Sunday, November 28, 2010

What would Jesus Do?

As seen in a Northern NY newspaper on Black Friday, shortly before I blew up my Father in law's Land Rover Discovery:


People, could you please go for a decent light display this Christmas -- I have spent hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to light up my backyard for my family, but when I walk through these neighborhoods I see trashy dollar-store lights and hand-me-down displays. What would Jesus do?

Ironically after seeing this in the paper, I found it online on, not a website I frequent, but one Google found for me. Okay, I initially looked for the wrong paper Malone versus Plattsburgh, but that was an easy mistake since Maria's Mom and Dad get both papers and they are close to equally thin.

I guess I am just not in the holiday spirit yet.

Monday, November 8, 2010


I am now on my second week back at work and it is exhausting and feels wonderful at the same time. I work only around 20 or so hours a week, limited in the time I can spend and the amount I can make by the disability insurance. I am not quite ready to let go of that safety net yet, though I am sure it will come soon enough.

So far I have bid two projects with a full slate for the rest of the month. When I had the stroke, the effects of the recession were just trickling down and work was starting to get more competitive. I saw a few projects from the stimulus, but I have always questioned how much of that money went to general building, it seemed like more went infrastructure. Infrastructure is good but doesn't share the wealth in the same way.

But my timing seem like it is pretty good, there seems to be a lot of work out and more coming out. My first bid was a little school project around Watertown and an old friend Tony P was a bidder. I caught up with him today to find out how we looked and chat. I wasn't low and neither was he, but he gave me the heads up on two other projects coming out. It is a cut-throat business, but you find a lot of good people. It feels good to be back.

Monday, October 25, 2010


After way too long, I head back to work in the glass business on Monday. It is part time for now with the potential to grow if it all works. Needless to say I am breathing a little easier and if you see me today I am a little closer to the ceiling.

To make a long story short, a friend and former co-worker has been talking about his situation for a while when we meet in Wegmans. A trip to a CSI show a couple weeks ago found me meeting a rep I hadn't seen in some time. He mentioned I should call my friend, which was all good, except St. Lawrence was rowing in the Head of the Genesee and we had a houseful coming. So with guests here and races to watch, these two beat me to the punch and Bill got to me first. That was last week and I start next week.

I expect this will exhaust me for a while, which is fine with me. So forgive me, I have been bad at posting for a while, and I may be getting worse. I am excited though and cannot wait to get the highlighters out and get back to work.

Wish me luck...

Monday, September 27, 2010


Today was a fine damp fall Rochester day with the requisite concrete sky and drizzle. But feeling quite out of shape and wishing to forestall a cold I finally got off my butt and went for a good walk. Now I feel twice as out of shape, but while walking around the suburban neighborhood below us I noticed a funny phenomenon.

Passing one house I noticed a man picking up apples from his lawn and putting them to the curb. These were not your crab apple variety, but big red standard apples. And some that were going to the curb looked pretty good and the tree was full of more good looking fruit. A few houses away there was another tree (and lawn) covered with what appeared to be Granny Smith apples.

It just strikes me as funny to have people going out of their way to maintain lawns and ignore food ironically growing on trees. We seem to have misplaced a value or two.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


The glass business, now if I could find an employer. I have mixed feelings about in, yes it did contribute to my stroke. But I love and miss it.

This internet is an amazing tool. I have learned all kinds of things in the last few days. Between that and project management I may be a good employee soon or a maybe a better consultant. So much to learn but so much I have learned. And the industry has changed a lot too. If I keep learning the job may come.

A few emails sent to old friends and contacts has yielded a lot of response. It is pretty cool. I still sleep too late and need to bring my bike back and ride to get in shape. But it will all come together.

Friday, September 24, 2010

I Guess I Miss....

This shit. Searching glass sites and amazed that Oldcastle has bought Moduline windows, Fulton Windows and the rest of the Vistawall group. Wondering how my friend Eldon Pagel made out and may have to call him. Pella had purchased EFCO sometime before my stroke so no suprises there except they do have a unitized wall system. And it offers 4 side silicone glaze, very cool. Traco is now part of Alcoa, Graham has a curtain wall system and just lots of fun news.

Then there is the Arch story, but I see Max Perilstein has landed okay. I wonder about his cousin, only because he treated me to a dinner in Vegas that was worth about a grand a head.

Yes I miss this. And yes I will be back. Its just a matter of time.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

To Rep or Not to Rep....

The past week or so has found me wiped out, though not like before. I recover a little quicker, though the effects of age seem to be catching up too. But today found me sleeping late, getting up to do my project management course and being interrupted.

The first call was a friend about a job I would love, but won't move for. It's located in Jamestown, and I don't have the stamina to commute for weekends and we don't really want to relocate there.

The second call was from a curtain wall fabricator in Canada who's ad I clicked on regarding a sales rep position. And this is while an ad for a project engineer for Gilbane stares at me on Craigslist. So where does one begin?

Well, the Gilbane position sits there, waiting for my resume, while I hem and haw and question whether I want to work for a company like Gilbane and if I am qualified and... And then the guy in charge of developing sales in the states is waiting for my input. But do I want to go into sales? The sales guy who can't talk, though that is in my head, so of.

And there is the status quo, draw the disability check and study project management and hem and haw. It is not so bad either, but it is. Sure this project management shit drives me crazy, partially because it throws how bad a project manager I was right in my face. But I want to learn, even if every third principle ends in the BS. Slogging on and going nuts doing so, our hero faces new challenges which he can decide upon before they have been decided upon for him. I guess it is time to shit or get off the pot, or it's getting closer to time.

Life does have a way of progressing around here though. A week or more ago I took Ned back to Oswego to start classes. Today Maddy started her Junior year, with her mother's car. Meg starts sometime. New books have to be added to the reading list. It is very obsolete. I finished the first Patrick O'Brian book, as opposed to the second I finished last week. I am reading Napoleon on Project Management, by Jerry Manas to keep a sense of humor about this project management. Two books that have been finished I would recommend, sadly with no authors tonight: Holy Water and Model Home, both good funky modern novels.

Tomorrow brings more thought and agonizing. Something will change soon, its back to school time.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Becoming My Father....NOT!!

I am reeling slightly, having finished my first Patrick O'Brian book and enjoying it. Edward S. swore by the merits of O'Brian and loved him. He condemned my brothers and myself for liking the movie version of Master and Commander, telling us it missed so much. Yes, father but Russell Crowe is a mans man and it was a good movie.

Strangely, while visiting the homestead last week I could not find a copy of Master and Commander, O'Brian's first Aubrey/Maturin novel. Yes, there were two or more copies of most others, but no first book. So I read the second, Post Commander. And I liked it of all things. And having enjoyed it I went to the library tonight and found the first but not the third. But it is okay, since there are at least three copies in Barneveld. So with another novel I found I am set for the week for reading material.

That in itself is no small task. Since The Art of Racing in the Rain was suggested, I have been devouring novels, good, bad, ugly and indifferent. I can't say all I have read. At the same time I am going right through a course on Project Management. I have been a project manager for years and often a bad one. Now I realize I am both a bad project manager and I have had been in situations where project management was not done correctly. I say that with tongue in cheek. It is not rationally applied to construction. He who is further up on the food chain wins.

Enough, but I promise not to be so lax in writing. I continue to search for a job though it terrifies me. I need to start riding my bike again and want to start doing Tai Chi. I want my knees to feel better so I can run again. Maybe I am not becoming my father...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


It has been an interesting couple of weeks at best. One day I was just minding my own business and suddenly a head hunter calls and wonders if I would know anyone interested in an estimator position at a local general contractor. Well of course I would... But only after checking legal options and getting all nervous and jerky.

