Flu Shot Blues

Hey all!

Does anybody remember my bout with the flu last spring? No? Well, you can check it out HERE if you want to. That nasty bugger had the best of me for over two months. I couldn't shake it.

So today, I invested $25 in my health and got a Flu Shot. There are no guarantees the shot will protect me from the flu, but at least now I know I'm not allergic to the vaccine, since it's 25 minutes after the shot was administered and I don't have hives. Hooray!

They gave me a really interesting info sheet when I got the flu shot. Here are the highlights:

Influenza is a very contagious disease. It is caused by the influenza virus which spreads from infected persons to the nose or throat of others. Other illnesses can have the same symptoms and are often mistaken for influenza. Anyone can get influenza. for most people, it lasts only a few days. It can cause fever, cough, sore throat, headache, chills, muscle aches, fatigue.

Some people get much sicker. (Yeah, like me.) Influenza can lead to pneumonia and can be dangerous for people with heart or breathing conditions. It can cause high fever and seizures in children. Influenza kills about 36,000 people a year in the United States, mostly among the elderly.

Don't like gambling with your health or those of your loved ones? I recommend the flu shot. I'll keep you posted as to my personal efficacy throughout the flu season.

Thanks for reading.

I'd Rather Be Rafting

He's alive!

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Yes it's true. I know I've been away from blogging for a while, but with the cold weather season nearly upon us, I'm back in action. Work and family and whitewater have been consuming most of my free time in addition to a couple of new projects I've been working on so I haven't had much time to blog. But recent events compel me to return to blogging: Foley, North Korea, Columbine-style shootings, Russian Journalist assassinations.....

I know many of you have spoken on these topics far more articulately than I intend to here; however, I just gotta add my own take.

What is wrong with this world we live in?

Is it television and video games that are spurring this violence? Is it the moral depravity of our elected leaders whom none of us really trust or believe in? Is it the lack of control parents have in raising their offspring? Is it the lack of authority of teachers in the schools? Is it easy access to info and pornography and news of all kinds on the internet that have lead to a proliferation of moral depravity akin to the nuclear proliferation that will soon follow if the international community can not contain North Korea?

I don't have any answers, but I sure have many questions. And opinions. And fortunately, the escape into the wild that is Whitewater Rafting in West Virginia every September and October. Next week I'm on vacation for the first time since January and my trip to Alaska. I'll be spending it with my friends on the river. And just for the hell of it, I'll pick up a copy of Walden by Henry David Theroux. I think there might be some appropriate commentary and advice thare that is applicable to what our country and world faces.

I think it's time we all need a gut check and a reexamination of the values that we hold dear. As for me, I'd rather be rafting. Check out this picture and the smile on my face. Life doesn't get any purer than this.

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Thanks for reading.

Shoulder Update

Hey everyone, thanks for the comments and the well wishes. I really appreciate them.

I've started therapy/rehab on my shoulder. Range of motion is like 98%, which is really cool, and strength has not been diminished at all. The rehab focused on strengthening the entire shoulder joint because now that the AC joint is separated, the rest of the shoulder joint has to pick up the slack. Therefore it's imperative that I do these daily flexibility and isometric exercises to really help stabilize and strengthen the entire joint. Makes sense.

My first appointment with the physical therapist was Thursday morning and it was an assessment kind of appointment. Monday morning we'll really get into the meat of the rehabilitation.

I am spending time in the gym now as I have to do a whole range of exercises like twice a day, so it is eating into my blogging, but I'll get back to a more normal posting pattern soon.

Thanks for reading.

I'm Back....

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Hey everyone,

Thanks for your concern about my sudden disappearance. Fortunately, nothing untoward has happened to me. Unfortunately, my hard drive decided to self destruct. Fortunately, I had most everything backed up on DVDs. Unfortunately, it's just been a very long tedious process restoring everything.

But I'm back now, my shoulder is doing better, I'm about to start rehab, and hopefully I'm on track for the lifting of all restrictions on July 15th!

I'll be back to regular posting tonight or tomorrow morning.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for caring.

Housekeeping....

Just a couple of quick updates everyone!

1. This week's Guest Blogging Series Will conclude with an awesome post by Utenzi later tonight. Dave sent me some awesome pictures to go with the post that I am having trouble resizing, otherwise the post would have been up by now.

2. Thank you very much to the round of current bidders: Utenzi, Gidget, Winged Emotion, and the Fifth Column! I hope you'll bid again. I chose Laci and the Long, Slow, Beautiful Dance this week because she has patiently bid three times now and, well, it was just her turn.

3. Pain in the shoulder is a little better. I go back to the Doctor on Thursday for a follow-up appointment. I'll know more then.

4. I'm launching a new contest Thursday night. It will be based off of the Ten Thousand Dollar Pyramid. Should be a lot of fun! And you can win 250 Blog Explosion Credits!

5. Check out "Across The Sands" by Sun King Poet (Ken). I'm guest posting on his blog and the post should be up sometime today!

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Thanks for reading.

Ass Backwards Adventure

A Guest Post by Tricia:

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Hi Everyone, I'm Tricia. Matt asked me to pop over and do a guest post for him this week. Poor guy. He had a great fall and really hurt his shoulder. Everyone say "Awwwwwwww, or Ewwwwwwwwwwww". Come on- I can't hear you. That's better.

Since I'm a nurse I've given Matt a nice dose of his pain medication so he's feeling pretty good right now. I'll keep an eye on him while I'm here. I might even lightly massage that poor shoulder of his and see if that helps too. Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, I might not do that after all. He'll want me around all the time while his shoulder is healing and I don't think I can do that since it's a bit of a commute back and forth.

Matt wanted me to write a post about an outdoor adventure. I'm not as adventurous these days as I used to be so I'll take you back into the past.

NOTE from MTMD: This is a VERY long post. It's funny as hell and it's written very well, but if you're going to do this justice, and you should because Tricia's writing is amazing, curl up with a good cup of coffee or a nice cold one because this is going to take you awhile!

When I was in high school they created this class called "Environmental Studies". A lot of people decided to take it because it sounded like an easy credit. I thought that I'd end up with a very good mark from the class because, as I was growing up, my family had a cottage and we spent almost every weekend up at the cottage. I was pretty sure I was going into the class with a bit more knowledge and skills than many of the other students.

I can't remember the exact curriculum but the course involved three or four class trips, a first aid course, and a wilderness survival course. We studied some botany - how to identify the various leaves from trees native to the areas we'd be travelling to, how to build a lean-to both in the winter and in the summer, and how to create a snare to catch rabbits or other small game. Doesn't sound like your typical high school course now does it?

I'm not sure that we took any trips in the fall, so perhaps there were only three class outings. All of the trips took place over 3 or 4 days. The first trip that I remember was the winter survival trip. We arrived at the lodge, somewhere in eastern Ontario Canada in the late morning. The teacher and other chaperones/guides took us out in the afternoon on snowshoes. They showed us the various trails in the area, and I think we all practiced making a trap for small animals--a snare. We would be marked on the making of the snare, using a compass, and building a winter worthy lean-to.

That evening the teacher and the guides broke us up into groups of 5 or so students and led us out into separate areas of the wilderness. We were given a set of co-ordinates and a clue. It was to be a scavenger hunt that would take us on trails in the forest, along country side roads and eventually back to the lodge. I can't for the life of me remember what we were hunting for, but each time we figured out a clue we'd find a new set of coordinates to follow with our trusty compasses to get us to the next clue.

Did I mention that it was about -20 Celsius ( -4 F) outside that night? No? Well it was, it was January after all. I think my team was outside for at least four hours. We didn't make it back first but we certainly weren't last. No, I remember that the teachers and guides had to go out and find the last team. They didn't do very well with their compasses.

The next day we were all sent outside into the cold to build our lean-to's. A lean to is a shelter that is made out of branches both live and dead. You build the structure with dead logs and branches from the surrounding ground cover. Yes, really easy to find in a snow covered area! Then, if you are a good survivalist you pull out your trusty twine and lash the structure together with some jute. If you didn't expect to be caught out in the middle of nowhere and end up having to make a lean-to you'd use grassy reeds, or long strips of green pliable bark as twine, or you'd search for branches that you could interlock together i.e. ones with y shaped ends that you could rest another branch into and hopefully it would end up being secure. I think we had twine.

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Lean-to

After you've created the basic structure of the lean-to which is usually low on one end and high on the other - like one half of a tent, you need to find some pine or cedar bows to cover the structure with to make it water and wind proof. You also need to gather a lot of these live branches from pine or cedar trees to create a bed for yourself to sleep on. Especially in the winter. You don't want to end up sleeping on the cold snow!

