Quick Blog

Since my last blog:

My foot is no longer broken. I still don’t have a job after October 14th. Magic: The Gathering is fun, but don’t play mono-blue counter.dec in Vintage in MN unless you like losing to anything that has more than 0 creatures. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Until next time: Have fun, don’t die, and make mine Marvel!

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The Parting of the Ways

This is going to be a very un-me-like blog, in that I come right to the point, though the end gets more verbose. As my longer-time readers will already know, the company I used to work for got bought by a different company, and I am now working for the new company.

On Tuesday, I learned the date my employment with the new company will end unless I decide to apply, and get hired for, a different position with the company. That date is October 14th, 2011 (it’s a Friday, no surprize there). We’ve known in Lewiston that this was coming for a while, but that didn’t make it much easier. Some of my co-workers have later dates, and some have earlier dates.

After doing a lot of considering on the subject these past few months, I am essentially certain that I don’t want to move to the Twin Cities, so unless something changes, I won’t be applying for a job with my current company, as it would involve moving to the Twin Cities area. My reasons are personal rather than professional, as there are obviously vastly more professional opportunities (at least in absolute numbers, if not per capita) in a millions of people metropolitan area than a tens of thousands to hundred thousand people area (if La Crosse and Rochester are included).

Which means I’m going to start looking for a new job, preferably in Winona, but somewhere else reasonably nearby would work as well. The company is providing 2 days paid time off to attend a displaced workers workshop. I think it’s a state program of some sort, and it covers strategies, interviews and so on. I don’t have the details yet, but I’m definitely going to attend, as it has been close to 8 years since I last looked for a job.

In better news, my broken foot continues to improve. I’m mostly getting around without crutches now, except for longer distances – I’m still not comfortable walking more than perhaps a couple (that’s an actual couple, not a Sam-couple [Hi Sam if you’re reading this, no offence intended.]{inside joke among my friends}) dozen meters without them, but it’s coming. In fact, I’m wearing a regular sandal right now instead of the shoe/boot the ER gave me, and it feels fine. In further fact, it feels better than the medical shoe while sitting still, and the same, if not slightly better, when I’m ambulatory (ten points to Ravenclaw for the long word). It’s still not comfortable without any shoe for all that long though, as some of the motions that can happen without a shoe are not comfortable.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say on both topics another day. Meanwhile, my next issues blog will probably show up sometime this weekend (possibly Friday).

Until next time: Live Long, Prosper, and make mine Marvel!
(Serial comma for the win!)

(Oh, and bonus points if you get the reference in the title of this post without using Google!)

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Why is politics so stupid?

Welcome to my first issues blog! Today’s issue is politics, specifically MN politics, but politics in general as well.

Those of my readers that are in Minnesota will probably know already that our state government has, at this writing, still not passed a state budget for fiscal year 2012, which starts July 1st. Which means, if they don’t, there will be some level of government shutdown starting Friday. It hasn’t passed because Republicans have majorities in both the MN house and Senate, but the governor (Mark Dayton) is a member of the Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) party (which is just what the state Democratic party calls itself, see the link for more info).

Here are a few links on the subject, from the least biased source I could find, Minnesota Public Radio. (The second one is a PDF.) They tell it like it is:
Minnesota Public Radio Shutdown FAQ

Differences between DFL and Republican budgets

My own executive summary is: Gov. Dayton wants to spend more than the legislature, including a tax hike on the wealthiest 2% of Minnesotans. He originally wanted to raise taxes on the wealthiest 5% of Minnesotans but in attempt to compromise he agreed to accept 2%. However, the current Republican mentality is to not raise taxes, on anyone, for any reason. Which sounds good, right? No one likes to pay more taxes. But the position shows a lack of critical thinking skills. It’s one thing to consider a topic, and have good reasons for saying ‘no.’ It’s quite another thing to not even consider the topic in the first place.

My question is: Why is politics so stupid? Can’t politicians see that a shutdown benefits NO ONE, INCLUDING THEIR OWN CONSTITUENTS?

