Are You Hurt, Or Are You Injured?

Back in the Paleozoic era, I played Pop-Warner football. I remember one game when I got my “bell rung”. The sophisticated first aid of the time was smelling salts and some weird pushing on your diaphragm to get you to breathe again. Executed by “the coach” who had comprehensive medical training which consisted of watching M*A*S*H reruns. It was probably a pretty good concussion (which may explain that strange twitch I still have) since I didn’t remember much after that. What I do remember was coach asking if I was hurt, or injured? I said I didn’t know, so he sat me on the bench for a few plays. He came over and conducted a thorough neurological exam by asking if I felt ready to go back in. I must have said yes, ’cause I played the rest of the game.

pain.jpgTo this day, I’m still not entirely sure which is which. Do you go back in the game if you’re injured or hurt? I know that if there’s no pain, there’s no gain. Also, pain is just weakness leaving the body. So if I have pain someplace, I know it hurts but does it mean I’m injured? No, wait – I’m merely injured not hurt. But what if it ’tis only a flesh wound? I’m so confused.

What I do know is that these days something always hurts. The current inventory is as follows:

  • A shoulder that aches all the time from arthritis and a torn supraspinatus resulting from a mountain bike crash.
  • An acute elbow, epicondyle / tendon strain from the climbing gym.
  • A couple of wicked blisters from a several thousand feet of climbing in poorly fitting boots to get some backcountry turns in fresh powder.
  • An odd pain in the back of my knee that comes and goes. Probably a blood clot.
  • And worst of all… I stabbed the roof of my mouth eating Doritos. Those little bastards are sharp.

Anyone with more a few more brain cells than me would realize that at my age I should probably spend more time at the library rather than pretending father time doesn’t exist. Getting old sucks. I don’t remember having these issues when I was younger. We just went out and did things. No warm up. No stretching. No specialty hot-house yoga classes to focus our inner chi so we can properly concentrate on hydrating with our pomegranate energy drinks. We drank water. Or orange flavored Gatorade if you were lucky. We carried salt tablets when we went backpacking. I’m not sure what I was supposed to do with them, but I brought ’em every trip.

soccerbubbleApparently today kids can get a concussion simply riding their scooters into a strong headwind. It won’t be long before football disappears completely, replaced by hoards of young soccer players – encased head to toe in temperature controlled, memory foam suits and $2,000 cranial protective devices. Each player will be subjected to a 28 point neurological exam by the on-field physician and lawyer before being allowed to go home.

I miss the days of feeling young and invincible. Of not walking my bike around an obstacle but instead thinking, “I bet I could jump that. What could possibly go wrong?” You’re not going to get any extra credit points for meeting your maker with zero scars. Besides, what’s a few concussions here and there? I don’t drool that much. Now, where did I leave my car keys? I’m out of Doritos.bigwheel


Mediocrity And Whatnot

If there’s one thing I excel at, it’s being average. I’m not trying to be self-effacing. It’s true. I “do” a lot of stuff casually but I’m not really good at any one thing. Except eating maybe. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone who can consume bacon like I can. Pork products aside, I just don’t have the drive to master something and that pisses me off. Of course not enough to actually, you know, practice or anything.

It’s not that I don’t want to. I’ve proven that I can be focused and motivated in brief spurts. Recent highlights include:

  • The group weight loss challenge of ’14. Dropped to near high school weight and won the contest. Kept he weight off for approximately 2 days. I’m currently back in the comfortable sweat pants category.
  • There was a brief burst of photography promise. Won critical acclaim from tens of people. Now I only take blurry pictures of the dog with a cell phone.
  • This one time, I wrote a blog post about dogs and cats. Several people laughed. The zenith of my writing career.
  • This one time, I cooked up a really good batch o’ barbecue ribs. That was it. I really like ribs.

Why do I share this you ask? Because all these motivated people on the damn twitter and facebooks are really pissing me off. It’s a non-stop barrage of new year motivational challenges, positive attitudes, and ridiculous encouragement. I’m talking to you Rock with your 3:45am wake up and be the hardest worker in the room attitude. Don’t get me wrong – I like the idea of it. I just don’t like the “doing” part of it.

