can have all the cardio I want. I sat in the spa for awhile. All of it felt pretty good on the back.

So as alluded in the heading of this blog, I have some announcements. After much deliberation and cost-benefit analysis, I have decided to retire from playing tackle football. But I am hoping to try out for the position of Official Minstrel in addition to Rage Groupie, and avid team proponent, short of donating further limbs. I just can't do this again. 'This' meaning not only the colorful photos in the preceding posts but everything that goes with them; that it is a stunningly gorgeous autumn day and I'm staring at my bike and can't ride it. And I'd like to still be riding a bike in my crone years, which (whatever some people say about me) I've not reached just yet, and I'll need at least a little knee joint function left to do that. The bit of arthritis Doc cleaned up in my knee is probably more to do with all my pre-football running, but getting more beat up won't help it. And I'd still like to be able to run when I feel like it. I have talked to teammates for whom the opportunity to tear 'em down on the field is so satisfying as to be worth the risks. Maybe if I were a bit more aggressive in spirit and burly of build, that would be true for me too. If I need a combat sport outlet, and I might, I think jiujitsu might be a better choice. Something where relative momentum and mass are less important details. Meanwhile, I want to ride my bicycle.

Which brings me to the next big thing. In May 2008 I will be riding my bike in the NorCal AIDS Challenge, a 325 mile / 4 day loop of the northern Sacramento valley, to raise funds for HIV / AIDS programs. Just seemed like a great way to get my knee rehabbed and the rest of me back in shape, keep my spirits up, and do something helpful, all at the same time. The organizations benefiting from the funds are local / Sacramento area and are oriented toward keeping people housed, fed and cared for. Despite my periodic whining about sore this or that or having to ask people to drive me around for a few weeks, I know that my temporary slight disability is really quite luxurious in the scope of health problems a person can experience. So here is my official Donation Page for the ride. Feel free to visit early and often.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Just had an interesting conversation with a fellow Co-op board member who drove me home from Sac about how culture can be manipulated to great effect by companies or political movements trying to sell their products / canditates...e.g. Nestle creating a market for coffee in Japan by marketing coffee-flavored candies with cartoon characters to kids 30 years ago...now coffee has an enormous market share where it was previously unsuccessful because there was no cultural imprint for it there. Same with the Republican party / far right and the focus-group research done on what buzzwords are the most powerful, etc., working to create a culture that could embrace its manifest destiny agenda.

This is stuff I'd like to look into a bit, not having yet read the books my colleague was talking about and being unable to cite check him at the moment, but it makes me think that true liberals need to be much more pragmatic about these things. I don't mean that individual "liberal" political candidates need to be more pragmatic. I trust at least some of the current ones to be absolutely that. We don't want to just copy what the Empire does. This would be a much more grassroots, local kind of pragmatism, in which activists work to create a bigger cultural space for things like co-operative and /or locally owned / operated businesses (for example). We talked about how we might create a better cultural imprint for the Co-op in our town which is still completely off the radar of too many people, or is viewed as some kind of hippie fringe establishment by many others. Suddenly the importance of events like "Freaky Food Fun Fest" that we have every year around Halloween have more meaning. We are imprinting the little children to believe that the Co-op is fun. It's not just about generating more sales on that particular day or even just about encouraging more (grownups) to join the Co-op right away. It's ensuring future generations of co-op member-owners. This is perhaps obvious, but I Since somebody in a board room is trying to do this to us just about every minute of every day of our lives, why not adopt these principles to things we really like and care about and would like to see more of in the world. We want to be a board room that uses our (limited) powers and budget for good.

I'm having these deep (and perhaps just slightly creepy) thoughts due to today having attended a workshop on Co-op Board governance, presented by the co-op network (a co-op made of co-ops) to which we belong. It allows member stores can pool buying power and thus stay more viable than individual little grocery stores might be. Also makes me think that even though there's now a giant Walmart in my poor old hometown, it was very very important for the message to get out that not everyone thought it was a fine idea, that quite a few people would rather it not be there. Bless all of you who have the will to say no, or even no thank you, right out loud, to whatever cultural steamroller may come rolling by. Good assumptions should withstand questioning just fine, and bad ones too often win by no contest. Getting steamrolled by a bad assumption can ruin your whole day but I think it feels better if you yell a bit (or whatever level of dissent with which one is comfortable and deems appropriate to the situation). So at the very least, they (steamroller operators) won't follow their initial bad assumption with the additional bad assumption that nobody cared / everybody agreed.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I'm all made of hinges...

