Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

My grandpa passed away this last week at the age of 91. Yes, that’s old, but he was in good health and it came as a shock to the family. We’ve all been half expecting a call about Grandma who has been suffering in a downward spiral with Alzheimer’s. For the past six or seven years, every holiday has been celebrated with the undertone of “this could be Grandma’s last…” She has been successfully showing us the unpredictability of life for a long time.

Speaking of unpredictability, Grandpa caught us off guard, dying of a heart attack. He had his ritual bowl of ice cream while watching the 10 o’clock news, washed his bowl and sat in his chair. His heart attacked. He was revived a couple times, but ultimately the strongest man I have ever known succumbed.

My mother asked me if I would speak on behalf of the grandchildren at his funeral. I told her I would be honored to do it. When I sat down to write what I wanted to say I decided on a simple list of things I have learned about life from my grandpa. I decided to put it up here for anyone who would like to read it, but also so anyone who knew my grandpa could add to it in the comments.

 

What I learned from my Grandpa… a list in no particular order:

  • What a War Hero is
  • What a true family man is
  • What the phrase “work ethic” means
  • What it means to love your wife in sickness and in health
  • It is possible to have hundreds of people respect you just for who you are
  • How to keep squirrels out of a bird feeder
  • There is no such thing as a broken lawnmower
  • Coloring with chalk on the driveway is fine – Crayons are a bad idea though
  • How to scale and clean fish
  • How to light a “bomb fire”
  • All dogs you don’t know are named Charley
  • Suspenders are cool
  • The phrase “Fight nice you guys!”
  • What blackberry brandy tastes like
  • What coffee cans and jars are really for
  • If your kitchen knives aren’t razor sharp, you don’t deserve to use them
  • How to pack a boat for fishing
  • How to tame an ornery outboard motor
  • Where the Crappie or Perch are biting
  • Every coach and referee on the football field is a dribblehead
  • Always stick with the Packers
  • Never pay someone to do something you can do yourself
  • There is nothing better than a cold beer on a hot day
  • How to get dogs to love you for life with affection and lots of treats
  • Always carry a pocket knife
  • How to open a gift without tearing the wrapping paper
  • Hunting is appreciating nature – bringing home a deer is just a bonus
  • Take care of your fishing poles and rifles and they will last you a lifetime
  • It doesn’t matter how old you are, slow drivers in your way are always old farts, fogies, and codgers
  • How to keep stories of good times in the past alive by retelling them whenever possible
  • How to brighten a room with a smile
  • Have a bowl of ice cream before bed
  • Be thankful for everything you have and everything anyone has ever given to you

Today, Grandpa, we mourn your death, but more importantly we celebrate your life. Thank you so much for all of the wonderful memories.

 

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Tough Question

Posted: May 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

I was helping my daughter Nadia tie her shoes this morning when she asked, “Daddy, what does memorial mean?” The TV was on and she had just seen an annoying commercial for a Memorial Day sale of some kind. I wasn’t prepared for that question. I would have liked to sit down with her and have a talk, but we were hurrying to get her out the door and to kindergarten. I didn’t want to blow off the question and miss an important teaching opportunity so I fumbled my way through an answer that sounded frustratingly inadequate to me.

I started by explaining that Memorial Day is a day for us to remember people who died in wars, fighting the bad guys to keep us safe. As the words were coming out I realized a four year old has no concept of global conflict and her understanding of death is limited to plants and one of her hermit crabs. The look on her face told me I might as well have been describing quantum mechanics. Let’s try again with something she can relate to. Remember when Great Grandpa was showing us all his old pictures? Remember he showed us pictures of him with his Army buddies? They weren’t in the United States. They were in a different country and some of his friends in those pictures didn’t get to come back home. “Why Daddy? They didn’t want to come back home?” No, honey, they wanted very badly to come back home, but they were fighting with some bad people. Some of Great Grandpa’s friends got hurt and some died.

I paused here, hearing what I had said. The complexity of human conflict in the eyes of a kindergartener is limited to getting a time out for not sharing a toy. That’s actually a beautiful thing. I was suddenly aware of the fact that, although I was impressed with her curiosity, she didn’t yet need to know about people killing other people. A time out was not going to resolve these issues. This was a 90 second conversation that left me longing to be four again.

