Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lhermitte's Sign

I spoke at length to my neurologist about the odd sensation of my bending my head forward that I wrote about in this post. and feeling numbness go does my spine and the resulting spasticity in my legs and how that not being my head forward makes the spasticity almost entirely go away.

Apparently it has a name: Lhermitte's Sign named after a French guy who wrote about the phenomena. While it's nice that other people experience it (1/3 of people with MS feel it.) There's not a lot known about what causes it. Turns out my theory about the lesion in my neck causing it may not be that far off at all. My Dr. explained that the spine is very mobile and it could easily be running over the lesion when my head bends forward.



Oh and that 4th symptom that I occasionally deal with (but very rarely now) that I couldn't think of when I wrote the original post is: fatigue. I'll edit the post.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Better Way Down the Mountain

As I've written about before I've been struggling with finding a safe way to descend our scree stewn, ball bearing like fireroads that we have in the Bay Area. I was seriously considering carrying a scooter up and riding it down but that would likely get me in trouble on the No Bike trails. Kahtoola, who is a very innovative winter sports company and who has solved the problem of how to fit crampons on flexible shoes, has done it again and my hiking life is now so much easier.

The answer is the MICROSpikes which are a pair of small spikes that fit over your shoes and are made for walking on ice, dirt, and even concrete.

I went back to the Rose Peak area where I struggled so much to get down the hills that I had cheerfully bounded up. This is the very same hike where I injured my foot and it stayed swollen for a month and a half, due to some previously undiagnosed bone spurs in my right foot.

The steepest part of the climb is from the sign in sheet to the top of Rocky Ridge (basically the first part of the climb.) I got up there and had a great time doing so as I brought my heart rate monitor and noticed that I was able to climb at a faster heart rate that I was able to before.

Then I got to the top and put the spikes on the Keens I was wearing. What a miracle. They were perfect. I could walk down the hill like a normal person. I felt confident and moved at a steady rate. The only downside is that after a period of time your feet will become aware of the spike bases pushing into the sole, but it's tolerable for 30 minutes or so and probably much more tolerable with a stiffer sole than the Keens.

My hiking life is back now.

Muddy Spike

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Yoga Balance Poses

I was looking for a reference for some of the yoga standing/balance poses
that I've having trouble with in Body Flow. I love what I come across while searching.

This is an excellent demo of advanced Ashtanga yoga shot in India, though the person demoing is anglo:
I can only hope to be half as strong as he is. He can go from Downward Dog lift himself up by his arms only, guide his feet forward through his arms and wind up in a sitting position. I didn't do a good job of describing that so it's best just to watch the video.

This one is more for us ordinary mortals:

But back to balance poses.
This is close, but not the poses I saw in class:

This one is more like it and I like the quote that you have to maintain a sense of humor about balance poses (you sure do :)

The pdf that is on the page is excellent.

Friday, November 16, 2007

So You Don't "Have Time"?

My revenge for people having loud cell phone conversations around me is to write about them.

While this one was not nearly as good as a caller to Air America (or was it KFOG?) describing an overheard cell phone conversation about going to the bathroom while in the bathroom, it first set my teeth on edge and then amused me.

This is most likely because I've heard it before and I'm only now just realizing how silly it is.

This woman was standing in a parking lot beside her car (of course not in the car) narrating a conversation she had with someone else where she was saying very distinctly, measured, and loudly "Look. I. Don't. Have. Tiiiiii-me. [to deal with what ever it was]" which was apparently code for "I don't like your answer, do it my way instead." She repeated this a few times in the space of time that I walked across the parking lot. I was really hoping that she would still be there talking about her precious time when I got back but sadly she wasn't (bummer).

I just love it when a phrase just has to mean something else than what it actually means. She apparently doesn't have time, but she has plenty of time to complain about it to someone else while standing in the middle of a parking lot. I suppose I should be grateful that she's not driving or in the store, but still. I've seen that used to mean "I don't want to spend time dealing with you and your issues."

I think it struck a chord with me as my mother used to use this or was it a southern family member? It's funny what a habit complaining about not having enough time can be. My father complained about it recently and I looked right at him and said "You're retired, what do you mean you don't have time?" I don't remember his answer. I'm sure there was harumfing in it

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Container Ship Crash - Lost in Translation

The investigation is no where near over but it sounds like there was a serious translation mishap on the bridge of the Cosco Buscan (the ship) when a critical piece of equipment failed. According to this Chronicle article:

"The pilot had to go along with what the master indicated on the electronic chart display was the center of the span," Meadows said. "That turned out to be the tower instead."

When the radar failed, the pilot (experienced local SF bay pilot), switched to an electronic chart, and because he wasn't familiar with their system (apparently they're all different - not a surprise), he asked the Captain to point out where the center of the bridge span was on the radar so he could place it in the center of the display and in turn have the ship head in that direction. It's starting to sound like the Captain misunderstood and pointed directly at the tower instead. Oh ouch. This is why we have local pilots, but if the primary equipment fails then "Houston we have a problem."

I'm wondering if there should be a way to standardize the equipment on the container ships or insist that if the primary equipment fails that the ship has to stop (tough for a huge ship) and let tugs do the steering instead. But what do I know about large ships? I only know how to sail and the basic "rules of the [water] road" and I live here on the bay, so I'm just a bystander in all this.