...'Cause everything [sort of] bends. Good day at physical therapy yesterday.
Jeff (my PT) "stretched" me which meant that he bent my leg until, and considerably after, I hollered and / or gave him the grimacing of a lifetime. I remarked that apparently he hadn't yet broken it off which seemed to encourage him. But then he said "How about you sit on the stationary bike and just swing your foot back and forth--don't force it to go all the way around, but if it wants to, that's fine." So I did that for awhile, and after awhile it seemed like maybe I could go all the way 'round after all. No resistance. Just motion. After that we (he) did more stretching and my flexibility was greatly improved. He must know what he's doing.
Check out the degrees of flexion here!

Compare this
to the post-surgery photo. Just shy of two weeks since surgery and it looks quite a bit like a knee again.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Bad thoughts

It's really not nice to imagine running over someone with my bike, and I surely want Karla (and myself) to use our powers (generally) for good, but I'm wondering if it wouldn't ultimately help this woman change her perspective for the good of our nation. I think something that can run your dumb a** down in addition to taking people to work and school every day merits the label "transportation." This article is more than a month old and has probably already been thoroughly discussed in numerous other fora, but my profound hostility feels quite fresh. Who hired this imbecile? hmm. Well that probably explains it. GRRRRRRRR. They are so lucky that I can't ride right now.

Okay. For the sake of good research I looked up the original PBS article from whence came the obviously "spun" Treehugger.com piece. However, I think it's a fair spin. While she didn't utter the words "bicycles are not transportation," she twice stated that a good chunk of transportation funds are spent on non-transportation uses, including, inter alia, "...bike paths..." Maybe I shouldn't be too ruffled about this after all. When the oil empire crumbles and almost nobody can afford to drive, there will suddenly be bike paths all over the place, with clever names like Main Street, Broadway, Route 66, I-5, I-80, I-15...

Run, Forrest, Run!

I'm definitely not running right now. Still walking pretty slowly with assorted props. I'm already more than a bit weary of wearing this brace. The novelty of it has worn off and I'm feeling a bit like poor little Forrest Gump. (Special thanks to somebody who recently suggested there was a resemblance, too.) My goal for the coming week is to be able to unlock (i.e. bend) the brace when I walk. I'm not supposed to do that yet, nor does it feel like I should. My leg muscles can't quite hold me steady. Before my second physical therapy session last week I was lamenting the sudden dramatic loss of muscle strength in my right quad and hamstring. Amazing how quick it goes. But then the PT gave me quite a boost in pointing out that, unlike many people a week out of knee surgery, I actually have visible muscle tone (at least in my quad--my hamstring muscle currently just sort of flops, but it's then it's been through a lot). He also said I'm on or ahead of schedule with my range of motion.

So the moral of the story, if anybody reading this is anticipating knee surgery, is: get on your bike and ride. As much as you can. Up the biggest hills you can manage (understanding that not everybody has a 'Karla'). I don't think I realized how helpful it would turn out to be. Not just good fun exercise.

I made it through a whole day yesterday without any Norco. Before that I was down to half a pill every 24 hours. Looks like I can manage alright with just Vitamin I and ice at this point. Good progress. I also have a fridge and freezer loaded with ready-to-eat food. Mom left me with a big pot of chili frozen into meal-sized portions, which I'm enjoying for lunch with my Sunday football today, and my friend H left a lasagna I'm going to bake for dinner...wanna come over?

Going to work tomorrow. Don't know if I'll stay the whole day but I'm ready to give it a try. Our office manager will pick me up bright and early at 8:30.

Monday, September 17, 2007

vice / vise

Oops. The aforementioned "vice clamp" would be something that helps one get a firm grip on ones addictions, perhaps. A rather secure coffee mug holder, for example. I think I really meant vise.

On the related subject of the bruise(s) my physical therapist says they show up downstream from the trauma site...that I could even end up with bruises on my foot from having knee surgery. Sure enough, there are some. Physical therapy felt pretty good. We took off the brace and I tried to let gravity bend my leg to 90 degrees dangling off the edge of a table. Felt sort of good to bend, and sort of not. All my pre-surgery biking definitely paid off. The PT and the assistants commented on how good my quadricep strength is considering we're four days after surgery. I can unlock the brace for sitting around so that I can get more bending practice, but it has to be locked at zero (straight) to walk on it.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Yes leg, unwrapped

Looking at these photos might not be everyone's idea of a good time...there is some dried blood in them...but hopefully your sense of morbid curiosity is just a little stronger than your aversion. Weren't you just on the edge of your seat, along with me, waiting for the 72-hour point where I could undo the straps and roll up the ace bandage and peel back the gauze? Either way, here's what it looks like.

