Living with Crutches

Because crutches fully occupy both hands, you can’t carry a damn thing around the house. You never even think about it until suddenly you realize that you:

  • Can’t carry a cup of coffee from one room to the next
  • Can’t carry a laptop or tablet from the couch to the desk
  • Can’t get a plate of food from the kitchen to the table
  • Can barely unload the dishwasher, get your clothes in the hamper, pick up a dropped thing, or just about anything else
My tibial fracture

Which means you’re suddenly heavily dependent on friends and family. Knee-scooters leave your hands free, but only work if your injury allows for bending the knee (mine doesn’t). But it’s amazing how quickly your body and mind adapts and figures out new ways to do old things. Here are a few of the tricks I’ve figured out over the past week:

Coffee cups are out of the question. But if you fill a plastic squirt bottle with hot coffee, you can grip it in your teeth by the nozzle. Then find a plastic coffee cup to hook under one finger, under the crutch handle. Transport both to the next room, then squirt coffee from the bottle to the cup.

Using a backpack indoors is a huge help for transporting laptop, tablet, books and boxes from one place to the next.

For moving plates, plot out a trajectory through the house where two horizontal surfaces are a two-arm length from each other, and “hopscotch” the plate. Your quesadilla can move from one end of the kitchen counter to the other, then from there to the phone table, and from there around the corner to the light desk in the LR and from there to the coffee table. If you’re lucky enough to have a series of flat surfaces in proximity to each other, anyway. Then all you have to do is stop between each “step” and transfer the dish between arms to the next surface until the destination is accomplished. Huge hassle, but do-able.

Towels and clothes and other soft things can be draped around the neck and carried that way if the backpack isn’t handy.

Don’t be afraid to use crutches like giant chopsticks, to lift things a few feet away to you, or to drag something across the floor towards your feet. Way easier than going through the hassle and grunt of the one-legged stand-up.

Also worth learning: How to use crutches asymmetrically to help with “pivots” and turns. If you have an old house with narrow bathroom doors (like we do), learning to crabwalk sideways can be super helpful. Since you’ll need to pee in the middle of the night, get good enough at the crab walk to do this in the dark, half-asleep.

For the inevitable stairs, slow way the hell down. Falling down stairs is approximately the worst thing that could happen right now, and it’s not worth trying to move quickly. You’ve probably got one leg that needs to stay straight, so this will be a one-leg-at-a-time maneuver. Upstairs is much easier than downstairs. When going downstairs, plant both crutches on the next step, toward its outer edge to maximize your support triangle. After transferring weight to the crutches, put the straight leg down first and balance, then quickly hop the good leg down to join it. Lather, rinse, repeat.

One last thing to internalize completely: Do not try and support your body weight from the armpits! The armpit pads are only there to keep the crutches in place – all of your weight must go on the handgrips, or your pits will be sore and unusable by the end of the first day.

I’m feeling a lot more capable after a week on crutches. Wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but things that seemed impossible at first are becoming possible. Hanging in there.

Building a photo portfolio site with Django and Flickr

Felt like it was finally time to make a photo portfolio website, but didn’t feel comfortable with any of the usual options, so decided to hand-code one in Django, since that’s what I do. In the process, had a wild notion that I could do it all against the Flickr APIs (since all my stuff goes there anyway), and that I could create a portfolio site with no image uploading at all!

Doggo at Alhambra Valley

Built the site over the past couple of weeks (evenings). It’s low-tech (design-wise) but I’m pretty happy with it. There’s a brief architecture walk-through video on the About page, if curious. Felt good to code for fun rather than work for a change, even if it was relatively straightforward.

The source code is open source and available – pull requests welcome – but it’s for experienced Django developers only (probably not for the general public).

The site is here:

Flickr Besties

I sometimes encourage photographers to consider (or re-consider) using Flickr as their primary photo platform. But it can take a while to find the really good stuff on Flickr, so some people get discouraged. So I’ve been casually maintaining a list of some of my favorite photographers on Flickr, which I encourage you to follow if you’re just getting started.

