White Mage - Drawn by Mahrkale

Anthrocon 2011: Care and feeding of your leopard

Anthrocon 2011 is almost upon us! While I'm feeling a lot better than I was this time last year (due in part to my health improving), I still have that pre-con anxiety that I have every year. I suppose I'll get used to it someday.

Anyway, here's what my con schedule is roughly like for this year:

- Tuesday: Arriving around 11 PM. Having a drink at the bar then going to bed.

- Wednesday: Somewhat busy on and off throughout the day until about 9 PM

- Thursday: Busy most of the day, since that's when on-site registration opens. I hope to make it to The Pennsylvania Furries Meetup at 10 PM.

- Friday: While very much on duty, I don't have any specific commitments other than being at opening ceremonies. I plan on attending the Artists and Dealers Reception at 9 PM. I may be walking around in this later in the evening. Draw your own conclusions.

- Saturday: Very much on duty, but no specific commitments. I hope to drop in on some panels.

- Sunday: Teardown starts in the afternoon. I'll be busy with that through about 9 PM.

- Monday: Busy in the morning with post-con meetings. Depart in mid-afternoon.


If anyone would like to do food or drinks (especially drinks!) with me, I'm can totally be talked into that, schedule permitting.


Oh, I don't think I ever mentioned my Anthrocon 2010 pictures that I took last year, so here they are!

I hope to see y'all at this year's Anthrocon!
White Mage - Drawn by Mahrkale

A long-overdue health update on my feet and knees

Cheetah pawsI've been meaning to write an LJ post for awhile about my overall health, but I've had so many things change along that front that I figured I'd let them settle down first.

First, the issue with my knees. About a year ago, I began feeling pain just below the kneecaps on both knees. I started wearing knee braces to rest the knees, and would try removing them after a few days of being pain free. But this only made the pain come back, and even worse: I would feel sharp stabbing pains in the sides of my knees. That scared me lots, because I had no idea what was wrong with my knees, and I was afraid to do anything that might aggravate them further. So I continued to wear the knee braces just in case I had something degenerative going on.

It took a few trips to the knee doctor, some MRIs, x-rays, and 2 months of physical therapy to finally get to the bottom of things. If you've ever heard a healthcare specialist say, "everything is connected", this is a classic case of that. The pain I felt under my kneecaps turned out to be patellar tendinits. Apparently the space between the bottom of my kneecap and the top of my tibia was a few millimeters too short for someone my size, which meant the tendon was shorter. This in turn predisposed me to things like that. Combine that with hitting the bicycle hard at the gym (more on that shortly), and I set myself up for issues with that tendon. And the stabbing pains in the sides of my knees? Seems I had not been working the supporting muscles on the sides of the knees, and the knee braces caused them to atrophy a little from underuse. So when I tried going off of the knee braces, I gave myself overuse injuries and a little scar tissue. Oops.

On the subject of the supporting muscles in the knees, the physical therapy I had at Zarett Rehab rocked really hard. The people there were very knowledgeable and taught me exercises such as Russian Single-leg Deadlifts to work all of the muscles in the knee, not just the patellar tendons. They also discovered some weakness in the muscles in my hips and lower back, and gave me exercises to do for those muscles as well. This should keep the muscles in my knees and feet from getting overtaxed. After several weeks of physical therapy, they then helped me wean myself off of the braces by way of having me walk longer and longer periods every day without them. At this point, I've been off the knee braces for two weeks, and have been taking walks in the evenings. It's really nice to be able to walk across town again. :-)

I said something earlier about the gym, and have come to the conclusion that gym machines are fairly evil. The problem with them, as I learned first hand, is that many machines only target a single muscle. Let's say you're using a leg extension machine. This will work the quads... and little else. This means that the supporting muscles don't get worked out, and can lead to problems down the road, especially if the quad were to get injured, causing you to limp, and causing more strain to be put on those other muscles. Muscles can start having issues one after another that quickly.

I've quit my membership at the gym, and am going to look into taking up yoga at some point. In the meantime, I'll keep doing my calisthenics 3 times a week, and walk seven days a week. I still have some discomfort in the knees and the tibialis anterior, but since it's a 100% soft tissue injury (e.g., the joints are fine), that will heal with time.

Leopard's pawThe second major issue is my feet. I began feeling this awful burning pain in them at Anthrocon last year. It limited my enjoyment of the con and was quite scary. So after the con I saw my doctor, then my pawdiatrist. Originally, it was pointed out that my feet had high arches, which meant that more load was borne by the ball of the foot and the outside of the feet. The first step to try and treat this was prescription orthotic inserts. But, the pain continued. So I was sent off to physical therapy. Unfortunately, I had an HMO at $OLDJOB, and could not choose which facility I was sent to. So while the people at the rehab facility I went to were really nice, I didn't get the best care I could. (My pawdiatrist used the word "McDonald's to describe them)

Fast forward a few months to December, when I changed jobs, and got a much better health plan. I was then sent off to Zarett for my injuries (yes, physical therapists can treat multiple injuries during the same visit, as I learned) and while it helped with the knees, it did less for the feet. Oddly enough, I discovered just a couple of weeks ago that removing my shoes while seated at my desk makes the pain and discomfort go away. Walking is fine, too. It's only standing and being seated with shoes on that cause me issues.

