Saturday, October 25, 2014

Are You a Finished Product?

I was up late the other night trying in vain to fall asleep for an early morning wake-up. Unable to sleep, I sat up and took out my Droid Maxx and began scrolling through the years of accumulated history on my Facebook wall; something I'd never done. I got to one of my earlier posts from October 2008 where I spoke of seriously considering voting for Obama. I remember that moment well because it was a turning point in how I'd begin to view the players in the political arena. It was also a point in my life where I felt a sense of weight being lifted from me as I finally broke free from a dysfunctional ideology that had its grips on me for much too long.

It's been 6 years and I haven't for one second considered going back.

Reevaluating all that you believe to be true can be a very soul-searching endeavor but one that's a must from time to time. Turning on its head all that you've supported and embraced can get messy but in my case once I began to reassemble the pieces, an entirely new picture came into focus for me. That image was one of a party whose unwavering support was for the most successful among us while they offered nothing short of disdain for those in society who hadn't been so fortunate.

Where there was once support from me for all things Republican, it had been replaced by questions and concerns and a feeling that I'd been hoodwinked.

We were being told that supply-side (or trickle-down) economics was going to lift all boats but it was becoming apparent that that was a sham. The tax cuts for the wealthy pushed through by George W Bush never created a sense of generosity among those who were benefiting from them. They didn't trickle-down. Our financial sector was in ruins thanks to a lack of regulation on Wall Street (something both parties are to blame for but something much more fully a Republican issue today as they attempt to water-down any attempt at regulation through Dodd/Frank legislation). The war in Iraq had also become a fiasco with no easy way out, say nothing of the lives lost or scarred and the trillions of dollars added to our national debt.

And yet, Republicans today are so quick to criticize Obama for not enough fixes to the problems they in large measure foisted upon us as they now sit on the sidelines and offer absolutely nothing but obstructionism. If you're supporting these people I have to wonder why? What is it about their actions that you agree with? Oh, they're Christians you say? Sorry, but you couldn't be more wrong.

If you're one who believes the Fox News propaganda that Obama is to blame for our obscene national debt, do you understand what the drivers of that debt are and who's mostly responsible for them? Here's an article from a year ago that may be of help to you.

Let's say we go all-in and embrace the hard-right agenda that so many are salivating about. Where will that take us? More wars; more tax cuts for the wealthy; less regulation on Wall Street and elsewhere resulting in the increased potential for more calamity; escalating health-care costs if the Affordable Care Act is repealed in addition to all those who would lose coverage due to preexisting conditions. The list goes on. What is it about this agenda that is at all attractive to any thinking person? I don't get it.

I'm hesitant to get too political here or on other social media lately because talking to walls appeals little to me but occasionally I'll slip up. I got a refresher lesson about why I avoid such discussions earlier this week when I engaged one of my tea-party-republican friends in a discussion about politics. Big mistake. I was attempting to open John's eyes to some of the larger ills that ail us rather than his myopic focus on illegal immigrants, food-stamps, welfare and other social programs that are often the go-to red meat for those who tune in to the likes of Fox News and other right-wing outlets. I asked him a few pointed questions designed to cause him to think outside the bubble he's trapped in. I received no response other than a suggestion a few hours later that I go fuck myself before he deleted the thread from his Facebook wall. I tried.

I know I don't have all the answers and that I'm a work in progress but at least I'm a work in progress and not a finished product which is the sense I get from too many with no desire to consider another way of looking at this social experiment we're all immersed in.

How about you, are you a finished product?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

My Week in Videos and a Few Photos

I had a good week of riding this week. My speed and power are still missing-in-action for the most part but I'm riding pain-free with the exception of my right knee. I've got a couple weeks off from work coming up beginning at the end of this work-week and I hope to get my fill of riding and being outdoors.

I had a fun loop into St Paul on Tuesday. The fall colors were brilliant in spots and it was a gorgeous day! I was feeling like a weight has been lifted off me now that I'm able to get out again; like a junkie must feel when they finally get their fix, they can breathe again.

We had some tree trimming done on Thursday by Caleb and his crew from Vineland Tree Care. This was such a different experience from the one we had last year around this time with the sketchy guys who came through our neighborhood hustling up work for which I paid way too much. Caleb is an arborist and actually knows what he's doing. They'll be back sometime in late November to trim the two Red Oaks on the side of our home. Jim (the owner) was reluctant to do them now for fear that we haven't had a hard enough frost to eliminate the chance for Oak Wilt.

As soon as they were through trimming I headed out on a ride intent on doing the loop I never got to finish the day I crashed. I'd been dreaming of doing this route as soon as I was feeling well enough and Thursday was the day. If this was to be a mentally healing ride of sorts for me it couldn't have played out better. I have over 25 hours of music on my Nano with only a handful of songs that repeat. How coincidental it was that Pink Floyd's Echoes (the song that lulled me to sleep) would be playing in my ears as I approached the crash site. I was determined that there would be no repeat.

The pups are enjoying this weather for their daily walks. I try and get them out for 30 to 45 minutes each day with Toby leading the way. He can be pretty insistent on which roads we take, not typically wanting to do the same route two days in a row. Allie and Charlie aren't so particular. I don't mind indulging them because it's their time. Tammy took them to the dog park twice last week. That's heaven for them.

On the drive into work this morning I had to stop and pick up a prescription for a steroid spray I use for allergies. I went inside to pay and noticed what looked like the same medication for sale over-the-counter and for only half the price of the prescription I was there to pick up. I asked the pharmacist and she said there's really no difference. How nice!