I explained that Memorial Day is a day to remember people like Great Grandpa’s buddies. They went to fight those guys so they couldn’t hurt us and so they wouldn’t hurt other people. “Okay Daddy.” Come on, let’s go to school.

I’m not trying to say anything especially significant here. I was just shocked at how difficult it was to be put on the spot by a four year old in describing this. When I was a hiring manager in IT, one of my favorite questions to ask in an interview was, “How would you explain the internet to your grandparents?” I got all kinds of answers. Nobody was ever expecting that question. Some would squirm and stall. Those who could think quick and come up with a good answer always impressed me. I was in that hot seat this morning. Think about it for a minute. How would you describe Memorial Day to a curious four year old? War, injury, death, inappropriate consumerism, and maybe even politics could be elements of that discussion. I’m glad I kept it short and simple for her. I’m sure we’ll talk about it more this weekend, and I can’t wait to have great meaningful conversations about important things with her as she grows up.

Space Chronicles

Posted: February 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

I’ve been a big fan of astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson for a long time. I caught him on The Daily Show the other night (he is a somewhat frequent and very entertaining guest) speaking about his new book Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier. After hearing him speak about what he covers in the book, and then listening to an NPR interview on the same topic, I can’t wait for a chance to get to my favorite book store (Next Chapter Bookshop in Mequon, if you’re curious) to pick up a copy.

Neil has been vocal about the recent cuts to NASA and the shuttle program while countries like Russia and China continue to advance their programs. He claims that what we really need to do is double the funding and push for a surge in research and exploration. He rarely forgets to point out in interviews that the one year budget for the U.S.’s military is equal to the entire 50-year running budget of NASA. This is why I love this guy. He is able to put shocking stats like this, things we never hear from largely science-illiterate politicians, in perspective. He makes convincing and even inspiring points about the history of the space program and its roots in the Cold War and a race to innovate and be a leader and the world superpower. He talks about how this research and exploration led to so many innovations and technologies that fueled the economy for decades. It worked once before. Why won’t we give it a chance today?

One of the commenters on the NPR story (link below) pointed out, “Your children and grandchildren cannot grow up to be astronauts.” Good point. For four decades kids grew up dreaming of being an astronaut. Most of us didn’t end up pursuing that dream, but some lesser version of it. Exploration and research inspired kids like me to go into science. Sure, it was war that propelled us into the space age, but look at all that came from that race, from that sense of wonder. How do we get kids excited about space now when we’re cutting funding to science at every opportunity and sending the message that success is a measure of how much money you can squander?

So… China, eh? Doing anything exciting over there that we should be aware of and angry about and want to beat you at? I’m not saying we want to be like China any more than Cold War U.S. wanted to be like the Soviet Union, but… Sputnik?

The links:

Neil on NPR

And Neil on The Daily Show (love his point about the set at the end…)

 

Making Memories

Posted: February 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

This is a brief personal post about my family, specifically my dear, sweet Grandma. I scribbled down most of what follows in about 15 minutes as soon as I got to work yesterday morning. I had to get it down on paper right away. Someday I’ll post some links to Alzheimer’s information that I’ve come across, including some amazing and touching Radiolab episodes dealing with Alzheimer’s.

2/20/12

“She is an Alzheimer’s patient. She no longer maintains a narrative of her life, but her experiencing self is still sensitive to beauty and gentleness”

– Daniel Kahneman
Thinking, Fast and Slow

 

I heard this quote while driving in to work this morning, listening to the audiobook version of Mr. Kahneman’s fascinating book, and it struck me and nearly brought me to tears. I wrote it down the first chance I got.

Yesterday was Grandma’s 92nd birthday. I was fortunate enough to be able to be up at the lake to celebrate it with her, along with my wife and daughter and my parents. Auntie Lisa was a wonderful host as usual. It was great to see Auntie Kathy and Dennis as well, doing their best to really enjoy the family company after the hell they have been through and continue to deal with. Grandpa was looking great. It’s hard to put into words how wonderful it was to see how happy he looked when Nadia ran to him yesterday morning to give him a big hug. He brought out old photo albums and could name every one of his old Army buddies and long-gone friends and family members.

Mr. Kahneman’s statement struck me because in just 20 words he is able to beautifully explain Alzheimer’s – both what it has taken away from Grandma and what it has left her.

