The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Where's the dimmer switch?

Anne just emailed me: "Parker is in the bedroom again." This means our little ball of fur and teeth has probably killed another shoe, or has, in some way, prevented her from working. So far the casualties include an ancient Ikea sofa we were planning to replace anyway, a Dell power cord (fortunately on the DC side of the brick), several throw pillows, and nearly an entire bottle of odor-eating spray-on enzymes.

He's the most adorable little thing about 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time he makes up for it.

Office puppy

Still one little problem with our otherwise criminally adorable puppy: separation anxiety. He's familiar enough with my office that he feels comfortable re-arranging the rug, but if I step out, he starts crying immediately. So this afternoon we're going to work on that until my nerves fray.

This will have to be after I confirm the building is empty, of course, because our lobby is marble and terrazzo, giving his whining an unbelievable reverberating increase in volume.

I wonder how I'd be doing?

Today is the North Shore Century, a 100-mile bike ride I've trained all summer for. Sadly, I'm not riding today, because a little less than a week ago my gallbladder turned itself green, and my doctors didn't think a major athletic event five days after surgery would be a good idea. But I can't stop wondering, how would I be doing?

I expect I would have left Dawes Park around 8, three hours ago. That means I'd probably already be in Kenosha and would have started my return trip. Current weather in Kenosha right now is 24°C (75°F) with winds directly out of the South at 6 m/s (13 mph). That's great for the outbound but, shall I say, not entirely favorable for the return.

A direct tailwind that strong would have gotten up to Kenosha at around 36 km/h (22 mph), and probably under 2 hours 30 minutes. But the direct headwind on the way back would cost about the same as it helped, slowing me down to 27 km/h (17 mph). It's not just speed: not only am I slower in a headwind, but I use more power over time. Plus, after 80-90 km (50-56 mi), I'd already be tired. Winds in general are hard; but if I have to ride with strong winds, I'd much rather fight them on the way out.

So my guess is, my Century time would be about 5:15—5:30 today, not including probably an hour gorging at the rest stops.

Oh well. Next year.

Almost forgot: There was a silver lining this morning. I got my lowest body weight since college this morning, having lost 7 kg (15 lbs) since July 1st.

And Parker is being an adorable little office puppy today.

Wow, has this week sucked

When I ate lunch on Sunday, my gallbladder contracted to help digest some of the cheese in my salad. A tiny piece of calcium was already lodged in my biliary duct, however, preventing bile from getting out. My gallbladder persevered. It pushed. It shuddered mightily against the stone. It had me doubled over in agony and Anne rushing me to Evanston Hospital.

All of this on its own would have caused enough pain to last a decade if the gallbladder had simply given up and allowed the stone to wiggle its way back inside like most gallstones do. No, this stone, and six or seven of its smaller siblings, actually managed to get all the way through the biliary duct, lacerating it in the process. By Tuesday morning my gallbladder had turned "gangrenous," according to one of the surgeons who removed it Tuesday afternoon.

I'm finally home, with four painful holes in my belly and a bottle of Vicodin to munch on. I've missed Anne, Parker, my house, and yes, my blog. I'm going to miss the North Shore and Apple Cider centuries, too.

That hurts almost as much as the exploding gallbladder. Moreover, the surgeon pointed out that moderate weight loss combined with increasing carbohydrate consumption and physical activity—i.e., training for a century ride—can all trigger gallstones in the first place. So it's possible that not only did the gallstones render all my training this summer moot, but the training itself may have caused them. Sigh.

At least I can never have gallstones again. And I have a great defense the next time someone accuses me of having a lot of gall.

I'll probably get back to full strength by mid-October, just in time to plop a trainer in the living room. This will enable moderate training throughout the winter, which will keep me in decent shape. Without a major event to train for, and with a reduced ability to digest fatty foods, I expect to complete my weight-loss goal just in time to chow down on holiday foods.

So while my gallbladder's untimely demise seriously hurt my fitness goals for 2006, it should have no effect on my goals for 2007 and beyond, which include more centuries and, ultimately, RAGBRAI.

But still, this week has sucked.

Some things we learned today

  1. Do not take Parker for a car ride right after dinner. Or, at the very least, don't let him sit in the front seat if you do. You'll just have to feed him again when you get home, and find the Fabreeze.
  2. If you leave the bedroom while Parker is sleeping on the bed and go to Wild Oats, he won't notice you've left until you return. If you leave while he's holding a ropie toy and looking at you with (literal) puppy-dog eyes, the entire neighborhood will notice you've left immediately.
  3. No shoe is safe, on or off a foot.
  4. A large grasshopper (2" long) that hops when a puppy's nose makes contact provides thrilling entertainment—for about four seconds. Then there's a crunch, a buzzing sound, another crunch, and the next day you get to see the grasshopper again.

The kid has a career all laid out for him

Parker and I stopped by my grandmother's place today, and he was a big hit with all the residents. He met about fifty people, let everyone pat him, didn't get crazy (he is only 12 weeks old, so this is huge), and was the sweetest little dog he could be. More than one of the staff suggested he'd make a good therapy dog when he gets older.

But after this morning, he's one pooped pup:

Only 64 days until Christmas?

As little Parker (Cutest. Puppy. Ever.) alternates between chewing his rawhide stick, a vegan snack my mom found, my laptop power cord, and my toes, I'm loading up on carbs for today's ride and reading the news. The Washington Post had a heartwarming story that made me almost as happy as Parker's second accident-free night with us:

Facing the most difficult political environment since they took control of Congress in 1994, Republicans begin the final two months of the midterm campaign in growing danger of losing the House while fighting to preserve at best a slim majority in the Senate, according to strategists and officials in both parties.
Over the summer, the political battlefield has expanded well beyond the roughly 20 GOP House seats originally thought to be vulnerable. Now some Republicans concede there may be almost twice as many districts from which Democrats could wrest the 15 additional seats they need to take control.

If you're at all unhappy with the war, the imminent collapse of the housing market, the enormous differences between how the rich are getting richer while everyone else isn't, or how the government is listening to your phone calls, and you happen to live in a Republican district, you can do something to change it when polls open in 64 days and 15 hours.