computing geek, hackysacker

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! 


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 
8/22 - School is in Session - 2.5 hrs 
8/30 - 50th Birthday Footbag Bash - 2.5 hrs 
9/20 - New Abshire Footbag - 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. 

Summer Season City Hall Sessions

A LOT of them. This is gonna take some serious accounting work. Since last post: 

5/1 - Previous Time Total - 30:55 (HH:MM)

5/7 - Terrific Tuesday - 1hr solo, 2hrs circle = 2 hrs 
(bad weather)
5/23 - First City Hall Session - 2 hrs solo 
(bad weather)
6/6 - City Hall Take 2 - 30 min solo, 3 hrs circle = 2 hrs 
6/13 - Concert Night at City Hall - 30 min solo, 3 hrs circle = 2 hrs 
6/20 - Phat Tyre Sport First Rally and I Gave Them Hacky Sacks - 1:15 hr solo, 1:45 hrs circle = 2 hrs 
6/27 - Freestyle Time Machine and Twenty Five Threes - 1 hr solo, 1:30 doubles = 2 hrs
7/4 - Next Speakers Circle Hack Man - 1 hr solo, 1:30 doubles = 2 hrs 
7/11 - Ironclad Ben Meets Speakers Circle and One Notch Up to 26 - 3 hrs circle shred = 2 hrs
7/18 - Phat Tyre First Rally Fun and Hacky Sack Choreography - 1 hr solo, 1:30 doubles = 2 hrs

...and the latest footbag session video...

7/25 - Getting Props at City Hall - 1 hr solo, 1:30 doubles = 2 hrs 

Current Footbag Time for 2013: 50:55, round that off to 51 hours! Basically one full month of kicking ahead of my goal for the year right now. 

My ankle still hurts, is still healing, still has range of motion issues, but I've gained back most of the strength and proprioception. My difficulty level has bounced back. 

My knees are getting worse again. I've just started taking organic Glucosamine/Chondroitin pills after hearing testimony from a couple of runners. We'll see. 

My back is horribly messed up again, with sciatica from my neck down in my left shoulder and arm, and from my lower back into my hip and down my left leg. It always gets worse when I don't play footbag. I need a chiropractor. 

But I've been playing hard, having fun, and have picked up a new regular kicker, Lance. My footbag sessions are no longer just solo shred sessions. I'm doing a lot of doubles and circle hacking too, and can only slip in a little solo before or after the circle kicking. I've been a solo show for so long, I've almost forgotten what it's like to be part of a group of regular kickers. It's fun! But, I still like my solo shredding, too. 

In other news, I'm at 2,600 KM on the bike, and I pledged 3,000 KM for the year. I'm hoping to blow that out of the water by my birthday. 

Speaking of birthdays, I'm planning to do my annual Speakers Circle Birthday Footbag Bash on Friday, August 30th, starting around 10am. I'll be celebrating my 50th, and over 32 years of playing footbag! 

I'm also planning to go on a float trip the following weekend (Sept. 7-8), for a slightly different kind of 50th birthday party. Friends are invited to join - either the Illinois River near Lake Talequah, or maybe the 11 Point, if I can swing that. 

BTW, Best wishes and congratulations to all 2013 World Footbag Championships participants! 

Thanks for tuning in, and as always, keep kicking! 

Warm Weather Finally Here

First, the video: 

The big news, to me, is my ankle. It's been over 7 months now since I broke it, then hobbled around on it for months without knowing it was broke. It's finally starting to feel OK. Finally. With every footbag session, it gets stronger. Today, for the first time in nearly a year, I finally felt some serious shred mojo coming back

The Dance Marathon group helped. The music, the positive energy... I played well and had a great time! 

There's a challenge in the footbag community to do 2013 consecutive kicks in 2013. It's been a long time since I practiced doing consecutives, and my first attempt at this was a whopping 150-something. But a couple weeks later I tried again, and ripped out that 2013 like it was nothing. 

Although I spaced off and accidentally did a clipper stall in the rally - technically that's a foul in official consecutives - I glossed over that, and set my sights on another challenge: 31 3's in 13. A string of 31 3-add+ moves in a row. 

