Mini Comics Roundup

If you don’t follow me on Instagram or other social media platforms, you might not be aware of my new hobby of posting mini comics over there. So here’s a roundup, plus a new one I somehow didn’t get scanned/posted before now.

These were all scanned using the CamScanner app, so if they look kind of cruddy, that is why. I ran them through Photoshop (okay, GIMP), but some of them, this was as good as I could get them. Or conversely, if you think they look awesome, that’s also why.

From Jan. 11, 2016:
business travel_1

Like a lot of people, I sometimes struggle with feeling like a total fraud. At this point, I’m pretty comfortable with my frauditude. I observed to someone a few years ago that it has been a long time since I went into a job confident that I could do all the parts of it flawlessly without issues. If you are reading this and also struggle with feeling like you are faking your way through life, I urge you to not worry about it. Nearly everyone feels like this. Just roll with it, you’ll be fine.

I went on my first business trip (to Long Island) since 2008 the week of January 11th. That previous trip happened to be in early February of a leap year too (to Houston, TX), and was chronicled in this comic:

em_132

It’s weird that eight years later, I’m back in healthcare IT after a long jaunt into different various fields. I no longer worry about feeling like a corporate stooge–for one thing, I work at a much less corporate place, and for another, I have come to the realization that art and making a living both have to have a place in my life. At least until the singularity.

From Jan. 14, 2016:

Security at LGA_1

This actually happened on my way back from my trip–there was a fire alarm as I was coming through security. No one seemed concerned. Certainly not the TSA agents.
Feed me_1
On the way out, I left the morning that David Bowie’s death hit the media. I actually woke up to an email from B telling me about it. On the way back, I was sitting in LGA waiting for my flight when the news that Alan Rickman had died broke. It was a weird week. At the gate, the agent was making announcements noting that it was not necessary to “slam” one’s bag into the bag sizer, and if we persisted in doing so, someone would get hurt.

From Jan. 28, 2016 (ish):

mixed grip

Deadlifting with Daniel during the St. Paul trip. I didn’t feel like inking it, and it looked better in pencil anyway.

Mixed grip means one hand palm up and one palm down. It is the best; I don’t care what you say.

From Feb. 3, 2016:
joyce_1
I sketched this out basically on the back of an envelope to amuse Daniel and Claire while we were in St. Paul for a wedding after I ran from their house down to the Mississippi River. Then I decided to go back and draw it out for everyone. It got three likes on Facebook. That is probably about what it deserved.

From Feb. 4, 2016:

volcano_1
I get anxious about travel.

From Feb. 6, 2016:

Bison_1

We went out to a company event in Montana for the weekend. After spending a few hours cross-country skiing (skate skiing, actually), I dashed out of the rental shop just to see the shuttle back to the lodge leaving the parking lot. Luckily, one of the women was heading back to pick up some trekkers, so I managed to get a ride and didn’t have to wait two hours for the next shuttle. We talked about wildlife on the way back.

From Feb. 7, 2016:
Skiing_1

housekeeping_1

Another one from my skiing experiment, and one from the hotel. A bit behind the times, I guess, but no worse than the Joyce one, right? XKCD did the same thing a while back, except much better.

That’s all for now. I’m done traveling forever until April, but I may do a few more of these periodically. I enjoy the somewhat instantaneous feedback aspect (i.e., people clicking the little heart icon on Instagram), and it’s usually a lot faster for me to do these little ones than to think up a joke and draw 4+ panels. But we’ll see. I have another longer comic sketched and partially inked that I might be able to get up this week if I’m lucky.

 

Em oi! #413: It’s Only 43 Leagues

150 miles is 43 leagues or 211,000 ells.
As ever, if you’re having trouble reading, click to embiggen. I’ve had this comic sitting on my desk since before my trip to Long Island last week. I only just got around to scanning it. Oops. I was playing around with some different inks and Speedball pens. I have mixed feelings about how the art came out.

Recently, I was sitting around working while B was playing a game called Shadows of Mordor. It’s a surprisingly good game, and we found ourselves getting drawn back into the whole Tolkien thing. First, we watched The Hobbit (the Tolkien edit, not the full version–also, our copy was corrupted, so I missed the battle of the five armies).[1] Thereafter, I started re-reading The Lord of the Rings. At first I was only going to read FoTR . . . but I’m about to finish TT tonight. I’m surprised by how much my memory of the book has been overwritten by the film version, which I saw approximately 100 times (each section). I had forgotten, for example, that Faramir doesn’t try to drag Sam and Frodo back to Osgiliath(?) only to be attacked by a Nazgul. (Now I’m not even sure I’m recalling the film correctly.)

