Monday, November 23, 2009

17 1/2 years

A couple times on thiis blog I've mentioned my friend Beth whom I haven't seen in 17 1/2 years. Strike that. 2 days. Here's the proof:

So what can we learn from this?

1) I have photography issues.


2) The universe is wackier than we realize!

Saturday, November 7, 2009


OK, so this is the 3rd or 4th post I've done called 'chair'. Lazy lazy lazy ... From the 'Fight Multiple Sclerosis' group on Facebook:

Any other wheelers out there? I've been using a wheelchair since April. Been a mostly positive experience so far ....

That doesn't mean it doesn't suck sometimes, because sometimes it does. In particular I have developed a near irrational hatred of stairs. Never knew I could feel so strongly about a simple, common, architectural feature.

My neuro says I probably should have started using one 2 years ago and he's probably correct. Just stubbornness and fear of social stigma on my part, I guess.

One thing that I've learned that should have been obvious (I'll use all caps because it is kind of important): USING A WHEELCHAIR DOESN'T MAKE A PERSON MORE DISABLED. Quite the opposite, really. Now that I use a chair I have more energy, can get around better (if stairs don't get in my way) ... If you use a functional definition of disability with a more-less scale, I am LESS disabled than I was in March. Three is a mental shift involved, but it has been well worth it.

Anyway, my 'ride' is an Invacare 9000 XT (manual), custom purple paint job. I haven't done any mods yet. I use it at work so I have the constraint of looking at least somewhat professional - no bumper stickers :( . I rigged up a rope on it so I can drag it up and lower it down the stairs to my apartment (yes, I *am* moving soon!) I want to rig up a beeper thing so I can beep like trucks do backing up, but I haven't quite figured that out.

But not to turn this in to a car show :) ...

So, what is you experience with wheelchairs? Anyone nervous about what experience they might have? I'll fess up here, I really started this topic hoping to provide provide a more complete view of them - not just one steeped in FUD - fear, uncertainty, doubt (that's a technophile acronym :) ). Although there's nothing wrong with those feelings. Lord knows I had my share.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


From Facebook ... 'Craig' is my buddy who asked the question, 'Beth' I've mentioned before ...

Craig asked 'What's the deal with the beard? What's the story>' There IS a story of sorts, but not room for it in a little comment box.So I'm putting it in this note ...

A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away ....

OK, I'm being melodramatic. Not so long ago. The summer of '91 to be exact. And not so far away. Just northern Minnesota. Lake Itasca. I was studying at the U of M's Lake Itasca Field Biological Station.

So I'm in the woods. And I'm a guy. So I did what many guys do in the woods (no, not pee. Well, I did that too occasionally. But I'm talking about not shaving). So I let my beard grow. Of course I could have started shaving again when I returned to civilization. But ...

Something happened. I'd put some dramatic music here, but a typed up little story isn't really a place I can do that. It'll have to wait for the movie adaptation. For now, use you imagination.

Anyway, where were we? Oh yeah, something happened. Ba-bum-dah! The Breakup.

Beth and I broke up. I capitalize it because it really was sort of a capital letter type event. I found myself doing a lot of the navel-gazing self involved self reflection moping around that ordinarily annoys the daylights out of me. Continuing to wear the beard was just part of that.

So I wasn't in the best of shape. I got better. But the beard stayed. The reason isn't as dramatic as the story so far. I just liked the way it looked. Plus, it was a lot more convenient not shaving. Just trim it every once and a while ...

At this point folks are probably thinking I must not be very good at trimming. For 16 years I kept my beard fairly short. Then, two years ago, it happened: possibly the most mundane event in this entire tale ...

No imaginary dramatic music here folks. When I say mundane I mean just that. I lost my scissors.

Buh-ba-ah stuff it. Silly. I should mention this is silly too. I stopped trimming my beard because I lost my scissors and was slow to replace them.

It's sort of a defining characteristic now, though. I'm the guy with the big stupid beard. When I think of the other ways people could define me ... I'm cool with that.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Kinda been neglecting BBODS lately. Been fairly active on other forums. Often simply run out of time.

Currently have a number of conversations going:

On a forum for vegetarians: a discussion of feminism and ethical vegetarianism that has sort of gotten away from me. Two factions are sniping at each other on the topic of ... poverty. Most of the conversations I'm involved in there are not quite so contentious, having more to do with the nitty-gritty of food: cooking,, recipes, ingredients, technique ....

