Monday 29 June 2009

Today I helped my father-in-law by pressure-washing the planter.  Dirty, wet work.  After we got cleaned up, we drove to Urbana to pick up my sister-in-law and a couple of my wife’s nephews.  Here are some of the pictures I took this morning.  The first two-hundred bucks gets that old plow.

Some Pouch E68 (Single 2000) Details

Here are some snapshots taken a couple of weeks ago for Chris Paton intended to provide detail about the E68’s bow hatch and the arrangement by which the hinged coaming is attached. I already posted them on Facebook, but thought those interested in the E68 who are not on Facebook might like to see them.

WordPress gallery software is pretty lame in that it’s arrange by whatever feature does not ever work for me, so the images in this gallery will post in random order. I’m too lazy to make captions for them. The inverted pictures (the kayak was upside down on sawhorses) are intended to show that the hullskin’s left (or portside) sponson sleeve is unevenly sewn forward resulting much bulge above the gunwale. Astern, however, the sponsons on either side bulge as the intended, sort of below the gunwale bilaterally. The kayak’s original skin, which had not hatch, was better fitted to the frame, and although extremely worn, was all in all a better piece of work.

Father’s Day

Today is the second Father’s Day in as many years that I will be spending the morning at a worship service, then afternoon with extended family. Previously, I’d taken the day off for the annual Childless Man’s Paddlefest – an event observed, now not at all, but then only by myself. However, today, as at about this time last year, I am a father.

Bad Monday

Monday late afternoon or evening, for about a minute, I knew my son had died and held him in my arms helpless to save him. Out of desperation, I placed him on the living room floor and began artificial respiration. His 24 pound body was still HOT from the fever he’d been running, but his skin had turned a blue gray color and his eyes stared fixedly in the direction determined not by his mind, but by the position in which his head lay. His lips were blue. His body was neither rigid nor floppy.

Clear airway, tilt head, cover mouth and nose with my own mouth. Three breaths, instead of the prescribed two. Some chest compressions. Noise as the air passed out of his lungs, over his vocal chords, and out his mouth. My wife had already called 911.

Somewhere in all activity, I prayed while I worked, but not coherently. God doesn’t require my direction to work.

My son’s arms moved a little, but I thought that was just dead nerves twitching as the biomechanical mass shut down in no real order. Then he made a sound unrelated to CPR, and I listened for a heartbeat. It was rapid-fire. I listened for breath, and picked him up. He clung limply now to my neck and I took the phone from my wife. I don’t remember what the 911 operator said after I gave him details about our son’s condition and exactly where to find our house. The guy hung up or the connection was lost.

I could hear a siren, so carried my still breathing boy outside so the driver could easily see which house was ours. My wife rode with him in the ambulance and I followed in her car, which has the child carseat. At the hospital his temp was unreal high, but his other vital signs in the ambulance and in the ER were more reasonable. I still think the hospital should have kept him overnight and monitored him, but they concluded “Febrile Seizure” and with the okay of the on-call pediatrician, discharged him late that night.

By Wednesday, the fever’d gone and it has had no recurrence. He broke out with pink spots Thursday which seems to indicate he’d had roseola. Friday and Saturday, he was his usual happy, inquisitive, toddler-self. He still knows all the words, songs, and activities he knew before his fever and seizure. He seems a little more open-hearted, happy, loving since he got sick, and a little less arrogant. That made me worry about whether he might have lost a few IQ points due to sickness, but our pediatrician laughed at that, said there was no reason to think the fever or seizure had affected his mental processes. Maybe he’s more open because he knows we really will take care of him?

That’s the story of how I am still a father.


Quiver Sail on deck at left saw some use yesterday 6/20/09

Quiver Sail on deck at left saw some use yesterday 6/20/09

I woke up early Saturday, and got ready to paddle. Tsunami Chuck sold me a hand-held Quiver Sail that arrived by Fed-Ex on Thursday or Friday. Because I’m a miser, I’d agonized over the past year or so about replacing my Round-Up golf that had umbrella inverted and snapped in heavy wind by the small island on Tims Ford Lake sailing up into Lost Creek Branch. Should I buy a good golf umbrella, or ask for one out of somebody’s garage for free? So, when Chuck posted a classified about the Quiver Sail asking only $35.00 for it, I bought it.

Although the National Weather Service predicted temps in the upper nineties, it also predicted 10 – 15 mile per hour winds. A good day, I thought, to try out the new sail. I loaded gear and boat yesterday morning (because we looked at houses Friday afternoon/evening). I had trouble getting the boat on the roof racks – the front-door prop method failed spectacularly and cussed Godward like a heathen. Finally succeed using angry brute force in racking the 75# kayak, and drove out to the Woods Reservoir public access ramp off Old Brick Church Road in Coffee County.

I explained to God that the reason I was cursing was because of a circumstance so manifestly out of order that in my anger I was inviting him to observe and get angry about it with me. I said I would probably always thus bring wrong to his attention in the hope that he will take corrective action. I told God I would prefer not to feel the need to use profanity, but unless he altered my consciousness somehow, I would probably continue to express the things he’s used to hearing me express. Not defiant or disrespectful; transparent and real.

The ramp was not crowded and the put in was easy. Immediately, my injured shoulder communicated its distress to me, and I worked on paddling technique. That helped some. I was paddling in to maybe a nine mile per hour wind. When I got out by Elder Island, I turned the boat around and deployed the sail. Not much joy there in terms of forward momentum.

I paddled over to Morris Ferry Landing to see what the Arnold Engineering and Development Center’s base commandant has done in terms of public access. I found, to my surprise, a number of vacation trailers still in place and in use up in the trees above the lakefront. Many of the rickety, tin-sided dock structures have been removed. The covered dock by the cafe/store building has been removed.

The public does have access to the site in terms of boat-ramp use, bank-fishing, and swimming. The formerly public toilets have been padlocked, and I saw no trash cans. Simple steps that tend to limit the amount of time members of the general public will remain on site during normal hours of use.

I saw a couple bank-fishing, both of whom I tested when they were high school students, along with their year-old baby boy. An alert-looking blond-headed little boy sitting quietly under the shade of a tree in his stroller observing everything. I congratulated them on their little one, and the fact that they appeared to be catching a lot of fish.

Paddling back under the causeway to the AEDC side of the lake, I found the wind had picked up, but wasn’t blowing in the direction I wanted to go. I paddled back past the smaller Island of the Birds, and again deployed the sail. Worked better in a stronger breeze, but still slower than paddling. I sailed for awhile, then paddled back to the ramp.

Sons and Fathers

At the boatramp, I observed an ancient pontoon boat having engine trouble – whining at high pitch, emitting clouds of white smoke, then stalling out. Two or three men on the deckboat in early middle age. Parked by the ramp was a black Pontiac Firebird, like the one driven by Dwight Schrute (only Dwight’s is some kind of reddish color). Standing at the shore was a young man with long hair. He belonged to the car.

“Engine trouble?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he said, “My dad can’t get it working.”

“You never know how your boat’s going to do until you get it to the water.”

Listening to the young man talk with his dad, it was obvious he wanted to salvage the situation for his father. He asked whether he should see about getting the father’s bassboat, and then called a couple of people to arrange its transport. It was important to this kid that things work out for his dad.

I recall when I was young and out for the day with my father sometimes things wouldn’t go as planned, and I always wanted to be able to alleviate his frustration by making things work out well for him. My dad’s tolerance for unexpected and confounding exigencies of circumstance was a lot lower than mine seems to be.

Now that I’m the dad, will my son be burdened with the sense that he’s got to make sure things turn out okay for me? I hope not.

Rough Couple of Days

Our son’s had a seriously high fever, off and on, since Sunday.  Doctor visit Monday morning.  Stopped breathing Monday evening, but he responded to my inexpert attempts at CPR.  To hospital in an ambulance, then home again much later that night.  Doctor’s again Tuesday morning.  Infant Tylenol and Motrin at recommended intervals.  Jello’s been a big hit as a means of hydrating a strong-willed toddler who doesn’t want to drink anything that’s not milk.  Cooling baths, cool wash cloths.  He’s acting a lot more like himself, but remains a little unsteady on his feet, tires pretty quickly, but wants to play, talk, stand and spin in circles for fun.  Hoping today’s a better day, fever-wise.

Kryptonite Redux

Kryptonite is found in large quantities at Euchre parties and stores like Hobby Lobby

Kryptonite is found in large quantities at Euchre parties and stores like Hobby Lobby

Every day, according to my blog stats, search for “kryptonite” hits my blog. I think I’ve written about the DC Comics element a couple of times, both here and at Places like Hobby Lobby stores are chalk full of it. Last night it came into my house in the form of a ladies’ Euchre party. I left the house and bought myself a Hawaiian print shirt, then went to the cinema and watched the new Star Trek motion picture.

I was able to escape from a house filled with Kryptonite by beaming aboard the Enterprise

I was able to escape from a house filled with Kryptonite by beaming aboard the Enterprise

Great movie, by the way. I’ve been waiting to see it since I was 11 or 12 years old. That is to say, this was what the previous Star Trek movies should have been.

Old Math

Wentworth-Smith's Essentials of Arithmetic

Wentworth-Smith's Essentials of Arithmetic

About three weeks ago I spent a dollar to buy a very old math textbook Essentials of Arithmetic: Primary Book. Printed in 1915, I found the line-drawing illustrations on many of its pages, as well as the narrative/details of the word problems fascinating artifacts from a lost world. But the numbers, the diagrams, the simple math is the same today as it was then; the book struck me as same-time antique and modern.

I keep thinking that if I reach back far enough, I will understand what went wrong with me mathematically. At the age of 45, I am beginning to understand the problem and hope to be able to write about it sometime fairly soon.

Saturday, on the anniversary of the day Allied forces invaded German occupied Europe, I recalled a college professor in 1981, an old man, talking about the French military man, Marshal Petain, saying that he had been a hero in the Great, or First World War, but a Vichy collaborator with the Third Reich in the Second World War. He concluded that Petain had “lived too long.” I remember thinking that was an odd thing to say, because I was young enough then to think the lives of others were not to be so flippantly dismissed. I was a little shocked.

Last Saturday I thought that I am old enough to have heard people who were old enough to have known the names and deeds, and to have actually thought about heroes of the Great War and villains of the Second World War. I have one foot in the lost world, and am every day becoming more and more a part of what for my son’s sons will be a lost world. Who knows what artifacts of my passage through this time will be found in theirs?

Here is a scan from the book, pages 8 and 9:

How many of the children?
How many of the children?

Inside, in a messy cursive hand, someone has written the following childish curse:

Do not steal this book, my lad

For 53 c it cost, my lad

And on that day the Lord will say,

‘Where’s that book you stold away?’

And if you say you do not no,

The Lord will say, ‘Step below.’

According to Bettelheim (sp?), children, being innocent, demand justice, whereas adults, knowing their own guilt, prefer mercy

According to Bettelheim (sp?), children, being innocent, demand justice, whereas adults, knowing their own guilt, prefer mercy

Paddling Injured

Ready to launch - dirt boat ramp at Estill Springs City Park

Ready to launch - dirt boat ramp at Estill Springs City Park


Yesterday, for the first time since November, 2008, I paddled my kayak. My shoulder diagnosis was something like “partial thickness tear supraspinatus,” and “spurring on the acromium,” as well as tendonitis. I had a cortisone injection. I took a drug called Soma for 30 days, followed by two months of physical therapy. Star Physical Therapy at Stepford was fantastic. Had some almost out of body experiences while napping in traction. Overall pain reduction and regained most of my pre-injury range of motion. I’m still working on regaining full strength in that one shoulder. Same side trapezius is still occasionally very painful, but much improved. Hurt my back again two or so weeks ago and couldn’t walk for the better part of a day, but my genius chiropractor fixed me up.

Take It Easy

My physical therapist, my chiropractor, and my wife all recommended I take it easy, maybe a couple of hours or about a quarter of my normal distance. So, with no real goal in mind, I drove to Estill Springs City Park. The city permits campers there, and the sites are what I’d call primitive. About five or six families were camped out in tents and RVs when I pulled up at about 8:00 am. Late for me, but I was trying to do this without any goal in mind beyond getting home in time to mow.

