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Jun. 21st, 2015


July calendar is early

VNV Nation.  The b/w photo is from http://www.benwolf.de/1874057/vnv-nation though it's mostly blind luck that I know that--it is so widely spread that a search of it will give you a ton of results before you ever get to Ben Wolf.  The link is worth a look, however, since the photo session involved vintage clothing.  The suits those men are wearing aren't recreations of 1930's menswear--they're actual 30's suits.  It's one of the passions of Ronan Harris, the singer of the duo and easily the more outspoken of the two.

And yet it's Mark Jackson's autograph on the back of my ticket.  He's fantastically tall and clearly an introvert, content to hang back and listen to Ronan chat with fans.  Did I mention he chats with fans?  A friend of mine took me to a show and knew where the duo were likely to be hanging out afterwards, shooting the breeze on a nearby sidewalk.  It's funny, because if you just listen to the music style you could mistake it for cold steel techno...well, some of it.  Some of it is surreal, some of it is classical-with-synthesizers, and some of it is even harder to describe.  But the music screams machines.  The lyrics, with delightful exceptions, are tough-man's virtues, which is part of why Ronan is the muse for my angel roleplaying character.  But to see them onstage, there's nothing cold or tough about it.  It feels like a bunch of people in black and chrome clothes all decided to hug for a couple hours, you walk away feeling that loved.  I'm at a loss to explain why.

Posting early because I didn't want to procrastinate as badly as last time, though I'll probably wait a week before I actually print it.  You, whoever might be reading this, decide when or if to print it.


Jan. 16th, 2015


Notes today, pictures tomorrow

...because part of Skippy's toolbox includes going to bed early, or at least putting my feet up on the recliner.

So I've got the itch to travel today, and badly.  Seoul was a serious possibility until I realized all the Friday night trains from Seoul to anything near here were sold out.  I had no desire to sleep over, especially since there really aren't any places to rent for the night near that station.  I know, I've checked.  So I take the bicycle out to coffee, just down the hill to the City Hall area.  I pack my brace but don't put it on, since the calf muscle needs the exercise and the ankle will tolerate it.  I have a fresh waffle (a possibly significant detail later) which I rarely do, and a coffee and I'm still ready to go out and about.  I figure the little train from the old Pohang Station would be nice, even though the coastline track to Busan is no more.  Apparently the Donghae-Nambu was Korea's answer to the Coast Starlight until they expanded the line and the coast route just would not accept a second track.  The tourist sites say it is now the hottest hiking trail in the area...

But hey, sitting on a train looking out the window is a nice, Skippy-kind way to pass an hour.  So I bike and walk back to my apartment to put the bicycle away and Skippy finally wakes out of its pain-free slumber and gives me just a twinge.  Okay, I decide, I'll put the brace on when I get to the train.  There's a temple on the train route and temples are always cool, peaceful if long walks, so I head that way.  Turns out that if I wanted it in the next hour I'd have to make a connection, no big deal.  I remembered the long train from Kumamoto to Osaka and thought it would be nice to compare Japanese podunk trains to Korean ones.  Simple pavement platforms in the middle of nowhere, the main difference being that the stairs between the tracks went below ground in Gyeongju and above ground in...was I in Arao?  I did get a picture of the platform, and if one fine day I ever get around to tagging my couple thousand photos they'll make a nice comparison.

So I get off the train at Gyeongju, shlep the stairs and hop on the connection.  It's a ten minute train to Bu******sa Temple (can't quite remember its name right now, blaming the muscle relaxants) but FML there was the happiest little kid on the seat across from me and he wanted to tell the whole damned world about it.  He sounded about four years old.  This is my day of zen, so I whispered curse words to the train window and was glad to get off at my stop.

Yep, little pavement platforms are much the same everywhere.  We passed two that had been abandoned, just weed-struck bricks next to the track, their little shelters gone.  I pity the folks who work at Lear--how do they get out of town??  But this B--- Temple station had a station, and it was an old station much like any other.  The sweetest guy was behind the counter and he tried to explain to me that there simply were no return trains between 4pm (I'd arrived around 3:10) and 9pm that night (the temple, as it turns out, closes at 5).  I was flying on happy travel juices, hadn't had anything but water after that breakfast, so I asked for directions to the bus terminal and didn't worry about it.  The temple proved too far to walk so I backtracked to the bus stop where three idling but empty taxis stood.  The sweetheart at the train station seemed to think there were no taxis worth mentioning in town so I was glad to see these.  It took me a minute to figure out they were in their office and to wave one out that way.  He said the trip to the temple was 5 bucks and that suited me fine, though in hindsight it might have been a touch high.  No matter--this handful of guys has that dinky little town wrapped around their little fingers.  He gets me to the temple and I worry about getting back, make sure to get his business card.