Well three weeks later, I didn't get the position and I am pretty upset and pretty wiped out from the experience. But now the bug is with me. Its a pretty scary thing, this going back to work. I hate being idle, I hate depending on a disability check and I hate getting about 1/3 of my former income. But it's also been steady, been a godsend, and beats the heck out of getting nothing. There are days I feel ready to take on the world, but there are days I also feel wiped out, completely.

A while ago I finally went for a speech evaluation, my speech being the quantifiable area where I still feel affected from the stroke. It is, with out a doubt, getting better, but my vocabulary is not back and still feel it getting labored. It may never return to what it was and Maria is probably one of the only people who would know. I have always been the quiet type.

My speech seems to be fine and they recommended a neuro-psych evaluation. I am fighting Blue Cross for this. (Yes they would like you to get better, but only by normal...aka cheap means, nothing out of the ordinary.)

But nothing can put out this burning desire to go back to work. I want to be an estimator again. That area of my brain where the quantities of materials the go into a building reside did not seem be damaged. It can be glass, timbers, block or brick, steel or drywall. My old neighbor, who will hopefully be a congressman soon, once told me estimating was simple: you just count things. Well maybe not that simple. Well sort of...

While I look and I see no harm in looking, I am taking a course in project management to earn some project management certificate. I have a hard time with letters. I am learning, but going crazy with it. I have in the past been a good and bad project manager. Maybe I can get better.

In the meantime if you know of an estimating position.....

Thursday, August 12, 2010


As Maddy would say. This seems to be the way life is going. Then there is the good Dr. (Hunter S.) Thompson who said "When the going gets tough, the tough get weird." And that seems totally fitting.

And then we saw George Thorogood and the Destroyers with Robert Cray and a Vaughan-less Fabulous Thunderbirds. Okay, not my cup except for Cray who was great.

Time to plug a Furthur disc in and relax....and deal with the random.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Listening to Furthur once again play Pink Floyd's Time tonight or maybe we are well into morning. Thinking a little to much. Things seem to be in a state of flux here, with a lot of unsettling and settling things. I listened to Viola Lee Blues and The Wheel is coming soon. Life progresses and is good.

Maria and I got a tour of Amish farms in northern New York this weekend. Elle took me to Ben Yoder's sawmill and now I know I can build a timber frame. Ben sells pine for about .40 a board foot. We fished for bass on Higley Flow and I again got skunked but I am getting good at driving the boat. I do wish Maria could feel better, but that will come I hope.

There is much happening here. To settle things I again listen to Phil and Bobby and miss Jerry. We only saw one show this summer, but it was one of the best. Maybe again next year. We shall see where we all are.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Shop Cleaning

My brothers and I are gathering in Barneveld this weekend to deal with my father's estate and try to make my mother's life a little simpler. This task could end up with four of us attempting murder of her or each other, but could possibly work itself out and thing could end up settled and my mothers life become easier. Probably not, but it could.

Not having a piece of property to dispose of, a lawyer or accountant to fetch things for or some other noble task, I have set myself to work cleaning the shop. The Hinge Corporation moved into the shop sometime in the early 1970's and was there until we closed the corporation in 1993 or 1994. In it's earlier life it served as a Duofold underwear factory, an ice cream plant and a car dealership and auto repair shop. The last was operated as Haskell's Garage, run by my Uncle Glen's father.

When Glen died in the early 90's I swore I would see him there late at night, when I was cutting flooring for the house I was building. For the last 10 or more years the shop had been my dad's escape. I don't know that he did anything, but he hid there and cut things and had his tools there. When I walked in Friday I hoped I would be able to do a little work there over the weekend but it quickly became apparent that it needed cleaning first. Today I have a much better idea of what tools are there and what works. Most of the coffee cups are gone and a lot of the coffee cans. The first load of empty boxes went to the recycling center and the second is stacked by the door. On the next trip home, hopefully we can load up my Uncle Bill's truck and get some of the full garbage cans out.

A few treasures were found, but more things that were just memories. I found his secret vodka stash and fittingly there were four bottles left. I don't thing a lot of things are important to any one but me. I did work there for 10 or 20 years depending how you count it. I don't know what will happen to the building, I have thought about taking it over, but I don't live there and don't need it. My brother Joe also considers it. At least it will be a little cleaner soon.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dovetails Continued and Tomatoes

Today brought a major change in the weather. While it cooled yesterday following the thunderstorms, today stayed cloudy and cool for most of the day. It was only later in the afternoon when it got quite warm and that wasn't oppressive like the previous weeks. This spring and summer's heat have had one positive effect, the tomatoes are coming early. Okay I bought my plants and they were decent sized when they were planted, but I also planted them in May. Last night we had our first Cherry Tomatoes and they were excellent. I refrained from picking the couple more that were ripening today so there would be more to enjoy tomorrow. It makes losing so much to the deer and rabbits tolerable since they tend to leave the tomatoes alone. They look like they will be coming in waves, so stop by for a salad.

The dovetails improved some yesterday. I took today off to shop for a new chisel and saw. My Ryoba was about dead, but I have been using it to cut small trees. My Home Depot "dovetail saw" never really cut it on hardwood. So bolstered by the success of yesterday I went tool shopping today. I am not one to blame equipment most of the time. New skis and bikes don't help if you can't ski or ride. Or lets say that they will not take you from novice to expert. But, my smallest chisel would not fit in my dovetails. I think I also bought the chisel set for under $10. Not exactly fine woodworking tools. But they for the most part work. My last dovetails failed on sawing the wrong side of one line, not from the saw.

Tools require tuning to keep them working properly. I am getting my head and my tools tuned. I am not sure the head can be saved but most of the tools can.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Following my speech evaluation it was recommended that I organize mock tasks such as parties and events to work on various parts of my brain. After designing countless "mock timber frames", generating the joinery and timber lists (I did stop short of engineering the frames, but tried to draw them with in accepted standards), I grew tired of the futility of it. But, in another effort to stimulate my brain I have decided to teach myself to cut dovetail joinery by hand.

Dovetails are the key joints in fine drawer making, and there are any number of jigs for various machine to recreate them. In my Dad's shop we had a dedicated dovetail machine. Nothing is quite as pretty as the hand cut dovetails you see on Shaker furniture and or in other styles from days gone by. The dovetail locks the joint together when pulled in one direction in addition to being beautiful.

While this exercise doesn't really help my speech (unless you count swearing), it is forcing my executive functions to be stimulated in a big way. First the tablesaw needed some tuning, the chisels needed sharpening, and so on with all of the tools needing to be found and evaluated. I have brought them into usable shape, but they need work.

Yesterday I did try to cut my first joint and it was a disaster, not even coming close to fitting. But it was close enough that I'm challenged. I recently subscribe to a free trial of Fine Woodworking Online, and have since devoured every article and a few video's on dovetails. We will see how today's effort goes.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Maine and an Adirondack Visit

I admit, I put this PC away in a briefcase a week ago, never got it out and did not missed it. I did delete a hundred or so unnecessary emails yesterday on Maria's parents machine but only read two of them. (My brother and the speech therapist). But we arrived home today in sweltering weather, missing both the shore and the mountains. The animals survived with their respective sitters and checkers, presumably Maddy is enjoying her final year of being a counselor in training at camp.

If you don't know someone with a family place right on the ocean, I would highly recommend meeting someone who does. I don't know about the family dynamic where we stayed but I greatly appreciate their generosity. The house was beautiful, the weather was gorgeous and the beach was sandy and the water warm enough to swim in. I managed to devour two books by Garth Stein and have time to get a nice sunburn. We have some new favorite shops for our next trip. But most of all I think we all recharged.