Campsis Radicans, the plant after which I named my red Pouch E68 folding kayak

Campsis Radicans, the plant after which I named my red Pouch E68 folding kayak

Going through the routine of assembling my gear, securing the boat to my car’s roof racks, putting on my paddling clothes reassured me at home that I might still know how to do this stuff. Same at the put in, going through the motions in reverse, except I left my boating clothes on. And once in the boat, I felt about the same as I always have in the cockpit. Low-angle stroke powered by torso-rotation and leg movement produced no discernible stress on my injury, no pain.

A Goal

Because I’m obsessive, goal driven freak, I was unable to make having no goal my goal for the day. When I observed the water level in the Tims Ford impoundment of the Elk River higher than I’ve seen it before, I took the opportunity to poke around in the slough. I paddled over ground that’s normally dry, got just about stuck in a shallow place with grass gone to spiky seed. I’d gone in over a small log, but my rudder caught against it paddling backwards out again. Necessitated an 18 or 20 point turn in a 16.5′ kayak. Still, it was better than getting out and wading half sunk in the mud to turn the boat by hand. I felt hungry, but ignored it.

Shoreline across the water from the put-in

Shoreline across the water from the put-in

More water made this place accessible

More water made this place accessible

Straight ahead's where I almost got stuck in weedy mud

Straight ahead's where I almost got stuck in weedy mud

My best guess is that man has carefully explored shoreline out of the desire to find a non-muddy, easy landing place to get out of the boat for urination.

Round-trip maybe 10 miles - not much straight-line paddling, and in no real hurry

Round-trip maybe 10 miles - not much straight-line paddling, and in no real hurry. Click on the image, then in the browser url address line on the linked page change width to some number greater than 300.

When I returned to the main channel of impounded Elk River after exploring hitherto unseen backwaters, and after having found a convenient place to, um, stretch my legs, I continued paddling up toward the bridge at the place Spring Church Road becomes Payne’s Church Road. There’re a couple of farmhouses on your left as you paddle toward the bridge. Past that bridge, which Saturday morning had people fishing under it and off it, the river water has noticeable current, and is much cooler felt through the boat’s skin.

I thought I’d paddle past the first bridge to a ruined bridge maybe a mile further upstream, and then turn around and come back. But at the ruined bridge, I was annoyed to find loud campers, talking like people talk who have been drinking already in the morning after having had too much to drink the night before. Unwilling to have my turnaround place spoiled by the presence philistines, I paddled on, up to where the river takes a left turn (as you are paddling upstream) in broad, steep-banked, tree shaded place. I’ve only ever seen one other boater that far, and saw no one on Saturday.

Because the water was clearly deeper than at any other time I’d been on this part of the river, I thought, “why not see if I can make it to the next bridge?” So I did, even though I knew I should probably call it quits for the day and return to the put-in. I made it to bridge at Morris Ferry Bridge Road (I’m pretty sure that bridge was not Morris Ferry Bridge). Not long after that, I had to get out and wade for a bit, pulling the kayak behind me. I shot some video at this point with the Pentax, pulling the boat by a length of yellow poly-pro line in my left hand, and the camera in my right while trying to step carefully over slippery shin-deep rocky bottom. The water was cold, and felt good rushing past and around my legs that’ve been too long out of sun and kayak and water.

 Reduntantly, the bridge Morris Ferry Bridge Road

Redundantly, the bridge Morris Ferry Bridge Road

Big block mid-stream

Big block mid-stream

Back in the boat, paddle a bit. Out of the boat, wade and pull a bit. My injured shoulder ached a little bit deep in the muscle. I paddled farther despite misgivings. I passed a huge concrete block with rebar around it set squarely in mid-stream. Finally, I came to a place where I had to get out of the boat again near a bank littered with small shells. Undoubtedly some raccoon’s shellfish buffet. There I turned around and headed back downstream.

