Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Adam Lang for Philly GOP Delegate

One of my favorite Philadelphia Republicans, Adam Lang, is running to be a national delegate.  Why is he one of my favorites?  Adam is trustworthy, kind, thoughtful, steadfast in his beliefs but not dismissive of those who think differently, and has a great sense of humor.  If you are a Republican in his district, I encourage you to give him your consideration.


Adam Lang has announced he is seeking one of three Delegate positions to the 2012 Republican National Convention in the Pennsylvania 2nd Congressional District.

“While I predominantly focus on local Philadelphia area issues, we do suffer from ‘trickle –down politics’ at the national level,” says Adam Lang.  “I will go to the Convention to push for policy platform issues that are important to residents in the Philadelphia area as well as other urban areas in the United States.”

Adam Lang believes that the Republican Party needs to focus on market and data based solutions, infrastructure, on strong enforcement of civil liberties, tax reform for simplicity and fairness,  and a role of limited government, but not anti-government.

While Adam Lang has personal policy views he has been developing over the years while being a reform activist in Philadelphia, he also knows government is about serving people.

“Leading up to the Convention, I plan to host several town halls for residents in Philadelphia and Montgomery County  to come and share their beliefs and needs so we can focus on the areas we agree on and what we can and need to tackle.”

Adam Lang lives in North Philadelphia where he has been an active member of his civic association for several years.

For further information, contact Adam Lang directly or through his website at www.adamlang.com.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Obama Now Ahead at Cafe Press

Cafe Press, the online store that lets individuals set up merchandise with their own logo, etc., on it, has been keeping track of the sales of merchandise promoting the presidential candidates.  Ron Paul has been the long time frontrunner.  However, since the State of the Union address Obama t-shirts, mugs, and such has surpassed Paul.  In 2008 Cafe Press merchandise sales predicting Barack Obama's win.  If you'd like to keep track, the site has a 2012 Meter Graph, updated weekly.

In the interests of disclosure let me admit to buying from Cafe Press from time to time but so far nothing presidential.  I have two mugs, one says "I'm not Sy Snyder" and the other has Jane Austen's picture on it with the slogan "What Would Jane Blog?"  I couldn't really pass up either of those. 

Prez O in Favor of STOCK Act

from the inbox:

In the State of the Union Address, the President laid out a blueprint for an economy built to last, where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules – especially those who have been sent here to serve the American people.
Last week, the President called on Congress to pass a bill that makes clear that Members of Congress may not engage in insider trading.  No one should be able to trade stocks based on nonpublic information gleaned on Capitol Hill. So we are pleased the Senate is one step closer to passing the STOCK Act. While there’s more work to be done to eliminate the corrosive influence of money in politics, this is an important step to repair the deficit of trust between Washington and the American people. We urge Congress to pass this bill, and the President will sign it right away.

Can carried interest be next?  (That's the rule that lets people pay a lower tax rate on hedge fund and capital gains money than is due on salaried earnings)

Background on Photo ID Laws

NPR has an excellent background article on the photo id laws, "Why new photo id laws mean some won't vote," by Corey Dade (1/28/2012) who they impact, and why.  While it is true you need a state issued id to drive and do other things that are fairly common activities for many of us, there is a sizable percentage of the population that does not drive or do any of the other things that require a photo id.

I don't need one to buy SEPTA tickets or access my bank accounts or get and use a credit card.  The id I use at my job would not be considered a state issued id.  If I didn't travel by air or drive I could probably get along very easily without one.  I do have a copy of my birth certificate but I don't think it is a raised seal copy -- I'd have to send off for that and since the hospital is on the other side of the country it could take a while to get one.  People born at home with midwives attending, especially before birth certificates were more widely required could have trouble getting an accurate certificate.  A paper trail may be especially difficult for women who would also need to provide proof of name changes due to marriage, or people who have been using a stepfather's name without having been legally adopted.  It's a sticky wicket.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Don't Forget "Ready to Run" Feb. 4th

Don't forget to register for Ready to Run in Philadelphia on Saturday Feb. 4th.  This nonpartisan campaign training event is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics.  There are two tracks, one for women who are ready to run now and another for women who think they might like to run in the future.  Featured presenters include Chris Jahnke who has worked with Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, and Nancy Bocskor, a nationally known fundraising expert.

