Thank you so much for all the good wishes that you have sent my way. It seems to be working -- the surgery went off without a hitch on Friday. I stayed overnight in the hospital for pain management -- is it wrong that I fell totally in love with my very own personal patient-controlled morphine pump? -- and came home Saturday. There were some bad moments Saturday as we got home; the morphine had worn off and the pain pills had not yet kicked in, and my ankle hurt as much as it had the night I broke it. Tears and hugs ensued, and eventually the pain was back under control. And I slept pretty much straight through to Sunday morning.
I have a delightful x-ray of the ankle showing all the screws and the plate that the doc put into my ankle, but I can't show it to you -- camera is in my tote bag next to me but cable is in my office. That seems to be often the case; the thing I want/need is not within reach and thus could just as well be a million miles away. Smokey's rheumatoid arthritis keeps him from being as mobile as he would like, so we both are trying to exercise as much patience as possible. This can be a challenge, but a good lesson to learn, nevertheless.
Oh! My Bear just brought me what needed to show you the x-rays. All together now: Thank you, Smokey!
I checked with my chief economic adviser, aka #1 son, before I posted these. Here's what he had to say:
She's a plain-spoken populist with her heart, and her eyes, in the
right place. She may or may not understand the contractual intricacies
of CDO tranches and credit default swaps on mortgage backed securities;
nothing she said indicated either detailed familiarity or embarrassing
ignorance of what is technically going on. But she obviously
understands the political heart of the matter: a bunch of greedy rich
bastards fought for the freedom to make increasingly risky bets and
then ran home to the Treasury to socialize their losses when the bubble
burst. I'd say go for it.
I'm a little confused. Let me see if I have this straight....
* If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're "exotic,
* Grow up in Alaska eating moose burgers, you’re a quintessential American story.
* If your name is Barack you're an unpatriotic Muslim.
* Name your kids Bristol, Piper, Willow, Trig and Track, you're a maverick.
* Graduate from Harvard Law School and you are unstable.
* Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you're well grounded.
* If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate
representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills
and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and
Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership
worked in the Illinois State Senate, with both Democrats and
Republicans to create programs like the state Earned Income Tax Credit,
which in three years provided over $100 million in tax cuts to families
across the state. He pushed through an expansion of early childhood
education, and after a number of inmates on death row were found
innocent, Senator Obama worked with law enforcement officials to
require the videotaping of interrogations and confessions in all
His first law was passed in 2006 with Republican
Tom Coburn, a measure to rebuild trust in government by allowing every
American to go online and see how and where every dime of their tax
dollars is spent. –wait, didn’t Palin just say she was going to do
that? We should tell her it got done two years ago. He has also been
the lead voice in championing ethics reform that would root out Jack
Abramoff-style corruption in Congress.
As a member of the
Veterans' Affairs Committee, Senator Obama has helped Illinois veterans
get the disability pay they were promised, while working to prepare the
VA for the return of the thousands of veterans after Iraq and
Afghanistan. Recognizing the terrorist threat posed by weapons of mass
destruction, he traveled to Russia with Republican Dick Lugar to begin
a new generation of non-proliferation efforts designed to find and
secure deadly weapons around the world. And knowing the threat we face
to our economy and our security from America's addiction to oil, he has
worked to bring auto companies, unions, farmers, businesses and
politicians of both parties together to promote the greater use of
alternative fuels and higher fuel standards in our cars.
Now that’s some impressive inexperience! I wish I were that inexperienced!
* If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city
council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people
(leaving it in debt and in litigation over title over the land on which
she built her famous hockey arena), 20 months as the governor of a
state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second highest ranking executive.
* If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years
while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian.
* If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your
disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a
* If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.
* If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence And allow no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant, you're responsible.
* If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a
prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city
community, then gave that up to raise a family, then your family's values don't represent America's.
* If your husband is nicknamed "First Dude", with at least one DUI
conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until
age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of
Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.
If you didn't happen to read Cursing Mama's blog entry on Sunday, please do so here. It would be good if you read the articles she links to, as well; it is good to be as well-informed as possible. Go ahead, I'll wait.
