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dinko’s memories of a croatian vacation » General

Posts filed under 'General'

8 months and counting

Yup, I’m still injured! That’s quite possibly the reason why I don’t really update this blog - half of my previous entries had something to do with running, and I also felt too depressed to keep writing injury updates.
But at this point, it’s worth listing all the things I tried so far, just because it’s a bit funny, and will also remind me one day not to get injured again.
So in no particular order, these are the methods, items, medications, that I’ve tried since September:

  • 2 months of physical therapy at Excel
  • 1 month of Etodolac anti-inflammatory meds
  • Flector anti-inflammatory patches on my legs
  • Nitroglycerin trans-dermal patches on pain areas for several weeks (yes, those that heart patients use to prevent angina attacks
  • All natural bursitis patches from Australia, worn at night for a couple of weeks, they smell like vinegar, and always rip off too much hair in the morning
  • Home ultrasound kit - 4 weeks, an hour a day (although I may have used it wrong initially)
  • 6 weeks of aggressive PT at Zarett
  • 1 very painful scraping session for each leg at Zarett
  • Couple of myofascial release massages

Some of the tools in my home inventory are

  • the stick (one at home, one at work actually)
  • foam roller
  • some tennis balls that I lay on or sit on, depending on whether I’m releasing the hip flexor or massaging the hamstring
  • the super powerful Thumper massager
  • neoprene thigh compression sleeves that i wear whenever i walk or bike anywhere

And then there are countless hours of stretching and strengthening exercises at home, I would guess at least 4-5 hours a week, and even more during certain periods.

At this point I am feeling a little better, I think the last round of PT, plus the myofascial relese therapy might actually be making a difference, I just hope it’s not temporary.

In PT they pointed out some weaknesses and bad flexibility in parts not close to the injury (hamstrings), but that could have contributed to the initial injury. So I’m working on some hip flexibility and core strengthening, which will hopefully help me not get injured again, once I actually start running again.

Add comment April 23rd, 2009

Good photos, good stories

I’ve recently been told about the Boston.com Big Picture blog, and have been following it for some great photos and interesting stories from around the world.
However, the most recent post about Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (have you heard about it anywhere in the media?) was actually so powerful and sad that it prompted me to share the link here. Go read it and some of the comments posted by people who unfortunately know about this firsthand.

Add comment September 27th, 2008

The daily swoop

First I thought this was a freak incident, but I can easily reproduce it once or twice a day now. When I walk Pablo to the park right outside of our building and we walk around a particular tree, there’s this small bird that starts chirping, and then eventually swoops at Pablo’s tail, and actually touches it some times.
I guess its nest is in that tree that Pablo likes to pee on, and we’re perceived as a threat, so it goes for the highest (and hairiest) point on Pablo’s body. The most amazing thing about this is that the bird hasn’t ended up in Pablo’s jaws yet, mostly because it attacks from behind.
Pablo’s prey drive is pretty high, and he’s managed to already catch a fish (yes, a catfish was living in one of Philly’s fountains for a while, but Pablo just managed to scare it enough, he didn’t finish it off), and goes for squirrels on a daily basis. Recently he surprised one (and me) when he circled a large tree, and was mere inches away from its tail. I hope he never catches one as that would be really gross and cruel, and it would make him an even more dedicated hunter.

Add comment July 12th, 2008

A happy ending

Well in a sense - as this trip is nearing its end, and we have less than an hour of flying to JFK, I’m fondly remembering my first paid-for massage experience. Evan and I had some extra Bhats and lots of extra time at the Bangkok airport, so we decided to get a full body 45-minute Thai massage. It was a bit weird as we were sweaty and smelly, but they do give you one-size-fits-all PJs, wash your feet with a warm towel, and then proceed to beat the crap out of you. These two tiny Thai girls kept giggling while they flipped us around and inflicted pain (the good kind) to each muscle. They thought we were brothers, possibly because of the beards - do all white guys look the same to Asian people?
Yesterday morning, which seems forever ago, and now definitely half the globe away, we had morning tea in the chill back yard of the Pilgrims bookstore, then said goodbye to good old Kathmandu.
I’ve definitely grown fond of Nepal, and shed a tear or two on the plane when leaving it. Nepal and its people will definitely stay in my heart, and I feel differently than when leaving prior destinations I’ve seen as a tourist. Possibly it’s because I spent more time than at any other place outside of Croatia and the U.S., possibly it’s because the way I’ve seen and experienced Nepal - slowly, by foot, accompanied by the locals, actually getting some understanding of their complex society and culture, and seeing firsthand how difficult life is for most Nepali, who yet somehow still appear happy and friendly.
I don’t know when the next time will be when I get a chance to visit it, and under what circumstances. I am fairly sure that it will be quite a bit different though, as witnessed by all the construction in cities and the mountains. All I can say is that I wish Nepali people all the best with coping with political and economic changes (progress?), a rapid boom in tourism that’s inevitable, and all the environmental and social issues that will come along with it.
This concludes this portion of the program, which turned out to be my most valuable travel experience so far, and until next time, NAMASTE…