We'll start with the bruise that's coming up on my shin. The Yes Bruise, if you will. My mother suggested maybe they stuck my leg in a vice clamp to hold it still. Perhaps the Dr. built some dovetail joints for his cabinetry or tied a fly or two while he was at it.

Next we have the knee itself. On Wednesday I'll ask for a map / legend to the various incisions. There is one more tiny one not shown a few inches below the spot in the lower right of the photo (or a few inches above the spot, rather, as the human body is typically oriented feet = down, head = up). I think the total number then is five. The one at the top of the picture (lowest on my knee) is a couple inches long. I dabbed each one with some neosporin, put new clean squares of gauze over everything, and wrapped it again.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

fall fashions

The view from the sofa.

The small tube is for my cold pack -- it connects to a little cooler full of icewater that I use to recharge it when it warms up.

And for the latest in weatherproofing accessories, we secured this attractive trash bag with duct tape. Actually the weather outside today was lovely but I was eager to take a shower and this is how the nurses said to do it. The silver duct tape cuff at the ankle was a nice accent (the photo doesn't quite do it justice).

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Yes leg

The nurse wrote "Yes" on my leg at around 7:00 a.m. yesterday and commented that it was the current standard in the industry because a big "X" was thought to have negative connotations. I think other things are written on my knee but I don't get to unwrap it for awhile to read it.

While Dr. K was poking around in there he found a small meniscus tear, which he fixed, and he cleaned up a bit of messy cartilage behind my kneecap. Appears that I had a little runner's knee going on. A little arthritis. My whole leg was numb yesterday and I felt pretty good. Since it thawed out overnight it rather hurts but I've been very conscientious with my pain management schedule. And I have some fabulous German chocolate cake. I'm hanging out with my mom. Life is really pretty good.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Very like a whale

The fuzzy white spot in the middle of the picture is the spray from a whale spouting just off Cape Arago near Coos Bay, Oregon, on my birthday. Either that or it's the Loch Ness monster, or Big Foot out for a swim, or perhaps a UFO splashdown.

[It really was a whale. Just hanging out. Too bad all I had at the time was my cell phone to try to photograph it.]

Friday, August 31, 2007

a week ago today

Can hardly bemoan my fate, since I'm leaving on vacation today and will be back at the coast by Monday...but it's hot as hell in Chico this week. At midnight last night it was still like 85 degrees or something. Or 80 at least. Bloody hot. I'd rather be where I was in this photo. Doing what I was doing, for that matter. So it's nice that more or less I will be, in a fairly short time from now.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

a little sleep + a little chain = big difference

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a drivetrain! The bar-end shifters have an indexed or a friction setting, and the index doesn't seem to line up all that well, but in friction mode the derailleur shifts to all nine cogs in the cassette. Translation: it works. I think I'll be able to bring this bike on the trip after all. Left to do:
1. adjust front derailleur (cable still too long, won't shift into largest chainring)
2. adjust brakes
3. attach bottle cages, toe clips, pump, and (oh yeah) a saddle
4. put on fenders and headlight
5. attach rear rack
6. install computer
7. test drive

The brake adjusting can take a little time but all the hard stuff is done. Now it's basically a matter of turning little bolts.

And here are my pretty handlebars (tried to find an angle where it isn't obvious that I messed up one end of them).


Hmm. Working on the new bike with the idea of taking it on my vacation, realizing that I'm a bit short on time what with it being late Wednesday night and leaving Friday. Concerned that the top little black cog of my derailleur seems to be touching my cassette. I don't think it will work so well if it's doing that. Though the chain isn't on yet [come to think of it, won't work so well without the chain on either]. If I weren't so busy troubling myself about it I'd take a picture so that the problem would be more apparent even to those readers who may not really have a good idea about whatever it was I just said. Maybe putting on the chain will help, at least then the derailleur cogs will be in their right places to know if they're touching things they ought not to be touching.

I may have begun this phase of the project a bit too late. Might need to bring the old bike on the trip instead.

The handlebar tape looks really cool except for where I kind of botched it on one side. First attempt at wrapping handlebars, didn't expect it to be perfect.

On a totally different subject, I went outside on my balcony a few minutes ago and now have about five mosquito bites, basically one or more per appendage. I'd better let the cat back in before they carry him away.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Also not shown...

...are the curious tan lines on my right leg from wearing my knee brace hiking and in the kayak. I was hoping this would happen by the end of the summer. Mission accomplished.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Juniper Lake

Went camping here last weekend.
Climbed Mt. Harkness and turned around. [When you click this link, Mt. Shasta appears in the photo.]

