Pain in the backside

Up until a week ago I had my running headed the right direction. Suddenly today I was ready to head out for a run and paused to take a peek at my logbook. I was shocked to read that I had not run since last Wednesday (a week ago). I was on track to run more miles this month than I did last month. Then I took a strange week off. It has been cold and rainy at times during the last week and I have been busy. All of that added up to one excuse after another to derail me.

I only fell 8 miles short of beating last month and was still better than many of my other recent months. Just surprised that the month ended and I hadn’t realized that I threw away a week.

Over the last 5 weeks I have been developing a horrible pain in my right leg. It is piriformis syndrome. I am not entirely sure what caused it, but three of the main causes are running, biking and sitting. Other than sleeping I think that describes just about everything I do. Thankfully it is only in one leg.

Piriformis syndrome is when the piriformis muscle squeezes on the sciatic nerve and causes a pain down the leg or up into the back. This can be due to an injury that causes damage/swelling to the region, or because of excessive muscle tone. I am not sure how I feel about the thought that my rear end muscles may be the most developed ones I have.

The way it effects me is that when transitioning from a sitting to standing position it feels like my muscle spasms and locks up tight over that nerve. When I give it a few seconds to relax the sharp pain goes away as quickly as it started. It does not bother me at all while running, walking or performing any normal activities. It is mostly just that one movement when I flex the muscle to extend the leg that it bites me in the bottom.

When I remember to do stretches and take lots of ibuprofen the pain subsides wonderfully. But each time I have a good day I make the mistake of not being as religious about the exercises and the medicine. That sends me into another day of intense pain.

I will get over this. Or at least get to the bottom of it.

How is doing?

I was digging through some podcast websites today that sounded like they might interest me. I was surprised and scared at what I found. Then I started asking myself if Missionary Talks (my main podcast) has the same problems.

The shows I checked out were listed as “religious.” Other than knowing their name and that they should be religious in some way, I knew nothing about the shows. Some I did not even go to because their name told me that I would not be interested (that’s a good thing) or I couldn’t figure out what the show might be about based on their name (that’s a bad thing). As far as a name goes, I think Missionary Talks is a good name for a show. It does not tell you exactly what the show is about, but I think most could figure out that it has something to do with missionaries and that it is conversational or instructional rather than musical.

Missionary TalksWhen I arrived at the websites of the shows that passed the first test I had trouble finding information immediately on the front page that tells about the show. Most had the standard blog post with a few words about the episode and an audio link. But I still had trouble figuring out from the episode posts what the general tone of the podcast was. I did not do this for all the shows, but even clicking through to the standard “about” page left me puzzled about the content of some of them. Is the masthead explanation of Missionary Talks sufficient? Or do I need a little blurb at the top of the sidebar that gives a bit more detail?

None of the sites I looked at gave me any indication as to how long each episode was. I know we, as podcasters, are not bound by a time limit (though I think each one should have a goal), but I could get no feel for how long any of the episodes were without either downloading an episode or starting to play the episode from the website. (This was not always available, nor was the information about episode length always listed on the embedded player.) At Missionary Talks I have the show length stated at the bottom of each post. Does anyone but me care about episode length?

I am curious to get feedback on the impression you get when you go to the Missionary Talks website. I am looking at refreshing the site with some new graphics and maybe a color scheme change. While doing all this I want to make any informational changes that will help potential new listeners become immediately comfortable with navigating the site. Any input is helpful. What bugs you about Missionary Talk? What do you love about it that you think shouldn’t change?

By the way, I didn’t subscribe to any of the podcasts I went to look at. I guess I was too depressed by what I found.

A Radio Interview in Argentina

Yesterday I was asked to do a radio interview concerning my ministry in Argentina. The man asking me the questions is the pastor of the church where we are working. He is also the main preacher on this radio program. Of course it is in Spanish, but I wanted to make it available for you to hear if you would like.

