"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"

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.]