We worked in small teams to build our lean-to's. I think it was teams of two. Then we were marked on our creations. That night we got to sleep outside in the lean-to's that we'd made. That was fun! I don't remember being too uncomfortable so my team must have done well. Oh I forgot to mention that somewhere along the line we also learned how to make a fire by rubbing sticks together to get a spark. Forget the flint that they get to use on Survivor, this is the real way to make a fire. I think we were all successful after several attempts.

(Oh look everyone- Matt's fallen asleep. He's got a goofy look on his face. He must be dreaming. those meds have really kicked in!)

The next class trip was really cool. We'd been taking our first-aid course in class and the trip was to be a combination of our first-aid exam and to learn how to rock climb. Now doesn't that sound like a good combination? If anyone injured themselves badly rock climbing, why, we'd all know just what to do. Yeah right.

What we didn't know until we arrived at our location was that our teacher had enlisted some of the members of our senior high school drama class to come along on the trip and play "victims" for our first aid testing. They really did a good job.

They used special effect techniques to make puncture wounds on their arms or hands, had objects sticking out of their legs thanks to special effects make up, blood and gore and so on. It really was fantastic to actually put a donut dressing on a realistic looking 'puncture / foreign object sticking out of body part' type of wound. I've never heard of anyone taking a first aid course that ended with the treating of realistic looking wounds and actors acting out typical - in need of first aid type - situations. I learned so much that weekend on that course, and I often wonder if by having such a realistic course if that was what first got me interested in becoming a nurse.

I'm not going to get into all of the ins and outs of the rock climbing part of that trip. I'd already been rock climbing for years prior to this trip and for me it was pretty basic. Learning how to climb up a fairly easy cliff with basic rock climbing equipment (rope, bolt hangers, carbiners and harnesses). The class had already learned how to create a number of knots that are used for both rock climbing, canoeing and for other applications. We practiced climbing and belaying and we marked on our performances.

No one ended up injuring themselves so we didn't get to practice our newly acquired first-aid techniques, but I remember seeing some pretty white faces as a few of the kids faced the climb.

The last trip was the most memorable and truly the one that I had meant to talk about during my guest stint here at MTMD.

It was a whitewater canoeing trip! I swear I was born in a canoe. Canoes have been part of my life from the time I was a toddler or perhaps even younger. My very first memory of actually being in a canoe occurred when I was about 2 1/2 years old, and I've been in a canoe every year of my life since then with the exception of the last few years.

Most people probably think of canoeing as being a more sedate activity. Look at all the pictures of a lone canoeist paddling quietly on a calm lake or river. It is peaceful and it can be sedate, but the type of canoeing I enjoy most is canoeing on fast water. Spring and Fall are usually the best seasons to canoe in fast or whitewater since the water levels are higher due to spring run off or autumn rain.

Since this last trip was meant to be a canoeing adventure I ended up being paired with the least experienced teenager in the group. Poor Simon, he had no clue. We set out canoeing in pairs along one of the rivers in the Ottawa Valley region of Ontario. I'm sorry I can't remember which river it was but it was small and fairly tame. I believe it might have been early June when we took this trip so the waters weren't as dangerous as they would have been the month before.

During the first hour or two of our river adventure we were on relatively calm water. The kids that weren't very experienced canoeing got a chance to practice their paddling skills, steering and maneuvering the canoe the way they wanted it to go. We also had to portage across some narrower and shallow areas of the river so that added to the over-all experience. Simon and I were about the same height, but he either wasn't very strong or hadn't mastered how to carry a canoe through the forest because I remember us banging into some trees more than once and the canoe tipping over and unbalancing us a few times.

That should have been my warning!

Since I had more experience I was in the stern or back end of the canoe and Simon was in the Bow or front of the canoe. My primary job was to steer the canoe - with Simon's help of course. When we started to reach faster water Simon's main job was to spot rocks and tell me where they were as he assisted in trying to help steer us away from the rocks.

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Whitewater Canoeists In Action

Things were going relatively well until we reached our first and only area of white water. It was approximately 200 yards of medium rapids and then a short drop over some rocks into a pool of deeper water below. Simon didn't do his job as well as he could have, he missed a rock or he told me about it too late. Either way, we hit it and the next thing I knew the canoe was spinning around and we were travelling quickly along the rapids BACKWARDS!

There was no time to get the canoe turned around or to try to maneuver it over to the side of the river before we hit the "falls". I really used all of my skills to steer the canoe through the maize of rocks. I'm surprised that we didn't hit any as we travelled backwards through the water. Before I knew it we had reached the falls and here we were swooping down it backwards. I'd never before, and have never since, gone down a falls backwards. It was perhaps a 20 to 30 foot drop. Very interesting and exciting. My adrenaline must have just been pumping by that time.

"Ok we made it down the falls. Did anyone take a picture?"

It was too early to be relieved that we'd made it through. I could see our teacher running along the side of the bank and just at the moment our canoe turned sideways in the swirling water. Simon had given up paddling by this time and I think he was totally terrified. Actually I think he gave up paddling when we hit the first rock that turned us around backwards a few minutes earlier.

I couldn't turn the canoe around--backwards or forwards without his help in the rush of water we were caught in, and the next thing I knew we slammed into a boulder. The canoe tipped over and I managed to jump out. My legs were being squished against the hull of the canoe by the pressure of the water behind me but the majority of my body was above the water. I knew I was safe.

Simon on the other hand was not. He did not jump out of the canoe as it hit the boulder and he ended up trapped under the overturned canoe. Our teacher leapt into the water and pulled the canoe off of poor Simon. He'd had his life jacket on and there was air trapped under the canoe where he had been. He was ok but shaken up. I felt so bad. There was nothing I could have done to prevent our final accident but I still felt like it was my fault that Simon had almost got badly hurt.

We hauled the canoe over to the river bank and it was then that I noticed the middle of the hull was all bent in from where it had hit the rock. I'm thankful now that that wasn't one of our heads! Our teacher stomped on the huge dent until it went back down.

Needless to say the teacher separated Simon and I. I think Simon ended up completing the trip in the teacher's canoe. I got a different and slightly more experienced partner. I was, however, stuck in the dented canoe. It didn't steer very well. Thankfully, most of the water from there on in was pretty calm.

I have never, and will never, get in a boat - raft or canoe, with an inexperienced person ever again. A person with some experience behind them yes--but absolutely none - no way. I have a feeling that Simon probably never got in another canoe after that day. I don't think he liked the experience.

I really wonder what kind of release forms our parents had to sign when we signed up for that class? There were so many possibilities for injury, I'm surprised the school even let the course take place.

Matt, Matt ... wake up! I'm leaving now, gotta hit the road. You need to wake up and take over your blog again. Oh man is he ever funny when he's sleepy. He's just sitting there blinking repeatedly.

Ok, well, he needs a minute to become more alert. I'll just take this minute to remind you to visit his latest room-mate Texas RV Traveler. If you want to learn more about Texas or if you're thinking of visiting the great State of Texas sometime in the future you have to see this site. It's just chock full of great information.

Thanks for reading.

Outdoors and the Cold

A Guest Post by SunKingpoet:

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I’ve always loved the outdoors, but I’ve never been too partial to the cold. I just don’t get how someone can go out in weather below 60 degrees and actually be inspired to hike, raft, or bike. Come on, people. If your nipples are reaching for the sky like the wind is a mugger at the ATM, then it’s probably not a great day for a trip down the river.

Lucky for me, I live in Texas (and have for most of my adult and teen life). To say that we have warmer weather than most places here is an understatement to the Nth degree. Texas (especially south Texas) is hot my friends. It’s so hot here, you know that whole frying an egg on the pavement saying? Well it can actually happen in Texas. What do you think a sidewalk café is in our state? Okay, so I kid… only slightly.

Truth is, I dig the heat… love it in fact, but I happen to be married to a woman who must be part polar bear, because our house is kept so cold, there’s actually a glacial layer of ice on all of the linoleum floors. The kids and I use ice skates to get across the kitchen. Okay… well, maybe they’re more like socks and we don’t have our very own ice age taking place, but it is cold… really cold… that’s the point I’m trying to make.

Where was I going with this? Uhmmm… hold up, let me shuffle some thoughts around in my head.

Oh yeah, the cold and outdoors…

I’ve never been hunting. I’ve never had the desire. Though I’m an animal lover, I’m not a card carrying member of PETA (those folks scare the Hell out of me), and I’m not opposed to hunting for food if the need arises. However, I think I’d prefer pushing the shopping cart down the frozen food isle at the grocery store rather than sitting in a deer stand in the winter with deer urine on my boots and a sack of corn scattered across the grass. Let’s just say it’s not my idea of a good time.