The trip back was a little hairy, running into 4th of July traffic in a big way. Meandering up Grand Isle in Lake Champlain took some of the edge off the day. We finally got to Elle and Wayne's in nearly 10 hours, instead of the six or seven it was supposed to take. The following morning, my bride broke every speed limit getting us from Canton to Mountain View in record time. We had a nice visit with Maria's parents after Maddy was dropped off and headed back to Canton. The Stripp's were putting up hay, 1200 bales and I did join in to carry and hoist a few, causing the soreness in my shoulders today.

I have pictures to go through, books to tell about and many memories to share on this trip. But I will just say it was wonderful.

Monday, June 28, 2010

New Book and Off to Maine

Maria's friends the Brennans called last Thursday and asked if we would join them at Paul's mother in law's beach house in Maine. So early tomorrow we head for Kennebunk to enjoy a few days on the beach. There was a cancellation at the last minute and was going to sit empty. I am pretty thankful I can both do these things and enjoy them this summer, but I pray I won't have time for again soon.

Maddy and her friend Aidein (forgive me Brennans) both had doctor's appointments today so the week started late. I doubt I will be posting much but I will be enjoying the beach and the ocean. I am taking a book my friend Steve recommended, The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein. I have been reading too much non-fiction and I am looking forward to a novel from the dog's perspective.

From there we take Maddy to camp and then home for a few days before going back up north. But in all honesty I would trade it all for a decent job. We will see what last week's speech evaluation brings, hopefully getting me closer to employment.

On another note, Ned starts work today at Camp Northwood where his father worked 30 summers ago. It will be good experience for him and should provide some experience in his career/education path. We had a really fun weekend and he really enjoyed the Furthur show.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Friday night Phil, Bobby and company rolled into town to play in the Highland Park Bowl Amphitheatre. Two years earlier we saw Phil there on a magical July night. He seems to like the place and special things happen. Last night showed just how true that was with a spectacular show.

The entire show was flawless, but two songs deserve special note and they weren't Grateful Dead songs. The first set included a surprise version of "Strawberry Fields Forever" and in the second set they broke into Pink Floyd's "Time".

One aside, Ned came out for the show, catching a ride with my friend Steve. Steve was on his way back from a Phish show in New Jersey and got Ned. Steve fared surprisingly well considering the length of the show and how much beer just kept appearing.

But two of the guys on stage had the most energy. Phil turned 70 in March, and though Bobby has always been the youngster, he is well into his 60's. The day after the show is a recovery day and this was no exception. But not for the ones making the music. Before Jerry Garcia died, I had always wanted to take my children to shows. I got my wish with a band playing as well as the Dead could in the last couple years. It was a special night.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I was on the deck reading aloud, when all of the sudden the deck started shaking and making rubbing noise. My initial reaction was that someone doesn't like my reading aloud and was shaking the deck. Next I heard Maria yelling for me to get inside. A moment later we figured out it was an earthquake.

We since found out that a 5.4 earthquake struck somewhere around Ottawa at 1:43 pm. I have felt a couple but this was the strongest, since our deck is a little shaky. A friend of Maddy's claims it opened a sinkhole in his parent's yard, but that may be stretching things. It was felt from New Hampshire to Michigan

On a positive note I can keep reading on the deck.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

60th Post,

A year later and where do we go now?

When I started this I was full of nervous energy, but at the same time questioning every thing I did. I think the questioning is still there, maybe worse, but I have managed to put 60 entries in an online journal. Someone may even read it I am told. (If you do, drop me an email.)

There have been a few posts I have started and dropped. There was a period being reviewed by neurologists and occupational specialists giving opposing information. The neurologist basically told me that I am where I am with only a hope of slow improvement. The "occupational specialists" only want me off insurance or SSDI (which I have been denied) and won't help me look for anything. There is one exception to that, one them recommended speech therapy, which the insurance company is paying for, but I wonder about the motives for that. I admittedly have to much time to think about these things. On Thursday, I get a speech evaluation.

The stroke has left me with a lot of legitimate little problems. The drugs to treat the blood pressure and cholesterol also cause a few. The general fatigue is getting better, but the speech is still taking time. Reading aloud may be helping and I do it regularly. In a day or so I should be done with Let My People Go Surfing, read completely aloud. Am I just as tongue tied reading as when I started it two weeks ago? Yes, I think. I don't notice the little improvements, though they do happen. Probably the best thing I could do is engage more people in conversation. But adding stress to the conversation seems to halt me. I wonder if that is the stroke or just me. It all ties in together.

Wish me luck in the coming year. I hope to go back to work again, maybe in glass or some other part of construction. If not, the boredom may do as much damage as the stroke.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Year Ago Today

I got up around 5:30 or 6 and took a shower. I remember moving slowly and everything I did was labored. I got dressed but sat down on the bed, I think and then may have crawled back in the bed. Somewhere along the line I got Maria to take me the doctor I had never met. Yesterday when I put on my shorts I missed a belt loop, which I apparently I did that morning.

The doctor couldn't see me until 10, since at that point I still believed it was Bell's Palsey or something minor. It never crossed my mind it was a stroke, though I think Maria knew. On the second trip they took my blood pressure, which was off the charts, looked me over and sent me to the hospital.

In triage Nurse Cratchet laughed about the Bell Palsey and a short time later I was on my way for a CT scan, Honestly the day got fuzzy from there and I can't say I remember much about the day or the rest of my hospital stay. The MRI reminded me of Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, but I can't say I've listened to much of it or why. The whole thing was surreal.

A year later I am coming along. I am much stronger, don't need as much sleep and am active. My speech is getting a little better. I would not wish a stroke on anyone but they happen. Hopefully I will overcome the fatigue and the speech problems soon. Hopefully in another year I will be working and feeling better. I don't think I will have another stroke.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

One Year

June 20th crept in while I was searching Amazon for something I may well have needed, I admit to ordering a couple things. I don't think I will look at Father's Day again in the same light. I have made it a year since the stroke, providing I make it through tomorrow. You are most likely to have another in the first year, but that is qualified with if you don't change your lifestyle. Mine was changed for me.

Maria's sister Elle, brother in law Wayne and nephew Francis were down for a concert this week. We saw Procul Harum and Jethro Tull at CMAC and anything I say won't do the concert justice. Both were good but had flaws, but both have been playing a while. On the same note we see Bobby and Phil and FURTHER this coming week. We love our old rockers.

But I digress, Elle and Wayne both smoke, not as much as I did. When they come down I realize how much I miss it. I am now on 1 year and 11 weeks, since I was at 11 weeks when I had the stroke. I don't look for a cause anymore, there were a lot of causes. It was my third stroke after all. I still have a few beers, but not like I did and I take my meds. I exercise more and am physically more active.

I had no intention of being up now so will post more tomorrow. It has been one hell of a year. Thank you Maria for putting up with me.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


From Thomas Friedman in today's New York Times op-ed:
“I’d like to join in on the blame game that has come to define our national approach to the ongoing environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. This isn’t BP’s or Transocean’s fault. It’s not the government’s fault. It’s my fault. I’m the one to blame and I’m sorry. It’s my fault because I haven’t digested the world’s in-your-face hints that maybe I ought to think about the future and change the unsustainable way I live my life. If the geopolitical, economic, and technological shifts of the 1990s didn’t do it; if the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 didn’t do it; if the current economic crisis didn’t do it; perhaps this oil spill will be the catalyst for me, as a citizen, to wean myself off of my petroleum-based lifestyle. ‘Citizen’ is the key word. It’s what we do as individuals that count. For those on the left, government regulation will not solve this problem. Government’s role should be to create an environment of opportunity that taps into the innovation and entrepreneurialism that define us as Americans. For those on the right, if you want less government and taxes, then decide what you’ll give up and what you’ll contribute. Here’s the bottom line: If we want to end our oil addiction, we, as citizens, need to pony up: bike to work, plant a garden, do something. So again, the oil spill is my fault. I’m sorry. I haven’t done my part. Now I have to convince my wife to give up her S.U.V. Mark Mykleby.”