One of my favorite bits from the linked articles is this:
(from an MSNBC article discussing the problems encountered by Long Term Capital Management in 1998 when Russian credit, in which the hedge fund was heavily invested, collapsed; emphasis added by me)
Michael Greenberger served as the [Commodities Futures Trading Commission's] director of trading and markets at the time. A proponent of tougher oversight, he recalls the Greenspan-Rubin resistance as being fierce and across-the-board. "If we had prevailed, the [subprime-securitization] party would never have gotten started; the wildness wouldn't have happened," he says. "There would have been auditing requirements, capital requirements, transparency. No more operating in the shadows. Bear Stearns, Lehman, Enron, and AIG would be thriving, and spending every waking hour complaining about regulatory restraints imposed upon them."
Remember Ronald Reagan, he who was the champion of deregulation? He who is so eulogized by the rightward half of the electorate? His ideas regarding regulation are not quite so, um, unassailable now.
The problem with deregulation and self-regulation is that -- duh! -- people cheat. If enlightened self-interest is enough to ensure a well-oiled economy, why are exams proctored? Because people cheat. If self-regulation is so damned wonderful, why do we need police, huh? Because people cheat. People can be blinded by their own short-sighted self-interest, i.e., greed -- greed for what others have, greed for the profits-based bonus, greed for moremoremore.
* * * * *
The other half of the equation, though, is election fraud. It is not enough that a majority of American voters cast their ballots for Obama. Their votes must be counted. If an election can be stolen (see: 2000; 2004) it will be. The early steps are already in the works -- flawed voting software with no paper or audit trail that could potentially alleviate problems; mandatory matching of a voter's every id point to existing databases, a process that has already been shown to eliminate massive numbers of legitimate voters; etc., etc., etc.
Be wary. Be aware. Vote, drive others to the polls if they need a ride, be informed.
* * * * *
Enough of that. Here is a child's sweater I started a couple weeks ago with the plan that it would be done by the October 1 deadline Afghan for Afghans' latest project, sweaters for school kids aged 7 to 12.
I knit the body in about 30 seconds, then it languished in the knitting bag for a couple weeks because sleeves require So. Much. Concentration. [/whine] Maybe finishing this can be the silver lining in the broken ankle cloud.
The stripe pattern is the Fibonacci sequence, something I have wanted to work into a knit garment since I first discovered it a couple years ago. Yeah, I'm a little behind the curve on that one.
As you can deduce, the upper part of the sweater will be predominantly the pinkish-red color, although my row gauge calculations indicate that a little more blue will sneak in up near the neck. The pattern is a combination of the saddle-shoulder sweater from Ann Budd's A Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns for the sizing and EZ's knit-all-in-one-piece-in-the-round, saddle-shoulder pullover from An Opinionated Knitter for everything else. The yarn is Knit Picks Wool of the Andes worsted from stash in Blue Bonnet and Cherry Red. The needles are KP US#7.
* * * * *
I'd like another glass of wine, please. This one seems to have spilled...
And, what every well-dressed cast needs, to go along with the wine stains:
For those of you who are not Leon Redbone aficionados, here is a YouTube video of him. It happens to have been shot at pretty much the same distance and angle from which we viewed him last night. He moved slower last night, though.
Dinner was delicious -- for me, beef stroganoff from scratch, no cream of mushroom soup or bechamel sauce, this was the real thing: chunks of sautéed tenderloin, slices of fresh mushroom, sauce of reduced heavy cream. I could feel my arteries closing as I swallowed and I didn't care.
The concert was great, albeit too short -- only a little over an hour. Our
seats were to die for; my leg was propped up on a chair and my toes
were touching the stage.
Smokey brought along this album he bought about 30 years ago:
and Danette, the theater manager, graciously took it backstage to be autographed.
Tonight is party night. We and another couple are going out to dinner, then to hear Leon Redbone in concert here. W00t!
