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Hiking as Physical Therapy

October 2nd, 2015 by Paul Hutchinson

Fourteen months ago I broke my right ankle while on a pleasure walk with my family at Purgatory Chasm. The force of the break was so bad that it sent a pressure wave up my fibula leaving a small fracture under my kneecap. Unfortunately for me the ER doctor did a bad job on the splint which left my skin so badly damaged that the surgeon had to wait three weeks for my skin to heal before he could operate on me. I had three screws put in the ankle but also got the bad news that two of the screws where going to have to come out later if I ever wanted to walk without a bad limp. I got started on physical therapy but I couldn’t progress very far because the ankle just couldn’t flex enough with the two temporary screws in place. I did get to the point of being able to climb the stairs to get to my bedroom and home office and then to only using one crutch by Christmas.

The last week of December I had the two screws removed and by the middle of January I was back on one crutch and able to re-start physical therapy the last week of the month. By the middle of March I’d used up all the physical therapy insurance would cover and was walking well and driving again. Knowing it was going to take a long time and a lot of work to get my ankle as flexible as it could be, my therapist and I discussed options for continuing self therapy. Since the best therapy is something you will actually stick with (almost everyone gets bored and stops too soon) we decided I would do a bunch of rough terrain hiking to really work the ankle flexibility. The plan was that as soon as the snow was gone (couldn’t risk a slip on snow and ice) I’d start slowly with short easy mostly flat trails then as I felt more confident and comfortable I’d increase the distances and terrain roughness. A few very important conditions were placed on me by the therapist, first I needed to get good tall hiking boots to provide excellent ankle support for both legs. Next I had to wear my soft orthopedic ankle brace inside the boot as added protection for my injured ankle in case I fell. I was also told to use a walking stick to help prevent me from falling when traversing rocky and hilly terrain. The final condition was that I had to be careful and not push too hard, it ‘s OK to be sore and tired but if I caused pain in the ankle I’d probably slow my getting it back into shape.

As everyone living in the valley remembers we had massive amounts of snow last winter so the trails and woods weren’t clear of snow until very late this year. Waiting for the snow to melt and a weekend day with no rain kept me from getting started until April 12th. My first hike was the easy heart healthy Bird Blind and Cedar Swamp trails in the Wallum Lake Park area of the Douglas State Forest. This hike was only 2 miles but it was challenging enough to give the ankle a good work out and fun enough to make we want to do more. Needing a goal to keep me motivated all year I decided I would task myself with locating, hiking and mapping every foot of trails in the Douglas State Forest. As of last weekend I’ve finished the trails in the DSF as well as most of the trails in the adjoining Mine Brook Wildlife Management Area and bordering private properties. My injured ankle is nearly as flexible as the other one, I’ve rebuilt most of the atrophied muscles in the leg, and now after hikes it’s other body muscles and joints that are more likely to be sore than my ankle or leg. I can now hike 9 miles in a day over very rough terrain and average 17 miles per weekend. My total hiking distance for the year so far is 210 miles. Another great thing is I’ve lost more than 20 of the extra pounds I gained while I was on crutches.

Posted in Blackstone Valley, General, Hikes | No Comments »

Updated Google Earth Files

April 21st, 2015 by Paul Hutchinson

I’ve not posted much about the BRVNHC here, or on my static site, in the past couple years due to other things taking up my free time. Much of my non-work time had to go towards items related to the death of my older brother in 2013, recovering from breaking my right ankle very badly last August (two surgeries last one at years end, just started driving again last month) and fixing long neglected IT infrastructure. Now that I’m on my own for therapy I’m getting a little free time back so I hope to post updates more frequently this year.

I’ve updated two of the BRVNHC Google Earth files this week. The first is a very minor edit, I added the proposed canal restoration in Worcester to the Waterways file. The other is more substantial and comes about due to my self therapy for ankle/knee recovery. I hiked 3 miles on the Burrillville Bike Path and trails with my brother, my youngest niece and her boyfriend this past weekend. In preparation for the hike I drew the path/trails in Google Earth and then used GPS Essentials to track and document the hike. I’ve added the Burrillville Bike Path to the Bike Trails file and also updated the introductory info for the SNETT.

