Post PT Report: Part Deux

Okay, okay, yeah now I can see some value in this. Went back to the PT this morning and low and behold most of the pain I had been feeling in my back has diminished. Also, what do you know? My Pelvis is now moving much more.

Today we went through many of the same motions as the first session. Electro stimulation, ultrasound, aided stretching, self stretching, ice. Today it took significantly less time to complete the whole battery. Today I walked out of their office keenly aware of other aches and pains that have probably been bothering me.

The PT is continuing to encourage active recovery. Lots of stretching, rest, and engaging my core. I’m hoping in the next week or so that I can integrate some specific core exercise. We’ll see, my tendency is to start too soon, hit anything too hard. So I’m going to continue to repeat his directions like a mantra. “Stretch some, engage your core, and rest.”

Post PT Report: Session Uno

Yesterday I went to see the physical therapist. I did this with some trepidation, the last time I met with one was way back in my Army days where they treated me like a piece of meat that needed to be bent and stretched in order to be tenderized. Needless to say, the experience was a memorably painful one. An experience I wasn’t eager to repeat.

Electro stimulation is good. Yes, Good!

But I’ve come to trust my Doc, and rationally I know he’s not going to send me to another part of the same medical unit because it’s the only place that offers the service next in line for my treatment.

My back has been complaining now for seven going on eight weeks and I suspect that he wants a cure for me as much as I do. So with his recommendation I trooped off to Sammamish and gave private practice physical therapy a try.

The take away from yesterday morning was that I should not fear the physical therapist. In fact, I should probably try my best to become his life-long friend. Bring him apples or candy or whatever a physical therapist might enjoy most because I need this man in my life. At least for the time being. I walked out of that clinic standing tall and without pain. This for the first time in nearly two months.

This morning I’m tender. Yes, that’s a good word to describe what’s going on in my back because my pelvis is being a jerk. Tender. I’m already looking forward to my return trip to the PT tomorrow in anticipation of more highly productive therapy. And for the first time in a while I’m able to see a path, off there in the distance, some of my more immediate goals. There is light at the end of this tunnel.

I understand that now is the hard part. Especially for me. I’m ready to get back out on the trail, counting off the miles one after another, but per the PT’s recommendation, I’ve got another three to four weeks of taking it easy. Nothing harder than the standard, run of the mill stuff I do around the house and that done with a keen eye for the prevention of additional injury.

I’m also looking for a coach. When I get this thing under control and can start training again I really want a second set of eyes to help me. I need someone who has experience turning slightly overweight (damn you xmas cookies), middle age dudes into long distance gobbling machines. Someone who knows how to help me realize the endurance that is latent within.

Another important aspect of endurance, and one that differentiates it from all-out speed, is aging. Endurance can persist for many years. Instead, too many athletes lose endurance with age—not always for lack of training, but for lack of proper training, and lack of health. Many endurance athletes can continually improve well into their forties and fifties. Master athletes often outrace younger athletes, despite having a lower maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max). But improvement over time also means that athletes who begin serious training relatively late, such as in their thirties or forties, can perform their best even in their fifties and sixties. And, athletes beyond age sixty and seventy can still achieve remarkable feats, and sometimes still outrace some twenty- and thirty-year-olds.

Maffetone, Dr. Philip (2010-09-22). The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing (p. 16). Skyhorse Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I know I’m an unlikely individual. I’ve had more surgery performed on this body than most and I’ve racked up some hard miles too. Nothing like hard living to wear down your body long before it’s time and when I was a kid I tired hard to do it all on my own and invariably over trained. I’ve got some bad habits to unlearn. But that’s what age can do for you, if you ever encounter the wisdom to seek the assistance and advice of others.

PCT Section I (White Pass to Snoqualmie Pass) in 2009. “Where did I put my pack?”

So, if you know anyone, especially someone who has experience with busted, older dudes, you know where to leave the comments. I’m going to go stretch, gently stretch, my pelvic girdle in the well-informed hope that I will continue to release that rat bastard thereby freeing up my back. And while I’m doing that I’ll be dreaming of Grand-to-Grand and R2AK.

