Another kickball game last night, another loss. It wasn't a terrible loss, at 3-6. The other team just had some powerful kickers. A typical strategy is to keep them low to the ground, to prevent them from getting caught. It's unbelievably easy to get out in kickball if you kick the ball up in the air, because it's so big and slow. This team said "screw you!" to that strategy. Their guys demolished the ball almost every time, getting it up in the air into the outfield. They either got lucky, or placed them well, because they generally went in between our people so that they couldn't get caught.
At one point, a ball was kicked up and fast toward me, like a line drive. I had a pretty good chance of catching it, but it got up just high enough to be in front of the field lights. The field lights are right behind the kicker, meaning anytime the ball goes up, you are being blinded by them. So, on its trajectory toward me, I lost track of the ball and barely missed catching it as it slipped awkwardly out of my hands. Even worse, the ball drove into the knuckle of my thumb, which immediately hurt. I was fairly certain it was jammed then, and this morning I am all but positive. My thumb is swollen, and I can't really use it much because applying any pressure to the joint causes sharp pain.
This comes as bad news for several reasons. First, you really don't appreciate how much you use your opposable thumb on your dominant hand until you have to avoid using it. Since it's only jammed and not completely incapacitated, I can still use it for some things. Overall, though, I have to avoid using it. Second, jammed fingers can heal as quickly as a week, or as long as a month if you're really unlucky. Hopefully I'm lucky. Third, we have a softball game tonight which I'm not confident I can play in anymore. Gripping a bat involves placing it in between your index finger and your thumb, and that is the location of my inflamed joint. I'm pretty sure that batting would hurt. Then I thought that I could skip batting and only go out in the field. However, I realized that throwing a softball involves gripping it in your hand and also using your thumb. So I might not be able to play after all. Finally, if my thumb continues to hurt for the next week or so, that will really put a damper on my motorcycle maintenance. For obvious reasons, I'm going to need to use both my hands fully. I might just have to sit on that one for a little while longer. [Update: This just in! As if my hand-writing wasn't bad enough, it is now worse!]
There is a very slight chance that it's a fracture instead of a jammed joint, but I highly doubt it. Nevertheless, I took this as an opportunity to finally schedule a doctor's appointment. I haven't been in about 3 or 4 years, so I figured it'd be a good idea to get a checkup/physical. I'll have him take a look at my thumb, too, but I don't anticipate it being fractured, nor do I believe he'll be able to help much since it just needs time to heal.
Many, many months ago I started the book "The Hunt for Red October", a classic by Tom Clancy. I read only a small amount, and put the book down. A few weeks back I picked it up again, and tonight I finally finished it. The ending was so gripping that I had no idea that I was past my normal bedtime. Whoops!
About two years ago, I bought 3 books: Terminal Man, The Hunt for Red October, and Kiterunner. The first two were suggestions from Justin, and the latter was one from Andrea. Two years later, I have sadly only knocked off two out of the three. It's not that I don't enjoy books, I generally like all the books I've read. Instead, the problem has been that I'd rather be doing many other things, such as playing video games or bass, watching TV shows, or hanging out with people. Reading has always been so far down in my priorities that it never came up. I decided I wanted that to change, and so far I've succeeded.
Once I finish Kiterunner, I am open to your suggestions, my fellow readers. When I say I am open to your suggestions, I'm being quite literal. I don't have a favorite genre, and I will give both non-fiction and fiction an equal shot. As long as it's engaging, I don't care, but I don't know why you would recommend a book that isn't engaging. If it's not engaging then it's not a good book, right?
So post up one or two of your favorites, and I will give them a look-see. In the off chance that I've already read it, I'll let you know so you can give me another.
I'm not going to bother recapping the weekend because I'm lazy. So there! Average weekend, nothing out of the ordinary. I did some hanging, some downtowning, and some lunching. Instead, let's start with the first day of the workweek.
Today was a special day at work; I was in training all day to become first aid certified. The first half of the day was spent on medical, injury, and environmental emergencies, and knowing how to handle such situations. They're all very basic, since we're obviously not trained medical professionals. It just allows us to do something at work for the few minutes before paramedics arrive, or to look for warning signs for things such as heart attacks and strokes.
