Saturday, September 29, 2007

Fall Down Go Boom

Sort of. Took my new bike out for a ride and while I was getting ready a little voice (who is usually very wise and it's very risky to ignore it) suggested I wear tights instead of just my bike shorts. Glad I did.

I was riding in Redwood part up Dunn/Graham Trail where in a steep section, I fell over at 1mph and pitched headfirst into a lurking ditch - bike cleats a factor - proximal ditches too.) What was weird is that I had just seen CSI two days before and found myself similarly stuck under something (in my case a bike) having trouble getting out (though I did so eventually). I was glad for the tights as part of what I crashed on had thorns (berry I believe.)

I'm fine except for a cut under my chin that bled and bled all over my white shirt. Fortunately there was someone there to help me put something on the cut. So I was left pondering having to walk into the house with a shirt that looks like there's 1/2 a unit of blood on it on it. I had a towel in the truck so I put that over the bloody part and walked in and the first thing I said to Terri is "First of all I'm fine." She said "Well you look ok." Then I pulled the towel off the shirt. Her jaw dropped while mouthing OMG! To her credit she didn't panic. Oh and the bike is fine and I'm really glad that it's light. :) And it didn't even get a scratch (unlike me).

I was also wearing my heart rate monitor and I've discovered that pushing one's bike uphill is fabulous aerobic exercise and there's no shame in it.

Though I really should replace that helmet now.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Just call it Burma

I'm very happy to relearn new names of countries and places as usually the original name is the name given to it by conquerors and the new name is chosen by those who survived and kicked out their oppressors. However in Myanmar/Burma's case that's not so.

Quote from:

In 1989, the military government officially changed the name of the country to Myanmar. (The U.S. State Department does not recognize the name Myanmar or the military regime that represents it.)
More info on the current protests as of this writing can be found at:

So all in all. Just call it Burma.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bill Clinton - I miss you

I usually don't blog about politics since there are plenty of beyond excellent blogs like the Daily Kos, Alternet's videos, and Rachel Maddow's video blog. But who can resist when Bill Clinton gives such a great interview to CNN that blasts the GOP about how disingenuous they are to attack Move On instead of doing something useful about the war.

My dream presidental ticket has been Obama-Clinton or Clinton-Obama for a while now if I can't have Dennis Kucinich or Barbara Boxer (who's not even running sadly). Hillary is looking pretty unbeatable now, and it occurs to me that voting for Hillary would get Bill too. I like that.

Friends and the gay press are critical of the Clintons for not being gay positive enough, but I'm beginning to think they are just political realists. Not that I like it, but if Hillary is brave enough to go on Ellen and talk about it, I'm really starting to think that if she thought it were politically possible she'd totally support same sex marriage. What makes me think this is that Hillary (and a lot of Dems) wants to get rid of Don't Ask Don't Tell, and that was a policy that was dreamed up as a compromise measure during Bill's presidency. Now that the idea of queers in the military is not such an earth shattering concept, they seem willing to dispense with that artificial construct. This leads me to think that once the nation became a little more used to the fact that we'd like be able to get married as well that the nation (and thus Hillary and congress) may well become more open to it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I Wanna be a Gamer When I Grow Up

My interest in computer games pretty much begins and ends at Myst. Basically beautiful, immersing, puzzle based worlds. First person shooters have nearly no appeal to me. So the release of Halo 3 the new Xbox game makes me notice/envy(?) that attention it gets, but doesn't compel me to run out and get an Xbox.

Well one day my brain combined that with the fact that Seniors (retirement type, not the high school type) usually need all the practice they can get with improving and maintaining their reaction time.

So why not have seniors play video games? They sure play poker and also bridge, even nearly contact bridge if you will, why not? Especially since meds for arthritis are improving. So I can see games like Halo in my future and I must admit it sounds fun.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Another Way to Go Downhill

I was semi-idly thinking that offroad scooters or skates might be a viable if unusual way to get down the slick, ball bearing like fireroads that we often have here particularly on Mt. Diablo and Rose Peak.