Even better, why can’t politicians think for themselves instead of chanting whatever mantra their party tells them to chant? It’s like a mob mentality. A person is smart. A mob is dumb, even though it’s made up of nothing but people. The same is true of political parties (some more than others).

Thinking about this problem last week sometime I began to wonder if our system of government really works. It seems as though politicians are as concerned, if not more concerned, with doing their party’s bidding and getting re-elected, than they are with figuring out the best laws to pass, or not pass. My radical solution is a one term limit for all politicians. They’d have no incentive to do anything other than their job, since they cannot be re-elected. My even more radical solution is to disqualify anyone who can actually get elected in the first place. Both of these have problems, but could they really be worse than our current broken two-party system? It’s hard to imagine that they could be.

I guess I’m done ranting now.

Until next time: Have fun, don’t die, and make mine Marvel!

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Blog_Announcement

This is a short blog to announce that I am going to start doing ‘issues’ blogs in addition to the personal life update blogs. I’ll clearly mark them so that y’all can tell the difference and avoid reading one type or the other if you so desire. Probably the titles will make it obvious, but I’ll also tag them appropriately and one of the the first sentences will have the word issue or issues in it if it’s an issues blog, and will not if it’s not. The system may change over time if it’s not working for me.

In issues blogs I am going to take up issues such as philosophy, politics and laws, as well as current state, local, national, world, planetary system, solar system, stellar neighbourhood, spiral arm, galaxy, galactic cluster, and universal events when appropriate.

I’m going to write/post the first issues blog tomorrow (Monday) night sometime. It’s going to be mainly a Minnesota state issue blog, but will branch out into national stuff as well, if I get to it.

Other than that, not a lot to say right now, it’s close to the time I normally go to bed on a work night, and so I’m not going to ramble on much at this time.

Until next time:
Have fun, don’t die, and make mine Marvel!

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Kwik Trip to the Cities

Well, today I went on a business trip to the Twin Cities metro area, Burnsville to be exact. The building I went to is a support facility, meaning no production of photos gets done there, it’s mostly people who fix things that go wrong.

The trip up there was pretty straightforward, though it did rain on and off all the way there. I decided on a longer route that avoided any and all freeways, and didn’t have any problem at all getting there. I did make one minor mistake, but I caught it immediately, and didn’t even have to stop, merely turn off into one end of a parking lot, and go out a different way. I left my apartment at like 6:40ish and stopped for gas, and I also stopped just north of Lake City for a bit of a rest. I got to the building about 9:20.

At about 9:35 I was shown into a conference room, before we switched rooms so that we weren’t kicked out. My contact explained a bit and then went to find another one of the people helping with the project. They explained a bit more, and then had technical difficulties, and the second guy had to take me to his work area to show me the rest of the files and such. I then got a brief tour of the building, and chatted with the guy for a bit before leaving the building at about 11:05. So yeah, the drive was longer than the meeting, but it was productive. They seemed like good people, and the project itself should be interesting enough. It’s good to have more projects to work on.

I headed back the same way I came up. This time I made a bit more of a wrong turn at one point, but I was still going the correct direction, so I just stuck with it until I found a landmark I could use to get back on track. I stopped at Perkins for lunch in Hastings for about 1/2 hour, and got home around 3. I was slowed down several times on the way home by some serious, hard, rain, so that plus the lunch plus the wrong turn meant it took longer on the way home than on the way up.

I was ready for a nap when I got home though, and I did take one.

I realized later that this is, I think, the first time I’ve been to the Twin Cities metro area without ever being inside the Minneapolis or St. Paul city limits. I went from Hastings, to Rosemount, to Apple Valley, to Burnsville and the reverse, so just the south metro and not any core cities.