The second half of the day was centered around administering CPR and properly using AEDs. A common misconception, and one that I actually held before the course, is that CPR is used to actually bring people back into consciousness. That is incorrect, and usually CPR doesn't "resuscitate" people as the name might suggest. We were told that typically, adults whose hearts stop beating are due to underlying reasons which simply pumping won't correct - they will need hospital intervention to get their heart jump-started. Instead, CPR is used to maintain blood flow to the vital organs - the heart and brain, especially - to keep them oxygenated. By using compressions on their chest, you act as their heart and circulate their blood for them, giving them the extra minutes needed before the EMT arrives with better equipment. Ventilation (through breathing into their mouth) isn't entirely necessary these days, although it does help to provide additional oxygen, especially when CPR is being administered over several minutes. However, they recommend that if we ever have to give CPR to a stranger we don't know, to do compression-only CPR and not risk mouth-to-mouth contact. They say that giving compressions is better than not doing anything at all, which is understandable. Now, there are instances where CPR can actually bring people back around, but those cases are rare, such as children who were drowning. In a case such as that, the heart was perfectly fine and only stopped beating because of lack of oxygen. By giving CPR, you are re-establishing oxygen to the heart and it will return beating as normal.
AEDs on the other hand are used to send electrical shocks to the heart, to correct very specific heart conditions. They are almost completely automated, and are virtually dummy-proof. You turn it on, and it will tell you audibly to place the pads on their chest and to plug in the pads. Then it will analyze their heart, and determine if a shock is needed. If so, it will recommend a shock and charge itself. Once everyone is cleared, you push a button and it sends the shock. You administer CPR as normal and it will analyze and shock if necessary every 2 minutes.
CPR is intended to be given until trained professionals arrive. Since patients don't typically revive, you can be giving CPR continuously for upwards of 10-15 minutes until the paramedics are ready to take over. I was pretty tired after just 2-3 minutes of CPR. Tough stuff.
In completely unrelated news, many months ago Taylor and I completed a little mashup for fun. In case you're too lazy to click the link and read about mashups, I will briefly explain it for you. A mashup is a song that is made up of segments and snippets of a ton of different songs. Basically, we took vocals from some songs, and put it on top of music from other songs, and put them all together for about 5 minutes. In case you're interested, here it is (it's a bit soft so you might have to turn up your speakers). As a warning, you should know that there are rap songs in this mashup and thus the language is not safe for work or prudes. I think we're going to work on a new one soon.
Okay, I just hyped you up to listen to that mashup, right? Well it wasn't as easy as I was hoping to post it, so I will work on it and put it on a future entry. I didn't want to delete everything I wrote above, so instead I just teased you. I apologize.
Finally, a lot of my time the past week has been spent practicing piano and reading, neither of which I regularly do. I'm proud of myself for working on both of those. However it has come at a cost, because I haven't played much bass in the last few weeks. That's okay though, it will always be there for me when I'm ready.
Let's get down to business. We had a double-header for kickball on Wednesday, and unfortunately we lost both. However, they were what I consider "good" losses - 8-9 and 8-13. Both games were close right up until the end, and we played very well despite losing.
We also had a double-header for softball, but we had 45 minutes in between our two games, instead of immediately back-to-back. Our softball team's roster consists of 19 players, and yet we somehow managed to only have 8 show up for our first game. That means that we were short 2 players from the normal amount you have on the field, so we combined short stop and third base into one position, and had only 3 outfielders instead of 2. The team we played was good, but they didn't understand that the game was over when they were up 11-2, and they kept trying really hard throughout the rest of the game.
Now, I'm not one to really complain about people being competitive, but let's look at the facts here. We only had 8 players, meaning we had people doubling up positions and no one was getting breaks. Also, we were clearly going to lose. At that point, is it really necessary to keep trying to kick our ass? We ended up losing 4-12. During our 45 minute break in between the two games, we stayed and watched as they played another team that was as bad as us. They were even more unnecessarily overly-competitive against this team. By the third inning, they were up 18-0. You read that right, eighteen to zero. You know what they were doing? They were still running and diving for fly balls like it was life or death. Listen guys, when you are up 18 points after about 15 minutes of play, you no longer have to give 100% effort. Need I remind everyone that this is a "super-social" league, which according to the Austin SSC website, is a league "for players with limited softball skills." What that translates to is, "when you are kicking a team's ass by 18-0, you no longer have to dive to catch fly balls, assholes." Not to mention that they were still hustling at full speed and throwing fastballs to first base to get out poor people who never had a chance to get to the base to begin with. At least they weren't verbal assholes, like other teams we've run into.