I’ve also become obsessed with the distances everyone is traveling in the book. In many sections it’s hard to tell, but in general I get the feeling that before the splintering of the fellowship, they are walking about twenty miles per day, more or less. That’s twenty miles in eight to twelve hours. At one point, when traveling with Glorfindel, this is referred to as a very long, difficult day’s march. The above comic was my immediate reaction. Of course, terrain counts for something, and they were frequently not on trails but just sort of out in the middle of the country, but still. (Maybe it was Bill the pony slowing them down?) Somewhat surprisingly, both groups (Legolas / Gimli / Aragorn and Sam / Frodo / Gollum) move much faster after the splintering than before it. But seriously, if I can run 31 miles in six hours, they should be able to go a little faster.

Another thing that interests me is that at least up to the point where Sam, Frodo, and Gollum enter Mordor, Sauron’s evil is very remote. The surroundings, even into Ithilien, are described as beautiful and the weather is quite fine. If one takes the tales of Sauron’s evil as provided by such luminaries as Gandalf, Elrond, etc. as tales (opinion rather than necessarily fact), it’s easy to begin to see Sauron as just a (hated) political leader. The orcs, for example, as seen during the scene of Merry / Pippin’s abduction, are quite like men in many ways with their conflicting loyalties and drive for glory. Sauron also employs regular men for his cause. In fact, when Faramir and his troops ambush a bunch of soldiers heading to Mordor, Tolkien offers us the following surprisingly sympathetic passage:

. . . Suddenly straight over the rim of their sheltering bank, a man fell, crashing through the slender trees, nearly on top of them. He came to rest in the fern a few feet away, face downward, green arrow-feathers sticking from his neck below a golden collar. . . .

It was Sam’s first view of a battle of Men against Men, and he did not like it much. He was glad that he could not see the dead face. He wondered what the man’s name was and where he came from; and if he was really evil of heart, or what lies or threats had led him on the long march from his home; and if he would not really rather have stayed there in peace… (646)

Tolkien was, of course, a veteran of the First World War. This paragraph speaks to me of perhaps a memory of his battlefield experiences and the trauma he may have experienced. But it also raises for me the question of Sauron–the ever-unseen Big Bad, who is noted to be fixing the roads outside Mordor, who is apparently able to convince a lot of people, including Sauramon, to join him–can he really be as bad as Gandalf et al tell us? But beyond that, even despite the themes of good and evil, Tolkien doesn’t necessarily view these battles as righteous or valiant, and he doesn’t necessarily lionize violence.

At this point, B looked over at me and said, “Are you arguing that Sauron is all right because he made the trains run on time?”

Well, maybe. Don’t look at me like that. My favorite characters from this rereading are Smeagol / Gollum[2] and Galadriel, so.

If you’re interested in this “LotR is a story told by the victors and Sauron was framed” idea, you may want to look into The Last Ringbearer, a Russian parallel novel exploring that side of things.

There is clearly a lot more to talk about in LotR (I mean, it’s over 900 pages long), including world building, the role of women, the peoples and the North / West versus South / East thing, the colonial(ish) myth of empty places for colonization, etc. But I’m not going to touch on those here–feel free to comment with your thoughts though. And tell me I’m not alone in liking Gollum and hating Sam.

We’ll file this comic under GV1065.17 T65 L86 2016, for Recreation. Leisure–Sports–Track and field athletics–Foot racing. Running–Distance running–Marathon running–Special topics, A-Z–Tolkien, works of.

Cited
Tolkien, JRR. The Lord of the Rings. New York, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994.

[1] I still really want to see the Dol Guldor part. I love Galadriel and am a longtime fan of the actor who played Radagast.

[2] I actually feel like Gollum is rather hard done by. He certainly doesn’t deserve much of the shit he gets at the hands of Frodo and Sam. Sam is especially pretty cruel to him–there’s another paragraph where Gollum finds the two hobbits sleeping, and Tolkien writes that “could one of the sleepers have seen him, they would have thought that they beheld an old weary hobbit, shrunken by the years that had carried him far beyond his time, beyond friends and kin, and the fields and streams of youth, and old starved pitiable thing” (699). That passage very much made up my mind about him. And he is a much more interesting and complex character than a lot of them.

Em oi! #409: Impatient

em_409

I actually cannot tell if I named this comic “Impatient” or “Inpatient.” Both seem appropriate.

As you can see, I wrote this in early October, just a week or so after Bryan’s operation–this actually did sort of happen during the operation. But I got it uploaded only now because life kind of got away from me last month, a month during which I took care of Bryan, did one marathon and one half marathon, worked on my novel, and changed jobs, or rather job responsibilities, and went from working a kind of weird schedule that could vary from zero to eight hours or more per day depending on what work was available and needed doing to a more typical full-time work week.