At this point, I've had X-rays, seen a pawdiatrist, physical therapist, neurologist, and had an ultrasound done. Yet, nobody can really tell me what's going on. The closest the physical therapist could say is that it was very likely a chronic injury spent by walking around with high arches for 30-plus years, but even he wasn't sure what the specific injury was. As he said, "Chronic injuries are frustrating for both the patients and us".

Overall, the pain in the feet is less than what it was last summer, and with things like fractures, arthritis and neuropathy all ruled out, that means I shouldn't have any serious issues going forward with my life.

TL;DR I got old, so I punched old age in the dick.
 
 
White Mage - Drawn by Mahrkale

Angry Bird... plushies?

Earlier tonight, I was catnapped by unclekage, talon2303, Corvin, and davinwarter for a trip to the Shady Maple Smorgasbord. Say what you want about those Amish, but they sure know how to cook!

After stuffing ourselves to "food coma" levels, we uh, worked off the dinner by wandering around the gift shop for a bit. I got this interesting picture from there:

Angry Birds plushies

So yes, the Amish like Angry Birds, too. How they learned of them without actually owning an iPhone or iPod is beyond me.
White Mage - Drawn by Mahrkale

My poor iMac

When I got back from Dorsai Thing a few weeks back, I saw a kernel panic on my iMac, so I tried rebooting it. Upon rebooting it, the screen stayed black and no sounds came from the speakers, nor did the Caps Lock light turn on on the keyboard when I pressed the key. So I took the machine out of service and made a note to open it up at some point.

I finally got around to opening up the machine today, and I found what the problem was:

Blown capacitors

It's quite clear that at least 3 of the capacitors blew out. I'm not clear how this happened, I know that excessive heat can do it but the fans on the system work just fine and there was no excess buildup of dust when I removed the back cover. And I could understand one capacitor failing, but 3 at once? That just doesn't make any sense to me.

Oh well, the machine was old, and served me well for the nearly 6 years that I had it. I'll just stick with my newer machines for now.
White Mage - Drawn by Mahrkale

Furry Connection North 2011 Report

Having missed last year's FCN due to injury, I had to use this con to make up for 2 years' worth of FCN and well, it worked! Here's how I felt:

Happy Wasabi

I had an enormous amount of fun at this year's FCN. Highlights include:

- Making lots of sushi (sushi-grade fish was ordered for this)

- Watching the "Will It Blend" panel, wherein the presenters proceeded to both blend and freeze various items

- Making sushi for the second day in a row

- Getting to see/socialize with people I don't normally get to talk to because we're both busy at other cons

- Working security again, and doing badge check in higher traffic areas, so I got to chat with people who came by

Fursuiters Fizz shows us liquid nitrogen Gigantic glow stick!
Fizz shows us fish Making sushi DSC_4299

What else was there to like? Ah yes, the bartenders! They absolutely loved us this year, and one of them even remembered me from 2 years ago. (and gave me grief about not making it last year, haha)

Alien88 and ToraCub Legos Beer Kegs
The end of the fursuit parade Hanging off of a pole Yes, Costello?

I have many more pictures that I can't post here, so instead I'll give the link, as usual: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmuth/sets/72157626479309537/

Next con for me is Anthrocon! I'll see you all there. Stay safe.
White Mage - Drawn by Mahrkale

Dear AT&T, YOU'RE FIRED!

I had a pretty interesting day with AT&T on Sunday:

- No Internet connectivity on my iPhone
- My phone did not ring with an incoming call from my parents
- I could not retrieve the voicemail that was left for me
- Attempts to call my parents back resulted in the call being dropped no less than 3 times.

And this was all in 5 minutes.

Since my contract with AT&T had expired a couple of weeks before that (and I had an iPhone 3G, which really showed its age with IOS 4.1), I figured it was time to get a newer/faster phone, and fire AT&T as my cellphone company at the same time. One short walk to the Apple Store later, and this is the result:

Dear AT&T: YOU'RE FIRED!

I find that Verizon's service is much nicer than AT&T's was. No random cases of the Internet not working here, the performance is quite consistent no matter where in the suburbs or city I am.

Having a phone that does video is nice, too. :-)
White Mage - Drawn by Mahrkale

My Shifts at Furry Connection North

Thu: 3-6 PM, 9-Midnight

Fri: 1-3 PM, 9-Midnight

Sat: 12:30-2:30 PM, 3-6 PM

Mon: 3-6 AM (ugh)

I guess the good news is having all of Sunday off, but partying on Sunday night will be at a minimum, since I'll be working the late late shift that night.

The 9-Midnight "primetime" hours on Thursday and Friday should be interesting, too.

When not on duty, I'll be wearing something else that will be uh, distinctive. Especially if you're into video games.