I'm nowhere near that, even with today's session. My record so far this year is 24; my average has barely moved back into double digits. Best on film today was 11 or 12. I'm gonna have to sharpen up my game quite a bit to nail 31 3's in a row. But, that is the goal. Oh, and I did hit a torque today, but only coming off my strong ankle so far. 

Speaking of goals, I should do some time accounting. It's been a while since my last post, and I've played a LOT of footbag since then. The goal is still 70 hours of footbag this year. Where am I? 

Balance forward: 13:45

3/28 - 1.5 hours
4/4 - 10 minutes
4/5 - 3 hours
4/7 - 15 minutes
4/13 - 2 hours
4/18 - 45 minutes
4/21 - 3.5 hours
4/25 - 3 hours 
5/1 - 3 hours 

An amazing 17:10 of play time since last post. This is why I'm playing better, no? 

30:55 for the year, over 7 hours ahead of par for my goal! Of course I've been counting circle kicking in that time; I will probably start discounting circle kicking time again now that I'm more fully recovered from my ankle injury. 

Thanks for tuning in! 

Not My Ankle This Time

And, I'm SO HAPPY to be shirtless! 

Last Friday was finally another warm sunny day, unlike the last few weeks where I had to wear multiple shirts, and even leggings, to kick outdoors. 

After the stress of the last few days, providing VIP technical support to the BIFAD conference, it was a very welcome break to head out to Speakers Circle for some footbag. And boy, did I kick. Some Mr. Nasti on my boom box was pumping me up, too. Due to a mix-up with my kicking buddies, I was out there for an hour solo before they showed up. We put in another hour plus after that. 

The good news? For the first time since I broke my ankle 6 months ago, it wasn't my ankle that made me stop. It was muscle fatigue. Yeah, my ankle was hurting, and yeah the reason I had such severe muscle fatigue is because I was completely run down from that event, coming down with a cold, and getting dehydrated. But still, my ankle is getting stronger. Much stronger. 

Now, instead of fighting ankle pain, I can start rebuilding my endurance. I can start pushing myself again. Looking at the rally above, compared to a rally that Flying Clipper Headquarters dug up from St. Patty's day 2 years ago, boy... have I got a long way to go. Maybe I'll never be able to do torques again. But maybe, just maybe, I will. 

In the meantime, I am adjusting to the "New Normal" of having a Hack Circle every session. Lance is the instigator, and he gets a few people out there almost every day. And once there's a circle, more people join. I have just entered the realm of being the grandfather of a new Hacky Sack group on campus. This is so cool. I'm teaching them some moves, and just being there for them with my footbags. 

Finally, a little record keeping. Despite my setbacks, I still have goals for kicking. 70 hours this year. I'm behind. Need to catch up. I used to count circle kicking at about 1/3 the rate of solo kicking, but for now, any kicking is counted minute for minute. It's been almost 2 months since my last post, so I have a lot of catching up to do: 

2/07 - 1:45 
2/14 - 1:30 
2/21 - didn't kick. Snowstorm! 
2/28 - 1:15 
3/08 - 2 hrs 
3/15 - 2 hrs 

Total 13:45 for the year so far. Par is ~15 hrs, only 1:15 behind. I'm catching up bit by bit, with a forecast of better weather ahead! 

Thanks for tuning in! 

Freak Shows Bloom on Warm January Day

Preachers and Hack Man in Circle, Oh My! 

Dang I can't even call first on Speakers Circle Freak Shows this year: one preacher was already out there, with more stacked up and circling like 747's waiting to land. But, I can rejoice in the FrankenHack I did on my boom box: A snap to keep all charged up and ready to go, it can blare at full volume for 5-6 solid hours. 

After all my wailing and gnashing of teeth about my ankle, it has gotten remarkably better since just last week. Since my freak-out epic bike ride Friday night, I've been doing Arnica massages and heating pad sessions. The bike ride was good, it gives me a chance to strengthen the muscles and tendons without any side-to-side pressure or weight-bearing 'roll' back-to-front. The arnica massages and heat, I think have been almost magical. Gotta keep that up! 

