Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Monday, January 31, 2011

Tax time

Some people look forward to tax time, because they get big refunds (especially if they have kids) that they use to reduce debt, buy cars, etc. I dread it. I've had to pay for the last few years, mainly because of the job at the gas station, which never took out enough money. But last year I adjusted my exemptions and I've run most of the way through the process and it looks like I will still owe this year, BUT much less than in years past. It looks to be about $123 for the federal (down from $500-700) and $189 for the state (down from about $300-$400).

When I ran it with just the W-2 from the hospital, I would have had something like $800 in refunds. So I'm hoping next year I will actually get a refund because it will (hopefully) be my only job for the year. So that would be very welcome.

So in a way, it's good news. I can probably pay my taxes this year on time and maybe get money back next year. That'll be novel. :)

I was transferring cards today

to a new wallet (brought by the wallet fairy--see below) and came across my bone marrow donor identification card. It said to contact them if I am a diabetic requiring insulin. Since I have recently gone on it, I updated my information with them. As I understand it, I cannot donate as a result, although I suppose if I went off it and had no complications, I might again.

This saddened me. I know it's so hard to find the right matching donor and I've been a potential marrow donor for years. But I think I got a little inspiration for the next monetary donation--the National Marrow Donor Program (http://www.marrow.org) has a thing called the Be the Match Foundation, which helps recruit potential donors, funds medical research, and provides financial assistance to patients who need help meeting their treatment costs.

Please consider signing up to be a bone marrow donor. Your gift could save a life.

It occurs to me

that I totally missed a post for Philanthropy Friday. Indeed, I did not donate this past week. I'll figure out whether I want to try to double up this week to make up for it or extend the timeframe beyond a year. I'm leaning towards the former. Also, in the next few weeks I'm going to have a reduction in my take home pay so I'm not entirely sure how much I can donate. We'll see. It's a great idea but harder than you might think.

Every Monday Matters #5

Eat Healthy

This is something I've been striving to do lately. I'm eating smaller portions, about 1600 calories a day, healthy snacks, and not a lot of processed food and a tiny amount of sweets. I was spurred in this by going on insulin earlier this month, and I've lost 7 pounds total in January, 6 of it since I started eating better. I haven't had pizza, which I was sort of living on for awhile. When we've celebrated birthdays, I'll have a piece of cake that's just a bite or two.

I heard an anecdote about the dangers of restaurant eating today. In trying to eat healthy at an Applebee's this weekend, someone I knew got a pecan-crusted chicken salad. When it came out, she was floored by its size--the plate was as big as the platter she uses for meat at home. She didn't eat it all, but her blood sugar skyrocketed anyway. She investigated the nutrition info later and discovered that this one salad had over 1300 calories and with the dressing she chose had over 100 carbohydrates. She could have had a 12 oz. steak and baked potato and would have eaten much fewer carbs and calories. So sometimes what looks to be healthy choices aren't so good for you.

A big thing, of course, is portion control. And I've found as I've eaten better I've actually felt less hungry, probably because I'm not eating so many carbs. I'm still struggling with the fat content in my diet--I get a lot of my protein from cheese, for example, so I need to start subsituting lower fat ones. I got some bagels and cream cheese the other day and got the 1/3 less fat cream cheese, for example. Still, you have to watch out, because some lower fat items have more sugar.

As a pseudo-vegetarian, I've been used to reading ingredients and nutrition labels for years. But sometimes it's hard to judge other foods, such as things I get in the cafeteria that aren't precisely measured. How many ounces of black olives did I put on my salad? Is that a half-cup of cottage cheese, etc. I've been paying more attention to portion size because of using the FitDay food diary tool. I haven't managed to put in everything every day (weekends are especially hard to remember), but I've written almost everything I've eaten for the last two weeks into the system, which calculates nutrition and percentages of carbs, proteins, and fats. And even though I snacked during the game yesterday, my blood sugar stayed around 130 when I checked it because I snacked on things like nuts, cheese, and a little fruit rather than crackers or popcorn. In the old days we always had chocolate. These days we're all trying to eat healthier.