Posted in Blackstone Valley, General | Comments Off on Updated Google Earth Files

My First Earthquake

October 16th, 2012 by Paul Hutchinson

I felt my first earthquake a few minutes ago, It was this one from the USGS site, centered in southern Maine. The house shook for a few seconds and nothing fell over but I must admit I was concerned enough that I headed down from the open plan second floor to shelter in a doorway. By the time I got down the stairs the shaking had stopped.

Posted in Blackstone Valley, Science | Comments Off on My First Earthquake

American Antiquarian Society Receives Save America’s Treasures Grant

February 26th, 2011 by Paul Hutchinson

The American Antiquarian Society located in Worcester Massachusetts has been awarded a $77,557 grant. From the announcement:

The American Antiquarian Society’s collection of early American imprints (pre-1876) is recognized as the most comprehensive for this period and includes the first books printed in the colonies. Funds would support conservation treatment with an emphasis on retaining the original character and physical appearance of the materials. Fragile volumes would also be housed in lignin-free clamshell boxes.


Posted in Blackstone Valley, History | Comments Off on American Antiquarian Society Receives Save America’s Treasures Grant

Hopedale in Some Newspaper Stories

February 26th, 2011 by Paul Hutchinson

I spotted a couple of interesting mentions of Hopedale in newspaper stories via my saved Google news searches. The first is an article in the Cape Cod Times by Rev. Robinson:

The theory of nonviolence has its roots in the ethic of Jesus, but as a technique for social transformation, it began with a Universalist minister, Adin Ballou, in the mid-19th century here in Massachusetts. Ballou was the spiritual head of a utopian community in Hopedale, located in the Blackstone River Valley. He was a Christian socialist, and when many of his fellow socialists were advocating violent means in the struggle against capitalism, Ballou championed nonviolence.

Ballou was Leo Tolstoy’s favorite American author, and Tolstoy took up Ballou’s ideas of nonviolence. Mohandas Gandhi, in turn, read Tolstoy, and Martin Luther King Jr. read Gandhi.

I was not aware of the Rev. Ballou’s influence on Tolstoy’s thinking.

The other story is sad, it’s by Joe O’Connell of the Milford Daily News, “Developmentally disabled from Hopedale clubhouse to protest cuts to clubhouses”. It makes me sad that we are reducing our level of help to our most vulnerable citizens.

Posted in Blackstone Valley | Comments Off on Hopedale in Some Newspaper Stories

Feed pipe updated

January 1st, 2011 by Paul Hutchinson

I noticed an RSS feed for the Woonsocket Call today, so I’ve added it to my Blackstone River Valley Yahoo pipe.

Posted in Blackstone Valley | Comments Off on Feed pipe updated


September 17th, 2010 by Paul Hutchinson

Mike of the Further In & Higher Up blog has over a hundred posts about National Park Service places. Last month he posted about his experiences in the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. It’s a good read I recommend it. He gives the BRVNHC an overall rating of 3 out of five “very interesting”, better than average. I was a little surprised that Slater Mill wasn’t suggested as the place to start a tour when he was at the Roger Williams National Memorial. I suspect if he had visited Slater Mill the “Significance” rating of 2, “debatable that this had to be preserved” might have been higher.

Posted in Blackstone Valley | Comments Off on BRVNHC Review

Google Earth News & Map Data Sources

September 7th, 2010 by Paul Hutchinson

I’ve been using Google Earth version (beta) for some time and I find the measurement tab of the path properties dialog very useful. Another very handy feature appears when you right click on a path, the Show Elevation Profile option creates a nice interactive elevation chart.

I stumbled upon a good resource for free online historical maps the other day, Maps ETC from the University of South Florida. In addition to the nice maps they also provide some good basic tutorial videos for Google Earth.