The entire column can be read here: http://http//

It hits home as the oil continues to flow. I wish I had written the letter and I guess it is time to spend more time on the bike. Sure I can, but I think we all can. Companies are in the permitting process to drill the Marcellus Shale natural gas deposits around here. Is it worth it? As citizens we should be doing more and better.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Saturday Morning

And tennis and farmers market and 8 1/2 miles on the bike. I wondered why I was so hot when I got home until I looked at the thermometer. It had gone from 63 to 82 while I was out. Thankfully Maria met me at the farmers market and carried stuff and my sweater and my tennis racket home.

I ran into Keith, a friend from the timber frame company there at what is affectionate know as Mr. Maple Guy's booth. It was a good morning. Now to the shower.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Reading Aloud

Is working well enough that I am exhausted. And this is not a bad thing. I have done this for roughly an hour or more for two days and it is wiping me out, but I can already feel little improvements. Well, sort of...

It is worth a shot, since even a speech evaluation is prohibitively expensive, let alone therapy. Sadly, medicine is inflated to a point where it is unaffordable and then discounted for insurance companies. Blame it on drug companies, malpractice suits, equipment or just plain profit seeking, everyone is loosing on this deal. I seriously doubt the doctors are getting rich, although some may be. Some of us get rich and others don't with anything you do, so I don't give that much stock. The drug companies post big profits, but they do have pretty high expenses with only a small portion of the drugs they start testing ever getting approval.

The insurance companies could be the evil ones and probably are, but they have layers and layers of people needed just to create the havoc needed to approve and deny claims. (I recently had two claims denied for non-payment of premium, when services were provided before the premium was due. When other claims had been denied I called a number I wasn't supposed to have and got a claims representative who wasn't supposed to speak to me and told me that I couldn't do anything about the denied claims, the doctor's billing office could only do that.)

I don't know how the Obama health care bill will affect all of this, but I think it is fair to say that what ever it started out as has been sufficiently diluted. I hope I am wrong. I haven't heard much about it lately. I would suggest we throw it all out though and start from scratch. As a young college student, I was part of a tongue in cheek group called "Nihilists for a Better America," closely allied with "Anarchists for Stronger Government". Sometimes you have to call it quits and just begin fresh.

In all this I am reading Yvon Chouinard's business philosophy, at times tempered by Jon Abrams and his and my reading of Stewart Brand. As Brand said initially, "We are as gods and we may as well get good at it" which he changed to "We are as gods and have to get good at it." I am the lord of my situation. I want to talk normally again, I must take it into my own hands.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New Book

Tomorrow (or maybe this evening) I start Let My People Go Surfing, the education of a reluctant businessman, by Yvon Chouinard. This comes on the heels of finally finishing Green Metropolis by David Owen. As too often happens I get distracted and reading other things and I end up with too many books going or as ofter projects going. Aside from travelling, my distraction has been working with SketchUp and building too many timber frames.

I have decided to up the ante a little with my reading and try to read aloud for an hour a day. It proved to be a challenge today, but like everything else it may get stronger with repetition. All of the doctors have suggested speech therapy but it is not covered under my current insurance plan. (Anyone not supporting health insurance reform, I invite you to have a stroke or other cataclysmic health problem, you will change your tune real quick.) The reading out loud can't hurt.

Last night I also read a talk Jon Abrams gave a the 2009 Eastern Conference of the Timber Framers Guild. Jon is now a co-owner of the South Mountain Company, which he founded in the 1970's and the author of another book, The Company We Keep. A transcript is available at the Guild website:, and it is worth a read. I want to read it a couple more times before commenting.

Heading off now on the bike to play tennis, it should be a painful night... But I have been a little lacking in exercise lately, well sort of. But I don't get anywhere with out pushing myself.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Top Shot

Last night was the premier of the History Channel reality show Top Shot. Normally I don't get excited about guys (and one girl) running around with weapons shooting things, but this has a friend, Iain Harrison as a contestant. Iain worked with me in 2002-3 at New Energy Works Timber Framers. He was a timber framer and later graduated to marketing. Now he runs the Western office with Jonathan.

Iain always seemed a little larger than life and seems no different in the series, of course he is partnered with the shows one female contestant. His stories from his days as a British commando thrilled and chilled. I will most fondly remember when he lost his timber framing mallet and showed up at the shop with a new bright pink model, known as the "Shop Fox" model. But you couldn't kid him too much.

A while ago we decided to downsize our cable, since for the most part we don't watch TV. We did watch on Tuesday nights when NCIS, Lost and the second night of Dancing With the Stars were competing. We survived anyways and I watched NCIS Los Angeles on the Internet. After sitting through a fuzzy show last night I found the episode on HULA today and watched some. Anyone who can't catch it due to lack of cable (a surprising number of us) can see it now if you have Internet. And Iain, you look great in that Utilikilt!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day!

It has been a few 80 to 90 degree days here, with lots of outdoor work going on, when it is tolerable to work. There has been a flower bed out front of the which has been growing in size and height for a while, it predates us and I have tried to take it down a little each year. Maria bought impatiens to plant this year and decided to start the annual taking the bed down some. This was a week ago and when I started helping that evening we ran into the biggest tangle of roots that could be tucked into one little area.

We hacked roots, dug roots, cut roots, sawed roots, pried roots and pruned roots. And this was all in the name of making the flower bed manageable. Right... After nearly provoking an international incident involving nationality of the said roots, the job is now done and the flat of impatiens is in the ground, along with some allysum and johnny-jump-ups. And some grass seed and a few bags of dirt and a bag of peat. And it looks good, if I may say so. And a few hours after it was done it actually rained, proving there may be a benevolent God (though I am not sure how it proves it. It did keep us from killing each other while not turning on the air conditioning.)

The other project has been thinning the maples going down the hill out back. Earlier I put in a raised bed for a vegetable garden and while we were in Minneapolis the deer had a picnic including a some of my tomatoes. I decided to start cleaning up the bank to make it less hospitable for deer, and try to get some more sun in. This weekend I managed to cut four little trees with an old buck saw and my Ryoba, which has also been cutting roots. I have some clean up left, like dragging one tree up the bank and a couple more trees to go but its getting better. Eventually it may be terraced gardens or planted to perennials.

Though I enjoy all this, and Maria is enjoying getting things done, I want desperately to go back to work. I really don't remember much of last summer, and Maria tells me I slept much of it. I believe her. There are still a lot of things wrong and I can do all this by working an hour and then doing something much less strenuous. From time to time I get frustrated. I played tennis this week for a short time and just couldn't get anything to feel right. Some of it is the heat. I haven't been on the bike in a couple of weeks, though I was at my mother's for a good part of this week.

On a positive note I am feeling stronger. Once again I learn more little things I have lost, like questioning everything I do when driving. My next door neighbor told us about a friend of his who had had a stroke. He came back to work six months after the stroke but didn't feel up to being the group leader he had been. Six months after that he went on disability, he had lost his edge and was continually fatigued. I understand, but I also look at Clark out in Minneapolis. Yes he is dealing with cancer and chemo, not a stroke. But as he told me, "Here I am seven years after starting this and all of the sudden the bottom drops out of the housing market, I am seven years behind in the computer world and then they tell me I have cancer. Now it starts getting fun...." Clark, you make me want to get stronger, much stronger.