Taylor actually played in that game, because the team who got their ass kicked needed an extra player. Also, after our second game, another team needed two more so me and her joined that team, too. I ended up playing 3 softball games, while Taylor played 4. Intense.
In motorcycle-related news, I have attached my new clutch cable, but my battery is now dead. It is clear that my battery can't hold a charge very well, but what is the cause: poor acid levels, or keeping it hooked up for 6 months while I was storing my bike and not riding it? Either way, I need to resolve the issue. I also made the big purchase yesterday and grabbed all (or almost all) the new parts I'm going to need. It's going to come to about $500 in parts, plus however much in labor for whatever I take to the shop (like the new tires, for example). Wish me luck!
What is Qrank? It is a daily social trivia game. Everyday, you have one chance to answer 15 questions and get the best score you can. By the end of the day, you can see how you did against all your friends. Turns out I have no friends, because no one plays. Won't you play a daily trivia game with me?
Let's start with kickball - that didn't go well. We started the game very shorthanded with 7, but our 8th arrived almost immediately after the start. Our 9th and 10th players came during the first inning, but the discombobulated start threw us off our game. The game ended with some outrageous score like 4-16, us being the 4. The good news is that I scored 2, or half our runs. I knew being skinny and fast would come in handy one day.
It rained some more on Thursday, apparently because raining for several days before that wasn't enough. Our softball game was cancelled, but I wasn't totally feeling it anyways, so it worked out.
I had Friday off, but woke up early anyways because me, Andy, and Kelcey were doing volunteer work! We headed out around 7:30 to get to Fort Hood for their Christmas in July event. The idea is that they are celebrating Christmas now, because their moms or dads will be in Iraq in December for Christmas. BAE Systems and Walmart donated several hundred bikes to soldiers' children, and we were there to build them all. We tackled them assembly line-style, and I was mostly in charge of putting on training wheels for the 12" bikes (the smallest ones for little kids). I helped put on training wheels to probably around 100-110 bikes. Here is a link to the photo album for the event: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=194228&id=85820336449&ref=mf
There are some nice comments on there from the wives and soldiers, but they don't have the pictures from the actual build up yet. They took a lot of pictures of us building, so I'm looking forward to seeing them.
The colonel personally thanked us, and out of appreciation they gave us all military coins for their regiment. I thought that was pretty cool, because they're not normally given to civilians.
(click for larger version)
All in all, it was pretty fun and rewarding.
Friday night we just hung out at the house. Started off with an hour or two of both Rock Band and Guitar Hero, and then ended with some Apples to Apples which was a pretty fun game. Didn't sound like we did much, but we were up until around 3 AM, so I guess we had some fun. It's been a while since I've been up that late.
On Saturday, Taylor and I ran by a few places to take care of some errands. I also spent an hour or two prepping myself for "Motorcycle Maintenance Mania of 2010." Since my clutch cable snapped, I decided it was finally time to give myself a fresh maintenance baseline on my motorcycle. I don't know what kind of maintenance they did before I bought it, so if I do pretty much everything this summer, I will have a fresh start and can properly follow the maintenance schedule. It'll be quite a bit of work, so I'm going to space it out over the next couple months. I think I'm looking at around $500-600, most of that being parts. I'm going to attempt to do almost everything myself, except replacing the tires (I'll take it somewhere for that). Here's my list for MMM 2010, in no particular order:
Replace clutch cable (gotta get my bike home first!)
Replace brake pads and brake fluid
Change oil and oil filter
Engine valve clearance check
Replace fork oil
Replace spark plugs
Inspect hoses, other fluids, etc and replace anything that needs replacing
After this summer, I will be thoroughly bonded with my motorcycle. Anything that goes wrong after this summer can only be blamed on me.
Okay, time to come back from my tangent. The rest of Saturday was just hanging out, and ended with some Battlestar Galactica.