Add comment May 10th, 2008

Only a week away…

My big trip is now only a week away, and I’m getting very excited, as well as very freaked out.
I mean, I always thought of myself as someone who can put up with a lot of suffering while traveling, and am sort of used to long flights. However, flying to Europe doesn’t even compare to flying to the other side of the world.
I have to leave home on Tuesday night, spend a night with Brad in NYC, in order to get to JFK on time Wednesday morning. Then I board a Thai Airways flight to Bangkok which takes unimaginable 17 and a half hours! That’s like flying to Europe and back in one sitting! Even the fact that Seat Guru claims I will have 5 more inches of leg room than your average Airbus 319 flight doesn’t make things better - it’s still going to be a lot of suffering.
After I land in Bangkok, I have an 18 hour layover! And I can’t leave the airport since I’m a freaking Croat, and I was too cheap to get a visa so I can do a few hours of sightseeing. It’s looking like I will spend a fortune on a small room at the terminal instead, so I can actually get some sleep. Another 3 hour flight will get me to Kathmandu noon-ish on Friday the 4th, where some friendly Sherpa will pick me up and take me to my hotel.
From my home in Philly to my hotel in Kathmandu, the door-to-door trip is only something like 55 hours…

But, as soon as I reread my trekking itinerary and all the amazing stuff we’re going to see, I kinda feel better about the little traveling bit.
Anyway, I’m taking an old fashioned pen and paper blog, as I’ll have plenty of time to write, and update this blog after I come back.
There’s also my camera with 10 gigs of flash cards, and an ebook reader with more books than I could read if I didn’t do anything else for 3 weeks. I decided not to take any other electronic gadgets, not even an iPod, since I’m already lugging enough stuff that needs extra batteries, converters, wires, all in a place where I’ll go for 2 weeks without seeing an electric outlet.

1 comment March 27th, 2008

An exciting month of April

I leave for Nepal in less than three weeks, and I’m starting to think how I’m going to miss all these important events while I’m gone. From political events like George W visiting Zagreb (why, oh why?) on April 5th, to the Pennsylvania primaries on the 22nd, I’ll be in the media darkness (spending Earth day flying from Lukla to Kathmandu). Then I’ll also miss early spring in Philly which is becoming my favorite time of the year, along with some good races every single weekend.
But, on the other hand, I’ll be a witness to a historical election in Nepal, when they will try to completely abolish the monarchy on April 10th (I’ll be away in the mountains by then, which is good as any riots are likely to happen in cities). I’ll also be near Mt. Everest, which now both Chinese and Nepali governments have now shut down for climbing in early May. That means there may be more summit attempts while I’m actually there, a tiny speck close to the Base Camp. There have also been protest by Tibetans in Kathmandu that turned violent. Fortunately I’ll do Kathmandu sightseeing in my running shoes, and will keep my eyes out for any violent Tibetan monks looking for trouble.

Add comment March 15th, 2008

Strangers in the night (on a train)

On several other occasions I noticed how complete strangers in certain situations are more likely to share intimate details and personal opinions, than they are with people they know. I’ve seen that traveling, joining the running club, and generally in situations where people are just bored and resort to talking to strangers to kill time.
I was coming back on a train from NYC to Philly last night, and ended up stuck on it for 4 hours, because someone decided to end their life on Amtrak train tracks in Trenton. All traffic was completely stopped until federal agents, Amtrak engineers, and the coroner could get there. Oh, and the rumor was that the coroner was stuck in traffic, and we had no ETA for the whole situation to clear up.
People were calm and reserved at first, but as soon as we heard “folks, this might be a while” people started talking and depleting the cafe car’s alcohol supplies. I had an interesting trio in front of me, all sort of living around Philly, all around the same 30-something age, but having very different backgrounds. A girl that I recognized from Drexel, studied fashion design, works for a big firm in NYC but has quit her job yesterday, is about to get married in September and start a family, has traveled all over the world, and is generally very upbeat and idealistic. Chatting her up were two family guys, one black guy who was on his first day of Amtrak training, has done a lot of community work type jobs, and generally nice, but very limited in his experiences. The other was a really chatty Italian guy from south Philly who seems mostly unhappy that he married early and had kids before doing anything else, even though he adamantly denies it, as well as hiding his wedding ring on purpose.
So I had a privilege of listening to their flirting, opinions on relationships, families, settling down, being faithful, dealing with difficulties in life in general…
Although it was interesting and funny at times (especially when the older ladies in the car started offering themselves to the Italian guy), I was really happy when the coroner finally came, closed up the scene, and let us get on with out regular lives…