I am not a veteran, it was not an option in my father's eyes at the time, coming right after Viet Nam. But I cherish my freedoms, as much as I complain. I am proud to be an American and I thank every soldier who ever gave his life defending what I and we have. Happy Memorial Day.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Give Us This Day Our Daily Drugs

Fourteen pills each day, four for blood pressure, one for cholesterol, two for spasms that developed after the stroke, one for allergies, a full strength aspirin, folic acid for something and four vitamins. And nasal spray because I have lost a lot of function there. Not included are the ambien to sleep and the ED drugs since the blood pressure medicine causes ED.
I used to laugh at my fathers pill minders, he had the Cadillac of them with five compartments daily, now I just grimace. Sure it gets annoying, but I don't feel like having another stroke.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Home, And Some Fly Fishing (If I'm Lucky)

Tomorrow I head to Barneveld to spend a couple of days with my mother. Mom sounded pretty blue over the phone, and she does have every right to be, she is 80, has Parkinson's and lost her husband of 53 years in the fall. It's been a little tough for her. The drive is about two hours and I can make it without too many problems, longer requires planning stops to rest or a co-pilot. I much prefer the co-pilot but she is busy with a 16 year old girl finishing up her school year and the futon in my old bedroom is pretty uncomfortable for one, let alone two.

But I will accompany her to a doctor's appointment, with my "sister" Terry and maybe take her to physical therapy. And if I am lucky, get some fishing in. Barneveld has three excellent trout streams. The West Canada Creek is designated "catch and release" in the "Special Trout Area", but also is down stream of a power damn which chooses the flow of the day. The fishing can be great and the trout big, but the water can get ugly fast. The Cinncinnatus Creek runs into it and holds some fish, I would say mostly stockies, but I haven't fished it in years.

The last is the Nine Mile Creek which I used to live next to. Strangely enough I know all the pools on this one. The trout are small, but wild for the most part in the part I fish. I should probably note that there really are no truly wild trout in upstate New York, all of the creeks and rivers have been stocked and had species introduced. Its not a bad thing and after a few generations of fish reproducing in little holes on creeks like the Nine Mile, you again have wild trout.

I must mention an aside here. A few years ago I would visit my folks and spend a day with my kids. Before heading back to Rochester I would usually try to walk the Nine Mile for a bit and see what would bite. Now my ex has a knack for picking blind dogs at the pound and one was named Watcher. Watcher only had one eye and that was going, but he loved to fish. A number of times I would come across deer drinking and eating but he never noticed. He just stayed with you diving into pools and scaring fish.

I would get a few fish too but it was always worth taking Watcher. He didn't shake well either. He would go walk home soaked, the kids would let him in and he would head right upstairs and fall asleep, exhausted on my ex's bed. He was a damn good fishing dog.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Boring Machine

I am probably boring enough that I don't need a machine to help me, but I found one anyways. Jack Sobon uses one and I was surprised to find several on a shelf at the Heartwood School. They apparently have not outlived their usefulness. This was on ebay and I wasn't going to, having just spent too much in Minneapolis and getting to and from Minneapolis, but it sat there for a few days with no bids. I was in fact the only bidder. It appears to be a Snell, I didn't ask any questions. Timber frame here I come...

Monday, May 17, 2010


As I mentioned, our first morning in Minneapolis was a little disconcerting. Maria had an early seminar to attend and after getting up with her I headed out to the street. It was raining some and was pretty early but the streets seemed empty, except for the type of people your usually wouldn't want to be around. Sure, I am a little more skittish since the stroke, but I am usually quite comfortable in cities. But something didn't add up too. Here was a downtown with no people or business people.

The mystery was solved when I discovered the Skyway or skyways. Here you have a city where it gets down to -45 in the winter and they want to stay warm and I just picked the morning they wanted to stay dry also. We had talked about stores in the downtown and it turned out there was a plethora and very high quality ones also. And, of course, Target is everywhere. There is Target Field, Target Center, Target Headquarters and the Target store with the shopping cart escalator, perhaps the coolest part of the Target empire. How do they think these things up? Below our hotel was a Target training center with mini marketers running around testing marketing strategies. It was almost exciting.

Sadly, the Twin had just left to play first in New York and then Toronto, and I believe the Timberwolves are out of contention with Kevin Garnett elsewhere. But there was no shortage of things to do. My visit to Northern Lights Timber Framing was fun and informative and Clark turned me on to some new area's of the skyway. The food was excellent where ever we went, from the sandwiches to the sit down meals.

Saturday evening we ventured out deciding to see the river. The city was built by the flour mills and sawmill along the Mississippi. We had grabbed a couple beers and appetizers on the Nicolette Mall, a street closed to traffic except taxis, buses or human powered. It was early so we walked to the river and across the Hennepin Bridge, and ended up at Nye's Polonaise, a world famous bar featuring the World's Most Dangerous Polka Band. We managed to escape several hours later, after discovering Grain Belt Nordeast but not having the famous Polish Sampler, a mere 5 or 10 pounds of food.

Clark had told me that each corner of the Northeast area had a church and one or two bars on the corner. We probably could have found other examples but this turned out to be a fun one. We'll have to go back and explore more on the next trip. In all, everyone seemed friendly and wholesome. There was much to see and do and we couldn't do enough. There is great shopping and food and we never go near the Mall of America. We found a deli on the fourth floor of Gaviidea Commons that served an unbelievable Gazpacho. I ate Walleye, liked it and could have tried it thirty different ways. If you are bored in Minneapolis, you are doing something wrong.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


We are back and I once again apologize for not posting, but I don't think I had the computer out for any length of time while we were there. And while my search for Ted Baxter was fruitless, Mary Tyler Moore will live forever in a statue across the street from our hotel. And while some might say why Minneapolis, I have two answers. 1) It was very cool to see my wife present at the American Society for Indexing meeting, and 2) Minneapolis is a surprisingly fun and nice city.

While we arrived Wednesday evening and left this morning, very early this morning, I had Thursday, Friday and Saturday to explore the city. Thursday was a washout in a lot of ways, I am learning how I can operate while traveling and the day after isn't the best. But I started walking, found virtually no one on the streets and only as the rain got worse was I able to find the hamster maze of interconnected skyways and bridges. This led to some frustration, when the rain was the heaviest I stood in a bridge looking a store I wanted to be in, only two blocks away, but the only route in the skyways would have taken me back almost as far as our hotel. I took a nap until Maria could come with me.

I also have to thank Clark Bremer, the owner of Northern Lights Timber Framing for showing me around the "Nordeast" and his shop, being gracious and very enjoyable to meet. Clark also wrote the Timber Frame Rubies for SketchUp and that proved to be the only time I used the computer on the trip. More on all of this soon, now I am trying to relax. But it was a great trip!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ignoring This

I looked at this blog tonight and realized I have to change my reading list and I have to post more. I am trying to remember what I did last week and after drawing a blank, I remembered the neurologist and the physical and putting endless bags of topsoil in the new raised bed and cleaning the house before we entertained Maddy's new beau. Maybe I'm not slacking off that much.

I have also been drawing and redrawing a frame in SketchUp trying to remember and figure out everything I learned. My computer or its operator has a glitch in making the timber frame joints, so anyone who knows me, knows I have to do this until I get it working right. Mike says it is a problem with the video driver in the machine, which is fine. It may be the case for some of the error, but it doesn't explain inconsistent results, so I continue to try and try again.

