Adam’s got wheels

Adam has two speeds: sprinting as if for his life and “this is as good a place as any to lie down and die.”

I asked him yesterday on our evening skate: “Why do you have to go so fast Adam? You’re not afraid of me are you?” He didn’t answer. He didn’t have enough air in his lungs for speech.

I think it’s his way of competing and I hate to admit – winning. Is this what I get for not letting him win? I’ve always tried to be a good sport. Do I deserve this very public, very physical humiliation?

Picture me: six-one, a hair on the wrong side of 200#, sweating like an ice cold bottle of water on a hot summer afternoon (that’s sprung a leak). I’ve barely got the O2 reserves myself for language, Adam’s half a block ahead of me, and a neighbor is standing in his driveway taking in the scene.

The neighbor chuckles as I pass with a mocking grin. “He’s a quick little guy, isn’t he?”

I briefly consider a comment about his fitness level but restraint wins out. I’m having too much fun.

Instead I make my strides longer… wider… my center lower. Weight lingers a little longer on each leg, giving my push-off skate a little more bite.

Game on little guy!

Falling down

I learned a hard lesson on the asphalt streets of Florida when I was young. It involved a skateboard and a steep hill for Florida anyway. Come to think of it, there might have been a bike and a hill at some point. Damn! There was that time with a sled, a hill, and an icy road too.

Put it this way: I know road rash when I see it.

Memo to self: you are not a quick learner. Keep that in mind the next time something hurts.

The lesson is this: sometimes it’s better to pick your fall than have a fall pick you. Maybe you learned this lesson yourself. Maybe you didn’t have to learn it – some things just come naturally to you like self-preservation. I’m just here to fill in the gaps.

Falls are terrible pickers. They don’t care what lands first, it’s orientation to your velocity, or the textures of the various surfaces on which you may land/slide. I may not know you, so for all I know you may be a terrible picker too. But if I was a betting man, I’d still put my money on you (site unseen).

Today I learned a new lesson as I was applying an old one.

I’m not ready for downhill skating. When the whir of the wheels approaches the pitch of a whistle, I’m going WAY too fast – especially when I’ve just skated up the same hill and my legs have the rigidity of two narrow columns of memory foam.
I was not proud of my error in judgement. However, I’m happy to report my quick thinking assessed the situation and computed a relatively safe landing. I’d reached totally-mental velocity too quickly for standard breaking measures. I had just enough control to stay upright and stay on the street. As I was racing past folks’ front lawns I noticed one with a high sand to grass ratio and decided to ditch. Ditching in Florida grass can be almost as painfull as asphalt. Imagine a nice soft lawn and a roudy bunch of aloe vera plants decided to mate. You’d get a Florida lawn – without the soothing gel.

I’m a firm believer in the feet first fall. Protecting the rest of your body with your face is almost never a good strategy. For sand, I prefer a slide like a baserunner stealing second – not landing on my ass, but not directly on my hip bone either – somewhere in between. I bend the inside (lower) leg a bit to absorb some of the impact, trying to keep my feet up to avoid getting the skates stuck – an important point. If you inadvertently plant one of those skates, stopping your foot suddenly as the rest of you keeps moving, it can get really ugly really fast.

When it was all over I looked up to see if anyone was watching my triumph over disaster.

The neighborhood was very quiet.

I got back up on my skates and kept going. That there is an honest to goodness life lesson. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off (in my case literally), hold your head high, and keep on keeping on.

There won’t be any more hills for a while though.

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Tight with my right

I don’t know who started the “all thumbs” saying, but I’ve got a few phalanges to pick with them. The last couple days have taught me something: if I was all thumbs I could conquer the world single-handedly!

I’d forgotten how attached I was to my right thumb. You’d think it would be hard to forget, dangling from your index finger like Ringo on the Beatles’ coat-tails.

Who am I to pick on Ringo? What do I know about the Beatles? The first time I listened to them was on a CD. Somewhere a vinyl purist is suffering a burst blood vessel.

In case you haven’t heard, my thumb was the tragic victim of a fall from inline skates. I was having a nice morning skate at the rink up the street. (Can a big patch of concrete for roller-hockey, sans ice, still be called a rink?) I was playing around, trying different moves, when I tried to do a quick stop like you might on ice. I did stop – in the sense that my velocity changed suddenly, but I’m grasping at straws of dignity. The trouble was I didn’t stop moving. I leaned back, turned my skate approximately 90 degrees relative to my heading, and expected my skates to loose a bit of traction, skidding to a stop. I don’t know if my angles were wrong, I didn’t have enough speed/energy to force the wheels into a skid, or if I was just plain stupid, but the wheels held pretty good. Instead of moving down the rink at a generous clip and coming to a skidding stop, I went into a spectacular spin. I bet it would have been really impressive if my posture even hinted I was doing it on purpose.

Flailing rarely comes across dignified.

I ended the maneuver (having thankfully bled off most of my speed) falling face first towards the “rink,” my body stopping short of the surface due to the heroic efforts of ten spread fingertips. I didn’t need to see the orientation of the proximal phalanx on my right thumb (the second bone from the tip), or how it made my palm look like it was pregnant with a ping-pong ball, to know something was wrong. The sound was enough.