Mr. Redbone is one of Smokey's very favorite musicians. When I heard a rumor last spring that he was coming to this local venue, I phoned for tickets immediately. In some sort of advance, woo-woo knowledge, I discussed handicap accessibility with the person on the phone when I was choosing seats. Instead of being in the middle of row 2 or 3 as we would have been, we are at one end of row 3; Smokey is partially disabled with rheumatoid arthritis and I wanted to be sure he would be as comfortable as possible. Heh. Now it is I who will able to relax in my wheelchair at the end of the row with my bad hoof elevated on a big fluffy pillow on top of a little folding stool that I plan to bring along. Just the the queen Empress that I am.
I called the restaurant to find out if they are handicapped accessible. We have been there many times, but I didn't remember any level entrance, only one with half a dozen steps. We're good, though, just enter through the bar. The theater has a ramp and separate handicapped entrance -- I have ushered there many times and know exactly how it works.
The male half of the couple we are going with has never met Smokey and refers to him as my imaginary husband. We could not pass up this opportunity to prove the reality of my Bear!
It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Arrrrrr!
* * * * *
Thank you all for the outpouring of sympathetic "ouch!"-es in the comments! It made checking my email totally pain-free :-)
The official update:
Ankle = broken in two places. One significant break near the bottom of the skinnier shin bone, one fleck fracture at the bottom of the other, bigger bone. Surgery scheduled for next Friday, 9/26, to allow for swelling to go away. Then a cast and crutches for 6 weeks, no weight on that foot; then 6 weeks in a walking(?) cast, followed by lots of physical therapy.
So much for our 99% certainty that the ankle was not broken. In our defense, neither did anyone else at the clinic until the doc looked at the x-ray.
Insurance issues dictated that the surgery, etc., be done at Fairview Lakes Hospital in Wyoming, MN (45-60 minutes away) instead of St. Croix Falls Regional Medical Center (20-30 minutes away). The upside is that the ortho surgeon at Fairview may very well be a better doc for my situation; he did an advanced surgical residency at Yale and his speciality is rebuilding ankles :-)
For now, and until next Friday, I have an enormous, soft-ish, slightly compressive dressing on that foot and ankle and shin to help control swelling. I am instructed to spend 110% of my time with the foot elevated, preferably above the level of my heart. (For the record, this is exactly what Cathy-Cate of Hither & Yarn recommended; anyone with a medical issue is hereby directed to her blog.) I have a wheelchair and 2 different walkers, plus crutches borrowed from a neighbor who broke her ankle -- in a much worse way -- a few years ago. As ankle fractures go, mine is just average, not spectacular. (yay)
Plus, after visiting the various doctors, I now have my very own vat of Vicodin :-)
I'm trying to figure out how to work this broken ankle thing into a contest. Stay tuned...
* * * * *
From today's email (and which I already forwarded to many of you):
Please pass around to everyone you know. Maybe something good can come from this nightmare of Sarah Palin’s VP nomination!
For $10, or even $5...it doesn't have to be a big donation.
Instead of (in addition to?) us all sending around more emails about how horrible Sarah Palin is, let's all make a donation to Planned Parenthood in Sarah Palin's name.
And here's the good part: when you make a donation to Planned Parenthood in her name, they'll send her a card telling her that the donation has been made in her honor.
Yep, that's what I did all right. Twisting force, stretching or possible tearing of something or other. I would show you a photo of my own ankle, wrapped in an Ace bandage, but my camera is not within reach and there ain't no way I'm gonna go get it.
I got home kinda late last night after the monthly county board meeting. There had been one or two controversial issues to be decided,and the public comment section of the meeting, usually limited to 30 minutes, went on for over an hour.So it was nearly midnight when I got home.
Anyway, I got home, parked Smokey's van -- he was installing a different stereo and a cruise control in the new Aveo -- and attempted to dismount from the driver's seat. Since I had parked as far as I could toward one side of the slab in front of the garage in order to leave him as much room as possible where he was working, the van was right at the edge of the slab. There is a slight drop-off/washout there, and I stepped right on that edge. Twisted my ankle, fell, and managed to wedge my shoe and foot in an extreme position -- left foot twisted outward from my lower leg at least 90°.
