Friday, August 31, 2012

A good biker

OK, not all bikers are jerks.

Sure, some pass you without warning, but sometimes they stop and help you.

I went for a ride on my trike today, just me and Claren. It went well at first, but then Claren kept jogging too far forward and the leash would get caught under the tire.

I was able to fix it most times it happened by just unhooking the leash from her collar, pulling the leash out of the tire and rehooking it. But once, I was having trouble so this biker stopped, asked if I needed help and when I said yes, he helped. Then he sped off.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bromance forged in the bathroom

My sister and brother-in-law have two kids, so I am almost certain I am not the first naked member of my family he has seen. (I also was not totally naked: I had a shirt on and my pants were on just around my ankles.)

I am also certain that last night was still the most he has seen of me.

Finally, I am equally sure that neither of us were real happy that he had to pick me up off the floor of the bathroom and sit me on the toilet, which incidentally he did easily. He is a PX90-er.

Now I have disquieting thoughts in my head since the idea of my little sister having S-E-X is almost as creepy to me as my parents and S-E-X.

To cure that, I will just mention how amazing I am because I fall a lot but almost never get hurt.

I know I am not unique. My brother with Friedreich's ataxia has told me how good he is at falling.

I also know I am not invincible. My brother has been sporting a bandage on his nose this week since a fall gone wrong.

But still.

Last night, I stood up, lost my footing, fell, knocked into some storage bins, landed on my back on a tiled bathroom floor, and my first response was to laugh.

Because my brother-in-law was there to save me.

Monday, August 27, 2012


I almost choked today on a piece of apple.

I purposely did not say "choked to death." I could breathe through my nose so I knew I wouldn't die.

But for a moment or two I was not sure what the heck was going on in my throat.

It started when I was swallowing a second piece of apple. At that point, the first piece decided it was stuck. I started coughing and spit most of the apple out. Just enough stayed stuck.

It was at this point that I tried breathing through my nose so I knew whether or not I'd need Heimlich'ing.

After that, I relaxed and coughed it out.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sick day

I called in sick to work Friday, my first sick day at the new job. (Can I still call it the new job when I have been there a year?)

I think I was mostly tired and off-kilter, rather than contagious sick. I took a three-hour nap Thursday and then slept till noon Friday.

I was feeling slightly guilty until I started recalling my dreams from Thursday night. I don't think I was feverish and I don't take illegal drugs, but something was definitely wrong.

I dreamed that:
  • my journalism grad school class was in Afghanistan, but it wasn't the class as I knew them. It was the class as I imagined them to have aged.
  • we ran into Osama bin Laden and he had a stereotypical posse with him -- a fat goofy guy, a lady's man, an older wise man, etc.
  • at this point it became like a chase comedy, with us trying to avoid Osama and Osama trying to avoid officials.
  • I tried to shoot Osama's one-person helicopter with a rifle, and the bullet went about 20 feet.
  • the subway system was involved, too, though I a not sure how I got home.
  • and much more including chamber pots, Johnny West, Ipads, Kerri Walsh Jennings and much more.
I think it was a good idea to stay home.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Going downtown

Today, I went downtown to see the guy I write for.

He is a real good guy, so it is fun to go.

And I love the main Interior building, or MIB. It is such a magnificent building. And the halls? They are so wide and long. A friend once talked about having go-kart races in the USA TODAY lobby.  But the lobby is nothing compared to MIB.

I ride our shuttle to get there. It is fast, convenient but not quite safe. Well, it is quite safe until I tell the driver, don't bother strapping me in.

It always seems unnecessary and something that would take too long.

I say that until we crash.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hang on, Matty

I have not now, or at any time in the past, been known as Sloopy.

And I do not wish to ever be called that!

Nevertheless, Hang on Sloopy has been pounding in my head this weekend. And I have welcomed it.

It was not a wonderful weekend. I am not sure why but here are some theories:
  • My body has not been working properly and required several changes of clothes. 
  • A niece may be at fault. She turns 20 tomorrow and we had a little party for her Saturday. Two of her friends came, so I got to meet two other 20-somethings who are working on a Senate campaign. Meeting people half my age who have accomplished pretty much all I have in 40 years already does nothing for my esteem. It isn't that I hate my job or any of them, and I am good at what I do, but I am replaceable. I live with my sister's family, which is awesome, but it isn't exactly something to be proud of. 
  • Swimming is on break, and my trike is in the shop, so no exercise.
But I will hang on.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Math proves a lot of able-bodied people on subway are stupid

I blame the two gals who got on the subway car behind me today.

It was not a crowded car at all. No one was standing ... except in the door areas.

But instead of going past me to the many empty spaces around the train, they huddled next to the door, forcing me to move into the middle of the door area.

I was annoyed by that, so I started looking around.

There are doors at the front, middle and end of the trains, which are 75 feet by 10 feet. The total capacity is 175, and there are 68 seats. I can't find the width of the door area, but say four feet. That means the total area of the three door areas is 120 square feet (4*10*3), and the total train area is 750 square feet (75*10).

Into the three door areas crammed 21 people, not counting me and Claren. We'll say all the seats were filled, even though they weren't. But we'll say they were, which means there were 90 people on the train (22 in door areas + 68 sitters).

So in an area that is 16% of the car  (120/750), you had 23% of the riders (22/90), really more because I saw at least four empty seats, which would mean it was nearer 26%.

