Blog #180






   I met with my rheumatologist this morning.  He is 99 percent sure that I have good old fashion, wear-and-tear, just-getting-old osteoarthritis.  That is fantastic news.  He ordered a more detailed blood test just to be sure, however.  Osteoarthritis is no fun, but it's a walk in the park compared to rheumatoid arthritis.  I really was just hoping that I had a mild case of RA; I really didn't think that I would get out of there with such a relatively mild diagnosis.  Two and a half weeks ago my doctor's receptionist called and told me that I tested positive to RA and that I needed to find a  rheumatologist.  Since then I've come to terms with having RA and developed a positive attitude and determination in dealing with it.  Even though I never had RA in the first place, I feel very lucky.  I am still at a loss as to why going on a diabetic diet has relieved my pain so effectively.  I do like the idea of removing a drug from my system to relieve pain over adding a new one, however.


The Halls go to Chapin


   Sunday morning was IHM's open house; I didn't get home until 2:30.  By 3:30 we had packed the van and were on our way north toward the snow.  We rented skies for Svea and Brigitta.  I opted to get them skate skies even though the smallest ones they had in stock were too big.  They folks at Chapin told me they had never rented out skate skies to such young children.  I was surprised to hear this.  Fifteen years ago I taught/coached skate skiing to six year olds with the Anchorage Junior Nordic League; the technique was barely a decade old.  Regardless, the girls liked the skies and didn't want to trade them in for shorter ones.  They couldn't really skate without stepping on their own tails.  They both learned to effectively double pole, however.  It started to get dark after we checked their skies back in.  Joan took the girls to the sledding hill while I skied a few laps around the lighted loop.  It was pretty late by the time we got home, but we all had a nice evening.



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Blog #179




Lost and Out of my Comfort Zone


   Yesterday I team taught a class in Cleveland for diocese teachers on using/creating videos for the classroom.  For the past few nights I had been staying up late, writing, gathering files and preparing for this class.  Joan had helped me out in several ways including pasting the address for Corporate College East into Google Maps and printing out my directions and back-up maps.


   My day began horribly; have I ever mentioned that I hate freeways?  During my drive I realized that I had left my phone at home and my car's wiper squirter stopped working.  The roads and my windshield were white with salt and the sun was low.  I was on I-480 nearing my destination and took Exit 23 and then a right onto Broadway Avenue, like my directions said.  After turning onto Broadway Avenue I traveled past the 2.6 miles indicated by my directions.  The area was suburban, not collegiate.  I was seriously missing my phone.  I stopped at a mart for clearer directions.  Two kind gentlemen described how to get to Corporate College East. 

   Once I got back onto the freeway, I realized that I hadn't traveled far enough on I-480 when I exited, so I continued to follow my Google Maps directions.  Once I-480 swings west the exit numbers stop increasing and start decreasing.  Sure enough, seven miles further on I-480 there is a second Exit 23 for Broadway Avenue; that some really clever highway planning.  Broadway Avenue runs northwest; when I-480 swings 90 degrees it crosses the same Broadway Avenue again but a right turn takes you northwest instead of southeast.  I had to confirm this on a map today; even though I saw it first hand yesterday I doubted what I saw and remembered.  Did I mention that I hate freeways? 

   I was planning on arriving at 8:00 AM.  A breakfast was provided and the session started at 9:00.  My mistake had cost me 20 minutes; I was frustrated, but not terribly worried yet.  Two point six miles down Broadway Avenue is Richmond Avenue, not Richmond Road.  The only thing on Richmond Avenue is a welding business.  The area was small industrial, not collegiate.  I was exactly where my map indicated I should have been but clearly it was wrong, I didn't know anything about the area and I didn't have a phone.  Once again two kind gentlemen described how to get to Corporate College East.  When the first man started with, "Get back on the freeway..." I sighed heavily and the second man chimed in, "You're killing him that way."  The first man agreed, contemplated a second, and then explained that the cross road that the store was on would eventually run into Richmond Road.  After eight miles of city streets and millions of lights I made it to Richmond Road and Corporate College East.  It was 9:00, and I was a wreck. 

   Growing up in Alaska did not prepare me for freeway or big city driving; I remember when the first cloverleaf in the state was installed.  I love a treacherous, steep, snowy mountain road without guardrails, but have I ever mentioned that I hate freeways?


