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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Wounded Knee and Pinball

I was about finished getting the church bulletin together this morning when Mrs. Fetched answered the phone. “Sure, he doesn’t mind,” she said. I had just been volunteered. “Yeah, you need to go to the hospital,” she continued, which gave me a pretty good idea of what I’d been volunteered for. On Thursday, she and a guy who’s been helping around the farm lately were freeing up a stuck hydraulic lift on one of the tractors. She was working a lever while he banged on something with a hammer: the hammering did the hoped-for job, the lift lifted… and turned out to be the only thing keeping the tractor stationary.

She ran for it, as one might expect, while he scrambled to hit the brakes. As it was all downhill, she quickly found herself just trying to not fall down, heading for her Workhorse (envision a jacked-up golf cart with a dump bed, that’s a Workhorse). She snagged the Workhorse on the way by it — but not knowing proper Pinball technique (more on that in a moment), she let her momentum twist her knee for her. When the pain only got worse over the weekend, it was time to have it looked at.

So I ran over to the church, copied the bulletins, then came back and packed a few essentials (laptop, writing pad, cellphone) and went to get Mrs. Fetched’s mom. We cruised down to the hospital, chatting about the garden and canning and similar topics; I dropped her off in front of the ER and they swooped in with a wheelchair while I went to park. Hospitals, even ERs, being what they are, I had no trouble catching up. (Before we left, Mrs. Fetched advised me, “Don’t be afraid to follow her in to the doctor’s.” I thought, “Yeah, but if the clothes start coming off I’m GONE!”) They looked it over, X-rayed it, wrapped a couple of ace bandages around it, and notified her orthopedist. I could have done the bandages thing and saved her insurance (and Medicare) a good bit of $$$.

For future reference, I told her about Pinball and how to prevent wrenched knees (or ankles). This was a game we used to play at Michigan Tech. The terrain there is much like here — rocky and steep. Pinball is when you go running full-tilt-boogie down a hill and bounce off of trees (by pushing off them) to maintain a controllable speed. You can “hook” a tree that’s about 4 to 6 inches in diameter (smaller and it bends too much, larger and you can’t get a good grip on it) and lift your feet off the ground. This spins you to the downhill side, at which point you let go; your forward (downhill) momentum is mostly gone and you just drop. In her case, I would have hooked the Workhorse and got my feet off the ground, let it spin me around, and I would have been able to stop.

Pinball left us with sore (or numb) hands, but we were young and they healed quickly. The last time I played was when The Boy was about 5; we’d gone up to Rainey Mountain for a Cub Scout campout. Somehow, we missed the group hike up to the top, so we decided to go on our own. On the way back down, he started whining and saying “I’m scared.” After a couple of minutes, I looked at him and said, “What are you scared about? You climb stuff like this all the time!”

“I’m scared you’re gonna get hurt.”

“Son… I appreciate your concern, but let me show you a game we used to play in college.” He watched me bounce off a couple of trees and hook one to stop, and looked at me like I was crazy.


  1. Uh huh, FAR. For once I have to say I agree w/the Boy (younger incredulous version) for thinking you a bit daft! I've never heard of such a game down these ways (from MI), and doubt I'd ever have been so intrepid to try such a thing, but sounds like it's worked well for you!

    Hope Wounded Knee is doing better, that sounded like a painful event. Let me know if you see any meteors tonight!

  2. Morning FAR.

    Sounds like it might be fun if you're young. It would have to be more of a spectator sport for me now.

    Hope the m-i-l gets to feeling better.

  3. I wish I could have seen your m-i-l's face when you suggested that as a method for getting down hills safely!

  4. Well, you ARE crazy, heh heh. But oh, that sounds like sooo much fun. Is it best to do it with Pin Oaks? :)

    Btw, far, yesterday the local paper had a big article about chicken farming. I'm trying to find a link for you, but The Kansas City Star has the worst website ever.

  5. Hey everyone!

    IVG: Sure, I'm crazy. A sane man would never have let himself get pushed into buying FAR Manor, or staying put in a free-range insane asylum.

    FM: last night, after posting, I was thinking if were to be playing Pinball nowadays, I'd need a knee brace. Running downhill is hard on your knees, and mine never were all that great.

    KB: She thought it was pretty funny. OTOH, it is a good way to get control of your legs if you find yourself running downhill — you just have to not use a leg as a pivot.

    Nancy: By all means, post it if you find it! Google didn't turn up anything recent (I searched "kansas city star chicken farming").

  6. far, I think they must not have put that article on their website. grrr. If you want a clipping, send me your mailing address.

  7. Sounds a little like my younger days when we'd do the bounce/hop controlled fall down rocky slopes, where the goal was to keep hitting rocks at the right angle to kill most of your momentum.


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