The temple itself wasn't much of anything, sadly.  Most of it was recreation--necessary in a country where temples and palaces are made of wood--and it looked like a dozen palaces I'd seen.  Skippy was smarting so wandering up the hill to the main grounds was not going to happen.  The gardenish area contained some of the few authentic relics, and this being a Shilla era temple those were ancient and worn.  I loved them better than the buildings, of course, but that's me.  Got a lovely sunset shot.

Stepped into the souvenir shop and it smelled heavely of incense, but I own more incense, candles, and vapor fluid than I can possibly use so I passed on that.  I eyed a counter full of amethyst jewelry.  In the middle was a necklace with four opals, so of course my eye was drawn to them.  Either manufactured or a good quality Australian, since these sweethearts had fire.  I leaned in to get a better look and I swear the salesperson was embarrassed that they were not amethysts, because in half a second she'd folded and latched those four opals into an amethyst butterfly.  It was everything I could do not to scream.  It was magical.  Alas, it was also 110 bucks.  Couldn't justify that price for myself especially since I wear pins and rings and very rarely necklaces.  Even the idea of going back--there's a lovely tourist village down the block that reminds me of Yeoju--the only person I know who loves purple butterflies would probably go batshit trying to maneuver those tiny little latches.  Still, everything I could do not to scream in joy.  I settled for a CD of meditation music, sort of New Age as performed by a Korean Classical Orchestra.  It just finished playing now.

Obviously photographing that was out of the question.

One other photo that got away:  the main bus stop by the train station as well as one on the highway to Gyeongju, someone had put two old comfy chairs next to the bus shelter bench.  Hard to believe but there they were, and it had just rained the day before.

So a train back from B- Temple wasn't going to happen, and I get out of the temple at 5 on the nose.  Two taxis were waiting--did someone call them?  I stepped over to one and made the phone hand sign.  He put his passenger window down and I saw a little kid fast asleep in his front seat, and either a massive pile of clothes or two more kids zonked out in the back.  Apparently this guy was camping out in the temple parking lot playing dispatch for the other cab drivers!  I negotiated a taxi to Gyeongju, the next major town and 10 minutes by rail, where I knew there was both a train station and a bus station.  Had him drop me at the train station and the first one out was at 7.  I looked around for a sit-down place for dinner, no luck, so I walked towards where they directed me to the bus station.  I never quite found the station I was familiar with, since it was the only stop I'd ever made in that town before.  Instead after passing it two or three times I found a bus stop with a convenience-type store that sold tickets.  I had to ask about four locals to even get that.  At this point I'd already taken my one anti-inflammatory (mental note to always pack more than one of those!) and as soon as I got on the bus I took a muscle relaxant as well.  I did mention that I biked around for a whole kilometer this morning with no brace on, right?  I mean, 1km was chicken feed back in Daejeon but I hadn't torqued up my ankle at that point either.  I probably walked a solid km and a half trying to find the damned bus stop.  But I found it, got one of the last seats on there, and got back to Pohang. Went up to the food court in the mall (right next to the bus station) and had dinner, then posted to FB from an after dinner coffee.  Hot bath and typing this, and maybe I can get through the night without a Charley horse.

I wonder if I'll be able to walk at all tomorrow?  If I do, it will be a combination of good drugs, good shoes, a cane and quite a bit of luck.

Dec. 13th, 2014

cat under stars

Crossposted from FB

Rode my bicycle today for the first time in months (coasting down the hill for GISHWHES notwithstanding). A whole five minutes up and down gentle slopes (because there are no flats near my home). I will pay for that later, but right now I feel pretty good, and glad to feel my heart beating again. Though five minutes, admittedly in sub-freezing weather...I remember when that wouldn't even raise my heart rate.
This, and normal non-diabetic socks and I'm feeling positively healthy.  (Okay, fuzzy socks, but still...)

Nov. 19th, 2014

cat under stars

Quick Skippy note

Overworked Skippy today, having spasms in my leg because I took the cafeteria hill with just the stirrup, not the boot brace. I thought about going to physical therapy tonight but decided against it--I've got a Skype I promised to do this evening and didn't want to be rushed.

Should've put the TENS on it when I got home.  I put the anti-inflammatory gel on it as soon as I got in, and I don't know if the TENS is a good idea on top of that.