As a side note, next time you find yourself willing to share things with strangers, and are surrounded by a bunch of others who are trying to sleep, be aware that they can’t help but listen, and might write blog entries revealing your issues :)

Add comment March 11th, 2008

Our dirty city

I always thought Philly was one of the dirtiest places I’ve ever been too. Sure, it’s a big city, blah blah, but I’ve seen bigger places look a lot cleaner. The primary problem is just that the citizens don’t care about it, and litter because it’s somehow more convenient, or it’s not cool for some reason to dispose of your trash into provided receptacles. Or hell, maybe since the city is already so dirty, why should I care about not littering…
There is also an issue of a lack of trash cans around though, at times you can walk for 10 blocks without seeing one (you notice these things when you’re carrying a stinky bag of dog poo), and the ones that are there are either overflowing because they’re not emptied often, or have been emptied by ever-present wind in the city. I’ve seen only a few of those new trash cans with domed tops that prevent stuff from flying out of them. But still, compared to the cultural issue, the cans are not the problem here. I’ve carried trash all the way home from for miles, as opposed to dropping it on the sidewalk.
Anyway, it looks like our new mayor is actually doing something about it. Not sure how successful it will be, but he’s trying to get 10,000 people to get out on April 5th and clean specific parts of the city. I remember being in elementary school and having organized cleanups of my immediate neighborhood with my class. After you spend a few hours cleaning up crap that other people threw out, if your parents didn’t teach you otherwise, you’ll definitely think twice before littering next time. Because you might be the person picking it up the next time!
As a city you can spend tons of money on cleaning services, but I think until the culture changes (or gets introduced to people as a new concept), it will all be in vain.

Add comment March 11th, 2008

Bag nazis

I shop at Whole Foods at least twice a week. I noticed the trend of how they’re trying to push reusable canvas bags harder and harder these days.
A couple of years ago you’d have to ask to buy a canvas bag. This changed into canvas bags being prominently displayed and cashiers thanking you for bringing your own bag, and occasionally even praising (”wow, reusable bag, you’re my kind of guy”). Then they started asking questions like “paper, plastic, or would you like to buy a reusable bag today?”. Now I feel totally guilty when I go to the store without my own bag (as in I’m coming from somewhere else and don’t have my cloth bag on me), I almost want to offer an explanation and say that I will put my recyclables in the paper bag I get.
The other day I overheard something that was almost bordering on offensive like “I noticed you don’t have a reusable bag today, are you going to get one?”
While I’m all for reusable bags, and take mine even to the liquor store these days, that was just a little too much…
I also read today that the store will completely eliminate plastic bags by Earth Day this year, which I guess will either eliminate some of the tension regarding the choice, or piss people off even more.

1 comment February 29th, 2008

Shopping around for carbon offsets

It seems like carbon offset purchasing is all over the news these days. It has gotten big enough that many individuals are paying attention to it, and the FTC is as well, trying to regulate the companies selling you these services (which is sort of hard on the consumer, since you don’t really see what you’re buying).
I guess since the whole world is a lot more aware of the global warming issue (or as some still call it myth) than it was a couple of years ago, so the number of companies that are trying to help, and also make a profit, has increased too.

Since I believe that we should all be responsible and clean up after ourselves as much as we can, I was excited to be able to purchase carbon offsets for my flights a couple of years ago, which I’ve done through TerraPass. At that point, we already had the house covered with 100% wind energy from PECO, we don’t drive much, which left flying as the big polluter that you mostly can’t influence, other than stay at home.

This last Christmas, Crystal’s work purchased car offsets (through CarbonFund.org) for all their employees, which I have to admit is pretty cool. So this made me think about the differences between different offset companies, such as whether they are non-profit or not. It looks like someone did the homework already and published it in this neat chart.
Not only do you learn that the price of a ton of CO2 is different with every company, you can see which ones are in it for profit, which types of funds are they investing the offsets into, and which independent authority verifies their work.

