Super Fun Sunday Footbag Session

After 5 years of publishing almost exclusively single-rally videos, I’ve run completely off the rails with this one. I think it’s the longest footbag video I’ve ever published. It was that kind of day on Speakers Circle today!

If you can make it all the way through, I had at least a dozen rallies well over a minute long. I called, and delivered, the last 3 of the day. A Super Awesome Footbag Sunday on Speakers Circle!

Accounting: Since the last blog post, where I had hurt my ankle and railed against the Medical Industrial complex, I started kicking again 5 weeks after injury. Here’s the rundown:

Time totals: 10:05 since last post of 40:30, so I’m at 50:35 for the year. My original goal of That means I’ve got ~24.5 hours to go to meet my annual goal of 75 hours. I’ve got… 10 more weeks. That’s almost 2-1/2 hours per week to hit my goal. 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Don’t think I’m gonna make it, but the Homie Hole might be busy the rest of the year trying. If my ankle stays well enough.

Next up: the disappointing medical shrug over my chronic ankle problems. In the meantime, thanks for tuning in!

 

I don’t really hate them all, I’m sorry I said that

Dear US Healthcare workers: I don’t really hate you. I’m sorry I said that. The vast majority of healthcare workers are kind and wonderful people; there because they really want to help.

I still have bad experiences though, and I marvel at that: almost everyone involved is a good person. People are trying their best. Yet for me, results seem 50/50 at best. Statistically, my criticisms of US healthcare are valid: we really do pay twice as much per capita as every other civilized country for healthcare, yet have some of the worst outcomes.

I have my opinions about why: Our chosen cost control and fraud prevention mechanism has become the fraud, and cost, in the system.

It all started with Ross Perot back in the 70’s. Medicare hired his (at the time) tiny little firm, EDS, to implement an electronic record keeping system. Back in the infancy of computing, memory was expensive. A coding system was implemented to represent descriptions of things to save memory. It was also implemented as a cost control measure; since it was all standardized, and computerized, they could easily search for and reject procedures that didn’t “match” with diagnostic codes, and reject any other errors or perceived discrepancies as well.

This government contract is where Ross Perot got all his money.

The private insurance industry quickly followed suit. Almost immediately, administrative warfare developed. Doctors and institutions had to hire staff to code and submit claims; insurance companies hired legions of claims processors to scrutinize and deny anything they could. The grain and complexity of the coding system quickly multiplied with growing computing ability and everyone’s vested interest in trying to either get paid, or not pay, for every little thing.

Today, this is known as the ICD-X coding system, where X is the current version. We are currently transitioning from ICD-9 to ICD-10. In this dictionary of medical procedure codes is virtually every single individual pill, poke, prod, pad, process, procedure, etc. that exists in the medical world. And it all has to be tracked, submitted, scrutinized, rejected, argued about, resubmitted… every. tiny. little. detail. This is why a tylenol costs $10 at a hospital; the pill is dirt cheap, but… the tracking of it is insanely expensive.

Today, this administrative warfare costs us about 25% of our total healthcare bill.  What was supposed to prevent fraud and waste, has become the fraud, waste, and useless expense in our system.

What’s worse, the system seems to have grown to absolute dominance. Everybody is trapped in the belly of this beast. This is why, despite the best intentions of the vast majority of healthcare peeps, the outcomes remain poor.

I am sorry I spoke so harshly about so many people trapped in the belly of the beast. I do not hate any of you; you are truly wonderful people.

I just want the beast to die, and for all of us freed from the madness.

Injured. Again.

It’s mostly been a good summer at City Hall. But, my back and ankle problems have culminated in this:

So yeah. Ouch. 4 days later, it’s not a bad sprain, but it’s still going to take me out for a couple of weeks at least. I’ve been keeping it up as much as possible, and applying Arnica on it 3-4 times a day. But I’m still working, I’m not taking time off, and a day at work means walking, lifting, and climbing ladders. It hurts, and it costs me healing and recovery.