I have been canoeing in the winter though, and let me tell you that that experience did nothing to make me lose my aversion to outdoor activities in the cold. It seems that somehow a pair of pretty eyes fluttered a bit and I lost complete control of my ability to think clearly agreeing to take a canoe down the Brazos River during a January cold spell. A canoe is not the most stable of boats with inexperienced drivers. Did you know this? Yeah, well, I wish you would have spoken up at the time. A dunking in the river, and a rather severe cold later, I made up my mind that if I was going to have a day outdoors, it was damn well going to be 70 degrees or more on the thermometer.

Whitewater Rafting?

What’s the weather report?

MTMD Responds:

Whitewater Rafting? What's the weather report? Who cares? My dear Sun King Poet, you're going to get wet anyway. Sun, Mist, Thunderstorm, Rain, Hurricane, Clouds...it's all good. If the water is high, the rapids are fast, and the waves are tall Whitewater Rafting is the best bang for your adventure dollar. In no other activity can you and a group of friends or family have wild fun, experience nature on a grand scale, be entertained by your guide/comedian/naturalist/historian/geologist. Add in the natural team building that results from running a whitewater river and you can also write off those thousands of dollars you were going to pay to Zig Ziglar.

The planet is 70% water. Our bodies are 70% water. Water = life. Granted, every once in a while you might want to have all that water baked out of you on a beach somewhere on a 100 degree day, but you know what you'll look like in your forties and fifties if all you do is soak up the sun--you've seen those men and women with their dried out sun-baked hides. How they look twenty years older than they really are. Don't plead ignorance, YOU KNOW. Whitewater Rafting is the ultimate in hydrating activities....and ONE MORE THING!

Ten Years of Whitewater rafting I've never had so much as a scratch! One game of softball and I have a separated shoulder. I'm telling you, whitewater rafting is good, clean, safe, hydrating fun!

Tell ya what: My Dear Sun King Poet, I invite you to West Virginia the third weekend in September for a trip on the Upper Gauley as my guest. The weather will be warm. The water will be warm, and the Gauley is one of the ten best whitewater rivers in the world. I guarantee an awesome time! And I make you this promise: Once you come over to the WET SIDE, there's just no going back.


Thanks for reading.

Journey of Nostalgia

A Guest Post by G K Stewart:

Hey my name is gksden, and I am helping out while Michiganrafter’s wing is being healed. So, I will be attempting to write this post for him. I am a Colorado native, and I have a dirty little secret. Sssh, I don’t know how to ski. Ssssh, and I don’t know how to rock climb. Please don’t tell anyone. I am your person who rarely goes camping, but that may be due to my experience as a youth, when I had an opportunity to attend a mountaineering school. I did enough of that for a lifetime. Oh, I loved it. Truly, I did, it was even spiritual. However, it is not my first recreational activity, I am a biker first, a hiker second, and a camper third—actually may be 5th or 6th. Nonetheless, there was a time, when I wanted to scale Mount Everest. Ah, the folly of youth. Observe as I recollect….

A Journey of Nostalgia*

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Sangre De Cristos Mountain Range

I have wanted to write about an experience when I was younger; much younger for the last month. Recently, as I walked through my campus at school—Auraria—which is home to three colleges: Community College of Denver, University of Colorado at Denver, and Metropolitan State College of Denver, the spring weather had brought campus vendors on to the common area grounds selling their wares, opportunities, and adventures.

One such company sent me “Reelin’ in the Years” (Steely Dan) for nostalgia. The vendor name was Outward Bound Wilderness—but in my day—it was Colorado Outward Bound School (COBS), a slightly distinction admittedly, but I had not seen, or heard of the school in nearly a generation of my lifetime after high school.

Nevertheless, my head was suddenly a washed with memories; the aroma of pine filled my nostrils, and flashes of green field pastures danced hauntingly behind eyes, and reverent smile grew on my face as I talked with youthful proprietors that attended the stand.

It was the summer of my seventeenth birthday, and four months earlier I had been enticed (or bewitched depending on one’s perspective) to go on a quest. I was encourage and inspired to by science teacher, whose name escapes me at this very moment (temporary brain damage, at least I think so). Anyhow, it was to bee three weeks (or 21 days) of trekking through Sangre De Cristos Mountains in southern Colorado and I was remembering as I chatted somewhat enthusiastically Jason Stout of my past youthful glory days.

I had been a young struggling urban youth, lost in my world of science fiction, and awkward teenager trying to find the balance of my intelligence and arrogance. I remember that I was running late to class, the school bell of my high Alma matter, George Washington, had just rung. As usual, I was running behind. I entered the biology classroom with all the stealth of a water buffalo. I had tripped over my own two feet, and went sprawling with my books and supplies across the floor. Classroom snickers could be heard throughout room.

My teacher look at me, he was not upset, with amusement. I hurriedly picked up after myself, when I noticed the guest inside the classroom. A stranger sat patiently in one of the corners—a young woman. She was in her late twenties, red wavy hair, slender body, and forest green eyes that seem to look through me. She was wearing a red plaid flannel shirt underneath it a white t-shirt, and 501 blue jeans. My encouraged me with his eyes to take my seat – so I did. She was a guest speaker for a company called Outward Bound where they provided wilderness training for students, tourists, and companies that had teamwork issues by leading groups of people on rafting, hiking, and mountaineering trips. This woman glowed like a prophet her fervor nature was intoxicating.

She was hypnotic. I was mesmerized. Her voice was soothed like honey going down one’s throat with a hot cup of tea when sick. Her dark green penetrating eyes glistened like deep pools of water twinkling with excitement as she showed slides of wonderful mountain vistas, of rivers, and of her scaling steep mountainsides with effortless abandon. I thought to myself, “I could do this!” My heart pounded and began to ascertain the possibilities of adventure, and I was not just thinking of the mountainous terrain.

After all, of course, fantasies of a young man’s fancy ensued. I imagined the conquering the massive 14,000-foot peaks, traveling down the most difficult rapids, and scaling the most difficult cliffs. I would conquer nature, and I would be nature’s king. I would be king of the mountains! It is peculiar how life’s aspirations turn out.

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(Green Mountains, Wet Mountains are part of Sangre De Cristos)

My biology teacher informed the class that if one went on such a trip they could get extra course credit and then I heard how much. My heart sank. I might as well have bought a new-used car for the amount of money they were charging, but I was determined. I was going to conquer nature not only for me, but I was going accomplish my life’s destiny. So, I gathered up the brochure materials and my books and took it home to my mother.

I spent the better part of a week trying to convince her, a single parent of three, to let me go; certainly a difficult task. I bribed my sisters, and I had to promise to procure a job to pay my mom back. However, when everything was said and done, I was still $350 dollars short. The Monday morning, before the deadline for payment and a week before the deadline, I informed my teacher of my predicament. He suggested that I apply for a scholarship for the rest of it.

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(Lake Isabel, Wet Mountains part of the Sangre De Cristos)

One of the universal truths’ is that what effort you put out is exactly what you get back. So I applied for the scholarship and got lucky and received exactly the $350 (I have suspicion that my teacher may have sponsored me indirectly, but really will never know. If he did—thank you).

Now, all I needed was to buy clothes, backpack, and boots. It took all summer to acquire the items I needed, and I took this as sign of my first conquest. My journey of discovery began in the early part of August, the rainy season, when thunderstorms rolled in and out of the Colorado Mountains. The buses came and picked us up, we, the grand adventurers, from the designated spot. The pilgrimage to the southern red mountains was long and arduous. At one point, I saw the Sand Dunes of Colorado far in the distance; the camel white dunes were smooth, crystalline, and seemingly smooth as silky. The Dunes rose like waves gently caressing the sides of the hills. It was late when we arrived at the base camp.

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Cleveland and Tijeras Peaks, Music and Marble Mountains rising beyond the dunes
That's Challenger Point, Kit Carson Peak and Columbia Point rising on the left.
(Source National Park Service).

It was dark, the night enveloped the mountains and the trees, and it was disturbing. The city lights of Denver were a distant memory. However, my confidence did not waiver as the buses pulled into the staging area, but the journey was just beginning. A hike of ten mile to the first campsite was the start of the expedition. We would break up into groups, and begin our sojourn for the night. We walked in silence as the ground grinded underneath our steps. After about an hour it began to rain, and my first lesson came upon me, my boots began soaking the rain that fell upon them.