While I was updating some of my Blackstone Valley places files I discovered the Map of all coordinates from Google link on a Wikipedia National Register of Historic Places list article. Clicking the link plots all the sites in Google Maps, but if you click the show link over to the right you get more mapping options. One of the options, Export all coordinates as KML, lets you load the place locations directly into Google Earth.

I decided to load up all the Wikipedia data for Massachusetts and Rhode Island, wow, there are a lot of sites. So I made a version limiting the places to those that fall within the boundary of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.

Most of the sites are not positioned precisely so, I’m tweaking the positions as I work on exploring the BRVNHC. During a recent editing session I found that the National Register of Historic Places provides Google Earth files with some locations updated with more accurate TeleAtlas data. Loading these files along with my my custom file helps in locating the historic sites.

One feature I’m editing into the files I have not found a way to do through GE itself. This is setting the placemark style variations for normal versus highlighted. I’ve set the style so that normally there is no label but when you point to the placemark the label appears and the icon grows. You get this effect by setting up the style block like this:

<StyleMap id="msn_star">
<Style id="sn_star">
<Style id="sh_star">

With no scale parameter specified for an IconStyle the default value is 1, and with no LabelStyle parameter the label scale defaults to 1.

Posted in Blackstone Valley, Cartography, History, Tech | Comments Off on Google Earth News & Map Data Sources

Aggregating and Filtering Web Sources

September 4th, 2010 by Paul Hutchinson

Trying to keep up with information on a topic via web sources is time consuming. While RSS feeds make it easier to find just the new information, there is still a lot of wasted time when feeds contain additional topics that don’t interest you. The solution is to filter feeds so that only the topic of interest is included. Some blogs allow you to filter the content by providing separate RSS feeds for each category of posts. Here’s how to get a feed of just the cartography category from this blog.

  1. Select the category you want from the dropdown list in the right sidebar.
     RSSfilter1 RSSfilter2
  2. Select the category feed from the RSS selector icon (Firefox on left, Internet Explorer on right).
    RSSfilter3F RSSfilter3IE
    RSSfilter4F RSSfilter4IE
  3. Finally, subscribe to the selected feed with your favorite feed reader, I use Google Reader. To follow other categories from the blog simply repeat these steps.

This works well for RSS sources that have category, tag or label specific RSS options, but many sites don’t have this feature. For sites without the feature you can use the filtering power of Yahoo! Pipes. Take a look at this Pipes filtered feed I created for a Blogger hosted Blog. Yahoo! Pipes provides an RSS feed of the output (as well as many other formats) that you can subscribe to in a feed reader.

Filtering feeds saves me time, but my feed reader still has too many items in the subscription list. Organizing my subscriptions by creating folders for topics in Google Reader helps reduce visual clutter and allows me to ignore less important topics when I’m busy. A more effective way of dealing with the long list is to aggregate multiple feeds with a Yahoo! Pipe. For example I have a single subscription to a pipe that combines 15 different sources about the people of, and places in, the Blackstone River Valley.

The Blackstone River Valley pipe aggregates these feeds:

If you know of other sources that belong in this pipe please leave a comment or send me an email. You may also like this aggregation of Blackstone Valley photos from five Flickr feeds.

One final note about Yahoo! Pipes, they don’t always seem to run completely when Goggle Reader first queries them (I think it’s a timeout issue). So I make it a habit to click on the pipes subscriptions occasionally even when there are no new items indicated. This sometimes finds updates to the pipe feed that were missed during previous polling by Google Reader.

Posted in Blackstone Valley, Tech | Comments Off on Aggregating and Filtering Web Sources

Memorial Day

May 31st, 2010 by Paul Hutchinson

First observed in 1866 as Decoration Day, this holiday was created to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War. Since then Memorial Day has been expanded to honor all deceased US military personnel.

Photo details on its album page.

See more photos from this cemetery on the Arnold Mills pages of my photo albums.

Posted in Blackstone Valley, Favorite Photos | Comments Off on Memorial Day

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