Anyway, I’m hopeful that things will calm down a little more in November. Bryan is a lot more mobile and in less pain, my running schedule is calming down so I am less wiped out, and I am maybe getting the hang of some of my new responsibilities, so I am not lying in bed worrying that I will be retroactively fired or something most nights. I have a couple of scripts written that I am itching to get drawn. However, in order to get this stuff done, I may be a bit light on the various social media you typically see me on, so if you need me, drop me an email. (Note to relatives: Email means email, not voicemail. It is not impersonal to send an email. It is helpful.)

No other real news to report, other than since I last posted my novella came out in paperback and you should totally buy a copy. It i s currently held in the Yale library and in the Madison Public Library system and will shortly be available at several local bookstores such as A Room of One’s Own as soon as I can get my act together and drive them down there. Yiss. If you buy a copy and want it signed, or want a signed postcard, see the book tab above and follow the directions to send me an email.

I have a race report for the last two half marathons (I did one this past weekend as well), which I will try to upload tomorrow or Wednesday.

Let’s file this under P301 .L86 2015, for Philology. Linguistics–Language. Linguistic theory. Comparative grammar–Style. Composition. Rhetoric. Usage–General works.

Em oi! #408: Kierkegaarding

em_408
You will probably have to click to embiggen, I’m afraid.

I am forced to begin this week’s lengthy and possibly unreadable commentary on the comic with an apology: I am somewhat misconstruing Kierkegaard here.

Here’s the deal: Kierkegaard wrote a book called The Concept of Anxiety, which is the basis for the ideas that form the underlying framework here, but in the book, Kierkegaard is actually not talking about how difficult your problems are. Instead, he was talking about the responses of different religions to the idea of original sin.[1] That is, he seems to be making an argument like this: 1) Original sin happened, but there were/are people who don’t know about it because they’re not Christian (pagans) or they’re Jewish (??). 2) These groups experience anxiety in different forms (turning outward, in the case of the pagans; turning inward, in the case of the Jews, which is more correct but still unable to come to any resolution, which can only be reached by Christians because Jesus. 3) The angst as freedom of choice is still in there.

If all this sounds a little weird, well–Kierkegaard was kind of a strange guy and his philosophy is a little bit aphoristic. And this is one of his most difficult books.

These anxiety-to-outside/inside relations were distilled by another fellow, Stephen Dunning[2], into the framework that underlies the first three panels (anxiety-in-itself, anxiety-for-itself, and anxiety-in-and-for-itself), and then further distilled by another writer (whose book I cannot name yet, since it hasn’t been published) into yet another form that I’ve adapted here.

In other words, this is based on some secondary materials that somewhat (in my mind) misconstrued the original argument. Le sigh.

Also, I hadn’t used these markers with this type of paper before, and I am disappointed by how it absorbed them. It doesn’t look really as nice in person; I had to do a lot of fixing, some of which is sadly visible. Tch.

I’m currently trying to taper for the Twin Cities Marathon, which is coming up in just over a week. But B is having knee surgery on Monday, so we’ll see how well that goes. My training has been pretty average, but consistent, including consistent speed work, and my ankles are holding up really well (knock on whatever), so I’m guardedly optimistic. If I can get a good taper and decent weather, I hope to hit sub-4. I’ve been running sub-2 hour half marathons in practice, so I have a feeling I can do it. If I don’t get a good taper, I’ll see what I can do. The goal is 3:55:xx, which requires an average somewhere between 8:50 and 9:00 minutes/mile (okay, 8:58 to be precise); of course, the fact that I can sustain that for 13.1 miles is rather meaningless when we’re looking at twice that distance.

Until then, I’m sort of swamped with work, but I will still try to have a new comic up next week as well.

For the nonce, let’s file this one under B4377 L86 2015, for (deep breath) Philosophy(General)–Modern (1450/1600-)–By region or country–Scandinavia–Denmark–By period–19th century–Individual philosophers–Kierkegaard, Søren, 1813-1855–Criticism and interpretation.


[1] Side note: He says, among other things, “Jewish anxiety is over the possibility of guilt, rather than ‘the positing of an actual [guilty] relation'” (Dunning, 153). This is clearly false; Jewish anxiety is over many things, but most of them involve the possibility of disappointing your mother and whether or not this tickle in the back of your throat is going to turn into pneumonia or not.

[2] See Stephen Northrup Dunning. Kierkegaard’s Dialectic of Inwardness: A Structural Analysis of the Theory of Stages. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985. Retrieved from Google Books: Link

Em oi! #406: Why I Am Still Awake

em_406a_scaled

em_406b_scaled

em_406c_scaled

em_406d_scaled

Hat tip, as ever, to XKCD for panel 6.