“She no longer maintains a narrative of her life.” You and I take our memories for granted. They help us to have meaningful life experiences that aren’t clouded in confusion, and often crippling fear. Imagine waking up lost – not only physically lost, but lost in time with no frame of reference. Grandma’s past is mostly gone, and what’s left is scrambled and scary. She clings to what she knows. Recognition flutters in and out like a butterfly. She may be suddenly excited to see you, but you soon realize she thinks you’re someone else. Her smile is wide and genuine and she is so happy, so you go along with it and smile back. She can’t form stories of her experiences any longer. Today she probably doesn’t recall our visit.

“Her experiencing self is still sensitive to beauty and gentleness.” She knew we were all there to be with her. She seemed to feel the warmth of family. She couldn’t thank us enough for coming, even if she couldn’t quite place who we were. We each sat and talked with her for a while. Each time I leaned in for a hug or kiss her face would light up with another warm smile.

This is my Grandma. I have so many great memories of her that I cherish. Alzheimer’s is very frightening to me. I want my own memories to last and comfort me in my later years, not confuse and haunt me. I want to remember my Grandma as the loving family matriarch that she always has been. I love you Grandma. Happy Birthday.

God Doesn’t Hate Your Team

Posted: January 2, 2012 in Uncategorized
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There are roughly equal numbers of people praying for each team to win the big game today, or any game really, from professional sports where freaks of nature feel their outrageously huge paychecks are justified by their God-given superiority, to college sports where athletic ability trumps academic ability, to high school sports where kids are taught that if they can excel in sports they can excel in life.

For the sake of this post, let’s say a million people are praying for one team to be victorious and a million are praying for the other team. In this story I’m gonna be lower-case ‘g’ god. Hey, it’s my blog. Let’s say I have some magical way of listening to a few billion people whenever they dial me up. Also, I have perfect teeth.

So, of all the things going on in my universe, you know, the stuff people contact me about, the pain and suffering, the cancer, AIDS, malaria, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, cholera, hepatitis, meningitis, rotavirus, typhoid, yellow fever, influenza, diabetes, asthma, multiple sclerosis, stroke… all the people fighting for personal freedoms against corrupt and cruel leaders (most of whom claim that I have their back), entire cultures being wiped out in the name of various higher powers, the millions who suffer and die in the face of natural disasters, like earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanoes, tsunamis, drought, flooding, famine, infestations… the homeless, the poor, the weak, the elderly, the young, the motherless, the fatherless, the jobless, the displaced… of all these things, I can’t forget that there is a big game going on tonight and a handful of privileged men are counting on me to give them strength to dominate another handful of privileged men on the playing field, and about 2 million people feel this is the most important thing going on in the universe right now and they are demanding my attention.

But how do I choose? Seriously, I mean how do I choose one team over the other? I am setting aside all that other stuff for now to concentrate on this game. All that other shit was my fault anyway. I did a terrible job designing this universe, so bad in fact, that Creationism is all but unbelievable to those peons, even after they tried to rebrand it as Intelligent Design. Flattering, but I was not feeling very intelligent when I was putting this mess together.

Back to the game… I’ll tell you a secret. It doesn’t make a goddamn bit of difference who wins. Which is nice. I can sit back and enjoy the game and let these guys showcase their talents. I don’t need (or want) to meddle. Their abilities are the product of millions of years of evolution, hard work and persistent training, great instruction, amazing athleticism and knowledge of the game. So they give me the credit when things work out well. Sweet deal for me. If things don’t go so well, I’m still praised and thanked, never blamed. It’s a win-win-win! I get to ignore all those pesky other issues and enjoy a good game, I take all the credit for the winners, and the losers still bow down to me.

What’s that? You don’t think ‘god’ has time to watch football? Or baseball, or even soccer? Of course I do! Hell, ever since your buddy started praying to me for help for your Thursday night league bowling team I’ve been tuning in for that. I am a very selfish god you know, and I’m only really interested in making myself happy. I thought that was pretty obvious. Your grandma is dying of cancer? A drunk driver is about to hit a school bus? The flu will wipe out between 250,000 and 500,000 this year? Meh… The loved ones of those casualties, like the losers on the field, won’t blame me. They’ll write it off as god’s will, part of my bigger plan, meant to be. You see, I do nothing up here but watch the reality/disaster show that is your life and tune in for a good game whenever I damn well please. I might as well not even exist for how much good and meaningful work I get done! But I’m having a good time! This is a pretty sweet game I have on here… I don’t hate your team. I don’t hate you. Just keep pretending that your problems should be my problems, that I should help you to be better than someone else, and I’ll keep ignoring you. Also, I will laugh my ass off when you slip on that patch of ice tomorrow.