I’m not entirely sure what to do next. I think I’ve had a discreet chronic minor ankle injury that I’ve just turned into an acute major ankle injury. But I’ve also got back problems that I think are affecting my ankle. I need help from medical professionals. Unfortunately…

Have I mentioned how much I despise the medical industrial complex? I need to see a doctor. I’ve got a good sports orthopedic doc, it just takes a while to get in to see him and he is just good, not right all the time. I need to see a chiropractor regularly, but that takes time and money, the two things I never seem to have enough of.

But seriously, fuck the American medical industrial complex. I have paid, and continue to pay, so much, for the privilege of having bad experiences with doctors and insurance and medical facilities. I hate them, I hate them all. I hate them fully and completely without any reservation. The American medical industrial complex is a thoroughly corrupt, greedy, inept, totally fucked up system. It does not help me, it just takes my money. And usually, wastes my time too. 

For myself, I’m going to start my back exercises again. That’s something I can do, that probably won’t hurt, doesn’t cost money, and doesn’t require someone else to help me or forms or appointments. It’s just the time and commitment of doing it regularly. I never seem to have any time to do anything else, especially not take care of myself.

Except, for one thing: Playing footbag has been how I’ve taken care of myself, in so many ways, for so many years. Physically, mentally, spiritually; footbag has been my refreshment and salvation. Yet, to be able to do this one thing I do, to take care of myself, I must consistently fight other people, and always the weather, to do it.

This IS the time I take to take care of myself. And, It’s already a constant battle to get that time: One pre-scheduled time slot a week, no rainchecks, no concessions. So, I work my ass off the rest of the week, fight like hell, and make make damn sure I get that time. But, it seems to be all the fight I’ve got, and all the taking care of myself time I get. It doesn’t matter whether or not I can walk; I may not get to play footbag, but I’ve still got to carry my own laundry up and down two flights of stairs.

Speaking of time, here’s the scoreboard for the year:

June 26th: Yet Another Great PhatTyre Sport First Rally and A Fun Thirty One – 2 hrs

July 3rd: 3rd of July – 1 hr

July 11th: More Props at City Hall – 1/2 hour solo, 1 hr circle hack, I’m calling it – 1 hr

July 18th: First Fun Then Disaster (above) – 1 hr

That puts me at 40:30 for the year. I had *just* caught up, but then my ankle has limited my play time, putting me 3 hours behind, and destined to get even farther behind now that I’m injured and need to take a week or two off.

By the time I can kick again, I will have to kick 2 full hours every week the rest of the year to meet my goal. But I can’t even kick that much in a single weekly session right now. The only way I’m going to make that goal, is a lot of time in the Homie Hole. Mark my word: there will be issues. If kicking in the Homie Hole regularly is the only way I can play footbag, I expect it to become a fight to be able to play there at all. Bring it the fuck on.

Thanks for tuning in!

The Health Report

Yeah here it comes. Maybe I give you a video first.

Session time accounting:

Total footbag playing time for the year so far: 35:30. One more 2-hour session this month, and I will be right at “Par” for the year!

Now, back to the health report…

From the top: My Eyes! My Eyes! Yeah my vision is getting worse, both farsighted and nearsighted these days. But it doesn’t seem to affect footbag much, I can still see the bag at that range OK without my glasses.

My neck and back are what affects footbag. I have an arthritic disc in my lower back that causes sciatica mostly in my left leg. I also have the top two vertebra in my neck fused together, probably since early childhood. It’s never bothered me much before, but I’m getting the same kinds of pains and problems in my left arm now, that I get in my left leg from my lower back. In fact the entire left side of my body seems to be experiencing intermittent neuropathy now. My left foot often feels like it doesn’t quite fit in shoes correctly anymore.

The neck and back problems wax and wane together: left hip and shoulder, progressing to radiating down leg / arm, sometimes causing numbness at extremities, and lots of popping at the joints, probably because the muscles aren’t all working together like they are supposed to.

Next is the chondromalacia, a roughening of the surface of the back side of the kneecap. It causes excruciating pain when bending down too far on the knees. I’ve taken glucosamine-chondrointin pills for a while after the first big flare-up, and the pain mostly went away. But I tapered off and stopped taking them due to side effects (gnarly gas, if you must know). The problem (knee pain not gas) seems to be coming back slowly but surely as I play more during the summer. I may be forced back onto the pills.