My waterproofing had failed. My boots were soaked, my socks, my feet, and looked like prunes when I had removed them for the night. The next thirteen of the twenty-one days it would rain. I scaled various mountain-sides some successfully, and some not with my group. The one’s we failed to conquer would rot at my gut; nevertheless, I saw nature in its wonderment. I saw hawks using it wings to ride thermals of air for what seemed like forever, and then suddenly dive to catch its meal for the day. I was envious. It was one more reminder of the enormity of nature and how the beauty of flight seemed graceful.

One day our journey came to a screeching halt. We sat in our tents as we waited for the storm to subside before hiking the next mountain range. It never did, and our patience was wearing thin. We were losing time. We each had a mission to accomplish that of fasting and solo meditation. For me this was the test I would best myself against nature. The instructors would check on us daily to make sure we drank enough water, however before any that happen, the rain and fog kept us socked in at our campsite. So, we waited.

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(A winter moment from Europe, image by RobT)

Finally, unable to wait any longer, we gathered our saturated belongings and proceeded up the side of the mountain. Each step was a squish, a deliberate plod, and a squirt. The red mud clay of the mountain slipped from underneath my boots. The mud had stacked on like layers on the bottom of my shoes, as the group reached the vista that lay ahead of us changed from a doom and gloom London rain to the rolling hills of green Ireland. I stood there; we all stood there, in amazement of the sudden change of fortune and weather…

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California Peak in San Luis Valley (Sangre De Cristos Mountains)

It had been three days and my group leader had returned for me to tell me my solo was done. The time of my meditation and reflection had changed me. Nature had let me feel the loneliness and the solitude. I learned they were completely different animals. A person could alone in crowd of people while solitude was the individual ability to find peace within oneself and be okay alone. I felt alone, I had all my life, even though I had two sisters and a mother and my father a Rolling Stone (Sly & family Stone) and no where to be found. Nature had shown me my loneliness……

“Zapata Falls is located 4 miles east of Colorado Highway 150, just south of the entrance to Great Sand Dunes National Park. The gravel road going in is excellent for a BLM site. From the parking area it is about a 1/2 mile walk uphill to the falls. As you are well above the San Luis Valley floor and looking over the sand dunes, the views are excellent.

Two million years ago glacial activities were sculpting the Sangre de Cristos. The waterfall flows through a rock dike left by a retreating glacier. As the glacier melted away, a large lake of melt water built up behind the dike. Eventually, the water found a weak spot in the dike and began working and eroding its' way through.
The photo on the left above was taken at the entrance to the rock gorge carved by the water. The photo on the right was taken inside the gorge. To get there I walked across the frozen and flowing streambed into the gorge. The gorge is open up above but you can't always see the sky. And it was probably 30 degrees colder in the gorge with a stiff breeze blowing downstream (there was almost no wind outside the gorge).”

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It had been a tough three weeks and the excursion was about over when I decided to walk off by myself when I found a large saucer shaped boulder large enough to house a house a small family. Okay, maybe a small midgets’ family, but a rather large boulder, which I climbed, and laid down upon it in the evening air.

The night sky was filled with stars as the sounds of the woods reached a crescendo when I felt the change within my lungs. I lay there perfectly still not wanting to be disturbed by the atmosphere of the night. My body started to tingle like a thousands of ants had just crawled over my skin. First, I felt the loss of my arms, neck, legs, and then my feet. I could not move them. I tried desperately.

I was suddenly frightened. I did not know what to do, but the more I struggled, the more the sensation grew. Finally, I wrestled myself to my knees, then to my feet. I stood up and began to walk away when I pivoted on my heels to look at the boulder—I saw myself on the great rock with my eyes wide open.

The moon rose, and it was big as life. I stretched out my arm see if I could touch it, and suddenly I was there. The moon was barren, lifeless and I saw far above the horizon the Earth. I pinched myself. I seemed real enough, and suddenly the Earth grew fainter, and fainter, and I was floating towards a light.

It was calming, benevolent, and soothing to my soul. Faster and faster the light grew more intense and just when I felt my eyes might burn away, I stood in a luscious forest green field. A melodic orchestration washed over me. It was of nature. The sounds of it poured of me, reminding me that this was mine, ours, and life was meant to be lived.

As quickly as it formed, the journey home reversed. The green field faded, darkness returned, and the Moon and the Earth grew exponentially. I now stood over my body, seeing it really for the first time. I reached out touch my arm and with that the words breathlessly, “What the hell?” spewed out. Nature had taught her final lesson to me and that, she was the timekeeper—and certainty of death was not to be feared. When my trip had ended, I had returned home to understand that life’s isolation was up to me, and that I could be comfortable within my own skin—no matter what the color…

Jason Stout and I exchanged pleasantries as I grabbed his business card as I vowed to him and myself that I would help in anyway that I could bring back my passage from childhood. Ah, memory lane, that day was good, I walked to my next class, and my sentimental refrain reminded that after all, it is just another day in paradise. And so…. life goes on, while nature remains wondrous, mysterious, in all its beauty.

Thanks for reading.

Apache Junction Desert Beauty

A Guest Post by LunaStone:

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Hi! My name is Luna. Michiganrafter asked me to do a guest post about where I live, Apache Junction, AZ (about 40 minutes East of Phoenix). Everyone knows it’s hot here (our seasons being Spring, Summer, Hell, Fall), so I’m going to skip all that and talk about the beautiful scenery. When the idea first came up about moving here, all I could envision was Barstow, CA where I was born… a barren place, nothing but scrub brush and ugly. Arizona is nothing like that. There are beautiful wild flowers, native trees and (of course) cacti. Most recognizable, the Saguaro, pronounced Sa War O (war pronounced like car). A little Saguaro tidbit, they don’t get their first “branch” until they are at least 80 years old. Below is a Saguaro at sunset on one of our rare cloudy days.

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We don’t do a lot of outdoor activities as my husband is a creature of comfort, but we do go on a lot of drives up into the mountains, high desert and to the Salt River Canyon. I think people would be surprised at the many different landscapes here, all within an hour drive in any direction from our home.

To the south we have open desert. To the North and East we have mountains and to the west is the high desert. It’s called the high desert because of it’s altitude. The Sonoran desert is absolutely beautiful. Here are a few photos I’ve taken along the way.

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The open desert across the street, looking southeast at the rising moon.

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One of our amazing sunsets.

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The Salt River Canyon

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The famous Superstition Mountains with snow. To get to the base of this mountain, it’s a five-minute drive. I get to see this beautiful work of nature every time I step outside my door.

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An example of some of the beautiful flowers that thrive here.

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And another.

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And finally, one last look at The Superstitions.



Thanks for reading.

MTMD Welcomes "Texas RV Travel"

It's almost makes me blush when no less than eight individuals bid to rent space on my blog in barely a one hour period. I am truly honored that so many think enough of my blog that they want to rent space here. However, when push comes to shove, I chose my renter, Texas RV Travel, because she's 1. bid on me before, 2. was the first one who bid this week, and 3. her blog is a lesser known one that I believe everyone should take a look at.

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As you might guess, the topic of the blog is RV travel in Texas. Now before I started reading this blog, every time I thought of Texas I just pictured a big flat city like Dallas or Houston. Sometimes I thought of the Alamo and San Antonio or ugly oil drills dotting the horizon for as far as the eye can see. But other than Big Bend National Park, I had no idea of the beauty and diversity of vistas that can be found in Texas.

Just on the first page of Texas RV Travel, there are pictures of Camp Wood, and Scenic Loop Drive, Laguna Madre and Cowgirl RV Caravans to mountainous places and to the Colorado River. (Granted, the latter is in Colorado, but Texas is obviously so much more beautiful than it's archetypal image of a long grey highway ribbon stretching endlessly across the Great Plains into the west.

I highly recommend you click on the thumbnail at the top of my sidebar and check out Texas RV Travel for yourself. I've learned a lot about Texas from visiting this blog, and I know you will too.

Finally, I'd like to extend my thanks to the other bloggers bidding on my rental space this week. All of them are outstanding and definitely worth your time to take a look: Aeowolf Online, Imagination Madness, Long, Slow, Beautiful Dance, My Devilish Side, Odd Planet, Scooter McGAvin’s 9th Green, Tales of the Opiated Sherpa.

Thanks for reading.

Kayaking in Colorado

A Guest Post by Cat

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Oy! Matt is injured and so it seems he will let just anyone write a guest post for him. Must be the pain medicine.

Anyhow, I’m wandering over from my blog and thought I would stay on topic with his and tell a story I haven’t told on my own about my first kayak experience. Sounds sexual but it’s not, sorry.

I moved to Colorado to get out more and experience outdoor activities without dying in the sun (like I would have in Texas) or being eaten by large snakes. I had met a friend that would carry a kayak on top of her truck during the summer months. I was always curious about taking it out but scared after hearing stories of so many getting hurt (shoulders hitting rocks, concussions from the same) while riding the river.