This onslaught of be all you can be enthusiasm does work. I’ll verbally tell everyone that I’m re-embracingrule number 5 (NSFW) then go off and eat large amounts of cheese. Gym equipment, paleo instruction books, and an embarrassingly large REI dividend check all prove that I’m really good at starting something. It’s the follow through part that lacks.

My point? I don’t remember. Probably due to my ADD, lactose and gluten intolerance. I think I was trying to make a new year resolution without actually, you know, committing to anything. I resolve to keep my resolution from last year (or was it the year before?). To be motivated and get good at least one thing. I’m not sure what that is yet. My ’15 goal is to hear from someone who heard it from their non-gender-role-stereotyped cleaning persons cousin – “that troutdog dude… he’s a damn good <insert verby-noun that is at least more interesting than sudoku puzzle solver>”

Meanwhile I’m going to go organize my camera and sporting equipment. Maybe I’ll be inspired to use some of it. Or not. I think there’s a Walking Dead marathon on TV.

This One Time, At Band Camp…

I like to go on walks. And runs. I’ve been told I have a lot of energy, but seriously what’s the point of getting up in the morning if you’re not going to go at mach 7 all the time? Let’s just say that I like to go… wait, was that a bird? It’s a bird, did you see the bird?? Sorry, what was I saying? Oh yeah, walks.

I have some pretty good humans that take me someplace every day. At least I think it’s every day. They don’t let me wear a watch so time gets a little fuzzy. Was that a squirrel? Sorry, I’m getting ahead. It happens. I’ll start by introducing myself. Don’t be intimidated, but I believe I’m some sort of God. I must be as I have humans that attend to my every wish. Like most deities I have many names, but I usually respond to Bodie.  A.K.A The Bodie Zafa – The Enlightened One. I’m also known as Red, Big Red, The Bodster, Monkey Boy, Dammitbodie, Cutie, Sweetie, Bubba, Bodiedog, and Goodboybodie. I’ve heard there’s some human who skis with the same name, but that’s not me.

Anyway, walks. We do something different all the time. Walks in the neighborhood, in the park, running in the hills. I’m attending a school lately where I’m learning to go through tunnels and climb over things. Pretty fun, but there’s a lot of rules. Gods such as myself shouldn’t have to follow rules in my opinion. My favorite thing to do is go up in the mountains where they let me run wherever I want and chase all kinds of things. I love that. Personally I think we should do that all day, every day, but my humans seem to have some sort of schedule they’re forced to follow. I feel bad for them.

So anyway, this one time we’re going for a walk. We get in the truck – which is a good sign as we’re probably going to the hills someplace. But we’re driving and driving and we’re not in the hills. We stop at this building. I’ve been there before. It’s ok. They poke and prod me a little bit, but everyone seems to like me and I get treats. It’s cool. But this time, my humans leave me. What the hell? So… wait, did you hear that? Did you hear it? Did you hear it?

Where was I? Oh yeah, my balls. Did I mention that I’m really proud of my balls? They’re pretty big for my age and I really like the way they swing when I run. I spend a fair amount of time attending to them. You laugh, but a God like myself needs to spend some quality maintenance time with balls like that. Can’t go outside and have them all frumpy.

So I’m at this place and I suddenly needed to take a nap. It happens. When I woke I thought maybe it was just a bad dream… but no, something was seriously wrong. I felt really loopy and there was a giant piece of plastic around my head. And down there – something was not right. It hurt. It itched. And something seemed… missing.

The Red Dog, keeping his human in place.
The Red Dog, keeping his human in place.

It took days before I felt better. My humans were clearly concerned and I got lots of treats and time on the couch. The worst part is this nagging feeling that something is… different. From time to time I look down at these two bags of skin and feel like something used to be there, but I just can’t place what it was. On the plus side, it does seem to take less time and maintenance to get ready in the morning.

The moral of the story? Wait, was that a bug? I swear a bug flew into that bush. Anyway, you need to stay on top of your game. Keep your head on a swivel. Follow the rules. Love your humans. Enjoy life. Because at any moment… you might go for a walk and wake up missing parts.

Puppy Diaries

Day One

9:48 pm
The puppy has arrived! Oh my god, he’s so cute! Look at his big ‘ole paws as he bounds down the hallway. We’re instantly in love with this little creature.