Finally, my ankles. Sometimes I’m not sure how much of my ankle pain is phantom from my back problems, but both of my ankles seem to be re-living earlier injuries. My right ankle has recovered from being broken almost 2 years ago, and only occasionally hurts. But my left ankle gets to hurting real bad, popping, and just feeling… out of alignment. Playing footbag makes it better to a point, which if I cross, it will start hurting way worse again a couple days after the session.

Wait, there’s just a bit more: Athlete’s foot! Over the last couple of years, I’ve developed a new kind of athlete’s foot type of irritation. Basically, it acts almost exactly like poison ivy exposure. Just as itchy, develops fluid bubbles, inflammation that constricts bloodflow and causes numbness… it itches so bad it drives me insane. The first couple of years I only got it for a bit during the winter. Last couple of years has gotten progressively worse, until I had it pretty much all winter this winter, and while the rash has gone away, I can tell my feet haven’t really completely recovered. There seems to be permanent tissue damage in a couple of my left toes now, and I’m very afraid it will be even worse next winter.

I suppose I could prattle on about other age-related problems, but these are the musculoskeletal issues that affect my footbag. The interesting / paradoxical point to all this is, how important playing footbag seems to be to keeping my back from getting worse. Not playing allows the sciatica to get much worse. I’ve gotten to the point where it hurts to play, but it hurts not to play, too. Given those rules, you bet your ass I’m gonna play. I still love the game.

I believe I need good chiropractic care first, but despair at the thought how much it will cost, even with good insurance. It takes time, too. I’ve been managing without OK for a lot of years now. Maybe I need to just break down and do the thing, and hope for the best.

Speaking of hoping, let’s hope next post is something more exciting than an old man’s list of body ailments. Until then, thanks for tuning in and keep kicking!

New Blog and all that Footbag

Welcome to the new h4x354x0r.com! My old blog platform was so bad, it got discontinued. I had to migrate to a WordPress site. All my posts are here, but I’ve lost all the comments.

Anyway, back to footbag. Summertime City Hall venue is in full swing!

While I’m now experiencing intermittent neuropathic problems on the left side of my body, I’m still pushing Footbag, still kicking. Here’s the litany of sessions since last blog post:

Beginning Time Total - 6:55

Early Springtime HackMan Bloom – 3/7 – 2:00

Smoking Hot Old Time FiddleConsecutive Knee Kicks – 3/15 – 1:45

Spring Break Sunday – 3/30 – 1:45

Bustin’ Hacky Sack in Speakers Circle – 4/6 – 2:00

Friday Circle Fun – 4/11 – 2:00

Hot Cold Blackshirt Thursday – 4/17 – 1:45

Funky Chicken Friday – 4/25 – 2:00

Bizarro Clothing Session – 5/1 – 1:15

Earth Day! (no video) – 5/4 – 1:30

End of Semester Circle – 5/15 – 1:00 (~2+ hrs circle)

Spring 2014 Graduation Session – 5/18 – 1:45

Welcome to City Hall! and City Hall Gateway Shred – 5/22 – 1:45

Honeymoon already Over – 5/29 – 1:30

and, of course, City Hall the 3rd above – 6/5 – 1:45

…plus a couple other undisclosed misc. hack sessions – 1:05

Total Footbag Time So Far in 2014 – 31:45

Goal for Year: 75 hrs

Time elapsed: 158/365 days – 43%  – 32:30 of 75 hrs

Holy cow I’m still behind “Par” by about 45 minutes! That just shows you how hard winter hit me this year, not having a good place to play. That won’t happen next year. The Homie Hole will live again.

Thanks for tuning in!

