Archive for the ‘Fitness & Health’ Category

I’ve been sick

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

For a while, actually. I originally came down with it at Christmas, and the medicine I was prescribed seemed to work fairly well. Unfortunately, I suffered a relapse. I got prescribed more antibiotics, but it’s been a struggle. At one point, I spent five consecutive days flat on my back, all day, every day.

I’m much better now, but I still have a bit of a cough and my voice isn’t completely back. I was going to go to a local ukulele jam tonight, but I came home from work exhausted and took a nap, and it’s too late to show up now.

I’ve been accumulating links, and I may make a huge “miscellany” post, or I may go through and keep the reference links and discard the rest. I’ll decide that later. Maybe.

I think I’ve read this before

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

… but it’s not unwelcome. According to researchers, men get health benefits from looking at busty women.

It reminds me of the days I used to get up early to watch “20 Minute Workout.” I used to joke that it got my heartrate up even if I only sat and watched it. Apparently, I wasn’t wrong.

Now to adjust my workout plans.

I am a mouth-breather

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

I don’t mean that in any derogatory way; I’m somewhat under the weather and have suffered from congestion for most of a week. Enough that it’s not worth using my CPAP at night, which doesn’t help my rest, either. It built into some kind of full-blown cold this morning, with coughing and sneezing jags.

Ah, well. Has to happen now and then, I suppose.

Olympian activities

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

As the Olympics are currently underway, it’s worth remembering that not all the action and drama takes place on the field (or in the pool, on the court, etc.).

I’d read about the sexual activity at the Games before, but had forgotten sometime in the past several years.

Some of the drama occurs because of cheating or poor judging. Biased judging, if not to the level of actual corruption, has been around for quite some time. I can remember one Winter Olympiad when, during one of the ice skating events, I heard one of the commentators mention that one of the judges had deducted points from one competitor because of their choice of music.

The big scandal so far in these games relates to badminton teams trying to lose in order to better their chances for later in the competition. It got so bad that one match was booed by the spectators. Here’s some video of the game in question, although it’s pretty short and disjointed.

Poor judging can have repercussions beyond the official standings. Even when the athletes accept their medals, they don’t always keep them – although that’s sometimes for altruistic reasons, as noted in the link.

Not everyone likes the Olympics. I’ll usually watch, but not always – there are events I won’t watch, because I don’t believe they belong. That’s a rant for another time, but it boils down to the Olympic motto: Citius, altius, fortius. If you can’t determine victory with a stopwatch, a tape measure, or a scale, I don’t think it belongs. Anything with style points or technique judging is right out. YMMV. Certainly, many of the most popular events wouldn’t be allowed under my rules.

Mike notes that the Olympics are popular with a lot of people who are normally hostile to popular sports, and suggests a reason why. He may have a point. Selwyn Duke notes something that may be supporting evidence, depending on whether the reporters were ignorant about athletics or deliberately trying to mislead the public.

Neo likes the Olympics, but doesn’t appreciate the change that has occurred in women’s gymnastics over the last few decades. I can see and understand her point, and even agree with her conclusion. Women’s gymnastics is a much more vigorous athletic endeavor these days, but the gymnasts I’ve been watching don’t have the grace Tourischeva and others had. However, refresh your memory about my earlier comment above about stop watches, etc.

Slate has an interesting interactive toy that allows you to compare previous Olympic gold-medal performances in some of the events.

Speaking of Usain Bolt, who is mentioned in the headline of the Slate article, he’s a class act.

Finally, NBC has been catching grief concerning their coverage of the Games, particularly their online streaming (which I haven’t tried). This is perhaps the most pointed, yet gentle, commentary I’ve seen on the subject.

Miscellany 22

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

I see by the clock on the clubhouse wall that I haven’t posted in a month. Sorry.

Then again, nobody’s been complaining … about that, anyway.

Be that as it may, I’m going to clean out some tabs and saved links.