Bicycle Headlight

Bike Headlight/flashlight

I was talking with some friends at church the other night about staying safe on the bike. This is a couple who have bent over backwards to help us since we arrived. If the weather is bad, or we aren’t feeling up to taking the bikes to church at night, this couple always offers to drive us home to save us the cost of a taxi even though we live the opposite direction from their house.

In our conversation it was mentioned that we need more lights on our bike to be visible. I have wanted to get a headlight for the bikes, but have not wanted to spend the amount of money necessary to do so. While talking about the lights I was reminded of a recent blog article I read where the guy had strapped a flashlight on his bike by using part of an old inner tube. So I had to give it a try.

At first I was thinking that I needed to find a flashlight that was appropriate for this. Then I remembered that I had a couple of $2 lights from Autozone that would be perfect. I also have an old tube that I was keeping for just such occasions.

Light and Tube separate

Tonight was my first chance to use the set-up. It worked very well. It is completely secure. There is no chance that this is falling off. But I can remove it in less than 2 seconds. There is no fiddling with some complicated mount, or fearing that it is going to end up busted on the side of the road.

Light and Tube together

It is not that great as a light to show me where I am going. That could be due to the fact that the light hardly shines at all. The batteries are terribly weak. But, my purpose is just so people can see that there is an object out in front of them. I don’t plan to blind any drivers with this light, just let them know I exist.

There are a couple of things I plan to do in the future. I will try mounting it under the handlebar instead of on top. I did not have any problem with it wanting to slide around, but mounting it underneath will be just as easy and will eliminate any possibility of gravity pulling it where I don’t want it to go. The second thing I will look at doing is wrapping a bit of tire rubber around that section of the handlebars to cushion the 2 metal objects from one another. It will have the added benefit of holding it even more securely.

If you need a bike light in a pinch, or just don’t want to spend the ridiculous amounts of money the bike shops are asking for a light, give this a try.

Book Review: Life of Pi

Life of Pi
Life of Pi by Yann Martel was a fascinating book that completely pulled me into the story after it finally got interesting. But it took a long time to get interesting.

The first 120 pages of the story is about a teenage Indian boy (dot, not feather) who believes completely in three main religions: Christianity (Catholic), Islam and Hinduism. Pi, the main character, grew up as a zookeeper’s son. The family sold the animals and closed the zoo to move to Canada. While on the journey from India to Canada, along with some of the animals, the ship sank. The story is put to paper at a later time by a writer based on interviews with Pi and others related to the events.

The next 280 pages is about the sinking of the ship and how Pi, and his lifeboat companion Richard Parker, survived for 227 days at sea. Richard Parker was a 450 pound Bengal Tiger. There were other companions on the lifeboat, but they either died, were killed or drowned before too many days had passed in the lifeboat.

One of my favorite parts of the book is when Pi goes into a nine step process as to how you, the reader, should go about taming the wild animal (i.e., tiger, rhinoceros or wild boar) in the boat with you. It is funny in that I hope to never find myself in need of such information, but he describes it with the passion and factuality that any 16 year old would bring to something so serious.

As stated earlier, the book pulled me along when it finally got interesting. But that did not happen until after page 120 (in my edition of the book). The book is broken into three parts. If you take my second paragraph above as a summary of the first section of the book you can save yourself all the boring parts and not enjoy the book any less. But you are going to read it anyway, aren’t you? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

While I can’t say that it was the most thrilling or immersive book I have ever read, it was very hard to put down towards the end.

I have heard many good reviews of the book and have to agree that it is well written and will probably become a classic. But, like most classics, unless you struggle to get very far into the book, you will probably put it away disappointed that you didn’t see what everyone else saw in the work. If you are struggling to get into the book from the start just take my advice and skip to part two and prepare yourself for a great story.

Life of Pi, Yann Martel. Mariner Books. 2003. 326 pages (in the linked edition, mine was 401 pages).