(fair word of warning the next blog post will be the Health Problems edition)

 

 

Desperation leads to the Homie Hole

I had an incredible streak of 3 out of 4 Sundays kicking outdoors around new years, then… nothing. Bleak cold, snow, horrible weather. Weeks of it. Desperation set in, and I couldn’t restrain myself any more. Witness the Homie Hole

You saw the scoreboard right, that’s another 1:25 on the books. 6:55 for the year, and I’ve used the Homie Hole to take down an annual footbag goal, kicking 2,014 consecutives for the year without missing, in 17:37. 
As far as my kicking time goal goes, I’ve let myself get way behind, I should be sitting on 13-14 hours by now. That’s why I’ve gotten this desperate. But it looks like weather will allow the first springtime bloom of Hack Man on Speakers Circle Friday March 6th – tomorrow, at this posting. And now, I have the Homie hole there to provide base support. 
One more kicking goal I’ve set my sights on, is 41 3’s in 14. 41-3-14. Minimum 7 unique on each side, at least one pair of 4-adders (i.e. torques). Last year’s best was 34 with only (I think) 5 uniques, so that’s a pretty ambitious increase. Not sure I’ll be able to hit this one, but I’m starting early, so I’ll be able to give it at least a thousand tries.
To keep the Homie Hole from getting out of hand, I’m setting a 30 minute time limit per session. 4 days a week would give me 2 hours per week total, even when the weather is bad. That pace would still put me ahead of my goal for the year. I could sustain that pace in the Homie Hole if needed. Knowing that gives me a profound sense of footbag security. 
Just don’t expect me to kick down there, if it’s nice outside
Thanks for tuning in! 

2014 Dreams and Goals, 2013 Review

Sure, it’s a bit late for this, but I’m finally reconciling last year’s goals with the final reality, and setting a few new goals for this year. Last year’s goals: 

1. 75 hours of Footbag. Final tally for 2013: 81 hours. Whew, I barely made that, but… I did! 
2. 3,000 Km on the bike. Final mileage for 2013: 5,050 Km. A great year on the bike, tinged with sadness that my old Fuji Roubaix, the bike I’ve ridden for the last 24 years, finally died. I loved that bike, and it loved me
3. Bring my ReflectingYou.com business online. Nope, sorry, fail. It was a little more than I could chew. Maybe this year, but I’ve lost all my template artwork somewhere along the line. I need to re-create that, then contract with PhilsCNCCreations to cut my plates for me.
4. Go on a rip-snorting canoe trip for my 50th birthday. Unfortunately, this was a fail. Too many other obs, too little time and traction. This sucks, I’m really bummed it didn’t happen, and it probably maybe won’t ever happen for a long, long time. 
5. Take a picture every day on Flat Branch Creek. This, people, my Picture a Day Project, is my crowning achievement of 2013. I stuck to my commitment, taking pictures at 3 different locations on the creek every day. I published one every day from the start, then started publishing a 2nd in the spring. I held the 3rd site in reserve. In the end, I created three data-rich time lapses of a year in the life of Flat Branch Creek
Big Snapper Pond 
6. Take Wilderness Ridge Resort to court over getting hit by that bus. I purposefully, willfully abandoned this goal very early on. I decided to channel my energy into other things; my picture project, playing footbag, riding my bike, and earning back the money that was stolen from my by providing low-cost database development services to a non-profit business. It was a dumb, crappy goal to begin with. I’m happy I abandoned it. 

So… what’s on tap for 2014? 

1. 75 hours of footbag (again). But, I’m already so far behind after nearly the first 2 months of the year, I may never catch up. The weather has been horrible, and I’ve lost what little winter kicking space I’ve had. It’s been rough. But 75 hours is still my goal. 

2. 4,200 Km on the bike. Upping my goal again from last year, even though my picture project drove a lot of my bike riding. I didn’t set this specific goal, but I rode my bike all but 4 days last year. This year, instead of riding the same trail every day, I’m hoping to train and do a sag-supported century (100Mi / 161Km) or two. 

3. Try again to bring ReflectingYou.com online. Maybe without the picture project, I might be able to do it. Maybe. 
4. Get a new job. This was a really important goal for me, and the good news is, I’ve already got it in the bag!

That’s it. Those are my goals for 2014. Now, I’ve gotta get back to work. 