   I didn't really have a chance to eat or calm down before we began, but I was the third out of three to talk so I did get to compose myself a bit before I spoke.  I ended my portion with a sales pitch on why standard pocket digital cameras are better and cheaper than dedicated tape, DVD or hard drive camcorders.  Flash memory has made them a better option for many of the same reasons that iPods and MP3 players have replaced personal cassette and CD players.  After the initial presentations to the whole group, the class split into Mac users who moved to another classroom to learn iMovie (Mac) while the remaining 31 students remained to learn Windows Movie Maker.  The basic idea was that the students would be put into small teams, film footage on their own cameras, and then download and edit their clips on their laptops.  I was very happy with my scripting and filming plan and handout; the students were to script a short QVC commercial about an article of clothing that one of them was wearing. 

   The hardware gave us a lot of grief, however.  Many students were missing cables and many cameras shot incompatible video formats.  I've really only used Canon cameras at home and school and have never had any compatibility/file format problems.  Some students tried to download and run format converters with limited success.  At least one laptop that was too weak to run the software.  In a preplanning conference call, it was suggested that I bring raw footage in case we had students without cameras.  I burned a variety of raw clips onto CDs; it was the last thing I did the night before.  All 10 CDs made their way around the classrooms.  I also loaned my little pocket Cannon SD1000 to a few students; it proved to be simple and effective than many of the bigger, more expensive camcorders that were not useable without significant troubleshooting.  I hadn't anticipated that my sales pitch on pocket digital cameras being better than dedicated camcorders would prove itself true so soon.  I'm still kicking myself that I/we expected things would go more smoothly; I should have known better.  Then again I encourage my students in my clubs to buy and use digital cameras over camcorders so problems are rare; I'm not sure if I could have foreseen this had I contemplated it more. 

  The room came with a computer, two large screens and projectors.  The computer locked up a few times, however.  The plethora of problems pretty much killed any whole group instruction; everyone was terribly out of sync and scattered about the college filming or editing and troubleshooting in the classrooms.  I ended up spending most of my time working with individual groups.

   I am quite comfortable teaching children, but my students yesterday were fellow teachers who all had a good grasp on technology.  Many also are technology teachers; I was a bit intimidated teaching my peers.  It was a joy to have a class of students who were all 100 percent attentive, on task and quite capable; I didn't have to scold or redirect anyone all day! 



   Afterwards I skied seven miles at Chapin Forest.  It was only 30 minutes away and the drive home from the college or Chapin was about the same.  It made sense to bring my skies and gear.  When I got home Joan and I re-pasted the address for Corporate College East into Google Maps; it produced the same wrong location.  Today I tried it again several times and it produced the correct location.  What a time for a hiccup.



The Great Ones!

   The temperatures are still cold and the ice is still great.  I picked up some kiddy hockey sticks at a garage sale a few years ago.  When I saw the girls knocking a plastic cap around with a broom I dug them out.



Night Skating





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Blog #178



Cold Snap


   Temperatures have dropped and the skating pond is very solid for the first time this winter. 



On Saturday the rink was still in the "floating Icebergs" stage.  Large cracks developed and the sheets of ice rocked as the girls skated from one side to the other.


Chapin Forest.

   A closer study of roads on Google Earth reveled a shorter more direct route to the closest cross country ski area that grooms for skate skiing.  The drive was only about an hour on country roads. I really dread navigating unfamiliar freeways; simple slower country roads make more sense to me.  My car likes them more as well.  Chapin Forest is less than seven miles from Lake Erie and received several inches of lake effect snow over the past two days.  Many portions of the trails had exposed rocks, so I used my old skis.  I did get to use my new boots, however.  They are a fantastic improvement over my old, obsolete worn out ones.  My old boots would leave my ankles and feet fatigued and sore because they offered so little support.  I managed to skate ski seven miles today and enjoyed it very much. 



