Karma Chameleon, Karma Quadriceps

In Which I Catch A6 and Ruminate on Recovery

No, no, no. Not *that* Karma Chamelon. I don't think Boy George and Culture Club had orthopedic problems and existential angst in mind. So a few days ago I passed the three-month mark: three months since I tore – completely severed, rather – the quadriceps tendon in my right leg, and had surgery to correct it the next day, Christmas Eve.

Has it really been a month since I last posted and laughed in the face of Fate and the Universe? I guess it has. I haven’t had a lot of bandwidth the past few weeks for much else beyond teaching and reading; I’ve had a cold that has persisted for two weeks – persisted in kicking my ass. I’ve compared notes with fellow expats, and it seems they have drawn the same conclusion I have – we don’t have the natural or resistance we would otherwise have back home, where our bodies are familiar with the bugs that get passed around.

Back in the States I typically would get a cold or the flu once or twice a year, and it would last a week or so. In between those times I might get a scratchy throat or a runny nose for a few days here and there, but nothing more than a minor annoyance.

But over here on the other side of the planet, there are bugs floating around that my white blood cells haven’t encountered before, and when you come down with a cold, it’s a bitch kitty, as my old man would have said. Coughing up technicolor snot – or blowing it out of your nose – every twenty minutes or so. Coughing until you sound like a trumpeting, randy elk. Not fun.

Somehow, thanks to my usual pig-headedness and over-the-counter drugs, I managed to keep up my teaching load, which is now back to full time. But as I say, the past few weeks, I haven’t had much bandwidth for aught else.

A technical diagram illustrating where the quadriceps tendon rupture occurred.That has included my therapy exercises, but now that I’m walking unaided, it doesn’t seem to have slowed down my recovery. Of course I make it a point to walk up and down stairs at every opportunity.

I still need a bannister to lean on, but when one is present, I take the stairs. I’ve been able to walk up stairs normally – provided they aren’t too high and there is the aforementioned bannister present – for the past three weeks or so; for the last two weeks or so, I’ve been able to walk down stairs normally.

This tends to make my leg a bit sore at the point of the injury/surgical repair if I do it too much, but then, no pain no gain, at this point. My therapist, Mistress Lien, continues to be pleased with my progress. Although when I showed up last week – having canceled my weekly appointment the previous week because I was barfing up chunks of lung – and I looked like death and was braying like a donkey when I coughed, she politely inquired wtf I was doing there.

I wasn’t going to miss another week of therapy, I said, cold or no. Besides, a little physical activity might help – get the lymph moving around, and whatnot. And I’ve noticed that when my sinuses are swollen, physical activity is one of the few things that relieves them – the blood flows elsewhere, for a bit.

To top it all off I accepted a bit of freelance web development work from an old acquaintance that I know through work, and that’s kept me busy too, lo these past weeks. But I’ve enjoyed getting my hands dirty with CSS, PHP and whatnot again. Nerd is as nerd does. But as I say, no time for anything else.

Karma for Funky Walk: I’m Sorry Larry

I howl with rage and despair, just like this dog. Despair_by_FluffleNeCharkaAs I’ve noted before, I’ve been more than a little obsessed with the existential meaning behind my torn quadriceps tendon. I can’t help but think to some degree that perhaps that it is karma. Maybe not for one thing, but maybe for several little things. Maybe my karmic bank vault was a little too full and some sort of cosmic pressure valve opened – and I suffered a serious injury stepping off a bus.

The other day I was walking through the park – my gate is almost normal, at this point – when my leg buckled and I stumbled and nearly fell before I recovered. In order to walk with a near normal gate I still have to consciously think about it; my leg is still too weak otherwise and I limp noticeably. The buckling happens less and less as my leg gets stronger, but it still happens once in a while.

I found myself drawing stares from other people in the park, stares like I haven’t drawn since I left the crutch at home. It’s funny how quickly I’ve gone from an object of amazement – a foreigner walking with a crutch! In public! Out in the street! – to just another expat walking around Sai Gon. Once again the only people that give me a second glance these days are people that want to sell me something.

But as I regained my balance after my leg buckled that day in the park, I crossed a vast gulf of time, back to grade school and junior high, and in my minds eye I pictured a kid named Larry. Larry – or as a friend and I had dubbed him, as teenagers are wont to be cruel – Funky Walk.

Larry was suffered from what I presume now was some sort of congenital defect; one of his legs was malformed and didn’t quite point in the right direction, and he walked with a noticeable limp. I went to large suburban elementary school and junior high school, and he was one of those kids you see around, in the halls, in the lunch room, but never get to know. Of course, Larry stood out because of his rolling, rocking gate.

In junior high I had a friend; let’s call him “Ralph.” For a year or two we were pretty tight buds, and then in high school we grew apart. It was one of those growing-up kind of things where at some point you stop and think “why was I friends with that guy? He’s an asshole.” Granted, Ralph might very well have thought the same thing about me.

Keep on Truckin' Larry, wherever you are -- sorry we were teenage dicks. Anyway, whenever we saw Larry around school, we always remarked “there goes Funky Walk.” He looked like that iconic “Keep on Trucking” guy drawn by R. Crumb — himself iconic — when he walked. Teenagers can be real dicks, and I was no different, unfortunately.

