The Haphazard Blog


Core Trainer, Week 7

by on Mar.14, 2010, under Life, Physical Therapy

I don’t know what I did to myself, but even resting until Wednesday wasn’t enough. I rode for about 6 minutes in manual mode at the slowest speed and could feel the pain in my left upper pectoral towards my shoulder. I really thought I felt fine before deciding to ride it.

I started to take Ibuprofen at that point and it is all I managed to do. I’m going to give it another day or two and try again. If I still have pain, I may need to go see the doctor.

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Core Trainer, Week 6

by on Mar.07, 2010, under Life, Physical Therapy

This week I started to have some pain in my left ribs and upper left pectoral muscle. I really felt it right after riding it Friday which makes me think I hurt it before Friday and aggravated a lot on Friday.

On Thursday I had bumped the speed up to the 3rd level for the whole 15 minutes. I think this the likely culprit. I guess I simply wasn’t ready for it. I was hoping to get the speed up higher so that I could eventually get to the 5th speed level and use the preprogrammed routines at a speed higher than the lowest.  I likely jumped the gun.

So I did not ride it this weekend and will see how I feel tomorrow. I still want to try the stir-ups again as well.

My plan is to update this blog with my progress for the next two weeks and then post updates when I have new information to share. If anyone has any questions for me, feel free to submit a comment or contact me (contact info is at the bottom of every page).

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Where Are Full Drive-by-Wire Cars?

by on Mar.07, 2010, under Life, Technology

My biggest regret since my accident was not driving. My rehab was moving so quickly in the beginning I thought I could easily get a wheelchair in and out of a car (like a Mustang) instead of getting a minivan. Way cooler, and at 16 or 17, that’s all that mattered. At the time (1995), getting a new minivan with a lift was $40,000, roughly 3x more than my parents had paid for their last car.

Once college started, I was using public transportation to and from campus. It was basically door-to-door and very convenient. When I started working, I worked in the same city as my Dad, so we commuted together. Then I started to work from home. So, nearly 15 years later, I don’t own a car. It’s the primary contributor to my total lack of a social life and that is why I do wish I had started driving when I started college. I’d be a whole lot more social now. I plan to have that change this year.

I started to look for a van last year. I was shocked to find out that the only thing that has changed in all this time is the price, and it has just gone up. Minivans and the conversions both cost more. I didn’t exactly expect a major auto-manufacturer to mass produce these types of vehicles by now, but I thought technology might be a little further along.

If someone wanted a full drive-by-wire system for their car (electronic steering, acceleration and braking), there is one company that makes the necessary equipment and it will cost in the neighborhood of $50,000. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs in the industry. You buy a brand new van and then pay $20,000 to have major modifications made to it to drop the floor. I don’t expect an auto manufacturer to tool a line to produce vans that would be equipped with lifts, but surely these companies can have some type of  collaboration to reduce the costs.

As evidenced by the Toyota problems, common cars now have electronic throttle and braking. No one has worked with a manufacturer to integrate the acceleration/braking controls into this system. It would allow for much simpler systems to accelerate and brake. Toyota also has cars (Lexus LS, 3rd Generation Prius) that have parking assist systems that can automatically steer the car for parallel and reverse parking. I couldn’t find details on exactly how those systems control the steering wheel, but clearly a computer is sending the signals and the wheel is turning. It seems the technology is here, but no one is making use of it to bring new/better controls for vehicles that require hand controls.

I’m fortunate that I only need a minimum amount of adaptive equipment to drive, but for many people, there is a very large price barrier to drive and be more independent. This seems like an area where the first entrant could have a major advantage. They could create exclusive agreements with manufacturers to work with their engineers and get their systems to inter-operate at a computer level. The agreements could be win-win for both sides.

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Core Trainer, Week 5

by on Feb.28, 2010, under Life, Physical Therapy

Not too much to update on this week. I tried to ride it without holding the handle. You know that feeling you get when you think you’re about to lose your balance? The feeling down in your stomach? That happened to me about a dozen times in a minute or two. It was a little nerve racking, but I got through it. Today, without the handle, it was no problem. I wonder if it was psychological?

I also noticed the following morning I did not have any pain in my SI joint, which is a sign of good progress. I wonder if that will be the case tomorrow? If so, then I will be riding it without the handle all week. I don’t have the strength to sit up tall without the handle however. I also can’t make use of my trick to kind of hug myself (that sounds so sad) because I then can’t use my arms to subtly help keep balanced.

