Call and response

is not new in the musical world. It has been around in many types of music for centuries. (Without call and response, jazz and gospel would not be what they are.) Typically it involves a call from a soloist and a response from the chorus. What I’m thinking of today is a call from one artist and another answering in a later recording. The first example I remember hearing was Hank Thompson and Kitty Wells. (Both songs are in the same YouTube video below.)

The great Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell did their call and response in the same song. They were mostly love songs. Otis Redding and Carla Thomas turned that on its ear in a way that I have to include even if it doesn’t exactly fit:

Merle Haggard put out his call to arms with “Okie from Muskogee” (though his smirk in this video makes you wonder if he still believed it) and The Youngbloods answered with “Hippie from Olema #5”, with a nod to Haggard in the last run of the chorus:

Neil Young challenged southern racism with “Southern Man”. Lynyrd Skynyrd seemed to take it personally and answered with “Sweet Home Alabama”, calling out Young by name:

Lynyrd Skynyrd appears to have used the Confederate flag in its marketing as recently as 2018, though more recent iconography appears to emphasize the US flag.

A different sort of example… Paul Desmond wrote “Take Five” (a way of saying “take a break”, but in this case also a reference to being written in 5/4 time) for the Dave Brubeck Quartet . Quicksilver Messenger Service took the motif (and some acid) and changed the time signature to create “Acapulco Gold and Silver” (changed to “Gold and Silver” by the record company).

Who else released pairs of songs like these? Post links in the comments.

News

Epic Systems announced that they would require staff to return to work on site despite a county emergency order indicating that workers should work remotely if possible. Epic stated that they were “facilitating remote work by requiring staff to work in the office, but allowing them to work alone in their office”. County Executive Joe Parisi had this to say about Epic’s definition of “remote”:

The forced return has been postponed.

I’m going for a bike ride after my day of working remotely. By “remote” I mean in patient’s hospital rooms instead of in the office that I share with a bunch of people.

When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.” (Lewis Carroll – “Alice in Wonderland”)

Death Ride 2020/rehab

In six months, I’m riding the Death Ride – 129 miles, 5 passes, 15,000 feet of climbing. Today it hurts to get in or out of bed. I can only get out of a chair if it has arms, tying my shoes is an adventure, and if I drop something on the floor it has to stay there. If I fell, I’d be there until someone came to pick me up.

Such is the wonder of the human body/mind, that such a thing can be possible – that I can hold those realities simultaneously.

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Post-op Day #0: Not much pain (yet), but peeing requires standing with a urinal for several minutes to squeeze out a few drops in hopes that I don’t have to return to the hospital for a catheter or see my bladder explode. Using NSAIDS (which I normally avoid because they don’t seem to help my pain or inflammation but do cause constipation – and constipation is not something you want when your abdomen is held together by plastic mesh and Superglue) and lots of ice.

Post-op Day #1: OK, now it hurts. Not so bad if I don’t move, but any change of position requires careful thought and lots of use of my arms. While it hurts to move, the longer I stay in one position, the worse it is when I do move. Catch-22.

Post-op Day #2: I walked all the way to the corner and back, then a block in a different direction later in the day. Things are looking up. No more oxycodone.

Post-op Day #3: Scrotal edema is the new change for today. Purple may be my favorite color, but not there. My second ice pack from the hospital has started to leak. Cut my Tylenol dose in half, still lots of ice.

Post-op Day #4: Time to get dressed in real clothes to go to a funeral. First some compression shorts for the edema. Now some pants. Unfortunately, I had to loosen my pajama pants last night, so I’m not sure about getting pants on. They go on but are about 3 inches from fastening. Just my luck, I bought some new pants this fall that are too big in the waist but otherwise comfortable – how is it that waist size, measured in inches, can be 2+ inches different in pants from the same company? I think they want men who are getting old and fat to be able to pretend that isn’t so and they can still wear the same size. At any rate, I have real clothes on today, not sweats. Another small victory. I just sneezed for the first time this week. That was not a victory. Laughing hurts, but it has redeeming value that coughing lacks.

The funeral was for Carl Durocher. My brother once said, quoting a co-worker, “There are only 50 people in Madison. The rest are an illusion.” Carl was one of those 50 people. I first met him 45-50 years ago. Our paths crossed over the years but I can’t claim he was my friend. They crossed again when I was a student and he ran an organization called “Computers to Help People”. (If I’m not mistaken, it was in the same building that housed the Whole Earth Co-op [and, briefly, the Yellow Jersey Bicycle Co-op] in the 60s.) He was at the forefront on computer accessibility issues. He chaired the city’s Transit and Parking Committee. I last saw him at a choral concert conducted by my son. At his visitation I saw our US Senator, Tammy Baldwin, who used to live a few blocks away.

Carl Durocher – Photo credit: Steve Apps, WI State Journal

Post-op Day #5: My bike sits on a trainer in my daughter’s bedroom. It is mocking me. Even if I could swing my leg over the top tube, I wouldn’t be able to turn the cranks. Even if I could turn the cranks, I wouldn’t be able to clip out. The only comfortable position pre-op was on a bike, bent over the handlebar. In a painful irony, now I can’t even sit up straight to eat at a table. I have to hold the plate in my hand because I can’t reach the table, needing to recline partially at all times. The day’s goal is to get up and down stairs with a reciprocal gait all day (not leading with my left foot every time I step up).