So that's what I'm doing lately. I must confess I did have a small bag of peanut M&Ms as a snack today. Otherwise, I've had a salad with egg and garbanzo beans, a half cup of cheese tortellini, two milk cartons worth of 2% milk, a little cottage cheese, some yoghurt, and two peanut butter and spreadable fruit sandwiches. Total that's less than 1500 calories. I'll probably have an apple between now and bedtime, bringing it to just about there. That's 45% carbs, 38% fat (due to the peanut butter especially), and 18% protein. It should be more like 40-50% Carbs, 25-35% protein, 20-30% fat, so I should up my protein and lower my fat. That's a pretty typical day for me, in terms of ratio and calories. But I usually don't have M&Ms. :)

Bless my co-workers

I have been fortunate that several co-workers have gone out of their way to give me a ride home, especially on days of nasty weather. Today I was heading out to the bus stop at the time I'm supposed to (7 pm), when most everyone has gone, but one of the managers was working late and offered a ride. So now I'm home out of the wet (it's not actively raining at the moment, but it looks like it could start back at any time) and didn't have to wait outside for a half hour for the bus.

I ran into my old boss from the hospital today and also someone I knew from working at the store. I also had something odd happen--I was visited by the wallet fairy. I came in to the library this morning and there were two brand new wallets on my desk--they still had the tags and enclosures, even the little crinkly paper. These were very nice billfolds--real leather--but apparently someone left them for me. One even has a checkbook cover and calculator. Whoever the anonymous wallet fairy is, thank you very much--they're lovely.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Broken and missing treasures amid the chaos

Looters smash treasures and mummies in Egyptian Museum
Looters broke into the Cairo museum housing the world's greatest collection of Pharaonic treasures, smashing several statues and damaging two mummies, while police battled anti-government protesters on the streets.
Let's hope no other historical artefacts are destroyed or stolen during the present chaotic environment there. It could have been worse. The building next door, which was not part of the museum, was torched. Of course, it's not over by a long shot.

Friday, January 28, 2011

25 years ago, and it still feels just as raw

I was 19 years old, dating someone who at the time was obsessed with space exploration and was studying computers with the hope of working for NASA. One of his friends came up to us in the student centre at the University of Kentucky and said that it had blown up. We didn't believe him, thought he was making a very unfunny joke, but there the evidence was in the TV lounge. We stayed there maybe three or four hours, watching it disintegrate over and over, in shock. I remember my boyfriend pointed at a spot on the screen and explained that it was the crew cabin. He insisted that they were alive at that point. From everything that came later, he was right.

So every year at this time, I still pause to remember them. Every moment, every single time (and there were many, as I worked) that I wrote '1/28', I remembered. I remembered the images of hope, and exploration, and tragedy. And I remembered the men and women who lost their lives reaching for space.

The following is a tribute I found someone had put online that really touched me. It has music from a band I loved at the time (Mr. Mister) and I found myself back in that TV lounge, watching the screen in disbelief. My boyfriend gave up his dream. Something shattered in him that day, or died. I'm glad others didn't give up. I'm glad there are education centres that are set up in memory of the crew. I actually have a friend who is an engineer at NASA, and I think she has one of the coolest jobs on the planet.

Other tragedies have come and gone--another shuttle lost, the horror of 9/11, but this the first for me, the first shocked moment akin to my parents on the day Kennedy died. A moment when you feel overtaken by history stays with you for your entire life. This was what it was like for me.



Requiescant in pace. May they rest in peace.

:) This is one reason I like Canada

Canadian Affirms Oath of Citizenship on Pagan 'Holy Book'
There is no act more political in nature than making an oath of citizenship to a nation. On Tuesday, Melissa Gold, a Pagan living in Canada did just that. Like many new Canadian citizens, she did so with her hand resting on a book containing stories, poems, and hymns sacred to her religion. What makes this event extraordinary, and possibly a first in North America, is that the book wasn’t a Bible, a Torah, or a Koran – it was a text containing Hesiod and Homer.

Speaking of Mitchell & Webb...

This is fun...

My best friend would so do this



And he'd agree, as he was the one who showed it to me in the first place. :)

I especially like this line: 'Two people, who are a little bit deluded in each other's favour--that's what love is, isn't it?'

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Okay, maybe this healthy eating is a good thing

I've lost 7 lbs since the beginning of the year, 6 of it since going on insulin (which is even better considering when you go on insulin, your cells use the glucose more efficiently and you tend to gain weight).

Go me! Now to keep it up. I'm not following any diet, just watching my portion sizes and trying to make healthy choices. Today I did have a bit of chocolate cake, but it was about two cubic inches in total size (tiny) and went into the food diary. I'm still eating too much fat and not enough protein, really. But I'm working on it.

Last night I ate a snack at bedtime since I was increasing the insulin, and my blood sugar was a little higher this morning (192), so I'm going to forgo it tonight. I guess I'll just have to see how my blood sugar rises or falls and go with what works.

It's amazing how much better I feel on the insulin. I'm not as sleepy all the time. I'm not foggy. So far, it's well worth the sticking myself with a needle thing, and they're tiny needles and portable pens.

