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!