Tomorrow is my birthday, and as most people reading this will already know, I’m turning 35. I don’t have any strong feelings about that specifically. It’s a number, much like any other, and I’m not just writing that to write it. Oh well, happy birthday to me. 😉

Until next time:
Live Long, and Prosper

Posted in Life, Work | 4 Comments

Injury Update and Work Trip

In my last post I said I had more to say. This is that more to say. It involves several parts:

1. Discussion of crutches
2. Doctor’s Appointment
3. Business Trip

1. My Lesson 1 of foot bone fractures: Everything that involves standing or walking and related disciplines is harder on crutches. I essentially had to re-think how to do everything except laying on my couch (which is really a loveseat), and even that has some differences. The very first (major) problem: Stairs. They are tricky. The ER gave me a sheet with instructions for using crutches to go up and down stairs, and they are not bad per se, but on the night of the accident I got home and after getting onto the back porch (which itself is up 3 steps) and being faced with 7 or 8 more stairs to get up to my apartment, and being tired, and sore and hungry (since I was on my way home to make supper when the crash happened, and I didn’t get home until over 2 hours later) I decided the most prudent thing to do was to sit on the bottom step and use my good leg to propel myself up the steps backwards slowly. I can certainly hop up steps using the handrail and crutches, but more than a few in a row is very hard, and (I feel) not entirely safe.

My first trip down those same stairs on Sunday I also accomplished by sitting down and using my good leg as support to get down slowly. Since then I have managed a faster technique that is still safe, and really down is easier because gravity is not hindering matters.

Problem 2:
Walking and carrying things. OK, so I solved that one almost immediately by using bags with handles that can be held at the same time as a crutch handle, but it is a problem.

And there are other inconveniences as well, but you get the picture.

2. Doctor’s appointment. On Monday I called for the appointment the ER told me to have, and I got in right away, at 11:45 on Monday. I’m not going to drag this out and bore with minutia (much as I would like to. ;). Essentially, it’s all good news. The type of fracture I have almost always heals very well, and almost never needs any type of surgery. Full healing time is usually around 6 weeks. I got to see the xrays of my foot that they took at the ER, which was nice. The doctor put them up on a pretty big computer monitor (they do digital xrays these days as some of you may know already), which can apparently display a ridiculous number of shades of grey (very handy for xrays obviously). It was interesting to see, and the fracture was pretty obvious, even to
the untrained eye (me). I have another appointment in mid-July, by which point the doctor thinks that I’ll be wearing a regular shoe. He said that it will, generally, get better every day and that basically how the foot feels is a guide for how it’s healing.

The foot itself is doing better today (Tuesday) than it was on Saturday. I can shuffle along very slowly without the crutches, but it’s not really a good idea yet. I get it right 8 or 9 times out of 10 steps, but that 9th or 10th is painful and if something goes wrong (e.g. I lose my balance) I have only bad choices (fall or possibly make the foot worse). So I’m doing the smart thing and continuing to use the crutches for now.

3. Business trip. Tomorrow I am taking a trip, by myself to my company’s Burnsville location to meet with some people about writing a new manual. It should be interesting, the manual is going to be a ‘Best Practices’ manual. I’ve so far only done software, and I think this one is more than software, so I’ll be branching out into new territory for me. The meeting is at 9:30, so I’ll be leaving my apartment before 7 to give myself plenty of time. It’s supposed to be a half-day type meeting, so I could be back on the road as early as 2 or so, and back home by 4:30 or 5. I’ll write a blog about the trip, either tomorrow night or possibly Friday (I’m busy Thursday night), as I have all day off Friday for my birthday (which is Thursday).

So, until next time:
Have fun.
Don’t die.
Make mine Marvel.
Live Long and Prosper (What’s this, a new phrase at the end of my blog? Indeed it is! Should I keep it? Vote in the comments or on Facebook if you care!)

Posted in Blogging, Life, Work | 3 Comments

Broken Bone In Foot

As some of you may have seen on my Facebook page, I broke/fractured a bone in my left foot in a bike ‘crash’ on Friday evening. I promised more details, so here they are.

Last things first, I have what is colloquially known as a ‘Dancer’s Fracture,’ though mine did not involve dancing. What is a dancer’s fracture? This: http://www.footeducation.com/dancers-fracture-5th-metatarsal-avulsion-fracture

In my case, mine happened on a bicycle, but it’s definitely the same sort of injury. I do a lot of cycling when the weather is nice enough, and Friday was one of those days. I normally bike around the East lake bike path. Currently I bike 8 miles at high intensity, then rest for a bit, then bike to Kwik Trip (slowly) for a chocolate milk and then head home.