About panel 5: My cat is in late middle age (she’s 12 this year) and she is fine. She has a bladder stone, but other than that she’s in good health. It’s just that after the sudden death of a loved one, I have developed the neurotic idea that anyone I love can die at any time, so I tend to be a little weird about her. At least I’ve finally recognized that my neuroses are what’s getting in the way, rather than anything in particular about her.

I bought a new sketchbook (from what is apparently the kids’ aisle at Target, because why would adults want art supplies?), and it has both watercolor paper and regular pen and ink paper in it. I accidentally grabbed some pages out of the watercolor section for this comic, so I decided to pull out my brush and sit down with a bottle of India ink and make them pretty. I think I succeeded–a few of the panels are some of my favorites I’ve ever done. It was less time-consuming than I thought it would be, too, taking just a little more than one episode of QI. The uploading was a bit fussier–it’s harder to edit watercolor paper things because of the texture of the paper and whatnot–but all in all I’m pleased.

Anyway, life around here is mildly chaotic. B’s leg is recovering well. And this week we’ve had workmen removing all the insulation from our attics in order to air seal the house. When it gets done, it will be great, because our drafty old house will finally be actually warm (and cool, in the summer). Unfortunately, it was about 40 degrees yesterday with a few flakes of snow, and today the high is 49. Thanks, Wisconsin. I’m wearing four shirts right now.

The other thing is that we decided on Sunday to start letting the dogs sleep with their crate doors open, for a number of reasons but mostly that they’re adults and unlikely to destroy the house without our direct supervision. And it turns out that our neighbor leaves for work at about 5:30 in the morning–I know this because Monday morning and Tuesday morning he woke up (and woke us up) barking very loudly at just about exactly 5:34. When I went down to comfort him, he decided he wanted to go out, and so by the time I got back to bed I was wide, wide awake and had a hard time falling asleep again. This was especially icky since I’ve been getting over a bout of stomach flu and really, really wanted to be asleep and not vertical. Then today, I figured I’d just get up to run early-early (I thought we had to leave the house at oh-my-G-d o’clock so some of the work could take place). I figured Edgar would wake me up, but I set a backup alarm for 6:00 anyway.

You can guess what happened, can’t you? Edgar did not wake up at 5:30. But I did.

I think there’s something in the Geneva Convention about this, Edgar.

We’ll file this comic under RC548 .L86 2015, for Internal medicine–Neurosciences. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry–Psychiatry–Neuroses–Sleep disorders–Insomnia–General works.

Edgar relaxing on his new bed.
Edgar relaxing on his new bed.

Passover Comix

I wanted to get these up here before Passover ended and they became irrelevant for another year.

I have been toying with the idea of drawing comics to submit for publication (not in a newspaper, but maybe in a well-known national magazine), and if I had gotten some of these drawn a few months ago, maybe I would have sent them (well, potentially one of the three). But I didn’t. So whatever.
passover comix1

passover comix2

I should explain that we often substitute a carrot for a shank bone because we have never been able to successfully figure out where to get a shank bone. Also, um, gross. The hardboiled egg is actually supposed to be a roasted egg, but…I don’t know how to roast an egg. I had to look up how to hardboil one.

This last comic is part of a (now) long-running joke between B and I that began somehow when I took a boot over to a local place called Cecil’s Shoe Repair. I cannot explain more than that because like so many things, I don’t really understand what has happened. But if you need your boot fixed, I recommend Cecil’s.

schmaltz shack

The menu here says:

Menu
Shmaltz
-Hun [chicken]
-Gandz [goose]
-Pareve*
-Mit onions [with onions]

* “Pareve” means something that, according to the laws of kashrut, can be eaten with both meat and milk dishes. Usually it can be thought of as vegetarian, but that’s not always the case–for example, gelatin and rennent are both considered pareve (because they are too far removed from the animals to really be animal products by kosher standards) but they are strictly speaking not vegetarian. Also fish are considered pareve. I don’t really understand why, but hey, I’m not a mashgiach.

Also I should state up-front that I’m not actually sure if “hun” means chicken in the sense of the animal or chicken in the sense of the meat. Some languages have two words for the two items (like how farmers raise cows but people eat beef). I did this using Google Translate late at night. I don’t actually speak Yiddish.

What else. Oy. I have had a really hard week. I’ll say it. And yeah, I know people who are having actual hard weeks, and I feel really bad using language that might equate my life with theirs, as if having to go to Walgreens at 9pm to buy extra half-price Easter candy were really “difficult” in some way.

Easter candy shame
Easter candy shame

But I do feel just…ground down, unable to concentrate, tired, distracted…part of it is that I am a mammal, and I guess I need to actually take sleeping seriously instead of EVERY NIGHT setting my alarm for six hours after I go to bed, as if somehow I will suddenly (re)manifest the ability to get out of bed at that hour, which happens to be my current strategy. Then I lie in bed for an hour questioning my life choices. It’s fun.