I freed the foot and just lay there and yelped like a Kat™ in pain. Which I was.
Luckily Smokey was still working on the other car and so was just a few feet away. He is naturally ultra-calm in these situations, in addition to having 35 years of nursing experience. He had me just lie there for awhile; brought me a blanket and a Vicodin and some pillows. And a stuffed animal and my iPod. When, after 30-40 minutes, the Vicodin had taken effect, I managed to get myself upright, but I couldn't put any weight at all on the ankle. He brought his wheeled walker -- purchased several years ago when his rheumatoid arthritis was worse than it is today -- and we used that, plus our quasi-elevator, to get me upstairs and into bed.
It's definitely better today, although I still can't put enough weight on it to walk unaided. We will give it one more day to see how much more it improves, then go to the doc if it seems advisable. (Even if it were broken, which we are about 99% sure it isn't, a doc would have waited 24 hours to set and cast it anyway, in order to let some of the swelling subside.) I borrowed a pair of crutches and another, smaller, walker from our neighbor who shattered her ankle a few years back. We are all just one Oops! away from disaster.
In the meantime, whatever shall I do during this time when I am chairbound? Too bad I don't like to read and don't have a nice, sedentary hobby that could keep me amused...
One of the non-knitting sites I subscribe to is FactCheck.org. The site is funded by The Annenberg Foundation. Wikipedia says:
FactCheck.org is a nonprofit website that describes its own goal as "[reducing] the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics." In its efforts, FactCheck claims to be nonpartisan. It is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, and is funded primarily by the Annenberg Foundation.
Most of its content consists of rebuttals to allegedly inaccurate, misleading, or false claims by politicians. FactCheck has also targeted the misleading claims from various partisan groups.
I will admit that I do not read every day's entry in its entirety. Mostly I read the headline and perhaps the first few sentences. That is enough, though, to get a pretty good flavor of the lies and half-truths that are being flung about during this campaign season. What I have noticed, and this is only my own estimation, is that at least three-quarters (and perhaps as much as ninety percent) of the falsities are Republican-sponsored. In any case, the number of lies about Obama far outnumbers the ones that slam McCain or Palin.
Hmmm. What does that tell us about the Republicans? Even if you prefer McCain's policiies, it should make you wonder about his party's ethics.
* * * * *
This just in -- more about false and misleading McCain ads. Thanks, Miss T.
* * * * *
My greatest fear, and it grows every day, is that no matter who gets the most votes in November, the Republicans will steal the presidency like they did in 2000 and 2004. Problems have already surfaced in Ohio. HAVA, the Help America Vote Act signed into law in 2002, was intended to help prevent election fraud, but if not applied correctly could disenfranchisethousands, if not millions, of eligible voters. (The links are to stories about Wisconsin'svoter registration woes, but WI is not alone.)
* * * * *
If you have wondered just what the subprime mortgage/credit crisis was about, exactly, read this, the transcript of the May 9, 2008 episode of This American Life, "The Giant Pool of Money." It is the most complete and understandable thing I have found. Boingboing referenced it a few days ago, and after reading it I -- former economics and accounting major who has worked in the financial field her entire professional life -- feel like I understand the world better now. I even sent it to #1 son, the magna cum laude economics grad, and he found it informative.
To paraphrase Gordon Gecko, Greed is good the root of all evil.
* * * * *
Hey, how about some knitting?
Back in June I made one sock. (Actually, between late April and early June, I made 4-1/2 pairs of socks. What we are talking about here is that 1/2 pair.) The poor sock sat all summer, waiting forlornly for a mate. It was a very warm sock, being knit of two strands of sock yarn held together; the heat and humidity of summer removed all sock-knitting motivation. While we were camping a few weeks ago the weather was cooler so I made sock #2.
To refresh your memory, here is sock #1 in progress:
When I was ready to do the heel flap in sock #2, I discovered to my infinite sorrow that I had neglected to bring a row counter. What to do, what to do?