A few years ago I heard Bocskor speak at a campaign training event and learned a great deal from her.  This is an inexpensive ($100) day long session.  I encourage all those who plan on running or think they might run in the future, or just want to network and make contacts, to attend.


Someone spammed my email contacts over the weekend.  If anyone of you received a blank email with an ad link in it I apologize.  I changed my password and hope that it will not happen again.  Apologies to all involved.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Two Patrick Murphy Notes

Patrick Murphy, former congressman for Pennsylvania's 8th district (primarily Bucks Count), is running for Attorney General.  There are a couple of interesting notes about him and his campaign this week:

Murphy is scheduled to give the keynote address at the NARAL Pro-Choice America will mark the 39th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe v. Wade with an annual dinner in Washington, D.C. 

Later this week Murphy is expecting an endorsement from Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

McCaffery Bows Out of AG Race

You may have already heard, but Dan McCaffery has decided to end his campaign for Attorney General.  That leaves former Congressman Patrick Murphy and Kathleen Kane. 

Here is McCaffery's statement:

Dan McCaffery, Democratic candidate for the office of Pennsylvania Attorney General, today announced the cessation of his campaign, effective immediately.

"It is with a clear conscience and more than a twinge of regret that I announce today the end of my campaign for Attorney General of Pennsylvania," said McCaffery.  "After much soul searching this past weekend and a series of honest conversations with my family and closest political advisors, I reached the inescapable conclusion that the current configuration of this race and the economic circumstances of the time make it extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, to continue to mount a viable campaign.  I am also deeply concerned that the Democratic Party and the state’s proud labor community are split in their allegiances; we need to be unified in order to be well-positioned to win the Attorney General seat in the November General Election.  I exit this campaign with my head held high and my heart full of gratitude for the many people who support and believe in me.  I will continue to be a strong voice within the state Democratic Party and pledge to work tirelessly to make sure the Democratic nominee wins the election in November.  The office is simply too important not to be our top priority.  I wish Patrick Murphy and Kathleen Kane all the best as they continue their pursuit of the Democratic nomination for Attorney General.”

McCaffery also made an impassioned plea to the remaining Democratic candidates and the state party itself.

"America's middle class is hurting and Pennsylvanians have not been spared," McCaffery added. "We have been hurt by banks, we have been abused by insurance companies, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and so many other reckless business sectors run amok. It is my sincere hope that the Democratic candidates take up the mantle and defend Pennsylvania's middle class. Corporations have been given more than a few breaks and a considerable helping hand from our federal government. It's time to give our state's struggling middle class a break and the Attorney General can and should play a significant role in making it happen."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

CNN's SOTU Snafu

I was multitasking during the State of the Union address, mostly with my eyes on my laptop screen, with the tv set for CNN.  At one point when I looked up Attorney General Eric Holder was being identified as HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius.  Maybe the camera had just cut away from her.  The chryon came down shortly after I saw it.  Someone must have realized the error.  It was one of those comical "um ..... no" moments.

You can watch a video of the speech at:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/state-of-the-union-2012 .  A transcript isn't up yet but probably will be shortly.  I thought it was a good speech.

Schwartz Statement on SOTU

from the inbox:

U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz issued the following statement regarding President Obama’s State of the Union address. 