There are 60 million or so photographers on the platform, so obviously this list barely scratches the surface – these are really just some personal bookmarks I thought others might find useful. If you find an amazing profile there, leave a link in the comments!

I’ll update this list over time / as I bump into more outstanding photographers.

See also: Flickr Is No Ghost Town

Dan Anderson

Gordon Hunter

Michael Riffle

Igor Danilov

Karl Hurst

Catherine Silks

Sky Matthews

Margriet Zwarthoed

Frank van Dongen

Knee Bee



Catherine Silks

Brooke Shaden


Timothy Londeree

Koen Jacobs

Merit de Jong

Petit Homme :-)-:


Paco Conesa

Shashank Khanna

Paul b Nash

Thomas Hawk

Gavin Hardcastle

Teo Kefalopoulos – Art of Photography

Sultan Sultani

Mark Edwards

Peter Thoeny



C A Soukup

Dave Greenwood

rené eichenberger | Flickr

Fallowsite | Flickr

Cole Thompson | Flickr

Laurence Bouchard | Flickr

Alain AUBRY | Flickr

Sandra Bartocha | Flickr

Heiner Engbrocks | Flickr

Justin Battermann Lightfoot | Flickr

Lato-Pictures | Flickr

snaps by Jogi Experience | Flickr

jacqueline.cherfils | Flickr

L.A.C.E. | Flickr

Tonno Paju | Flickr

Tore Thiis Fjeld | Flickr

Frank van Dongen | Flickr

percy seaton-smythe | Flickr

Mark Littlejohn | Flickr

Sedat Yildiz | Flickr

Ant Moc | Flickr

Mateu Terrats Miralles | Flickr

And there’s me – I’m shacker

Groups I Recommend

Moody mood pepper group

Fuji X Best Photos

Django: Testing for Missing Migrations

When adding or altering model schemas in Django, developers typically generate and commit accompanying migration files. But, counterintuitively, Django wants to track all model changes in migration files, even if they don’t result in database schema changes. Those can be easy to miss.

Regardless the reason, you never want your repo to be in a state where migrations are detected as needed, but accompanying migration files aren’t committed.

Writing a pytest test that can be triggered on github, Circle, Travis, Jenkins, or whatever you use turns out to be trivial, but I couldn’t find documentation or examples on the interwebs, so am posting this here for posterity:

import pytest

from import call_command

def test_for_missing_migrations():
    """ If no migrations are detected as needed, `result`
    will be `None`. In all other cases, the call will fail,
    alerting your team that someone is trying to make a
    change that requires a migration and that migration is

    result = call_command("makemigrations", check=True, dry_run=True)
    assert not result

It really is that simple! If no migrations are needed, result will be None. Any other return value means someone should run ./ makemigrations to see what’s missing, and commit the results.

El Radio Fantastique

Cycling Pt. Reyes/Petaluma today, stopped off to check out a trailhead I hadn’t seen before, when suddenly I heard a band. Just over the hill, this family – Mom and Dad and two daughters – shooting a music video out in the middle of nowhere. “El Radio Fantastique” they call themselves. As Beefheart said, “Practice in front of a bush.”

Felt a bit embarrassed when I realized too late that they were in the middle of filming a music video – I had thought the guy with the smartphone was another hiker surprised to find a band playing on the trail! My apologies to the band if I interrupted your creative flow.

More about the band here.
Listen on Apple Music here.

Beyond vs. Impossible — Fake Meat Taste Test

Used to be that Beyond meats were available in the grocery store, but you had to go to a restaurant to try Impossible Burgers. But recently I found Beyond and Impossible side-by-side in the grocery store, and bought one of each. Last night I set up a little taste comparison test for family.

These modern fake meats are so delicious, it’s hard to find a reason to justify the eco- and health costs of buying real hamburger anymore.