On a forum about disability issues, conversations about, well, duh, disability issues!

On a forum about MS, currently no 'hot' topics, but I've been meaning to start a wheelchair topic ....

On Facebook, various and sundry 'hanging out with friends' things ...

In the interest of keeping up with this blo, I'll occasionally repost something I wrote for somewhere else ...

First one tomorrow. From Facebook, "The Beard".

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Zero Day

Countdown day zero ... So 20 years = 240 months = 7305 days = how long I've been a vegetarian.


Thursday, September 24, 2009


I was just thinking, everything I needed to know about literature I learned from Slaughterhouse Five. I guess the whole degree thing helped, too. Among other things.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


A little digression from my countdown. Although we should encourage high school students to think about literature we should actively discourage them from DOING SO ON THE INTERNET! What is meant for Mr. Peabody's 5th period English class should stay in Mr. Peabody's 5th period English class. And while we're at it, DO YOUR OWN WORK!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Figure I should actually post now that we're in the single digits.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009


We're at 31 and a longstanding relationship ended this weekend.

Yep, SuSE got the boot Sunday. Finally upgraded, picking Kubuntu 8.10. I am now a moron on my own system again. No real problems yet, but I have plenty of opportunity for such. I'm gonna be installing and tweaking apps for a long time ...

There's an allegory in there sonmeplace.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009



That'd be square if the kerning were right.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Divisible by 13, 39 is. I'm thinking "that's rare" then I realize ... an infinite number of numbers are. Whoa. This is the kind of Stephen Hawking stuff that makes my head explode.

All day I've had Jake Blues running through my head - "we're getting the band back together. THE BAND!!!"

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Oops, missed yesterday.

Project 'updrade my operating system' has begun!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


42. The answer to life, the universe and everything.

Only 42 to go! Out of 7305. Impressive, no?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I interrupt this little Peaksfest to say: 43. (Tomorrow it will just be much cooler if I say that now before I say 42 then)

I'm on Facebook now. That's not related, but I wanted to mention it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


"temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events" - definition of synchronicity, Carl Jung

Thought I was going to talk about Twin Peaks? One of the major themes of the show involved just the kind of occurences Jung was talking about. So there's the theme for this post, right? Nah, it's spookier than that.

I initially watched Twin Peaks when it was in its second and final season. My then girlfriend Beth and I watched it religiously. Which was kind of an achievement, since the later portion of the season was marked by time changes and even a lengthy hiatus. Although the first season of Twin Peaks was released on DVD several years ago, seeing the second season anytime soon was far from a sure thing. Last I had heard there were no plans to release it.

So, imagine my surprise two weekends ago when I go to a department store for plumbing hardware, decide to check out the DVDs and find ... Twin Peaks Season 2! Apparently it just came out. So I pick it up. Now I can watch the scene where Leland kills Maddy, over and over and over again ... Love that scene. Horrifying and compelling simuiltaneously. I'm fond of things you watch out of the corner of your eye because you have to watch but can't look straight on. Anyway ... more on that scene next post.

So, there's the Twin Peaks angle. What's that? You're wondering the synchronicity angle?

Two days before stumbling across the Twin Peaks season 2 DVDs I spoke with Beth for the first time in 17 years.

There ya go.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

There are Owls in the Roadhouse

"We don't know what will happen or when, but there are owls in the Roadhouse" - Margaret (Log Lady), Twin Peaks episode 14, "Lonely Souls"

I had several titles in mind for this post. I went with the Twin Peaks reference. The next 2 posts are also Peaks-related (in part at least) and I figure, hey, why not make a trilogy?
Episode 14 was very much about expectation and anticipation. In the weeks running up to the episode ads trumpeted "Laura Palmer's killer - revealed!" In a scene that is simultaneously one of the most compelling and one of the most disturbing moments ever seen on scripted network TV, the killer is indeed revealed.

To us. The viewers.

Within the universe of the show, though, there is just the expectation of something happening - series lead Dale Cooper is even told as much at one point ("It is happening ... again.") What, where, and when are never revealed to those within the story, at least not yet.

I'm in a similar place. Something is about to happen. Not sure what. Not sure when. It's been slowly unfolding, just like the plot of Twin Peaks. The players are taking their places.

There are owls in the Roadhouse.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Most of this post was written yesterday. Problems with blogger prevented it from actually getting posted then. So like the Coca Cola 600 (which was rained out) we try again today.