I don’t remember if it hurt immediately or if there was a delay. I’m sure lesser men would have passed out. (Caveat: I’m also sure most aren’t lesser men.) Oh, but it hurt. I ran through the Urban Dictionary like an R rated spelling bee on amphetamines.

Of course I went home and played the tough guy.

“John, do I need to take you to see a doctor.”

Oh no, I’m fine.

“Ummm, John? I have some idea what fine looks like and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t involve a fetal position, break-dancing, or cradling your hand like a newborn baby.”

So I went to see a doctor.

At least, I thought I was going to see a doctor. It turned out the urgent care facility only had a PA on duty. (I have nothing against PAs unless I’m hoping for pain medication with a little kick.) She did an x-ray and pronounced it unbroken (my thumb, not the x-ray machine), which made me feel better until I heard my nephew just had a similar problem, and a radiologist reversed the initial ruling – finding a hairline fracture in his thumb.

I’m not too worried though. It doesn’t feel like a break to me, and I know my breaks! All those years playing basketball were good for something.

I am a little worried about work though. Just the swelling and pain would have my thumb out of business, even if I wasn’t wearing a split you can find pictured in the dictionary under “overkill,” but my typing rhythm is seriously off having to reach for the spacebar with my left thumb.


Typing this post has been a test, and it hasn’t been pretty. But my left thumb is getting a chance to play with my other fingers, so someone is having a good time.

However, I think it’s time for a rest. All this activity is going to catch up with my left thumb soon, not being used to carrying the load, so I better save it for the office.

I want to say one last thing though.

WARNING: If you’re a pregnant woman, suffer from chronic neck or back pain, or become disoriented from sudden motion or changes of direction, you should stop reading now.

After moving to another web host a couple years ago, I’m finally transferring my domain. I’ve felt a little dirty dealing with my current registrar so it’ll be a relief to finally move.

The down side is I’m not sure the switch will be seamless. They may not finish the transfer for a few days and then I don’t know if I’ll need to re-configure all of my domain settings (with possibly another day or two for those to spread to your corner of the internets).

So, if the site disappears for a few days don’t fret none. I’ll be back.

Breaking things

I had an embarrassing moment a while ago. I’ve had lots of embarrassing moments, but I’ve decided to limit this post to the one. We were taking Adam out for a practice run on his Christmas skates, and I laced up mine to show him how it was done.

But I didn’t get very far.

Instead of gliding down the driveway, leaning into an exhilarating tight turn onto the sidewalk, and powering down the hill towards Adam and Cheryl, I did none of the above. My skates stopped beneath me just moments after I got started.

Do you know anything about momentum, and if so is there a cure?

There’s usually a lot of small debris in our driveway, especially this time of year, so I wasn’t surprised – as much as I might have been. However, I was surprised when my skates refused to roll with my next few steps. That’s when I noticed the new debris on the driveway: little pieces of my wheels.


  1. Damn, that’s peculiar.
  2. Damn, that sucks.
  3. Damn, I haven’t gained that much weight, have I?
  4. I guess polywhatsitcalled doesn’t last forever after all – not in it’s originally molded shape anyway.

Actually, the weight’s trending down these days. I felt it was important you know that.

Obviously, the catastrophic failure of my wheels ended our joint skate real quick. My enthusiasm for the day crumbled faster. I’m like a little kid that way. I was looking forward to one thing and nothing else measured up. Plus, there was my poor boy Adam to think about.
Was he going to grow up skating alone?
Was he going to blame me?
Would he carry this disappointment – this abandonment – through the rest of his life?
Would he have trust issues that would end relationships prematurely, leading to a lifetime of self-imposed isolation and loneliness?

So you know what I HAD to do. I got a new pair of skates, which itself is an unusually long story.

Unusually long, you ask? Don’t you dare laugh.

Fast forward to this weekend. Adam and I have had a marvelous time skating around the neighborhood the last couple weeks, and all of my fears for Adam’s future have subsided. But I was getting a little too comfortable – a little too confident in my skillz. After an abbreviated yet marvelous skate on Monday, I was waiting outside while Adam went in the house to replace a newly shredded pair of warm-up pants for shorts. I was barely moving. I was on the sidewalk. I was right outside my house in peaceful Dunedin.

Now that I think about it, all the signs of disaster were right there. If only I could have seen them.

First a wheel got momentarily stuck in the gap between our cement driveway and the cement sidewalk. (Damn you cement and your cursed expansion joints!) One moment I was waiting patiently for my son… the next I was doing the “loosing my footing on skates dance.” It’s not a catchy name, but we’ve all been there, right?If you haven’t, you’re probably lying. But if not, then picture a guy with a tall furry hat dancing at an eastern European wedding. Time slowed down as I saw all my dignity flash before my eyes. Then time sped back up, I fell heels over head backwards, and threw my hands backwards to break my fall – hoping there was no irony in that last thought before gravity finished with me.

We know that God does have some sense of humor because children always catch us in these (hopefully) rare moments of excellence.

“Dad! Are you ok? That was GREAT!”

Adam, as your parent I feel obliged to tell you sixty-seven percent is not a passing grade in school when you get older.

I didn’t break anything but skin, but it really hurt. I did learn something though. You may never forget how to ride a bike, but you can forget how to fall off a pair of skates. That, or falling hurts more than it used to.

But fear not my friends! Adam came down to meet me (sprawled on the sidewalk), and we eventually finished our skate. With one exception, it was a great skate.