Have a good night.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Remember the dog book I talked about?

This is a PBS story about the Vick dogs, including mention of the book and an interview with the author. It's sad, disturbing, and uplifting all at once.



It's well worth a watch.

Greek ingenuity about 18 centuries too early

The Greek engineer who invented the steam engine 2,000 years ago
Hero, or Heron, of Alexandria, on the other hand, had the astonishing bad taste to be born around 10 CE, which made his inventions so far ahead of their time that they could be of little practical use and, in time, were forgotten. If he had been born in, say, 1710, his engineering prowess and incredible creativity might have made him the richest person in the world. As it is, he'll just have to settle for the posthumous reputation of being the greatest inventor in human history. Seriously, unless you invent a warp drive tomorrow, there's no way you're catching up to Hero.

I used to have a really fun book called Ancient Inventions, mentioned at the bottom of the article. It was full of amazing stuff. Unfortunately, I lent it to a classmate in grad school and he kept it. I should look into replacing my copy. And you know, I learned a lot about ancient and mediaeval science from one of my professors at school who specialised in that (he also taught a great class on mediaeval cosmology), but a lot of those sorts of inventions never made it into class. (I take a certain amount of pride in having survived three of his classes--he assigned insane numbers of readings and was a very difficult person to get along with, but I somehow made it. But I was terrified of having him on my committee, and that was one reason I never managed to finish my graduate degree in ancient and mediaeval history, due to anxiety over an oral defence.)

Book #4 for the year: Take Charge of Your Diabetes

Take Charge of Your Diabetes: A diabetes book that describes a completely new approach to treat diabetes by Sarfraz Zaidi, MD.

I can't say this is really a completely new approach; I've known about insulin resistance as the underlying issue with my diabetes for years. But...

I learned a lot, even so, especially in terms of how different drug classes affect the body, how supplements can really help, and certain aspects about taking insulin. His recommendations are fairly common sense: increase activity slowly by doing something enjoyable or making small changes like parking further away from your destination; make healthy changes in diet, watch emotional eating, and most of all don't beat yourself up to the point of giving up if you talk yourself into eating something you shouldn't. His ideas incorporate diet, managing stress, exercise, medications, and supplements, and they seem to be rather balanced given what I know about diabetes.

I would definitely recommend it to someone wanting to get a handle on diabetes, especially if they're new. It's especially good for asking questions of your doctor that you need to. It is from 2007 so there are a few things that need to be updated (he rightly talks about Actos and Avandia to be avoided in people with a tendency towards congestive heart failure, but since then the whole Avandia association with heart attacks has played out--that sort of thing.) Still, I think it's very useful, although of course I'm not a doctor, so I'm no expert.

131!

That's how much my blood sugar was before dinner tonight. That's the lowest it's been in...years.

I went to the doctor today. Good news: My bone density scan came back completely normal. Bad news: My A1c from last time was 9.5, which is very bad. 7 or lower is considered controlled diabetes. But everything else came back fine, including my triglycerides and cholesterol. My blood pressure was something like 110 over 69. So I'm doing pretty well on that front.

So...

He increased the Lantus a bit at night and put me on Apidra, a tiny amount before lunch and dinner. Apidra is another form of insulin, and like the Lantus, I have it in a pen that can be easily carried with me, and it uses the same needle tips as the other (they're made by the same company). I'm now to test my blood sugar four times a day, so I'll probably actually start using my fingers as well as my hand (I've never been able to get much blood from the arm). I'll go back in 3 weeks to see how it goes. But I took 5 units at lunch, and had a sensible meal (salad, milk, and small apple) and my blood sugar was only 131 five hours later. Yay! For dinner I took 3 units and had two cheese manicotti. I got home and ate a Luna bar. That's all I plan to eat today, except maybe a couple of crackers and peanut butter at night since I don't know how the increased Lantus will affect me. That's about 1200-1300 calories today. I've been averaging about 1600-1800. And I haven't really been hungry between meals. That's pretty good.

Now I just have to start exercising. Walking's out right now due to the boot and the almost constant snow, but the exercise bike probably wouldn't be too rough on my foot. I should probably get adjusted to the insulin first though and then talk to my doctor before changing my activity level much.

Getting ready to go to the doctor

I printed out a sheet for him with my glucose values on it. The morning blood sugar has been steadily going down. There is a strange peak of afternoon blood sugar that I didn't understand at first and then realised that blood sugar changes with menstruation, so I indicated those days in red. But considering on January 3rd my fasting blood sugar was over 300 and today's is 155, I think that's pretty dramatic. Plus, last night's was 157. Yay!