I registered a domain for myself: I have been watching a poker tournament sponsored by domain registrar godaddy every Sunday the past few weeks, and I guess having Danica Patrick on my TV each week telling me I should register a domain finally got to me.

Yes ma'am :).

Speaking of Danica (Indy car driver and one of the most well-known ladies in ANY sport):

As I write this the Indy 500 has just ended and the Coca Cola 600 hasn't quite started. I'm taking advantage of the gap to do a little blogging here. After all, a man cannot live on motorsports alone. Although I sure feel like I'm trying that today.

Relevant results:

Danica Patrick - 3
Sarah Fisher - 17
Milka Duno - 20

Although I don't really follow oppen wheel racing, those were the 3 drivers I was supporting in this race.

Yesterday the grocery delivery guy asked me if I had plans for this weekend (since it is a holiday) and I told him my only solid plans involved spending most of today (Sunday) watching racing. "Oh", he said, "do you have a favorite driver?"

I answered with an explanation of why I'm without a real NASCAR fave right now, but I do like Burton (Jeff), Busch (Kyle), and Stewart. I only mention the first name of the first two because there are other drivers with those last names.

If he had asked about Indy it would have felt natural to refer to Danica, Sarah, and Milka. I never would have called the 3 NASCAR drivers Jeff, Kyle, and Tony, though.

A similar use of first and last names struck me during the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries. The two front runners were Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. In campaigns Clinton called herself 'Hillary' and Obama called himself 'Obama'. Both uses seem natural.

Why the difference? Using a woman's first name in a high-profile situation feels natural, but using a man's first name alone just seems ... weird.

Although that is exactly what many major news outlets did, discussing the contest between 'Hillary' and 'Barack'. Going for paralellism I guess.

Seemed strange to hear. I don't have any insight as to why, just something that I noticed.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


We're having the hottest weather yet for summer '09 here in the Twin Cities. And, like every year, it has seriously impaired me. I've missed two days of work because of it.

I'm not very happy right now.

Monday, May 18, 2009


This is the story of Phil and how it all ended.

Phil died.

Well, not really. There is no Phil. Phil is a metaphor. I knew a Phil once, but there is no connection.

Why Phil? Little wordgame there, purely to amuse myself.

Phil and I knew each other a very long time. I fact, I knew Phil longer than any other person in the world did.

Not that our relationship was picture perfect. In fact there were times that I flat out despised Phil. Especially the fact that while I was spending all my time with Phil other folks who knew him got to spend at least some time away from him. Then he died. We all got time away from him.

What's a death without a funeral?

So the big sendoff happened. It wasn't so big, but it happened. Only I wasn't asked to say anything. Not even invited. Not that I got upset with those who were, but ... I spent more time with Phil than any other person - but wasn't qualified to speak.

Which stung quite a bit. Why the hell had I been straight up ABANDONED with Phil if I wasn't good enough? I had sort of rationalized the time I spent with him as a tacit endorsement of my ability. Apparently I was fooling myself. I was just dumb enough to let him be dumped on me.

All this happened some time ago. Still smarts though, but I'm just realizing the extent of it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Time, they tell me, is a precious commodity.

Well, other peoples I guess. Because mine is apparently worth as much as a heap of dung. If I could figure out a way to quit my job and live in a cardboard box (see I'd find it easier to maintain, and judging from the derision heaped on me for **gasp** owning things it's about what I am allowed) I'd almost have to. My job and non-work life cut terribly into the amount of time I have to make phone calls and fill out forms. These things being the expected whole of my existence.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


'Twofer' because I'm posting what would be TWO posts at once here. Or at least they would be teo if I actually was keeping up with my blog. They have a common theme though, so no harm done. Right? :)


This post has been bouncing around my brain for awhile now but I'm just getting around to it. I've recently taken on writing the questions for my teams monthly learning survey at work, so I have multiple choice type questions on my mind. A few weeks ago I was shopping at a local grocery store and had to make a quick bathroom stop. The bathroom door had 3 icon lined up in a row: The first was a pants-wearing human figure. Aah, that would be male then. The second was similar but wearing a skirt. Female then. We've pretty much covered the options (ignoring transgendered folks. Not anything I have much familiarity with ...) But there was a third icon.


It was a figure in a wheelchair. So am I A (yep, seem to meet those requirements) or C (meet those too)? Can I pick TWO answers?