My friend assured me that it would be best to just take it out in a lake or pond to get used to it and she suggested the ‘cold springs’ nearby. Now, the cold springs used to be a place where they would put fish in, let them lay eggs and produce, then stock the river with them. It has a very soft base and when you walk into it you feel as if you’re being swallowed by quicksand. I had the sand up to my thighs and it just creeped me out.

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The cold springs are also right next to the base of a mountain and just on the other side of a pathway is the Piedra River, an amazing river that boasts a high elevation of 7,620 ft. and is 19.2 miles long. A site I just looked up says the following:

The Piedra's water flows clean, clear and cold, but is not drinkable without purification. The flow is generally rated Class IV with some Class V rapids at any navigable level. The river starts nearly a mile and a half above sea level at an elevation of 7,620 feet msl and drops over 1,000 feet in less than 20 miles at a rate of 54 fpm, making it a fairly swift-moving stream. The cold water and high elevation make it necessary to wear dry suits or wetsuits with base layers, or water-repelling garments that are layered to prevent hypothermia. Neoprene glove and hard-soled river boots are also strongly recommended.

So, needless to say I went with her and we took the kayak along so I could practice. The neat thing about this area is it isn’t more than 2 acres wide or long and isn’t more than 4 feet deep. Gives you a little confidence with being a new kayaker and you can hear the river just nearby rushing fast. I love the area and found out, that same day, that I loved to kayak. The bears love that river too, but that’s another story…

My next trip was to a lake neaby. The largest lake in the immediate area was calling my name so I took the kayak out and packed some bottled water and light food into it. I paddled to the middle of the lake, took my shoes off and propped my feet up and as I looked at the largest peak in the area I ate my lunch. I could not have asked for a more relaxing day.

I have taken the kayak down the river (San Juan & Rio Grande) a few times since and have plans to upgrade very soon so that I can take on bigger and faster runs…but until then I’m left with the love of kayaking my way. Slow and relaxing with great scenery!

Thanks, Matt and his readers, for listening to my story.


Thanks for reading.

Not All Adventures are Outdoors

A Guest Post by Mr. Fabulous

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When Matt asked me to do a guest post for his fabulous blog, I was a little surprised. I mean, sure Matt and I have a few things in common. We both collect Pez dispensers. We both shave our nether regions daily. And there have been a few nights when we have engaged in a little Brokeback Blogger action with each other, if you catch my drift.

But Matt is a rugged, adventurous outdoorsman. I, most decidedly, am not. You are not going to get me to go whitewater rafting if you held a gun to my head. If you threatened to burn down my village and make slaves of my children I would still refuse to go rock climbing. The mere thought of getting on a roller coaster makes me sweat profusely.

The only calluses I have are on my ass. And no, it’s not from the Brokeback action, wise guy. It’s from all the time I spend in my La-Z-Boy recliner.

But then I realized that I am an adventurer. I am a thrill seeker. I am a survivor, people. You don’t need to get in a raft or jump out of a plane or stick your head in the tiger cage at the zoo to be labeled a man of action. I am a grizzled veteran of the most treacherous terrain on God’s green earth.

The office.

Let me regale you with some harrowing tales of my own.

The Tragic Copier Incident of 2001

There were ten of us on staff, furiously working in the copy room, desperately trying to make enough copies of the budget report for the end of the fiscal year. We were racing against the clock, our backs against the wall, the deadline looming only a few hours away.

Then tragedy struck. Jason loaded a defective ream of bonded paper in the intake tray. He forgot to do a safety check. The edges were ragged. Soon Tim and Scott went down with massive paper cuts. We all started to get hit. Our anguished cries echoed down the hall and into the break room, alerting some of our colleagues, who came running once they finished their coffee and cinnamon buns.

But it was too late. We lost three men that day. Good men. I held Jason in my arms as he breathed his last breath. His dying words haunt me to this day:

“We forgot…to collate.”

December 2004: The Great Floor Wax Debacle

The custodial staff was waxing the floor in the reception area. Our company uses those yellow caution signs that are printed in both English and Spanish. You’ve probably seen them.

Unfortunately, the two custodians could read neither language. They were, in fact, Canadian. And who the heck knows what language those people speak?

In any event, they didn’t know what the signs said, and so they never put them out. And thus the stage was set for calamity.

Tammy went down first, landing on her side with a sickening crack as her hip fractured in several places. Laura attempted to rush to her aid, only to slide across the slick surface like a hockey puck, slamming into the far wall head first and scattering her teeth like Chiclets across the glossy tile. I attempted to restrain Braden as he ran down the hall toward them, but he was wearing his breakaway shirt that day. “No, you fool!” I screamed as I admired the old world craftsmanship of his pink Oxford shirt, which now was little more than a metrosexual rag in my hands, “Stay back!” But it was too late. Braden went down too, his feet flying out from under him as he landed on his back, and his neck snapped with a sound not unlike one hand clapping.

Finally, cooler heads prevailed, and using a series of pulleys and ropes and old yogurt containers we pulled the injured to safety. Poor Braden never recovered. He now spends his days in a wheelchair, dribbling oatmeal down his chin and mumbling constantly about how the Monroe Doctrine was a defining moment in the foreign policy of the United States.

My Kingdom for Some Dasani

August 15, 2003 will forever be known by those who were there as the day men wept openly, women barked like dogs, and children were milked like donkeys. I don’t know what any of that means. But that’s exactly the kind of day it was.

For on that day a perfect storm was formed; a storm which changed every soul who was there.

8:47 a.m. The air conditioning system fails. Indoor temperatures climb rapidly in the sweltering August heat.

9:52 a.m. The water cooler runs out. All the bottles are empty. The bottled water truck is three days overdue.

10:24 a.m. Every single employee, to a man, wishes that it was Hawaiian Shirt Friday instead of Winter Parka and Thermal Underwear Tuesday.

11:57 a.m. People are starting to drink their own urine.
1:34 p.m. Hallucinations are common. Jennifer swears that Mandy has the head of a unicorn. Annie is convinced that giant panda bears are playing musical chairs in the conference room. I suspect that Nazi frogmen are shadowing me when I go to the restroom.

2:46 p.m. People are starting to drink each other’s urine.

3:46 p.m. Current count has us at 4 dead, 11 suffering from heatstroke, and 2 who have really developed a taste for urine

4:45 p.m. Stephen becomes the hero of the day when he realizes that we can just walk out of the building and go down to the convenience store and buy all the water we want. We erect a loving tribute to him out of the fallen bodies of our comrades.

In Conclusion

So don’t call me a namby-pamby sissy boy until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes, bucko. I’ve seen things that haunt my dreams. I have been to the precipice. I have stared Death square in the face until I lost control of my bowels. And then Death lost control of his bowels. Boy oh boy, that was a long day.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday Funny

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Thanks for reading.

Illiouette Creek

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Grade 3 Shoulder Separation

Ouch! It's pretty bad everyone. I have (almost) the worst kind of shoulder separation: a grade 3. All three of the A/C ligaments are severed and my clavicle is severely detached. The good news is that my skin is still in tact and there are no signs of skin abrasion from underneath. This means that surgery may not be necessary.

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It's possible that this injury will mostly heal on it's own. To help and give me the best chance of healing, I'm wearing a clavicle sling. A clavicle sling is like the straps of a backpack except without the pack. It's purpose is to maintain posture and to prevent slumping and favoring of the injured shoulder. I go back to the doctor in two weeks for further evaluation. If I am pain free, then I can begin rehab. If there's little or no improvement, then surgery will be required. Surgery is bad as it would necessitate cutting of a whole bunch of muscles that really do not need to be cut; it would also considerably weaken my entire left shoulder.

But if all goes well over the next couple weeks and with rehab, then I will have nearly 100% range of motion, but with a little chronic pain (ache), and a bump as the clavicle will not return to the place God intended it to be on its own. But I can live with that.

For those of you that are interested, the following text and diagrams from Sportsandortho.com illustrate exactly what happened when I fell on Wednesday afternoon and explains treatment.

A separated shoulder is a common injury among contact athletes, especially hockey and football players, but it can happen to anyone who falls and lands on the tip of their shoulder or elbow. The result can be an injury to the muscles, tendons and ligaments that hold the bones in your shoulder together. It is a very different injury than a shoulder dislocation, which is a separation of the large joint (glenohumeral) in the shoulder. Often these two types of injuries are confused.

