Tuesday, April 29, 2008

my Left Foot - another milestone!

I just got back from a car trip to the library and back - total distance: less than 2 miles. So what?

I wore on my left foot the one shoe that fits over my swollen toes, and successfully drove my old, manual Subaru - the first time I've driven a stick since mid-February.

No discomfort - no uncertainty. No question - the end of this is in sight!

Monday, April 28, 2008

episode IV - A New Hope

Woke up this morning with my Left Foot in a normal-person sock, with just a small bandage. Put on one of my regular shoes (the widest, of course) and walked downstairs with it. This is the first time since Feb 20th, that I can wear a normal shoe. It's pretty tight, and my foot is not all the way in, but it's a start.

I am still supposed to use The Boot extensively the next couple of weeks, but I will try to drive my old (manual) Subaru today. If successful, I will consider swapping cars back with my wonderful friend Barbara today.

It's a busy day (4 separate events, all over town) but it feels like a watershed day.

Friday, April 25, 2008

my Left Foot - 9 1/2 weeks

That's just over 2 months. Today was the day I've been waiting for.

First, let's take a look at the inside story. Those 4 parallel lines are the pins that are today's target. The vertical thing is the external fixator. The doc was pleased with bone growth that his educated eyes could plainly see.

And here's the outside story. Got it? (Love those happy feet!)

First, whip out the hypodermic and inject a little anesthesia.

Then, a few twists of the allen wrench and the fixator is off! Its destiny is to be sterilized, and then shipped off to somebody else in the world, who's in need of fixation. This is a good thing.
Now, I hold my breath as each of the 4 pins is carefully unscrewed and pulled out of my foot. It wasn't bad - an odd sensation - not painful, but definitely weird.

OK, two down - two to go.

And we're done! Each little hole quickly filled with blood, which will scab over soon. I need to keep it dry for 2-3 days, but still wear The Boot for another couple of weeks.

The big news is that I am cleared to try driving a manual transmission car, as long as I wear a stiff-soled shoe. Will try that Monday.

Nice work, doc!
He wrapped it all up again, with some antibiotic creme. No more 'cage-rage'!

Next appointment in two weeks, and it may be the final visit. Then I can go back to writing about the decline and fall of human civilization. Time to make some rice.

warning - new foot photos coming soon

Finally, I am scheduled to return to my podiatrist this morning, hopefully to get the external fixator removed. I am really getting weary of this thing - still trudging/clomping around with The Boot is getting very old.

In economic news, I will need to buy gas today. On KPOJ this morning, they mentioned surveys where most people, when asked 'how much of the price of gas goes to your service station?' answer 'over a dollar per gallon'. Of course, the reality is that only about 8 cents of each dollar go to your local business owner, and the bulk goes to Exxon/Mobile, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, etc.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Ken - my college buddy. You are still older than me.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I made the Oregonian!

Letter to the Editor - published today. This was a campaign for the Progressive Voter Network, the grassroots group with which I have been active for almost a year. Our mission was to mobilize members to write letters, to pressure Gordon Smith to sign on to the Lieberman-Warner bill. Dale, also in the group, also got a letter published.

Will it make a difference? I doubt it.

In the meantime, this morning I picked rhubarb and greens from our garden, while it was lightly sleeting. There is nothing like Springtime in Oregon.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

home again

It's a wonderful thing to wake up in your bed, and know that you will be traveling that day. It's even more special, as it was this morning, to wake up somewhere else, and know that, that day, you are heading home.

It was a little overcast in Santa Cruz, as we packed up and headed to the airport in San Jose. Flying logistics were smooth - there was no major hassle with my surgical boot, although they did carefully swipe it, looking for tell-tale signs of high explosives.

We landed in Portland and it was sunny and cool. By the time we were heading west on I-84, the skies were darkening, and by the time we hit the Terwilliger Curves, the temperature had dropped 15 degrees and it was sleeting. There was a dusting of snow on the ground in our neighborhood, with a few flurries coming down.

The house, in the care of two young men for six days, was a mess, and we've just spent three hours cleaning. I guess that was to be expected.

It is now chow time for animals, and they are letting us know it. Nice to be home.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

boning up on Turkish

Did I mention that Karen and I are going to Turkey in October? We're taking this tour, from the same company that did our trip to Costa Rica, a few years ago.

I found a website from a traveler who did that same trip a couple of years ago, with photos and descriptions. The email address on his site bounced, but a WhoIs search eventually revealed his true address. I wrote and he responded with some useful comments and tips. The Internet is a wondrous place.

Meanwhile, the compulsive that I am, I am doing a lot of reading in Greek/Byzantine/Ottoman/Lycian history, which is most entertaining. The big hurdle, of course, is the Turkish language, which is linguistically related to such arcane tongues as Finnish and Hungarian (who've have guessed?).

