the heat is on


-- चार हजार एक सौ और तीस एक --

I don't know what the hell I did on Sunday night, stood at a weird angle on my head in my sleep or what, but I woke up yesterday morning with a pain in my upper back, concentrated on my right side, the likes of which I don't think I have ever experienced. It got bad enough over the course of the day that, in the middle of the work day, I started to feel nauseated, and even took two Aleve -- something I'm not at all used to taking for anything besides my relatively regular headaches I've gotten virtually all of my life. I used to get severe migraines as a child, and only occasionally get headaches that bad as an adult, but migraines, until now, were the only kind of pain I ever got that caused nausea.

The severity would gradually come and go. I felt a little better by the time I was riding my bike home from work. Cycling does not generally work back muscles, but there is a fair amount of pulling on the handlebars, especially when standing to pedal up steep hills -- and I had to go up Olive, which is a bit steeper than Pine, on my way to a brief detour to City Cat Vet Hospital to pick up the Clavamox medication being used to get rid of this weird, hard buildup that had gotten really bad around Guru's claws. The pills are making a very noticeable difference, incidentally.

I would get greater pain from moving my arm the right way -- particularly raising it -- or even turning my neck the right way. I still did my three sets of pushups yesterday, as I have done every other day since I think 2012; it's become such an ingrained habit that I am truly obsessed about it, and on average, I have never missed doing it. I say "on average" because there have been a few days when I forgot, and then I would just do them the next two days in a row. Without exception, I have either stayed on schedule or caught up after being one day behind. It long ago improved my upper body strength and made me feel good about myself. I mean, even more than I already do. In any case, I never let anything like, say, being sick prevent me from doing these exercises (I do planks as well, on the days I do pushups, but aside from my regular walking or cycling commutes, that's the extend of my exercising). I suppose it could have been argued that I should not have done my pushups yesterday, with this back pain happening. Who knows? I did 34 after waking up; 33 after getting home from work; and 33 before bed, to total 100 for the day. That's always how I do it. If it means anything, it never seemed to make the pain worse.

But, it was pretty steady, and right before bed, I actually took Shobhit up on his offer to use his electronic pulse conductor pad things he used to use on his own back after a back injury slipping while working catering in Los Angeles. I couldn't really tell you whether they specifically made a difference. The whole thing is kind of annoyingly involved: you have to put a battery into this little box, pull wires and the conductor pads out of little plastic bags, and connect them all together. Shobhit set the intensity for me, after placing two of the pads on my left upper back. I felt a sort of tingling from them that came in waves. Oddly, feeling them just on my back, it didn't really feel like electricity. But when I pulled one off to move it to a better location on my back muscle, I very much felt the sensation in my fingers. The best comparison I can come up with is when you electrocute yourself by sticking your finger in a light socket -- but without the initial jolt, yet with the residual tingling.

I lay with those on my back for maybe ten minutes, and then, instead of reading as intended, I went to sleep just before 10:00. I got nearly seven and a half hours of sleep, even though I got out of bed at 5:19 this morning.

Shobhit said more than once, both last night and when I got up this morning, "I highly recommend you don't ride your bike today." I kept thinking, fuck that, I'm riding my bike. But, I later decided, it might be good to take at least one day without any vigorous exercise of any kind, to really give my back a break. It's still stiff but I woke up with it feeling far better this morning. Also, I can't read my library book while cycling, but I can while busing or walking, and I need to burn through this David Sedaris book a little faster. So, I'm really killing two birds with one stone here.

I honestly can't remember the last time I got on a bus to work. It's been weeks. It may have even been since May, or at least early June. According to the National Weather Service, this is Day 44 of no measurable rain, which takes us back to -- mid-June, I suppose. I happened to get up early enough today though, that even with my bus/walk commute -- catching the bus downtown, which is halfway, then walking the rest of the way -- which takes me longer than biking, I still got to work well before 7:30 this morning.

There's really nothing else to tell about last night, by the way. I spent it at home with Shobhit while Ivan was gone at work, and we watched a bunch of TV: two episodes of Bloodline and two episodes of The Golden Girls, before we tried the New York Times crossword but found it too difficult and gave up after maybe twenty minutes.