Back around 1985, my boss brought in a summer intern and told me to get some use out of him. Four days later, we sent him back to his professor – I’d spent about 10 hours over those four days explaining to him in detail how to write a program that would have taken me somewhere around an hour to write. The problem was that he had only written Pascal programs on VAX hardware, and had no conception of how a program could actually deal with the underlying hardware itself. I was reminded of that when I ran across Real Programmers Don’t Use Pascal. I remember that from when it first appeared – I didn’t get Datamation, but I had coworkers who did. Don’t skip the linked “Story of Mel,” which also is pretty good.

I have a hand-cranked radio, but this is something else: a wind-up AA battery.

This article on medical school acceptance rates by race is pretty horrifying. It reminds me of an article I read some time ago that made the case that affirmative action was reducing the number of minority (specifically, black) attorneys. The mechanism proposed was that blacks would be admitted to law schools that their scores wouldn’t get them into if they were white, which made it harder to keep up with the rest of the student body, so they’d drop out. It is likely they’d have been able to graduate from a less-prestigious (and less difficult) school, so affirmative action had the exact opposite of the purported effect.

This is cool – do-it-yourself eye exams on a smartphone.

This is also cool – electric currents passing through the brain can induce a state more conducive to learning. Be careful if you do it yourself, though. More here.

I wish this had been available when I broke my ankle last year.

Some kids are smart. Ten-year-old Clara Lazen is going to have plenty of geek cred for coming up with a previously-unknown molecule that’s likely to be explosive.

A one-stroke penalty if a bomb goes off during your swing? That seems harsh.

This is one of those articles that’s worth it just for the headline. So is this one.

I’m amazed that someone could call the first score of the Super Bowl correctly.

To solve a problem, you need to define it correctly. Even without committing a category error, it could be that you are solving the wrong problem.

This is another of those computer toys that let you get an idea of the scale of the universe. I wish things like this had been available when I was a child. We had to make do with the movie “Powers of Ten.” Of course, I was in high school when that came out, so it’s still not a childhood memory, per se.

Speaking of films, I’ve seen two of these. I suspect my daughter has seen more of them than I have. If not, she probably will after checking out the list.

Several years ago, my doctor told me to start taking a daily aspirin. I had to give it up a few months later, because I was getting frequent nosebleeds. If only I had known the healing power of bacon! I fear my cats may have caused problems, though.

Slightly related to that, there’s good news about eating fried foods. It doesn’t match up with Satchel Paige’s advice not to eat fried food because “it angrifies the blood,” but I suspect the food he was familiar with was fried in different oils.

Attractions, flotation devices, or airbags. I’m glad her breasts helped, but I consider her misshapen. I remember the news stories when she acquired the infection that caused her to get reduction surgery – she’d had to go to Brazil because doctors in the US wouldn’t expand her breasts any more.

Speaking of breasts, I’ve seen a few protests here and there, but I’ve yet to witness one like this. (NSFW, unless topless women are allowed by your office dress code.)

How to distract your enemy. I particularly enjoy the third panel.

Lots of older periodicals available here.

Speaking of reading, I’m going to be waiting for this e-book app to become available. I just hope that it doesn’t require a new proprietary DRM’d format.

Some nice music here. I listened to several of the young lady’s other videos, and they were nice. A bit too similar for listening to in a block, but they’d be very nice in a shuffle.

If your taste runs to psychedelic music, try this. I have the Nuggets LP in a box in my garage. If I’m remembering correctly, I’ve got the 1976 release, not the earlier one.

Here’s an interesting music game.

Besides seeming a bit tacky, is a Titanic Memorial Cruise a good idea? Some people don’t think so. Having been on one cruise myself (which I quite enjoyed, actually), I’ll admit to some misgivings. It makes me wonder how I ever managed when I was in the Navy.

I do fairly well with English grammar. Many of the things I read would irk me less if their authors took this advice to heart.

I could add more to this post, but I think I’ll finish with this tweet that expresses an awe that I’ve experienced when reading code.

Miscellany 18

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Just some things that have been hanging around.

This is a useful site for learning to play the ukulele. If you want to start from the beginning, here’s the first post. Unfortunately, the site doesn’t have an easy way to access the archives.

Tired of people who don’t know how to spell or which homophone to use? Here’s a potential solution.

Want a guess as to how long you’ll live? This site tells me I can expect about another 27 years.