I haven’t thought about Larry in decades; not since high school, of course. But the other day, I could picture him in my mind’s eye as if it were 1982 and I had just passed him in the halls of Anderson Junior High. His long dishwater blonde hair, black t-shirt and faded boot cut jeans (Larry actually looked pretty hip for a kid in the suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1982, come to think of it).

Must have been tough growing up with that abnormal gate. He probably went to a lot of doctors and physical therapists, and in the end he was stuck with it – unlike me, who has a light at the end of his gimpy tunnel. I remember at some point in high school, I was hanging out with a girl, and Larry walked by, and I said something like “There goes Funky Walk.”

I guess I wasn’t quite into my more-thoughtful, post-teenage-dick phase yet. She informed me, and rightfully so, that I was an asshole, and that Larry was actually a pretty cool guy.

Larry, wherever you are are now, I owe you an apology. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry I was and adolescent dickhead. Having had a small taste of what it’s like, to be stared at because you aren’t as able bodied as everyone else, to say you have my respect would be an understatement.

Fuck Yeah! I can walk! And welcome all you meme googlers.P.S. SEO Funnies

It seems a lot of people are out there are wandering the Vast Series of Tubes in search of things related to the “Fuck Yeah” meme. My previous post has generated a lot of traffic in the month that it’s been up, most of which came from Google searches for “fuck yeah;” it’s become the second most popular landing page on this blog. Notably, it doesn’t contain the words “fuck yeah” anywhere in the post, but it does sport an example of the Fuck Yeah meme in the form of an image, and “fuck yeah” is included in the image tags (’cause I’m a good little search engine optimizer).

Of course I used that image because it adequately conveyed how I felt, being able to walk unaided and ride a bike, albeit a stationary one, for the first time since I ruptured my quad tendon. So for all you folks who landed here, read my meandering prose and all the while wondered “what the hell,” I bid you welcome.

And fuck yeah. I can walk. I may look like an R. Crumb cartoon when I do it, but I can walk.

… And This Web Design’s for Marie Eve

The Gecko's Bark web design redesign yet again, one more time, etc. and so forth.
The work in progress.

Well, here it is, yet another new web design for ye olde Gecko’s Bark.

Il est fabuleux, oui? Oui, c’est vrai.

The only thing I don’t like about this theme, and I’m not sure how I can get around this, is that in the event of a short post, such as this one, the footer remains at the bottom; it’s position is tied to the sidebar, as you can see.

I’m going to have to tinker under the code hood, and see if I can make it dependent on the post position.  Maybe I’ll add some kind of image to the background so it shows up only when there is a short post, eh? A GeckosBark.com Easter egg, as it were.

So whaddya think? I decided I didn’t dig the brown background (outside of the content areas), and went back to black. But this light green background and dark brown text is growing on me. …

And on the off chance that someone else reads this and wonders wtf? My friend Marie Eve informed me recently that the previous light green (almost white) text on a black background was quite impossible for her to read. I, on the other hand, find it easier when it comes to LCDs and websites, to read white text on a black background.

But then my tastes and opinions tend to run contrary to the rest of the world, and I tend to trust a friend’s judgments in these matters. Another example is clothes. Ninety-five percent of the time, I don’t care about clothes, and don’t really care what others think. But when I go to buy a suit, for the rare occasion I need to wear one, I make sure a woman is involved in the purchase as a consultant; left to my own devices I might choose something that makes me look like an ass. And usually on the occasion of wearing a suit is one of the also-rare times when I actually give a tinker’s damn about someone else’s perception of me.

So, when my friend Marie Eve expressed this opinion — she declared the site unreadable for her, in fact — I decided to see if we could arrive at something that she found acceptable in terms of her visual tastes and sense of readability, and my own artistic vision — such as it is. I trust women’s judgment when it comes to things like this, as I say. Especially since it was just a matter of making changes to the CSS file.

What you see here, this lovely dark text on a light green background — had to stick with the gecko color scheme — is (possibly) the end result.

P.S. Dammit, just now realized I forgot to fix the link in the new CSS file for the background image. The geckos were missing from the Gecko’s Bark. Christ in a Chrysler. It’s not launching the space shuttle, but there are a bezillion details to maintaining a website.

Renovation: Pardon the Dust

Jeff Chappell renovates the Gecko's Bark yet again.Yes, it hasn’t been that long ago since the Gecko’s Bark got a major thematic upgrade, and yet here we go again with some further renovations. Not a change in terms of the “feel” of the theme, but a big departure in terms of layout and navigation — plus some Web 2.0 bells and whistles.

Yes, the Gecko’s Bark will finally enter an age of modernity.

So if you happen to  visit and things look a little different and perhaps odd/wonky, that’s why.

If you’re curious about what’s going on behind the scenes here at Barking Gecko Studios®, I’ve invested in a professional set of themes, and modified it to suit the Gecko’s Bark. What you are (hopefully) looking at is the PureType theme from ElegantThemes, used with a child theme in which I modified the CSS to a considerable extent, as well as the odd theme-related php file.

I wanted a modern yet relatively simple theme, and didn’t feel like investing in the time it would take me — not being an actual coder by trade — to develop what I wanted from scratch, especially since it was already out there. Why re-invent the wheel?  I’m currently in the midst of developing what will hopefully become a network of monetized websites (a geek can dream), so investing in ElegantThemes seemed like a good course of action. So far, so good.

P.S. Sorry if you landed here looking for info on actual physical renovation, as opposed to cyber renovation.