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Evaluation
You may have a partial or complete tear of one or both of the main ligaments that connect your collarbone (clavicle) to your shoulder blade (scapula). These are the acromioclavicular (AC) joint and coracoclavicular (CC) ligaments. X-rays may be taken to help diagnose the extent of your problem and exclude a fracture at the end of your clavicle.

Your shoulder separation is classified by the extent or magnitude of your injuries.

* Grade 1: A mild shoulder separation involves a sprain of your AC ligament that does not move your clavicle and looks normal on X-rays.
* Grade 2: A more serious injury tears the AC ligament and sprains or slightly tears the CC ligament, putting your clavicle out of alignment to some extent.
* Grade 3: The most severe shoulder separation completely tears both your AC and CC ligaments and puts your shoulder joint noticeably out of position.
* Grades 4, 5 and 6 AC separations are very rare.

Treatment
Since the severity of your injuries may vary greatly, all injuries are treated on a case-by-case basis. If your injury is a grade 1, 2, or 3 AC separation, you'll possibly wear a sling for a few days until the pain subsides. It is recommended that you ice your shoulder for 20 minutes, 3-4 times a day during the first 48 hours. You may also use anti-inflammatory medications and pain relievers. In most cases, your doctor will send you to physical therapy to restore and rebuild motion, strength, and flexibility.

You may resume your normal daily activities when the pain in your shoulder eases. If you are a contact athlete, you will be allowed to return to your sport once you have full range of motion and good strength in your shoulder. You may also be required to wear special protective devices or padding.

Surgical intervention when treating a separated shoulder is very rare and only performed in the most severe cases.


Thanks for reading.

FOUNDING FATHERS

When Osama bin Laden died, George Washington met him at the Pearly Gates. He slapped him across the face and yelled, "How dare you try to destroy the nation I helped conceive!"

Patrick Henry approached, punched him in the nose and shouted, "You wanted to end our liberties but you failed!"

James Madison followed, kicked him in the groin and said, "This is why I allowed our government to provide for the common defense!"

Thomas Jefferson was next, beat Osama with a long cane and snarled, "It was evil men like you who inspired me to write the Declaration of Independence."

The beatings and thrashings continued as George Mason, James Monroe and 66 other early Americans unleashed their anger on the terrorist leader.

As Osama lay bleeding and in pain, an Angel appeared. Bin Laden wept and said, "This is not what you promised me."

The Angel replied, "I told you there would be 72 Virginians waiting for you in Heaven. What the hell did you think I said?"


Thanks for reading.

Dedication Friday: Va Va Voom!

Pick a song, any song, and dedicate it to the one you love...or hate, or despise or admire, or anything at all. Just dedicate a song, give a reason why, publish the song lyrics if you want, and join the autoscript. If you'd like to be included in the Dedication Friday Blogroll, just post a comment on MTMD and I'll add you. Thanks and have fun!

Please, only add your name if you are posting the Dedication Friday Meme on your blog.



This week I would like to dedicate Def Leppard's Pour Some Sugar On Me to my new renter, Va Va Voom. I was thinking about dedicating something by Nick Lachey to my good friend Cat since she is such a huge fan of his; however, I have been negligent in spreading the love for my renter this week and Cat isn't going anywhere now is she? Anyway, Va Va Voom and I first met when I was running contests last month and she started participating in them. She's a really cool single mom with a good head on her shoulders and an awesome sense of humor. Check out her current post on the Worst Movies Ever! (Just click on her thumbnail at the top of my sidebar. You know you want to!) It cracked me up.

But in her own words, Va Va Voom is a: creative chic, single mother who's starting fresh in life. I'm easy going, loves a good laugh and being around other creative, artistic or funny people. I'm originally from the Philippines but grew up here in Australia. Va Va Voom is my main character in an online game I play called City of Heroes.

And in case you were wondering, Def Leppard's Hysteria is one of her all time favorite albums from high school, and Pour Some Sugar On Me was the biggest hit from the album. So Va Va Voom, here's your long distance dedication:

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Pour Some Sugar On Me

Step inside, walk this way
You and me babe, hey! Hey!

Love is like a bomb baby c'mon get it on
Livin' like a lover with a radar phone
Lookin' like a tramp like a video vamp
Demolition woman can I be your man
Razzle 'n' dazzle 'n' flash a little light
Television lover baby go all night
Sometime anytime sugar me sweet
Little miss innocent sugar me yeah yeah

C'mon take a bottle, shake it up
Break the bubble, break it up

Pour some sugar on me
Ooh, in the name of love
Pour some sugar on me
C'mon fire me up
Pour some sugar on me
Oh! I can't get enough

I'm hot, sticky, sweet
From my head to my feet yeah

Listen! Red light yellow light green light go!
Crazy little woman in a one man show
Mirror queen mannequin rhythm of love
Sweet dreams saccharine loosen up

You gotta please a little, squeeze a little
Tease a little more
Easy operator come a knockin' on my door
Little miss innocent sugar me yeah
Give a little more

Take a bottle, shake it up
Break the bubble, break it up

Pour some sugar on me
Ooh, in the name of love
Pour some sugar on me
C'mon fire me up
Pour some sugar on me
Oh! I can't get enough

I'm hot, sticky, sweet
From my head to my feet yeah

You got peaches I got the cream
Sweet to taste saccharine
'Cos I'm hot, say what, sticky sweet
From my head, my head, to my feet

Do you take sugar, one lump or two?

Take a bottle, shake it up
Break the bubble, break it up

Pour some sugar on me ooh, in the name of love
Pour some sugar on me c'mon fire me up
Pour some sugar on me oh, I can't get enough
Pour some sugar on me oh, in the name of love
Pour some sugar on me get it, come get it
Pour some sugar on me ooh
Pour some sugar on me yeah, sugar me


Thanks for reading.

Well Wishes For My Shoulder

Thank you all very much to all of those who have sent me kinds words of encouragement, advice, and general commisseration over my shoulder! It's very much appreciated!

Thursday 13: Reasons Why I Love My Shoulder

1. It's hurting now and needs some TLC.
2. It makes rafting possible.
3. It's essential to getting dressed every day.
4. It makes every little movement you usually don't think about effortless.
5. You can't type without your shoulders. Well, that is.
6. You need your shoulders to hug your girlfriend.
7. You need your shoulders to get food out of the fridge and make dinner.
8. Shoulders play a key role in sex.
9. You need your shoulders to give a High-Five.
10. The novelty of being home all day watching cable movies wears off pretty quickly.
11. You need your shoulders' cooperation for really good chicken-fights.
12. Without your shoulders, it's harder to take criticism.
13. Sleep is a lot more comfortable with healthy shoulders.



Thanks for reading.

Suburban Turmoil named MTMD Blog of Excellence

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Suburban Turmoil is a blog that has fascinated me since I first discovered it through the Perfect Post Awards. Lucinda's template is irreverent, her voice is unique and strong, and she is not afraid to bare her soul—that “Live like you were dying" comment is right on. (You want to see what I mean, then go visit her site. You won't be disappointed!) That is why Suburban Turmoil has been selected as an MTMD honoree.

Congratulations Lucinda, and keep up the awesome work!

Thanks for reading.

Perfect Post Awards

It's time again for the Perfect Post Awards!

For those of you who missed the Perfect Post Awards last month, this is what they are all about: MommaK at Petroville and Lucinda wanted to give a little recognition to bloggers out there who've written something extra special during the month of May. With that in mind, they launched the Perfect Post Awards.

A Perfect Post

On the first day of each month, all participants will give out the award to their favorite post written by another blogger during the preceding month. The "winners" will receive a cool Perfect Post button for that month, which they can put on their sites if they wish. MommaK and Lucinda will link on each award day to everyone who's giving out a Perfect Post award.

This is a chance to read some of the best posts written each month- and to spread a little warm fuzziness, too. If you'd like to present an award yourself next month, e-mail Lucinda or MommaK and they'll send you the latest award button code a few days before June 1st, so that you can participate in next month's awards!

And now without further adieu, my Perfect Post Award goes to....

Jason at Karolczak.com for his post, "Robot Chicken Clip: Darth Vader Explains the Loss of the Death Star"

Even though this is a youtube cartoon, I find it hilarious and it's really helping me overcome the pain from my newly separated shoulder. Thanks Jason for bringing this to my attention...we all need more laughter in our lives.

Please stop by and comment on this clip if you get a chance and remember to e-mail Lucinda if you'd like to give out a Perfect Post Award next month. The more the merrier!

To find out more about Lucinda and the Perfect Post Awards, please visit Lucinda at Suburban Turmoil, and tell her that Matt at Meltwater, Torrents, Meanderings, Delta sent you!

Also, please stop by Va Va Voom who is renting space from me this week!

Thanks for reading.

OUCH!