Today, Sunday, has been spent doing typical Sunday things: laundry, vacuuming, etc. I also went to the gym today, which sadly has been the first time in a couple of months. My routine is a 4 day split (meaning I work my entire body over 4 gym days), which really doesn't work with my schedule right now. On Wednesday and Thursday I have kickball and softball, respectively, so I'd have to work out 4 out of the 5 remaining days, which I just don't see happening. It's not worth changing my routine, though, because by the end of the month those sports will be over. I'll probably go twice a week right now (three if I'm feeling particularly motivated), and by the time those sports are over I'll be back in "gym shape." I took that hard first step though, going back for the first time in a while. Now I just have to keep it up, and stop looking for excuses to not go.
Last weekend was the Fourth of July weekend, and it was a pretty good weekend. I'm going to keep this recap short and sweet this time around.
Friday night we went to Sherlock's with some of Justin's coworkers and had a good time. There was a pop-rock/rap/classics cover band there, who were entertaining to say the least.
Saturday was a day at the Kelcey's lake house. She had invited me and Taylor there, and it was the first time I went to the lake house and actually spent time out on the lake. There were a lot of firsts for me: first time jet-skiing, first time jumping into a lake, and first time swinging off a rope into a lake. Before you ask, yes I had a life jacket on because there is no way I would do any of those things otherwise. Maybe one day I'll stop being such a baby, but until then there are life jackets. When I jumped into the lake with the rope swing, I was a bit nervous (okay, fairly nervous) and let go a bit earlier than I should have. The unfortunate side effect of that was that I wasn't completely clear of some of the underwater rocks, and I slammed the top of my foot into a rock as I splashed in. It hurt, but not terribly bad. It got worse the next day, but it's mostly healed now. The rest of the night was spent indoors, where we had brisket, drank and played games. It was a fun night.
For brevity, I will skip straight to Sunday night, when I went to a house/pool party that was hosted by one of Justin's coworkers. It was part awkward and part fun. It was part awkward because I didn't know most of the people so I had to force myself into conversations so that I wasn't just sitting there by myself or constantly following Justin around. The people there were very friendly though, so once I started getting more comfortable being there it was fun. Unfortunately I didn't get the memo that it was actually going to be a not-really-house-but-mostly-pool party, so I didn't bring swimming trunks because I didn't feel like swimming. Turns out I was the only one there without swimming gear. Eventually, I grabbed a pair of swim trunks from someone, but by the time that happened and I got in the water, almost everyone had gotten out. Maybe I smelled bad. Their neighborhood all pitched in together and bought several hundred dollars worth of fireworks, so the remainder of the night was spent watching fireworks go off about 20 feet away from me. Drove home.
Usually at this point, I just wrap up the blog post because the weekends are really the only eventful part of my week, however something noteworthy happened today. I rode my motorcycle into work today, which went fine all the way up until I turned onto the street that leads to my building. Right as I finished upshifting into third gear, as I was releasing the clutch I heard a snapping sound and my clutch lever lost all springiness. Uh oh, that can't be good. I tried pressing it a few times and sure enough the cable was clearly snapped, and I lost the clutch. I was able to ride my bike all the way into the garage in 3rd gear, but unfortunately stalled out about 5 feet shy of the parking spot. Given that I have no clutch, my bike is, for now, permanently stuck in third gear. Since I have no neutral, my bike was stuck 5 feet away from the parking spot since I couldn't roll it. I got Andy and Nick to come help me lift the rear tire up so we could roll the bike on its front tires into a spot. And there my bike shall stay until I get my new clutch cable shipped to me.
I think that's a hint that I need to pony up the cash to pay for some infrequent maintenance, such as new tires, a new chain and sprockets, new brake pads, and obviously now a new clutch cable.
It's been quite the rainy week, partially (or maybe completely) thanks to Hurricane Alex. Both kickball and softball were cancelled this week, which is fine because I wasn't feeling it this week, anyways.
What else has been going on? Not too much, honestly.
You know what I miss? Good TV shows. Now that Lost is over (moment of silence please...), I have to lean more heavily on the other shows I watch to get my "fix." OK, I'm not really that obsessed with TV, but I do watch a lot of different TV shows.
My current recommendation for everyone is a little show called Dexter. It's a little different because our protagonist, Dexter, is actually a serial killer. The story dives into his psyche over the seasons, and you learn about him through some great character development, along with a great story that unfolds each season. Believe it or not, I think the show is better than Lost. Nothing beats the "Lost experience", though.
In other news, Maverick needs some more training it seems: