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Friday, March 10, 2017

Wrist, and recuperation


Hello, everyone.

Here in Charlotte, we are bracing for winter to arrive just as we roll over the clock into spring this weekend.  A freak storm blew through starting last night and will continue to work its mischief until Sunday morning when we are told to expect one to two inches of snow.

In the old, familiar way of North Carolina snowfall, it is predicted to start melting about as fast as it falls. This will bum out small children, as it did me 55 years ago. Now, it is a relief.  Since Tuesday, I have a new appreciation of falling down. It is something I plan to try and avoid.

I was having a nightmare about having just moved into an apartment and an earthquake striking, when I woke for real at 5 a.m. and discovered a thunderstorm had gathered over the house where I live. It spent the next hour rumbling and gurgling severely enough to rattle the house.

No going back to sleep with this, I thought to myself. In addition to that, the radio was on. WFAE, the Charlotte NPR news station has people up at the crack of dawn to start rattling the stick in the bucket. It is fundraising week. 

Truncating the news, however, does not mean you get a different mix of news. It remains irritating pretty much from top to bottom. There were stories about how the Republicans in Raleigh are completing their partisan takeover of the North Carolina court system. There were stories about the rampant vacancies in federal agencies as a result of the Trump administration's apparent decision to simply hollow out the establishment of government. A second Cabinet member, Rex Tillerson, has recused himself from a major action because of a previous business conflict as chairman of Exxon Mobil. And if you ask Alexa if she is connected to the CIA comma she won't answer!

 So I got up.

Determined to keep pressing myself, I managed to get a shirt on with buttons. Down the front was pretty easy. The left cuff, which I had to do up with my right hand, got done, but not without a certain amount of fumbling and pain. Small victories.

I found I can stand much more easily today, if not sprint, or even jog.  My knee doesn't hurt much. It just reminds me when I'm pushing it. When I went to get the mail, I discovered that going down the steps is best done right foot first, position established, then left foot.

My right wrist remains another matter.  The swelling in my hand goes down slowly, and the underside of my forearm is one big bruise.  The rotating function of my wrist is still pretty much beyond me. I can do it, it just hurts like hell. Typing is possible, which speeds things up. However, my fingers are still fairly stiff and swollen, which makes them sometimes unresponsive, and eventually, painful. I can work for an hour or an hour and a half, then have to take some time off to pack my hand in ice. 

I have thought, more than once today, it would be nice just to freeze my hand in a big block of it. Frostbite seems more agreeable than the dull ache I am stuck with until the swelling goes down some more.

But I am fortunate. Nothing is broken. I have a roof over my head. A handful of people have expressed concern for my well-being, and to them I am most grateful.

I spent part of the day working on trying to reestablish my social media sales efforts.  Selling books online is a truly Sisyphean effort.  You try to figure out the right combination of posts, on the right set of topics, to raise your reach and maximize your audience for the day. Then, at 3 a.m., Facebook resets the counter and drops you 150, 250, 500 points.

 Having been effectively off the clock since Tuesday night, I am down close to 1000 on my weekly reach average for Facebook. Today I have been able to push it up almost to the point it occupied yesterday. At least common over the ground lost that way. But every few months over the last year, the great algorithm at Facebook adjusts its calculations to knock reach down again by 25% or so. 2500 week average, or 10,000 a month, seems to be my new ceiling.

I spent a chunk of the afternoon working on some test broadcasts for Rare Book Cafe with our producer, Allen Smith. I am not talking out of school to continue to be amazed at what a bunch of Luddites antiquarian book dealers are. It is ridiculously easy to set up a video conference on your computer. When we invite people on the program, we do 99.9% of the work. And yet there are dealers who cannot get there .1% right. Today we worked on and off all afternoon with the dealer who couldn't see why he needed to use Chrome as a browser instead of AOL. I kept my “internet on training wheels” comments to myself.

In between, in posting things, I'm relearning using dictation software. Google calls it voice typing in their office suite, and it works reasonably well. The trouble with voice typing, however, is largely unchanged from when I first bought a Dragon System Program 20 years ago. It is hard to proofread. As you watch the words scroll across the screen while you talk, you expect the program to get them all right. And while the program will spell them all correctly, it will not necessarily always use the correct word.

So the eye glides over errors. Even more so, in my case, because my prose is so boring to begin with, even I hate to have to reread it. It simply reminds me of the paucity of my imagination and compositional skills. A reading one of these dictating post is like reading a literal translation of French. You got the basic message, but some of the nuance and elegance may be lost.

But it still beats typing. I am grateful for that. I have to draw myself up short, however, at how spoiled I have become, as I suspect most of us have, by the ease and convenience of life.  I am still out of sorts over the loss of 15 of my 18 eggs purchased on Tuesday. I still believe breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I like my eggs and sausage. But am I going to go try to walk to the grocery and get some replacements? Not bloody likely, especially when the temperature is going to drop to freezing tomorrow.

Tomorrow I will make an appearance on the Rare Book Cafe at the usual time, 2:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. It's the last time I will say that, or rather, write it, until autumn. We roll the clocks over tomorrow night. We have a good show on. The other day we interviewed the artistic director of the St. Petersburg Shakespeare Festival. Veronica Matthews is a remarkable young woman: so erudite, articulate, and witty that I can forgive her even having done Graduate Studies at Cambridge. 

As is my practice, I never asked such people if they had a chance to visit Oxford. If they did not, I cannot begin to tell them what they missed. If they did, I know they already have an unfillable hole in their souls, having realized how much they actually missed out on.

 So I hope you can drop in on the show. I will certainly not be wearing a bow tie. Pushing the hoop through the back is more than my left hand will manage at the moment. Whether or not there is a tie at all, will depend on The Graces of Good Fortune and my recuperative powers. 

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