Monday, May 29, 2006

Cincinnati Roller Girls

While growing up, one of the most entertaining sports to watch on TV was professional wrestling. My Dad took me to a professional wrestling match (the AWA) as a kid and I went to a couple during graduate school when the WWF was coming of age and Hulk Hogan was on top. It was fun to see some of the wrestlers live -- Mad Dog Vachan, the Crusher, Andre the Giant, and Hulk Hogan to name a few. I still watch Hogan Knows Best on the VH1 network.

Right behind professional wrestling was Roller Derby. Basically it was like wrestling on roller skates. A lot of posturing, yelling, fighting, and hard hitting action. Unfortunately, the revival of the roller derby teams in the 70s didn’t last long. However, teams are sprouting up again around the country. Last year, the A&E network had a series called Rollergirls that followed teams in the Texas roller derby league. That was an interesting show, although the roller derby matches themselves were slightly different since it was all women. I don’t know if A&E is going to have a second season of the show.

I was pleasantly surprised to see on the Cincinnati Enquirer site that a flat track roller derby team is starting up in Cincinnati! You can read the Roller Derby Diva’s blog about the start up here. They are having there first public scrimmage in July and their first match in August. That has potential for good local entertainment.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Krohn Conservatory & Butterfly Show

Krohn-BFly-17I took the day off yesterday since I had a follow-up with the orthopedist for my shoulder and physical therapy later in the day. In between I went to the Krohn Conservatory for the annual butterfly show. I thought a weekday would be a good time to go since kids are in school. With fewer people I hoped to have an easier time getting some photos with the new camera. Boy was that a bad assumption! I got there about a half-hour after opening and there were two school buses parked outside. It didn't occur to me that schools would have field trips to the conservatory this time of year. There were kids running around all over the place! There were also a lot of moms with kids and/or strollers taking in the exhibit. It was pretty crowded, but I got some good shots anyway.

Krohn-BFly-16Since it was a cloudy day, they gave passes for a return visit since the butterflies aren't as active when it is cloudy. However, there were many flying around. They also had a couple volunteers brushing some type of nectar on your hands so the butterflies would land on you. A lot of people had butterflies landing on their hands. The kids eyes really light up when they "catch" a butterfly that way. This year they had a lot of butterflies from Australia and some were quite large! I collected the best of my butterfly photos in a Flickr set you can see here.

Krohn-Flower-14I also went through the other non-butterfly rooms to get some plant and flower photos. It was cloudy and so the light wasn't the best. Nevertheless, I got some nice shots in the orchid room. Even though the light was flat, I think the flowers look better in the natural light rather than with a flash. The flower and plant photos are in a Flickr pool here.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


With the blog explosion on the web, it's hard to keep up with all the things posted on even selected blogs. I am a big believer in Bloglines, but I've had trouble with that site in some browsers so I'm not able to keep up on my reading. Also, although many stories propogate through the blogosphere so you'll likely see them on some popular sites, the problem with a site like Bloglines is your focus may limit exposure and you might miss something of interest. Because of these limitations I started looking for alternatives.

I recently signed up for a free account at Spotback (now in Beta). It's a news aggregator of sorts that has more of the feel of a newspaper. Stories are organized in categories like general news, technology, science, sports, etc. As you browse through the headlines and read stories, you can rate the stories. The software uses your ratings to customize which stories appear on your page. So rather than signing up for a particular feed, you're being fed stories in categories that match your interests.

I'm curious if others have tried this site or similar services. I have only started making ratings, but it didn't take long for stories to show up from some familiar sites like BoingBoing, MAKE magazine, and others. Hopefully as the number of ratings increases, the story selection will improve.

Dream Dinners Session

Thanks again to Kyle and Tresha for giving us a sneak preview to Dream Dinners. Dianne had a post about it here. On Friday evening, I had our first true session where I assembled the ingredients for 6 different dinners. It wasn't too bad, although I was on the slow side. I'm rationalizing it because I split 4 of the entrees into two separate portions so we wouldn't be having leftovers for days and days. The most difficult entree was the chicken crepes. That took awhile to make the filling, fill and roll the crepes, and make the sauce for the top. When I was done, I was glad we had picked that item as that is never something I would have tried making at home on my own. It would have been too much work to assemble all the ingredients and make the crepes itself before doing the assembly.

Dianne stopped in to help me load up the car when done. I still can't lift much with my left arm. She got there early so she went to the neighboring GameStop to look around and then she played with her DS in the Dream Dinners waiting area until I was done.