I have been upping my mileage running, and also eating a lot of matzo**, which is lower in calories than my usual breakfast, so that might account for the low energy as well. (Although I have been also upping my Easter candy consumption.) We’ve also had a parade of contractors through our house as we prepare to fix some insulation issues, and then on Tuesday during the first rainstorm of the year, a window suddenly began leaking. We relatively quickly found the source of the problem and kludged together a repair (okay, B climbed a ladder [during a storm–eek] and pushed the flashing back into place). Since then it has continued to rain, meaning that it hasn’t really had a chance to dry out so we can fix it permanently. Also, B is having knee surgery next week, and I’m nervous about it. More nervous than he is, actually.

Okay, I’m pretty tired and I still have to take the dogs out so I’m going to wrap this up. Happy Passover to those who celebrate it, Happy Easter to those who celebrate it, and also Happy Ostara, and any other holidays I’m missing that might have happened. Happy National Poetry Month too. My favorite poem used to be “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” but I’ve been getting a lot of rejection letters lately and it’s becoming harder to keep an ironic distance from the narrator. So, uh, let’s go with “Personal Ruin” by Claire Wahmanholm, which is in some respects on a similar theme but a lot more hip. What’s your favorite poem?

** I accidentally for various reasons bought five pounds of matzo. As of right now, one week from the first night Seder, I have eaten…one box (one pound). That’s with the people at the Seder helping me, and also with a friend coming over and eating some.

Em oi! #402: Why-fi

em_402

This made more sense about three weeks ago when I had a dream about Doctor Who and woke up wanting to draw Matt Smith’s face. He has such a weird face, don’t you think?

matt smith
I was going to write more about Doctor Who, but I don’t really have that much more to say. I used to watch it and talk about it with my dad. Now I can’t. Sometime I’ll go back to watching it though. I miss it. Also there is a lot more to say about the specters of British Imperialism and White Man’s Burden and the question of sexuality and modern life that the show raises, but I don’t really have time/energy to subject it to that kind of critique. Please feel free to click here to visit the Postmodernism Generator and come up with your own critique.

Anyway, I have still been really busy with work, which is why it took me three weeks to draw/ink this damn thing. I have a work cycle that goes like this:

  1. “I’m bored. I’m depressed. I need more work.”
  2. Get some work. Hey, this is exciting.
  3. Wow, this is a lot of work. I am tired and kind of burned out. I wish this project would finish.
  4. Gee, I’m bored. (Return to step 1).

Right now I’m in step 3, and have been pretty much since I sketched this comic on the 24th. That’s why I haven’t had much time to write about the Tyranena Beer Run half marathon, which I did on November 11th. So if you’ll sit back, I’ll give you a very brief sketch of what happened.

  • Weather: It was cold. At first it was sunny, and I unfortunately left my sunglasses in the car. Then it got cloudy again, because this is Wisconsin and we wouldn’t want you to have enough sunlight to feel happy or anything.
  • Traffic: I picked up my friend Kristi and we drove to Lake Mills together. The Beltline was bumper to bumper for several miles (and maybe 30 minutes) because…a crew was painting stripes on the road? On a Saturday morning? For real? But although we were slightly late and the pre-race email said packet pickup ends at 11, they still gave us our packets at 11:05 or something. Very nice.
  • Everyone lined up and we took off. The picture below shows a map, but basically we ran around the lake. The first half (mostly roads) had a few good hills; the second half (mostly trails in the limestone sense, not single-track) was flat and had the kind of scenery describable as scenic. Had the race been held two or three weeks earlier, the leaves would have been amazing.tyranena
  • After the race, there was much food. I had a root beer, which was reasonably good; I heard the beer-beer was great, but I had to drive back to Madison to finish making challah for a relative’s 50th birthday party.
  • I ran in all of my layers because it was cold, and so I froze and shivershivershivered after the race for 45 minutes while I chatted with folks. I also just got a new coffee maker and have consequently been hitting the sauce pretty hard during the week, and by the time I got home I had six kinds of caffeine withdrawal headache going on. Super not awesome.
  • Speaking of chatting, everyone goes to this race. I saw a ton of Madisonians, and also got to meet up with Sheila, aka Crackhead, whose excellent triathlon blog I have been following for lo these many years. Or a while, at least. She was super fun and exciting to talk to. It’s nice to not be the craziest person in the room. “Oh, you haven’t done a 50-miler yet?” is not a typical reaction to my running CV. Also, check it out, I made her race report!
  • Finally, the race. I took off at the gun, and later met up with Kristi a little after mile 2. We ran the rest together, clocking a lot of sub-9 miles. We kept saying, “We should slow down!” but then we didn’t. It was windy, but at least part of the time we got a tail wind (not at the end, though. Ugh.). I finished in 1:53:13, my fastest half this year. (My other half was a trail race, so it’s not that shocking. But still, my goal was to go under 2 hours, so 1:53 is great!)
20141108_133416-SMILE
Kristi and me, post-race.
20141108_140549
Sheila and me.