Shit! I gotta go. I just found a Cheeto that looks like a crucifix! Junior’s gonna LOVE this!

The Physics of Santa

Posted: December 25, 2011 in Uncategorized
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Twelve or thirteen years ago, young Dean was browsing some bookstore and happened upon The Physics of Christmas: From the Aerodynamics of Reindeer to the Thermodynamics of Turkey by Dr. Roger Highfield. Had to have it of course. I like to bring it out around Christmas, usually after a couple drinks, and find my favorite couple pages. The nerd in me comes out and I giggle a bit.

In my first Holiday Blog Post That’s Mostly Me Plagiarizing Someone Else, I share with you selections from pages 241-244  of said book. (Wait, it’s not plagiarism if I credit the author… Need another drink. Happy Holidays. Be Merry.) Enjoy!

Santa’s Challenge

Santa has a huge market. There are 2,106 million children under age eighteen in the world, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Given the pagan origins of the festival and the holiday’s emphasis on charity, I will assume that Santa delivers presents to each and every child, and not just to Christian children or to the 191 million who live in industrialized countries. It is Christmas, after all.

If we assume that there are 2.5 children per household, Santa has to make 842 million stops on Christmas Eve. Now let’s say these homes are spread equally across the landmasses of the planet. Earth’s surface area is, given a radius of 3,986 miles (6,378 kilometers), 196.6 million square miles. Only 29 percent of the surface of the planet is land, so this reduces the populated area to 57.9 million square miles. Each household covers an area of 0.069 square miles. Let’s assume that each home occupies a square plot, so the distance between households is the square root of the area, which is 0.26 miles.

Every Christmas Eve Santa has to travel a distance equivalent to the number of chimneys – 842 million – multiplied by this average spacing between households, which works out to be 221 million miles. This sounds daunting, particularly given that he must cover the entire distance in one night.

Fortunately, Santa has more than twenty-four hours to deliver the presents. Consider the first point on the planet to go through the international date line at midnight on December 24. From that moment on, Santa can pop down chimneys. If he stayed right there, he would have 24 hours to deliver presents to everyone along the date line. But he can do better by traveling backward against the direction of Earth’s rotation. That way he can deliver presents for almost another 24 hours to everywhere else on Earth – making 48 hours in all, which is 2,880 minutes or 172,800 seconds.

From this one can calculate that Santa has a little over 2/10,000 second to get between the 842 million households. To cover the total distance of 221 million miles in this time means that his sleigh is moving at an average of 1,279 miles per second. Ignoring quibbles about air temperature and humidity, the speed of sound is something like 750 miles per hour, or 0.2 miles per second, so Santa is achieving speeds of around 6,395 times the speed of sound, or Mach 6,395.

The preceding discussion assumes that Santa throws the presents down each chimney while whizzing overhead. In fact, he stops at each house, so he has to achieve double the speed calculated above. From a standing start, he has to travel the distance between houses in 2/10,000 second. That means going from 0 to 2,558 miles per second in 2/10,000 second, an acceleration of 12.79 million miles per second per second, or 20.5 billion meters per second per second.

The acceleration due to gravity is a mere 9.8 meters per second per second, so the acceleration on Santa’s sleigh is equivalent to about 2 billion times that caused by the gravitational tug of Earth. Given that Santa is somewhat overweight, say around 200 kilograms, the force he feels is his mass times his acceleration: around 4,000 billion newtons. Even fighter pilots can’t cope with accelerations more than a few times that of gravity, and they have to use special breathing techniques and G (gravity) suits to keep the blood in their heads. As the physics professor Lawrence Krauss puts it, the acceleration Santa has to cope with would normally reduce a person to “chunky salsa.”

There is one other problem Santa has to contend with: his cargo. Assuming that each of the 2,106 million children gets nothing more than a medium-size construction set (2 pounds, or 0.9 kilograms), he has a payload of 4,212 million pounds (about 2 million tons), or 1,895 million kilograms, of toys. Then there is the supply of fuel required to achieve the high speeds he must maintain. Any way you look at it, Santa has some serious hurdles to overcome.