Made new friends. (Well, I didn't catch her name, exactly...but she was such a dear.)

On Saturday night,
watched the sun set behind Mt. Lassen.

Paid attention to detail. (Really, click on that link, I had no idea the picture was that big.)

Not shown: the sky full of stars, or the view from the middle of the lake as I paddled across in the neighbors' kayak (a couple from Marin County who go camping at this lake every year around this time), or those neighbors and their exclamations of delight over the smoked sturgeon and brie with green peppercorns I shared with them, or the beautiful guitar playing and singing of neighbors on the other side of my campsite. Just all around a nice place to live (but for the lack of any kind of modern plumbing) for two days. Far enough up a washboard road from town that I felt quite motivated to eat whatever it was I brought and / or participate in community cooking ventures. On Saturday night I contributed Annie's Shells & Cheddar and a pot of fresh broccoli simmered with garlic, and the kayak neighbors had hotdogs and grilled chicken and chocolate chip cookies. Good deal all-around. Later I went over to play some music with the other neighbors, who seemed not so much the hotdog eating types, but they were adventurous and willing to try the fair trade organic coconut curry chocolate bar I bought at the Co-op. It helps to speak a couple different languages when one goes camping. I speak hotdog, vegetarian, and numerous dialects of chocolate. To name a few.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

More bike miles

18.5 miles on Sunday in Folsom on paths of the lovely American River Parkway, and 17.6 this morning up a ratty godforsaken stretch of road that parallels Highway 32 east into the hills above Chico. Humboldt Road. So many potholes and cracks that kids don't even seem to want to spray paint it very much (unlike Honey Run Road, which reads like a yearbook). But I made it to the end where it joins Hwy 32, took this photo, then came down on the highway to avoid serious teeth-clattering. Notice our lovely Sacramento Valley air in the distance. Thought about the itsy-bitsy bits of rubber to which I was commending all my health and well-being as I watched my speedometer climb to 31 mph. I've been down this road before and don't remember it feeling quite as scary as it did. I think there was a headwind that made me feel like I was going faster than I really was. Maybe I'll get some new fresh brakes anyway.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Home by another way

I was up near Mt. Shasta on a little campout with some friends from the football team Saturday night. Sunday morning as I drove away I found myself turning left to head further into the mountains, rather than right to go back to I-5 and head home. State Highway 89 takes you to some amazing places. Stopped at Macarthur-Burney Falls State Park for awhile. It was more than worth the $6.00 to sit on a rock in the pool and be blasted by the wind and mist coming off the falls; it was probably 65 - 70 degrees down there compared to 90 - 95 up top. The water is so deep blue green. Pool is supposedly 18 - 24 feet deep, and [not supposedly] ice cold, so I imagined what it would be like to be in the pool rather than literally trying to find out. No signs that say "no swimming," but people seem naturally deterred from anything much beyond dangling their feet in the water. Which I did. There's just a lot going on in this pool as you can see. It almost looked like a tiny ocean. I noticed that almost everyone hiking back up the short switchback path from the falls was smiling. Something about charged ions and waterfalls? I can't remember...the positive ions make you happy...or something...maybe I've got it backwards. The sun caught individual droplets of the spray and turned the falls into liquid light.

I still wanted a swim so I headed down the road for Lassen and any convenient lake off the main road. Summit Lake was perfect. People there, but not too many. I was wearing my new "bionic" knee brace and I can report that it feels fine in the water. Better than without it, I think.
I swam across the lake (not at the widest point, and it's not a huge lake, but far enough). I floated on my back with my eyes closed (this is something best done in a lake)--the sun was still high in the sky and soaked it all in. No photos of this...couldn't take my cellphone swimming with me...but if you can think of a bright blue lake with happy little clusters of big and little people and their floating devices around the edges (no motor boats), surrounded by pine trees, at about...8,000' or so?, and if you can think of floating in the lake like a big pink waterlily with the sun filling you up, then you don't need a photo anyway.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Boys and their moms

I posted my second bedroom for rent recently. So far two responses have resulted in someone...actually multiple someones...showing up to have a look. Both of them were shy somewhat awkward young college boys, who arrived with mom in tow, or rather mom arrived with them and asked all the relevant questions. Not really many questions beyond the basics so it's hard to say what in the world moms thought about me; I have a feeling I might not be topping their list of preferred housing providers. How old was Anne Bancroft in "The Graduate?" Am I anywhere near that old? Do, do-do-do, do-do, do-do-do-do, do-do-do. Dee, dee-dee-dee, dee-dee, dee dee dee.