I have also been reading a lot on timber framing. One author is Jack A. Sobon, an architect who graduated from RISD and timber frame historian. Jack initially built his house with out wiring and works with out power tools. I have heard stories about those "architecture students" from my daughter. They apparently work way too hard. I also have to finish Green Metropolis, by David Owen. It is very enjoyable, but like The Whole Earth Pragmatist, runs opposite so many things I would like to believe in. I was raised with the good wholesome belief that living in the country and building green houses, driving a small car and growing ecologically friendly food was good for Mother Earth. Stewart Brand debunks any of those beliefs, after building them up providing Whole Earth Catalogs in my youth. Owen only suggests that cities are more earth friendly and points out how we got to the sprawl with the help of Henry Ford and Frank Lloyd Wright among others. Where is Jane Jacobs to weigh in when you need her? I doubt she would look kindly on timber framers, but I will have to read her now and see.

Some other books in the queue first. While I was in Massachusetts, Yvon Chouinard arrived on the doorstep with Let My People Go Surfing. I started reading his buddy Royal Robbins' Basic Rockcraft as a kid and then found Chouinard's classic Climbing Ice. I dabbled some with climbing rock and ice and sadly gave it up at the insistence of an ex-wife after the children were born. I would have done better giving up the wife much earlier and kept on climbing. It might have prevented a stroke.

Anyways I am looking forward to Let My People Go Surfing when we get back from Minneapolis next week. It is the American Society for Indexing annual meeting and I am joining my bride for some real fun. It actually should be fun and we'll get to see some new sights. But that's a couple days off. Back to drawing timber frames in SketchUp. I will figure this out...

Monday, May 3, 2010


The SketchUp course was a wonderful success and I learned much more than I hoped to. Thank you Mike, Will and Michelle. I am trying to remember and repeat all we learned and I am. I am also amazed what a powerful program it is. Looking around the internet this morning I found many Efco and Winco products, so it is being used in the commercial world also.
Of course I now want to start timber framing and take another course or two at Heartwood, but then again I have always wanted to timber frame.
This week brings some rest and some important doctor's appointments. Wednesday I see a neurologist and Friday get a physical. At ten months after the stroke, I have only seen the neurologist once, having to reschedule around my father's decision to pass. Hopefully some good will come of this.
I was wonderfully energized for the course, but getting back was tiring and I don't have the same stamina today. Some of this leads me to think I should be doing something work wise, but this afternoon I am changing my mind. I think last week and my travels are catching up with me.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

SketchUp 1

My head hasn't exploded yet, though not for lack of Mike's trying. I am very fortunate to Chuck for giving me a head start on some of this. I think I will lose that head start tomorrow, but that is okay. I am exhausted.

Tuesday was a meeting with a rehab/vocational counselor, yesterday had me driving and then staying a little late at a pub, partially because I was so wired. Today was intense but very good. Somewhere along the way I also wrenched my back, so I am adding pain to the mix.

But a picture of one of the reasons I love Massachusetts, we are almost 25 cents a gallon more in Rochester.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Kentucky Derby

I head out for the SketchUp course tomorrow. Hopefully we will be done and I can be someplace by the time they Run for the Roses. Right now a couple of horses look good, and I am hoping I have internet service where I am staying. Last year I missed completely, but so did most every one else. Well, Craig hit it, but on a throwaway bet.

But for your reading enjoyment, the good doctor, Hunter S. Thompson:

Sunday, April 25, 2010

SketchUp Course

Wednesday I leave for the Berkshires to take BMike's course on SketchUp for Timber Framers. I am excited and nervous at the same time with this awful feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop. I have been feeling stronger lately, which the weather has been helping. There are a few yardening projects getting done and they look good. The bike is going well, though I am not getting a lot better or stronger on it. The canal still bothers me going east, I don't go up hills a lot faster and I still have problems shifting in the right direction. A Wonderdog hasn't been getting his longest walks either.

The trip out to the Heartwood School for the course will be the longest I have driven alone though I will break it up with a stop at my Mothers. I have three days of intensive learning ahead too. But I can do this, or I can remain static and not do anything. I am choosing to challenge myself.

As I seem to get physically stronger, I notice how much my speech is labored. Its a funny thing because people are noticing it getting labored. Which makes me think it is improving also, but slowly. I am still trying to relearn that foreign language, American English, the one I have spoken for a few years.

When I drove all the time for work I always wanted to get some foreign language tapes and learn in the car. Now would be the time to do it, but I don't really drive. I don't like using the MP3 player on the bike, but I could learn to yell at a Wonderdog in Italian or maybe Chinese. It has some possibility.

Maria has claimed that I will make strides and then plateau. Of course she is still reading that book on the healing brain so I don't know. It does seem that way. In the fall I was full of piss and vinegar, but I was really just reaching a position to learn what I had lost. I fought all winter to prove I was okay and kept getting slapped down. Now that I have accepted what the stroke has done to me I can see improvement. But it remains slow.

The other shoe that could drop is a few nights of not sleeping. Nothing throws me off more. I never slept more than 5 hours a night before the stroke, now if I don't get 7 or 8 I am worthless. I guess we learn.

Before I forget and sign off, I have to mention that Ann and I played tennis Saturday morning. Ann is the comptroller at Flower City and I think this will be our 5th year of hitting balls around. Okay, she is just a little older, has a rebuilt back and still smokes, but she can still run me around the court. We are well matched, making each other run. Most time we volley, but the year we actually played she beat me fair and square. Sure, I was smoking and drinking a lot. We played a solid half hour and both were wiped out. Pathetic? yes, but we did it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Books and Bikes

I am sitting in my office, I rode down this morning to get out of Maria's hair. She does her indexing out of the house and I am sentenced to being there, not always comfortably. Next week I meet with a vocational counselor and I will tell her how much I want to work. I wish. But a lot of days when Maria has deadlines I feel very much in the way. Fortunately it was a nice sunny morning.
Yesterday's bike ride ended up being another milestone, 12 miles and up the hill, well a couple of hills. And down one very un-natural hill, the ramp to the canal trail at Whitney Road. This beautiful piece of engineering has two minor flaws. The turning radius at the center is too tight if you are going down (at least for 50 year old men who have had strokes) and there is no curb cut to the road on top, just a fairly narrow sidewalk. There is one maybe half a mile down the road, but since the sidewalk is used by pedestrians, if anyone is walking it gets awkward. I have a thing about sidewalks and curbs anyways.

On another topic, next week is BMike's SketchUp course, so I have been reading about timber frames and SketchUp. I have also just started Green Metropolis by David Owen. Owen is a staff writer for the New Yorker. So far, if nothing else, he writes well and seem to know what he is talking about.
Today also found me down at Farmer Erin's farm, helping with planting cabbages and kale. The star of the planting was a 7 year old named Aidan who was quite interested though he really didn't like vegetables. And full of boundless energy. It was fun to see as someone else struggled to stand up each time he bent down to plant.

Monday, April 19, 2010


I'll keep it brief today and just mention Maria and I are celebrating our anniversary. Some pictures of that wonderful day two years ago at the Granger House. Oh, and thanks to that handsome fellow who married us.

Yes, I am still in love even if we drive each other crazy and haven't had the smoothest two years. I'd do it again Maria...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


How I am feeling at the moment... Being another sunny and warmer day, I went and helped Farmer Erin at Mud Creek today. We picked rocks and put them in bags which will hold down the row covers to keep out the bugs and keep in the heat. Much more technical than when I was growing, I merely put the rocks on the row cover. Before doing this I of course had to do a few miles on the bike and after had to walk a Wonderdog. If I am not building some stamina, just shoot me now.