Friday I only managed part of that. The lake part went great, one of my better rides of the year, though I modified my route a bit due to the crowds and the practice boat races going on for Steamboat Days. The rest part went fairly normally, though again I rested in a different place than usual, to be further from the very loud racing boats.

The ride to Kwik Trip almost went normally. I now live in the East end of Winona, a few blocks from the Kwik Trip on Broadway and Mankato, so that is now my Kwik Trip of choice. The crash occurred right outside the Kwik Trip. It’s slightly hard to explain, but I’ll try. On the Broadway side of that KT there is a Mailbox right next to the building, with some sidewalk next to it. That is normally where I park my bike.
My route has me coming towards the river on the west side of Mankato (the same side as the KT), then turning slight left to KT.

On this particular day, I was feeling pretty good and chose an aggressive path, heading for the driveway on Broadway instead of crossing Broadway straight and going up the accessible ramp. It was going fine until I decided to take a shortcut through part of the grass.

Apparently the sidewalk is just raised enough above the grass, and my wheel hit it just enough on edge instead of straight on so that I lost partial control over the bike. What happened next is a bit hazy, because it happened pretty fast. What I remembered later, which may or may not be entirely accurate is that in my effort to regain control of my bike my left foot became pinned between one of the black poles that cars park in front of to keep them off the sidewalk, and my bike. I’m not 100% certain that’s what happened, but it is what I remembered immediately afterwards.

In any case, the impact with my left foot and whatever it hit was enough to slow me down quite a bit. The reason I put crash in quotes way up at the top of this post is that after the initial impact I managed to control the rest of my fall well enough that I didn’t have any injuries to any part of my body except the left foot.

Being smart, I did the smart thing and sat on the ground for a bit, not trying to stand up until I had assessed my injury. Two different people in cars asked if I was OK, and I didn’t know yet, so I said probably, and they drove off.

My left foot didn’t hurt much immediately, but I could tell it was injured. I touched it gingerly and found a bit sticking out that wasn’t normally there. I took my shoe and sock off and the skin wasn’t broken, but I saw a bump that wasn’t normally there. At that point I knew I had to go in to the ER, because it was probably broken or at least cracked and I don’t have and xray machine or medical training.

What I did next may be less than smart by some degree. Since it looked like it could possibly rain, I didn’t have my wallet with me, just my ID, $5, my phone and iPod, in a plastic bag. I also don’t take my car keys with me biking (they’re bulky and heavyish). So I managed to get back onto my bike, which I noted had a cracked (metal) pedal on the left and bike the block and a half to my apartment. I have an upstairs apartment and normally I store my bike in a closet in my kitchen. That wasn’t going to happen this time, so I left it outside and headed up. The stairs were not what I would call easy, but I managed them by putting some of my weight onto the non-injured side of my left foot. I then grabbed my car keys, my wallet, and put some ice in a sandwich bag to take along as well, since I didn’t know how long I’d have to wait and knew ice was a good idea. I managed to get my bike in the back of my station wagon as well.

I then drove to the hospital and parked much too far away. The walk from my car to the ER entrance was slow and long. Having never been to the ER before I didn’t know the protocol and immediately managed to walk into a secure area without anyone stopping me (someone was coming out as I came in, so that’s why the door to the treatment area was open). Luckily a nurse was nearby and after I told her I hadn’t been seen she directed me to the correct spot, where she met me after a minute or so. From there things went fairly smoothly, if a bit slowly. I got to watch some of the Twins game in-between waiting for the Dr. and then waiting to be taken to xray and then waiting for the Dr. again.

The diagnosis was broken bone. Apparently this sort of break normally heals pretty well, if somewhat slowly. Treatment is a special shoe and crutches for a while, as well as the normal ice, elevation etc. I do have to make a follow-up appointment with a foot specialist for further review, so there’s probably more to come there.

So, until next time (which will be soon, I have more to say, but this post is long enough):

Have fun, don’t die, and Make Mine Marvel!

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