Thursday, September 28, 2006

It's Been Nice

It's been a nice month off. I phoned work today to let them know that I'm no longer on Prednisone and that I'm experiencing no headaches. I just got a phone call from the front office to tell me that I've got my medical back and I can return to work. Actually, I'm ready to go back. It's been nice sleeping in every morning until the pups lick me awake but it will also be nice to get back to my routine. I do like my job and I'm very blessed to have it although there have been some recent changes at work which will take some getting used to. No more reading material on the midnight shifts to keep you awake when traffic is light. Business-casual dress even though we have no contact with the public. Salary capped for the foreseeable future. I'm still okay as I really can't complain. Sure, I'd like to see the steady raises we've enjoyed year after year continue but they pay me quite a bit to do what I do. As I'm typing this I got a call from my boss at work to tell me he was looking forward to seeing me on Sunday and did I know about the new dress code. Yep...I know all about it...see you then.

My mother doesn't care if she ever talks with me again. That's the latest I'm hearing that she said about me. Hmmm. It shouldn't be this difficult to do the right thing but apparently, it is. My relationship with my mom is possibly forever tarnished and I'd venture to say that it is over between my older sister, Claudia, and I. I'm very much okay with that as she has been a continual source of stress in our family for the longest time. I have a hunch my older brother Bryan falls into the tarnished category although it could be years before either of us resurrects anything between us. We've all got a bit of stubborn Irish blood in us and it will no doubt come into play now. I stood up for my cousin when she was verbally assaulted by Claudia and for that, I suffer my family's wrath. How small of them. I have the hardest time understanding where they get off thinking this is the right thing to do. I suppose so long as I try and make sense of it I will be frustrated because there is no making sense of any of it. Oh, and on top of all of this, I hear today that the only reason Tammy is agreeing with me is because I'm her bread and butter and she will say nothing which would go against me. What an insult to Tammy. The only question I have is did my mother come up with that on her own or did Claudia help her out?

Friday, September 22, 2006

It's Just Tissue

I wrote a letter to the editorial pages of the StarTribune a few months ago which was critical of our nation's approach to abortion. It didn't make the paper but it did get printed in the online edition where someone from Human Life Alliance found it and responded to me. Since then I've been receiving their mailings. I was looking through their latest newsletter and came across this...

It's Just Tissue

Consider the following facts: Simple tissue does not have a beating heart, brain waves, fingerprints, and unique DNA. A woman can carry a baby with a different gender or blood type from her own. After the moment of fertilization, nothing new is added to the baby except oxygen, nutrition and time. The only differences between a newborn and a preborn baby are size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency. All of these facts confirm the reality that you are a person worthy of protection from the moment of fertilization.

I'm reading on a little further in the newsletter and I find this...

"I'm personally opposed, but I can't tell others what to do"

What if U.S. citizens had been willing to accept this justification for tolerating slavery? Our forefathers took away the "rights" of slave owners in order to give freedom and respect to African American people. Our youngest and most vulnerable are still slaves to the life and death decisions of others.

Now I remember what the opinion piece was that I wrote...I was talking about slavery and how it was a person's right to choose whether or not they would be a slave owner. The slaves, after all, were 2nd class citizens not worthy of the protections afforded you and me just as an unborn child is not worthy of those same protections. I was drawing comparisons between slave owners then and pro-choice people today and hoping that someday as a nation we will be able to look back on these days and realize the error of our ways the way we realize the error of our ways those many years ago with respect to slavery.

Returning to Normal

My cluster headache cycle has pretty much run its course. I go through a headache cycle about once every 15 months and it used to be that they pretty much owned me. The last two cycles have been different, though, and I'm encouraged by my new approach to them—that being heavy doses of Prednisone. If you've ever had a Mr. Misty or an ice cream headache you have a good idea what a cluster headache is. It's a sharp pain behind one eye which causes you to cease functioning until the pain goes away. In the case of an ice cream headache that pain usually only lasts a few moments. In the case of a cluster headache, the pain can last for hours. These are worse than migraines. They're called cluster headaches because they come in clusters and then they're gone until the next cycle begins. It used to be that during a headache phase, I'd get one or two headaches a day. I pretty much just suffered through them without using any meds for years. Prednisone has been around forever so I'm not sure why I wasn't treated with it as a prophylactic years ago but I wasn't. I started using Imitrex about 8 years ago for breakthrough headaches which get past the Prednisone.

The FAA won't allow me to work traffic while I'm in a headache cycle and on my meds. This time around they've allowed me to use my accrued sick time to stay out of work until I'm off the meds and I get my medical back. It's been nice. I've been getting in huge amounts of riding and taking care of stuff around the house. My motivation does suffer some though and there are days when I really have to push myself to get moving. Once I'm on my bike I'm usually fine; it's just getting there which is the hard part. Each of the last two weeks I've averaged over 415 miles. This week won't be so good as I'll be rained out today and tomorrow. I hope to get out Sunday for a long ride.

I was out on my bike yesterday and I got a phone call from Tammy. She told me that my supervisor at work called to see how I was doing. I phoned him back while cruising south on Cedar Ave to tell him that I was doing well; hey, I'm on sick leave and I'm riding—how good is that? I told him I should be back around the end of the month and he was fine with that.

Tammy's been working lots of hours so I'm trying to lighten her load around our home. I spent 4 hours cleaning the house today so she wouldn't have to do it. We'd planned to do it together tomorrow but I wanted to surprise her and have it done so she can have some free time to do with whatever she wants. I got lots of thank-you's for it when she got home so yeah, it was worth it.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Jars of Clay

Tammy brought home the new Jars of Clay cd this week. There are some real gems on it. This song seems appropriate for me this past week. It's called Oh My God and is somewhat of a lament of a man's cry out to God in a fallen world. Don't quit too soon on the song as it's got a powerful ending. Here's the song...

