Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Ol' Shoulder (Part 1)

Fifteen years ago, I went skiing for the first time. It was just something a few guys at the dorm put together, crossing the border into Switzerland to get to some good hills. My friend Josh spent a good part of the morning teaching me how it was done, and I spent the rest of the afternoon refining my technique, flipping head-over-heels, losing gloves, retrieving skis, and learning the true, terrible meaning of the phrase, "Mogul city, dude!" ...I was having a blast, in other words.

My friend Josh was a good, patient instructor.

It was near the end of the day that Mr. Hare called out that there was time for one more run, and Josh and I slipped off towards the lift to do just that. The snow dipped unexpectedly, and I fell on my right side. In a single instant, my arm went from being straight in front of me, to being straight in back of me. It hurt. Oh, it hurt. I took my last run with little enthusiasm, and climbed back into the dorm van, wondering just what I'd done.

Fifteen years later, I was still wondering. I was sure my friend's informal diagnosis of a dislocated shoulder and pulled rotator cuff was right on, and he said all I could really do was treat it gently, and control the swelling. I've been doing that, but I've been re-injuring it more and more often over the years, and I finally decided it was time to Do Something about it. I'd been saying that for several years, but this time actually got me as far as an appointment with the family doctor.

For once, I actually wished that my shoulder hurt more. Surely "Ow, ow, ow, that hurts, right there" would be easier to diagnose than what actually happened — "Does that hurt?" "No." Does that hurt?" "No." Does that hurt?" "Maybe a little..." I felt rather foolish to say the least. But in the end, the doctor gave virtually the same initial diagnosis my RA gave in high school: unstable shoulder due to dislocation and rotator cuff injury. "Are you insured?" he asked, "I'd like to order an MRI, but they're a bit pricey." I assured him I did have insurance, and the assistant made an appointment for me.

I felt apprehensive, but at the same time, pleased that I was finally doing something about it.

To be continued...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Magic Smoke Escapes Again

The kids were all in their coats, and I went out to get the Cart to take them up the hill to Fiona's preschool. Disconnect the charger, close the trunk, switch it to forward... nothing. I switched it to reverse. Nothing again. Back in forward, and I suddenly started wishing for "nothing" as smoke erupted from under the seat and swarmed out the back. I pulled the emergency disconnect as fast as I could (thank God for that feature!) and hauled it away from the buildings, lest it catch fire or the batteries explode. Once the smoke cleared — and there was a tense minute or so when I worried that it wouldn't — I was able to open up the back and assess the damage.

It looks, to my untrained eye, like the same thing happened as last time: one of the forward or reverse relays got stuck, making a very hot, fast, discharge loop between the three batteries.

Maybe it's time to replace those relays and put in a circuit breaker...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Aiden's Recipes

Aiden: You know how you make a elephant-hippo drink?

Me: How?

Aiden: You put a elephant-hippo in a glass of water. It tastes like elephant, but it's not really elephant. It'a actually hippo.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Can't hurt to dream, right?

It's geeky and awkward-looking, but I want one...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fiona's Picture Place

Fiona draws constantly. And, frankly, some of these drawings are too good not to share. To that end, Fiona now has her own blog:

I've got a whole stack of drawings to scan and share, although I have no hope whatsoever of keeping up with her prolific and prodigious output. Go, bookmark, and enjoy.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Row, row, row your boat...

...gently down the street!

It's been a bit wet around here. A few big rains and a lot of melted snow pushed the water level up — way up — to the highest level anyone has seen around here, a good three inches higher then the flood of '81, and much more spectacular than what we had last January.

High enough, in fact, to go paddling around the neighborhood in a canoe.

Alas, I didn't know any gondolier's songs. That didn't stop me from singing, though...

A romantic ride through Venice...

I could commute to work like this. I really could.

I just like this shot.

My neighbor, Chris, taking a lap around the block.

Of course, it wasn't all fun and games and photo ops; there were several tense days of pumping water as fast as we could as it rose ever and ever higher. I even went out and got new, larger hoses for my pump (which I've nicknamed "the candle" — as in, "Better to light one small candle than curse the darkness") and watching the green on the radar map stretch from here to California, knowing it was all coming our way.

We didn't suffer any damage other than water getting into the floor of the shed. The carpet's no great loss, but it'll take work to pull it out.

The rest of the neighborhood didn't all fare as well as us. Several houses on our street have basements, believe it or not, and many of those got flooded.

You can normally drive a speedboat under this bridge. Here, I don't think you could even manage a canoe.

This sculpture by the canal took on some new interpretations that I'm sure the artist never intended.

At the height of the flood, the street and the lake became one. You could paddle from one to the other without bottoming out on the curb.

Despite the destructiveness, it was still beautiful and, — dare I say it? — kinda fun. I'm sure we'd feel a bit differently if we'd sustained more losses, but we still would have enjoyed the "wow" factor either way.

A Modern-Day Book Ban

Go. Read. Be outraged.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Wooden Toys

Say what you will about old-fashioned wooden toys — they do keep a dad involved.

Back when I was a kid, I wanted a train set for Christmas so, so badly, and I ended up pointing out what I wanted: a full set for $10, which was a steal even back in the late 70s. Now, keep in mind that the average lifespan of a Christmas-morning toy train is said to be four hours. My dad kept that thing running for years.

Now, when I return a fixed toy to the kids, they happily treat me like a hero... and I start to wonder if, just maybe, Dad had as much fun fixing that train as I did breaking it.