Never made it to the AIDS Lifecycle party: I stopped on the way up to check on a friend’s cats (I’m cat-sitting), and found one of them locked in a tiny little bathroom with an entire container of bleach spilled on the floor. (Cat was cowering under toilet amidst choking bleach fumes.) So I spent the next three hours either en route to or at the vet. Fortunately, the cat turned out to be OK, albeit with very irritated eyes from bleach exposure, but I missed the party.
(I am still trying to figure out how he managed to lock himself into the bathroom *and* spill a container of bleach that I hadn’t even noticed, but cats are talented, as you well know.)
My knee went out again, but I fixed it! which I’m still pretty psyched about. The kneecap got pulled out of position, so it was grating slightly against the cartilage, which produces (surprise) knee soreness, not to mention being bad for the knee. After three days it still wasn’t any better, so I was considering going to the doctor. Then I actually sat down and thought about it for a moment. The kneecap is held in place by a balance between several muscles. In the case of my particular knee problem, it’s a weakness in the inner thigh coupled with a tightening of the outer thigh. Since it was fine a week ago, either the inner thigh muscles have stretched (unlikely) or the outer thigh muscles have tightened up (extremely likely).
Hmm. So I went and did an exercise for loosening up the IT bands and the lateral quads (translated: the outer thigh), and damn if the knee didn’t go right back into position. Logic actually works for body mechanics! I’m shocked. Utterly stunned.
One of the things I’ve noticed is that when dealing with something new, people (including me) tend to assume that it must be complicated and difficult and they don’t understand it. Once they get some experience with it, they start feeling more comfortable with it and start thinking about it, rather than looking up or always asking questions of an “expert”. I’ve always regarded body mechanics as one of those semi-magical things because there are lots of muscles and tendons and so on pulling against each other, and only a trained expert could possibly figure out what was what. It’s really cool to realize that I now know enough to start working out my own problems, and I don’t always have to consult an expert.
(I don’t mean to suggest that it isn’t a good idea to go to a physical therapist, by the way; just that it’s nice to be able to figure out some stuff on my own.)
Actually a lot of people seem to get stuck at the “this is confusing, I need an expert” phase. I think that’s a pity–it’s a byproduct of how we get taught things in school, I think. Lots of places teach various subjects–history, mathematics, etc.–relatively few teach how to think.
I read an essay my freshman year of college that made a huge impact on me–it was called The Loss of the Creature, by Walker Percy. It was about the difference between real experience and preconceived expectations–how the Grand Canyon that a tourist sees, after reading the brochures and buying the packaged trip and taking the tour, is totally different from the Grand Canyon that, say, a Spanish conquistador bursts upon, totally unknowing. But it was also about the loss of experience to “experts”–how a young beachcomber coming across a dead dogfish and digging around in it, curious, with a knife will experience more of the dogfish than the student dissecting it in a college laboratory as part of an exercise. The difference is between seeing it as an active observer–essentially doing your own thing, exploring–and as a more passive person, to whom information is fed and who acts as directed.
This is of course the same thing as with the Grand Canyon tourist–getting off the beaten path means you experience more, though you may not see as much. (The beachcomber won’t know as much about anatomy as the dissecting student, but s/he will have had a more direct experience with exploring a dogfish.)
And in fact the same thing happens in knitting, which I think is really mournful. People are mostly taught to follow patterns, and not to venture forth off the beaten path into the unknown. I wish American knitting patterns were written with teaching in mind–instead, they just give precise instructions, with the implication that the pattern will explode if you don’t follow them exactly. This is terribly intimidating to the beginning knitter (I remember quite distinctly), and really discourages exploring. *sigh*
Speaking of exploring and fibercraft, i’ve gotten briefly interested in blackwork, and am working on a blackwork embroidery chessboard I started several years ago. It’s essentially a Leon Conrad design (http://www.leonconraddesigns.freeserve.co.uk/blackwor.htm for some utterly gorgeous blackwork designs)–Queen Besse’s Chess Board–but I set it down for several years because I didn’t like how it was coming out. The individual patterns were pretty, but set in a chessboard pattern they lacked unity–there was no focus to the piece, and I didn’t like that, so I put it down.
So, several years later, I have the hankering to do embroidery again, and it occurs to me that I can solve the dis-unity problem by embroidering interweaving “ribbons” in the white squares, which will (visually) hold the chess board together. So I am simultaneously stitching the existing pattern, and designing the pattern for the extra “ribbons”. I find it’s easier, when I try something new, to take an existing pattern and modify it, rather than designing from scratch. That’s basically what I’m doing with the blackwork, and it’s making life much easier.
As for the book? Nothing in the last week or two. That thing is damn hard. Back to work on it tomorrow.