On Saturday, we had the oven baked almond chicken -- scroll down here and you can click on the description. I thought it was really good. I think it'll work out well having some Dream Dinner items on hand.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

New 7 Wonders

A Swiss based group called the "New7Wonders Foundation" is sponsoring a global vote to select a new set of 7 wonders of the world. Apparently there was a list of 77 nominees that was narrowed down to 21 candidates at the beginning of this year. You have plenty of time to review the candidates and make your vote. The final selection will be announced on 7/7/07 (I wonder if the announcement will be at 7:07 and 7 seconds on the morning?).

Personally, I don't understand all the nominees. Some are clear: the Great Wall and the pyramids at Giza. Clearly they seem like worthy candidates. I'm curious about the other nominees that didn't make the final set. I can't help but think there are significant structures that should have made the list ahead of some of these (e.g. the Statue of Liberty). But, since I didn't vote for the finalists I guess I should be quiet.

You can become a free member of the N7W foundation and place your 7 votes. You can also buy votes by purchasing a certificate for a site or sites. The proceeds go to funding the voting as well as providing money to restore or preserve historical structures (50% of money earmarked for preservation work). Thanks to Michael at the Neverending Rainbow for pointing out this site.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

140 out of 145

After my fall in January, my left shoulder strength and mobility were very poor. At first I could barely raise my arm forward like you’d reach for a doorknob. Initially the orthopedist wanted to wait for the bone to heal before starting physical therapy. Obviously he didn’t want me using the arm for anything due to the risk for an additional fracture. However, he didn’t want to immobilize the arm in a sling or cast as that would increase the likelihood of a “frozen shoulder.” A frozen shoulder refers to limited muscle function caused by muscle adhesions that form during muscle healing. If the arm and shoulder aren’t being used, these adhesions limit the range of motion for the muscle.

Unfortunately due to a delay in PT approval, I was starting to stiffen up when I saw the orthopedist in March. He wanted me to focus on improving my range of motion by working through the pain associated with stretching the muscles. He gave me until the end of April to get my arm straight up above my head using a forward arc style windmill motion (like the first flexion pictures here except while standing). I was also limited in my ability to move my wrist outward while my arm was bent 90 degrees with my elbow staying at my side (like the shoulder external rotation picture here – but with your elbow at your side).

If traditional physical therapy doesn’t work, the alternative to restore motion in a frozen shoulder is manipulation under anesthesia (MUA). In short, they put you out and yank your arm around to break up the adhesions. Needless to say, it’s painful after you wake up. That was my motivation.

Some of the therapy sessions were painful when they were stretching those arm and shoulder muscles. Progress was slow, but I could sense improvement. They’d measure the range and see improvement, but it wasn’t close to expectations. Dianne was watching me stretch one night and I asked if my external rotation was improved. She looked puzzled and asked me to show her with my good arm. I could rotate out about 35 degrees whereas she had an almost 90 degree range! By the way, I now call her Mr. Fantastic when she shows off her shoulder movement. I shared this story with my physical therapist and she measured my “good” side and found I could only rotate my straight arm up forward about 145 degrees whereas 180 is standard. She said typically after injuries, people get within 10% of the range in their good arm. That gave me hope.

Besides intense stretching during physical therapy, my therapist also added exercises to start building strength. They were mild so as not to cause further fracture, but I think that helped stabilize the joint and aid the range of motion. Last Wednesday the therapist made measurements again for the orthopedic progress report. Raising my arm up I was 140 degrees compared to 145 on the right. An improvement from about 30 degrees when first measured. Rotating out, I was 25 degrees versus 35 on the right. Again, a big improvement from the -5 degrees I started with. Yes, the muscle was actually pulling my left arm in 5 degrees to the right so I couldn’t hold it straight ahead when the arm was bent 90 degrees (as if typing).

The question is would this be enough to satisfy the orthopedist? I was nervous about my follow-up last Friday. I really didn’t want to face a MUA. I got up early and got my shoulder warmed up and stretched out for my visit. Although he said I still have work to do, he was pleased with the range of motion. He also took x-rays which showed the bone is healing nicely – although there is still some remodeling that will take several weeks. Now that he’s sure the bone is getting stronger, he wants me to focus on building strength while still doing stretching.
A quick slip on the ice has caused a lot of difficulty. Looking back, I can’t help but wonder if some early but gentle, passive manipulation that wouldn’t have risked further fracture would have minimized the range of motion issues I’m working through. While the healing is slow, it’s amazing how your body can repair itself.