“Tonight, President Obama addressed the importance of reigniting the American dream and ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to succeed if they work hard and play by the rules.
“I agree with President Obama’s call that to grow our economy, our focus has to be on ensuring that Americans have the skills and education necessary for the jobs of today and tomorrow. Our tax policy must work to support entrepreneurship, manufacturing and innovation, which are at the core of our economic vitality. We must invest in essential infrastructure from broadband to bridges, and continue to do the work necessary to get our fiscal house in order.
“We must build a nation where the opportunity for success is available to all Americans and our middle class is able to prosper. 
“I urge my Republican colleagues to work with President Obama and Democrats to find common ground to meet our obligations as a nation and make the right investments for our future. The American people cannot afford to wait.”

Chester Upland Teacher at SOTU

The guest list for the First Lady at tonight's State of the Union speech included a woman from Pennsylvania:

Sara Ferguson
Teacher, Columbus Elementary
Parkside, Pennsylvania
Sara Ferguson teaches literacy and math at Columbus Elementary, and has worked for the Chester Upland School District for 20 years.  She is a third generation educator in Chester Upland, and a proud product of that district.  When the Chester Upland School District faced bankruptcy earlier this year in light of severe state budget cuts, Ms. Ferguson vowed to continue teaching even without being paid, saying “we are adults; we will make a way. The students don’t have any contingency plan. They need to be educated, so we intend to be on the job.”

Former Inky Reporter to WSJ

Peter Nicholas who covered Philadelphia politics for the Inquirer in the 1990s has gone round and round through the journalistic trombone and is now headed to the Wall Street Journal where he will join the DC political staff.al race.

PA Wind Energy

from the inbox:

Wind energy industry leaders, environmental advocates and policymakers gathered in the Capitol today to announce the launch of ChoosePAWind and the coalition’s new website – choosepawind.com – which touts the economic and environmental benefits of wind power for Pennsylvania.
“The wind energy industry is growing in Pennsylvania and creating jobs,” says Jim Spencer, President and CEO of EverPower, one of the wind farm developers and operators who helped conceive and launch the coalition.  “Wind is an important part of a diverse energy solution for Pennsylvania. Alongside natural gas, solar and other locally sourced options, Pennsylvania's commitment to wind is another example of how our state is leading the national movement to produce more domestic energy. “
The website, which shows options for several operators and energy suppliers, also shows Pennsylvania energy consumers how to “ChoosePAWind.” Individual consumers can choose suppliers that feature 100% PA wind, and large energy users can work with a number of PA wind producers on renewable energy credits supporting only in-state wind projects.
More than 17 wind farms are currently operational in Pennsylvania, with 23 more in development, generating jobs, property taxes, and revenue for communities across the state.  The wind energy industry is bigger than the wind energy providers. In Pennsylvania, it also encompasses a strong manufacturing presence in the state and many other industry suppliers.
In 2010, the latest year that figures are available, between 3,000 and 4,000 people are employed directly or indirectly in wind energy industry jobs. Millions of dollars are paid in land leases and property taxes by wind energy producers.  While these economic figures are impressive, it’s important to note the long-term environmental gains:  Wind turbines cause no emissions and use virtually no water. 
“Americans have grown more aware of where their energy comes from, and by purchasing Pennsylvania wind power, Pennsylvanians interested in renewable energy can choose a source that’s literally from their backyard,” says David Takash, Vice President of Sales, Gamesa, a global wind energy leader that has its U.S. headquarters and two manufacturing facilities in Pennsylvania.
Wind power has the potential to provide 6.4% of Pennsylvania’s energy needs, powering more than a million homes.
If the Pennsylvania wind industry grew to its full potential, wind turbines could prevent over 6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. It would take 1,100 acres of forest to remove that amount of carbon dioxide.

World Class Philly Summit

from the inbox:

Don't miss the 2012 World Class Summit!

Over the past two years, more than 1,000 cross-sector leaders have brought their energy and passion for Greater Philadelphia to World Class conversations about what's most important for our shared future. Since last spring's release of the 2026: Future Histories of Greater Philadelphia report, the Economy League has been building consensus among regional leaders around a clear framework that will focus and guide strategic collaboration and ensure a world class future for Greater Philadelphia.