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I do have something to dread this week: an "excessive heat warning" from today through Friday. Even the National Weather Service -- which exaggerates the least often and is statistically the most accurate in their forecasts -- predicts a high today of 87°; 91° tomorrow; 96°(!) on Thursday; and 93° on Friday. I don't even care for 85° and that's what it'll "cool down" to on Saturday! The way I see it, this is bullshit all around.

It'll be the first full week in which I wear shorts every day, though. I even wore shorts to work yesterday, and it merely got into the low eighties. Shobhit was genuinely surprised when he saw me come home in them, although that was odd; it's not like I never wear shorts to work -- I just hadn't yet so far this year. I've been eschewing shoes for sandals for as many weeks it's been since it last rained, though.

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Oh! I almost forgot, I noticed these new bikes around downtown last week: "LimeBike," which I first noticed mostly concentrated around the new Amazon headquarters, but also sporadically further away; and "Spin," which I've seen more of along the waterfront. As of last week though I've seen both of them left standing on street corners near the Olympic Sculpture Park -- which I work a block away from -- and they piqued my interest.

After Pronto Cycle Share, which closed down a few months ago -- April -- these new, "dockless" bike share programs seem to have popped up to fill the void, with surprising swiftness. Making them dockless simplifies the concept and may work better. I hope they do, anyway. I paid $75 a year to be a Pronto member, but these ones don't do membership. It's a straight fee: $1 per ride, up to 30 minutes. I thought about that, and in all honestly I could ride as often as I did on Pronto bikes and even at a buck per ride likely wind up paying less per year than I did for Pronto. I have no idea how solvent that is for them.

I guess you just scan a QR code and that unlocks the bike, which you find either around you or on a map, dependent on wherever people have left them. This makes their availability less predictable, and run a lot more like Car2Go. Apparently both companies are part of a pilot program being run this year, and whether either or both of them continue operating into next year depends on a host of factors.

I haven't ridden either one yet, but would like to. I downloaded both apps. One of them already has Apple Pay ready to go, so I don't think I'd even have to enter payment options. The thing is, now that I finally have a headlight for my helmet, I'm a lot more likely to use my own bike in darker months than I used to. But I do like having the option of one-way bike trips again, for times like when I have plans in the evening the preclude the use of a bike, or, as in the rainy months, there is only rain expected either only in the morning or only in the evening. I still don't ever want to ride in the rain. But as long as I've got a light, I'm far more comfortable riding in the dark.

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I saw Harvey at work this morning. I guess he's working for a new brokerage now, and came to sit in on a meeting with Noah. He did a lot of my training when I was first hired at PCC, in 2002 -- almost as much as Elin did. But unlike Elin, who stayed here until retiring last year (and is still involved, now on the Board), Harvey left for another job at the very beginning of 2004. I think he had only been here seven years or something like that. He's switched jobs once or twice even since then, but we've stayed in touch here and there over the years, mostly via social media.

I did look it up out of curiosity to see when I actually saw him last -- it was five years ago, almost to the date: August 8, 2012, when he happened to be on the same Cascadian Farm Home Tour I went on with several people from work. I DMed him a link to that photo, which only shows him from behind, and noted that he had a surprising lot of hair then. He wrote back, in part, Ha! What a hippie! Then he told me how great it was to see me. I think it had been even more than five years since I had seen him prior to that. I'm not sure if I'd seen him prior to that since he left his job here.

He was always super friendly, and that doesn't seem to have changed. He smiles a lot. Not a hugger, though -- he shakes hands. It always feels slightly awkward to me when men I've known a long time but are seeing me for the first time after a long period shake my hand. I don't suppose it should, except that it feels like a very culturally "male" thing to do. Here's an amusing tidbit, though: I saw in my journal entry from my second day at this job -- August 6, 2002 -- that I was "fairly certain" he was gay. So much for making snap judgements! He's rather straight, as it happens. Even divorced and remarried and had a child since leaving PCC. (He also got into a horrible bike accident, was hospitalized, and was still beat up and bruised at his actual wedding.) He was a huge Madonna fan, though. That's the gayest thing about him.

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