 

Gone Too Soon

Posted: December 16, 2011 in Uncategorized
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I had mentioned in an earlier post that I would surely want to compose one or more entries on Christopher Hitchens at some point. I had not planned on doing that just yet, but Hitch died last night and this has been weighing heavily on me all day.

Hitch was a hero to me. I did not expect to be this bothered by his death. I had just turned off all the lights last night and was on my way in the dark to my room when my phone beeped. My brother had been doing some web browsing and saw the news on Hitch. He emailed me to tell me. I read his message on my glowing phone in the dark and uttered “noooo” in the silence. Twitter was buzzing with confirmation. I didn’t get to sleep for another hour.

Hitch died of pneumonia complications, long suffering from esophageal cancer. As he withered away physically over the past year, he continued to write some amazing stuff. He wrote a gut-wrenching account of losing his voice to the disease – a huge loss to one of the finest orators and debaters of our time. In his last Vanity Fair column (January 2012) he challenges the assertion “Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger,” and wonders why he ever thought it to be profound.

When I got up this morning I put my audiobook version of his memoir Hitch-22 on my phone so I could give it a re-listen in the car. Hitch reads it himself. His reading of the book’s prologue brought tears to my eyes. He wrote the prologue to his book in late 2008, before he had been diagnosed. He speaks of the timing of writing a memoir. Too early? That may end up being awkward. He worried that there was always the possibility that the project was begun too late. As it turns out, his timing was, unfortunately, perfect. He tells a story of a recent article in which he was mistakenly referred to as the late Christopher Hitchens, and how deeply disturbing being killed off by an editing error can be. He jokes about his own obituary and how he’s sure it is already written. It was tough to listen to…

I made my way through the day occasionally reading wonderfully written tributes (http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/christopher-hitchens), occasionally coming across nauseating and condescending comments (shit stain Rick Warren: “Hitchens has died. I loved & prayed for him & grieve his loss. He knows the Truth now.”). I was in a deep funk all day. If you are a Republican, this is how you felt when Reagan died; Catholic, Pope John Paul II; technophile, Steve Jobs… you get the idea.

Hitch will live on in his books, essays, lectures and debates. Turn off the shitty reality TV and spend some time with him. You won’t regret it.

I’m drinking to you tonight, Hitch.

 

White Wine In The Sun

Posted: December 13, 2011 in Uncategorized
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I discovered Tim Minchin a few years ago and have been in love with him ever since. He is an absolutely brilliant British-Australian musician and comedian. I dreamed of the day when he would come to Milwaukee to perform. When I learned he had scheduled a stop here last October I was thrilled. Then the Brewers made the playoffs… I had to decide between seeing Tim and going to see a playoff game. The game won out when I decided that it was a safe bet that Tim would be back in town (or somewhere within 100 miles or so) before the Brewers would again make the playoffs with home field advantage.

Most of Tim’s stuff is witty, irreverent, smart and generally hilarious. When I first heard the sentimental White Wine In The Sun I was floored. It’s a song about Christmas that I could listen to any time of the year, over and over, and never tire of. Enough of my babble about it. Here it is. I hope you love it as much as I do and share it with others.

Here are the lyrics:

I really like Christmas
It’s sentimental, I know, but I just really like it
I am hardly religious
I’d rather break bread with Dawkins than Desmond Tutu, to be honest

And yes, I have all of the usual objections
To consumerism, the commercialisation of an ancient religion
To the westernisation of a dead Palestinian
Press-ganged into selling Playstations and beer
But I still really like it

I’m looking forward to Christmas
Though I’m not expecting a visit from Jesus

I’ll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They’ll be drinking white wine in the sun
I’ll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They’ll be drinking white wine in the sun

I don’t go in for ancient wisdom
I don’t believe just ‘cos ideas are tenacious it means they are worthy
I get freaked out by churches
Some of the hymns that they sing have nice chords but the lyrics are spooky

And yes I have all of the usual objections
To the miseducation of children who, in tax-exempt institutions,
Are taught to externalise blame
And to feel ashamed and to judge things as plain right and wrong
But I quite like the songs
I’m not expecting big presents
The old combination of socks, jocks and chocolate is just fine by me

Cos I’ll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They’ll be drinking white wine in the sun
I’ll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They’ll be drinking white wine in the sun