I did a quick Google and found that I wasn't the only one thinking along these lines. There are a lot of off beat solutions. While Rollerblade has a discontinued off road skate called the Coyote:

the most interesting looking skate is called Trailskate by Gateskate:

In the scooter realm, there are lots of bike x scooter possibilities listed at:

The coolest one being from Germany and called the Mountain-Scootboard ant only 500 Euros (!):

A really interesting one that really isn't for my purposes, but still fascinating is the Trikke:

and there's also the more bike-like Diggler:

What's interesting to me is that the more skate-like contraptions are still under the radar as far as off road laws go. Can skates be used on a no bikes trail? Fortunately, it's not really an issue as the problem I have is with gravelly fireroads and they usually allow mountain bikes (backside of Diablo, Montara Peak, Mt. Tam) and I intend to be biking most of them. The exception is Rose Peak that only allows bikes at the beginning of the trail and then it's hikers only. In that case, I would carry the skates with me and then use it going on that steep downhill which allows bikes. Or one could just lock the bike to a tree out of the way as someone who climbs up that far is not looking to steal a bike or whatever - I probably should just try that first since I already have the bike.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

My Foot Is Improving with Icing

Hooray - my foot finally appears to be improving, and it's suspiciously happening at the same time as I got more serious about icing it (along with the anti-inflamatories). Doctors and other medical staff often talk about icing an injury or RICE (Rest, Ice, Compession, Elevation) and it's easy to say yeah, yeah, but after more than 2 weeks of this I decided to get more dedicated to it.

Way back in the 80's, my girlfriend at the time was very physcially active and there was an almost macho approach to ice then. It was supposed to be freezing cold, it was supposed to hurt. and it was messy as ice packs weren't very commonly available then. I, of course, hated it.

Now "they" say (guess I should find a reference huh? Just google for: rice therapy (seriously :)) that there is such a thing as too cold. Your skin is not supposed to turn white (hello, that's frostbite), and you should cover your skin with a towel or something (in my foot's case a sock does quite nicely), and in the 90's all these great gel-based ice packs that you can make cold or hot became commonly available.

I really like one gel ice pack that I got for my wrist (pictured) it has a fabric covering and is very comfortable. the label says Elasto-Gel. I've found that I can just velcro it around my socked foot (not pictured you don't need to see my foot :) and elevate it while leaving it on for 15 minutes or so. I've been doing this twice a day and this morning my foot was noticeably better. I should tell Mark my corgi owning physical therapist friend about it, he'll be thrilled.

I should also look up a reference on how ice works. It's not rocket science. The cold causes the blood vessels to contract which reduces the amount of inflammation (over simplification). Inflammation is usually bad because our body is paranoid and treats every injury as if it were an infection and sends in the white blood cell marines, and like real life military get in the way of real progress (healing in this case) if they're not needed.

Now that icing is easy, and not painful or messy there's really no excuse for not doing it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A New Toy

So I did get the Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo mountain bike and oh man is it nice.
I did ride the Tassajara but only got a block before I turned around (I had already ridden the Hoo Koo E Koo). There was no comparison: the handling, the shifting, the braking. The Tassajara was ok, the Hoo Koo E Koo was awesome. It's more than I wanted to spend ($1050 to start) but given that I keep bikes for 20 years and I already have the money especially when I sell the Trek, it should be fine.

I did also buy bar ends and a new seat. Ian who was helping me pointed out that I need a new helmet since mine is a 2001 and they only last about 5 years. I decided that I'd get one from REI when I returned the WRB seat that I got from REI. Ian picked out the seat (a Specialized Women's one) and it's so nice.

This is also ironic as I can't ride much right now since my foot is unhappy, but I'm glad that I did it. It's also a 2008 model Hoo Koo E Koo, so it's not like it's going out of date anytime soon.

I listed the Trek on Craigslist and within 1 1/2 hours heard from 3 people. I don't think any of those inquiries are going to pan out but I can tell that I will sell it this week. I do need to locate some flat pedals for it as the only pedals I have for it are the clipless SPD one's that came on the Fisher (I'm keeping the ones that were on the Trek - well they were on the BikeE).

I so looking forward to riding it (probably at Redwood Regional Park to start with) once my foot has healed. During the test ride, I did ride it up the hill on UCB campus and it was so nice.