My next race is the Berbee Derby, also known as the local turkey trot. And after that, I’m not racing again until 2015! Yikes. It’s starting to be time to think about what I would like to sign up for next year, and to be honest I’m not sure. I have a sort of half-serious goal of trying to figure out how to run a marathon without running over 18 miles in practice, but beyond that…don’t get injured is pretty much my only major rule at the moment.

Okay, wrap it up. Let’s file this comic under PN1992.8 S35 L86 2014, for Drama–Broadcasting–Television broadcasts–Special topics–Other special topics, A-Z–Science fiction. It may or may not surprise you to know that the LCC doesn’t have a subject heading for hipsters. Apparently they are insufficiently documented.

Em oi! #401: The Worst Flight Ever

em_401a

em_401b

This is a record of our flight from ORD to SLC. O’Hare, or O’Hara as the locals call it, is a giant zoo of an airport at the best of times, but the day we were there it was even more kerfuckened than usual because of lingering issues from a guy’s attempted suicide in the traffic control area. Basically, all flights into and out of the Midwest were last week being directed by air traffic control in Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, and I think Indiana. Something like that. Maybe they still are. When we flew home last Saturday, our flight was delayed in part I think because of the same air traffic control problem, and the flight didn’t even go through ORD.

This flight in particular was especially bad because first I was starving and then I started getting a migraine. I think I mentioned this in passing in my race report last Monday, but I didn’t really figure out that I had a migraine until we got to the B&B and I had lain down on the bed for a while. When I got up, my vision was all blurry, a classic migraine prodrome symptom. (Why was I getting it after I’d already had a headache and nausea for a good long time? I don’t know.) If it has never happened to you, count yourself lucky. I will just say it is a very weird sensation. I have bad eyesight (you might notice I draw myself with glasses), but it doesn’t exactly feel like eyestrain, and when I put my glasses on, it was still there. It’s pretty freaky. Not quite as weird as a scotoma (or scintillating scotoma, which has happened to people in my family before but I don’t think has ever happened to me).[1]

20141007_184544
I have no idea if I’m sleeping here or just trying not to vomit. Whee, I never thought I would write that sentence.

So this flight though. Not only was it two hours delayed, not only was there some pointless bureaucratic reshuffling of luggage (luggage in the cabin counts as passenger weight apparently, so they don’t have to add more gas or whatever), but it was the single most uncomfortable plane either of us had ever been on (I think it was a Canadair regional jet, flown by some company d/b/a United). And then I became intensely nauseated. In this photo B took, you can see me in my stupor. And maybe you can see how uncomfortable the seats look.

Also I think I should add that Daniel and Claire are actually quite attractive, contrary to how I’ve drawn them here. They deserve better than my artistic skills, frankly. Sorry guys.

Anyway, I think I have written a lot about running races, but very little about recovering from them. That’s mostly because recovery is the boring part, but perhaps you have never run thirty miles and would like to know what it is like. Here is a brief overview of my week.

  1. Sunday: I slept late. I was not intensely hungry directly after waking up (somewhat unusual). I was in pain (mostly quads–surprisingly my bad foot was fine). A long time ago when I did my first marathon, my friend Ray[2] told me to go down stairs backwards after. I couldn’t do that this time–I could barely go down stairs at all, eventually adopting a method of bracing my back against the railing/wall and sort of sliding down sideways. When not standing upright though, I felt very good. We lifted weights in the afternoon.
  2. Monday: I swam 2000 yards in the morning, trying not to kick. Tasks like standing up and sitting down were still quite difficult, arm-supported activities, but at least I could go down stairs backwards. We lifted in the afternoon.
  3. Tuesday: I ellipticaled for 40 minutes, then lifted weights. My legs felt sore but decent. I was still swinging my hips weirdly to go down stairs, but I was going down forwards again. When walking the dogs, I tried to jog a little and my legs wouldn’t do it.
  4. Wednesday: 30 minutes of elliptical followed by 40 minutes of swimming. My evening workout was replaced by watching B run on a dreadmill at a running store for half an hour. Oh well, I was pretty cold and tired all day. My legs felt practically normal again and energetic, with only a few moments where I stumbled because my quads sort of seized up.
  5. Thursday: I ran 7.4 miles, including two miles at an 8-9 minute pace (trying to get a 1st on Strava for a particular route, haha). My left quad was slightly more sore than my right quad, but on the whole legs felt relatively normal. Later we lifted (deadlifts and leg press, ow, I went light) and I ran with B for 5 minutes on the track before aikido.
  6. Friday: Woke up feeling tired and didn’t swim, but in the late afternoon did 20 min of elliptical and 5 of running on the track with B. Legs (hamstrings and glutes especially) sore from yesterday, but now feeling good and eagerly anticipating hitting the trails tomorrow. Bonus story: When I was getting my flu shot today, the pharmacist lady felt my deltoid and said, “Wow, you’re strong!” I was all like, “Oh, thanks, I lift weights.” So definitely get your flu shot–CVS is apparently offering a free ego boost to go with.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to do about 10 on the trails, and then possibly hit a local 15K on Sunday, schedule permitting. My hope is that my foot will hold up and I’ll be discharged from PT on Monday, and then this whole incident will just be “Remember that weird time Em accidentally got PF but ran a 50K anyway?”