The video shows my ankle can't be that messed up. But the rally was only 3 different moves, done on both sides. I've got a long way to go if I want to re-achieve 20+ contact, 3+ add strings. But, if I can get my ankle healed up, and get something done about my knees, that's the goal. 

Whatever, I'm just incredibly pleased at this "Surprise" Speakers Circle footbag session. I got about 20 mentions on Twitter, my ankle felt good, still feels good, and I believe playing footbag is the best therapy I've got. Getting to do my "Old Shirtless" thing on Speakers Circle (one Twitter peep called me "70 years old") is just so much fun! And, for a bonus, my "flock" of followers came out and dominated the, ahem, Hacky Circle with me in the afternoon, after the preachers finally left. 

Thanks, I needed that. 

2:00 this week, :15 last week, total of 5:15 for the year. 2:15 behind "par" for the year, but it's early and if my ankle keeps feeling this good, I'll be able to make that up. 

Thanks for tuning in! 

Broken Ankle, Broken Trust, Broken Dreams

ankle bones imageI finally went to get an X-ray of the ankle I twisted 4 months ago, back in September, that still hurts and bothers me so much. Yes, it was broken. I broke the medial malleolus - the inside part of the ankle 'pin.' I swear it never hurt like it was broken.

The bone is fused back together now, but (of course) a little bit crooked, and there's a bone spur on the inside, too. So, my ankle is permanently fucked up. 

And, so is my trust in pretty much anything, or anybody. This happened because insurance is just a bloodsucking scam. I pay those greedy motherfuckers thousands of dollars a year. In return, in the extremely rare event that I get hurt and need medical care, I get bills for hundreds more for co-pays, deductibles, and office fees. This happened, because I've learned that most people's kindness is really just a trojan horse. This happened, because I knew goddamned well that if I actually took the time off work needed to really take care of myself, I would lose my job.

Not that I actually "saved" my job by sacrificing my body, anyway. The amount of pressure and complaints, and additional workload heaped upon me, as I was hobbling around on crutches trying my hardest but not doing very well, pretty much destroyed any perception of job quality I might have entertained. Nobody cares how much pain I'm in, they only care that their shit gets done. I still like the work I do, but now I largely despise my situation. I'm looking for a different job. 

The fucked-up-ness of my ankle won't stop me from playing footbag; it's not quite that bad. But it's still a permanent injury, that's going to be a source of constant pain, and early onset arthritis. It's still having to literally re-train my body to work correctly, when it's broken and not healed up right. I'll never really get back to where I was; that place got nuked off the fucking map. 

I have a crooked pinky finger on my left hand, too. It symbolizes the last injury I had, that helped cause my last job to go to shit, that never healed right because I got nothing but people being pissed at me for being hurt and unable to do what everyone expected of me. It still aches sometimes, and makes me sad and angry every time I feel it, or see it. If I were rich, I'd probably try to have it fixed. But the only thing I can actually afford is to notice it almost every day, and be reminded of just how mean and nasty and uncaring people were to me, in that situation. 

Today, I don't know how I'll be able to play footbag, without thinking about the fact that my ankle is broken and not healed right. Footbag used to be a magical land of happiness for me. I could go there, and replenish my soul with joy. Now, that joy will always be tainted with a reminder of the anger and sadness of this fucked up experience that gave me this fucked up ankle. Of all things, that hurts the most. 

Broken ankle, broken trust, broken dreams. 

Before I close this post, I should at least reconcile my footbag time. Yes, I have played every week so far this year: in pain, for at least short periods of time. The tally isn't exactly accurate, but I'm calling it an hour a week so far, for 3 hours total for the year. Losing a half hour a week against my goal, every week, is pretty depressing. 

I have no idea how long this will last, or whether I'll be able to get out and kick on Speakers Circle like I used to. Getting to do that was part of my formerly "good" job, which has been replaced by the same work, but in a shitty, oppressive, distrustful atmosphere. 

I wish I had better news, or a more uplifting post. But... I'm still hurting. Sorry peeps.