How Social Change Really Happens

In a very moving press conference video, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders announced today that he is supporting same-sex marriage, which is a reversal of a previous position.

This is partially (I'd guess mostly) because his daughter is gay.

It occurred to me that sure you can legistlate social change and we should, but when someone has to confront the reality of what their opinions imply, it seems so much more effective. Mayor Sanders (a Republican and I most certainly don't get most Republicans) said it best. He could not look his daughter and her partner in the eye and say that their relationship is not as important as he and his wife's. He was in tears and he clearly has a heart.

Not that this sort of change is fast. My parents and I didn't talk about gay issues for 7 years after I came out to them. I was happy to leave it that way, but it was my Dad that broke the ice. He didn't want this to tear his family apart. Now that's admirable. My father, while not a Republican, was a huge homophobe, so it was a big step for him.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I swear I don't understand OJ

But really now who does? He's like an expert on the precisely wrong way to resolve a problem.

This person that he knows has some sports memorabilia that he alleges belongs to him. The other person disagrees. Sounds like a court case to me, something that he has a lot of experience with. Does he file a civil lawsuit? Oh no, that would be far too pedestrian. Allegedly he and some armed men [or unarmed golf buddies depending on who you ask] break into a Las Vegas hotel room to steal them. And of course they get caught.

Now this is just too weird for words any way you slice it. I mean what is it that motivates him really? Bad publicity? Some say no publicity is bad but I'm not so sure.

And knowing his propensity for getting into trouble, would you accompany him on this caper? We're not talking about a few million dollars here. We're talking about sports memorabilia of questionable value.

OJ could turn his life around and chooses not to. I can't help, but recall Tookie Williams, founder of the Crips, who was recently executed for being convicted of murder. While in prison, Tookie wrote kids books about not joining gangs. What does OJ do? The discrepancy is starting to bug me. Oh that's right OJ was found innocent .

Monday, September 17, 2007

Terri and Spin Class

I got Terri to go with me to spin class on Sunday. She's been putting it off but finally assented. The upshot is that she's looking for something perhaps a little less deliberately over the top as spinning class is. I explained that its very over the top nature is what the appeal is but she clearly isn't as taken with it as I am (too bad since I won't be able to do it for a month or so)

I think Body Pump may be more to her liking.

A New Injury

I appear to have an injury that I've never had before. There's a swelling at the base of my index toe (or between if and the big toe). By base I mean where the ball of the foot it (the first joint). My Dr can't feel it but I can but only when I walk on it. It's like there's a non painful pebble like pressure in there.

Since it's not at all clear what it is I did some internet checking. The closest I can find is something called Turf Toe ( and and it's when the toes are hyperextended up and the ligament at the base of the toe is damaged. This happens particularly on hard surfaces where the person is wearing soft soled shoes (who me?).

For me that implicates both hiking long distance on hard surfaces, and spinning class. In both cases my shoes are softer than what is generally recommended to give my hip a break. Well that appears to be good for my hip but not so good for my feet which have to bear the brundt.

I was hoping that it was just from hiking and that it would go away but that hasn't occurred so I must suspect spinning class with its jumping up and back down in the pedals (great workout but apparently tough on the footsies.) So I need to lay off of spin class (bummer - I love it) for 4 weeks or so and then when I go back I should go back with classic hard soled cycling shoes instead of the mountain bike ones that I love so much.

Oh and keep taking my NSAID Voltaren.

There is a suggestioon that you should get an X-Ray, but if it was fractured it would hurt a LOT more and that's not the case as it really doesn't hurt at all.

I'll have to figure out what Bladium class to do in the mean time. I'm thinking Body Pump and maybe Body Flow. Body Pump is group weight work out which is nice but I have to be careful and work on my form as othereise I'll get hurt

I already have Dr. Grant telling me to buy new hiking shoes. I can come up with about $400-500 worth of shoes that I could use. Cycling shoes, Running Shoes, Hiking Boots, General workout shoes, and on and on. Yeesh.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I'm Getting a Mountain Bike

After discovering Craigslist and selling the recumbent and my electric guitar, I now have a nice chunk of change for a mountain bike. After some research and agonizing I've decided that I want a Fisher hardtail again. I have yet to ride them recently, but their reputation is that they are quick and also excellent climbers. Perfect.