So this comic–I’ll point out that in the fifth panel, I’m sitting behind Walter Benjamin, who previously appeared in Em oi! #372, one of my favorites. We’ll file this one under PN6231.A445 L86 2014, for Collections of general literature–Wit and humor–Collections on special topics, A-Z–Air travel.


[1] I don’t really get migraines much anymore, though I did in my early twenties (I think running has somewhat changed my system). Back then, I used to get abdominal migraine, with a main prodrome symptom of sensitivity to touch…which, the best I can explain it is “You are suddenly totally aware of all of the clothing you are wearing and how it is pressing on your body.” Yeah.

[2] Ray has been in a couple of comics, but I can’t find them. Perhaps they are no longer online. But at least one of them is still up on my mom’s fridge.

Em oi! #400: She Gets It

em_400

Since we came back from France and Belgium, this is something I have been going back and forth on. On the one hand, sites like Facebook are immensely entertaining, especially when one is bored or trying to waste time (that “I’m scheduled to go for a run now but it’s 35 degrees out” time of the morning). On the other hand, almost all websites operate on an outrage-for-clicks system, which means that people are constantly posting links to articles that are meant to be provocative. These articles typically upset me. And of course, there are several studies that suggest that Facebook can be bad for your self esteem. And that doesn’t even touch on Tumblr, which is basically an entire community of people who have set out to post the most upsetting and useless “social justice” things they can think of, in addition to retumblring each others’ inane drivel about things no one cares about. That’s not to say that there aren’t a few blogs on Tumblr worth reading.[1] But at some point, the anxiety/frustration that I get from reading this crap has come to outweigh the pleasure I got if people momentarily noticed MY drivel. So I’m trying to step away. I think it has been good for my mental health thus far.

I’ve been reading a lot of running/triathlon blogs instead. Ultra runners or “normal” distances, it doesn’t matter–if you can string your words together in a reasonably coherent and entertaining fashion, I’ll read about your climb up Pike’s Peak, your half IM, or even your 4×400 workout at the track. Maybe it’s because this foot injury[2] has forced me to run less, but I find it quite gratifying at the moment.

So the foot. As I maybe mentioned, I’ve been seeing a PT twice per week since I got back from Europe. My therapy has typically included ultrasound, poking at it with a stick until I say “ow,” and various types of stretches and exercises. This past week, we tried trigger point dry needling, which is like acupuncture except that it doesn’t rely on “meridians.” There’s some evidence that it works (unlike acupuncture), but my understanding is that there haven’t been enough high quality studies to really draw any firm conclusions. Nevertheless, if I were told that standing on my head until I black out every day would cure it, I’d do it.

That’s rational, right?

For those wondering, here is a list of things I have tried:

  • Icing
  • Rolling my calves (with the stick, with a foam roller)
  • Orthotics (both Happy Feet and Dr Scholl’s heel cups)
  • New shoes
  • Heel raises (both feet on the ground, both feet on a step, one foot in both positions, both feet bent knee/straight knee, and using a leg press machine)
  • One-legged squats
  • Calf stretches
  • Toe curls (alone, with a book on a towel, with two books on the towel)
  • Side steps with an elastic band around my ankles
  • Hamstring stretches
  • Actually a lot of various stretches
  • Ultrasound
  • “Breaking up adhesions” with a plastic thing
  • Trigger point dry needling
  • A Strassburg sock (at night)
  • A little elastic sleeve thing that is supposed to support the arch of the foot

Actually, while this looks like a long list of disparate and in fact desperate treatment options, I think they’re actually working. This morning, testing out a new pair of trail shoes, I ran twelve miles along the Ice Age Trail. At the beginning, the trail is pretty rutted and my foot was complaining, so I wasn’t expecting much, but after that calmed down it stayed calm for the rest of the run. This is definitely the best run I’ve had since the marathon, and I wasn’t taped. Was it the trails (nice and soft from yesterday’s rain), the new shoes, or the needling? I don’t care so long as I can repeat this at the 50k next week. TWO more runs before I hit the starting line!

