On the road home!

Good night, dear readers,

I feel that I’m justified in wishing you a good night because as I write this it is, indeed, night. I do not necessarily wish for you all to go to bed immediately, if you’re still awake then by all means, continue as you were.

The two final wrap-up appointments were completed today, and after the second was completed we bid a speedy adieu to Rochester. Land of Pepsi. I forgot to mention this, but there is literally NO COKE to be found in Rochester! For a hopeless Coke (capitalized to distinguish from the street drug) addict like myself, this was nigh intolerable and definitely not conducive to a recuperative stay. Anyways, I’ve distracted myself.

Short post today is short. Because I’m very tired, I’ve travelled all day and have a long way to go tomorrow. I’m at the Artos Motel in Harvey ND, surrounded by such thunderheads as I don’t think I’ve ever seen. This isn’t mere exaggeration. The inter-cloud electricity exchange is constant and astonishing in the magnitude of that consistency. It seems that everywhere but directly above our car has, for the last few hours, been bombarded by a primeval blitzkrieg, such that I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that an entirely novel form of life has been initiated during the night. The kind lady at the motel desk told Dad and I that “worst case scenario, you’re in the bathtub”. Ooookay. Clearly we are turistas here, because my first thought was “Oh, it’s the worst case because if you’re in a tub and lightning hits the building, you’ll be electrocuted somehow. Oooooh wait.”

I have to take a moment to acknowledge the tragedy that occurred today in Norway. At least 87 people are known to be dead; 7 as a result of a detonated bomb in a government building in Oslo, and 80 people were later shot at a political youth rally. Most of those 80 departed were kids 14-18. This is beyond sickening, and my heart goes out to everyone affected.

-T.

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One more sleep!

Good to see you, dear readers.

Or good to see your page hits at least, because I can’t actually see your beautiful faces. I’m sitting on my hotel room floor watching le Tour de France with my Dad, and as I’m not urgently invested in the race at this stage (and he’s now flicking between golf and softball), I thought I’d type a few words.

Today was a long day in a classroom, during which I learned everything there is to know about fibromyalgia. What we think it is, how we think it’s caused, and what we know is the best way to deal with it. Unfortunately there’s not much that can be done to ameliorate symptoms, but there are various  methods of coping with the symptoms and working through them to live a happy, fulfilling and productive life. This fills me with great hope, and I am bound and determined to kick ass. I’m extremely grateful that I come by stubbornness naturally, and I don’t have to work at it, because it makes stuff like this way easier. Thanks, Mom, for crafting a child nearly as stubborn as you.

After the interminable day (9 hours of class for a room full of tired, achy people, who have just learned that moderation is the key to all happiness?), Dad and I zonked out for an hour, then ate some very embiggening pannekoeken (what I’ll probably miss about Rochester the most). To end the day on a happy note we returned to Quarry Hill Nature Park, and I spent a gleeful evening running around looking at birds. Which means it’s that time again:

THE BIRD LIST
Some new ones for you this evening! Male and female Goldfinches, Blue Jays and Northern Cardinals were seen, as well as a pair of juvenile Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks. Firsts for the trip though included a juvenile Downy Woodpecker, a Cedar Waxwing, a group of Blackpoll Warblers (often heard, never seen), a Hermit Thrush, a bunch of Eastern Wood-Pewees (SO ADORABLE!), and what I am nearly certain was a Bell’s Vireo. Also spotted were Song Sparrow, House Sparrow, White-Breasted Nuthatch, Dark-Eyed Junco, American Robin, Black-Capped Chickadee, Mallard Duck (female, pretending to be wounded so that I wouldn’t notice her adorable brood of 8 ducklings), Brown-Headed Cowbird, and Brewer’s Blackbird. A good crop, all told!

I am two appointments from freedom. It’s rather nice here in Rochester now that the hellish heat wave has subsided, but I’m starting to really miss home. It’ll be nice to be back for a couple of weeks before I have to move. Now, it’s time to finish watching either Conan the Barbarian or le Tour.

-T.

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My bunny Finnegan loves his litterbox.

