The Floating Bodies

An explanation of why there’s a honking huge splint on the end of my left arm.

I’ll make this short, if I can. I’m using dictation because I can’t type very fast with one hand. It’ll probably take me longer to edit this than to actually dictate it.

It all started back in August 2013. I had closed on the purchase of the property where I’d build my new home and was spending most afternoons at the property tearing out koshia, a type of invasive weed here. I left for the day, hot and tired and sweaty, and did some grocery shopping. I put the groceries in the back of my truck, which I never do. When I got back to my trailer, I climbed into the back of the truck, gathered up the groceries, and then attempted to vault off the tailgate up as I had done many times before. On that particular day, however, one of my feet got hung up on the tailgate’s spray-in bed liner and I didn’t make a clean jump. I landed on my left side and seriously sprained my left foot. You can read the details of that little accident in another blog post.

Wrist Lump
Here’s the lump at its least swollen state as I waited for surgery. When it was inflamed, it would triple in size and be quite painful. The knob below the swelling is a bone that’s supposed to be there. I have very thin wrists.

What I didn’t realize at the time is that I had also injured my left wrist. The problem manifested itself sometime later with some swelling in that wrist that never seemed to go away. Occasionally, after a hard day working at the house or in the yard, the swelling would increase and the rest will become very painful. On those days I had to turn to Ibuprofen and a wrist brace to keep the pain under control. Those little painful spells would often last several days, but the swelling would usually go down by the time I got to see a doctor about it. I did, however, get several tests done over the years, including x-rays, an MRI, and a cat scan.

This year, a bunch of little medical expenses added up to fill my deductible and I decided that it was time to fix this problem once and for all. The CAT scan identified what the doctor and I had suspected: there were tiny bone fragments loose in my wrist. He called these “floating bodies.” Apparently, when I moved my wrist under strain – for example, lifting something very heavy or twisting my wrist while I was holding something heavy —it caused these bodies to move, which would set off around of swelling and pain. The solution was to remove the floating bodies.

Cat Scan
Although the X-ray and MRI were inconclusive, the cat scan clearly showed the floating bodies in my wrist, including this big one.

I scheduled the surgery for a time after my helicopter had gone into overhaul so I wouldn’t need to fly. That surgery was scheduled for yesterday.

A neighbor drove me to the hospital at 7 AM and the surgery began promptly at 8 AM. I was under general anesthesia so I don’t remember anything from the moment I got into the operating room until I was in recovery. I was very surprised, however, to find my left arm in what looked like a cast from my elbow down to my hand. It turned out to be a clamshell type splint that would hold my wrist immobile. The whole thing was wrapped up in bandages that I would have to keep clean and dry for at least the next week.

I was not expecting this.

floating bodies
My souvenir.

The doctor came by and told me the surgery had gone well, taking about an hour and 45 minutes. I was shown (and then given) a tiny bottle containing the bone fragments, wrapped in cartilage, that he had removed. There was no need so end the lumps in for biopsy because we already knew what they were.

I’m one of the unlucky people who gets no pain relief from standard painkillers like oxycodone or Percocet or codeine. I know — I’ve tried them all several times as prescribed for various painful ailments. Fortunately, my doctor had another alternative, something called Dilaudid (generic called hydromorphone). They gave me some of this while I was in recovery and although it took about 30 minutes to kick in, it worked like a charm. I was assured that if the pain continued or got worse at home, I could combine this new medication with ibuprofen, which normally works like a charm for me.

A friend drove me home and, after letting Penny out and back in, I climbed the stairs and made myself some lunch. That was pretty easy — I just reheated the leftover pasta from the day before. I took my lunch and something to drink over to the sofa, sat down and got comfortable, and then turned on the TV. I was asleep before I even got a chance to touch my food or turn on Roku. I woke up about an hour later, reheated my lunch, took a painkiller (because it was time), and settled back on the sofa to have my lunch and watch some TV. And that’s how I spent the rest of my day — watching more television that I normally do in a week. The third time Netflix asked if I was still watching, I decided to go to bed. It was about 8:30 PM.

Fortunately, the pain never really came back. It was just a dull ache when I took three ibuprofen before going to bed. I had the stronger painkillers nearby in case I needed them but I slept straight through until about 3:30 AM. Even then, I had no serious pain. I wasted time on Twitter and Facebook and even worked on a crossword puzzle on my iPad. Then I put it all aside and fell back to sleep — until 8 AM!

This morning, I feel remarkably good. Not tired and not in much pain. In fact, as I write this now at 10 AM, I still have not had any painkillers. I’m pretty surprised about that but also very happy. I do not like to rely on painkillers — or any medicine — for comfort.

So life goes on with the addition of a clunky bandaged splint on the end of my left arm. I have full use of my fingers but feel pain anytime I try to grip something or twist my wrist. So I’ll just try to take it easy with that hand. I had no trouble making coffee or breakfast this morning. Using the dictation built into my Mac computer or my iPhone is making it a lot easier to communicate in writing. So I guess I can say that this really isn’t too much of a hardship. It’s more of an inconvenience.

My next doctor’s appointment is on Monday when they’ll remove the splint and bandages and take a look at the incision site. With luck, everything will be okay and they’ll replace the splint with the same old wrist brace that I’ve been using before. (Note to self: run brace through laundry.) It’ll be nice to not have that lump in my wrist and the occasional painful swelling that went with it.

I should mention that I got this done now, while I’m still relatively young, because I didn’t want it to become an issue as I aged. I refer to this as “body maintenance.” It’s a lot easier to maintain a young body than an old one — just like a car.

Blender Bullshit

Do people really fall for this crap?

I used to own a Kitchenaid blender. It was a pretty simple model with a glass jar. I didn’t use it often, but it worked well enough when I did. Until it broke.

I’d bought one of those Magic Bullet blenders to use in my RV when I traveled. Because I didn’t replace the Kitchenaid, I started using it at home, too.

Magic Bullet
A Magic Bullet blender

A Magic Bullet is basically a blender base with two different blade assemblies and a bunch of plastic cups that the blade assemblies screw into. You fill a cup with what you want to blend, screw on the blade assembly, turn the whole thing upside down, and stick the bottom of the blade assembly into the blender base. When you push down and twist, the blender turns on.

Nowadays the “original” Magic Bullet comes with only a few cups and lids. But when I bought it, it came with about a dozen. I’m not sure why. They were a pain in the ass to store so I threw most of them away, keeping just one of each size. Ditto for the rings that turn the screw-top cups into smooth-top cups. (I’m not going to drink out of a plastic blender cup.) And the lids.

Let me be clear: the Magic Bullet is junk. It’s the same kind of disposable appliance so many Americans bring into their lives. Cheap and functional, but not exactly reliable. I knew mine would break and I knew I would throw it away. The only thing that surprised me is how long it lasted before it finally broke: maybe 8 years?

But it did break. And I was left blenderless.

Immersion Blender
My Braun immersion blender is part of a set that includes a chopper and whisk. I often use the whisk to make fresh whipped cream. I don’t think I’ve ever used the chopper. Maybe I should?

Well, that isn’t exactly true. I have one of those immersion blenders. It’s like a stick that you put blade side down into a pot of soup to puree it while it’s cooking. Mine’s a Braun and it works very well. I didn’t use it often until my Magic Bullet broke. Then I started using it to make smoothies. It got the job done — I’d just stick it into a big cup full of the ingredients and whir it until it was smooth — but I had to be careful if I didn’t want smoothie all over my kitchen.

Clearly, it was time for a replacement blender.

I mentioned it to my Facebook friends and the recommendations started coming in. Apparently, there are a lot of folks out there willing to pay in excess of $300 or $400 for a blender. I think they must use it a lot more than I do. I just wanted a small and functional kitchen appliance that I could store on a shelf in my pantry when not in use.

I was in Costco last month and saw that they had a Nutri Ninja, which another smoothie-making friend had mentioned. Yesterday, I went in to look for it. It was there, next to the $350+ Vitamix, selling for just $99. But it had a lot of parts — those damn blender cups — and I seemed to recall another model with fewer cups and a lower price. I found it hiding behind the Vitamix display for $69. Less parts, less money. I put it in my cart with the other things I’d come to Costco for.

Not the blender I thought I was buying, but I honestly don’t care.

It wasn’t until I got home that I discovered I’d bought another Magic Bullet.

What fooled me was the larger size and the prefix “Nutri” in the product name. It was a NutriBullet, not a Nutri Ninja. Sheesh. I really should pay attention when I shop.

Another person might have taken the damn thing back to Costco. But I honestly didn’t care. All I wanted was another cheap blender and that’s what I got. This one was bigger and beefier with bigger plastic cups than the old one. If I got 5 years out of it, I’d be happy.