My bride asked me if they were rocks on the ground, and I replied they were jumping rocks. But they didn't move too quickly, even with my help. Picking rocks is a perfect exercise, you bend over on roughly till soil and then toss the rocks in piles. So my arms, back and legs are all screaming now, but it feels good. I still can only put about two hours in and I think the heat is as bad as the exercise. Until I get used to it I have always had problems with heat. Maybe that's why I live in Upstate New York.

A couple of things of mention. Tomorrow is my bride's birthday, a monumentus day. She reaches the half century mark and now we can both join AARP. I am taking her to see a screening of Crimson, White and Indigo, a film of a Grateful Dead show from July 7, 1989. The best part is there will be a book signing with Peter Conners, author of Growing Up Dead. It should be a lot of fun. I finally married my Deadhead, it just took us a while to find each other.

I also have to mention a shop I found, Flour City Pasta. I can't vouch for the pasta yet, I haven't cooked it yet, but Jon let me smell some and it is heavenly. I grabbed a bag of Rasta Pasta which may become a salad tomorrow, and a basil fettuccine. It is organic and Jon makes it in his little shop on the Canal in Turk Hill Park. If you are on Facebook you can look him up.

It is also new book time, though it may take a few days. My head is still swimming from Whole Earth Manifesto. There is some information overload here and it may take some time to sort out. For now its Fishing Bamboo by John Gierach. John writes stories about fishing that relate to every aspect of life and always leaves you with a smile. Maybe a nice change. But there is a copy of Green Metropolis waiting on the shelf too.

And if you see Maria tomorrow, wish her a happy birthday!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


If you read this or have happened upon it, you may note I spend a lot of time talking about my biking. For a guy recovering from a stroke it may seem strange when there are so many other topics like heart health or brain traumas. But the bike has become both a physical and mental challenge. I have had a bike most of my life with a couple of exceptions, notably when my children were young.

I bought my latest bike the year before the stroke. I put on quite a few miles despite smoking and drinking quite a bit. I upset Maria a little, disappearing weekend mornings with no intention of riding far, but finding myself just going and not wanting to come back. It wasn't that I didn't want to come back, it just felt good and I would lose track of time and then find myself miles from home.

A cycling blog I read from time to time is Fat Cyclist. Fatty recently described riding a road bike as the closest thing to flying you can do on the ground. Okay, I am taking that out of context a little since he was also saying how sick of wearing tights he was, but the idea was there. While my bike is a cross of road bike and hybrid, I agree with him. It just feels good.

Another blog, BikesnobNYC, answered a reader's comment asking him to endorse bike commuting as green. The Snob (I can now say Eben), retorted that it had nothing to do with green, he enjoyed riding a bike. There is something stimulating about being on a bike and riding on the road makes it better. I have no desire to do battle with a garbage truck, tractor trailer or SUV, but want them to realize I have a place there too.

Since the stroke I have felt particularly fatigued, and while walking has helped there doesn't seem to be any cumulative gain. I could walk a mile or two then comfortably and while I may be able to walk further now I don't. Adding mileage, speed and hills seem to be making me stronger. At least they make me more tired, but in a good way. I have mentioned the trouble with curbs and canals on my right side and balance issues. I can feel these start to improve. It is starting to feel like flying again.

Maria talks about her daughter feeling the need to go faster higher on horses and now skis. I caught the same bug years ago. Life has tempered it a little but it never goes away. When I get comfortable on a bike it does it for me. I am getting there. I just wish it could help me talk better and work. Maybe someday it will.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Highland Lilacs

Maria, Ziggy the Wonderdog and I took a walk through Highland Park today having heard the lilacs were blooming already. It was a bit of an exaggeration, there were a few starting, but lots of other plants were in full bloom taking advantage of the early spring. Daffodils, Azalea and magnolia were pretty spectacular with a little color on a few lilacs. I don't know if they will wait for the Lilac Festival in early May, but a few later plants will.

It has been an early spring with the first March in recorded history without a snowfall in Monroe County. It did snow Friday, sort of and I don't know the criterion. It didn't accumulate. It is interesting reading Stewart Brand now talking about climate change and how it could be fixed. It seems terribly real at times and I am sure it is. But just a few years ago they moved the Lilac Festival back a week because of a few cold springs not producing lilacs in time.

The park has always fascinated me. Each year I have discovered a little more there or realized what something was. I will have to post something about it's history sometime, maybe at lilac time or maybe when Further plays this summer. Two years ago we saw Phil Lesh there for a magical concert. I can understand why he is coming back.

A quick note on the cycling progress, only 5 1/2 miles today but a lot more hill. Maybe my chicken legs will get stronger. My lungs haven't been filled with smoke for a year, I walk more and sleep more, just this damn stroke holding me back. Maybe not holding me back as much...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ten Miles!!!

I did it finally and have little to show for it but a sore butt which you aren't seeing unless your name is Maria, and it's questionable if she's interested. I was a little iffy this morning but wanted to head to the office to water the plants. Riding to the office is maneuvering on a couple of Fairport's busier roads, but I like it to keep my head in shape. Although they weren't out today, there is nothing like sharing the road with one garbage truck after another. A twenty pound bike with a 160 pound man on it versus a garbage truck...or for that matter any vehicle.

After the plants were watered I got on the canal trail and headed east toward Macedon. At some point the High View Landfill started looming in the horizon, just the other side of the railroad tracks. My route would take me around it. I went through a funky little community vaguely known as Wayneport, nestled in between the tracks and canal. As always I wished I had my camera, but now know where the others in my VESID orientation were from. Well, some of them.

I got on the road and hit wind and terrain changes and can say hills and wind suck, but they make the ride more interesting. And for every up there is a down and all that happy horseshit. Coming around the dump I had an interesting experience. Four deer ran out of the dump and across in front of me. I have hit enough deer with cars to have a healthy respect, but these actually stopped and looked at me before dashing into the woods. For a second I wondered if they would run into me on a bike like they have so many times in a car. It is a very different perspective, but very cool to realize they were watching me. I wonder what they think of bicyclists.

Skunks, particularly dead skunks take on a different meaning too, they seem to be more fragrant, even more so than when walking. Maybe you are breathing harder. The dump stinks too, no matter what Waste Management says. You just have to be in the right down wind location. In all it was a good ride. I did walk up the hill and had to go around the circle a couple of times to get over 10 miles, but it was a nice accomplishment for a 50 year old man less than a year after his stroke. If I can sit on the bike seat I will see how far I get tomorrow. If I can't, I deserve a day off. And Maria just handed me a coupon for RVE (Bike Shop) to look for a new seat.


It's been a while since I posted. For the last couple of weeks I haven't felt right and haven't felt at all rested. Before the stroke I usually existed on four or five hours of sleep, which may have contributed, and now I don't feel right with less than seven or eight continuous hours. It has been a big change but I need it. And if I don't get it things go right to hell. Any combination of things have been causing this, from the days getting longer and the weather being warmer. But my sleep has suffered and I get miserable.

Maria becomes the unfortunate target. It is hard, this isn't exactly what she bargained for. Neither of us did, but I am sadly stuck with my situation. The lack of sleep has me trying to nap unsuccessfully, exhausted by little thing and wiped out by big things. And frustrated by all the little things that were just natural before.

So this week brought a few big things and some interesting results. A visit in February to a physical rehabilitation neurologist recommended a vocational retraining program called VESID. I have mixed feelings on this but I have been game. I don't really want to flip burgers or change the fryer oil, but I do want to reenter the workforce. I am also not sure I can or want to do what I did. Because of the physical fatigue I can't just put my tool belt back on. I have joke that if anyone want to pay me 60 or so thousand to work for 4 hours a day they are more than welcome to. But they aren't sending many offers.