Even though I sort of fear that the ability for individuals and even businesses to buy carbon offsets might start a mentality of “who cares how much we use, we can always buy our way out of it”, I still think this is a good next step - make everyone aware that there is a need and a way to pay for polluting.
The fact that all this is all voluntary, yet suckers like me are still buying into it, is overall fairly encouraging… Although it was interesting today to see today that the EU (who is way ahead of the US as far as government and individual mentality towards anything green) might institute carbon taxes for all products that it imports from countries that don’t curb their carbon emissions.

Add comment January 17th, 2008

Stupid spam

It’s been a while since I did any work on my gallery or this blog, as far as upgrades or general cleanup.
Since it’s really embarrassing to be an IT professional whose personal stuff gets lost due to lack of backups, or gets hacked because of a really old vulnerability, I decided to do some of that work today.

My gallery was a home to over 110,000 spam comments, which I’m slowly deleting, so the database backup can actually be a manageable size. After that I might look at upgrading Gallery, even though it’s quite stable as it is, but if you let it go for too long, the upgrade path becomes crazy.

I just upgraded Wordpress which runs this blog, and will have a much better handle on comment spam here. Today I caught some comments made by Regan and Lisi that were awaiting moderation for many months, lost in the sea of spam.

2 comments January 6th, 2008

2008 is here

Yup, and I’ve been really lazy about blogging. Guess things haven’t been that interesting…

2008 will bring us some new changes, like a complete smoking ban in public places in Croatia (I knew this was going to happen eventually, but I thought it was year away), stupid TSA banned more than 3 lithium batteries on a plane, and even though it really only applies to larger batteries, I’m afraid that uneducated security staff will prevent me from taking more than 3 camera batteries to Nepal, which could cause some problems.

Anyway, 2006 and 2007 have been great to my little family, and hopefully we’ll continue to do well in 2008, and maybe even work on expanding the family.

More immediate challenges though will be completing the Arizona marathon next Sunday in under 3:40, then doing some training for Nepal trekking, which might need to include some winter hiking, which should be fun.

1 comment January 6th, 2008

Back home

Went home, now I’m back home :)
It’s funny, that home concept, but Zagreb is my home, and so is Philly… We’re back in the Philly one now. Two weeks in Zagreb were good, maybe not as crazy as they were in the past, partially due to the fact we’re all older and lamer now, and most of my friends have regular jobs and lives there. We did some light drinking, hanging out, visiting my small family, and also some running and swimming. You’d think that leaving Zagreb would get easier over the years, and that I’d get used to it, but I’ll be damned if it got any easier. It’s now more than ever that I’d like to move back there, but we’ll have to wait a couple of years before trying that.

I managed to cast my vote in Croatian parliamentary elections, 90 minutes before my plane took off. However, a week later we still don’t know who will assemble the next government, as both major parties are struggling to make a viable coalition.

Now that we’re back, I did my first long run on Kelly Drive in 4 weeks. When I woke up I realized that running 18 miles on the same old trail is really boring, and decided to look up the Philly Runners club. I thought the whole running with strangers thing will be awkward, but it worked out really well. I had company for the first 8 miles of my run, which made it bearable. Will repeat that with other long runs before the Arizona marathon in January.

In Nepal news, it looks like someone found what might be Yeti footprints. I better have that camera ready in case he sneaks up on us…

1 comment December 1st, 2007

It’s that time again

I’m going home this Friday to refresh the memories of that Croatian vacation. I stay two weeks this time, Crystal only one (sucky Comcast vacation).
I’ll get to see all my friends I miss so much, hang out with my small family and tell them all about my Nepal trip so they can start freaking out. I’ll also get to see some new kids that were born wince I was there last year.
Pablo gets to spend 10 days in the joint, hopefully he’ll behave and not be too depressed when he gets out next Sunday.

Add comment November 7th, 2007

Hi-tech brushing

I visited the dentist last week (after delaying for about 18 months), and got convinced that I should get an electric toothbrush. So after spending some time being confused by all the models and reading Amazon reviews, I ordered the one with the highest model number, because that’s gotta be the best!
And is there a better way to get me to brush properly than get a cool gadget to do it with?!

