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I finished the second volume of the glass thorn series by Melanie Rawn. Now I have to wait for the library to get the third and fourth books. I never ever do this. And when I tried to tell Keith (my younger roommate)about why I liked this stuff, I couldn't describe it in a way that doesn't sound like bad books. But they are not bad books, they're fun. I've put the third one on request for when it comes in, but the fourth one, while published, is not even on order yet.

Now I'm reading Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi and oops it looks like it's part of a series too. I'm not sure I like it. I haven't thrown it against the wall yet. I won't, literally, of course. But it has a lot of elements I find annoying. All the post-singularity claptrap where whatever happens is because the author decided it would be cool, and the mechanics of the world allow for any damned thing whenever, that just irritates me. And I'm not into stories about "history's greatest thief" either. But in translation at least it's sort of amusing, even though I can't bring myself to much care about anybody, even the poor Quiets, who are paying for their longevity by taking turns being transformed into enormous hideous worker drones.

I'm also still slogging through The Coasts of Bohemia which is for some reason harder to get into than Prague in Black and Gold. I gather Derek Sayer, author of the first, is a decade or two younger than Peter Demetz, author of the second, and didn't leave during the Communist years like Demetz. I wish I could say that one or the other of them is more left- or right- wing, but I don't really have evidence as they both take a kind of Scheikian view of the Soviets as being just another of a long line of people who seem to have thought that Central Europe would fare better as clients of someone else. And also both of them are critical of Czech nationalism and clear-eyed about history's nuances. I would maybe say that Sayer is more bitter than Demetz, based on a few sentences here and there, but I don't even know if I can say that. I do feel like Sayer's point is "We Czechs (et cetera) are too much more important than anybody ever acknowledges, so there!" while Demetz's point is "these lands have always been diverse and polyglot, in fact the Germans and Hungarians got here a bit before the Czechs (etc, since apparently until Masaryk "Czech" really only referred to a certain tribe of Slavs in the region, and if you wanted to talk about all of them you said Slavs or Slavonians)." I may be being unfair the Sayer, I should be able to tell when I'm done with the book. It's not that Sayer doesn't address the issues of ethnic and linguistic diversity in Bohemia (etc), he does, and he addresses the question of "who the hell is Czech anyway?" which is a touchy one throughout much of the history fo the area. Because a lot of German speakers considered themselves Czechs and a lot of Czech speakers considered themselves German, or Austrian, or whatever the country was that was ruling them at the time.

On another front, my latest leg insult is not a blood clot. It may be something rather like sciatica. On a relatred front to that, I like the clinic arrangement. I like having these different assistants and other professionals to talk to, and I like the production-line fashion that they deal with admistrative things. I also like that when they ordered a doppler ultrasound on my leg, we didn't have to wait a week for the insurance to authorize. I didn't even have to take a paper. The PA asked me to make my appointment before I left the office because if it didn't work the first time she would pull strings. The doppler itself was amusing. The handheld device was set against my leg repeatedly and it made quiet little clicks each time until suddenly it went WOWOOSH which was the doppler we spoke of running through clear blood vessels. I couldn't stop laughing afterr that. Unfortunately, it doesn't make a nice tidy image for me to get a copy of.
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Lately I stay in bed for a while after I wake up. I can do my morning surf in bed now because of my cute little obsolete barbie-pink laptop, and I can also write there for the same reason. This allows me to keep from dangling my legs from the chair for that time (which is lousy for all the sixteen jillion billion things that are wrong with them) but it also means that I don't get moving until my bladder or the telephone force me out. Or the dog needs something, but she's happily adapted to sleeping in as long as I'm available to warm the bed for her. Yes, I sleep with my dog. 1) I haven't slept alone on a regular basis since I was eighteen, so it would be a sacrifice to not have her in the bed 2)anyway when she was a puppy it was the best way to keep her out of trouble at night so we were already in that habit 3) mutual warmth.