This is my bunny Finnegan. He’s always liked to sleep in his litterbox, right after it’s been cleaned and is all fresh.

Him then:

WIDDLE FEET!

The first day we brought him home.

Him now:

Love his white belly!

He's such a cool dude.

He’s very laid back, it’s one of his most endearing qualities.

-T.

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At the Misty Mountain (Mystery Solved!). Now I need to get Back Again.

Wizard people dear readers,

Today heralded the end of a long quest. While in a previous post I informed you that the prime suspect was fibromyalgia, today that diagnosis was distinctly and definitively declared to be decently dependable and, in essence, dead on. That was the most yellow sentence I’ve ever written. The lady with the authority has poked, prodded, and deemed me fibromyalgic. This is, as I said before, good news, because now I can bring my formidable obsessive powers to bear and make this right.

The first step on the path Back Again was to see a physical therapist, and basically have her tell me everything my mother (also a physio) has already told me. That is, to do everything in moderation. My tendency is to overdo…well…basically everything. So if there’s a day where I’ve got a more healthsome vigour than normal, I will go berserk and accomplish all the things. This has the distressingly predictable result of completely wiping me out for the next few days. Now I’d already been aware that gentle exercise (also known as pacing) has been shown to improve symptoms of chronic fatigue and pain. Therefore, my mother in her infinite wisdom had me on a regimen of walking to the mailbox and back. Of course, my tendency on good days would be to extend the walk; to perhaps even trot a little. This would be coupled with strength training exercises at home. The biggest thing that has come out of my meeting with the physio today is that moderation and, importantly, consistency are key. So I now have a regimen completely laid out. I’m going to detail it here for two reasons: firstly so that, months from now when I’m running marathons, I can look back and say “HAH! I used to be so pitiful, now I have so many beautiful rippling muscles!”; secondly, to make me accountable to you, dear and faithful readers. If I don’t do what I’ve laid out here, you’re free to all flog me in town square.

Walking: 3 continuous minutes. Upgrade to 4 minutes on Friday, then 5 on Sunday, 6 on Wednesday, maybe plateau for a while at 6 depending on how it goes.
Arm/Leg Exercises: Use medium-light band. 5 reps each of hip abduction, hip flexion/extension, and knee flexion/extension exercises 2-3 times per day. 5 reps each of bicep curls, tricep extension, and deltoids 2-3 times per day.
Abdominals: 5 reps centre, 5 reps left, 5 reps right. 2-3 times per day.
Standing: 5 sit-to-stand-to-sit exercises, 1-3 sets/day. 5 standing hip abductions each side, 1-3 times/day. 5 heel raises each foot (holy crap I can do an unsupported one-foot heel raise? I AM UNTO A GOD!), 1-3 times/day.

This, I am assured, will have me back at hapkido in no time.  Well, maybe a little time. But I can hurl myself headlong into this exercise of moderation. I am going to be the most moderate exerciser there’s ever been. I’m going to moderate the crap out of this exercise schtick. I will be so mediocre in my efforts.

In all seriousness, my spirits have much improved. I have a diagnosis, I have a plan of action, and tomorrow I have an 8 hour class on fibromyalgia. I talked to my Mom and my brother today, and Mom sent me this picture of bunny Finnegan, who had done some interior decoration during the night.

Budding genius.

Who, me? It sure wasn't me who moved around my house or artfully arranged my chew toy, no siree!

I can think of no better way to conclude this post than with an adorable photo of my bunny rabbit. So, consider this post concluded. Any time now. Pretty soon. Alllllmost.

-T.

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Pris Arrives

Well, dear readers,

we find ourselves here once again. However, today I’ll have to make it very brief, as the pain is too intense in my left hand/arm to make typing very feasible, and I have little patience for one-handed typing. I basically had an awesome day, wherein I discovered that the medication that we thought was causing my dystonic attacks is definitely not causing dystonic attacks, which is great because now I don’t have to change anything. Also, I saw Transformers 3 (I refuse to type the sub-title because it fills me with murd’rous rage), and had a grand time mocking it at times, and experiencing a primeval testosterone-filled high with every explosion and robot fight. A review of this film will most likely come at a later date, when my arm isn’t killing me. In the evening, I watched Caddyshack on TV with my Dad, which was fantastic, as yesterday Dad took a picture of me in front of the Lake City Yacht Club as I made a Judge Smails face. Sadly I cannot show you that picture at this time, as I somehow made a trip without a mini-USB cable. Silly me.