The Cookbook
On the surface, this looks like a recipe book, right?

What surprised me, though, was the hard-covered book that came with it. On the surface, it looked like a cookbook. Later, when I went to bed, I took it with me to browse it before I went to sleep. It took only moments to realize what it really was: a piece of marketing material designed to fool people into thinking that they’d bought some kind of special nutrition machine that would make them healthier and help them lose weight like no regular blender could. After all, they’d bought a “nutrition extractor,” not a blender!

Nutrition Extractor!
“Nutrition extractor”? It’s a freaking blender.

Yes, the book had recipes, but it also had a lot of nutritional information about trendy “superfoods” like cacao nibs, organic chia seeds, organic goji berries, and organic maca powder. There were pages and pages about these “foods,” along with information on how you could order them from the NutriBullet website.

And the testimonials! Pages and pages of them from people praising the NutriBullet to high heaven. Here’s an example closing line for one that stretched two full pages:

It has touched my life in more ways than I can explain.

Seriously? A blender? You really need to get out more, Daniel.

I especially liked the recipes that required you to cook a bunch of ingredients, wait for the mix to cool, and then “extract” it in batches before reheating it again. News flash: an immersion blender like my Braun can do it without cooling the soup down, saving hours of food prep time.

In all honesty, I found the recipe book offensive. Cover to cover, it was full of marketing bullshit, touting the mostly imaginary benefits of a crappy blender. I couldn’t believe anything I read inside it and felt insulted that someone thought I might. And the stock photos of the attractive 60+ men and women enjoying their healthy lifestyle were a real turn off. Is this blender for old people?

It amazes me how low marketers will stoop to sell an inferior product.

Anyway, I’ve already tossed the book into my Goodwill box. Maybe someone more gullible than me will find it worth reading.

And yes, today I’ll give it a try. But I won’t be making a “nutriblast.” I’ll be making a good, old fashioned smoothie, just like I always have. And you can keep the goji berries.

2015 Resolutions

A very ambitious list.

I’ve been slipping — and it’s got to stop. So I’ve decided to set up and stick to some New Year’s Resolutions.

1. Fight the Social Media Addiction

I spend entirely too much time on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Actually, if you spend more than 30 minutes a day on social media — and aren’t being paid to do it as part of your job — you probably spend too much time, too.

Think about it. Yes, you enjoy it. It’s a nice, convenient social experience. But it’s also a timesuck. And the time you spend online looking at cat photos and clicking like buttons is time you could be spending doing other more rewarding things like engaging in personal interactions with family and real (not virtual) friends, working on projects that enrich your life (or bank account), and getting some fresh air and/or exercise. These are all things I want to spend my time doing. I don’t want to sit in front of the computer after breakfast, tune into Facebook, and look up two hours later to discover that half my morning is gone and nothing constructive has been done.

So I’m placing a limit on social networking:

Less FacebookFacebook:

  • No checking in between 8 AM and 8 PM. “Checking in” refers to logging on for the purpose of reading new updates on my newsfeed and checking and responding to comments on my or other people’s updates.
  • Maximum of 3 updates per day, including updates of photos or links but excluding updates automatically generated when I post to my blog. These can be done at any time.
  • No likes. (I actually began doing this a few months ago and I find it very rewarding, mostly because it prompts me to share more meaningful commentary when I like something.)


  • No checking in between 8 AM and 8 PM. “Checking in” refers to logging on for the purpose of reading new tweets, checking and responding to notifications on my account, and adding or removing followers.
  • Maximum of 12 tweets per day, including photos, links, tweets automatically generated when I post to my blog, and retweets but excluding scheduled tweets. These can be done at any time.


Stop using it. Period. This should be pretty easy since I only check in once every month or so and always leave with a bad taste in my mouth.


Really? People still use this?

I know this sounds silly or even kind of extreme — almost like a mom setting parental controls for her kid — but I have identified a problem and I have decided to tackle it by setting limitations. Let’s see how I do.

2. Watch Less TV.

I think I watch an awful lot of TV, especially when you consider that I (1) don’t have cable or satellite TV, (2) only get 4 live channels, and (3) rely mostly on Netflix, Hulu+, and other Roku-available content for options. Again, I think this has to do with the long winter nights — I certainly didn’t watch much TV when the sun was setting after 8 PM.

What’s reasonable? I think 5 hours a week is reasonable. That’s less than an hour a day. That might seem a bit low, but when you consider that I’m out with friends a few evenings a week, it should be pretty easy to maintain.