Yes, I know the door designer just was trying to let people know the bathroom had the little things that some folks need to use the facilities for the intended purpose - things like grab bars so you can actually position yourself on the toilet. Seeing the symbols lined up in a single row like that though ...


There is a book called "Black Like Me" that details a very interesting experiment. The author, a Caucasian, went about his daily business in makeup so he appeared Black. He wanted to see if and how he was treated differently than when going through life white. He got a book out of it, but I'm not going to summarize it here. I've been using a wheelchair in public for a few weeks now, which is turning out to be a similar experiment. Two things that really stand out:

1) Some folks see using a chair as a de facto request for assistance.

I'm thinking of an incident last week. I was sitting in my chair at the front enterance to my apartment building waiting for my bus when this guy comes up to me and asks if I'm OK.

Uh, yeah. I didn't say it out loud, but I'm not sure what part of sitting on the front step listening to music on headphones constitutes my possibly having trouble of some kind. Uncomfortable situation. I didn't want to snub the guy. Just said 'I'm fine. Thanks.' and shrugged to myself.

2) Excuse the language (I usually call women just that - women), but the second point that springs to mind as: chicks dig them.

I'm no stranger to inspiring the motherly nurturing side of the fairer sex, but even still the attention I get from women when I'm using my chair is surprising. I figure if I was in the park sitting in my chair with a puppy on a leash and baby on my knee I'd be overwhelmed with attention. And that isn't a bad thing. But it would be nice if some of that translated into something BEYOND just being nice to a guy in a chair.

Because you know, that pants-wearing icon on the bathroom door still applies to me regardless of what I use to help me get around.

Friday, April 24, 2009


I'm looking for a new apartment. It's turning out to be a bit of a pain to haul my wheelchair up and down the stairs. Not as much of a pain as NOT having the chair, but still a pain.

Often I'm asked why I didn't move a long time ago. After all, there are apartments specifically designed for accessability (and more popping up all the time). Many have requirements like this one, which is copied verbatim from the web site of one such complex here in the Twin Cities:

To qualify for one of the units, your household income must be 50 percent or less of the area median income (AMI) of Hennepin County.

I've seen more liberal income limitations, up to 70% of the AMI!

That's closer to the average, but still below it.

Keeping in mind that I have some degree of pride and have indeed held full time, REGULAR (not 'social program to enhance your self esteem' type) jobs pretty much continuously since 1992, WHY IN GOD'S NAME WOULD I WANT TO ***COMMIT*** TO A ***BELOW-AVERAGE *** INCOME?

Not every accessable apartment requires a pledge of poverty, though. Some only ask that one be disabled (guilty!) or a senior citizen (I'm not even close). But I'm not really ready to be put out to pasture yet, so ...

And there is that elusive beast, the accessable apartment that is obtainable without what are quite frankly disturbing conditions attached. To be honest I am often just too worn out/stressed to put too much into searching. Or maybe the folks that apparently believe I just don't get enough pressure on matters like this are correct and I just need to be told to try real hard and put 110% of my energy into begging for handouts ...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Took the chair home Monday. Overall an OK experience, but I don't think I'll be doing it again after this experiment. Just too akward getting it from the front door to my apartment. Plus I never realized how hilly it is around where I live. Somehow it manages to be mostly uphill both ways. Not that downhill is a piece of cake.

Aside from the hills and the stairs, though, the experience had a lot to recommend it. I've said it before but this time I'm speaking from first hand experience - the phrase 'wheelchair bound' is nonsensical and not fit for intellegent conversation. Because I was using a wheelchair I was able to cross a busy street - a few, actually - without incident. I haven't done that in years. How exactly does this constitute being 'bound'? Without the chair it did not happen.

I tipped once and (in a seperate incident) ruined one of my favorite shirts. A trip that took 2 hours on foot (when that was an option) took 6. I'm actually missing work today because I only managed to sleep a little after I got back. Too adrenalated but at the same time over tired.

Sometimes ya just gotta learn by doing, though. And it felt good to in a way blow a raspberry to everybody who would have me live like some sort of invalid.


Saturday, April 11, 2009


I've been using my wheelchair at work for a week now, and for the most part I really like it. Doors which open away from me still give me trouble, but I otherwise caught on pretty quickly. Monday I'm trying bringing it home with me. Not sure exactly how well that will work out - I'll have to lug it up the stairs - but it seems like it will be manageable.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


I bought a wheelchair to use at work.

