Friday, December 05, 2008

Life - Cats, Backs, and Tires

This morning I made it to work, my hand wounds red and swollen. The physician's assistant yesterday pointed out that cleaning the wound regularly would be somewhat redundant since the bacteria is deep in there and cleaning won't help. Plus I'm on some powerful antibiotics so they'll get the bacteria from inside-out. I figured the various swelling, bursting, and reducing of my wounds was sort of normal.


One of the first calls at work came from a doctor who was there when I got bitten. I heard the owner on the phone.

"Yeah, he's okay. He got a tetanus shot and he's taking antibiotics."

A pause.

"What? No, no, no, the employee, not the cat!"

The missus had a similar conversation with a friend of ours. The friend asked how things were with the cat and myself.

"Well, we dropped the cat off at the vet. They're going to quarantine it for two weeks for observation. But he looked fine."


"What? Oh, him? He's fine."

It's not hard to figure out why a boatload of illegal immigrants got shipped out while the dog on the ship got thousands of adoption offers.

(okay, I can't find a link to the story, but I think it was in Vancouver)

My hand is aching quite a bit, my finger splitting open regularly (minor split, nothing crazy). My tetanus arm isn't sore, but I've studiously avoided lifting too much stuff today.

I also got an update on the MRI from the other week. Someone from the office called and reported the results.

"The MRI showed a few bulging discs and some minor tearing, but this is not serious. You can continue with your exercises if you are not in pain."

A "few bulging discs"? "Minor" tearing?

I'm going to be doing my exercises, but it seems like they're taking things a bit lightly. Maybe it's just me though. So I'll do my exercises and see what happens. I did read that such things will heal themselves over time so I figure they will.

Before the cat bit me I did get a chance to revisit my high school days (which is when I started racing bicycles). A couple days ago I went to a local high school to borrow their car shop (I happened to know one of the shop teachers). Specifically I went to mount and balance eight car tires, snow tires to replace the all seasons. We now have two steep hills to deal with just to leave the house (driveway and road) and I started having visions of our cars blissfully sliding off the road on inadequate all-seasons.

When I pulled up to the three bay shop, I knew right away I was at a high school. Boys being boys, they flocked around the missus's car after I got out. They peered in the windows, saw the all the tires, checked out whatever mods the car had, and assimilated their observations.

Then one of the bolder kids walked up to me.

"Do you listen to John Mayer?"

Now, I have to admit that I proposed using one of his songs as our wedding theme song because that's the popular song off of his CD when the missus and I first started dating. But I should also point out that I don't listen to him when I am driving along on my own. So I answered from that latter perspective.

"No, I don't. It's my wife's car."

The kid turned to his friend.

"Dude, I so called it!"

Ah, yes, high school.

Another brief exchange illustrated things a bit too.

"Dude, how much did you spend on the tires?", this from a wide eyed kid taking in what had to be months' worth of pay in Michelin and Dunlop products.

"About $750-800."

"Wow... you could buy some nice rims for that..."

I quickly thought of a few things. Since I worked in IT I used to think of $400 for tires as, well, normal. I would only have to get paid a couple days to pay for them. The tires for the blue car would be "expensive" - the rears would have been over $800 a piece, the fronts about $400 or so each. Now, like the way the kids figure it, the tires are worth much more "work time" to me. I have to count in weeks to figure out how to pay for an order of tires, not days. I'm in their boat now.

And that's not all. When I got paid more, I got paid no matter what. I got paid when I was sick. I got paid when I took vacation. Heck, I got paid when I was out riding a bike in California! Now I only get paid when I'm working. I can go train in California but I won't be getting paid.

Man, what a bummer.

I gave up a good chance to pipe up about the value of education, so I decided I'd say something the next time I showed up. I mischievously told my friend there that I'd bring the blue car as a treat and change the oil or something. He pointed out that I wouldn't be able to leave the shop for a second with the kids there. I think it would be okay but, well, I wouldn't leave it there for a day, that's for sure.

Whatever. The kids enthusiastically took over the tire mounting bit, a few even staying after class to finish. I felt like I had my own little F1 crew. The noises of a garage cut through the air, the whining lift, the burping impact wrench, the whirring of the tire machine, all with a background of kids running around, yelling, talking, and grunting as they moved the heavy-ish wheels and tires around.

I didn't do much at first. I pointed out which tires went on which wheels (kind of easy as there was one set of 14" wheels and one set of 15" wheels). Later I did some real work - I started balancing the tires, a process that took much longer due to the fact that I had to scrounge around for weights (apparently some of the kids chuck them at each other).

The kids were generally good though, a couple of the older ones taking charge, making sure the directional tires pointed in the right direction, giving tips on how to mount tires quicker and easier, making sure that the 14" tires were stacked here and the 15" over there. Everyone gravitated towards the tasks that suited them.

The whole thing reminded me of how I think things ought to work with, say, a cycling team. An excuse brings together a bunch of kids with similar interests, or interests that allow them to participate in some activity together.

The latter is key because bike racing is not just about racing bicycles. It's about promoting races, organizing clubs and teams, putting together a clothing order, getting legal things handled and done, and other sorts of non-cycling stuff. An example - my calls and faxes to the town of Bethel. One doesn't need to be a cyclist to do that, but one does need to know how to communicate in a business-effective manner.

Cycling teams need all sorts of people. The riders are the easy ones to find - just go to a race and start looking around at the unattached folks. It's the other contributors which are harder to find - the organizers, the detail people, the analyzers, the managers.

It was kind of like the mounting and balancing tires thing at the high school. The process could be construed as just mounting and balancing tires. That would have precluded a petite pink haired girl in all black from participating since she'd probably topple over had she tried to pick up a wheel.

Instead, she decided to contribute in a different way.

She picked up a clean shop rag and started to primly, carefully, meticulously, wipe down the hub caps.


knitseashore said...

Mr. Suitcase told me that you had a bad interaction with the cat that you trapped. Yikes! I hope that you (and the cat) are OK. Those wounds look nasty.

Our Tim gets that way just going to the vet, so they put him out before they even weigh him. I can't imagine trying to touch a cat when they are that upset. It does make you realize how friendly our cats are, how they adapt to us, when you see that. It's amazing Tim lets us cut his nails considering his behavior at the vet.

BTW: maybe your vet could loan you the long gauntlets with the metal "staples" in them, if you are going to interact with any more ferals. We have them at the shelter, though I'm not brave enough to actually pick up a cat with them, one that's hissing like crazy.

MB said...

oh my goodness. . .how's the hand??

i love teaching at a voke school--i get my car worked on, good food and the kids really are nice! glad you had a good experience.