Which is good because I'm seeing my possible future as one of my relatives had surgery yesterday to try to save her leg, but may lose a couple of toes. I'm worried about her. And I shouldn't forget my great-grandmother lost her sight and died of a diabetes-related stroke.

Okay, I'm going to go now. It's very foggy and tonight we're supposed to have rain changing to snow, and have up to four inches of snow tomorrow. Joy. No jeans today, but tomorrow's a big possibility. :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Every Monday Matters #4

Prepare for an emergency

Appropriately enough, today was the day I received my Medic Alert bracelet, which alerts medical providers to conditions, allergies, medications, and contact information in the event I am unconscious. I realised that I had not told them I had sleep apnea, so I went to the website and added that, along with my use of a CPAP machine. While I was at it I put in my blood type, the fact that I'm an organ donor, etc. in. The only trouble I had is that I accidentally ordered the bracelet too large, despite measuring. It's about an inch too big, meaning it hangs too loosely. I'll see if I can get a jeweler to size it down. In the meantime I have a link from a key chain gathering it together. I expect tomorrow my insulin may change, so I'm glad I can update my health issues so easily. On the bracelet itself it says I have asthma, diabetes, and am allergic to latex and penicillin. Those were the main things.

In terms of preparing for a disaster, I've taken some steps. My apartment is all electric, so in the event of an ice storm or prolonged power outage, I have a flashlight that has a crank that powers it. It also has a radio, a strobe, a siren, a compass, and can charge a cell phone (with a lot of cranking) :). My old cell phone fit it as is. I'm going to see if I can find an adapter for the one I have now. This is especially important as I 1) don't have a car to charge one with and 2) don't have a traditional phone line. Mine piggy backs off my cable, so if the electric goes out, so does the router and cable box. That's a problem since cell phones jam easily in disasters.

As far as food, I've tried to stock up on ready-to-eat food such as canned vegetables, canned vegetarian chili, beans, crackers, etc. I really need to get together some water, though. The only water I keep in the house is distilled water for my CPAP humidifier. Unfortunately, in the event of a power outage, I can't use that machine. I've been lucky in ice storms to have only outages of a day or so. I also refrigerate my backup insulin--the current one lasts 28 days unrefrigerated, at least, and it's easily portable without a lot of syringes or phials.

I live in front of a creek. Although it would have to really come up high to flood, it could conceivably. I live within the New Madrid area of effect in terms of earthquakes, should a 'big one' hit. Tornadoes and ice storms are not uncommon. Fire is always a concern. The apartment complex provides a smoke detector in the apartment but I'm not sure if it's battery powered or electric--I need to check. I also live within a mile or so of a water treatment plant (i.e., chlorine spills) and within a few miles of a major military chemical depot full of things like mustard and sarin gas. So a shelter in place kit is not out of the question. Then there's always the possibility of terrorism, I suppose. So there's a lot to think about.

Mostly I'm concerned with power outages. They are the most likely issue. As far as tornadoes go, the one place that's 'safe' is my bathroom. I can get out of every other room in the house in case of fire easily, and I'm on the first floor.

One thing I also need to look into is renter's insurance. I couldn't practically replace my books and the artwork I have in the house (I have a lot of original pieces by a friend who's an excellent artist), but not having insurance is an issue in terms of trying to replace the necessities to start out again.

The Every Monday Matters website recommends a .pdf checklist for what should go into a basic home emergency kit. There are lots of resources from the government and other agencies available on the Internet.

Those are some of the things I'm trying to get together, anyway. Here's hoping it won't be needed.

1/2 inch of snow on the ground at most and Fayette County Schools are out

Jeans!

I guess it's because in the afternoon it's supposed to go to freezing rain, then back to snow. We're also supposed to have two more days of snow after that. Anyway, I'm wearing jeans to work this morning. Yay!

Book #3 for the year: Vampire Forensics

Vampire Forensics: Uncovering the Origins of an Enduring Legend by Mark Collins Jenkins is a fascinating, winding journey through the legend of the vampire, particularly as it is associated with pestilence and disease. It has no real thesis, or conclusion for that matter, but it rather a collection of anecdotes, which rather unnerved the historian in me. But it was interesting nonetheless, and a hefty portion of the book is its notes and recommended bibliography. When you read on the Kindle, as I did for this book, there is no indication of page (because the text can be changed in size and spacing), but there is a bar at the bottom listing location and giving you an idea of the progress you're making through the book. I was surprised when the book ended, because the bar still had about a fourth of the book left. That's the bibliography.