I needed 46 rows in the heel flap, and I always make life a little simpler by counting only the right side rows. That would be 23, for those of you counting along at home.
Then I remembered La Harlot's method, mentioned in one of her books. Happily for me and the sock, there was a bag of peanut M&Ms handy. Twenty-three of little beauties counted into the drink holder of my chair and I was good to go. Any solution that involves chocolate is a winner.
Knit a right side row, eat an M&M...
Yeah, there are only 16 -- or maybe 17 -- M&Ms above. I forgot to record photographic evidence before I started.
Progress is made. Nom nom.
I wore the socks yesterday. The heel flaps -- and the whole sock -- fit perfectly. Yay!
On Wednesday, we (I!) got a new car. My old one was a 2004 bright yellow Chevy Aveo 5-dr hatchback :
The new one is a 2008 bright yellow Aveo 5-dr hatchback:
Yes, I know the photos are identical. The cars are [virtually] identical. The only visible differences between our old one and our new one is that the interior changed from gray to black and the upholstery changed from a knit fabric to something resembling Kevlar and which (we hope) will be less of a dog hair magnet.
These cars get 30-35 mpg, have enough power to be fun to drive, and I have enjoyed driving it for four years; Smokey also likes it because it is an ideological successor to the VW bug. The real kicker, though, was fiscal: after the current GM "employee discount for everyone" campaign, a rebate based on Smokey's GM MasterCard purchases over the past four years, some miscellaneous other discounts and rebates, and the trade-in of our old car, we walked out of the showroom with a brand-new car with a brand-new 100,000-mile/5-year warranty for $3,600.
* * * * *
I just ordered myself a new Mac Mini -- 1.83gH dual core processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 160GB hard drive. No more beachballing* for the Kat™.
We had intermittently been checking the Apple site, eBay, and various other resellers and refurbishers to see what was available and at what price. This turned out to best the best deal for the Mac that seemed to suit my needs best. Stay tuned for further developments once it arrives.
* * * * *
I am feeling like a self-indulgent little consumerist pig after the above purchases.
We are so, so lucky to be financially secure enough to afford such things. Times are tough; 2 of the 6 houses on our road are in foreclosure after the owners lost their jobs in the past couple years. One had been the sales manager for a local boat dealer, but he lost that job soon after buying the house; then he drove a dairy truck for several years but apparently that job is gone now, too. The other guy was a long-time employee of a local building supply place, but he had to take out a second mortgage to buy out his wife's interest in the house when they got divorced a couple-three years ago; then he lost his job and couldn't make it as an independent carpenter. In both cases circumstances combined to give each the 1-2 punch and now they are losing their homes.
I am making several charitable donations that I wasn't planning on, just to suave my conscience. I feel very lucky to be able to do that, too.
* * * * *
That's enough stuff about money, eh? Let's look at some photos from our North Shore camping trip in August.
This is the campfire enclosure and grill. In back of it is the red can that holds dogfood. We found that by setting the can right next to this big iron immovable object the dogs were not able to knock it over with their cable tie-outs.
Guess what happens if you leave the dog food can uncovered for half an hour or so? Someone else notices.
...and comes to investigate...
...and discovers that his nose has not betrayed him:
Yummmm! he says.
Please notice the size of those fully-packed chipmunk cheeks.
Time to store away these morsels:
Happy, happy chipmunk.
* That's the Mac equivalent of the Windows hourglass or the Windows Vista round blue rotating circle. All equate to fingers tapping on the desk.
In my two years of blogging I have discovered that if I have pictures and an idea, the post writes itself. Tonight I have almost no pictures and very little in the way of ideas. Let's just see what happens, 'kay?
* * * * *
I finished a really good book, Eye Contact by Cammie McGovern. I read about it on someone's blog, I think, and requested it from the library. It is a murder mystery of sorts, really a novel where a murder is one of the organizing principles, a mystery with more than the usual amount of really good character development and insight into those characters' souls. A little girl is murdered, and the only witness is an autistic boy. Well-written. I highly recommend it if you like mysteries that are not particularly bloody or graphic.