So today I got my Oral-B Triumph 9950 with SmartGuide delivered… It took me more time to get it all assembled than it would for a camera or a computer part. I actually had to refer to the quick start sheet and the manual! It’s a toothbrush! But it is no ordinary toothbrush - it has 4 different brushes, 4 modes of brushing and massaging, and a very cool wireless gadget (SmartGuide) that displays the time you have left for brushing each quadrant of your mouth, which mode you are in, battery status, and it even flashes red if you’re pressing too hard!!!
It will even tell me when it’s time to replace my brush head, which is probably 2 months before you’d actually need to replace it, but it looks like I’ll be giving these guys even more money down the road.
Well, if I don’t get yelled at by the dentist some time in the future, it will be all worth it…

Add comment October 29th, 2007

A Canniversary

It’s been exactly a year since we adopted Pablo.
Since then he’s been the main subject of my photos, blog entries, and our daily schedules (”who’s got the dog tomorrow?”). He’s been a source of major stress in our household, daily barking fits and other struggles, he doesn’t travel well and costs way more than you’d think.
He does offer some things in return though, like protecting our place from strangers in the courtyard by barking until they leave. At times you could be fooled into thinking that he’s sharing his love and affection with us, but it’s ultimately all about his comfort and attention directed at him.
Still, I can’t help but smile when I’m watching him happily chomping away on his birthday bone, and realize how much we’ve grown to love him.

Last week I came across this post on Craigslist (same place where we got Pablo), which pretty much sums it all up.

Add comment October 28th, 2007

One step closer to the big mountains

After a crappy week at work so far, and worrying about a steamy marathon, at least I accomplished something good today.
I just bought my plane tickets to Kathmandu! The experience will be pretty painful, as I leave JFK on a Wednesday morning, after a 17.5 hour flight I arrive to Bangkok, where I have to kill 16 hours at the airport (they have room rental by the hour, I’m pretty sure I’ll take advantage of that). I finally get to Kathmandu on Friday mid-day, two days ahead of schedule, which should give me enough time to rest and explore the city on my own.

Dan from REI will make sure I get a window seat from Bangkok to Kathmandu with the view of the Himalayas. Now that’s worth looking forward to…

Oh yeah, and I get 20,000 miles on US Scareways, that’s a free flight right there!

Add comment October 3rd, 2007

Spoiled bums

So the other day I’m walking home (one of the few days I didn’t bike), and this young-ish black woman is running down the street, asking people for change. I almost never give change to bums, unless I know specifically they are hungry and they will buy food with this money, which you can’t really be sure. I have heard many really bad stories from what looked like physically fit and somewhat mentally healthy people, and I normally don’t fall for them anymore.
Anyway, I give this woman a quarter for whatever strange reason, then she stops and asks:

“Are you going by the Starbucks, could you get me something to drink?”
Me (thinking that it is very damn hot outside, and maybe the woman’s dehydrated): “Like water?”
She: “No, a small strawberry frappuccino, please?”
Me: ??@#$%^….

Add comment September 29th, 2007

Why can’t they all just get along

Some slightly concerning news out of Nepal today, about the Maoist party quitting the government, demanding that the monarchy be turned into a republic. While overall this is probably a good thing, these guys are not your average parliamentary party, having held a guerrilla army for the last ten years, now threatening with protests and possible violence again. Hopefully things won’t escalate to the 2006 levels, but I’ll definitely keep my eyes our for any news from the region.

Add comment September 18th, 2007

Delinquent with a capital P

Pablo, that is.

Last time we took Pablo to daycare (and no, it’s not just some fancy way to get rid of him for a day, it’s a place where we board him when we leave town, and it also allows us to have a walk-free day every few weeks) there was an incident… An incident when he tried to mount some other dog, who apparently didn’t like that and a fight ensued. Overall, no harm done, other than we were told for the first time that Pablo doesn’t listen to anyone there, and that if this happens again (even though they aren’t supposed to put dogs that don’t get along together), our dog is banned from the place. This came as a bit of a shock. I mean, if your kid gets in a fight in school, you talk to the kid. What do you tell a hyperactive 2-year old mutt???

After talking to the owner of the place, he’s willing to work with us and the crazy Mexican, but we have to give them some tips on how to get him to listen, and they have to make sure they have appropriate staff on the days he is visiting. It’s like owning a highly dangerous four-legged criminal. He’s really not that bad, but if the staff at the daycare didn’t work with him at all, no wonder he thinks he owns that joint.

We are also starting some additional work with the dog trainer next week, to solve some obedience and many fear issues that this canine has.
Definitely not what we were hoping for when adopting a cute abandoned doggy, but it is what it is.

2 comments September 18th, 2007

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