Hey everyone! Guess what? I separated my shoulder yesterday. That's right. Follow-up visit to the doctor is Saturday morning. Then I'll find out if I need surgery.

The pain is excruciating, even with the percoset. I really recommend that you do NOT try this at home.

During my recovery, phone calls, alcohol, and chocolate will be greatly appreciated--not necessarily in that order.

Thanks for reading.

Wordless Wednesday

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Rock Cave Where David Sharp Died on Everest





Thanks for reading.

More on David Sharp

From EverestNews:

We will never know the whole story of who helped David and who did not. We will never know the whole story of his summit attempt and descent where he ended up next to the previously dead climber in the rock cave on Everest. But we do know where he froze to death on Everest. Some of the media reports grow more confused, in other media stories some detail have come out. But we thought we would show you a picture of the location where David died according to some climbers statements: The Rock Cave on Everest. You will note the route to the summit is where the the rope is. You all are smart enough to figure out the rest....

EverestNews.com does not publish pictures of dead climbers, therefore the dead climber has been painted "white" in this photo. In real life the dead climber is NOT covered....

Our thoughts and Prayers go out to the family and friends of David Sharp....

Earlier Report: David Sharp from the UK has died on Everest. To the climber who has been on Everest up there, he is now in the rock cave next to the dead Indian climber. Several climbers saw David in trouble. David at some point froze to death like others before him.

This is old news for those who summited Everest the last few days. We have been waiting to report until the family was notified. We are now told the family has been notified.

Climbers saw David in various states, from standing and walking, to trying to work on his oxygen system, to at one point down on the ground.

David was clearly descending the mountain apparently from the Summit...

This article about the latest disabled climber to summit, Mark Inglis, talks about seeing him on the 15th. Numerous climbers summited on the 14th and 15th reporting him in various states. David attempted Everest by himself. He did not get himself down and therefore he died. Very Sad.
________________________________________

From MountEverest.net:

Let me tell you what it feels like on 8500 meters, deep in the Death Zone.

It depends...on 3 things:

1. The weather
2. How long you have been up there
3. And if you use (good) oxygen

If the weather is bad, you are out of oxygen (or use a bad system), and you are returning from a summit - chances are you feel like shit. Your brain is a distant blur, your legs hardly move, and you just want to sit down and sleep.

But if the weather is nice, and you have plenty of gas - it's an entirely different ball game. In good conditions, high above 8000 meters, even after a summit, you frolic in the snow, you have tea in the sun, you shoot pictures and video, you chat with fellow climbers - and maybe even call your mom.

On a mountain where all bets are off

I am not a strong climber. I seem to lack the altitude gene some of my lucky mates such as Messner and Viesturs enjoy. And I'm a woman. I have not climbed many Himalayan peaks, but I know Everest well. Ever since it first introduced itself to me, in the fateful year of 1996, Everest has been my special mountain. I returned there for 4 years, determined to show its soul to the world, through the eyes of uncensored, real adventure.

I have seen people fall horrible falls, screaming in the thin air. I have met people telling me they are ok, while they were in fact dying, without even being aware.

I have seen bad oxygen being sold to clueless climbers, and weather reports altered to fool fellow mates. I have seen false heroes hit world headlines and true heroes disappear. I have seen the cheaters, and the lies. I have listened to the Base Camp chatter, and watched the resigned look in some of my fellow climbers' eyes. For 4 years, I watched a battle between good and bad play out on a mountain where all bets are off.

The truth about us

Everest is not about the summit. Everest is just a rock. The top is the hat but the climb is the soul. A miniature of the world with no strings attached, on Everest I have seen the truth about us humans, stripped down to our barest bones.

Ever since it became known that 40 climbers stepped over a dying mate to reach the summit last week (and it's not the first time), I have seen some of my fellow climbers defending the act. Many of them, I knew, only guarding their own agendas. I watched the rest of the world become confused - is it OK to bury people alive - as long as it's on Mount Everest?

The world from a distance

Jochen Hemmleb, perhaps the foremost Everest historian today, wrote in an email today:

"For decades Everest was seen as the epitome of human challenge. In recent years, however, its role has changed. From a testing place it has been transformed into a stage on which human vanities and other habits are put on display. As Everest historian Walt Unsworth once wrote, 'Everest can bring out the best and worst in people.'"

"Mountaineering can act as an escape from society. It can also serve as means to view society from a distance. Seen in this context and keeping in mind the mountain's special role, the current events on Everest are in great part a reflection of what's going on elsewhere in society, and the questions about ethics should not be confined to Everest or climbing circles."

"The events on Everest raise some hard questions about how we, as society, regard and define success. Nowadays Everest history has come round full circle in so far as the summit seems once more to be the only goal - and few care about how it was achieved. Am I the only one who thinks that this speaks volumes, that the attitude behind this spreads beyond the climbing world to other parts of society and culture?" asks Jochen.

Choose our role models

The fact is, that the world celebrates strength unconditionally today. The next step, is to sacrifice the weak. If a climber is part of a "far less professional outfit" and "had no oxygen, and no proper gloves," he deserves to die, we decide.

The Spirit of Adventure is anything but these days. Lawsuits are filed by cheaters trying to bully their way to acceptance of false claims. Explorers with the biggest PR staff get the fame. Commerce hides bodies and damage control becomes an all important task. And it works, too.

But the question is if the problem is isolated to the community of Adventurers - or if it's a dormant cancer lying within us all. We need to talk about that, a lot, and choose our role models with better care.

This was the message Everest wanted to leave with us in 2006, ten years after Into thin air. When you check the timing between the death and miracle of David and Lincoln, it hits you that the MotherGoddess could have spoken no louder. It's not a cute message folks. It's a warning.


Tina Sjogren (born in the Czech rep) is one of the founders of ExplorersWeb. She climbed Everest in 1996 as a member of Henry Todd's outfit, and the next three years in small independent expeditions with her husband Tom (Sweden). The couple summited in 1999 after managing much of the infrastructure on Everest south side with only a team of 5 Sherpas. The expedition became famous when the couple built a wireless network high up on the mountain, and the expedition Sirdar, Babu Shirri Sherpa, camped out on the summit for 20 hours without oxygen, a dream he had long wished to try. Babu perished 2 years later in a crevasse on Everest south side camp 2. Tom and Tina later skied to both the earth's Poles (unsupported), and live in New York today.

Thanks for reading.

Death on Everest and Group Responsibility

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Sadly, it is not unusual during a climbing season for climbers to die on Mt. Everest. But for those of you following the various ascents this year, there has been a new wrinkle.

New Zealand climber Mark Inglis, a double-amputee who climbs on prosthetic legs, was one of many who passed British climber David Sharp, 34. Sharp was trying to climb the mountain alone. He died after he apparently ran out of oxygen 300 meters below the summit.

Inglis said his party was the only one among about 40 climbers to stop and help Sharp as he lay in Everest's "death zone", above 8000 meters. He said his group kept climbing after deciding there was nothing they could do to save Sharp.

"He had no oxygen, he had no proper gloves," Inglis said. "He was effectively dead … so we carried on. Trouble is, at 8500 meters it's extremely difficult to keep yourself alive, let alone keep anyone else alive."

Sir Edmund Hillary, who with Tensing Norgay were the first to summit Everest, slammed the behavior of Inglis' group, saying there was a lack of ethics among climbers. Hillary said that his 1953 British team would have abandoned its summit bid if another climber's life had been in danger.

"I think the whole attitude towards climbing Mount Everest has become rather horrifying. The people just want to get to the top. They don't give a damn for anybody else who may be in distress and it doesn't impress me at all that they leave someone lying under a rock to die."

I am certainly no expert in decisions that are made at the top of the world. But in first aid at least, the number one rule is "Don't become a victim yourself." When you jump into a situation attempting to save others, do not put yourself into danger or risk injuring yourself in your attempts to help someone else. As callous as it might sound, it's better to have one victim than two.

But extreme situations sometimes call for extreme action, and there is no more extreme situation than high on Mt. Everest. Granted, just being there is a death-defying act. But when someone is still alive and clearly will not stay alive for long without help, ethically, what type of obligation do others have on the mountain?

Closer to home, last week I attended a training session at my company's corporate office along with sixteen other participants. But while I was 100% engaged and participating and contributing to the group workshops to the best of my ability, it was clear others were not. At the end of the week, two of the participants lost their jobs. And I can't help but wonder how my actions were identical to those climbers on Everest who just climbed on, passing another in clear distress, and letting him die.

At what point, in a group situation, does it become incumbent on you to reach out to other group members in distress? If not a physical distress, then a self-destructive distress that is leading an individual down the path of failure?