2:20 am
I was sure he’d have slept a little by now. Oh well, he’s still so cute.

Day Two

11:15 am
Wow, this little guy has crazy amounts of energy.

1:45 pm
Seriously? I take him out and he does his business. Less than two minutes later he poops on the most expensive rug in the house.

3:45 am
Doesn’t this thing ever sleep? No, I don’t want to play fetch.

Day Three

2:00 pm
There are approximately 732 dog toys strewn about the house. 700 of them have squeakers in them. What insane person thought that putting a squeaker in a dog toy was a good idea? Is that some sort of cruel joke?

10:20 pm
Grandmothers hand-crafted statin pillow, handed down from generation to generation is now the favorite chew toy. I’m sure she’d understand.

Day Five

Time unknown – daytime I think
Only slept a few hours in the last week. We’ve run out of Band-aids. The little bastard has razor blades for teeth. Wearing knee-high plastic wading boots to protect the last remaining pair of pant cuffs.

Afternoon
The $300 iComfort dog pillow is a shredded pile of memory foam. We’re out of dog treats and afraid to leave the house for re-supply. Currently feeding the puppy the last of the saltine crackers.

Nighttime
Trying to sleep on the couch. Puppy wanted the bed. For the love of god, make the howling stop.

Day Seven

Puppy became self-aware at 3:28 in the afternoon. This may be my last diary entry. I’m hiding in the closet. Puppy does not like subversive activities. We’re sleeping the garage, visiting the house only to attend to puppies fickle wants and needs.

Shush! I think it heard me. I hear paws on the hardwood. And the squeaker…

A Single Resolution

For this new year, I had resolved to have no resolutions.  (well, starting after that one)  Done.  Move on with 2014.  Now happily enjoying my structure-free new year, I attempted to impress some friends with a smug, Cliff Clavin-like factoid.  After some rumbling and discussion we were forced to consult the device of all knowledge and look it up (smart-phone+search engine of choice+Wikipedia).  My information was wrong.

Boom, mind blown.  How could this be?  It came from what I believed to be a very reputable source.  Shortly afterwards, another statistic on a printed government map and trail sign.  Consult the device of all knowledge… the map was wrong.  How could this be?  My faith in humanity, government, and the fundamentals of science have been shattered.

At that moment I un-resolved my original non-resolution and resolved to have one resolution for 2014.  “QUESTION EVERYTHING”  I was so impressed with my new quote I thought about a line of T-shirts… then discovered I’m not as original as I thought.  Joe Rogan has a TV show by that name.  Some old dead Greek guy (it was either Euripides or Homer Simpson, I’m not sure) said it.  Whatever.  It’s still a good creed to live by for the next year.

What if everything you thought wasn’t true?  Maybe Miley Cyrus didn’t invent twerking?  Perhaps Hillary really hasn’t made up her mind about running?  What if skier packed powder just means we haven’t groomed in a few days?  Maybe the Koch brothers really are hatching a massive conspiracy to take down the government?  What if, gasp, Justin Bieber really is retiring???

The possibilities will shake you to the core if you start thinking about it.  So, the next time you tell me something don’t be offended if I immediately consult the device of all knowledge to confirm.

Taking Pictures

I find myself with some free time these days, so I may as well be productive.  Photography is something I’ve always enjoyed, but never had the time for.  I’ve started a new site specifically for my photo experimentation:

troutdog Photography   http://troutdogPhoto.wordpress.com

Taking a good picture is like my golf game – I’m always surprised when a good shot happens and I usually have no idea how I did it.  I’m looking forward to figuring out what I’m doing and moving past the feeling of being such an amateur.  I don’t know where the photo thing is going… but what the heck, it keeps me off the streets!

On Apologizing. Or Not.

So the other day I had a conversation with a friend about the current ACA mess.  Convinced I was being brilliantly witty, I’d posted something about ‘when is someone going to get fired for this mess?’.  In a nutshell, what this friend had said/asked was – what was the point of firing someone now? What is it going to accomplish?  Now, this friend is ridiculously smart.  I, on the other hand, am never going to be a Jeopardy contestant with the box of rocks I’ve got in my head.  At the time I think the only answer I could come up with was something about carburetors and weather balloons.