By the way, in the comic above, Mom is carrying a cane because she fell off a horse. Presumably while chasing after cattle rustlers. Because she is a bad ass that way. (Not really–she said the straps came loose because of the humidity. But one has to admire that she came to Europe anyway and hiked around with that cane for a week and a half while she was healing. This is where my stubbornness came from.)

We’ll file this comic under HM741 .L86 2014, for Sociology–Groups and organizations–Social groups. Group dynamics–Social networks–General works.

The comic, by the way, took place on the Pont Neuf, which is a bridge. The sides look kind of neat, like this:

Pont Neuf detail.
Pont Neuf detail.

[1] If you’re reading this, I totally mean your blog, don’t worry.

[2] It’s plantar fasciitis (or plantar fascists, as B calls it).

Em oi! #399: He’s a Fan

Next time he'll perform "Eat It."

If you haven’t heard Janet Jackson’s classic song “Nasty” at this point, I don’t even know what to say to you. I’m not even the first comic artist to do a strip about it. Highlights from the music video include male crop tops, shoulder pads, and those funny squared-off haircuts that seem to have been popular in the 80s.

Everything was so square in the 80s, in a literal sense. What was with that design choice?

So following my marathon last week, which you may have read about here, I decided to run ten miles on both Wednesday and Thursday, sort of to see how I was feeling (the answer: tired). Then Friday we lifted legs. Some of you know that I lift with moderate seriousness[1]. This is something Bryan got me into just about six years ago next week(!) when we got our first gym membership together. Over time, I have come to appreciate leg day, because legs are a large muscle group and one that can do a lot of weight, so you can justify eating a lot of food after lifting legs.[2] For the last couple of months, I have been de-loading my squat (i.e., lifting less weight) to fix some problems with my form. So I was usually lifting about 95-100 lbs, but Friday I decided to go back to my typical working weight of 135 lbs (aka 100% of my body weight). Although I decided I would do five sets with five reps each rather than my more usual three sets of ten reps each, my quads unsurprisingly were not sold on the sudden increase. Then Saturday morning, I met my running group for thirteen (rather painful, hilly) miles. At this writing (Saturday night), my quads are no longer speaking to me. Basically I am currently sitting on the ground in front of the sofa and although I’m hearing a noise from the other room that suggests the dog is doing something untoward, I am having a really hard time motivating myself to get up and go check on the situation. Even the process of getting from a standing position to the floor where I could use my foam roller was rather harrowing. I may stay here forever.

Consequently, a new comic. Because I could sit on the ground and watch cooking videos and finish the inking. But hopefully my sabbatical is over and there will be more to come soon.

Anyway, dogs. So as the somewhat controversial Cesar Millan likes to say, dogs like to have jobs. This is especially true for working dogs like German shepherds and Australian shepherds, but it also seems to be true for regular normal house dogs like the shiba inu and the “mostly a flat-coated retriever.” If you don’t give the dogs a job, they come up with one themselves, I guess, because our dogs have certainly made a decision that they are each in charge of watching one of us. For the most part, when we are working during the day, we are in different rooms, and Edgar will be in my room while Maya is in B’s room. I am not sure how they came to this assignment, but it seems to be pretty consistent. If I move to another room to work, say, while Edgar is asleep (dogs spend most of their time asleep, much like cats), soon he will wake up and come find me in the new location. Similarly, I will find Maya either in the room where B has gone to nap, or occasionally in the next room if he has closed the door. Why do they act like this? How did they make the decision of which dog to assign to which human? And crucially, if we added either another dog or another human to the mix, what would happen?[3]

Questions that will probably not get answered.

Dogs who want my lunch.
Dogs who want my lunch.

We’ll file this under ML88.J3 L86 2014, for Literature on music–Aspects of the field of music as a whole–Visual and pictorial topics–Pictorial works–Musicians—Individual musicians, A-Z.


[1] Moderate seriousness defined as lifting 50-100% of my weight on most exercises, but without grunting, flexing in the mirror, or dragging along a gallon jug of either water or BCAAs to drink while lifting. Anyway, we lift on a body part-based rotation rather than an upper/lower split or that sort of thing. This fact included for the lifting nerds?

[2] Not that I need that sort of justification to eat a lot. Since my race, my diet has consisted mostly of romaine lettuce with parmesan cheese and Cesar dressing (a modified Cesar salad) and also cookies.

[3] When Daniel and Claire came to visit last, I think Edgar spent some of his time watching Daniel as well as me, but we were working in the same room enough that I can’t say for sure. He did really like Daniel though. We haven’t had any other guests either dog seemed to be as fond of.