Small carnivore's shellfish feeding place

Small carnivore's shellfish feeding place

Heading back to the second bridge

Heading back to the second bridge

Plant submerged tenaciously clings to rock in current

Plant submerged tenaciously clings to rock in current

A pretty place

A pretty place

I needed to get back to the car with enough energy remaining to lift the 70 plus pound boat up onto the Volvo’s roofracks, then, once home, to edge and mow the lawn. Going downstream, I think I only had to get out of the boat once at a shallow place. Easier going with the current. I saw a large bird of prey with a white head and whit e tail feathers – a bald eagle?

I ate my "lunch" as I drifted past this place

I ate my "lunch" as I drifted past this place

Last night my shoulder hurt pretty badly a couple of times – woke me up – aspirin helped. This afternoon, I did my prescribed physical therapy exercises. We’ll see whether I can sleep tonight.

This is what a fish sees when it looks at me

This is what a fish sees when it looks at me

Truth in Government

ten_Edison_logoFor a surprisingly forthright assessment of a clearly failing State of Tennessee government initiative – a payroll and human resources software debacle called Edison – read the May 20 letter linked at the top of the following page:

Highlighted portion is an example of the State of Tennessee comptroller's office high tolerance for truth.  Kudos

Highlighted portion is an example of the State of Tennessee comptroller's office high tolerance for truth. Kudos

Sunday’s Sermon

The text I spoke about was Mark 8:27 – 38, the end of the chapter. My delivery stank. I repeated myself, and used one word when I meant another, sweated because it was hot in the pulpit, had a clever segue about wearing a necktie – the ritual noose of the Western man – but forgot it completely once I got up to speak. Here’s the passage from Kenneth Wuest’s expanded translation:

And he went out, Jesus and his disciples, into the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And along the road he kept on asking his disciples, saying to them, Who do men say that I am? And they told him, saying, John the Baptizer, and others, Elijah, and others, one of the prophets. And he himself kept on questioning them, But as for you, who are you saying that I am? Answering, Peter says to him, As for you, you are the Christ. And he strictly charged them that they should not tell even one person concerning Him.

And he began to be teaching them that it was necessary in the nature of the case for the son of man to suffer many things, and, after having been put to the test for the purpose of being approved should he meet the specifications, to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the men learned in the sacred scriptures, and to be put to death, and after three days to arise. And with utter plainness of speech he was speaking this aforementioned word. And having taken him aside to himself, Peter began to be rebuking him. But having wheeled around and having looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, and says, Be gone under my authority and keep on going. Behind me, out of my sight, Satan, because you do not have a mind for the things of God but for the things of men.

And having called the crowd together with his disciples to himself, he said to them, If anyone is desiring to come after me as a follower of mine, let him at once begin to lose sight of himself and his own interests and let him at once begin to take up his cross and carry it, and let him start taking the same road that I travel in company with me, and let him continue to do so moment by moment. For whoever would desire to save his soul-life will lose it. But whoever will lose his soul-life for my sake and the gospel, will save it. For what shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this generation which is adulterous and sinful, also the son of man shall be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his father with the angels, the holy ones.

Wuest, Kenneth. The New Testament: An Expanded Translation, Vol. 1. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999.

My intended point was primarily that Christ offered his disciples and hangers-on the opportunity to live in a way that inevitably brings them into conflict with the world system in a way that system cannot ignore, forcing that system to likewise answer the question posed by Christ (”Who do yo say that I am?”) and amounts to choosing the means by which that system will answer the question by meting out public humiliation, apparent crushing defeat, and, in the ancient world at least, probable slow, painful, comfortless execution. To recap, a commitment to live in conflict, to suffer crushing defeat in the eyes of friends, family, the wider world, then probable execution. Essentially sharing the Lord’s “worst life now.”

The Lord knew the people of the land were familiar with the justice of Rome in the province of Palestine. They had surely seen the crucified displayed, smelling the stink of their rotting on whatever breeze blew themward from the place of execution. Crucifixion was not metaphor to them.

Christ, when speaking plainly to the disciples, mentioned clearly resurrection after three days dead, but it seems to have made no impression – at least upon Peter. And, although I failed to preach the resurrection as I should have on Sunday, the resurrection is the overlooked light guiding Christ’s hearers through the dark valley of his narration.

No vindication in the eyes of the world, but something altogether better upon resurrection and into eternity.