Given some time to think about it I still believe people need to be handed their walking papers over this.  Why? Because these Dilbert-like, pointy haired management types with their frightening incompetence are still “managing” this mess.  Why in the world would we let the people who were not competent enough to get it done in the first place keep touching it?

Lets say a new restaurant opens up.  Day one a bunch of customers get sick.  Day two a bunch more customers get sick.  The health department steps in and discovers one of the cooks is pissing in the soup.  The owner says “nobody told me the soup was mostly urine.  I would never have opened had I known this”.  The chef says “if you want to blame someone, blame me.  What’s important now is that we work on eliminating the urine, not playing the blame game”.  The sous chef says “yes, we knew there was a possibility of urine in the soup but I was following orders to open on time”.  Meanwhile the cook with the overactive bladder may or may not still be flavoring the soup.  Jay Carney says this is all because the cook isn’t making a living wage.  Hannity does a three-hour special on liberal bias in the health department.  Jesse Jackson says management is blaming the cook because he’s black (he’s actually from Ecuador).  Wait, I lost my train of thought…

The point is that there’s a pointy-haired management layer in there somewhere that is probably left over from the pre-Blackberry era that needs to go.  Forget politics, why would you want them still there mucking this thing up?  I wholeheartedly agree with the premise of the ACA.  Unfortunately how it came to be and its implementation is so piss-poor it’s hard to fathom.  It’s why those of us with a more libertarian lean have such a distrust of government.  Generally speaking, the government can manage to screw up putting round pegs in round holes – and then spin it such that the other party gave them nothing but square holes therefore we need to rebuild all the pegs to be square.

Oh and the apology?  I was going to say something about the democrats needing to figure out how to spin/apologize to protect the next several rounds of elections… but then I remembered this was the republican party we’re talking about.  Right now they’re somewhat quiet.  I suspect that they’re mostly dumbfounded and speechless that such a gift has been given to them.  Never fear though – they’ll manage to screw it up shortly.  They’ll go off on some social issue tangent that will piss off the exact voting blocks they’ll need next time.

The moral of the story?  I’m not sure.  Community organizing and campaigning are not the same thing as leadership?  The republican party need to fire their marketing and communication people?  We all need more Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber in our lives?  All I know is don’t order the soup at a new restaurant.

On Weight Loss. And Banana Hammocks

So, I recently lost some weight.  Not “oh my god did you have gastric bypass surgery” amounts, but enough that’s its noticeable.  It started after an Easter meal.  Everyone was loosening belts and groaning about how full they were.  This led to the inevitable mutterings of “damn, I’ve got to get in shape/lose a few pounds/get ready for summer”.  Someone joked that they should try to get on that Biggest Loser show.  You can guess what happened next… “hey, why don’t we do one of those biggest loser contests ourselves?!”  Start and end dates are set, entrance fees and weigh-in criteria created, and a winners prize is defined.  A line in the sand is drawn and off we go.

With clothes on, probably nobody would call me fat.  My face gets kinda full and my upper body isn’t quite in proportion with my little toothpick legs.  However, lurking underneath my stylish hipster outfits was a BMI of 27.  Man-boobs drifting towards support-worthy.  A spare tire that actually qualifies as a tire.  I had the consistency of Jell-O or one of those Tempur-Pedic mattresses.  It sorta looks firm, but touch it and it’s surprisingly soft and jiggly.  Are you getting turned on yet?  Never mind, don’t answer that.

Anyway to make a long story short, much of that is gone.  Not completely. There’s still plenty of work to do.  It’s a little disturbing how vain you can get once you start feeling better about yourself.  I don’t leave the house now without just the right pair of skinny jeans, Justin Bieber belt, and enough product in my hair to trap pigeons.  Now that the excess adipose tissue is gone, I’ve discovered that I was born with a shockingly complete lack of muscle tone.  I’ve purchased a Jane Fonda Thighmaster and a ShakeWeight from craigslist and am working on rectifying this genetic injustice.