At any rate, I found an interesting Web site titled 'Useful Turkish Phrases', complete with many sound files. Many of the standard traveler phrases are here, but I have to admit that I laughed out loud as I approached the bottom of the page, and there, after Where's the toilet?, Help!, Call the police!, and Would you like to dance with me?, the author has thoughtfully included the classic Monty Python line My hovercraft is full of eels, which, in case you're interested, renders as 'Hoverkraftimin ici yılan balıǧı dolu'. Useful indeed.

Monday, April 14, 2008

off to vacation-land

Karen and I leave for the airport in an hour, to spend a few days with family in Santa Cruz. Her 97 year-old mother is flying up from Pasadena, and we all converge in San Jose around 2 pm, hopefully to be met by Karen's brother, who will drive us all to Santa Cruz.

With my foot still encased in The Boot, my mobility is limited, so I anticipate a lot of reading and card-playing coming up. Suits me.

With the past weekend having had the most gorgeous weather in about a year, we took the opportunity to do a lot of yard-work. Although it's great to see the yard in good condition, I'm ready for a break.

Not sure what the wifi situation down there will be - the last time I was at my brother-in-law's house, I was able to poach a very weak wifi signal from a neighbor, that was barely adequate. It will be interesting to see what's available and open in his neighborhood these days. If not, there are a number of hotspots at coffee places a few blocks away.

In the old days, travellers worried about robbers - nowadays we worry about finding a strong, non-encrypted path to the Internet. This is progress.

By the way, Obama was right - bitterness is in the air, with growing consciousness of the past 28 years of successful class warfare (perpetrated by the rich).

Friday, April 11, 2008

friday funnies

Daily Show's John Oliver profiles Fox News - hysterical.

So, it might get up to 70 degrees in PDX today. Dylan is headed up to Mt. Hood to go snow-boarding; maybe I'll mow the lawn later.

The peas, rhubarb, and raspberries are under way - the beets that I planted last fall survived and have a great head-start on Spring.

Trying to get work and life loose-ends tied up, before Karen and I head to Santa Cruz on Monday, for 5 days with family. The boys stay here, to take care of animals and the house.

I visited my podiatrist yesterday, and got an official-looking note, which will, hopefully, get me thru airport Security without having to unwrap the dressing on my left foot. It will be a chance to see how much trust they place in my words, a piece of paper and my security profile (oops), versus their compelling mission to Keep America Safe.

Have I mentioned war crimes yet today? Who could have predicted that John Ashcroft would turn out to be the conscience of America?

This might be interesting...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

coming soon to a city near you?

hope not, but what happens when the truckers decide that the price of diesel precludes them making their regular trips to restock the local Safeway, and our fellow citizens panic and start hoarding, and, instead, start stocking up on ammo, and...

OK, it's science-fiction. Can't happen here. Americans would always be totally generous and share whatever we have, right?

Reminds me of a line from the graphic novel Maus, where the father, who survived Aushwitz, says to his incredulous son something like, "you'd be amazed at what people are capable of, when they haven't eaten in a couple of days."

the 800 pound elephant in the room

war crimes.

war crimes.

Hello, Nancy?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

new monitor

My old 19" big old-fashioned monitor ($25 at a garage sale, many years ago) has been making periodic clicking noises for the past, oh, six months. Last night, it went into a Sudden Death frenzy, clicking and flashing, and finally dying.

I plugged in an old, spare 15" monitor, popped onto craigslist, saw a 19" widescreen LCD (this model) that a guy was selling for $100 (he's moving out of state) 20 minutes after he posted it. I was the first to call, went to see it this afternoon, and here I am typing the first blog entry on this very wide monitor.

Of course, Karen wants it for her office, so maybe I'll be a good guy and swap this one for her non-widescreen 19" LCD. That should earn me some temporary good will, right?

At any rate, I'm enjoying it while I can!

new Al Gore video


wish I shared his optimism.

but I don't.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

my Left Foot - 7 weeks

Time to visit with Dr. Gentile again! We took new X-rays today. He looked things over and said that he definitely sees evidence of new bone growth. This is a good thing.
Here you can see that there is still a lot of swelling, but it's nice to know that there is progress.

Uh oh - is that a mini-bunion that's suddenly more obvious over there on the right foot? Yikes! Not again!

Time to clean everything and reapply the dressing.

Now for the bad news. He felt it was too soon to remove the pins and external fixator. We are planning on a short trip to Santa Cruz in a couple of weeks. Maybe we'll get the fixator off on April 11th, before we leave.

Even so, it looks like I'm going to be wearing The Boot for another 4 weeks. I am getting a little tired of clomping around with it, but the Doc calls the shots.