A New Yo-Yo

Correction: I formerly reported that 68 people have yo yo-ed the PCT. I have updated the story.

It was a long time coming, but in 1993 the Pacific Crest Trail opened officially. Any number of people hiked the path before the opening, knitting together sections on their own, but the corridor wasn’t designated until that time.

Since then some 3,413 people have hiked the PCT once. This means that they have completed the whole of the 2,663 miles on foot in segments or in full, as a thru hike. In the intervening 22 years only 68 people have ever successfully repeated the whole distance and of those only three have ever yo yo-ed. For those of you who don’t know, this means that they walked all the way up, and then back all the way. That’s 5,326 miles and nearly a million vertical feet in elevation gain.

Recently, the first woman, Olive “Raindance” McGloin, Yo-yoed the PCT. Congratulations to anyone brave enough to start something like this. I’ve hiked segments and even these are no small feat.

Now, let’s get this back fixed so that I can join her on that list.


Here is my somewhat hackneyed awards post. Yep I wrote ‘em so I should probably toot my own horn. Especially since I just received a voting reminder for nominations from the very fine folks at Worldcon 2015. So, I would be exceptionally grateful for your Hugo, Nebula and/or other science fiction/fantasy awards nominations.

Wind Dancing the Cliffs of Olympus Mons

Wind Dancing the Cliffs of Olympus Mons

Best Novelette

The Big Red Buckle, FeetForBrains Publishing; Nicole L. Riviezzo, editor.

Best Short Story

Tokyo Yakuza #11: Mob Dance, Oriental Excess Co.; Nicholas Phillips, editor.

Of course, there’s more. Much more. But those are the big’uns that need some embiggening. I’ve been going over what I read last year and trying to develop my nomination list. I intend to post this some time very soon so hang tight.

I Watched SoTU like Football

Which means rarely and hopefully after the fact if at all possible. In large part this is because political parties, to me at least, are starting to seem very much like sports teams in the NFL. The conflict seems choreographed and, in the end, pointless. “GO SPORTS TEAM!!!!” So say the instructions, I’m just not compelled. Not even one little bit.

But any one who gives even passing attention to social media will invariably encounter third party accounts of both sporting and political happenings, days and even weeks after any notable “event.” For instance, my narrative of the Seahawks/Packers game has grown significantly in the interim. Fans of the game have made comments and thus added flesh to a time and place that would have otherwise remained skeletal in my recollection. I suppose this could be a zombie world view. If we speculate that the undead are in possession of conscious thought then perhaps they experience a vicarious existence, only encountering the experience and memories of their victims while gnawing on their brains.

Anyway, having spent a little time watching, I enjoyed the SOTU. Much of what President Obama had to say resonated with me starting with changing the political and tax structure of our nation for the better. I am glad too, that the President has recognized both the existence of anthropogenic climate change and the necessity of changing our behavior in the aggregate in order to maintain a human future on this planet.

But then there is the theater of the event. And that friends, is what we come to watch. I was rooting for John Boehner throughout the whole 59 minutes and 57 seconds of the speech. The guy looked like he desperately needed to make a trip to the latrine. Like there was a tsunami of effluent knocking down his back door and flowing over his flood barriers. I wanted to dress up in theater black and sneak onto the podium to momentarily hand him a couple of Imodium.

I chose to enrich my narrative by pitying this man because the alternative, the story line in which he spends the entirety of the President’s speech looking peeved and petulant, seemed to me scornfully abusive of him. It reminded me of how far we haven’t come, and how unlikely we are to reach higher. If the Speaker cannot find it in himself to respect the office, let alone the man, then what lowered standards of conduct should we anticipate from all those people who make this country work?

Then the curtain closes and we gather up our things and tuck our programmes into a pocket and head for the door. Right?

Not so fast, the main event is over, but the show must go on. The Republican response to the SOTU was fucking amazing sauce. A rich mine of theatrical and comedic who-ha, all the Presidential hopefuls tripping over one another and themselves in a mad rush to befuddle the masses. That’s like finding gold and diamonds in the same dig.