Anyway when I finally did get up this morning I thankfully hadn't flushed when I noticed the lack of water because I usually save flushing the toilet till after my bath when I refill the flushing buckets (I do not require everyone else to flush the toilet with buckets but I prefer to). So I noticed when I tried to run a bath. Because of my history my first thought was that the water bill had somehow not been paid but when I called the water department they said there was an emergency shutdown and it should be back online in an hour or so. The customer service guy did not know the ultimate cause of the shutdown. The thing about an emergency shutdown is that since it is an emergency shutdown there is no guarantee that your buckets and pitchers will be filled. Moral of the story: keep the buckets and pitchers filled at every moment.

Coincidentally my morning surf had mostly been about how to stop my toilet from running besides buying a new apparatus (I think I have to buy a new apparatus) and also how to weatherstrip my windows. But I think I'm not going to go out and buy the stuff I need for those jobs today because I have A Brand-New Mysterious Leg Pain and I'm going to rest the ridiculous thing until I see the doctor tomorrow. This time there's also a newish not-mysterious leg pain, as I tweaked either the IT band or the hamstring doing somewhat more difficult dances Friday night (but I had fun!). And then last night my stupid ankle swelled up quite suddenly and also quite suddenly started producing the kind of pain you can't ignore or walk through. So, against my uncharacteristic desire to be up and doing today, I am resting. If I'm feeling up to it later, I'll do a bit of hardware store shopping when I go out to take the dog to the vet.

What has happened is that I have gotten some of the money from the sale of my stepmother's house, and I am judiciously spending about half of what I have gotten on necessary repairs to the house, the car, the dog, and myself. I also paid the flood insurance and the property taxes, two expenses I have trouble with (but they don't let you break down into smaller payments or pay years in advance either). I am saving the rest for future insurance and taxes and for travel expenses.

There has been no rain at all this rainy season. There was one paltry storm at the opening of the season and nothing since. There could still be some rain, especially since the season appears to have been moving later and later over the last few years, but I think we are looking at a real drought this year, and not just those near-drought "dry years" we've been experiencing lately.

So, since I have a bit of money now (and never will again), I wonder if I should get a second-hand modern water-sparing washing machine?

edit: other money I have spent and will be spending: refurbishing my banjo, buying an actual new autoharp, refurbishing my bicycle. I will probably replace some of these windows, but that has to happen in the summer. Also getting the damned house painted, and the bathtub fixed (leaks, and also needs a hand-held shower because you can't put a stationary shower there because of the window)
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No, I haven't been to the physical therapist yet, I'm waiting for my Covered California insurance to kick in. But I decided to do a little research on statin-induced myopathy and I have found a trove of scientific articles written for physical therapists in a journal called Physical Therapy (PTJ). These articles are available in full online. No pay wall, no membership requirement. You only need to know what to search for. This is so different from other things I have tried to search for in the past. Also,at least to a cursory glance, there seem to be more women authors in this journal. More than half, even.

I have no special news to report except that statin damage does seem to be reversible so that the pain and weakness I still have is either not from that (and some of it is definitely from osteoarthritis) or will recede as I exercise more and lose some more weight. I have learned a lot more about the chemistry and genetics of the situation, but it's not stuff I can articulate, since the articles I have been reading are at the edge of what I can follow.

Here is one of the articles I read.

And here is an older one.

On another, tangentially-related front, it appears my old dog needs anti-inflammatories as a regular thing now too. She started them for an apparent muscle injury in her shoulder -- not on the side with the deformed leg -- and after she seemed to have been better for a long time I took her off them. Two days later she developed a limp again and starfted acting sad and tentative too. So I put her back on: a day later and she was racing around, playing with toys, and trying to instigate rough play at the dog park. So I'll be talking to the vet as soon as I can and getting that set up as a permanent regime. She'll be twelve in two days, which is getting up there for a 55-pound dog. I think biologically we are about the same age, really.