Whew. Just checked. Anne B. was at least 36 in that movie and I'm not even 35 yet. Either way, moms, your young sons would be pretty much safe, I'd even watch football and eat pizza with 'em. I think, however, (not to express any preference in violation of state and federal fair housing law) I might like a roommate just a little bit older though, one who maybe left the nest a little earlier than first thing this morning.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Random stuff. Can't think of a title.

Rode my bike about twelve miles yesterday, up to Horseshoe "Lake" to the end of the paved road, then back down through town. The pedaling felt fine. There are a couple very short climbs on this route and I stood up in the pedals for short stints, no problem. The thing that started to not feel so good was twisting my right foot to unclip from my SPDs (for those not familiar, a type of pedal / shoe combination with a binding similar to snow ski bindings. Though I haven't skied in probably ten years so this comparison could be totally inaccurate at this point). My knee is a bit puffy today and I'm wondering if it was the overall effort, or that twisting motion, or the ongoing moving project this morning, or sympathy pains from watching some of the Tour de France stage in the Pyrenees this morning.

C came up to gather up as much of the rest of her belongings as would fit in her little car, and to take Amonke
back to the Big City with her. Whew. I can begin to understand, just a little, what would drive somebody going through a divorce to kidnap their own child(ren). Of our two cats it seemed like Amonke would do better in the city. Kato, he's a bit of a ramblin' man (despite the early curtailing of his manhood). It was very hard to say goodbye but it was the right thing. C and 'Monka will take good care of each other, and we've agreed that either of us can visit the cats whenever we want.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Back in the saddle

I rode my bike to work on Monday. And to physical therapy on Tuesday (and then to work). Had to drive to appointments in another town today that is theoretically accessible by bike if one has a few hours and the legs to devote to it. But I'll ride again tomorrow. Maybe I'll try something easy this weekend, a little 8-mile round trip through the park up to Horseshoe Lake and back.

Also got measured for my brace. It comes in three different models. One is the couch potato model that protects you from throwing your knee out while you're sitting at a desk or using the remote control. Two is the intermediate that allows you to go jogging and make the odd quick cut to the side to avoid stepping in dog poop, or shoot hoops, or play a little tennis. Three. Three is the one I need. [Guess what you can do with three.] The woman taking the measurements said only once has she heard of Three getting damaged (and it has at least a two year warranty or something): man with this brace was bodysurfing in Hawaii and a wave picked him up and threw him into a pile of rocks, denting his brace. But his knee was just fine. You just never know when you might be thrown against a pile of rocks.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Evils of Peer Pressure

Up here in Westport with some friends and friend's sister's family. Eight-year-old nephew B last night announced, with wry grin, "I want to see Emily try the Bertie Botts," or something to that effect. Referring to some unique jellybeans produced by Jelly Belly on behalf of the Harry Potter empire. Now it may not normally seem like such a throwing down of a gauntlet to challenge someone to jellybean tasting, except that these particular beans came in flavors of Sausage, Earwax, Vomit, Earthworms, Soap, Rotten Egg, Dirt, Boogers, and Black Pepper. As it turns out we all sat around the table (three kids, and three "adults") and passed the box around. Of the five flavors I tried I was able to chew and swallow three; one I had to spit out, and one I chewed once tentatively and then swallowed whole like a pill with a Dr. Pepper chaser. I will say additionally that I did not get around to trying the Earwax, Soap, Black Pepper, or Dirt (I figured dirt would be redundant after the Earthworm anyway.)

I think the point of these ill-favored beans, or a point, is to laugh hilariously at other people's reactions to eating them, and then to be laughed at in turn. It's [s]not like anyone is eating them against his / her will and doesn't therefore deserve to be laughed at when they make a horrible nasty face at the oddly realistic flavor of Earthworms. Not that any of us really know what earthworms taste like, of course. But they can't be all that much worse. Just less sugary.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Right 'round like a record

In honor of the one-month anniversary of my season-ending injury, I attended, and more or less participated in, a spinning class. Most folks probably know, or would be able to guess from the context, that this did not involve the twisting of fine fibers together to make yarn. Or did it? I didn't feel able to do some of the typical activities of a spinning class, i.e. standing up in the saddle repeatedly with high resistance in simulation of pedaling up a steep hill, but I added a little resistance here and there, and managed at least to keep rotating for the whole class. Pedaled hard enough that I couldn't sing all the way through "Sweet Caroline" which, previously unbeknownst to me, is a song to which one can get a workout.* About 45 minutes, I think. Couldn't do some of the stretches, but could do others. By the end my range of motion was significantly improved and the improvement carried over to today. Walking much more evenly, going up and down stairs almost normally if still a bit slowly. This is a big improvement from the weekend when I was still using my cane quite a bit. At physical therapy today it seemed like the therapist had my knee almost fully flexed before my screaming made him stop. [I have a feeling he may not use screaming as his guideline, or he would have stopped sooner.] I'd estimate that in the past week and a half, I've gone from 75-90 degrees of flexion to 45 if I'm flexing it myself and maybe 30 if the PT is torturing me.