Although the bulk of the book deals with European concepts of vampires, it includes an overview of vampires from all over the world and the few places (like Aegypt) where they were entirely absent (the Aegyptians having spent such care in making sure their bodies were processed correctly for the afterlife). Vampires are almost always, throughout the world, the result of deaths or death rites gone wrong. The book also contains all sorts of worldwide remedies for dealing with a vampire.

All in all, it was a decent book. I'm not sure I'd read it again, but I'd definitely use the bibliography to pursue more study. Some of the books are quite obscure and liable to be of interest. Incidentally, I finished this Saturday; with the game (where we have, indeed, been traipsing about Transylvania), I'm just getting around to writing about it.

Okay, time to get ready to go out into the snow. Good day.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Our game master showed us this last week



I think it's hilarious. 'And devoured the sailors like so much grindage' is my favourite phrase.

I so rarely wear my glasses outside

that for just a moment I was mildly disturbed by the fact that everything in the centre of my vision was growing darker than on the periphery. Needless to say, it is very bright outside with the sun and snow, and I have Transitions lenses that grow dark in bright light.

I'm batting a thousand today. I think I'd better go take my medicine. Maybe it'll make me smarter.

Yesterday I was very bad

I had a pop-tart. I had a very small piece of cake. I had some Snackwell's cookies. I ate nearly 3000 calories.

This morning? My blood sugar was 146, the lowest it's been since I started eating healthy and taking insulin.

Go figure.

I'm back on the healthy bandwagon though this morning. I had a brunch of light yoghurt, a banana, orange juice, and a peanut butter sandwich. I'm going to go over to the laundry room to check and see if they have any Diet Coke in the machine, and then start working on some things.

Friday, January 21, 2011

On a brighter note...


I have apparently become known at the plant lady at work. I have one person in clinic who keeps telling me she'll bring me some sadly waning African violets because mine do so well. The other day I got a call from the inpatient unit. They had a peace lily and spider plant left over from some potting they did. Fortunately I had a pot the peace lily could fit in and the spider plant went in with my Christmas cactus. Here's the peace lily. It's even blooming.

If the one lady does bring the African violets I should just have enough room for them. But if I get any more I'm going to have to figure out how to do a hanging garden. :)

Sadly, I fail at indoor gardening in two respects. One, I never remember to water my plants at home, and the humidity is drier, so the life gets sucked out of them. I almost killed the Christmas cactus, and it was so happy to get a change of environment and water it actually bloomed for me. I also grow gorgeous orchids--in terms of the greenery. They never bloom. I just haven't quite got the touch for those. Of course, I haven't fed them yet either, but a co-worker brought me some powdered orchid food so I'm going to try that.

Okay, I return you to your regularly scheduled programme....

It's pretty, but I'm sick and tired of it


This is a picture I took this morning at the front entrance of work. Beautiful sky, snow sparkling in the sun (okay, you can't really see the individual ice crystals sparkle, but they were), and all that--and 12 degrees Fahrenheit. It's 16 right now. I will be so happy to see spring.

I didn't wear the boot on the way to and from work because I was worried about the inch of frozen slush underneath the snow (it came down fast and wet, and then powdery on top). I know it was only 3 1/2 inches and we've had worse, and you folks in the northeast are laughing your socks off because the wussy Southerner can't stand the cold or snow, but what can I say--it's been very snowy this year and we've only had a couple of brief breaks since Thanksgiving. It's normally not like this. Often the real snow doesn't hit until February--we were getting it in November and December.

Speaking of socks--okay, somewhat obliquely, the one drawback to the shiny purple boots is that they're not particularly warm. They're serviceable enough on a normal winter's day, but today my toes were frozen even with two pairs of socks on. The ankles and side of the foot are lined with a sort of fake grey sheepskin, but the soles are pretty thin. This makes it easier to pick your way on ice, for which I'm grateful, but cold on the soles of the feet.

So my poor feet have been cold and abused today as I went in all sorts of angles even on the broken one as I picked my way over snow-covered ice. I've been home for forty-five minutes now and they're still feel cold inside. Argh. How many days is it till spring again?

Philanthropy Friday #3

Alzheimer's Association: Greater Kentucky and Southern Indiana Chapter - $10

My great-grandmother, Carmen Duncan, had Alzheimer's for fifteen years or more before her death. I watched my grandmother, Frances Vanarsdall, an RN, spend that time caring for her mother as she deteriorated. In the end, my grandmother only outlived her mother by two years. Officially the cause of death was lung cancer; unofficially, I believe, caregiving took every bit of her strength.