“Hah! Joni Ernst wore those bread bags during the Reagan administration!”

I hadn’t watched Joni Ernst’s official response speech until this morning, at which point I had to ask for help scraping my jaw off the floor. Really? Did you write that yourself? Did you bother to have anyone read it over before you stood up in front of the whole of the nation, nay the world, to foist that load of crap our way? Because it was cute, but that’s about all.

Honey, a fucking bus load of kids with bread bags on their feet means one of two things. It could be that the autobus de scolaire is designated transportation for patient-children suffering from Lionel Poilâne Syndrome. In that case find some butter and follow those nut jobs, you’re in for a gluten enriched célébration de pain. Otherwise, you’ve encountered the economic byproduct of a willfully ignorant electorate in adolescent form. Not being able to afford a second pair of shoes isn’t a right of passage, neither is it a situation we should hope to cultivate. The fact that this is part of the GOP narrative, that they constantly try to spin that line of bull crap, is evidence that indeed there is a culture clash going on in America. The hopelessly superstitious part of the country and the rest of us are trying to occupy the same space and failing.

“That’s the view of the people who live in the bubble-ville…. The whole point is that there is a real clash of cultures and there is a disconnect between people who live in the bubbles of New York, Washington, and Hollywood verses the people who live in the land of the bubbas.”
— Mike Huckabee on The Daily Show.

“God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy” may be a cultural norm in some parts of this nation, but not one I will ever want to emulate. I enjoy living in the 21st Century and none of those things seem to fit here. Add to this that this nonsense is only thinly veiled social injustice.

You can watch Ted Cruz’s epic flub on youtube, but beyond the first ten seconds there’s nothing terribly notable. Seems the only thing this guy is really good at is shutting down the government. I snickered and then moved on to the horror show.

Yep, Rand Paul remains the resident freak superior. He opens his response with a smile and then dives  head first down a rat hole.

Honestly, I didn’t get very far into this. When I was in the Army I knew a sergeant who liked to say “don’t piss on my boots and tell me it’s raining.” Paul has moxie. He’s got guts. And he must employ a team of writers and idea people because I spent the first couple of minutes of this fighting off the feeling that he was asking me to thank him for crapping on my shoes.

“America is adrift?” We need new leadership? Wait, hold on a second, yeah I couldn’t agree more, but you’ve “only been in office a short time.”

Clearly, if any of President Obama’s suggestions are going to be ignored by the prevailing political structure, it is without question going to be the one where he calls for improving the political dialogue in this country. Absolutely all of the GOP “response” speech has been simple repetition of the same tired bullet points they always spout off accompanied by homey, hackneyed anecdotes involving shoe shortages or pig balls.

The problem with hope

Some six or seven years in, depending how you count, our nation is now confronted by the problem of hope. There isn’t anything intrinsically wrong with the idea that we can hope for more or better. But hoping is meaningless without achievement. And sure President Obama has achieved plenty given the circumstances of his term of office. But I come away from this very optimistic SOTU feeling like I should aspire to that utopian vision we all mass hallucinated back in 2007 and 2008. That if I want it bad enough, if I work hard enough, I’ll somehow be able to educate the superstitious, willful and idiotic masses. That I’ll be able, through the power of my conviction that all human potential can be realized, to convince others to aspire to altruism.

“When you believe in things you don’t understand then you suffer.”

— Stevie Wonder, Superstitious

Which is why I choose realism. Every morning I ask myself, “What can I realistically do today?” Sure, I hear the proposals. I’d love some gub’mint help to go back to college, but is that likely? What is more realistic is that I’ll spend too much time arguing with the Veterans’ Administration over their snafus with my paperwork. Yeah, the same old crap in this machine. Nothing ever changes.

Now, back to real life. There’s a pile of dishes collecting on my kitchen counter, a geologically significant collection of laundry that needs washing, and I may need to visit the men’s room because as I write this I’m making that John Boehner face.