Thursday, May 22, 2008

Man, I Need a Vacation

Title says it all. I've really been feeling run down the last few weeks, both physically and emotionally. I was vaguely it's been a while since I took some time off, but I've been so busy lately that I hadn't really had any time to stop and think about just how long it's been since I had real, true downtime. Well, today I sat down with a calendar and started looking back, and i realized that the last time I had a day off where I wasn't booked to do some other activity (side work, tournaments, training clinics, birthday parties, or packing to travel the next morning, for example) was...

February. February 20th, to be exact. When I realized that, after months of work/life/training/holiday-related frenzy I had to take a day off to just recharge with my family.

So, in other words, it's been over 3 months since I had a day where I really just chilled out. And that last one was one i made myself take because it had been about 3-4 months since I'd had any downtime. So, that's what... 2-3 days of chill-out time in about half a year?

No wonder I'm moody mess.

Anyway, the good news is this weekend looks to be fairly devoid of work/life demands. I'm taking both Friday and Monday off, and we have no specific plans aside from seeing the new Indiana Jones flick with our friends Bill and Lacey on Saturday night. I'll probably invite some folks over to BBQ on Sunday, but otherwise this looks to be a fairly non-active few days.

Even training will be scarce. We don't even have class on Saturday as the dojang is close dfor the Memorial Day holiday. I'll still train at least 1 day this weekend -- if I don't train every couple of days I get antsy and edgy, so skipping training for the weekend would probably make it harder for me to enjoy myself -- but I'll be able to just head to the dojang and work out whenever I feel like it, as opposed to us having to corral the kids and get everyone suited up and in the car by 10:00 on Saturday morning. So, that'll be nice. But frankly, it's not the break I really need. I'll catch my breath, sure, but I really need to get away for at least a few days and just disconnect from the demands of the humdrum.

Christine and I had Big Plans for the past two years or so to do a trip to Rome, but my career instability last year coupled with the pathetically weak dollar have pretty much scotched that idea for at least another year or two (barring winning lottery tickets, of course -- can anyone spare one?). We briefly toyed with the idea of heading to Bali -- I was 1000% into it and terribly excited by the idea of my first international trip being to the other side of the world, but Christine's safety concerns (due to the State department's warnings) caused us to nix that one as well. Frustrating, but understandable.

We've since retreated to just sort of planning to "go away" with no specific dates or destination in mind. We've juggled Aruba, Bermuda, St. Maarten, and even more pedestrian locations like Jamaica or Grand Bahama around, but haven't really settled into anything yet. Basically, we've agreed that we want to go somewhere warm, sunny, with water, and food, and wine, and massages. Outside of that, we're pretty easy. We just want time away to recharge and reconnect a bit. So now we just have to pick a window of time where we can get my in-laws to visit and stay with our kids, and we'll just go shopping and see what trips are appealing and within our budget.

But honestly, at this point, I think I'd check into a Motel 6 and read a book for 4 days, as long as it meant I could get some rest.

Mood: Run Down
Now Playing: Barenaked Ladies, "Snacktime"

Monday, May 12, 2008

Best Laid Plans, Ankle Woes

Following my trip to Vegas for Interop, I've spent a lot of the last week or so catching my breath and trying to get my bearings again. Doing lots of small post-show activities in the office, and capping my days at 8 hours so I can get home, spend a bit more time with my family, and start getting my non-work schedule back into something that works long-term. Work has been so all-encompassing for the past few months that I've been feeling that my home-life and Tang Soo Do training have been getting shoehorned in, and that's not a feeling I like very much. And my less-than-stellar performance at Master Riley's tournament did little to alleviate my concerns about lack of extra training time was having a detrimental effect on my technique, so I wanted to re-focus myself.

My goals include hitting 1 extra class per week, an afternoon class on Mondays with my wife. That would bring me to 4 total classes per week, which is definitely my comfort zone for training. The minimum of two just doesn't do it for me -- I mean, I can do the techniques, and two classes per week is certainly adequate for picking up knowledge, but I'm just not satisfied with training so infrequently. On top of that, I want to get back to the gym a couple of times per week, on my non-training days. And I'm trying to kick start my Sunday afternoon review sessions with other students again, both for their benefit as well as my own. We've got one student who is returning to training following a nasty knee injury who could really use the extra review time, and a couple of others who would just like the extra session to lock in curriculum like wrist grabs and one-steps which we may not be able to cover in class as often as they'd like. Plus, with my first gup test approaching, I want to have lots of practice time, just to get things locked in solid so nerves don't undermine my performance.

Needless to say, though, this hasn't been as successful as I'd hoped just yet. School activities with my kids got in the way of hitting my extra class last week, and Mother's Day activities prevented me from working out at the dojang yesterday. Add to this a general post-Vegas malaise and getting to the gym was a non-starter. Plus, I didn't even train in my usual Saturday morning class as my daughter was testing in Belton for 2nd gup and I attended the test to assist and proctor.

Proctoring was an interesting experience. Strictly speaking I should not have been proctoring at all, since there were several students testing who were my seniors (only by a few months, but still). But since there was only one other student at the test who could proctor Master Riley made an exception and allowed me to assist. Overall I think I did well -- made a couple of minor errors in calling kicking techniques, and didn't follow protocol precisely with bowing and saying some stuff in Korean once or twice, but mostly I was solid and clear. Far better than the proctoring was on my own 2nd gup test, if I do say so myself.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that the week I was planning really cracking down and starting to train harder I wound up only training twice. Heh. So much for plans.