My great-grandmother was a wonderful woman, very lively and not afraid to give you a piece of her mind. When I was little, she made banana pudding, and gave me creamed coffee to play with my tea set with. She built a table for me and put it in the kitchen window, and I would stay there playing and colouring while she worked there.

In the early stages of Alzheimer's, she might say funny things, like the people on the TV were taking her for a ride. She talked of old beaux. She was in some ways a delight, but it was still heart-breaking to see her like that.

In the end, she was mostly unresponsive. Alzheimer's had robbed her of so much. Her last day she seemed to know her daughters. They say people sometimes do that, perk up and become clear as they get ready to die. I don't know about that, but I remember my great-grandmother (and grandmother) fondly, and in the spirit of helping others dealing with this disease, I'm donating to this charity. I know it isn't a lot, but with other donations it can make a difference.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Yay! Jeans Day!

Fayette County schools are out tomorrow due to the snow we got this afternoon and evening. That means we can wear jeans to work. :) Hey, it's the little things that make life fun.

Today I picked a book up at the library I don't know if I can read


It's not in another language. It's not extremely difficult prose. It doesn't look boring. In fact, it looks quite interesting. But it is on a very difficult subject for me. It's a dog book. I don't normally do dog books. I was the kid who was almost banned from watching 'Lassie' because I cried through every episode. I was banned from 'Run, Joe, Run' in the 70s. This is a book that I expect is uplifting, but with a lot of heartbreak between the pages. Just reading the flaps on the cover and flipping through the photos brought tears.

The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption

I'll let you know if I make it through it.

Hurrah!

Multilingual Shakespeare season planned for 2012
Each of William Shakespeare's 38 plays are to be performed in a different language to mark the 2012 London Olympics, it has been announced.

Stagings of Julius Caesar in Italian, Troilus and Cressida in Maori and The Tempest in Arabic will form part of the season at Shakespeare's Globe theatre.

Lithuanian, Spanish and Greek are among the other languages that will feature.

The six-week theatre season, part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, will start on 23 April - the Bard's birthday.
They'll be put on at the Globe Theatre, which has an open-air theatre but is planning to build an indoor Jacobean one, 'the most complete recreation of an English Renaissance indoor theatre yet attempted'. :)

It's a shame there's no way I'll see the plays performed. I've always wanted to go to Britain, but I'm not sure I'll ever get there.

:) This makes me happy :)



Via Steven at Library Stuff.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What a massive regulatory failure (and if true, a horrible man)

'House of horrors' alleged at abortion clinic: Doctor charged with killing patient, 7 babies; no staff had medical training

Words fail me. I am pro-choice, but these were illegal abortions and allegedly, downright murder of living, breathing infants in many cases. The allegations include extremely late abortions and also inducing labour, producing live children whose spinal cords were cut with scissors. Techniques were used to delude women concerning the length of their pregnancies. The wife (a cosmetologist) supposedly performed them one day a week, and the place reeked of cat urine and had horrific sterilisation practices and no medical training beyond the doctor (who was not even an OB/GYN). Unfortunately, I suspect as abortions get harder and harder to come by safe and legally, people like Dr Gosnell will cash in on performing illegal abortions for desperate women in similar circumstances, and there will be more deaths as a result.

PS Mea culpa. The grammar gods should strike me down for the use of 'fail' as a noun. Although it has become commonplace today, it is, indeed, incorrect, as YKWIA pointed out to me. Fail is a verb; failure a noun. I am embarrassed that someone as touchy about grammar as I would use a word in such a way. I will avoid its usage in the future.

I have not lost one ounce

It was down to a fraction of a pound the same as last Thursday when I weighed today. Sigh. Oh, well, count it as a slow start, I suppose.

The bone density scan was a piece of cake. While I was at the breast centre I made an appointment for Valentine's Day for a mammogramme. My AFLAC cancer policy will kick in by that time. I'll also need to make a GYN appointment sometime in February as well. Last time I went they told me I didn't need to get a pap smear every year since I'd never had an unusual one. They said every couple of years or so would be fine. It's been three, so I need to go in.

Today was okay. The lack of boot was nice in some ways and bad in others. I'm going to try to get it fixed tomorrow.