Further tangent: earlier this week, my father would have been eighty-five. I went to search a picture for you, and google autocorrected my search for Luis Kemnitzer to Luis Camnitzer. It is amusing that there should be another old guy out there with such a similar name, but google should not have autocorrected my search when the name I am searching is my very own last name. Don't tell me google doesn't know who's searching. I wouldn't mind the "did you mean . . ." suggestion, but autocorrect is the opposite of useful. I did send them feedback. So should ytou, everytime google autocorrects. It's the only possible way to get them to stop it.

Well, here's my father and my stepmother a long time ago, when they posed for the "hotties of harm reduction" calendar. It's in Jim Haber's photostream, and he has all rights reserved, which I believe is a bit odd considering everything.
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In light of the new guidelines for statin use, and the fact that more people have muscle damage from taking statins than previously thought, it seems like there ought to be better information about preventing, monitoring, and responding to statin-caused muscle damage.

I want to stop right here and acknowledge that statins are good drugs in general. The incidence of side effects, even given that it is much higher than we can really know because of people like me who don't put together their muscle symptoms and statin use, is pretty low compared to the health and longevity effects. They're cheap for what they do, too. I was really reluctant to consider the statin connection when I was figuring out my leg pains. Which probably means that I had years more pain and possibly more permanent damage than necessary. But I'd say to a person who is taking a statin now, that if you develop leg pain that doesn't go away, be suspicious. Do a trial of stopping the medicine. Since the medicine is a long-term, cumulative preventive therapy, you can afford to stop it for a couple-few months and see what happens.

Meanwhile, I have finally found one article that is neither a hysterical, credulous hatchet job nor a dismissive, sweep-it-under-the-rug condescension. It's a little old - 2005 - but it is aimed at physical therapists and it is measured, intelligent, and informative. Here it is.

Unfortunately, what I have not found is an assessment of what happens to people who do get longer-lasting effects, and what is the best strategy for retraining the muscles.

One interesting thing in the article that I thought could have been better explained was the advice to tell patients not to use pain relievers for this type of pain. Since no pain reliever seems to have any effect whatever on my leg pain, I don't take any of them anyway, but I wonder why we're not supposed to. It was in a way almost as much of a relief to give up on pain relievers as it was frustrating, because I already take so many medications (a risk factor for muscle damage with statins, as it turns out: my only other one is being female). Although, these days, most of my medications are actually nutrients. Which sounds good until you think about it.

On a related front, the dog also seems to need anti-inflammatories. Ah well.
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Using Plan F or G or something because the USB adapter for the tablet keyboard gave out and while there are USB to micro-USB adapters in Prague, they are for cell phones and don't work on the tablet even though they do fit(no, really: what the hell does the "universal" in USB actually mean?) -- I really should have just gotten a dog-damned laptop, and since the money has come from the tax return I might, once I figure out how much I need for other things. Anyway, what I'm doing now is sneaking my son's laptop when he is asleep or out with Hana waiting around in various embassies and passport offices (the things they have to do to keep their options open as they hunt for jobs anywhere but here are pretty arcane), or else, as now, off doing things for the English-language magazine they write for (something involving a recording studio and suffering in the heat, I understand).

So naturally, I'm working online, directly into Google Drive, which has its amusing moments. "Naturally" because I'm not junking up my son's computer with almost two hundred thousand words of files.

So, here's a known bug. If you zoom in or out on the text in Google Drive, the cursor becomes irretrievably misaligned with the text. Your solutions are: learn to assess where you really are in the text (which is not the same from event to event, but stays the same during each event), or close the file and reopen it. And guess what! The particulars of the way this laptop's touch pad is calibrated, combined with my clumsy hands that are used to three entirely different other machines, means that accidental zooms happen all the time.

Fortunately, nothing is lost but time, as Google Drive saves constantly and at light speed.

But what's really amusing? The spell check fussed at me for the word "fatherly." I clicked on it to find what it didn't like: I could not see any misspelling there. Alas, the problem was that Drive spell check was sure I had really meant "motherly." Really. The dictionary compiler apparently believes that we are a parthenogenic species.