On February 2, we invite you to join us as we debut three overarching priorities for a World Class Greater Philadelphia, introduce aspirational goals that will drive the creation of Global Positioning Strategies for the region, and announce several exciting partnerships that will drive World Class collaboration in 2012.

See www.economyleague.org/

A Quick Look at Bob Brady's 2011 FEC Reports

Normally I stay out of Philadelphia politics.  When I was going over the quarterly FEC reports for the collar counties I dipped into the reports for Philadelphia’s congressional representatives.  A few things surprised me so I’ve done a little more digging.  Here are some observations on the reports from 1st district Congressman Bob Brady’s campaign, from the post-general 2010 election, year end 2010, first, second, and third quarter 2011 reports.  To provide some context, I found a Dec. 20, 2010 article by Brad Bumstead and Mike Wereschagin in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “Campaign expenses: chocolates, meals, flowers, club dues,” that looks at the 2010 FEC reports statewide.

As always I encourage residents of the district and other interested parties to review the reports for themselves, at www.fec.gov.  A standard caveat on these reports:  I am not a lawyer or an accountant and apologize in advance or any errors or misconceptions.

No Little People.  In most reports you have contributions that are itemized and unitemized.  The unitemized reports are under a particular threshold (I think it is $250) over the length of an election cycle.  Donations over that amount are itemized, with the donors’ names, address, occupation and employer listed.  Unitemized donations are folks like me, who might send in $50.00 or attend a $35.00 fundraising picnic, the so-called “little people.”  Congressman Brady has no little people.  Over the five reports I reviewed there were relatively few unitemized donations, $600 in the post-general, none in the year end, $175 in the first quarter, none in the second or the third.  Over almost an entire year he received only a total of $775 in unitemized donations.  That’s really surprising.  Congressman Brady’s money comes from larger individual donations and from PACS, although it is more from individuals than PACs.    

Bob Brady, Car Guy.  Bumsted and Wereschagin noted that Brady spent $34,000 on car leases over the year they reviewed.  I found similar expenses.   His car lease payments for the post-general were $2,623, year end $550, first quarter $5,528 in lease payments plus fees for a  lease buyout and a new lease for $4,484, second quarter $5,208, third quarter $5,208.  That’s a total of $23,601.   Granted, it’s a savings of nearly $11,000 from Bumsted and Wereschagin but, yowza! That’s a lot to spend on cars.  You could buy two nice used cars for that amount, or one really nice new one.  I looked at car leases in the Sunday paper a couple of weeks ago and you could lease a Cadillac Escalade for $800 a month.  I don’t know what you can get for $5,208 a month, but it has to be at least two vehicles.  And they might be  gas guzzlers because he spends a lot on gas, too.  In the post general the campaign spent $160.00 on gas, none in the year end, $1,100 in the first quarter, $920 in the second, and just under $2,000 in the third quarter.  He loyal to Sunoco and Lukoil.  Sunoco returns the sentiment, as their PAC donated $7,000 so far this year.   A 2009 article by Tom Infield, “How Bob Brady thrives and survives,” in the Inquirer (8/25/2009) notes that Brady drives home from Washington most days.   That might explain the gas costs and why he makes regular payments to NJ EZ Pass ($400 in the first and second quarters, $585 in the third).  

Lawyers and accountants and bears, oh  my!  In the quarterly reports there are some notable payments for legal and accounting services.  In the first quarter it is $4,000 for accounting, $5,000 for legal.  In the second it was $3,000 each.  In the third it was $11,000 for legal and $3,000 for accounting.  The accounting fees might be for FEC compliance, $19,000 in legal fees seems like a little more than general campaign matters would require.   The campaign also makes regular payments to a fundraiser.  In the post general she was paid $9,500, $21,000 in the first quarter, $10,000 in the second quarter, and $10,500 in the third quarter. 