Tomorrow we're supposed to have 3-5 inches of snow and then the temps are going to plummet on Friday. Joy. I am so sick of winter weather, but still, as long as it isn't ice...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What I've learnt from keeping a food journal

this past week consistently:
  1. I tend to eat less (but we already knew that, didn't we?)
  2. Most days I ate about 1600 calories. A couple were about 2000. That's better than I've done before.
  3. I've done pretty well with balancing between food groups, although I struggle to get enough vegetables (They don't serve many at the cafeteria, and that's my main way of getting them since I don't go through them quickly enough as a single person at home. But I did get canned veggies last store trip, so there's some, at least--not as good as fresh, though.) I guess it's sad when a vegetarian (or at least pseudo-vegetarian, as I eat fish) doesn't get enough veggies.
  4. I eat a lot of whole grains and a decent amount of fruit. Even so, I could do better in the fiber category.
  5. I also eat a lot of cheese, so there's quite a bit of fat. But generally I keep it at 50% carbs, 30% fat, and 20% protein. I need to edge the protein up and the fat down, I think.
  6. I eat way too much processed food.
  7. My nutrition is generally okay. I get enough of the major vitamins and minerals, but have to work on others. I do take a chewable multivitamin, though.
  8. I do really well in the dairy category.

I need to add exercise. Tomorrow I'm going to weigh myself to see if I've lost anything. Considering I was eating about 2500 or more calories a day, I've eliminated about 5500 calories. That's maybe a pound and a half. Not bad for not officially dieting, just trying to make better choices.

Okay, tomorrow's bone density scan happens at 8:30 am so I'd better go on to bed. Good night.

I'm fascinated by stuff like this

When you're dying for a lower carbon footprint: Body-disposal process offers more eco-friendly alternative to cremation
From dust we are, and to dust we shall return — by burial, cremation or emulsification.

As some Americans push ever harder to leave a smaller carbon footprint on the environment, the funeral industry is taking a new step to help us go even more gently into that good night. Instead of a traditional burial, which takes up space six feet underground, or cremation, which uses a surprising amount of energy, the dead can now be dissolved.
It takes lower heat and chemicals, the latter of which make me a bit suspicious when it comes to calling something environmentally-friendly. They claim that after the wastewater is treated it has fewer toxins in it than industrial wastewater that's been treated. But then there's this:
Here’s the morbid math: Cremating one corpse requires two to three hours and more than 1,800 degrees of heat — enough energy to release 573 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, environmental analysts have calculated. In many cases, dental compounds, such as fillings, also go up in smoke, spewing harmful mercury vapors into the air unless the crematorium has a chimney filter.

In resomation, a body is placed in a steel chamber along with a mixture of water and potassium hydroxide. Air pressure inside the vessel is increased to about 145 pounds per square inch, and the temperature is raised to about 356 degrees Fahrenheit. After two to three hours, the corpse is reduced to bones that are then crushed into a fine, white powder. That dust can be scattered by families or placed in an urn. Dental fillings are separated out for safe disposal.
One woman said if there wasn't a local resomator then she'd like to be shipped to St Petersburg, which will soon have such a facility. One of the comment writers pointed out that a 650 mile trip blows the whole desire to leave a low carbon footprint out of the water. I have to agree. It sounds like a fad. I'd prefer to be digested by flesh-eating beetles. Now that's environmentally friendly. :)

Odd news of the day

Monk nabbed with nun's skeleton at airport
"They maintained it was a woman who was a saint," a Greek police official who declined to be named told Reuters.

He said the monk told authorities he was transferring her remains to a monastery in Cyprus.

The remains were those of a nun who died four years ago. She was not a saint in the Greek or Cypriot Orthodox Churches, but had once been a nun at a Cypriot convent, police said.

Revering the skeletal remains of saints is common in the Greek Orthodox tradition. A sect within the church may have venerated the nun even though she was not an official saint.

The Frankboot broke

on the way across a four-lane highway this evening. The strap that keeps it on the leg snapped in two (and that strap was only on it a week). I'm hoping I can get it fixed tomorrow (for lo, Frankenboot has died, but may be resurrected).

I heard an amusing thing today. When asked what was wrong with my foot, one of my friends (who is very blond, in more ways than one), said it was stressed. It had to be explained to him that a stress fracture means it's broken. :) What can I say, this was the same friend who thought a metal lamp had DNA. Blond to his roots.

I just spent an entire night

dreaming horrible Cthulhoid dreams that include being dumped in sludge and defeating amorphous balls of tentacled weirdness. The worst part? Being chided by my best friend for not turning off the light afterwards.

On the plus side, my blood sugar is only 168, much, much better for me than it has been in the morning. Yay!

Okay, I slept later today than I have been. I've eaten breakfast and taken my meds; now it's off to get ready for work. Have a great day!