Aug. 11th, 2014

cat under stars

mirrored from today's FB

Oh ajumma...
I go to PT today only to remember the hard way that they're at lunch until 2, so I go to coffee two doors down and then stop in the grocery store between on the way.  I pick up bananas and hooks, noticing the tasty beef in the refrigerators but knowing they won't survive out while I get PT.  So I take care of my ankle, swing back to the coffee place to borrow a moment's wifi, and then back to the grocery store to get some delicious Hanwoo beef.
As I check out I notice an ajumma standing there watching me check out.  She's younger and better dressed than most but there's still no hiding an ajumma.  Worse, after I put the beef in my bag, revealing the bananas, and walk towards the door I notice her walking in the same direction.
You have to understand, growing up the way I did I'm a human T.Rex.  I track motion without even thinking about it.  Motion in my direction, or mirroring my direction, sets up a fight-or-flight response in me, again without thinking about it.  This ajumma triggered that response, and since the crutches ruled out flight...
I walk out the grocery store door, passing the tall young woman whose job it is to stand there and greet and watch.  Ajumma comes up behind this woman, grabs her firmly by the bicep, talks into her ear and practically shoves this young woman towards me.  I look ajumma directly in the eye, making my intentions vividly clear.  The young woman looked scared poor dear, but to her credit did not come after me.
No, I wasn't shoplifting.  No, I'm not intimidated.  And no, you do not want to mess with me.  After where I've been even an ajumma is not all that scary.

Jun. 18th, 2014

cat under stars


Enjoying the Scotch in my veins even though realistically, as little as I had should be completely metabolized by now.  A nice thought anyway.

I despair of this injury--pretty sure rest and light exercise are not doing the job.  I'll wait 'til my Monday appointment because that's less than a week away, but I suspect we'll have to get aggressive with it.  Evil Little Hammer again I suppose.  I'd say "hopefully not" surgery but if that fixes it well and quickly I wouldn't have any objections to it.  My budget would be trashed but I have a few months to recover on that, and with walking those would be a nicer few months.

Sick and tired of crutches, but can't get around without them.

Jun. 14th, 2014

cat under stars

Getting back in the saddle

So I've been slowly and carefully rebuilding my left ankle tendon.  Crutches to work--the uphill on that campus is still too daunting to get more than halfway without them, even without a backpack.  Around town I bring them, not only to cope with rollercoaster sidewalks but because they're big silver flags to wave cabs down with.  Buses I limit myself to those I'm sure to get a seat on, so so far that's weekends for short errands.  The doctor said no surprises or sudden moves on that ankle, and a moving bus would constitute sudden moves.

There is one position that gives me sharp pains and that is worrying, especially since it's easiest to hit when walking downstairs, a fearful thing for me when my feet are this vulnerable.  I avoid those pains as much as humanly possible but it slows down my walk since I can't use the mile-wide stride that I'm fond of.  Front to neutral is fine, but neutral to back is courting trouble.

But today I was pretty rested, did a little shopping without pain *yeah!* and the worst thing I've had to deal with is sniffles.  It had rained for a few days and stopped, so I'm taking a Claritin and hoping that's all it is.  I don't need sinus trouble on top of this!  So I decided it was the day to get back on the bike.  I walked it up the slight hill behind the apartment, an area without shops so I rarely go there but with much milder hills than the other direction.  Once I got to a relative flat I got on and rode, slight uphill for a short block, slight downhill all the way home.  The tires were very low dammit, but otherwise no problems.  My left side wasn't happy but I know that biking is quite necessary.  My neck and spine tilt slightly left and only an activity that forces balance will keep that in line.  Since I can't walk on sand yet that rules out surfing, so it's back on the bike.  Passed a lovely lake park I didn't realize was so close, but the water was mucky and it was crowded so I doubt I'll find my fireflies at that one.

I went to a Thai massage earlier today, no doubt the reason I feel so much better today than yesterday.  I may go back if I solve the nose problem.  You see, with a regular massage they lay you face down on a massage table, with a nice little hole for your face.  Unobstructed breathing.  With Thai the masseuse uses her whole body as leverage against yours, requiring you to lie on a mat on the floor This mat has no nice face-hole.  When she was working on my back I tried to go face down, propping up my forehead with my hands and this preserved my nose from a squishing.  However it trapped 'used' air between my hands and my face, so I couldn't get a solid breath.  When you're trying to relax, easy breathing is essential.  Air hunger will tense you up and make you panic.  A pity too because I know she was standing on my back in such a way that felt good, other than the not being able to breathe part.  So I should either solve that problem or find a more conventional masseuse.  Not bad though, no harm trying it once.

The inside of my left leg is tense just now, so I'll go hand the laundry before it decides it really really did not like the bike ride.

May. 15th, 2014

long kiss goodnight

Feeling foolish but hopeful

Because I may have found the cause of my recent leg/ankle grief, and it's self-inflicted and may be quite fixable.  Maybe.  It's done some damage.

I'm aware of what weight and backpacks and an unwillingness to settle myself does to my feet, so to mitigate that I've been wearing Nikes or Reeboks pretty much exclusively.  Even the Skechers I used to rely on for dress shoes rarely get worn.  I just bought a new pair of Nike Trainers a bit over a month ago, about the same time I bought the folding bicycle.  No TV, so I was in serious wander mode.  Looking back I can remember the signs of my feet/ankles burning out, but then I was just staving off restlessness.

