A semi-daily chronicle of my life as a musician, a family man, and a citizen of Oregon.

May 30, 2008

Strange Days Indeed

Really weird morning today.  First off, I got Jen's cold so I've got that going on in addition to the arm thing.  Annoying, but not a big deal.  More interestingly, I finally had my appointment with the orthopedic specialist today.  As you may recall this has been an ongoing saga over the last few weeks.

The appointment started out kind of weird - the doctor took off the temporary cast and almost immediately told me that the biggest problem is that I have stiffness in my elbow because I've been wearing the cast for the last ten days.  He said that there was no reason for me to be immobilized and that the cast may have already caused me permanent stiffness in my elbow.  He showed me the x-ray, saying that really all I need is some physical therapy and to go back to just taking it easy on the arm.

At first I was really relieved and happy, but as I waited for the x-ray tech I started to think about the fact that I had worn the temporary cast because *his office had told me to*.  For the last week and a half I haven't been able to do some pretty routine things like tie my shoe or do the dishes because I was supposed to not take the cast off.  Frustrating.

After the x-rays the doctor confirmed that everything is healing well and far from not requiring surgery I'll just need a little occupational therapy and to wait until about the middle of July before I go back to canoeing or lifting heavy objects.  The best news is that I can start jogging again and I'm now typing with two hands, so look out frequent contacts.  You're about to get an eyeful. 

Related and kind of funny, while I had the cast on my friend Chris let me borrow this rubber thing that you can put on your arm to take a shower while you wear a cast:

The glove is incredibly affective, and also works great for:

  • An endless list of proctology jokes
  • Impersonating both the stay puff marshmallow man and the Michelin man
  • Smurf slaughters
  • Challenges to gigantic duels

May 25, 2008

The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1) The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

My review

The Golden Compass is a very fun and imaginative book, featuring a young child protagonist in a dreamworld of obtuse reference in a similar genre to the Narnia series, Holes, or The Secret Garden.

As my friend Jeana pointed out, this is not a novel of deep character development. The characters are developed by the things they do and the book does employ an overall "good guys" and "bad guys" world-view that is only experimented with when characters we thought were bad guys turn out to be good guys or vice-versa. To be fair, though, this is one of those stories aimed at children that is literary and layered sufficiently to appeal to adults, so a certain amount of moral compass is to be expected.

Where depth of character may be the weak point in this novel, pacing of action is its great strength. The plot moves very rapidly and if the reader feels to be in a lull she need only wait a page or two for her head to be spinning again.

Great imagination and inventiveness are the foundations of any novel in this genre and The Golden Compass delivers in spades. I've begun reading the second novel in the series and only know are the purposes of some of the characteristics of the world becoming clear. It is effortless, however, for the reader to buy in to the devices because their internal logic is solid.

I'm really looking forward to reading this book to my daughter - and even to seeing the movie.

View all my reviews.

May 24, 2008

Math Fun

Haven't we all felt this way about Verizon at some point?

May 22, 2008

Bruce Lee Me

My friend made this for me. Can you say awesome power?

May 21, 2008

Take this broken wing and learn to fly

OK - here's the deal...  After trying the "Just take 'er easy" method of treatment since I fell jogging a couple of weeks ago without great results I went ahead and headed in to the doctor's office yesterday to find out why my arm was still hurting me so bad.  A couple of x-rays later and I had my answer - it turns out that I broke my elbow.

So now I have a gigantic temporary cast on my arm that holds my thumb in place, meaning that on my right hand I have no opposable thumb.  I like to imagine that I'm like a bear.  ROWR.

All in all not a great start to the summer - definitely puts a cramp in my canoeing and maybe even camping.  But please bear with as my posts are a little shorter for the next few weeks.

I'll see if I can get a copy of the x-ray to post.  Wouldn't it be cool to see my innards?

May 19, 2008

Cinco De Mayo Run

A few weeks ago I ran my first ever 5K at the Cinco De Mayo Run in Portland.  Jen and I both decided to do the race - me in the 5K and Jen in the 10K.  I started out toward the back of the crowd because I didn't really see anyone around that I thought I looked fitter than, but it turned out I should have been closer to the middle.

For the most part the run was pretty uneventful other than to say that it was fun and it was a great feeling to be greeted by the kids when I finished. My niece Jasmine was also there to cheer us on.

The other great thing about running in a race when you live in Portland Oregon?  Guilt-free beer at 10:30 in the morning.

May 18, 2008

Brianna Meets Bill and Chelsea Clinton

It almost sounds unbelievable, but yes that's true.  Today Brianna met Bill and Chelsea Clinton - they joined her in some gardening and painting at a local elementary school.

To step back one, Brianna is involved in a program called "I Have a Dream" at her school.  It's a really great program aimed at getting kids to graduate from high school and continue on to college. They started a new class with all third graders in the school Brianna goes to and she's been attending all year.  They offer after-school programs, field trips, and general support and mentoring.