In addition, Youtube has offered to enter into some sort of partnership with me because my tortoise video is so popular. 245 views counts as popular? This is SWEET!

Something magical happened to me today. My walker, The Roy Batty (points if you get the connection), has long been searching for a mate. One that holds beverages. I felt bad for the poor thing, so I looked into modding some bike water bottle holders and whatnot, but nothing panned out. Finally, at long last, after a long and fruitless sojourn, I came upon the solution.

Is it she?

Could it be?

I seized the opportunity, and quickly became the happiest camper ever. I am pleased to present to you all Pris, clinging appropriately to Roy Batty.

Though they will hopefully be obsolete in 5 years.

The happy couple, together forever.

This could be the start of a very special relationship.

-T.

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Who’s Beaky? Parrot Series Part 1

Yeeurgh, dear readers.

My day was pretty cool, stuff was done, roads were driven on, nature was seen, sweat was sweated (116°F outisde!!!!). I actually had a pretty awesome day, but I’m too gosh-darned lazy to summon up my memories of it to type about, so I’m going to talk about something totally different today.

I happen to be totally and completely in love with parrots and as such, have educated myself to some degree regarding their behaviour, physiology, habitat, general ecology etc. This is, of course, amateur research, as I’m not far enough advanced in school to get to learn about parrots there. One question that I get asked an awful lots is this: What exactly is a parrot? The short answer is any bird belonging to the order Psittaciformes, in the class Aves, infraclass Neognathae. Generally, this answer is completely unsatisfactory to the person who originally inquired, and they’re likely to be inclined to call me a smart-ass. So I’m going to go into a little more basic detail that will allow you, dear readers, to instantly recognize whether any given bird is a parrot. This will be done as a series, to prevent me from having to exert any creative effort for a little while.

The Hardware

Also known as Blue-and-Yellow macaws, these two are seriously adorable.

The first image that pops into most people’s minds when they hear the word ‘parrot’ is the blue-and-gold macaw, Ara ararauna, and it’s easy to see why. Not only are their colours striking and memorable, but they are probably the most common macaw in captivity, and have been featured in numerous movies. They are the quintessential pirate parrot; in fact, the pirate Cotton uses one as his surrogate voice in the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Besides the beautiful plumage, one of the first things that people notice about these lovely birds is their beak, and this happens to be one of the key factors in deciding whether or not a bird of unknown classification is in fact a parrot. The beak is also known as the bill, and the upper and lower halves are referred to as the upper and lower mandibles. If you see a bird that has an oversized upper mandible that curves downward into a point, that’s one check for “Parrot”. These strong-looking bills are essentially a third foot or hand for most parrots; they explore new objects with them, manipulate and grasp objects with them, use them for support and occasionally self-defense. A parrot’s beak is one of its most versatile tools, and they are meticulously maintained by any self-respecting psittacine.

There’s actually quite a lot of structural variety between different parrot species. The lower mandible of cockatoos dips in the front and forms points on either side, and the hyacinth macaw (the world’s largest parrot) Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus, has one of the most formidable beaks you’ll ever see.

Don't mess with him.

The word of the day is 'formidable'.

This over-the-top weapon makes more sense when you consider that in the wild their diet consists of macademia nuts, brazil nuts, and even coconuts. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have Pesquet’s, or Vulturine Parrot Psittrichas fulgidus. This beak is long and narrow, looking positively primeval. The diet of this species consists largely of fruit and nectar of figs, and the long bill and bare head are thought to be an adaptation to keep the parrot’s head from getting gooky.

Vulturine

Not actually a vulture.