* Sidenote: Neil appears to be playing an Ovation guitar in this 1976 video. Characterized by non-traditional soundholes and fiberglass back. Supposed to be great as a plugged-in acoustic, also the guitar preferred by Melissa Etheridge. Who knew.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Hamstring harvesting

Doesn't sound that appealing? My doc thinks it's the way to go. He says the cadaver grafts are popular in the Bay Area but he's not very keen on them, says the joint may be more likely to react (this is the kind of thing where 'reaction' is generally synonymous with 'bad reaction,' I imagine), says cadaver grafts have been heavily marketed (because the procedure is more expensive?) and it's all fun and games until there's a "bad batch" of tissue and the doctor has to call all the patients and say, oops...or whatever the doctor says in that situation. He said the recovery from having a bit of hamstring relocated is not such a big deal. He said the total process from surgery to 100% green light is about six months. He said I need to do physical therapy to get my full range of motion back before the surgery (which confirmed what I'd heard already). I will call the PT's office tomorrow to schedule my first appointment.

He showed me a video about the procedure. I'm going to do some checking on YouTube to see if I can find something like it to link here in the future. I was impressed that when he looked at my MRI images he sounded like he knew what he was looking at..."See, these are your meniscii...they look just fine...there's the posterior cruciate ligament [which I could see]...there's the ACL [which I couldn't really see, maybe if it weren't torn asunder I could have seen it better]?"

I felt like he spent a decent amount of time talking to me and answering my questions about why he doesn't favor the cadaver graft procedure, though I was a little surprised to hear him say, "well it's from a dead guy!" in a tone that sounded like he was kind of grossed out by the idea. Before he looked at my x-rays or the MRI he asked me what happened in some detail, making me feel that my own experience of the event was potentially of some clinical importance, then he looked at the film / MRI images, then we watched the movie. Two small incisions, knee is filled up with water for better viewing, old trashed ACL is snipped out, tissue is "harvested" from hamstring tendon [gotta love that word, "harvesting," in the context of body parts], it is neatly folded in half and sewn together at the ends, holes are drilled in the leg bones and they thread in the new ligament and pin it in place. Oh and of course this all happens while I'm sleeping.

After the movie, he looked at my knee for awhile, bending it this way and that, but not in any ways that hurt, which kind of surprised me. The last time I saw an orthopedist about ten years ago, in an attempt to divine what was causing my knees to go click...click...click with every step when I walk or run sometimes, the doctor seemed to delight in causing discomfort. Oh, does this hurt? Oh, it still hurts when I do the same thing again? How about this time? Still hurts, does it? [All we ever found out was that it hurt when he did that.]

One bit of news I liked was that I can have the surgery AFTER my bike ride down the Oregon coast in September. Should get home from the around the 8th, surgery is tentatively scheduled for the 11th or 13th. Meanwhile I'll be fitted for a sports brace and get going with PT. Feeling a lot more hopeful that the way my knee currently feels is not at all what I'll be stuck with until the surgery.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Hope floats

Haven't used the little condo swimming pool much. It's a tad over-chlorinated and often there are people in there, and I haven't been a much of a socialize-at-the-pool person. However, it is a place I can walk to and it's shallower and warmer (and possibly cleaner thanks to the chlorine) than the big creek pool in the park. Decided to give it a try and see if my knee would allow for swimming right now. I have been depressed by my sudden new lack of exercise since "the Pop." And, even though I hadn't yet quite mastered the art and science of tackling, the idea that I will have to wait almost a year before I can have another (legal, consensual) try at knocking the snot out of somebody is also depressing.

Anyway, got in our pool and immediately realized that this injury could be, oddly, the best thing that ever happened for my triathlon. Not that I've quite decided to be happy about it, but I see that it could have some benefit. I can't even cheat with a frog kick right now which is what I always do if I'm feeling lazy or tired. Flutter kick is the only motion both legs can accommodate. I can dolphin kick a little bit if squeeze my knees together and use the left leg to stabilize the right. And there ain't nothin' wrong with my arms. I didn't stay in very long, but it felt SO good, I cried with my goggles on. [Somewhat defeats the purpose of goggles.] I wonder if there is some sort of amphibious brace I could wear. Maybe a neoprene wrap would help. I need a little bit of motion control...a couple times my leg went in a direction that made kind of unpleasant clicking and grinding noises in my knee.