One thing I did accomplish last week was finally catching up on lots of things I've been putting off for the past couple of months. Some of this is obvious, basic stuff. Got my hair cut. Finally got an eye exam and ordered new glasses and contacts. You know: maintenance. Still need to get to the dentist, but otherwise I'm fairly back on track.

One of the other things I was putting off was talking with Pieter, my friend and physical therapist, about the fairly significant pain I've been experiencing in my left ankle for the past few months. Achiness around my Achilles Tendon, lots of pain in the ball of my foot and the base of my toes, and occasional sharp pain on the interior side of my ankle when I do twisting movements. this has become more of an impediment in the past couple of months, as one of the movements in Chil Sung Sahm Rho (the hopping into a crane stance movements in the first third of the form) tends to really activate the injury and bring the pain when it's flaring up. I'd hoped this was just a minor injury that would clear up on its own, but after a few months of ignoring it I finally had to just find out what's happening here.

Unfortunately, the prognosis is not great. I mean, it's not a huge problem, but it's not a minor thing either. Pieter thinks I've got some sizable calcium deposits inside my ankle, residual garbage from my busted ankle 7 years back, that have popped loose and are irritating the interior of the joint. The irritation and swelling are restricting the movement of some bones in my ankle, which is causing me put way more of my weight on the ball of my foot than I should when I walk or run, thus causing the generalized and constant foot, toe, and Achilles pain. The intermittent sharp pain is probably being caused when the "floating bodies" directly get in the way of other bones.

The good news was that my ankle is solid and stable. But the bad news is that unless I get lucky -- sometimes, with rest and regular PT, your body will spontaneously break down the calcium deposits -- I will wind up needing surgery to fix this. And if I get the surgery, the recovery time is estimated at about 6 weeks.

So, that would suck. Six weeks without training sounds like an eternity to me. Luckily, there is no serious danger in not getting this fixed right away. The pain I'm feeling in my ankle is not indicative of additional damage being done to the joint, and the pain in my toes, foot, and Achilles are just inflammation from my gait being thrown off by the restricted movement. So, I can probably put this off for a few months, until after my 1st gup test in August. And then, hopefully it won't flare up just when I'm testing.

The main concern I have, though, is how this injury is messing up my technique. The achiness and pain in my foot I'm used to, and aside from just hurting a whole bunch it doesn't really have any impact on my performance. But when I have a bad week with the ankle itself, when one of those "floating bodies" wanders into the joint and causes those nice sharp pains, it really messes me up. I mean, obviously, it messes me up while the problem is happening. But worse, once the ankle stops hurting -- which it will do all of a sudden, once the deposit or bone chip or whatever it is shifts back into a less troubling location -- I find that my techniques are all screwed up for days afterward, because I anticipate the pain occurring anyhow. Very frustrating.

Anyway, I'm currently trying to adhere to Pieter's instructions to not put too much stress on the ankle for a few weeks. No jumping or jump/spinning kicks. Controlled activity only, with sparring allowed only if I approach it carefully and take it easy. He blasted me on Friday for engaging in jump spin kick training and then being surprised that my ankle hurt the next day. I told him I wanted to test the ankle to see what would happen. What can I say -- I'm dense. From now on, I'll be more careful.

Mood: Sleepy
Now Playing: Death Cab for Cutie, "Narrow Stairs"

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Vegas, Solo

Back in my hotel room, last night of a 5-night run in Vegas. I arrived on Sunday morning, a little worn out from weeks of working too hard and Saturday's tournament-associated activities. And here it is, 5 nights later, following hours upon hours of work setting up and manning a booth for my company at Interop. Great show, all in all -- lots of terrific leads, and far better feedback and quality of attendees than any of us really expected. Well worth the effort, and at least 2-3 dozen of the folks we met over the past few days could make significant differences in the future of our company.

So, that's all nice. But I can't wait to get the hell home.

I've been in Vegas for about half of the past month, attending both Interop and Data Center World. Flew in Sunday morning for both shows, killing half of my weekend each time. Spent hours upon hours assembling our fairly expansive (though also relatively inexpensive) booth display -- a booth I'm proud to say cost us very little, but that looks like we spent tons of cash. Not a bad of piece of work.

Interop is grueling -- 3 days, 7 hours for each of the first two, and 5 on the last, plus hours of set -up and tear-down before and after. The convention hall is packed, noisy and chaotic the entire time. Each day leaves you hoarse and in pain from standing and walking the concrete floors. My body is freakin' shot.

So, yeah, I'm beat. Feeling good about my performance over the past month -- I've been given some very gratifying comments by my co-workers that I am not only performing well, but truly exceeding their expectations. After the past year, praise on my performance is appreciated. I spent a lot of time soul searching and getting my attitude back in place it needed to be. I really tried to take an attitude of "actions speak louder than words" and I've tried to not draw any attention to my efforts aside from just plugging away, and it's good to hear that folks have noticed.

But being in Vegas without Christine has been a burden.

I don't talk too much about my wife on my blog. I've always figured that choosing to share what's inside my head and how I feel in a semi-public fashion is my choice, and not hers. Our relationship is common ground, so I don't tend to talk about us unless it's regarding things that aren't terribly private in the first place. It just doesn't seem like it's my place to talk about us in a place designed to talk about me.

But god, a week in Vegas makes me miss her, and my kids too. This sucks. Vegas is so oriented around creating experiences -- with enormous buildings, amazing sights and sounds, one astonishing vision after another. And every time I've encountered a new experience here, in the few free moments I've had around the periphery of the shows, all I've wanted was to turn to my wife and say "hey, wow, wouldja look at that?"

And, well, she's not here. I've got a few friends with me, but it's not the same.

I can't wait to get home.

Now Playing: Patty Griffin, "Children Running Through"
Mood: Kinda sullen