On another front, I didn't go out for almost two days to give my knee a rest, and then when I went out it was still not perfect but I was able to crawl around at museum-gawking speed for like two and a half hours without deal-breaking pain, which indicates to me that I will be able to do some more sightseeing, research and shopping before I go home next week. This is good. I didn't travel nine thousand miles to sit around a small apartment, no matter how lovely the light is here.

This note is just for my records: this is two weeks off simvastatin and there's been no muscle pain and very little swelling. All this pain at the moment is bone on bone pain right in the knee. Also no marble-statue phenomenon, all soft flesh, and only a little localized tenderness over the ligaments in the thigh.
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So The Drummer Boy is reaching draft status. I'm closing in on the last chapters. I took some time off to revise the earlier chapters and I've made notes for some further revisions, but I'm feeling ready to hear what other people have to say about it. It's long enough, and I'm close enough to the end, that I am pretty confident that by the time you're ready for the last chapters, they'll be written.

If you're interested, comment or message me, and I'll send you the link to the folder.

In other news, I've suspended taking simvastatin in a desperate measure to stop my legs hurting and this seems to have worked in a limited fashion, so an important task when I get back is to figure out how to get back on some other kind of statin regime (either reduced dose or a different type), because the statistics in favor of statin use are really quite conclusive. As to the limitation -- the really quite severe and puzzling muscle pains I was having since my arrival in Prague have just about disappeared -- but now I am having actual knee pain, as in obviously the arthritis. I can't catch a break. I have, however, at least according to Hana's bathroom scale, lost almost six kilos, which would please me more if it hadn't been in less than a month. I am not certain of this, naturally, as the scale weighs very heavy compared to the doctor's scale back home, in fact it just now says that I weigh a bit less than when I left. I do know I have lost some weight though as my clothes are hanging off me, which is disconcerting. anyway, the point is, or was back there before I got sidetracked about weight, that my leg pain is clearly multifactorial, and I've been identifying and dealing with one factor at a time. I identified fascitis and muscle spasm, and physical therapy dealt with that (I still do exercises and self-massage for that). I identified arthritis, and put that on hold as the muscle stuff seemed to keep the pain at bay and I lost any method of paying for surgery. Then the pain came back and I seem to have identified this other thing with the statin and also to have crossed some new threshold with the arthritis.

The one thing I know about the pain is that I need exercise and rest, more of one or the other depending on the day.

It is enormously hot here in Prague -- like record breaking some days. Combined with the arthritis acting up I am glad I did a lot of my sightseeing and research already because I can't do so much of it right now.
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Tablet is cumbersome. The usb adapter for the keyboard broke which makes it worse. I can use Frank's laptop for a while now and then but he does need it so when I have it I am working. I discovered I misunderstood artillery placement and procedure so that's the middle of the book that needs some substantial rewriting (fortunately details and anecdotes, the structure remains the same).And I have discovered linden trees in a big way. Europeans probably already know all this. But when art nouveau drawings have improbable trees with roundish overlapping leaves, oblong bracts, and clusters of delicate flowers or round berries, those are not made up. Those are lindens. And when the beer stein says "auf der Linde ist est schoen" (there may be errors in that childhood recollection) that is an understatement. My goodness, linden smells sweet. It's not cloying but it is penetrating and demanding. And the trees grow quite big too. I feel quite smug for having already chosen it as a significant tree in the not-Prague miscellaneous urban tree people fantasies.
Most days I tourist a bit and fuss with my legs a bit and work a bit and socialize a bit. Yesterday I slept a lot because I seemed to have picked up a bug at the wonderful neighborhood swimming pool where Frank and Hana mostly messed around and I mostly swam and water-walked. There were only three or four lanes cordoned off and the rest was free swim and play, which was much better for me than the businesslike and inflexible way they tend to do it in the states.

So anyway I am taking a lot of pictures and I will share them -- or a few of them anyway -- when I get back.
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So, I've been pretty busy. I have been to many museums, parks, and shops: I have also been revising The Drummer Boy, and socialising with Frank the son and Hana the daughter-in-law, and also for a week there with my niece and nephew.


