Thursday, April 15, 2010

getting a new car

Last week my wife decided she wanted a new car. Ok. We had three cars(a twelve year old Ford Ranger pickup truck, a 3 year old Honda Accord and a five year old Dodge Caravan), which was one too many, so selling one and using the other for a trade-in seemed to be a likely and doable scenario. She already had a buyer for the Honda and the truck was in excellent shape and would get a good price as a trade in so away we went to the new car dealer. She had her heart set on a Subaru Outback for some reason, and once she makes up her mind about something there is no turning back.

I was basically along for the ride. Sort of a detached onlooker. She does all the negotiating and haggling. There isn’t a new car salesman out there who can trump her once she gets a car and a price in her sights. I just sit back and watch the show. She got the price she wanted for the truck and got the price she wanted to pay for the new car before the salesman knew what hit him.

And I actually feel a bit sorry for the poor salesman who has to deal with her. Being a high school English teacher gives her an aura of authority and emits a certain vibe that leaves most salesmen cowering and afraid. Very afraid. She makes them feel like they have to watch their grammar and that they are fighting for a passing grade. They want to please her so she won’t call their parents about their misbehavior in class. It is really rather pathetic to see them turn into cowering blobs of putty as she manipulates them to her will.

She found the Outback that she wanted on the dealers lot. It had all the goodies she wanted and even a few she didn’t know she wanted. One problem. Wrong color. When it comes to color there is no chance of compromise. She wanted that car but in Graphite Gray. Her insistence sent a panic through the poor salesman that manifested itself in the sweaty brow and stammering inability to speak a coherent sentence. It was like she had assigned a term paper due by the end of the week and he hadn’t even chosen a subject yet for the paper. I could just imagine the feverish rush to find her the right car or face her wrath and a failing grade and a note to his parents about his inadequacy as a student and human being.

And it’s not like he could go about his business and find the car and report his success to her. No, no. She is too much the control freak so he had to suffer the indignity of having her hover over him with at least two phone calls every day to measure his progress. I can see him now, frantically signaling the dealer’s phone receptionist with cut throat gestures and lots of arm waving to indicate his unavailability to answer the phone. Poor guy probably wet himself every time the phone rang.

The end result of all his suffering and her badgering was his eventually earning an A+ by finding the exact car she wanted. It took him five days of pressure packed effort, but he succeeded and she is happy. And if she’s happy, everyone is happy.

Of course now that a shiny new car is sitting in the garage the next hurdle will be to convince her that is ok to actually take it out and drive it. Her idea of having a new car is to make sure that it stays new forever, safe from the elements and possible dust or dirt from all those nasty roads out there. She won’t drive it to school lest it gets scratched or dinged in the parking lot. And I have strict instructions to curtail my wanderlust and wait until she gets home each day so I can drive the old van wherever I might need to go. That will eventually lighten up, but in the meantime I am essentially grounded. I have a plan to sneak out to the garage and put a little nick on the bumper so the car won’t be so virginal anymore and I’ll be able to escape to the hardware store once more. But I’ll be careful. I don’t want to get a note sent home from the teacher.

Monday, April 12, 2010

exercise and PD

A recent article in the New York Times concerned the efficacy of exercise for alleviating the symptoms of Parkinson Disease. The article spoke in a somewhat incredulous tone about bicycling in particular as a means of combating the disease. This isn’t news to me. I’m living proof that exercise is beneficial for those who cope with PD.

I was diagnosed nearly ten years ago with PD. In the ensuing years I stuck to and even increased my regular exercise routine. I’ve known for a long time that I feel better and function better in my everyday activities when I work out regularly. I have found that while in the “exercise mode” I function normally. No symptoms for the most part. No tremors or involuntary movements. No slow down during routine movements. And while during my normal routine day I tend to move rather slowly and shuffle when I walk and even resort to using a cane to help me with the rhythm of walking, I find that once I start some physical activity, that shuffle disappears and I can go full speed ahead.

Admittedly I have difficulty walking from house to garage, but once I get there and hop on my bicycle, I’m just another 62 year old riding a bike. I can go for 15 to 20 miles and feel absolutely normal. It’s when I stop and get off the bike that the PD symptoms reappear. In fact the symptoms are generally more pronounced for a short period after exercising until I have relaxed and caught my breath, as it were. And while there seems to be no lasting effect of freedom from symptoms once I finish my exercise routine, while engaged in that physical activity I can function normally.

I am probably in the best physical shape of my life now due to the regular conditioning program I follow which seems ironic. There is no doubt in my mind that physical exercise helps me cope with my version (everyone is different) of Parkinson Disease. It seems to me that a lot more research needs to be done on the effect that exercise has on our brains. And while researchers are huddled in their labs peering at brain scans and studying microscopic tissues, I’ll be out on my bike in the real world giving them something to think about.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

A few days ago I was looking through some sites and came across some wine bottle holders. They looked interesting enough that I thought I'd try to make some of my own design. So here are some pictures of my efforts. I have a few other ideas that I will get to eventually, but for now these will do.

This sculptural holder has many variations that i will explore sooner or later.

This walnut holder uses the weight of the bottle to stay in place.


I am fascinated by the physics involved with this turned maple holder. It doesn't look as though it should stay upright, but it does.


These are just a start. The prototypes if you will. I can see making many more of them in between other projects.