The upper mandible of parrots is actually not fixed to their skull; it’s highly mobile, and this actually adds to the force that the mandible can exert on whatever hapless nut is destined for dinner. The lower mandible is also mobile, and as you’ve seen in the pictures shown, is shorter than the upper mandible. It’s usually shaped like a little scoop, and is often used for that purpose (i.e. drinking), but is also used as either a rock or a hard place. It rests against the inside of the upper mandible, and when an obstacle impedes this natural order, great powers are brought to bear on it. I used to look after a hyacinth macaw, and he used to use his lower mandible to delicately scrape off layers of flesh from apple slices, until only the skin was left (and subsequently discarded).

Beaks are normally kept sharp by a behaviour equivalent to a parrot purring: beak grinding, a.k.a. one of the most adorable things you’ll ever see.

These beaks are composed of keratin, the same stuff that our fingernails and hair are made out of. In addition, like our keratinous protrusions, parrot beaks are also continually growing, and as such need constant maintenance to keep it in optimal shape and condition. If something is knocked even a little out of alignment, the beak can grow into the wrong shape, resulting in a painful condition known as malocclusion. The same condition affects any other animal with continually growing teeth, including rodents and lagomorphs. It is especially crippling in parrots, as the beak is not only used for feeding, but for preening, moving around, and reinforcing social bonds. A whole host of conditions can potentially attack the beak, including various vitamin deficiencies, and many infectious diseases. Probably the best known beak affliction is Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD). PBFD is caused by a nasty virus, and as you may have gathered, ravages the feathers and beaks of parrots of all types, and does so by attacking the cells that are responsible for the growth of new tissue. The effects that this has on the beak in particular are necrosis, overgrowth, and cracking and peeling, which lower the drawbridge for all sorts of nasty secondary infections to set in; this often leads to death. It’s a really tragic disease, and is so contagious and feared that if a bird is found to have contracted it, it’s immediately euthanized and all other birds that have recently come into contact with the ex-parrot must also be tested for the dread disease.

Thus concludes my short summary of the best multitool known to science. I’m so very tired that it’s likely I won’t remember this in the morning, but I sincerely hope that it’s been coherent enough to follow.

-T.

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Tortoise bit me…almost!

Hello dear readers,

Once again I find myself sprawled on my bed, propped up by pillows, staring blankly at the screen while I try to come up with something to write about. My day wasn’t very interesting, to tell you the truth, with a couple of exceptions. Fortunately, I have multimedia that will deceive you all into thinking I wrote more than I did brighten your day and enhance your viewing experience.

Today dawned just less hot than McDonald’s coffee (I’m so topical), so rather than run around in the sun and look at birds again, Dad and I went to see Super 8 at our local Cine. Literally, the Cine. I wouldn’t ever truncate the word ‘cinema’ in such a cringe-inducing fashion frivolously. I can tell you with the utmost sincerity that it was a fantastic film. It relied a great deal on suspense for the creepy parts, which is the hallmark of a film that’s actually creepy, and it featured an incredible dynamic between all the actors that spoke of absolute faithfulness to real teenage interactions. It was thoroughly enjoyable, would see again. ++

It was after viewing the movie and stepping back out into the scalding soup that was the air, that I was informed that the weather authorities said that the actual record heat wave won’t be starting until tomorrow. Joy. To avoid severe calefaction, we decided to hop on into a few local (air-conditioned) stores. First up was Dick’s Sporting Goods, where a couple of interesting things were sighted.

Bear Grylls is a sellout.

First there was this. I really shouldn't be surprised, but I am.

Make of that what you will.

Bear Grylls is the ultimate multi-tool.

There was also this amazing piece of technology.

Probably just used for hitting people with.

I'd like to say that only in America is a straight stick considered a total body workout system, but it's sold in Canada too.

Afterwards, we wandered over to a pet store, and I proceeded to toy with a really cute tortoise:

Seen elsewhere were the following:

Neon Genesis Tekken!

Yes, this exists, somehow.

 

I'm cuckoo for cocoa...spheres?

So now I’m going to go to bed. HAH! Hardly any writing at all! I should just take videos of adorable tortoises every day and pass those off as blog posts!

-T.

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