And you, my baby girl
My jetlagged infant daughter
You’ll be handed round the room
Like a puppy at a primary school
And you won’t understand
But you will learn someday
That wherever you are and whatever you face
These are the people who’ll make you feel safe in this world
My sweet blue-eyed girl

And if, my baby girl
When you’re twenty-one or thirty-one
And Christmas comes around
And you find yourself nine thousand miles from home
You’ll know what ever comes
Your brother and sisters and me and your Mum
Will be waiting for you in the sun
Whenever you come
Your brothers and sisters, your aunts and your uncles
Your grandparents, cousins and me and your mum
We’ll be waiting for you in the sun
Drinking white wine in the sun
Darling, when Christmas comes
We’ll be waiting for you in the sun
Drinking white wine in the sun
Waiting for you in the sun
Waiting for you…
Waiting…

I really like Christmas
It’s sentimental, I know…

If you have the time, check out Tim’s YouTube channel.  DO NOT miss STORM.

Blast from my blogging past

Posted: December 8, 2011 in Uncategorized
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Apparently MySpace isn’t dead. Who knew? I wanted to see if I could still get at some old blog entries. After many attempts to log in I finally got the correct email and password combination and was able to access the blog. Wow. My biking adventures series was some pretty amusing stuff. The posts about putting my cat Maizee to sleep after the pet food poison mess got me a little blurry-eyed.

So, for anyone who doesn’t know the story, or would just like to read again what I had to say after it, below is the first post after my unique bike accident. This has become my go-to story when the moment calls for an amusing one that’s tough to top. For anyone who doesn’t know me, I used to be quite a bike nut, commuting to work and home nearly every day for a while up until this incident. Yes, bike = bicycle, not motorcycle. And yes I got pissed when Matt Lauer of the Today Show was run off a bike path by a deer and wore that stupid arm sling on the show for weeks. I don’t think he even made contact with the animal and he stole my story. And then there was this more recently: http://youtu.be/S2oymHHyV1M  Yeah, been there, done that…

Enjoy.

—————————————————————————————————————–

August 10, 2006

Adventures in Biking III: I’m not a fan of Brown Deer’s brown deer

Last night while biking home from work I hit a deer.

I’m not joking.  I seriously couldn’t make this shit up.  I HIT A DEER!

My buddy Stephan and I left work around 6pm.  We were about a mile from work and cruising at a decent clip of about 15mph down Dean Rd. in Brown Deer.  A deer bolted out of the brush on the left side of the road at full speed and I collided with it.  Again, I’m not making this up.

Stephan was biking slightly behind me and had enough time to react and hit his brakes hard.  The front brake stuck and he did an endo and almost went over his handlebars.  I didn’t get to react.  I hit my brakes, but it was too late.  I hit the deer and both the deer and I went airborne and landed in the ditch on the side of the road.  This was no small deer.  It was a buck with velvet antlers.  I didn’t get to count, but I’d estimate he was a six-pointer.  I had the wind knocked out of me laying in the ditch and was gasping for air as the deer scrambled to its feet and ran off.  When I caught my breath and tried to sit up Stephan yelled for me to just lay down.  I did and lay there realizing I hadn’t yet felt any pain and wondered what bones were broken.  A car coming up from behind us on the road had witnessed the incident and stopped.  A lady frantically ran out to see if everything was all right.  Realizing I was in one piece I sat up again and Stephan checked me out before letting me stand up.  We then went over to my bike and saw the the front end was pretty messed up.  My handlebars were bent and twisted and my brakes and shifter on the left side were a mess.  We fixed what we could to make the bike ridable and then just stopped and looked at each other and started laughing.  “Dude, you just hit a fuckin’ deer!”

Stephan recounted what he had witnessed of the accident.  It was all pretty much a blur to me.  I hit the deer pretty much in the neck and front shoulder and somehow was turned around 180 and rolled into the ditch.  I had to have flown in the air a bit to completely miss the gravel on the side of the road and land at the botton of the ditch.  He said I nearly landed on top of the downed deer.  When I got up I found grass stains on my shirt and gloves and deer fur on my left shoulder.  We checked for blood from the deer but found none.  Stephan commented that he was going to get me some deer whistles for my bike…

We got back on our bikes and pedaled home still in shock about what had just happened.  WTF!  I had seen deer on this route into work in the morning a few times, but they were mostly does with fawns and just crossing the road or whatever.  I had never seen a buck.