Also, without the handle, I noticed I was pushing into the floor somewhat. That may be a sign that I should make use of the stir-ups (maybe try and make them as long as possible) to see if I can get my legs more involved. It feels like I am really getting a lot out of the Core Trainer. I do not remember sticking with an exercise program on my own this long. I mean every day without any excuses to skip a day. It gives me some ideas for some other products.

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Core Trainer, Week 4

by on Feb.21, 2010, under Life, Physical Therapy

I experimented some more with the core trainer this week. I tried out all of the pre-programmed workouts and used the tilt in manual mode. With the tilt, I found that the forward tilt made it easier for me to sit up tall longer. I’m not sure if this is better or not though. I will need to check with some people who would know if it is better to get some help to do an exercise longer or get no help and tire more quickly. The tilt backwards makes it harder to sit up.

With the pre-programmed workouts, the core trainer will change speed (all 3 workouts) and tilt (2 of the 3 workouts). I like that it changes things up on you so the workout feels random over 15 minutes. I’d recommend two improvements in this area:

  1. On the side to side workout (no tilt) it would be nice if you could manually adjust the tilt for the workout to something besides level.
  2. When adjusting the speed range for these workouts, the slowest one has the core trainer stay at the slower speeds (there are 9 speeds, and it stays at the first 2). If you speed it up, the range goes from the first 2 to the first 5. That’s a pretty big jump. I was expecting it to go to the first 3 to incorporate 1 more speed. I’d like to see it go 1-2, 1-3, 1-4, 1-5, 2-6, 3-7, 4-8, 5-9, 6-9, 7-9 and 8-9. I can’t handle the fastes speed, but I imagine it currently does 1-2, 1-5, 2-6, 3-7, 4-8, 5-9, and 8-9.

I think I’m getting better with it since I seem to be able to keep pushing a little further each week. I also ride it without any worry. When I first started to ride it, I wore a gait belt and had someone loosely hold on. Then I stopped and someone just stood next to me just in case. Now I’m OK being left alone on it. Transferring on and off is also getting easier and quicker.

Today, when I first started riding it, it felt a little different. It didn’t seem as smooth a ride at the lowest speed. It’s something I need to really pay attention to as my trial period comes to an end.

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Finished My Taxes Early

by on Feb.14, 2010, under Bills, Life

I filed my taxes a lot earlier this year. Primarily because I did a poor job in tax planning and withheld too much money. I ended up with refunds from both the federal and state. I always got a weird sense of enjoyment in owing every year and filing right before the deadline.

This year, I need to do a much better job with investing. Bank account interest is incredibly low. I missed out on the big recovery from the bottom last year. It’s time for me to become less risk adverse. My irrational fear of losing money prevents me from making any real money. It’s odd that I can identify my problem but have yet to find a way around it. It is getting to be very bothersome. I start to invest, then bail out after a couple trades. And it’s not like they were bad trades. I made money and still didn’t keep doing it.

I wonder what makes someone a good trader psychologically?

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Core Trainer, Week 3

by on Feb.14, 2010, under Life, Physical Therapy

I was able to get back to the full 15 minutes this week. I’m getting better as well. When I first rode it, if I closed my eyes I could feel that I was not maintaining a good position. Now I can close my eyes and stay level without a problem.

I tried to use the core trainer without holding the handle. I had no problems keeping my balance, but I was also unable to sit up as tall. With the handle, I’m able to put the arch in my lower spine. I’m definitely helping myself up into that position, but once there, I can tell that I’m not holding my self there with my arms (at least for up to a minute at a time). I also tried to use the stirrups. Same result without the handle, it’s a lot harder to sit up tall. But I could also tell it did facilitated my inner thigh muscles to start working.

It looks like I have more than enough room to get stronger and use this over time. I’ve found over the years that I seem to have a lot of muscles/functionality that needs to be awoken. I think it’s because I simply do not use those muscles most of the day. After I finish riding the core trainer, my core does feel tired. But a couple hours later I can feel that the muscles are working so much better. I think over time, that time will get longer and longer to the point where they are firing a lot more than they are not.

This week I’m planning to try some of the pre-defined workouts. I think the side-to-side workout should be fine, but I have a sense that the waist and hips ones (they incorporate tilting) will be difficult and out of my current reach. I also want to time how long I can sit up tall.

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