Jen and I went hiking at Ponytail Falls yesterday in the gorge and were on the way back home when we received a call from one of the people that runs the program at Brianna's school.  She said that President Clinton and Chelsea were going to be at a "Dreamer" event today and that Jen, Brianna and I could be invited if we liked.  Of course, this being a once in a lifetime opportunity we jumped at the chance.  It was kind of weird timing because just the day before Jen and I had come into possession of Bill Clinton's autobiography "My Life".

We got to the event at about 9:15 this morning at the community garden at Woodlawn Elementary.  About an hour and a half later, the event got underway.  There was a speaker from America Forward, which is a larger service organization that "I Have a Dream" belongs to.  After that, one of the sponsors from Dreamers spoke, and then Chelsea and Bill Clinton both gave a short speech.

Bill did some gardening and Chelsea helped with the painting of a sign before they switched places.  Brianna said she asked Chelsea where her mom was (Kentucky) and whether she would be able to live in the White House if her mom wins (no - she's on her own).  Brianna asked Bill Clinton why he was visiting Dreamers, to which he replied that he's been a supporter for a long time. 

After they were done Bill came over to the fence where we were with the rest of the parents and various onlookers and Jen and I both shook his hand.  It is amazing how much people love to share with him and it's obvious that he genuinely loves talking to and interacting with people.  He shared words with many folks and was very generous in taking pictures with people (especially kids and babies).  They say that people like that have a presence and that's definitely true in Bill Clinton's case.

Chelsea came off as a little bit more overwhelmed but was also extremely gracious and kind.  She was also generous, taking pictures with many folks and again with some kids. 

Oregon has a mail-in  ballot, and I had already voted for Obama but for me it was just so incredible to have a chance to meet a former president, especially one I look up to and respect so much.  I was quite impressed with Chelsea, she is very well-spoken and knowledgeable.  I wouldn't be surprised if she ran for office one day soon as well.

May 16, 2008

May 14, 2008

Sticks and Stones and Asphalt

There's been a bit of an injury going on for the last week or so that had me out of commission last weekend and kind of hurting this week.  Last Wednesday I was doing my "long jog" for the week - 3 miles - when I tripped on the big floppy bow of my shoelace and fell in the middle of the street.

It's actually kind of funny, I was on Liberty St by about 17th avenue, roughly here:

Map image

A few houses before the spot where I fell there was this group of African-American folks in the front yard.  One guy was digging with a shovel in the front yard and there were about five other people hanging out and drinking beer around him.  When I fell the guy digging the ditch goes "DAMMMMMMNNNNN!" and everybody else was like "oooooooh - snap!"

I had to laugh myself as I sat there for a few seconds to get my bearings.  They asked if I was okay and I gave them the thumb's up sign as Molly Wood and Tom Merritt kept talking over my ipod.

I got up and started walking a few blocks.  I knew my knees were both skinned up and probably bleeding real bad and that my arm was hurt but I couldn't really tell right off the bat if I was just hurting because my hands were skinned up or what.  After walking a bit I went ahead and finished the run. 

I was actually feeling pretty good, until I stopped running to cool down.  It was at that moment that the pain in my arm really intensified and by the time I got home I knew something was very wrong.  I drove myself to the urgent care place about five minutes before they closed (bet they loved me for that) and had some x-rays done.  Turns out I don't have anything broken, it's just a bad sprain.

Basically what they told me was not to splint my arm or use a sling or anything since that would cause my arm to lose muscle mass and range of motion and to go ahead and just take it easy with the arm till I feel better.  In practice this has meant walking around with my arm held at a funny angle and taking lots of ibuprofen, and icing it as much as I can.  I've gotten a lot of range of motion back over the last few days but it's still in pretty bad pain.  I'm not sure how long that's supposed to go on for.

And yes, I have gone jogging again.  Yesterday I ran two miles with my floppy bows tucked under the laces on top of my shoe.  Believe me, I was checking them out every few blocks.

May 7, 2008

Benny Lava

I defy you to watch this without laughing.

May 3, 2008

It's hard to believe this is even possible.

Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers

Jen told me I should check out this book because it was part of her reading for her Masters of Social Work program.  Sapolsky is an entertaining and fun author and the book breaks down the scientific and physiological aspects of stress response in a way that is easily understood for people like me who don't know much about the subject.  I actually kind of understand neurotransmitters now - I'm dangerous.

Something you should know before embarking on this book, though, is that it's mostly 300+ pages of why stress is bad for you, in a lot of detail.  During the book Sapolsky often refers to the final chapter in which he will give some tips on what can be done to cope effectively with stress.  When you get there, though, it really isn't very empowering.  Most of the tips come with caveats and qualifications and frankly the chapter is a drop in the bucket of bad news you've been reading up to that point.  So you should just know that going in.