So Thursday I found myself at VESID orientation and sadly I could just think of Arlo Guthrie and "Alice's Restaurant" sitting in jail with the "mother rapers and the father rapers". There is a section on the application about rehab, and it isn't physical therapy. I still want to see where it goes, and since the woman who was "High of VESID" said it could pay for college if there is an end goal in sight I may ask to apply to law or med school. Why not go for it.

I came back pretty depressed, so got on the bike and headed out for a good long ride. Little did I know the weather was about to change. I got on the canal trail and headed for Pittsford hoping to get further than I had before and get some mileage in. A little over 5 miles out I decided to turn around and head back, the wind was picking up and the sky was getting a little darker. At some point on the ride back I stopped to flick bees off my clothes, they were taking advantage of me for a ride. In Fairport village I have to walk though a small tunnel under Route 250 and the thunder started, the wind picked up and it was suddenly dark and much cooler. I toyed with continuing but decided to wait out the rain under a shelter next to the Box Factory.

Then I noticed the front tire was flat too. I don't have a repair kit yet, it is coming, but thankfully the bike shop was around the corner. More thankfully Mulconnery's Irish Pub was across from the shelter. When the rain subsided some I headed in for a pint and something to eat. I called Maria to come and join me and she was just getting home but came down. Fed, I got the bike to the bike shop and went home to put something warmer on, and then crash. I had clocked 8 miles, not that much, but the furthest I have been since the stroke.

Friday brought a doctors appointment. When I don't sleep, my blood pressure also goes right up despite the medication. I have also felt dizzy at time and have had a ringing in my ears. I guess I live in constant fear of another stroke, even though I am in very different shape now. I don't think the fear will ever go.

Of course the blood pressure reading which were pre-stroke levels had returned to nice and normal. But there were the other issues. Maria came and stated that I was more congested than usual and we got into a discussion about my allergies, breathing problems and what speech therapy I had been given. This is only a shot, but I am trying some allergy medications to see if they clear some things up and help me sleep. This was my first spring in 30 or more years without smoking and with a myriad of other breathing problems.

Sadly I am still at the stage where each time something is fixed or eliminated two other things they masked show up. Hopefully that will change soon. Until then I'll try the allergy medication. I would actually like to smoke again, but we won't go there. Then I would suffer gunshot wounds.

A sunny, cool day out and time to be out there.

Monday, April 5, 2010

One Year Tobacco Free!

Even though my first reward was a stroke, I am kind of celebrating this one. On April 4, 2009 I had my last cigarette. Yes there are a lot of pluses but I also miss it. I maintain it helped cause the stroke, my wife disagrees. Probably neither of us are right.

Regardless, it is a done deal, at least for a year and probably longer, I do like being in much better shape even with the new set of problems. Eleven weeks later I had the stroke. I hope the anniversary doesn't bring anything else. But I am happy with the accomplishment and don't really want to go back. So wish me luck on another year.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

TAP continued

More images

Trenton Assembly Park

Nestled along the Cinncinatus Creek and off State Route 28 is this old Methodist summer camp. I googled it but wasn't able to find much except it's listing as an Oneida County park and a few real estate listings. Taking advantage of a couple days at my Mom's and with the water on the West Canada running really high, (the warm weather has apparently caused a run on electricity) I drove down in today to see what was left of the park.

Surprisingly it is very vibrant, clean and just as charming as it was 50 years ago. Okay, I only remember it 40 years ago. We grew up with a curious cross of Catholic Unitarian sensibility, the Unitarians having founded Barneveld and it being a dominant community force when my father was growing up here. I have heard the Methodist camp was mentioned as sort of a holy rolling sort of tent commune in a couple turn of the century books, but have to trust shaky sources on that.

I have also seen another south of Rochester, close to Hammondsport, but it is not nearly as elaborate. Though some of the houses look a little worse for wear, bear in mind that it is April, there still should be snow on the ground and the road is a seasonal road. One friend does live there year round but I believe he has another entrance.

I won't venture a date when these were built, some are probably quite old. The Octagon is beautiful, much smaller than the octagon house my Uncle grew up in in the village. A couple of others are just plain cute and you want to live there. There is a cobblestone pool that is filled by the creek, various courts for sports and the ubiquitous playground equipment from the early 60s. It is a step back into time and a charmed place.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

1957 Spaghetti Harvest

Some things just get better with age.... Happy April Fools!!!

Holy Thursday

And the beginning of trout season and I haven't posted much of anything this week. So any of you reading this on a regular basis, I apologize or maybe you welcomed the break. I have been completely wiped out this week, more so than usual. Of course I have been pushing myself a little, and trying to do some things. I don't seem to be sleeping as well either. Any combination is catching up with me.

The energy, or lack there of, seem to go in fits and starts. In the fall, still convinced that I could just walk away from this I tortured myself for not having the energy to get a consulting business going. What was wrong with me? I still can't grasp every way the stroke affected me but I am learning.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with Chuck, an architect I worked at the Timber Framers, getting his take on Google SketchUp. We went over a lot and I picked up a lot of pointers. In the end I couldn't speak and was wiped out. When I got home Maria asked me where we drank lunch, I apparently looked so bad. Sadly the coffee and scones contained no alcohol. And drafting in SketchUp is heady stuff, but not that good.

I am somewhat recovered today, but still tired. The sun is out so I raked the garden, getting ready to plant peas. We will spend some of the weekend at my Mom's and then back for Easter dinner. Maybe some fishing out there too.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Dancing With the Stars

Maria and I started a ballroom dancing class tonight. It may be a disaster but its worth a try. I was kind of run over trying to process it and losing it. Rhythm, right and left and count are okay, but when you put them together it is a disaster. Add to that we are somewhat different sizes.

In the end I am sore, since I don't move that way, have a headache and need a lot to practice if my partner will help. No TV dancing quite yet. The crazy part was trying to process it all, though I am not sure I could have before the stroke. I understand 11/12 time from the Dead but I have a harder time with a simple foxtrot. Fortunately there are no pictures.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pranks From A Prankster

I will try again to put up the link to Stewart Brand's site but I have been dealing with some Internet Explorer issue, probably compounded by Norton. And computer's make our lives simpler. Reading Whole Earth Discipline, I wonder sometimes if Brand is pranking us, but I know better. But as he makes a case for nuclear power and talks of the power of the cell phone propelling growth in the slums of India and the recapturing of the rain forest with second growth, he is calmly rational like he always has been.

Sure this was the Prankster at the Acid Tests, but he did his stint in the army, did post grad at Stanford and then published a series of books that showed how anything was possible. And then when he was done with that he wrote an influential critique of architecture. Brand has always managed to be a somewhat sane voice providing stability while walking the edge. He does again, showing a way through the climate crisis.

If you were in Rochester today you wouldn't have thought there was a crisis, 25 degrees when St. Lawrence met RIT in the Genesee. I got cold, but I lost interest too. In my continuing comparison to watching Cross Country Skiing, it is almost as bad, you can see the boats longer then the skiers because the boats are bigger and rivers are less dense than the woods they usually have cross country meets in. Francis' boat won its match beating RIT boat 2 or something by a length. I am looking forward to possibly seeing some meets in warmer weather, the two I have seen have taken place on good cold days. And I'm not the one in spandex close to the water.

I have to mention here that my youngest brother rowed for Hamilton College. John, thanks for reading here and the positive emails. It's nice to read and thank you. And some shots of little boats on a brown river.

Oh yes, links still not working, but we have pictures... manual works