So , I made it home which was about another 9 miles.  My right knee had (I think) slammed against the frame of my bike in the crash and was pretty sore.  When I got home I sat down for a couple minutes contemplating what had just occured again.  As the adrenaline wore off, I started to stiffen up and get really sore on the left side of my upper body where the deer had hit me.  My left wrist was swolen and I soon realized I couldn’t lift my arm very high.  I got some ice on my knee.  I had a beer and made it to bed, but didn’t sleep very well.

This morning my movement in the left side of my body was more limited.  I had a hard time washing up in the shower with only my right hand.  I made it to work and had to tell the story a thousand times to people who didn’t want to believe it, but just ended up laughing and telling other people.  I was a celebrity at work.

As the day went on, my stiffness and soreness wasn’t getting any better, so i decided to call my doctor before it got unbearable.  I ended up going to see him at 4pm and he and the staff there were amazed by the story as well.  He checked me out thouroughly.  My sore ribs were fine, but he was concerned that I may have hairline fractures in my wrist and may have rotator cuff damage in my shoulder from the impact.  All this pain and stiffness on my left side was not from my fall into the ditch.  It was from the impact with which the deer hit me.  Doc sent me off to a clinic to get x-rays on my wrist and shoulder.  So, I have to call him tomorrow morning to get the results and see if I’m more messed up than I thought I was.  I hope they find nothing.  He told me to stay off the bike for 7-10 days.  That’s gonna be hard.  Yesterday after the accident, I really thought I may be able to ride in this morning, untill the stiffness set in.  I guess I’ll take it easy for a while…

WTF!

Yeah the incident with the punks messing with me before was disturbing, but this time it was fuckin’ nature trying to take me out!  I’m in too much pain to ride for a bit, but I can’t wait to get back on the bike already…  I’ll know tomorrow how bad it is.  I realize now it could have been a lot worse.  Yeah, it seems funny to me now, but I was seriously freaked out when it happened.  You’d be too.

Thanks for reading.

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For the record, I still have frequent problems with my left shoulder 5 years later. I went through a bunch of physical therapy and it was better for a while, but flares up here and there for a few months at a time. I know I’ll probably need some corrective surgery at some point, but who has time for that?

Just a post on what I’m currently reading… I’m about halfway through Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie and it’s amazing. I’ve never read anything like it before.

I was mostly unfamiliar with Rushdie’s work until I read Christopher Hitchens’s memoir Hitch-22. Hitchens spoke highly of Rushdie. They have been close friends since the eighties. I have immense respect and admiration for Hitchens (and I’m sure I’ll have at least one post about him in the near future). I’m guessing (I may be wrong) that most people like me who know the name Salman Rushdie know it from his 1988 work The Satanic Verses and the controversy and violent protests that erupted because of it. Muslims in several countries issued death threats and the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa against Rushdie, calling for his death. In Hitch-22 Hitchens devotes a chapter to Rushdie simply entitled “Salman” and he tells of the time he put Rushdie up at his apartment after the fatwa. I had to learn more about this guy.

Rushdie joined twitter on September 14, 2011 and I’ve been following him since then (@SalmanRushdie). I soon learned that he had been working with director Deepa Mehta (@IamdeepaMehta) on a cinematic production of Midnight’s Children. I wanted to know more. Midnight’s Children was his second novel. He was younger than I am now when he wrote it. From his Wikipedia entry:

This work won the 1981 Booker Prize and, in 1993 and 2008, was awarded the Best of the Bookers as the best novel to have received the prize during its first 25 and 40 years. Midnight’s Children follows the life of a child, born at the stroke of midnight as India gained its independence, who is endowed with special powers and a connection to other children born at the dawn of a new and tumultuous age in the history of the Indian sub-continent and the birth of the modern nation of India. The character of Saleem Sinai has been compared to Rushdie.

I’m nearly 300 pages into it and I can’t put it down. Before starting it I read (okay, listened to on audio book) his Step Across This Line: Collected Nonfiction 1992 – 2002. I felt I had gotten to know Rushdie a bit and was ready to dive into Midnight’s Children. Now I only wish I could get more pages in at every opportunity I have to sit down and read. Last week I spent every lunch hour alone with the book.

Okay, writing this is keeping me from reading. I will queue up some more on the book to post at a later date. Please, if you’ve read any Rushdie, let me know in the comments.