And only one of those riders in the door area couldn't move to the less crowded areas.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I can't do it

On my walk tonight, amid the lunatic bikers passing me without warning, I saw a roller-blader. Unbidden, "I want to roller-blade" popped into my mind.

I know I can't and never will be able to.

Even when I was a kid with no real balance issues, I couldn't roller skate. Well, I could use those skates you attached to your shoes. But I remember when I tried on my sister's blue lace-up skates, I could hardly make it across the family room floor.

I also know it is less than constructive to think about what you can't do. But I can't help it.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


On Thursday night, my last night alone this summer  (maybe forever after I tell this story), I did something stupid, I dropped a cracker.

That wasn't the stupid part, but it was the annoying catalyst.

The cracker fell under a wheel, and I did not want to crush it. So I maneuvered my chair back and forth to keep from running it over. I was in my bathroom, where there is not much room, hence the  back and forth.

I succeeded and backed up a bit, but I did not want to leave it there for certain nosy dogs to eat. 

So I bent over to pick it up.

That was the stupid thing. 

I knew I wasn't buckled in, but I was not prepared for the momentum of my downward movement.

I don't think I did a  full somersault, but I did end up on the floor in front of my chair, fang the hair. And also under the sink.

I was totally unhurt, but I still let loose a nice stream of curses. 

Then I set about getting back in my chair.

I have been having trouble falling asleep, I think because of my naps, so I have been going to bed later. It was nearly 11 so I didn't want to call Mom and Dad.

I decided to back my chair up and then use it to pull myself over to the bars near the toilet. This worked well! I even stood up as planned and started to lower my butt, feeling for my chair.

Unfortunately, I had pushed it back too far, and my butt just felt air.

I stood back up, but I soon felt my legs wobbling and needed to sit. I took the option available to me and sat down on the toilet, facing the tank, without the seat or cover down.

After my legs recovered, I stood back up and carefully shuffled my feet back until  I could sit back into my chair. Whew!

I was then too pumped to fall asleep.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

And I thought Claren was cool

Yesterday, we passed a girl in the Metro station and she smiled and then I saw her whip out her cellphone to get a photo.

 I laughed and thought to myself I wish I had a dollar for every stranger who took our picture, or at least Claren's. I'd have less than $10, but still, pretty good. Right?

That's what I thought until I ran into my friend who is raising Nathan, a service dog for Veterans Moving Forward.

Nathan is a ridiculously cute golden retriever who "blogs" on the Coast Guard's website. I refer to him as Claren's boy-toy because they seem to love each other even though he is nine years Claren's junior.

My friend told me how she and Nathan were coming back from NYC recently on the train. She said this woman kept staring, came over and talked about service dogs. Then all of a sudden said, "THAT'S NATHAN!"

My friend was taken aback so the woman added, "I am one of his fans." She was a Coast Guard employee who follows his blog.

At least Claren can say she had a famous boy-toy.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Blade Runner is awesome, not Olympian

I read that Oscar Pistorius is the talk of the Olympics. That's pretty awesome, except I don't think he belongs in the Olympics. (I forgot until now that I wrote about him four years ago, and damn! I am good. This just expands on that four-year-old theme.)

I hear people ask whether he has an advantage or a disadvantage, and columnists say how could an  amputee be advantaged, which seems kind of offensive and paternalistic to me but whatever.

The issue seems to me not to be whether his blades help or hurt him, but whether he runs with the same muscles others do. And he doesn't.

I don't know much about running, and I have written about how annoyed it makes me that I can't even remember how to run. But I do know that calves and ankles and feet are a big part of the running process, but not for him.

If the idea of running is merely to get from Point A to Point B as fast as possible, why are steroids illegal? Why can't someone in a manual wheelchair compete? What about someone who exercises the muscles of his fingers with a Wii controller?

Not of this should be considered a criticism of Pistorius' athleticism. I imagine that, like most Paralympians, he is probably a better athlete than many of his Olympic competitors. I love and am in awe of Michael Phelps, Miss Franklin, Usain Bolt and  all the others, but were I to design an athlete I might choose one of them as my model. I know they have honed their bodies to perfection.

But Paralympians take an inelegant body and force it to do whatever amazing thing they want: like running a 400 on blades not legs.

And it is amazing. I  just don't think it belongs in the Olympics.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Matt's Blade

I am reading these Dave Duncan books, each subtitled A Chronicle of the King's Blades.

They are about these swordsmen who are magically bound to the king or one of the king's friends.

After the binding they will fight to the death for the king or whoever their ward is or die defending them. They always want to be with their wards or at least in sight of them. They generally go crazy when their wards are killed.

The binding magic involves the ward running a sword through the Blade's heart.

Judging by her moping whenever I leave her, Claren is more or less my Blade, and I did not need to run a sword through her heart.

Of course, I am not sure she'd kill or die for me.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Something was wrong

I am not a huge gymnastics fan, but even more than usual I find myself asking: How did they do that?

When I was little, our church/school added a new playground.

It had a balance beam that had three levels. I don't remember ever trying the two higher levels. I think the only reason I walked the lowest one was because if I fell it was maybe a foot off the ground.

Growing up, I had no idea anything like Friedreich's ataxia was wrong with me. But when I look back, I find it startling we did not know something was wrong.

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