* * * * *
I started back to work the day after Labor Day, half-time until mid-October. The half time is because of my county board commitments -- meetings, committees, budget. It is taking me a while to get back into the regimen of being a worker bee instead of the Queen of Leisure. I love the work, I just don't love work, if you get my meaning.
* * * * *
Without photos, I can't show you my knitting. I finished a stealth project that is a birthday gift for #2's girlfriend. After the 16th I can show it to you. The scarf I talked about a couple weeks ago is a lot bigger now, and I did some creatively funky things with the laciness of it, all of which will be revealed... sometime. I finished the socks mentioned in that post which needed toes and knit the second sock of another pair mentioned there. I have not worked on the Summer Chevron; the weather has turned cool, so I have lost motivation. I still like the sweater a lot, so it will get finished sometime before next summer (she said confidently). I started a child's sweater for the current Afghans for Afghans drive (deadline October 1) using Knit Picks Wool of the Andes from stash, a bright blue that is the same color as the blue of interstate highway signs and a cherry red. My charity knitting has been sadly neglected this year, and it feels good to be doing some. It is a saddle-shoulder pullover knit all in one piece using EZ's method outlined in The Opinionated Knitter. No seams, yay!
* * * * *
#2 son has some more pictures of the St. Paul police in their full riot gear at the RNC, but he has only been able to email me this one from his Blackberry. Grrrr.
There are much better pictures in soxanne's post about participating in the September 2 march on the RNC; go check them out. A number of my friends here in Polk County marched in St. Paul, too; I didn't because I have trouble walking more than a few blocks. Those that did march have my undying admiration -- it was about 90 degrees that day with the same humidity.
* * * * *
Oh, yeah, we went camping on the North Shore for 4 days the week before Labor Day. I have lots of pictures and things to tell you about that... when I have time. This will just have to do for now.
#2 son just phoned. No, he didn't get arrested; he leaves that endeavor to his older brother.
#2 and Girlfriend are at a rock concert on Harriet Island, which is an island in the Mississippi right by downtown St. Paul. He reports that the security surrounding the RNC is awesome. There are Coast Guard boats zipping up and down the river just in case some terrorist disguises himself as a water skier with a hand-held grenade launcher in his trunks. There are bands of full-body-armored police roving the downtown streets carrying 3-foot nightsticks and tasers, pretty much everything except automatic weapons.
[aside] He and I noted a news item on the internet a couple months ago about how the St. Paul police department had purchased 2,000 tasers... just in case. [/aside]
Matthew offered to take a picture with his cell of the security but worried that he might die in hail of bullets if he did so. I decided not to instruct him in the ways of Kinnearing; he woud almost certainly lose his brand-new Blackberry in the attempt.*
A couple nights ago he needed to drive to pick up some friends in downtown St. Paul. There is a perimeter set up surrounding the convention center and the several-many blocks around it; concrete barriers topped with razor wire blockade the streets. He couldn't quite figure out how to get to his destination, so he parked and approached the perimeter on foot. There he asked a state trooper how to get to 3rd & Sibley; she pulled out a map and was very helpful and pleasant about the whole thing. While they were puzzling over the map, they were approached by a Secret Service agent, who asked Matthew what he was doing.
"I need to pick up some friends."
"Where are you trying to get to?"
"3rd & Sibley."
SS agent looked him full in the eye and said, without a trace of inflection, "I don't know where that is."
The whole thing struck #2 as pretty surreal. Me, too.
* Back in 2004 I accompanied his high school drama group on their trip to New York City. One of the attractions the group went to was the Statue of Liberty. There was what has become standard security as we boarded the ferry to Ellis and Liberty Islands: a march through the metal detector and wanding of anyone whose belt buckle, etc., set it off. One of the other adult chaperones was being wanded, we were all laughing at the incongruity of a high school group from rural Wisconsin being suspected of terrorist activities, and another chaperone took a photo of the first one being wanded. The second chaperone was promptly descended upon by security guards who whisked her away, questioned her, and confiscated her camera. Bam! There, I feel safer now, don't you?