And that's a wrap!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Back in the Saddle Again and Creepy Zombie Daughter

My recovery from my crash has advanced a long way in the last week, so much so that I was able to get out and ride on Friday afternoon and again Saturday morning. I'm just soft-pedaling for the most part but it's good just to be riding. I can't very easily get out of the saddle and pedal yet because of some lingering pain when I push it but I'm okay if I stay seated. It took me at least a couple of years to be totally comfortable on my bike after my last crash (insert shameless Judge Judy appearance video here) but I don't sense that that's going to be a problem this time. I'm feeling quite fine already.

My main injury was to my sacroiliac joint on my left side. My chiropractor explained how it's a joint with a lot of nerves from the spinal cord in close relation to it. Most of his adjustments have focused on my lower back in addition to a couple of sessions (so far) of acupuncture targeting the area. I wasn't sure what to think after my first experience with the needles because I didn't notice any relief at all from my pain but after the second session I was a believer. I noticed the relief a couple hours later after going home and laying down. There was an obvious lessening of the pain I'd been feeling when I got up off the couch.

This is the time of year I most dread when it comes to yard work. I've got most of our gardens cleared out and our hostas and other perennials cut back but there's still a ton of leaves yet to come down. I set out 23 bags of compost (in addition to our two 60 gallon compost containers) this past week to be taken away by our trash hauler. I'm sure he hates me.

Other than that, I love fall. Did I mention I'm back on my bike again?

Tammy and I were discussing retirement the other day. I'd like for her to be able to call it quits before I do so she's making plans to be done this coming spring. We sat down on the couch and penciled in some budget numbers the other day. I shouldn't be too far behind her. We're due to lose a good percentage of our controller workforce in the area where I work traffic within the next year with half of us being eligible to retire. It's going to be much more difficult to get time off and yeah, sector time is going to increase substantially. I don't mind working but the lure of being someplace else when I no longer need to be there will eventually win out.

I got a photo text from Rachel yesterday as she was preparing for the Zombie Pub Crawl in Minneapolis. Costuming is one of her strong points! She and friend Maddy went as Viking Zombies. Very convincing I'd say!

I posted this link on my Facebook page a few days ago. I find it fascinating to see how tiny we really are in relation to all that's out there. It's impossible for me to try and comprehend the vastness of the universe and so I really don't ponder it that deeply anymore. I remember as a kid I'd try and imagine how space beyond our atmosphere goes on and on without end as I'd contemplate infinity. It would cause my brain to go into overload so I stopped doing that.

These days I'm much more inclined to think about riding my bike. Did I mention that I'm riding again?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Happy 6th Birthday, Charlie, and Still Paddling

I remember in the '70s when Biorhythms were popular for a time. I never took them seriously but perhaps I should as mine most definitely reflect a downturn for me since the 22nd of September when I crashed my bike and was injured. Couple that with a cluster headache phase and I have reason enough for feeling down but I'm seeing an upturn in my graph so I'll press on.

Charlie turned 6 on Tuesday! It's hard to believe, not just because time has passed so quickly but because he doesn't act his age. He's so much more a pup than a 6-year-old and that's what's so entertaining about him. I have to do my part to keep him young-like so when he brings me a toy to play with I do my best to engage him and not ignore him. He needs and really enjoys that.

I can't believe that it actually took me a little while (many months) to fully warm up to this little guy. My main concern was Toby and how Charlie's presence was upsetting to him. Toby would eventually come around but not for a few years.

Charlie makes his debut!

It's been 11 days since I crashed my bike but it wasn't until just this afternoon that I can finally move around without some debilitating pain in my lower left back contorting my movements and making me look like someone seemingly decades older. I'm thankful for the relief. There's still a sharp pain that continues but nothing near what it was. I'll call Walgreens tomorrow and cancel my refill of Hydrocodone that I had standing by in case I needed it.

I'm seeing a chiropractor in the morning who also specializes in acupuncture and comes highly recommended by a friend. I don't know that he can do anything more for me than what my body will do for itself as it heals but I'm willing to let him try. I've never had acupuncture but have heard only good things about it. If it will aid in my healing, I'm all in.

If nothing else, all of this sitting around the house has reinforced in me that a person has to have a game-plan for when they retire; I'll need to have a reason to get myself out of bed in the morning other than to check Facebook or to be online or just hanging out with my Kindle (which has pretty much been the extent of my activity lately). I can see where this routine would grow tiring very quickly, at least for me. Not being able to workout has put a definite crimp in my style but the pups seem to be content with my new normal.

I got a phone call yesterday morning from a friend who retired from ATC nearly one year ago. Dave is loving his new life as a full-time student learning web design. He talked about how refreshing it is to wake up in the morning excited to take on the day and throw himself into his studies. It's a feeling that was missing for way too long for him.

We spoke at length about our careers and the pressures associated with the work; pressures that I've always been very good at minimizing but lately am more willing to acknowledge. He likened his career to a guy negotiating a raging river of rapids in a canoe, careening from one obstacle to the next while paddling madly to keep his line and stay upright. The raging river eventually opens up into the most serene lake setting where the stresses of what he'd just come through are left behind and he can begin to truly enjoy life at his own pace. What a great description!

I'm still in the rapids of my career but I do sense that quiet lake not too far ahead. I'd be less than honest if I didn't say that this past week off from work has had me considering tossing in the towel now rather than later, but I prefer to not make this decision from a point of weakness.

I'd like to get my biorhythms back up to normal and survey the landscape once more for that serene lake before deciding to stop paddling.