Completely unrelated to the start of the weight loss contest, I enrolled in a nutrition class.  This, combined with the fact that A) I lost weight, and B) I read the Intranet, makes me extremely qualified to advise you on weight loss strategies.  Here are a few tips from chapter 113 of my upcoming autobiography:

  • Ice cream, pie, soda, and massive piles of steak nachos are not part of any diet.  Sorry to burst your bubble, but there is no magic combination of pills or “toning” exercises that will counteract that number of calories.
  • I ate about 1500 calories a day.  Yes you need to keep track.  Life’s a bitch like that sometimes.
  • There are no “free” days.  It’s simple physics. To lose weight you have to burn more than you take in.  Exceed your calorie target and it will either take you longer to reach your goal or you’ll need to run a marathon to break even.
  • Lots of protein, frightening amounts of steamed vegetables, and saturated fat.
  • Water. Lots of water. Get used to peeing. Often.
  • Exercise. Not just stroll on the treadmill while reading a book “exercise”, but real work.  Like you might barf up a lung levels of work.  Not what you wanted to hear. Sorry ’bout that.
  • Get the ab toning “flex belt” http://www.theflexbelt.com/  It’s a miracle device. Builds abs of steel without working out. Trust me, would I lie?

With an upcoming trip to a Mexican beach, it’s time to go shop for a bathing suit for my newly svelte self.  One last tip guys (apologies to any European friends), unless you’re swimming competitively, a speedo is not ok.  Yo, pasty white British dudes – only about 1% of the male population has the body to legitimately wear a banana hammock. You’re not one of them.  A real man wears jorts.

12 Things Learned In 2012

Year end and beginning is for lists. I think it’s a rule of some sort. And if nothing else, I am a rule follower. Thusly, my list of twelve things learned in 2012 (Please note the cleverness there – 12 for 12. Genius) :

  1.  I love Cheez-Its. They are pure brain food. 3 grams of protein and 140 calories per 30 crackers. That’s better than your average “healthy” yogurt. And it’s a genuine, simulated, baked cheese product. It doesn’t get much better than that. The downside is a certain, uhm, cheese-breath after effect. There’s also the fact that it’s virtually impossible to limit oneself to just the suggested serving size of thirty. Perhaps I should invent a Pez-like dispenser that holds exactly 30. Perfect for travel!
  2. You need to get rid of your clutter. We put all our stuff in storage and lived in a motorhome for half the year. I didn’t think it would be possible to survive without eighteen dress shirts, toolboxes of “leftover” nuts and bolts, fifteen year old Rollerblades, twenty-three baseball hats, and ten pairs of jeans that I “might” fit into again some day. But I did. And I was perfectly happy.
  3. Politicians are evil. Not just some, all. Our elected representatives have quickly replaced lawyers as the most hated people on the planet. To quote myself, “If you think your representative is looking out for your best interest, you’re a tool. Don’t be a tool.” Boy I’m impressed with myself. That needs to be on a t-shirt.
  4. Academically, I can hang with the big dogs. Well, at least with the twenty-somethings. Also, I don’t like art history. Also, I’m really, really good at art history. It’s an internal conflict that will most likely require therapy sometime in my future.
  5. It’s possible for me to get in really good shape. The inverse of this fitness rule is that I can return to a fairly squishy state in a frighteningly rapid amount of time. Clearly the year for me is split into squishy and non-squishy periods. For the love of humanity and my fellow beach goers, let’s hope that next year the non-squishy state coincides with bikini season.
  6. Gravity + bikes + a complete lack of coordination = broken ribs. That hurts. A lot. Let’s not do that again.
  7. This year taught me that I enjoy photography. I also learned that I have no idea whatsoever what I’m doing. All those darn f numbers, shutter speeds, uncooperative swimsuit models, and tricky apertures… being a photography professional is hard work. I may have to fall back on my art history career prospects.
  8. I seem to have an uncomfortable obsession with cows. Looking back at the year I realize I’ve taken multiple pictures of cows, written an ode to cows, and bought a cow. I’m slightly concerned.
  9. I can’t do drama. Not the theatrical, off-broadway kind of drama. I mean Real Housewives, Jerry Springer, Tom Cruise break-up kind of drama. Life is too short to waste effort thinking about or dealing with drama. Unless, of course, we’re talking about Lindsay Lohan’s pending implosion. That train wreck is too entertaining to miss.
  10. I didn’t die when I got a flu shot. I broke down and got my first flu shot this year. When I informed the tech that I’d never had a flu shot in my life she looked shocked and said “Not ever? Seriously?”  She actually had me wait for thirty minutes afterwards to monitor me “just in case”. Made me slightly concerned about what’s really in it if I had to be monitored. Fears of government tracking devices and UN conspiracies are now filling my dreams at night. Sigh… more therapy needed clearly.
  11. People are idiots. The world is filled with a frightening amount of lemmings and sheep. Other than for entertainment value, I have no more tolerance for stupidity (other than my own). And when things go south, those idiots are going to come looking for your stuff. And when you call 911 and there’s nobody available… well good luck with that. If you know me, then you know I’m talking zombie apocalypse. Be prepared.
  12. The big lesson for 2012 – stop waiting and wishing for what you want. Life is short and we’re only here once (sorry Druids and Hindus – it just isn’t going to happen). As the old saying goes – if you get hit by a cement truck tomorrow, have you done, seen, and accomplished what you wanted?