I think that it is important that these questions be asked. Not just because it might save a life in an extreme environment such as high on Mt. Everest, but because they are questions that all of us will face at some point in our professional lives.

Thanks for reading.

Dedication Friday: Touched By The Sun

Pick a song, any song, and dedicate it to the one you love...or hate, or despise or admire, or anything at all. Just dedicate a song, give a reason why, publish the song lyrics if you want, and join the autoscript. If you'd like to be included in the Dedication Friday Blogroll, just post a comment on MTMD and I'll add you. Thanks and have fun!

Please, only add your name if you are posting the Dedication Friday Meme on your blog.



This week I would like to dedicate Carly Simon's Touched By The Sun to my new renter, B fron All-Night.Org. B has a pretty detailed description in her bio on her site. I'll just copy it here:

So you wanna know a little about me? You've found the right place. Let's start off with the easy stuff. My name is Barbara but I go by B. One reason is I'm lazy and B is easy to type. Another reason is my 1st and last name combined is way too many letters to sign on anything. I sign my checks and anything else I need to sign with B then my last name. Interesting eh? Not really but oh well. I'm 21 years old and my birthday is December 4th. I'm around 5ft tall, have blue eyes and my natural hair color is dark brown. As of right now it's dyed black. I currently have 2 tattoos and my naval peirced.

I'm from Baltimore, MD where I still live with my parents. This year will be my parents 25th Anniversary. I only have one sister, Angela. She's younger and 17 years old. We all live together along with my dog Wolf. He's an Alaskian Spitz mix. Mixed with what? We have no idea.

I graduted from high school in 2000 and attended a local community college for about 1 1/2 years. My major was going to be Vet Tech but I have a problem with math (I suck at it) and since I had problems passing those classes I couldn't move on in the vet classes. I then switched to English. No, not because I want to be a teacher but because I wanted to be a journalist. Primarly in sports I hope or entertainment. Right now I'm not in school but I work full time as a receptionist at a local area car dealer. I've been there for about 3 years now and love my job.

For fun I enjoy sports, concerts and traveling. My favorite teams are the Baltimore Orioles and Baltimore Ravens of course. Gotta support the home teams. I watch NASCAR too and every Sunday I can be found rooting on Dale Earnhardt Jr. I've been to one NASCAR race thus far and numerous baseball games. I've only attended one football game. I love attending concerts. Those for me are my nights out. You can find a list of all the concerts I've attended in this section. I try and go to one or two a year but it all depends on who's touring. I don't go just to go. I've seen groups like Nsync and country artists like Kenny Chesney. I try to cover the music spectrum. I enjoy traveling too. I've really started to travel more the last couple years. I've been to Orlando, Chicago and Miami twice along with New York City. My dream would be to one day to visit Australia.


The thing about B's blog, however, is that it runs the gamut from news stories regarding animal cruelty to personal items such as lasik surgery. Eclectic, yes. Well-written, absolutely. Interesting? Always.

So click on the link on the top of the sidebar and visit B. And B, here's your dedication:

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Touched By The Sun

If you want to be brave
And reach for the top of the sky
And the farthest point on the horizon
Do you know who you'll meet there
Great soldiers and seafarers,
Artists and dreamers
Who need to be close, close to the light
They need to be in danger of burning by fire
And I, I want to get there
I, I want to be one
One who is touched by the sun,
One who is touched by the sun

Often I want to walk
The safe side of the street
And lull myself to sleep
And dull my pain
But deep down inside I know
I've got to learn from the greats,
Earn my right to be living,
Let my wings of desire
Soar over the night
I need to let them say
"She must have been mad"
And I, I want to get there
I, I want to be one
One who is touched by the sun,
One who is touched by the sun

I've got to learn from the greats,
Earn my right to be living,
With every breath that I take,
Every heartbeat
And I, I want to get there
I, I want to be one, One who is touched by the sun,
One who is touched by the sun.


Thanks for reading.

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Over 15,000 men found themselves talking to the Atlanta Humane Society about an 8-week-old black Labrador retriever.

Thanks for reading.

Egg Economics

A man eats two eggs each morning for breakfast. When he goes to the grocery store he pays .60 cents a dozen. Since a dozen eggs won't last a week he normally buys two dozens at a time.

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One day while buying eggs he notices that the price has risen to 72 cents. The next time he buys groceries, eggs are .76 cents a dozen. When asked to explain the price of eggs the store owner says, "the price has gone up and I have to raise my price accordingly".

This store buys 100 dozen eggs a day. I checked around for a better price and all the distributors have raised their prices. The distributors have begun to buy from the huge egg farms. The small egg farms have been driven out of business.

The huge egg farms sells 100,000 dozen eggs a day to distributors. With no competition, they can set the price as they see fit. The distributors then have to raise their prices to the grocery stores. And on and on and on. As the man kept buying eggs the price kept going up. He saw the big egg trucks delivering 100 dozen eggs each day. Nothing changed there.

He checked out the huge egg farms and found they were selling 100,000 dozen eggs to the distributors daily. Nothing had changed but the price of eggs.

Then week before Thanksgiving the price of eggs shot up to $1.00 a dozen. Again he asked the grocery owner why and was told, "cakes and baking for the holiday". The huge egg farmers know there will be a lot of baking going on and more eggs will be used. Hence, the price of eggs goes up. Expect the same thing at Christmas and other times when family cooking, baking, etc. happen.

This pattern continues until the price of eggs is 2.00 a dozen. The man says,"there must be something we can do about the price of eggs".

He starts talking to all the people in his town and they decide to stop buying eggs. This didn't work because everyone needed eggs. Finally, the man suggested only buying what you need.

He ate 2 eggs a day. On the way home from work he would stop at the grocery and buy two eggs. Everyone in town started buying 2 or 3 eggs a day.

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The grocery store owner began complaining that he had too many eggs in his cooler. He told the distributor that he didn't need any eggs. Maybe wouldn't need any all week.

The distributor had eggs piling up at his warehouse. He told the huge egg farms that he didn't have any room for eggs and would not need any for at least two weeks.

At the egg farm, the chickens just kept on laying eggs.

To relieve the pressure, the huge egg farm told the distributor that they could buy the eggs at a lower price. The distributor said, " I don't have the room for the eggs even if they were free".

The distributor told the grocery store owner that he would lower the price of the eggs if the store would start buying again. The grocery store owner said, "I don't have room for more eggs. The customers are only buying 2 or 3 eggs at a time". "Now if you were to drop the price of eggs back down to the original price, the customers would start buying by the dozen again".

The distributors sent that proposal to the huge egg farmers They liked the price they were getting for their eggs but, them chickens just kept on laying.

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Finally, the egg farmers lowered the price of their eggs. But only a few cents. The customers still bought 2 or 3 eggs at a time. They said, "when the price of eggs gets down to where it was before, we will start buying by the dozen."

Slowly the price of eggs started dropping. The distributors had to slash their prices to make room for the eggs coming from the egg farmers. The egg farmers cut their prices because the distributors wouldn't buy at a higher price than they were selling eggs for.

Anyway, they had full warehouses and wouldn't need eggs for quite a while.

And them chickens kept on laying.

Eventually, the egg farmers cut their prices because they were throwing away eggs they couldn't sell. The distributors started buying again because the eggs were priced to where the stores could afford to sell them at the lower price.

And the customers starting buying by the dozen again.

Now, transpose this analogy to the gasoline industry.

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What if everyone only bought $20.00 worth of gas each time they pulled to the pump. The dealers tanks would stay semi full all the time. The dealers wouldn't have room for the gas coming from the huge tank farms. The tank farms wouldn't have room for the gas coming from the refining plants. And the refining plants wouldn't have room for the oil being off loaded from the huge tankers coming from the Middle East.

Just $20.00 each time you buy gas. Don't fill it up. You may have to stop for gas twice a week but, the price should come down. Be sure to put it on your credit card to add to their cost.

Think about it.

As an added note...When I buy $20.00 worth of gas,that leaves my tank a little under half full. The way prices are jumping around, you can buy gas for $2.95 a gallon and then the next morning it can be $2.65. If you have your tank full of $2.95 gas you don't have room for the $2.65 gas. You might not understand the economics of only buying two eggs at a time but, you can't buy cheaper gas if your tank is full of the high priced stuff.

Also, don't buy anything else at the gas station, don't give them any more of your hard earned money than what you spend on gas, until the prices come down.

Thanks for reading.

Wordless Wednesday

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The Mackinac Bridge in Michigan in all it's sunset splendor.


Links to Other Wordless Wednesday Participants:
(please only list your name if you have a recent Wordless Wednesday post)




Thanks for reading!

 
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