Week 2: It has been a week since surgery. I met my goal for the stairs. I’ve met two friends for coffee. I can walk farther each day – walking is now less painful than pre-op (sometimes). I actually passed someone on a sidewalk today. Lest that go to my head, several others passed me in the next block. The idea of getting on a bike is still absurd.

One of my rules in acute care is: “If it hurts, don’t do it.” One of my rules for post-acute rehab is: “Everything in moderation, including moderation. If you don’t occasionally bump up against your limits, you don’t know what they are.” Last night I went to see Dwight Yoakam. Had I not bought the ticket months ago, I’m not sure I’d have felt ready to venture out in the world 10 days post-op, sitting in those low theatre seats with limited legroom.

I struggled through the opening act, trying to get comfortable. When Dwight launched into “Streets of Bakersfield” the pain went away. He was dressed in his usual tight jeans, denim jacket, and cowboy hat. He’s old now (nearly as old as I) but he still has his signature dance move and it still made the women scream – some of them young enough to be his children. His band was decked out in sequined suits, led by a guy whose name I can’t find, but he played keyboards, fiddle, mandolin, accordion, and pedal steel guitar – sometimes more than one in the same song. His guitarist and guitar tech had a dance of their own, swapping instruments without missing a beat. The songs came in chunks of five or so at a time without pause. He covered tunes by Elvis, Jerry Jeff Walker, Merle Haggard, Chuck Berry, and others, as well as his own catalog from the past 30 years. He never was one to shy away from cover tunes.

I’m glad I went, but I’m still not ready to get on a bike.

The lake has frozen!

Lake Mendota officially froze on January 12. Since January 2000 it has frozen later than this 4 times. Prior to that (from 1852-1999) it froze later than that 3 times – once in each 50 year period. National Geographic has called Lake Mendota “the most-studied lake in the world”.

This is posting two years after the debut of the blog. At the time I only knew it would last until we reached the Atlantic Ocean on the coast-to-coast tour; but I’d paid WordPress for a year so kept writing. Now I can say it’ll stick around through the Death Ride, or as long as I have something to say and you want to read it.

Your correspondent has aged a lot in those two year – truth be told, most of that happened since an injury in May of 2019 and even more of it after the surgery to fix the damage done. I’ll be younger again in a month. In January 2018, I was doing a lot of core work including strengthening and stretching; stretching now is trying to stand up straight and sit at the table like it’s not a Seder. I can pick something up from the floor if I’m real careful. Core strength? Ha! When I cough or sneeze, I hold on to keep from splitting open.

Next time you hear from me, I’ll be riding…

The Ride

The night before The Ride, the forecast for ride time is a 90% chance of rain. During the course of the day, that dips to as low as 75% briefly. If this were a ride just for fun, I’d bail about now. But this is a fundraiser, and folks have donated on my behalf. I feel a responsibility toward them. Besides, 70 degrees and rain is way better than 40 degrees and rain. So I readied my gear, with some choices for weather: do I wear a rain jacket and pants to stay dry from the outside, or do I forgo the rainwear, figuring at that temperature I’ll get wet from the inside if I wear waterproof clothing? Do I wear the raingear so I’ll stay warm, or will it be warm enough to be a non-issue? Maybe if I just wear shoecovers to keep my feet dryish and warm. Regular jacket? Long sleeve jersey? Leg warmers? I tossed them all in the car. It’s not that far to the ride start, but do I want to add 18 miles to a 102 mile ride, arriving at the start already wet, and riding home wet? No; I’ll drive to the start and be able to dry off and change clothes before I go home.

Four nights in motels, four days sitting in conference rooms, not in the saddle for more than a week – probably not the ideal training, but I can say I was tapering so as not to be over-trained. Yeah, I can say it.

After a quiet night, the first thunderstorm rolls in at 4:30 AM. A flash flood watch is in effect. The forecast has been revised to 100% chance of rain most of the day, dipping to 80% from 10-11. The time comes to leave the house. No lightning at the moment, but the rain is coming down so hard I can barely see the car parked at the curb. I’m not so sure I want to drive in this weather, much less spend 8 hours out in it. And it’s still dark out, which does not make it more inviting. Decision made: I wouldn’t let a knight go out on a dog like this. Responsibility is one thing. Foolishness is another. As I said in a post a month ago: “I mostly want to ride that day”. Well, that day is here. I mostly don’t want to ride. The money I spent to register and the money donated by others will go to cancer research whether I’m on the road or not. [See below!] Since I’ve already had a double espresso, I probably won’t be going back to bed.

The half-fast fall ride is just around the corner. You can pretend you’re donating in honor of that, if you’d like. It’s still a long bike ride, just no support unless you count the resturants we’ll be stopping by.