That planned-for graduation did not happen. Along with a third of his class Frank has been made to come back in the fall to take another test. I don't think it's politic to go into the details, but I also have reason to think that Frank is not the only one that is experiencing unfairness in this. The delay has lost him a chance at a residency in Malta this year but there will be other chances later.

Every outing is research for the novel. I have learned so much about central european culture, history, landscapes, and ecologies, and some of what I have learned is having small but substantial effects on the content of the book. So while a large part of revision is simple proofreading, and another large part is continuity checking (are all the names the same when they need to be, have I made sure that things happen in the right order and nobody knows things before they should and nobody fails to know what they should know after they should know it, did I clean up all the remnants of changing things when I had a better idea?), another large part is working in new knowledge where it seems appropriate and where it enhances the story. It is also a task for me to avoid working things in just for the sake of working them in. For example, having gone to the Public Transportation Museum, I know exactly what the tram cars are like that Yanek rides to the forest on the edge of the city where his ancestral lands are. But so far there hasn't been a scene that would be improved by any amount of description of that.

Oh well,I used up my time . . .we're getting ready to go for a ramble in the forest. Another time I will write about the huge disappointment that is the state of my legs. I can walk where I want,but I am slow and I suffer.

late start

Nov. 2nd, 2012 08:42 am
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Yesterday I was working on the downstairs bedroom so I don't have to live in a dump for the next year and so I will eventually be able to clean up the living room too.

So I wrote one sentence.

Today I brought the word count to 1.7K+, which is better.  I'm sort of speeding throguh drummer's training camp.  Tomorrow I'll get him chosen by hsi first unit, and the next day maybe have his first battle, and probably on one of thiose two days the conversation with the older drummer about how they're already dead, so they may as well see if they can save their comrades, and by the way, we fuck around a little too.

I was looking for more about military drummers, but there's not a lot more to be found, so I'm making up a lot of stuff whole cloth, and hoping that it makes sense.

I've been poking at Frank's old laptop but it's probably a paperweight. I have some time before the surgeries anyway: I've moved back the first one to May, so I have more time to work out the finances and strengthen my legs before hand.  There's no reason not to, I'm not in much pain at all and I really am getting stronger.  Yesterday Kevin the physical therapist decided I was ready for a new set of exercises which are as he says "efficient" -- meaning they are difficult, painful, and tiring. I should be proud, but I'm sore. I mean muscle sore, not emotion sore.

Also, that cracked tooth finally shed the cracked bit off, and now I have three teeth with chunks out of them.  At my age, my mother had three teeth, though, so that's an improvement.

Also: tomato sandwiches.
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The reasons that I haven't been posting in the last month are two: one is lovely and the other is hideous.  The lovely reason: Frank and Hana are here from Prague!  It's lovely having them in the house.  For a couple of weeks there actually I had a house of seven people.  I really liked it.  This is funny because I do not seek out the company of other people that much and I don't feel lonely when I am alone.  But when there are other people in the house I am more alive, or something.

The other reason is that I am having intractable issues with leg pain and allied difficulties.  I have been whinign all over the universe, so forgive me if I spare you most of the details - I bore myself -- but I will tell you that the physical therapist sent me back to the doctor to talk about the possibility of torn meniscuses in both knees and the doctor said "Well, I thought so all along," and promptly kicked me upstairs and now I have an appointment with the orthopedic surgeon (a conservative one, he said, who is not overly likely to cut any time soon), and I have already met with the neurologist for some of the allied symptoms and he's going on a grand fishing expedition -- he did a conductivity test (ow, hurt worse than I remember the one on my arms thirty-five years ago), and EMG (ow), and I am also having a battery of blood tests including one for syphilis (that's what it said when I looked up the little letters on the referral) as well as thyroid, b12-folate, iron, and rheumatoid factor, and also an MRI on Friday.