   I bought a new bike on Saturday.  My sixteen year old mountain bike has become very difficult to shift and had a few other problems.  I brought it to Eddy's bike Shop for repair but the essential replacement parts and service were going to be over half the cost of a new bike.  My new bike is a Trek hybrid, which halfway between a mountain bike and a road bike.  It's geared much higher than a mountain bike and has larger but thinner high pressure wheels/tires.  It shifts beautifully every time.  I attempted to ride my usual 25 mile loop.  The fourteen degree temperature got to my toes, they were cold and numb so I called Joan and had her meet me and pick me up at the 18 mile mark.  My ride seemed slower than normal.  I think the fact that I was bundled up and in a more upright position created much more air drag.  I've only ridden a few times in the past two months; that along with the colder temperatures and wind makes it difficult to compare my old bike to my new one.  The trek's handlebar can be adjusted so I dropped it a couple of inches to match the bar height of my old bike.  After a quick spin tonight, I'd swear that it feels faster.  Below is a picture that I took last week; the Cuyahoga River flooded several areas including this section of the bike trail.


RA update

   My appointment with my rheumatologist is in one week.  My fear and anxiety of dealing with RA has lessened greatly.  I talked to my regular doctor on the 11th; my health will not necessarily be as grim as I feared.  I've also spoken to several people at work including someone who has RA.  It certainly has given her a hard time, but she has given me some pretty good advice.  She said that white processed sugar always makes her joints hurt. Also red meat, caffeine and anything with white processed four. She had medical explanations to back it up. Considering that my father and brother have adult onset diabetes and that I consume way too much sugar, I've almost gone cold turkey on sugar. In the last week and a half I've allowed myself one square of dark chocolate a day and have used a little bit of honey as a sweetener. Joan has been really good and has made homemade granola and other no/low sugar foods.  My father-in-law is diabetic so we already have no sugar jams, syrups, etc. Iíve dropped red meat and caffeine and have cut way back on things made with white flour.  Iíve also been getting more sleep. Iím not sure which has had the greatest effect, but my hands have been hurting noticeably less. Overall I feel better too; go figure. I need to work more at exercise and stretching.


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Blog #177



Rheumatoid Arthritis


   Yes, that is my left pinky.  My hands have been hurting for perhaps the past six months and it has been getting worse.  I saw my doctor about it a few months ago; he prescribed anti-inflammatory medication.  Nerve conductivity tests appeared normal.  The medication helps, but my pinkies can no longer point straight and they are prone to pain.  So far, rheumatoid nodules are only visible on the end knuckles of my pinkies.  I also have had much pain where my thumbs connect to my hand, mostly on my right.  This pain is more constant and seems to involve tendons and muscles. 

   On Tuesday I went back to my doctor and he prescribed a blood test to look for RA and other possible causes.  The results came back today; my results indicate that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and I need to find a Rheumatologist.  RA is a painful, incurable and crippling disease.  I need a good doctor and everything that modern medicine has to offer.



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Blog #177



A January Sunset Paddle

I went for a paddle after work today; it's been a long time since I've been in the water.



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Blog #176



A Day of Annika's Firsts


Annika had her first real haircut today.


A bit later she went ice skating for the first time.  She never truly glided, but she only fell down once.


Svea and Brigitta skated with her a bit.  


Skater girls.


Happy Svea Day


   Wednesday, January second, is Svea's Name Day in Sweden; we celebrate all three girls' Name Days like mini birthdays.  Svea has taken a liking to dragons, wizards and magic.  She is finishing the fourth Harry Potter book this week, so we've stocked her up on more reading materiel.


Brigitta made her a card.


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Blog #175




Happy New Year!


Watch the Official Tallmadge New Years Ball Drop


  I ended 2007 with a brisk 25 mile bike ride; although it was cold out I was dressed just right.  It's been a few weeks since I've ridden so it was nice to get out.  There finally is snow and cold temperatures in the forecast, so I may be skiing and the girls may be skating soon.  Joan, Svea and Brigitta and I saw The Waterhorse tonight; it was a great show and we all enjoyed it.  I finished repainting the Ski doo last night; come on snow!



The Orton Effect

   The Orton Effect is a computer generated post processing effect that can give an ordinary digital photograph a painterly glow.  The effect is achieved by creating more than one layer of the same photo, blurring one layer, and merging the two layers back into one.  View several "Ortanized" photos on my new Orton Effect page.



Kelly Bash

In case you missed it, pictures with captions of the 38th Annual Christmas Kelly Bash can be found on this page.  A three minute movie of the group photos can be found on our Movie Page.


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