I will see Dr. Komas in 6 days. Since the last post he has received high praise from people I've talked to who have seen him. That's a relief. Talking with teammates who have had ACL reconstruction, it looks like I might be getting a piece of somebody's achilles tendon in my knee. Somebody who didn't need it any more. Maybe in the Illiad when mighty [and sulky] Achilles met his downfall with the shot to his heel, it's not so much that he actually, literally died, he was just so bummed out by not being able to fight the Trojans any more that he wasted away on the couch. If he'd had a swimming pool in his campground and a good orthopedic surgeon the story would have been much different.

Monday, June 11, 2007

is he out of his mind?

Here are some pictures of torn ACLs that are a little easier to follow than my real images were.

Made an appointment with an orthopedic / sports medicine doc today (who is in my PPO network, unlike the one to whom Immediate Care referred me). A little worried that I don't know anything about him, and a lot frustrated that the earliest appointment was two weeks away. The receptionist told me he couldn't give me any advice about what I should / shouldn't be doing until he sees me. In two weeks. Why don't I call the doctor at Immediate Care and ask him, she suggested. Oh yeah, that guy who thought I just had a sprain. For lack of other options I called him (thinking maybe he can suggest some good exercises, etc.) and his well-thought-out advice was "I see you have a complete tear. Wear the immobilizer and use crutches and don't put any weight on it." You've got to be kidding me. I live AND work on the second floors of buildings without elevators for one thing. I was feeling proud of how much better I'm climbing stairs today. OK, it was the most conservative possible advice, but it was dumb. I'll be careful, but I haven't read anything that says you can't walk around just fine with a torn ACL. Two weeks of the "immobilizer" is B.S. I think if it were necessary our team doctor (an orthopedic surgeon) would have said something when I showed up to watch Saturday's game wearing only my ace bandage (in addition to other clothing appropriate for the situation). He read my MRI report and said, "Oh, it's just the ACL. The MCL issue can be treated non-operatively. ACLs must be to him something akin to what 30-day termination of tenancy notices are to me. Our coach who is a physical therapist (and who previously tore her ACL playing football) noticed I was holding my cane in the wrong hand and showed me the correct way to do it. (Bellabell's comment on the last post hinted that it isn't completely intuitive--I didn't realize I was doing it wrong.)

Maybe I'll ride my bike to the appointment in two weeks to protest how long it took to get the appointment. If I can find a suitable hinged brace, Mom.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Magnetic resonance

I can identify some of the structures in these images but I wouldn't have been able to look at them and say ah, yes,
complete tear anterior cruciate ligament. Associated bone bruise lateral femoral condyle and posterior lateral tibial plateau. Menisci intact [Yay, that's good, right? Intact menisci are the best kind]. Soft tissue edematous changes in association with large knee effusion. There may be a partial tear of the medial collateral ligament.

There were numerous other pictures. This series was the "sagittal proton density fat suppressed" scan. All the findings in the report may not be visible in this particular series but it was a bit of work capturing the images. Had to use Virtual PC to read the disk from the MRI office that came with its own special medical industry viewing software...not the JPGs I'm used to working with. Virtual PC runs...very...slowly...on my Mac. So eventually I had the screen with these images open in Virtual PC, I took a "picture" of the screen (not with a camera--it's a feature of Virtual PC of which I now see the usefulness), got it back on to my regular Mac OS desktop, opened Adobe Photoshop, changed it into a JPG file, and voilà!

Monday, June 04, 2007

One o' these things is not like the other...

Yes, I know far, far worse things have happened / are happening in the world. I listened to NPR on the way home from work tonight re: armor piercing explosives and unfriendly Iraqi police. A man in an electric wheelchair scooted by as I hobbled across the street to an ATM. So I have asymmetrical knees right now. No big whoop. At least there's two of 'em. Still, I'm managing to feel terribly inconvenienced by it all. Perhaps I took unrestrained mobility a tiny bit for granted.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The [mostly] walking wounded