Sounds very heavy, doesn't it?  And it takes a lot of my time and thought to do all these things.  But in all honesty, I can't tell how heavy it is in real life.  It's a lot of pain and disability at the moment, which exercise and pain meds doesn't reliably take care of (again, no details at the moment because I keep talking about it all the time and I am tired of myself). But at other moments it seems like it's no big thing and I am being a wuss to even care about it.

I just got off my not-Poland hiatus, in other news, and I reread the first seventeen chapters and made bitsy revisions because apparently I do not have the imagination to see what's really wrong with it.  I've started actively writing again, and discovered that, once again, the goal post of this section of writing has been moved back another chapter.  But the good side of that is that some of the work that I was afraid I might have to do in "while we were out of touch, these things happened" kind of dialog, I am being able to do now, which is more organic.

My teenage Duke is behaving really immaturely and acting a complete spoiled, lovesick, entitled brat, while Yanek on the other hand is a rabbit paralyzed by fear of impending disaster.  Oh well, the disaster will impend, and then it will happen, and then Yanek will be liberated by the fact that the worst has already happened and that for many purposes, he might as well already be dead, and perhaps that is the point of the story after all. And here I thought it was just a melodrama for my savoring.

In one of Pynchon's books -- probably the one with the banana breakfasts -- there's a part during the Boer War, where a group of people are surrounded (in a fort? a village?) by an enemy that will most certainly kill them all before too long.  I might be remembering the rest of this description all wrong, so forgive me if that's the case: you can pretend I've made up a completely fictional composite of a thing that shows up here and there in literature instead of calling on a particular story. So they figure they are already dead and nothing matters, really, there are no rules, and they celebrate this revelation by behaving very badly and being all decadent and nasty.  But I've always thought it was the other way around: if your fate is sealed, and you're already dead, there's no reason to do other than your best because this is all you've got. If you plotz out and behave badly you aren't going to get a chance to make it up later.  And also, there's an assumption in the Pynchon bit that what we really want to do, down at the bone and in general and without restraint, is nasty things. 

Which makes little sense to me as a final pronouncement for all we are.  Of course I think that all we are is in fact all we are: every good thing, every bad thing, every beautiful thing, every nasty thing.  But I'm pretty sure that unless that (fort?) was entirely full of sociopaths, the end times there wouldn't really be nothing but nasty.

Of course, there is the Donner Party as a real-life example, but when you read the primary accounts, it's pretty clear they were at least led by sociopaths in the first place.

To come back to not-Poland, let me assure you that Yanek and the other drummers on the battlefield are not sociopaths, so though they consider themselves to be already dead, the things they do themselves are not decadent orhorrific (there will be no chains of ears in this story).
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Methylprednisolone dose pack starts with six pills on the first day and then you taper it down to one pill on the sixth day and then quit.  It's the sort of thing your body can get accustomed to and you might suffer for it if you take it a while and then stop (Addison's disease being a possible outcome: that is, it's a corticosteroid, and its presence over time might fool your adrenal glands into not making any of your own), and in the long-term it has heavy side effects like possible psychosis and immune suppression.  So if you're going to use it, you want to get in there, bonk the condition hard, and then get out again, but not too fast, because your body needs some time in order to get the signal that it really was supposed to keep on making steroids of its own.

This is the second time I have done a methylprednisolone dose pack.  I am amazed at how well it works, and highly regretful that it has the heavy side effects and dangers, because dang, the first three days are really, really good.  Let me count the ways!  First, the coughing that I took it for subsided to almost nothing.  As opposed to "can't finish a sentence or do a job of work because can't stop, and my clothes are totally flooded with pee from overwhelmed sphincters")  Second, my brain.  Oh, my brain on methylprednisolone.  What I wouldn't give to have a brain like that all the time.  Perky, alert, active, focused, imaginative, cheery, did I say focused? And my memory, so nice. Why isn't there a drug that does this and doesn't mess you up? (coffee, for some people, I guess, but it makes me sick) Third -- no pain in my legs!  Inflammation is gone, gone, and I can do anything with them.