Eulogy for a Bicycle

my old bicycleMy purple, steel frame Fuji Roubaix of 24 years died October 4th at 5:15pm of a broken down tube. 
I loved my bike. 
It, my bike, my steel steed… We’ve shared over 150,000 miles. Epic journeys, and cold, lonely, scary nights. Miles of hot pavement and crushing traffic, hard sprints, hard braking, hard corners. We’ve explored endless trails, rocks, dust, gravel, and dirt. We’ve ridden places maybe we shouldn’t have. We’ve seen almost everything together. 
My bike was my best friend. 
24 years, two complete drive trains, a dozen wheels, countless tires and inner tubes. 150,000 miles. Every day, day in, day out, I rode it to work. Two different cities, five different jobs, six different houses, each route worn so familiar we could do this in our sleep. As tens of miles, hundreds of miles, thousands of miles added up, my bike was almost always just THERE for me. 
My bike was an amazing workhorse. 
On long, lonely rides, my bike gave me solace. The rhythm of the pedals gave a reassuring pattern. The balance, steering, direction, melted into my being, becoming my thoughts. My spirit moved forward with my body, all carried by this simple, magical machine. At the end, I feel cleansed, refreshed, and whole again. 
My bike loved me, too. 
Goodbye, my best friend. I will ride you again in my heaven. 

The Long, Cold Winter

So long, so cold, it’s starting to drive me insane. 

So, after 3 months of silence here, I’ll start with the blog’s most important reason for existence: keeping track of my footbag stuff. I rounded off last year with one more Surprise Happy End of Year Session, plus a couple of sessions at the Underground, for a total of 81 hours for the year. My goal was 70. Said and done. w00t! 

I’m setting this year’s footbag goal at 70 hours again. So far, I’ve got: 

First Footbag Session of 2014 – 1 hr 

One Shot Sunday, which turned into a rip-snortin’ 2-hour session 
Plus, a couple sessions at The Underground, and that 5 minutes out in the snow for the video above, totaling about another hour. 
5.5 hrs for the year so far, with a chance to get outdoors again next week! 

It really has been a difficult winter though; I’ve abandoned The Secret Hideout, but have not found a good replacement. I’m doing occasional hack sessions at The Underground, but not as often or as consistently. My play time has dropped dramatically this winter, and if it weren’t for a string of unusually warm Sundays, I would not have played much at all so far this year. 

From the “old deteriorating body” department, there’s this: my shoulder and ankle (the other one, not the one I broke recently) have started hurting all the time. I think I need chiropractic care. 
Thanks for tuning in, hope to have more soon! 

Reconciliation

I’ve been blowing off my blog for the last 100 days. I’ve blown off an actual footbag session for the first time in forever this week. Which, of course, means I will almost certainly be screwed out of the next 1 or 2 sessions as well (yes, it’s extremely predictable, it always happens that way). 

Last post was just before my Getting Props at City Hall video went viral. Many thanks to whoever ends up occasionally posting my videos on Reddit and giving them some traction. Over 300K views in a week on that video, as I was sitting on 51 hrs of footbag for the year. Nice. Since then, I’ve added… 
8/1 – Post Viral Averageness – 1.5 hrs 
8/11 – Mizzou Welcome Rally – 2 hrs 
8/15 – The Forgotten Footbag Session – 2 hrs 
8/22 – School is in Session – 2.5 hrs 
8/30 – 50th Birthday Footbag Bash – 2.5 hrs 
9/14 – The Devil Must Have Made You – 2.0 hrs
9/20 – New Abshire Footbag – 2.0 hrs 
10/18 – Speakers Circle Highlights Reel – 2.0 hrs
10/27 – Short hack session with Lance – 30 minutes 
11/3 – Nice November Afternoon – 2.0 hrs
And finally, the latest session from last weekend, a 1.5 hr session – Hacktarzan! 
Another 27 hours to add to the previous 51, that’s 78 hours of footbag this year! My goal this year was very ambitious – 70 hours – and I’ve already beaten that by 10%. Don’t know how much more I’ll get though; as earlier mentioned, if I ever voluntarily blow off a footbag session, I always get screwed out of one or two more. Plus the holidays coming up which always disrupt my footbag schedule, and the cold weather which always sucks for footbag, and I’ll probably wind up with a total of around 85 hours this year. 

Not bad for an old man.