Real Estate Matters.  The campaign paid $4800 to a company for a year's worth of office rent.  Interestingly his campaign website (www.bobbrady.us) lists as the mailing address something that seems to be in a residential area, and it is also listed as the address for his treasurer and his fundraiser.

There are a few other odds and ends but I’ll leave a little mystery for the curious to discover on their own.  (Someone named Meehan donated in the second quarter.  It’s a common name, but still, ….)

If you are interest in learning more about the congressman, his congressional web site is brady.house.gov; campaign site is www.bobbrady.us

Monday, January 23, 2012

Richards to DVRPC Board

from the inbox:

Montgomery County Commissioner Leslie S. Richards has been named the county’s representative on the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.

            Richards was a unanimous choice at yesterday’s commissioners’ meeting to represent the county on DVRPC board.  Richards replaces former Commissioner Joseph M. Hoeffel as the county’s representative to the board.

            Both Commissioner Josh Shapiro and Commissioner Bruce Castor pointed to Richards’ extensive background in planning issues and projects in explaining why she was the obvious choice for the position.

            Richards is a regional planner and is currently a senior project engineer at a civil engineering firm.  She has a broad background in planning and executing a variety of projects involving roads, bridges, trails, streetscapes and many others.

            “Commissioner Richards will be the perfect representative for us on DVRPC,” said Shapiro.  “There will be no learning curve.  She will be able to hit the ground running at her first meeting and will be a vital asset to Montgomery County on the board.”

            “It has become obvious to me in a very short period of time that Commissioner Richards is a talented, experienced person with a wealth of knowledge in this area,” said Commissioner Bruce L. Castor, Jr.  “She will do a great job.”

            Richards indicted that she will be very cognizant of several Montgomery County projects that may come before the DVRPC board, including the Lafayette Street extension, which is considered vital to the future of Norristown.

            “I am honored by and thankful for the confidence my colleagues have shown in me, and I promise to work hard and continually use my experience and knowledge for the betterment of Montgomery County and the region,” Richards said.

Real Time SEPTA App

from the inbox:

SEPTA has launched a new online tool that gives riders real-time updates for all modes of travel in one place.

System Status offers a complete view of the SEPTA system with just the click of a mouse or touch of a screen. In one neat snapshot, you can see the status of all bus and trolley routes and rail lines. This new feature is available on SEPTA’s Website at http://www.septa.org/realtime/status/system-status.shtml.  Here’s how it works: By simply clicking the System Status “Eye”, located on the bottom left-hand corner of every Web page, customers will be taken to a page displaying a grid with all routes and lines clearly listed. Four icons – denoting line suspensions, service alerts, detours and service advisories – will be displayed next to any route or line where service has been or is scheduled to be altered.

Customers can then click on the icons to find out how the changes are impacting service and what they may need to do to change travel plans. If no icons are displayed next to a specific route or line, service is running according to schedule and no alterations are planned.

Preliminary Notes on the Philly.com Tablet

I've recently acquired an Arnova tablet, purchased via Philly.com.  It part of a package deal.  You get the tablet for an extremely low price, but with a contract to pay a monthly fee to subscribe to the Philadelphia papers on it.  Check out the details at www.phillytablet.com.

Tablets require hand / eye coordination so it has taken me little longer than usual to get the hang of things, and it has capabilities that I haven't used.  For instance, the specs say you can watch movies on it but I haven't tried that yet.  In fact I've done very little other than read the paper on it.  My morning commute routine now includes downloading the paper on to the tablet before I leave the house and then reading it on the train.  Reading the physical paper on the train has always been beyond my abilities -- too much folding and unfolding and refolding, so I have been reading the paper when I get home in the evening. 

I check Philly.com as part of my "get ready for work" routine but that only has a few stories on it.  I get some of the highlights there and then read the rest on the tablet.  I get a digital copy of the paper as well, delivered to my email but it just isn't feasible for my old eyes to read it on a computer screen.  I use the Philly app.  I can select the section of the paper I want to read and the stories appear in a menu.  I can pull up the first one, read it, and then just scroll through with a wave of one finger.  Pictures come through, though I can't always seem them well, usually due to the angle I hold the tablet. 