However, day four and five -- it starts to take a toll on you.  No sleep on night three and four.  And I just felt kind of like -- while my brain was still pretty good -- a crash was imminent.  I am glad to say, on day six, that there has been no crash so far and I slept fine last night.  I did not sleep like a baby (sound until waking up screaming for food or play, I guess that means): but I slept like an old lady who can sleep at night until the old bladder goes "help me!" I am still a bit perky and kind of excited about the no leg pain bit.

Research priority: somebody develop a safer form of this drug so I can live on it my whole life.
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I had got to the point where I was not only pain-free but it felt actively good to use my legs. I forgot the exercises for less than a week. Weeks and weeks of exercising again later the pain was still getting worse to the point where it was about as bad as it was before physical therapy. So I went back. The wonderful physical therapist did a new assessment, and says I have "myofascial adhesions" and demonstrated that the skin doesn't slide over my lower legs or much of my upper legs at all -- it's like a solid block of material. He gave me a freview of my exercises -- I was certain that I was doing something wrong, and I was, but it wasn't causing my situation, just failing to alleviate it as much as if I was doing it right. Next time he's going to teach me how to walk right and do some deep-tissue massage.

Pain makes a person tired and gloomy, but I perked uop when I recalled that actually this is the state my arms were in twenty years ago or so and the things the first physical therapist did, and taught me to do, for that, have resulted in permanent improvement. Even though I don't always do all the right things. And ditto the things the other physical therapist did and taught me to do for my shoulders.

I think this is about to devolve into advice for the young: go to the physical therapist early and often and do what they tell you to do. I have had this kind of ridiculous "oh it must be in my head so I'll ignore it" pain all of my life. If I had been going to the physical therapist every time it persisted more than a month, starting at an early age, who knows what all would have been better in my life. In any case, I'm looking forward to losing this latest round of ridiculous sleep-destroying, distracting, annoying pain.

On another front: it rained again this morning, which is good for the land and destroys my plan of riding the bike to the workshop on preschool physical development I am going to in fifteen minutes.
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If you've been with me for a while you know that the other time I came to Prague, Frank and I went to an opera in the beautiful and nationalist old Narodni Divadlo (National Theater) whose motto is "We are a nation!" The opera at that time was this thing about how the Czechs went to Osaka and, against great odds and giant Canadian and Russian ice hockey players, brought home the gold medal and also a Japanese girlfriend for one of the team members. It was hilarious, and I think that musically it was even kind of nice. The costuming and especially the set designs were amazing and hilarious too.

So this time, Hana got us tickets to the opera that came up on short notice (a month: that's what she said, but when we got tickets before it was like two days' notice, but I was paying full price for tickets and Hana gets some kind of employee discount thing, or maybe it is a perk that the government hands out or something). She lucked out. We ended up with Donizetti's "The Elixir of Love," (Napoj Lasky in Czech). I knew we were in for a good time when the prelude featured percussion provided by hay bales falling off a grain conveyor. That piece of equipment was the star of the show. The story line features a perverse but intellectual heroine, a self-absorbed sergeant, a depressive hero, a medicine-show charlatan and his limber assistant, and some switcheroos concerning inheritances and army enlistments and deceptions. The music is nice -- not something that haunts you the rest of your life, but really really nice. Did I say the sets were clever? The stage back of the Narodni Divadlo goes on and on and they took great advantage of that, and reused elements of the staging in ways that actively enhanced the comic sensibility of the show.

That was the opera. We have also been to the National Technical Museum, the Museum of Decorative Arts, the Zoo, and some other such sights. Emma, Frank, and Hana toured the underground of Vyšehrad. Myself, I took a nap: remember that "worn cartilage" thing? It's totally a thing and everything hurts after a few hours of walking. Also, a boat ride, during which we got a great view of the Fred and Ginger Building and some other, less explicable, stuff.

I am disappointed in the lack of cabbage in restaurants this time out, but there has been plenty of cucumber and very nice tomatoes, as odd as that may sound.

Will tell you all about Easter and spanking some other time.

October 2017

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