But these lost in translation issues are bound to happen with international commerce coming to town in really large ships. It's a wonder it doesn't happen more often. So we need to plan for a faster way to deal with it or prevent it as it's a nasty surprise for a migrating sea bird. Sort of way outside their experience.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Amazing Race 12

I'm a huge fan of The Amazing Race, to the point I've been pestering Terri about auditioning, but she keeps firmly telling me no. (Stressing in airports is not her idea of a good time and things are very whirlwind. I keep saying: why not have a world sampler tour on CBS's dime?)

Anyway, the one thing that has been missing in all these episodes are two women who are partners and they fixed that this season with Kate and Pat: lesbian Episcopal Ministers who live in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (http://alpha.cbs.com/primetime/amazing_race12/bio/kate_pat.shtml)

They sadly only lasted two episodes as they weren't very fast, but they were truly a class act, folks just loved them (Example: http://forums.televisionwithoutpity.com/index.php?showtopic=3161628&st=15) and Kate in particular is really quoteable:
The Amazing Race is a love letter to the planet.
(paraphrase) We are religious people, but we also know that God doesn't care about The Amazing Race (or how we do in it.)

I was so thrilled to hear the second one as every time some wacko Xian racer invokes the name of God to help them in the race I'm yelling back "Hello? God doesn't give a flying fuck about your race or how you do in it." (I'm not a Xian, but I used to be and I've studied religion pretty seriously for a while in the past - need to blog about that sometime)
She also wasn't afraid to tell it like it is as when they missed the bus she said "We're screwed." Personally, I find that really refreshing. And you could see them whincing about how poorly Ron was treating his daughter. You could tell they really wanted to pull daughter Christina aside to check if she was ok (wonder if they did.)

Anyway, thanks Kate and Pat for representing queer clergy so well. Mission accomplished. And you both seemed to have enjoyed yourselves as well.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Sue Nott and Karen McNeil on Mt. Foraker - so what happened?

Unsolved mysteries bug me. Unsolved mysteries of what happened to two of the most accomplished female mountaineers in the world just drives me around the bend.

A year and a half ago, Sue Nott and Karen McNeil were attempting a climb of Mt Foraker's Infinite Spur route, Foraker is right near Denali in Alaska. Due to being located very North, the mountains in Alaska are formidable. Their position on the planet makes their effective altitude much higher that their actual elevation (need to find a good reference for that). Mt Foraker may only be 17,000', but it's one seriously tough mountain and the route that they were on is one of the most difficult. However Nott and McNeil are excellent mountaineers and excel at difficult climbs.

They never came back from Foraker, and while some evidence was found (a dropped backpack) they were never found and what actually happened to them is well, a mystery.

I've keep a Google Alert on "Sue Nott Foraker" ever since then hoping to hear more (how funny, this blog entry will show up there). Here's the latest which is an excellent recap of the Park Service's report: http://dailycamera.com/news/2007/nov/07/examining-the-evidence-of-disaster/

There is some new speculation. The lost pack was probably dropped as there's no blood on it. They are convinced that they saw foot tracks much higher on the summit, but saw no such foot prints on the decent. Well informed conjecture is that they dropped the pack by accident at 11,500', aborted the climb, but instead of descending they decided to go up and then down a much easier route, but died in the attempt and are likely in a snow cave near the summit.

Ok that's more answers than I had before but I still want to go find them even if it was to leave them in peace. I wish ground penetrating radar was more portable. I'm sure the families would likely want their bodies to remain there as it's probably what Nott and Foraker would have chosen (that's pure speculation as I've met neither of them). But honestly what happened? Finding their bodies and what they left behind (especially any notes or photos) what they lacked and what they had plenty of, would answer a lot of questions.

But listen to me "talk." I may be in excellent shape but I've never climbed any real mountain in Alaska (though I have spent a week on the Ruth Glacier there in a mountaineering course. I also tend to get altitude sick easy though if I spend enough time at altitude I'm usually ok. Also as they inadvertently demonstrated, Foraker is a really dangerous mountain. I suppose you could go up an easier way but then you have to descend some of the Infinite Spur route and then where do you start looking? I'm sure the Forest Service has some idea, but I doubt they would support such a thing that someone who has never climbed an Alaska mountain would propose.

If I were serious about it I probably should talk to Eric Simmonson head of International Mountain Guides and author of Detectives on Everest who is trying to answer the same questions about what happened to Irvine and Mallory.

I think one way to show (and to see if) I was at all serious about such an endeavor is to go on one of IMGs Rainier Climbs and see how that goes. Eric would likely not be there, but would probably be within contact and they and I could see how well I do. They have a ton of Rainier Climbs scheduled and I was thinking of doing one of those after ski season any way.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Hello? Water Boarding is Torture

I'm just amazed at the debate about whether Water Boarding is torture.
John McCain (a republican) certainly says it is and he was tortured by the Japanese during WWII (I heard it on the radio but I'm sure there are a ton of references on it.)

I've never been water boarded but I have had the experience of having an ocean wave go shooting up my nose, aspirating just a little of the water. The deep seated primal fear that that evokes is huge. Even though I was fine I had to get out of the water and onto ground for a little while just to reorient. Deliberated placing someone in that position and forcing them to stay there is patently cruel.

When I was in high school we took it as a point of American pride that we didn't torture, that we didn't start wars, that we were the good guys with principals. Ever since WWII that image and ideal has progressively eroded. Starting with Vietnam and Korea and now reaching appallingly new lows with Iraq, it's no wonder that the world hates us.

I can only hope that we can rebuild our tarnished image. When I travel, I don't lie and say I'm Canadian, but if someone asks if I'm an American I say "I'm from San Francisco" which says so much in 4 words about how I really despise what BushCo has done. I think, heck with impeachment, he and his cronies should be tried for war crimes and murder.