The tablet uses wireless so I don't have constant Internet access, but once the paper is downloaded I can read it wherever whenever.  There aren't updates, however, so you still need to check philly.com during the day, or subscribe to the paper's twitter feed, to get the latest news. 

I had thought about making the tablet my newstand, perhaps trying to read the New Yorker, which also gives me a digital subscription, but it requires an Internet connection to read online -- no download, and the layout is hard for me to read. Perhaps there are options but if so I've missed them; perhaps it just needs more investigation.  You can also get book readers on the tablet and download books.  I haven't done that yet either.

The tablet has become so much a part of my routine that even on the weekends I am more likely to sit down with it than to trot down the driveway and retrieve the paper.  I do miss the ads a little, and not all of the comics I like to read are included, but overall I'm getting more and more comfortable with the tablet.  Mr. J asked when I got the tablet if I was ready to cancel our print subscription.  I wasn't, but next time he asks the answer may be different. 

My only real problem with the tablet, other than the occasional bug that requires a restart, is that it has messed up my train reading routine.  I used to reserve train time for magazines and haven't reworked that yet, so I'm weeks behind on the New Yorker.  That's a time management problem, though, and not the paper's problem.

If you've been thinking about getting one of these I would recommend giving it a try, or considering it as a gift for the newsy and nerdy.   You can get Android aps for the tablet so there are a lot of other things you can do with it.  It comes loaded with a few other services / features but I haven't really used those either.  Read more at www.phillytablet.com.

State of the Blog -- Year 7

Another year come and gone, another late state of the blog post.  In mid-November I passed the seven year mark.  It seems odd to me that I've been doing this that long.  I tried quitting once (in year six) but blogging is like the mafia -- you try to get out and you just get pulled back in.

I've posted less this year than in previous years.  In part this was because I've had some health issues.  In part is because for much of the year we didn't have reliable Internet service at home.  There is nothing quite so frustrating as writing up a post and then watching the modem, trying to catch one of those elusive moments when all five lights are on.  In August we switched to Comcast and have had only one insistence of downtime since then.    In part it's because my schedule this year has been a lot more hectic.  We've been short staffed at work and more has been going on, which means my 9 p.m. blogging start time was frequently delayed.  I ended up taking a leadership role in a couple of kids' organizations.  One was planned the other wasn't and that one had a steep learning curve.  There are superwomen who can juggle everything but many days it's all been a bit much for me.  Hopefully this year will ease up a bit.

On the plus side I've been having a great time with the new laptop I received for Christmas last year.  It's great to have reliable equipment.   During the year I upgraded my old phone to an Iphone.  My Ipod Touch was great but I could only use it where wireless was available.  Having constant Internet access and being able to connect any where any time is fantastic. 

Politically the main action was on the county level.  Some of these races were easy to work with, others weren't.  To be honest I'm just too old and cranky (and tired) to go chasing after campaigns.  I'll send out one or two emails asking to be put on email lists, general greetings, etc., but that's about it.  If there isn't some interest on the other end there's isn't much I can do.  One campaign was interested in doing an interview but after I did all the research for the questions they never bothered to return the answers.   Another issue that comes up at least once every year is that I'll build some rapport with campaign staff or consultants and then there is turnover and the new folks have no idea what happened before and I have to start over from scratch.  I wish the political world was better organized but over the years it has become clear that is just isn't.  Only once that I can recall in the seven years I've been doing this has someone emailed me to say they are leaving a campaign, cc'ed their replacement and provided an introduction and summary of my interaction with them to date.