There you go.  An award-winning, incredibly insightful look back at lessons of 2012. Next up, resolutions for 2013. Or not. I may go out and just enjoy the day instead.

20 Years, A Love Story

Twenty years ago we elected Bill Clinton and we saw the Rodney King riots.  Stamps (remember those?) were .29¢ and compact disks became more popular than cassette tapes.  The Silence of the Lambs won the Oscar for best picture and a text-based browser was made available to the public for the first time to try something called the world-wide web.  Johnny Carson hosted his last Tonight Show and Bush and Yeltsin formally declared the end of the cold war.  That was also the year we married.

Twenty years ago today.  Hard to believe that much time has gone by.  I still remember our wedding day like it was yesterday.  Hot soup being served in unstable gourds (what could possibly go wrong?).  Discovering your mom had changed the wedding cake you picked out.  Those crazy makeup guys chasing me around the hallway trying to get me to wear make up.  All the Halloween jokes.  Remembering how beautiful you looked in your dress.  Ordering pizza in our room at 2 am because we never got a chance to eat at the reception.

We were certainly the rebels of the families.  We’ve picked up and moved to three different states (two of ’em twice!).  Two apartments, one townhouse, one rental house (frogs in the bed, oh my!), five purchased houses, and nearly a year in a motor home.  Whew, we’ve traveled!  We’ve had nine different vehicles in that time… and one Volkswagen bus that never quite made it out of the driveway.

We traveled to islands, Europe, Mexico, Canada, and plenty of US states.  We got to see the Olympics in Atlanta (just left the square before the bombing), and Yellowstone by snowmobile.  Countless trips in the motor home.  Lots of skiing, some backpacking, hiking and biking.  An epic meltdown while snowshoeing.  Made it to the top of Mt Whitney and Mt Lassen.  Oh, and you bravely got your scuba certification because you knew I enjoyed diving.

Lots of good times.  Some difficult times too of course.  We’ve been through the loss of family members and friends.  We’ve enjoyed the full life cycle of two crazy, wonderful dogs and mourned their passing.  A few rough patches here and there.  Nobody can hold a grudge like me when a favorite t-shirt is thrown away.  A couple of medical scares that, while they ended being nothing, make you think.

Before we’d met I couldn’t fathom how you could spend that much time with someone.  What the heck would you talk about after twenty years?  It still amazes me that after all these years, there isn’t anyone I’d rather spend my time with.  I look forward to going out to dinner and chatting just as much today as when we met.  I love that we still hold hands when we walk downtown.  The fact that when we first met and ended up spending all night parked in your parents driveway talking, was a sign.  I think we both knew within a few weeks that this was it… and that feeling has never left me.

I love that we’ve never been content to just sit and let life pass us by.  These last few years have been full of change – moving and a new house, and leaving jobs.  The fact that you tolerate, encourage, and trust me to pursue a new career at this age is a commitment to our embracing life together.  I don’t know what the future holds.  What I do know is that it really doesn’t matter as long as we’re together.  Like it or not, you’re stuck with me for the next twenty.

The day I said “I do” was the best decision I ever made and one I’d do again in a heartbeat.  I hope I’ve lived up to my end of the deal. I don’t know how else to phrase it, other than to simply say “I love you now, and forever”.