Can spiraling help you run faster? I don’t have the knees to run for exercise anymore (and I’m still coming back from my broken ankle, besides), but this sounds interesting.

Sometimes, science fiction can be eerily prophetic. A couple more by Heinlein that they could have mentioned are his prediction of the waterbed in Stranger in a Strange Land (which was actually referenced as prior art to invalidate a patent application), and his prediction in the story Waldo that telephone answering machines would be used to screen incoming calls.

I’m not terribly familiar with it yet, but I’m becoming quite taken with the music of Flanders and Swann. It’s certainly more interesting than this concert.

Scientist trading cards. The people behind these also pulled off a neat guerilla art prank.

Oh, wow, man! The colors!

I can’t believe it! (via Theo Spark – the site is possibly NSFW, YMMV)

The rarely-seen arborial moose. Must have been trying to visit Rocky.

And, to finish up, a list of the ten deadliest toys of all time. I’m not sure I agree with all of their choices, particularly with the “of all time” qualifier, but it’s probably a pretty good starting point for the years since about 1950.

This is a post I’ve been putting off

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

I wrote it about three weeks ago, but I’ve been putting off posting it because I don’t like conflict. I did promise these people that I’d post about it, though, and now that the doctor has told me to start walking without the support boot, it’s time and past time.


Now that my broken ankle is healing, I’ve been wearing a boot for support. The boot was supplied by Rocky Mountain Medical Equipment, and they’ve sent me an invoice for $240.92. I called them last week to see if I can get a discounted price, because I don’t have medical insurance. Most places will give discounts to people without insurance, because there’s less paperwork involved, and my understanding is that the payments tend to come through more quickly if an insurance company isn’t in the middle of the process. I couldn’t get an answer when I called, because the manager (whose name I wasn’t given, and forgot to ask for) was out of the office that day, and all discount requests had to be approved by the manager.

I heard back from them Friday, to the effect that the price quoted in the invoice already included a 15% discount. I find this difficult to believe, because of the evidence shown in the following two pictures.

Ortho price list

Part of the bill

I scanned these from the invoice package. Note that the price of the “walker boot” on the form in the first photo is what I was invoiced, and note that there is no entry in the area provided for “discount” in the second photo. I suppose it’s possible that the price list I saw at Dr. Shannon’s office is a custom one specifically for people without medical insurance, but how likely is that? I’d say there’s zero possibility, since another part of the form talks about what may or may not be covered by insurance. Wouldn’t you expect the invoice to show the original price and the discount? I certainly would. And how hard is it for them to determine whether an invoice has had a discount applied? I see three possibilities here:

1. The price includes a 15% discount that is not noted on the invoice, and I was shown a custom “discounted for no insurance” price list.
2. The price is not discounted, but they presumed it is because I asked about it, and they didn’t bother checking the invoice.
3. The price is not discounted, but they told me it was so they could get full payment.

The billed price is troubling to me, because I found the exact same boot available online for $79.95. I realize that things are normally cheaper online, but by a full factor of three? I was presuming that the invoiced price was the full retail price, and felt that if Rocky Mountain Medical Equipment provided me with the same 40% discount that both Dr. Shannon’s office and the hospital have already provided me, then the price would not have been tremendously out of line. Presuming about $20 shipping costs (which is probably high) for the online purchase, a 40% discount would have made the prices about $140 versus about $100. This is still a significant difference, but justifiable.

If the quoted price is already discounted by 15%, then their retail price is more than $280, well over three times the cost to purchase online, possibly even including shipping. This, to me, is unreasonable, if not unconscionable. Either Rocky Mountain Medical Equipment is price-gouging, or their overhead costs are so high that it’s obvious that they don’t know how to run an efficient business. Not to mention that their staff appears to be dishonest, clueless, or lazy.

Progress report

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

I got my cast off last Friday morning, and got a boot to replace it. Life is better now, both for me and for those around me.

For me, it’s better because I can get around better now that I can put weight on my right foot. I can make do with one crutch if I need a hand free, and can even hobble a few steps without crutches. Now that the cast is off, I don’t have to spend time sealing a plastic bag over my leg to take a shower, so I’m not only taking them more often, but I’m able to scrub my right leg, and let me tell you, it needs it. I’ve got so much skin coming off it’s like I subjected my lower leg and foot to multiple sunburns.