What's funny is that the Hoo Koo E Koo has gone upscale and is just over $1000. The one I should be looking at is that Tassajara which is around $700. So I'm having Mike's bikes bring them both over to their Berkeley store so I can try them out. I'm leaning towards the Hoo Koo E Koo as I tend to hang onto bikes for a long time so the difference in prices, while significant, is not a big factor. Also I've decided to sell the Trek as well and just get a set of street wheels for the moutain boke. I can probably get around $200 for the Trek so I wouldn't be stretching much at all to get the Hoo Koo E Koo. Besides I like the name (tee hee), and the Hoo Koo E Koo is 2008 and the Tassajara is a 2007.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Real Money Poker

So I'm trying to learn real money poker (low stakes) which is a very different animal.

I started with the 5/10 CENTS CAP level but found that when I won I wasn't able to make enough money when I had a good hand so I switched to the No Limit Level

It takes a lot more concentration and it's more like work than a table #329 play money party.

I am able to win a goodly part of the time, but I still make costly mistakes and that's the price of learning. It's actually encouraging that I lose money due to my mistakes as I can work on those. What a great challenging psychological game (though I often call it "stupid game").

Basic early observations are:
  • the No Limit level limits how much money you can initially bring to the table - this level the limit is $10
  • As with many things, money is power in a huge way, as other folks with less can't bust you then and you can put enormous psychological pressure on someone by betting a level that is large for them and not for you.
  • Given money is power, always, always go into the game with the table maximum instead of the suggested amount
  • Always concentrate
  • Don't over focus on your own hand, keep in mind what other possibly higher hands are out there.
  • Pay particular attention to betting style. If someone readily calls a significant raise then watch out. Bluffers usually ponder a moment before betting, the ready raiser has a hand they like
  • Sit at the table long enough to get to know how skilled of a better (and how skilled or timid) is
  • It's usually cheaper to fold rather than lose a lot of money
  • Ready raisers rarely fold - this is great if you know you have the better hand, but can be a huge expensive trap Walk away if necessary
  • Live to play another Hand
Never had so much fun losing money. :)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Discovering Craigslist

I've bought many things on Craigslist but beyond giving away electronic equipment on it, I've never sold anything on it. Since I've been indoor cycling more I've been wanting to get a mountain bike again as I really love climbing hills (on or off road). This realization along with being able to make the upright spinning bike work for me, made me take a long look at the recumbent and decide that it would be happier in a new home as one thing recumbents aren't very good at is climbing since you can't just stand up in the pedals.

So I took photos (really important), made an ad and posted it to Craigslist. I heard from someone with in a few hours and it was sold in a couple of days. Flush with that success, I listed my electric guitar that I've had sitting around all this time. That sold in 12 hours. Wow. This is cool. Now everything doesn't sell that quickly, I've had a wetsuit listed for a couple of days and have only sold the booties, but a wetsuit is more obscure.

What I really like about Craigslist is that you're dealing locally. No shipping unlike eBay. They come to look at it, you agree on a price, they hand you cash and they take it away. I like that.

After much agonizing, I think I should sell the Trek too as it's honestly too large for me (it's a 51mc and I really need a 49cm.) I hesitate as I really love the bike and I like having both a Mtn and a Road Bike as they are so different. Maybe I can compromise by getting a nicer mtn bike and then get a second set of rims and tires for street use.

Now I have the $ for a new mtn bike and of course I don't know which one to get. The Craigslist experience has taught me that I should consider resale value when I buy a bike, so even though the REI house brand Novara is a nice bike, no one has ever heard of it which kills the resale value.

Brand names I like are
Fisher (of course - my old bike was a Fisher)
Canondale (some of them)
Trek (some of them)
Marin (I think)

Maybe I should consider high end used as I can get more bike that way if I can find a 15 or 16" one that fits me.

Wonder if I should subscribe to the current mtn bike magazines. What's annoying is that they tend to review $4000 bikes (oh please) which is way annoying as the manufacturer isn't giving me a bike like they do them. Oh and they consider $1000 entry level (grrrr.)