Conversely, I did more in person political work this year than I have in the past.  I volunteered a couple of times,handed out flyers and, for the first time ever, had a bumper sticker on my car.  I've reflected on which role, campaign volunteer or blogger, has more impact.  Candidates should make an appearance at train stations but I don't know that more than two or three volunteers are needed at any one time.  Having a small army of people annoying commuters might be too many, though it is probably difficult to know how many people are going to show up on any given day.  Calling strangers and going door to door are not particular strengths, so my options are limited.  Maybe blogging in my basement after the family has gone to bed is the best pathway for me ....

Usage statistics continued to be a challenge.  Sitemeter gives me a lot of data but usage numbers coming in through that software are decreasing.  Google Analytics indicate similar usage, but tells me most of the users it detects are new users not returning users.  I know from experience that Google Reader usage doesn't show up in either sitemeter or Google Analytics.  In fact, Google Reader does not seem to trigger paywalls.  So if, say, your favorite newspaper political blog is now only available free for a small number of posts per month, you can still read it for free via Google Reader.  Not that I am encouraging anyone to do that, I'm just saying it is possible.  Feedburner does seem to pick up those uses.  It tells me the blog gets around 1,000 hits a day, and indicates the number of subscribers, over 200.  Feedburner is owned by Google so I'm not sure why this isn't reflected in Google Analytics.  All of this means I don't have a good idea how many people actually read the blog.

In 2012, we'll have state house and state senate races, congressional and the presidential races.  That's a lot so it could be a busy year, blog-wise.  Hopefully there will be some interesting events to attend, at times I can attend and for suggested amounts that I can affored.

To summarize, last year was not a good year, either for me or the blog.  Let's hope both do better over the coming months.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes

This year I turned 50.  No matter how you figure it, half a century, 4 bits, it’s over the hill.  Adding to general sense of age, over the last year I’ve had a series of health issues.  True, if you live long enough things start to fall apart, but having it happen the year you turn 50 just adds insult to injury.

Head – From April through August I was without one of my molars.  A root canal had to be done twice (not unusual – my teeth are quirky).  The dental office was closed for a while due to plumbing problems.  The first crown didn’t fit.  And so on and so forth.    After four months without a back tooth, the crown felt enormous and it took a few weeks to get used to.

Shoulders – Three years ago one of my shoulders stiffened up.  After about eight weeks or so of physical therapy everything was fine.  Fast forward to last winter when the other shoulder started to stiffen.  I could lift and carry but anything requiring rotation was tricky, and painful.  There are a large number of standard everyday things you can’t do if you can’t extend or rotate a shoulder, including reach into the back pocket of your pants on that side, touch your mid or upper back (and yes, ladies, there are wardrobe implications to that), take off a tailored coat or jacket without help, put that hand behind your head (to brush hair, etc), reach into the back of the dryer or washer, sleep comfortably unless that shoulder is propped up with a pillow, catch things (including yourself if you fall), throw things, and many others.  All that involuntary stretching people do first thing in the morning was painful, being jostled on the train was painful, griping the handles on the elliptical machines in the gym was painful, as was doing most weight training exercises.  I kept that arm tucked up and close to my body, a habit I am still trying to break.  Physical therapy went on and on for months, including two steroid shots, which helped quite a bit.  Eventually I started making progress and was able to stop the pt visits.  I still do some exercises at home and have regained most of the standard flexing ability in that arm.   It was the first time I have ever had a lengthy physical disability and it was not fun.  This gave me a small glimpse of what life is like for people who have a permanent disability or an illness that affects mobility. 

Knees – My knees have never been my finest feature; I’ve had rice crispie knees since my teen years.  Extra weight doesn’t help and when my shoulder problems developed it was painful working out at the gym; the weight I had lost came back.  These days I don’t bound up the stairs with quite as much energy as I did last year and much of that is due to my knees.

Toes – On a trip to a water park this summer I landed wrong coming out of a waterslide and stubbed two toes.  They were swollen and sore for a couple of months.  Fortunately it was summer when I could wear sandals most of the time.