Read a BookAnd there is this added cheat: a movie — no matter what length it is — counts as just an hour. But, at the same time, an “hour-long” TV episode watched without commercials, which is really only about 44 minutes long, would also count as an hour. I’ll need a scorecard to keep track. It should be interesting to see how I do.

What will I do instead? That’s easy: read.

3. Lose 15 Pounds

MeasureYes, I need to lose weight again. Doesn’t everyone?

Back in 2012, I lost 45 pounds and went from a size 14/16 to a size 6/8. Since then, my weight has crept up a bit, although I’m still able to (barely) fit into all of my new clothes. Time to nip that in the bud and go back to my goal weight. Remember, I burned the bridge to fat town back in 2012.

I’m not very worried about achieving this. I’m going to use the same diet I used in 2012 to lose 45 pounds in 4 months. I expect to get back to my goal weight within 2 months but will likely stay on the diet for an additional month for the added benefits it offers — mostly appetite reduction. That’s what made it possible to keep the weight off as long as I did.

In my defense, since the last 10 pounds came on very quickly — over the past two months — I suspect it has a lot to do with my reduced activity level. Winter means short, cold days here in the Wenatchee area. Unless I’m out doing something that keeps me busy and warm — like skiing or snowshoeing — I’m not likely to be outside. And there isn’t much exercise indoors — although climbing scaffolding can be pretty exhausting after a while. This is my best argument for going south for the winter and I may do it next year. (Yeah, I’m a snowbird for health reasons. That’s the ticket!)

Oh, and if you’re one of those people who think “big is beautiful” and that being thin is something that society forces upon us to make us feel bad about our bodies, wake up and smell the deep fried Oreo you’re about to shove in your pie hole. I never said I wanted to be thin. I’ve said (elsewhere in this blog) that I wanted to remain a healthy weight for the rest of my life. The added benefit is the ability to look good in clothes, have lots of energy, and feel better about myself. Don’t be an idiot. If you’re more than 10% over what’s a healthy weight for your height, you owe it to yourself and your family to shed those extra pounds. Trust me: you will be glad you did.

4. Write More

Writing PadOne of the things social media time has stolen from me is writing time. Instead of sitting down to write a blog post or an article for a magazine or even a chapter of a book, I spend that time on Facebook or Twitter or even (sometimes) LinkedIn. Or surfing the web. This are mostly unrewarding, unfulfilling activities. I get so much more satisfaction out of completing a blog post or article — especially when there’s a paycheck for the article.

I want to blog more often — at least four times a week. Blogging is something that makes me feel good. I wish I could explain it. I think it’s because I’m documenting the things I’m doing, thinking, and feeling. Creating an archive of these things.

I’ve been blogging for 11 years now and am very proud of that fact. I’m also thrilled that I can go back and read about the things that interested me so long ago. Why wouldn’t I want to do this?

I also want to explore new markets for paid article work. I have opportunities and when I can focus I can write and submit work I can be paid for. Why aren’t I doing more of this?

And I definitely need to complete a few work-in-progress books that I’ve started. And turn some of my blog posts into ebooks I can earn a few dollars on.

And I sure wouldn’t mind reopening some of the fiction work I began 20 or 30 years ago — work that was once so much a part of my life that I’d think about it in bed to help me drift off to sleep. Time to bring all that back into my life.

5. Just Say No to Starbucks

Say No to StarbucksWhy do I go in there? The coffee isn’t even that good!

I live in Washington, for Peet’s sake (pun intended), a place where there are coffee shops on nearly every corner and more drive-through coffee stands than gas stations. Why am I going into Starbucks, a place where saying “medium” instead of “grande” can earn you a snicker from the order taker?

Chocolate Covered Graham CrackersAnd don’t say it’s the dark chocolate covered graham crackers. Although it could be.

I guess I just don’t like the idea of supporting a global corporation with mediocre products when I could be supporting small, local coffee shops with slightly less mediocre products.

What I really should do is stop drinking coffee in the middle of the day.

This will be easy to do once I set my mind to it. I just have to not crave coffee when I walk into the Fred Meyer or Safeway supermarkets.


Because I’m so anal, I’ll keep a scorecard to see how I do. I’ll try to report back with success — or failure — at year’s end.

Wish me luck!

And why not share a few of your resolutions for 2015? Use the comments link or form for this post.