The leg is ugly, though. Between the swelling and the loss of muscle tone, it looks like a flabby pipe – pretty much cylindrical all the way down, and no definition visible. That’s going to change as I accustom myself to using it again. It’s slow going, though – after two months of “don’t use the right foot,” I find myself forgetting to put it down and suddenly realizing that I’m moving around on just the left leg and the crutches.

I don’t wear the boot all the time; I have to exercise the ankle joint for flexibility, and the boot prevents that. Dr. Shannon talked about “writing the alphabet” with my toes, but I tried that once, and decided that I preferred just doing twists, tilts, and rotations. They seem to force a greater range of motion than practicing “air penmanship” with my foot. Then again, maybe some Palmer Method exercises … ?

This story has legs

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

Well, one, at least.

I went in yesterday morning to have my cast removed and X-rays taken to evaluate how it’s healing. The break is healing, but not as quickly as hoped. What looks to be the big problem is that my foot is out of position within the ankle joint – it’s positioned too far to the outside, leaving a gap next to the tibia.

What this means is that I’m more likely to come down with arthritis in the joint at some indeterminate time in the future. There’s still a lot of bruising evident on the foot, and Dr. Shannon’s concern is that the ligaments on the inside of the foot may not be healing quickly enough, which could leave me with the dreaded “floppy ankle” if the ligaments lag too far behind the bone in healing.

In any case, I’ve got another cast on, and go back for my next scheduled evaluation in a month.

I do have a leg to stand on

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

… but only the one. Here’s why the other can’t be used:

Ankle X-Ray

When I talked to the surgeon (Dr. Shannon) on Monday, he said that my options were two: an operation, during which he’d put a plate and a screw into my ankle, or just having a cast put on it. The possible failure modes were very similar for both treatments, but there were a couple of extra potential problems if I had the operation (such as infection). I was concerned about the cost of the operation, because I have no medical insurance, but his charges were going to be under $600 for the surgery, so I thought it might be affordable. He made an reservation for an operating theater for Wednesday morning in case I made that decision.

Then I talked with the hospital. Their charges, even after a 40% discount because I was paying myself, would be expected to run in the $17K-$22K+ range. I didn’t even bother to find out what the anesthesiologist would charge; there’s no way I can justify that much money.

So, yesterday morning, I got my cast. I wasn’t aware at first why it couldn’t have been put on Wednesday during the time that had been set up for the operation, but they apparently wanted an extra day or two to let my ankle reach its maximum swelling. I took these photos after they took off my splint, just to have a record of the bruising and swelling:

These are the impressive bruises. The break is on the other side of the ankle, but I’ve got tendon and ligament damage on this side.

Inside bruising

This is the side with the broken bone. There’s bruising, but this is probably the best shot for highlighting the swelling.

Outside bruising

This shot shows how far up the shin the bruising extends. I was surprised, myself.

Up the leg bruising

I don’t regret going for a cast instead of the operation. As I noted earlier, the potential outcomes and drawbacks are similar. The operation has a couple of extra potential drawbacks to counterbalance the potentially-but-not-guaranteed-better outcome. Dr. Shannon also noted that one of his mentors feels that ankle surgery is recommended too aggressively these days. His evidence was that people with knee and hip surgery from 30-40 years ago were getting arthritis in those joints and needing new surgeries done, but people with ankle surgeries of similar vintage weren’t getting arthritis nor were they needing ankle fusion operations.

So far, apart from finding out just how much exertion getting around on crutches requires (particularly dealing with stairs – I’ve been sleeping on the couch to avoid them), transport is my biggest problem. Because it’s my right ankle that’s injured, I’m not going to be able to drive a car until it’s completely healed. Bugger.

This morning was the regular third-Saturday-of-the-month ukulele club meeting at Swallow Hill. I’d planned on going, but was unable to. I did go out on my back patio and play ukulele for a while this afternoon, and I also found a fun “Spot the Ukulele” game at Maggie’s Farm. I’ll probably play that several more times until I can get to meetings again.