Setup: Two patties the same size. Added the same amount of salt and pepper to each, grilled them at same temperature for the same length of time (3 mins/side). We tasted them as-is: No condiments or extras to get in the way of taste.

Impossible on the left, Beyond on the right.

My wife and son didn’t know which patty was which. To make things fair for my own opinion, I left the room and asked them to flip a coin to decide whether to switch the labels on the plates or not.

Conclusion: We all thought Impossible was slightly sweeter, and sure enough, the label shows that it contains a bit of sugar. We all though Beyond was slightly more chewy, and sure enough, it turns out to contain a bit more fat. Impossible had a bit more native seasoning – a flavor that’s hard to put your finger on, but good. Impossible was also more reddish in color (beet juice, right?) but Beyond had a slightly more realistic taste, if that’s what you’re going for.

At the end of the sampling, we all agreed that if a store had both and they cost roughly the same, we would choose Beyond over Impossible (consensus!). We thought Beyond was more delicious by a shade, despite the fact that Impossible has more seasoning built in. But both are delicious, and it’s gotten really hard to justify the eco- and health-costs of buying hamburger meat when products like these are available.

Remembering Rowan Jimenez

In the summer of 2016, I asked who wanted to try riding the Morro Bay Lighthouse Century with me in October (100-mile bike ride up the Pacific Coast Highway) . Rowan raised his hand and told me that the ride would mark the anniversary of his double lung transplant, and that he liked to celebrate each anniversary by doing something physically difficult — it was his way of showing that not only had he stayed alive against the odds, but that he was fully embracing life, living every experience to the max.

On Black Hill in Morro Bay with Rowan
Rowan riding up from Fairfax

Our kids had gone through elementary school together, but I’d never really gotten to know him. Over the next few months, we did a series of training rides together, all over the East Bay, plus an unforgettable climb to the top of Mt. Tamalpais in dense fog. In the course of those rides, through all kinds of weather, through intense sweat and crazy descents, I got to know Rowan and was blown away daily by his relentless joy and optimism, his profound appreciation for his lung donor, and for the second chance at life he’d been gifted. Rowan became a sort of role model for me, an example of how we all ought to be living.

After finishing the hardest part of the Morro Bay Lighthouse Century, with Rowan and Jim.

That October, we traveled to Morro Bay together and shared a hotel, then rode with another friend the next morning. Rowan wasn’t the fastest guy on the course – he was riding with the lungs of a 16-year-old girl! – but he was steady and determined, and there was never any question that he’d finish. The minute his odometer rolled over to that 100-mile mark, we stopped and high-fived each other and he let out a huge whoop of joy.

Rowan on Mt. Tam

When I heard the news today that Rowan had passed, I broke down in my wife’s arms. This cruel world has taken one of our brightest beacons. I’ll remember you forever Rowan – thanks for sharing that incredible adventure with me, and for sharing your bounty of optimism with all of us.

Rowan on one of our training rides

Aunt Gerry, Reading MAD Magazine

Enjoying all of the nostalgia around MAD Magazine, and the bummer of it closing down last week. In a weird way, I learned a lot about the world around me as a young teen reading MAD (including how to disco dance by kicking your feet up in the air above your head, which I actually did at my first dance, thanks MAD!) Anyway, this was my dear Aunt Gerry, reading issue 79 (June 1963) at the hairdresser. Family heirloom.


Fun fact: Jimmy Carter got the U.S. started on conversion to the metric system, but didn’t have time to finish. Then Reagan came along and pulled the plug on us matching the rest of the world in sensible measurements. We coulda been there by now. Carter also installed solar panels on the white house, then Reagan moved in and pulled ’em off. Progress vs. regress, ’twas ever thus.

Someone else’s tweet: “All our refusal to adopt the metric system has done is make our products more expensive at home and massively less desirable in foreign countries. But yeah, let’s keep measuring shit by how many barley-corns can fit on the King’s finger. For freedom. “

At least our currency system is metric.