I purchased it mail order, so I don't actually have it yet. It should arrive mid-week or early next. I'm having it delivered directly to my workplace. Ordinarily work frowns upon getting stuff delivered there but I've slready gotten the OK (and really they were overjoyed that I asked, but more on that later).

The model is an IVC 9000 XT. I pretty much stuck with standard features. The major customization is the frame color - Electric Purple. I'm pretty sure I got the seat size mostly correct, but I guess I'll find out. Seat size is important because too small and the chair is uncomfortable; too large and the chair is difficult to operate.

Why? Well, a few reasons actually. First, it is a major hassle to keep my break schedule when it takes 20+ minutes to use the bathroom (most of that time spent walking there and back). Second, I was beginning to feel that my mobility issues were preventing me from being as successful at work as I want to be. No one was holding me back maliciously or anything, I just feel the easier it is for me to take advantage of oportunities the more opportunity I'll have. Just one of those things.

Third, I think this'll be fun. That's one reason I picked an electric purple frame. Bit more festive than chrome or black. A big factor in choosing the company I did to order from was the customizable frame color options.

Fourth, they are pretty insistant at work that I deal better with my mobility issues than I have been. Partly this is paranoia (I can be a little bit of a liability issue :) ), partly genuine concern that I could overextend myself and get hurt. Strangely enough, the very morning I asked my boss if I could have the chair delivered to work he pulled me aside to voice such concerns. I beat him to the punch though and told him of my plans first. Kind of invalidated most of what he intended to say, but I think he was happy that he didn't need to convince me of anything I had already decided for myself.

That last bit is really important: decided for myself. No one is putting me in a chair. The decision - the entire process - was mine.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

You got feces in my peanut butter!

In an average 3 day period I get 10-20 emails. The past 2-3 weeks I've been getting easily 5X that (probably an even larger difference). The reason? I get notifications of product recalls emailed to me by the FDA. The recalls caused by Peanut Corporation of America's shipping salmonella tainted product make up the increase. The old Reese's Peanut Butter Cup ads spring to mind ....

Hey! You got your feces in my peanut butter!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Twin Peaks


Watch Twin Peaks online for only the cost of watching a few commercials:

I have these on VHS, but still ... how cool is this? Supposed to work OK on Linux boxes, so ...

Episode 207: Lonely Souls contains my favorite 5-10 minutes of television EVER! Starting with the record player ... to "It is happening again".

Sunday, February 8, 2009


I just wrote a longish post about the (temporarily, hopefully permanently averted) strike at my work and the joy of having an income that is merely low rather than really low. Blogger ate it.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Not Fade Away

Charles Hardin Holley September 7 1936-February 3 1959

Monday, January 26, 2009

Who woulda thunk it?

Who woulda thunk it?

If you had asked me 11 years ago how my health would be today, I would not have guessed MS would be in my future.

If you had asked me 5 years ago to describe what work I would be doing, I certainly would not have guessed internal application support for a well known telecom.

If you had asked me 6 months ago to describe the woman I'd be most interested in today, I would not have guessed she would be a blonde.

If you had asked me two weeks ago if/when I'd be starting physical therapy, I'd never have guessed Wednesday.

All these things are true though.

Who woulda thunk it?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Today is inauguration day here in the U.S. We've officially had a new president for ... oh, about 5 hours as I type this.

I'm not unhappy to see the old one go. But have to take a 'wait-and-see' attitude with Obama. His words sound good to me, but some decisions he has made so far are not quite so encouraging ...

Looking at 3 personally important issues:

Obama's choice for Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is uncomfortably close (for me) to the 'Big Ag' industry. But who knows - remember, wait and see.

On specifically animal related issues I haven't seen anything particularly encouraging, but neither anything discouraging. Again - wait and see.

The last is on the other hand at least a little discouraging. The Inaugural activities have been routinely criticised for the minimal attention given to accessability. The attitude of organizers - disabled folks can stay home and watch it on TV. Granted, these are the event organizers, not Obama himself, but still ... One would expect events with inclusion as a theme to be more, you know, inclusive.

One interesting tidbit about accessability: outgoing VP Dick Cheney hurt his back while moving items in to his new house. He will be using a wheelchair fot at least the next few days.

I wonder: will they expect him to stay home and watch TV?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Food Aid to Africa

Here's a link someone might find useful : A perspective on food aid from a correspondent actually on the ground in Africa.