Oh My God

Oh my God, look around this place
Fingers reach around the bone
You set the break and set the tone
Flights of grace and future falls In present pain
All fools say, "Oh my God"

Oh my God, why are we so afraid?
We make it worse when we don't bleed
There is no cure for our disease
Turn a phrase and rise again
Or fake your death and only tell your closest friends
Oh my God

Oh my God, can I complain?
You take away my firm belief
And graft my soul upon your grief
Weddings, boats and alibis
All drift away and a mother cries

Liars and fools, sons and failures
Thieves will always say
Lost and found, ailing wanderers
Healers always say
Whores and angels, men with problems
Leavers always say
Broken-hearted, separated
Orphans always say
War creators, racial haters
Preachers always say
Distant fathers, fallen warriors
Givers always say
Pilgrim saints, lonely widows

Users always say
Fearful mothers, watchful doubters
Saviors always say

Sometimes I cannot forgive
And these days mercy cuts so deep
If the world was how it should be
Maybe I could get some sleep
While I lay, I dream we're better
Scales were gone and faces lighter
When we wake, we hate our brother
We still move to hurt each other
Sometimes I can close my eyes
And all the fear that keeps me silent
Falls below my heavy breathing
What makes me so badly bent?
We all have a chance to murder
We all feel the need for wonder
We still want to be reminded
That the pain is worth the thunder

Sometimes when I lose my grip
I wonder what to make of Heaven
All the times I thought to reach up
All the times I had to give
Babies underneath their beds
Hospitals that cannot treat
All the wounds that money causes
All the comforts of cathedrals
All the cries of thirsty children
This is our inheritance
All the rage of watching mothers
This is our greatest offense

Oh my God
Oh my God
Oh my God

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Some Random Thoughts

I was struggling with some fit issues on my bike earlier in the year and tried a bunch of different fixes but none of them were getting me the position I needed, or if they did it was at the expense of the handling of my bike. I worked with Scott Flanders at Flanders Brothers in Minneapolis and together we put together a new bike package for me. My new bike has a compact frame design (sloping top tube) which will more easily allow me to get the bars in a little higher position and remedy the fit problems I've been having with my other bike. We placed the order to Serotta in May and began the wait for the frame to be produced. Serotta has a demand for roughly 16 frames per day but is limited to a production capacity of 12.

I got a call from Scott on August 8th telling me that my bike would be ready later in the day or the next. I was actually just a bit nervous about my new ride...worrying that all the money spent wouldn't solve my problems. Scott had assured me when we did the sizing that I would definitely notice a difference and he was confident that it would work out well. It's been one month now and nearly 1400 miles and without question, I can say that my new bike is all I could have hoped for it to be. Within the first 2 miles of riding it, I could feel the obvious difference in the rear end with the carbon fiber seat stays and their ability to absorb shock. My position on the bike had also changed but I'd have to wait just a bit longer to confirm that it was what I needed. I can now say with all certainty that it is a change for the better. I'm riding faster and more comfortably than I have in a long time. Now the question becomes, what to do with my other bike? I thought I'd put it up on Ebay but I've rethought that and decided that I'll use it for my winter ride or for those times when I've got my new bike in the shop. It's been a great bike and I would never be able to get for it what it's worth to me.

I had several good rides this week but the one which stands out was a ride I took Thursday to Waterville, southwest of Fairbault. I was on the road by 8:20am and pedaling under a beautiful sun-filled sky with some tunes to keep me company. The only issue was a minor saddle sore but I won't elaborate on that. I don't usually ride bike paths but there is one which I occasionally pick up in Fairbault and ride to Waterville...about 15 miles worth of path. It's nice because there's little to no other traffic on it and when the wind is coming from the southwest it helps protect you from it. I got to Waterville at 11:00 and made a quick stop to refuel. I clipped back in and headed north on Highway 13 toward Montgomery and New Prague. It was at this time that I had this moment of clarity which said...this is why I ride. A light tailwind with a beautifully paved shoulder and very little traffic, cornfields and the occasional farmhouse, not too hot or too cool—just right. And best of all, I was feeling comfortable on my bike. I brought it home with an average speed of 20.1 over 106 miles which for this 49-year-old is good. I came real close to making this a 500-mile week on my bike but I've been rained (or drizzled) out today.

That's okay. Tammy and Rachel had the weekend from hell last weekend as so much went wrong with their trip up north to get her folks and take them to a relative's wedding in Park Rapids. Just as they arrived at their hotel on Friday afternoon Tammy's mother tripped on a curb and fell and broke her hip. Tammy phoned 911 and got her transported to the hospital where they scheduled surgery for the next morning. The surgery went well and Tammy and Rachel headed out Sunday morning with Tammy's father to take him back home to Babbitt and then head for home. It would be an all-day drive for them getting home just after 10:00pm. Tammy would go back up there last Thursday after work to bring her mom to back toward home to a temporary care unit in Virginia, Mn. The transfer went well and she got back home last night ready to put her feet up and try and recoup after a busy week of work and driving.

We're all just hanging out today. Rachel is working on her homecoming pants and making brownies and Tammy and I are going to clean the house together. We've got Trains, Planes, and Automobiles on the queue for tonight.

I’m being ostracized from many in my family for defending my cousin, Deborah, from a verbal assault she endured from my sister, Claudia, at the family reunion. I’ll never understand it. Is it wrong for me to stand up for someone when mob mentality takes over and people collectively lose all sense of reason?