I wish there were some exciting visuals to go with this post. I wonder if there's some way to get a color copy of my right knee MRI when it's done sometime this week...be it normal or...Abby Normal. I took a hit in the Santa Rosa game yesterday at the start of the 3rd quarter (we were kicking off, I was running down to meet the ball carrier and somebody else met me first). Can't wait to see the game film because I don't really know what happened with my knee, felt like it buckled or did something untoward, then when I stood up again it felt like it popped back into the right place. Or that it popped somewhere. Tried to walk it off. Played a couple more plays and we were back on offense, I think, and I was lined up in my left side tight end spot and got knocked down in the crowd, was trying to stand up again and somebody told me to sit down and rest for a minute. Come to think of it, that seemed like not a bad idea, so I did. Then our team doctor came over and helped me walk off the field. Wiggled right knee this way & that way and compared it to the left knee, and thought the sore unstable one was too wiggly. Didn't hurt all that much. I'd always thought if I tore something it would really smart. Dr. Dotson said if it was a torn ACL (which he thought it might be but hoped he was wrong) it would likely swell up like a grapefruit by the next morning so he wrapped it and I popped a few "vitamin I" (thanks J.M. for introducing me to that term), iced it for the rest of the game and off and on throughout the evening. Woke up this morning and it didn't seem swollen at all, but as the day has progressed it's looking fatter. The doctor at the clinic back home here in Chico didn't think it was all that wiggly; he thought maybe it's just sprained. Wrote Diagnosis: Sprained Knee on my chart so it must be true. MRI Tuesday. Either way it looks like I won't be playing next week. Crap.

I went to Rite Aid and got a cane. Nothing fancy or hand-crafted but more befitting my...je ne sais quoi...than crutches.

Oh. The other thing I've not been mentioning here. It's not the elephant in the room so much as the whole house. C is hunting for apartments in SF, having secured employment there. Please think good thoughts and / or prayers, as you are inclined, for her successful housing hunt and peace of mind. And save a few for Lefty too. It's a hard change.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

stole a game pic from blog o' my sis

M.A. snapped this one in Seattle of me and Dante, one of my heroes. You should see this woman take down people two...or three...or four?...times her size. She's a human cannonball. Because when she gets there, she doesn't pause and reflect, and if the ball carriers she homes in on want to go anywhere, they have to take her with them. When I grow up I want to be like that.

Monday, May 14, 2007


My strategy to psyche out Seattle by wearing my "Mount St. Helens" baseball hat in the parking lot before the game was of limited effect (though who knows, maybe that one time their kicker missed her point after attempt, she was thinking about my Mount St. Helens hat). We were beaten pretty badly and it seems like the beating started before the game did. Word on the street was that the Seattle team was all that & a bag of chips. As if I needed to be more intimidated than I would have been anyway. Last year in the Seattle game one of our players broke her leg. I was thinking about that too, i.e. 'here we go against a gang of leg-breakers.'

The ways in which we need to and can realistically improve are becoming more clear. It's not for lack of strength or speed that we lost that badly. I think we had trouble holding it together under game pressure. We've still been lacking in full scrimmage opportunities (Saturday's game was full scrimmage #2, the game two weeks ago was #1). This has got to change--I was still hesitant, especially for my first few plays on defense, about the whole crash-into-people-at-full-speed concept though I DID have a really good crash in the game that resulted in stopping my opponent's forward progress (even though it knocked me back a bit), and I tell you what, Spongebob Squarepants himself couldn't have soaked up the resulting praise and congratulations from my teammates better than I did.

Plus, look how mean I looked before the game. I am making progress. I was scared pretty much the entire 60 minutes. I have new-found appreciation for the people who played not only both ways but on special teams kickoff return too. I thought physically I could handle going both ways but I didn't figure on how mentally challenging it would be to stay out there from receiver to cornerback, and I had the luxury of not being on the kickoff return team on top of that. Several of my warrior companions just played right on through the whole damn game, both ways and Sundays. My helmet's off to you. I'm actually looking forward to seeing the film of the game and comparing it to the first film. I spent more time down on the turf this time; while that isn't in itself the ultimate goal I think it's another sign of progress.

One other big high point was having my travelin' sis M.A. and a couple of her Seattle buddies at the game who were willing to root for the visitors. Thanks M.A. et al for your enthusiasm & good cheer. [TSBD!]

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Does this happen in the NFL?

I'm thinking probably not, what with all their fancy lockers and facilities that probably have no cats roaming freely around the premises. The jersey over the pads (I learned right away that you do NOT try to put on your jersey when your shoulder pads are already on--they must go together) creates such an inviting (if not pleasantly scented) small space for Amonke, Our Lady of Small Spaces. Took these before the game 2 weeks ago. I guess it will be a strictly homegame phenomenon. Leaving for Seattle on Friday morning and I doubt any cats will be with us in the van, they aren't big on away games. Too bad.