Today was Sports Day at work, meaning I had good reason to wander out and watch students but the perfect excuse to stay in my office and get things done.  I had the office to myself which meant I could do a few stretches.  It also meant I had my alternate shoes, some budget off-brand sports things.  At the end of the Nike day my feet still hurt, the arch felt swollen enough to be uncomfortable despite the anit-inflammatories.  Then I remembered--when I bought the shoes I found the arches a little bit high and the heels a little bit low relative to the fronts of my feet, but figured that would not be a problem.

What if it is the problem?  What if my previous injuries simply mean I need a heel higher than the balls, never lower.  That my arches are a little bit flat, and holding them up will both irritate and weaken them?  And the posterior tibialis, trying to take up the slack, took the hit because it was the weakest link, having taken that very bad fall i Hannam?

What if it's simply a matter of ditching that one pair of shoes?

I put on the off-brands after I got to coffee and walked ever-so-carefully to the local grocer.  As long as I was on flat ground I felt good, better than with the Nikes.  I didn't feel stable enough to walk without the crutches on the wavy Korean sidewalks, but inside the store and in the coffee shop building I was weak but pain free.

I found the site Athletes for Athletes and will try those exercises, in addition to the stretches from the barefoot runner site.  I refuse to pack it in.  Yes my foot bones have spurs and that is bad, but I can't lose weight if I have to rest all the time.  I must get moving again.

Now to figure out where I put the slip that tells me when my next doctor appointment is...

May. 12th, 2014

cat under stars

A setback

My feet have really been feeling good lately, no real pain minus the occasional warning pull, warnings generally heeded.  After breakfast Sunday I hobbled about a block looking for a masseuse (found, but closed Sunday afternoon) and got some really good food for dinner.  That was pushing it, Sunday should be total rest, but the weather is beautiful and I've been cooped up for so long.

Now Monday is my worst day, foot-mileage-wise.  Today a colleague called in sick so I had his class and mine together.  My class is used to me hobbling and we're in a lab room, a bit smaller than the classroom though with frankly miserable seating for me.  Today I was in their classrooms, walking between rooms,, balancing the feet pains with the shoulder pain or so I thought.

I forgot about travel, teaching, and how adrenaline shuts off my pain signals.

I got up to my desk now and I was in agony.  Both feet have tendons that are very frickin' unhappy with me.  Arches mostly, but the main tendon that got me on crutches in the first place is painful despite the eucalyptus patches.  I left my mouse behind in the other building--not going after it.  Will need to pee shortly--it has to wait.

I wonder how much more rest time this is going to cost me?  The last few days I've been doing stretches, arch stretches, front of leg/foot stretches, these toe things they recommend on the barefoot running page.  They felt good, really good.  I fear tonight.


May. 7th, 2014


Small update

Went to my doc to get more buffered naproxen and his staff sent me upstairs to a foot doctor.  Okay --shrug--  I got in there and he had a room full of workout equipment.  Cool, I thought, someone who understands my desire to strengthen and not just do damage control.  He talks to me, he's young and his English is only okay.  After he asks me what the deal is I ask him if he can pull up the MRIs, he says no.  I give him the rundown and show him my left foot...plantar fascitis.  Eh, that was three years ago, I got the EWSTthingie and it went away for a couple years until I did a stupid. Let' s go with conservative treatment, he said.  Rest, stretching, hot packs, we'll talk about orthotics.  Nikes?  Ick, he says, you'll need hard soles so your feet don't twist.  Ick, I said, imagining the feeling of hard ground on my sensitive feet.  So I got my painkillers to hold me over until I go back to Sangmo (really must find the papers for that so I go on the right day) and try to talk that doc out of another MRI because they're damned expensive.  But this young guy also tossed out that word, degenerative, in relation to my feet.  I instinctively rebel against that--they will get stronger, I will make them stronger, just tell me how.  I did a little research and I can tell myself comfortably that my feet are not in fact circling the drain.

He also told me two things I really did not want to hear.  Lose weight--yeah right, how?  With wandering off the menu and biking limited to flats, and thus gyms, I've no real exercise outlet.  Swimming?  That involves a public pool, and my weight and color in this town, to say nothing that I really don't enjoy that anymore.

Stretching I need to do, yoga I need to get serious with, and I'll put up another message on the local FB to find a masseuse.  Part of the problem with the feet is that they're at the end of the muscle tension stream.  My body has figured out that I can ignore headaches and medicate stomachaches away, but so far have found no way around foot pain so the tension settles there.  And truly, I love massages.

Right now both feet are barking, begging for stretches I suppose.  I will...inaminnit.