It rained for 12 hours. Only a bit of flooding, at least from where I sit. I stayed in all day to prove I’m half-fast. I didn’t just lie around and drink beer and watch football (or eat bon bons). I have a short-term job. I’ll work for 14 hours later this week. To do that, they required 4 hours of computer-based training. I spent the morning staring at a computer screen for courses on data security and workplace harassment. At 6 pm I finally went out and got my stuff from the car. The sun was shining.

The first day of fall dawned beautifully, with clear sky, crisp air, 55 degrees (13 degrees C). A perfect day for a ride; just a day late.

The PBS country music series is back on. Last night was a reminder of the social consciousness of country music in the 60s. Loretta Lynn wrote the song “The Pill”, in which she stated her refusal to be a brood hen anymore. (She had four kids by the age of 20, six by the time she wrote the song – which the label refused to release for a few years.) She also addressed the issue of marital rape (though not in so many words) with this song:

Merle Haggard sang of turning “21 in prison, doing life without parole”. (He was actually in for 15 years and did get out on parole.) People know him for “Okie From Muskogee”, far from his best song. He also sang of a man on death row. On his way to the gas chamber, he asked to have a buddy sing his last request – “Sing Me Back Home”. He sang of his “Mama’s Hungry Eyes”, growing up as a dust bowl refugee. But among his most poignant was the song of a single parent, pretending that the birthday gift for his daughter was from the absent spouse who didn’t bother to remember.

And in 1964 Johnny Cash released the album “Bitter Tears” about the mistreatment/genocide of First Nations people by the US Government.

Breaking News

Call me a wimp no more. I just checked my work email and The Ride was canceled. It wasn’t just me. (Interesting: at 1:01 AM they notified me the ride was canceled, at 6:01 AM they reminded me to sign up for Live Tracking and at 6:23 AM they notified me again that the ride was canceled. And I’m always checking my work email at 6 on Sunday mornings.)

Rain?/On hiatus!!

Editor’s Note: The program is freezing and won’t let me add anything at the end. If the post seems to end abruptly, blame the software. It won’t let me insert the last photos at the end, so I’ll try at the beginning. This is the sky as we arrived at camp for Thursday night.

I just found out I have used up my family’s data allotment, even after doubling it. I expected wireless internet access much more often than I actually have it. This will be the last post until I have wireless, which I hope will be this weekend at St Olaf. After that, who knows?

I slept inside Wednesday night due to forecast for thunderstorms pretty much all night and all day today. I figured I’d at least start the day dry.

At the meeting, Greg asked who already knew they wouldn’t be riding. We were supposed to be facing thunderstorms and headwinds all day. Radar showed a low pressure area spinning over the road we’d be riding on.

We left Watertown with the sun shining, riding east into the gathering gloom. Some riders sagged right from the beginning, to avoid riding in the rain. Others left early, presumably to get it over with. I, on the other hand, lingered over coffee and donuts and was one of the last to hit the road.

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A few miles down the road I came to this billboard, which reminded me of the following Merle Haggard song. You can hear it with hipster irony if you choose to. It was certainly not Haggard’s intention when he wrote it at the height of the Viet Nam war. I’m not sure what he thought about the song 30 years later.9FF45D80-9FB5-435C-BDBE-E2655C417D23

The rain always seemed to be out there. Cars coming toward us had headlights on, but not wipers. And they were dry.

The wind shifted and became a tailwind. I flew down the road at 25 mph with minimal effort. I still wasn’t catching anybody. I guess they were all going that fast.

We crossed the border into Minnesota and it was getting hot in my rain jacket and shoe covers. I had already taken off the warm gloves and was just using them as padding under my hands. I jettisoned the rain clothes at the lunch stop.

I finally saw a few others at lunch. At mile 58 we ran into a section with major expansion cracks. They looked and felt like drainage ditches running across the road. I slowed and rose out of the saddle for them. Then I started bunny-hopping the bigger ones. My knees and wheels were taking a beating.

After 10 miles, smooth pavement returned. The sky remained dark in the distance, but the sun actually came out for the last 5-10 miles, when we turned south into a wind that had shifted again and was now coming from the south.

I think the wind came from every direction at some point in the day. It is amazing how much my attitude is shaped by the weather. A few days ago, pushing into a headwind, I wanted to go home. My thoughts were all I had and they were not profound. Today, breezing along, I was ready to do two days in one. I was having so much fun I thought I could go 150 miles.

77A50DC1-F5E1-49DD-A014-10379B6ADC61We arrived in the town of Montevideo and I think I found the first French Mexican restaurant – at least that’s what the sign looks like.

The town is the Sister City of Montevideo in Uruguay and has a plaza dedicated to Jose Artigas, an Uruguayan hero.54815928-1B6E-484A-9AC0-A58419BF1E97

We completed 82 miles by about noon so stopped at a cafe in town for espresso, then stopped again for a root beer float. 3F0742F6-8DE1-4A41-ADB4-ACA0773468FD

As we approached the school where we are staying, the sky became ominous once again. I brought my tent out and it began to rain. I decided to cover my bike first. By then the rain was coming down hard enough to convince me to forego the tent and set up in the gym again. Rain continues to dominate the forecast tonight and tomorrow. Vamos a ver.