PS

I was distressed to read this today:

Brown Proposes Eliminating All State Funding for California Public Libraries

As if California libraries aren't under enough pressure, the new governor has proposed a budget that includes no funding at all for three major programmes that benefit public libraries.
California Governor Jerry Brown released a proposed budget for FY11/12 on Monday that would eliminate all state funding for public libraries.

Brown's shock-and-awe, $84.6 billion general fund budget, which still must work its way through the state legislature, would cut state spending by $12.5 billion and include a "vast and historic" restructuring of government operations.

This would mean the loss of $30.4 million for three of the state's most important public library programs: the Public Library Fund ($12.9 million), Transaction Based Reimbursement ($12.9 million), and the California Library Literacy and English Acquisition Service ($4.6 million).
I know the money must come from somewhere, but cutting *all* the funding for public libraries? The Transaction Based Reimbursement funds the cooperative lending programme that's been in place for 30 years. The other two are a general public library fund and support for literacy programmes. Gone. Nada. Up in smoke.

And the thing that scares me is that whither California goes, other states are likely to follow. Public libraries are often seen as some sort of cash cow rather than the essential service provided to taxpayers. In an era where you go online to apply for McDonald's (and in a time when many people are seeking work), the library is important to those without Internet access. Libraries enlighten us, support our growth, provide us entertainment, and hone our skills. As one co-worker put it when I told her today, her significant other likens the lack of support for libraries as the first sign of civilisation's collapse. Okay, that's a little far, but not too far from the truth. Libraries are important. That anyone would just yank all state funding in a time when local governments are struggling to keep them open could mean a death knell for the library system in California. And the thing about closing libraries are that 1) the money doesn't usually come back once it's taken away and 2) should it come back, it is far more expensive to try to rebuild collections and services again. My heart goes out to California library workers and their patrons, who are going to see very hard times should this budget pass as is.

I'm back

My foot feels much better. I slept through my alarm till midnight and just did the insulin. My blood glucose levels have fallen significantly. They're still in the 160-200 range (rather than 230-300 or so); I expect my doctor will up the dose when I see him on the 25th.

Wednesday I get a bone density scan. That should be interesting. But at least it's non-invasive (I dread the post-50 colonoscopy), doesn't squish anything (must remember to get a mammogramme/pap smear next month when my cancer policy kicks in), and it doesn't sound like it'll trigger my claustrophobia like an MRI does (I have to have an open one, or they just have to put me under). I hope everything is alright; I've been reading the side effects of medicines such as Fosamax and Boniva and their side effects are numerous and disconcerting. Better than losing a lot of bone mass, etc., but still.... See, this is one of those drawbacks of being a medical librarian. I think I'll check out the literature to get a better idea. Someone I know was telling me about a friend who took one of those drugs and it thinned her oesophagus to the point that when she was scoped, she died. I know word-of-mouth tales of terror should not necessarily be believed, especially when told by laymen, but it's something to check out and then ask the doctor about if it looks like it's warranted.

Tomorrow there's really nothing on my list of things to do other than a bunch of interlibrary loans and sorting some book donations to see what I can use for our early literacy programme and what would be better off going to other departments. Oh, and pay my bills when I get home. And turn in an application for someone. And catalogue the last remaining texts from my book order. And change my medication information on my thumb drive. And deal with my student loans. Okay, maybe tomorrow will be pretty busy. :) Remember, I do all the library stuff for just four hours a day, the data entry for another four, and then by the time I get home it's 8 o'clock. Maybe I should do the home stuff tomorrow morning while I'm fresh. One thing about the insulin is that I'm waking up very clear and not groggy at all, and I've been getting up early enough to do stuff in the morning and actually eat breakfast earlier/take my meds before I go to work, etc. I've also been remembering to take my second dose of one of the drugs with my evening meal. Generally I feel much better.

Monday, January 17, 2011

So glad to be home

and out of the *expletive of your choice* boot. My foot's hurting more than it has since I went into it, so I took a couple of ibuprofen. Hopefully that will take the edge off of it.

I had a somewhat wild ride on the way home. It wasn't our regular bus driver, and this one sang spirituals, ran red lights, stopped at Wendy's, and drove in a breakneck, jerky fashion. Let's just say I was glad when he stopped and let me off.

Unlike many people, I don't get off for Martin Luther King Day, and it was a full workday today. I'm tired and contemplating a nap, but it's almost 8:30 pm as it is. Maybe I'll just sit and read in the comfy chair with my foot up.

I'm full from dinner at the cafeteria--tilapia with broccoli and tater tots, so I don't have to eat. I might have some crackers and peanut butter right before bed, when I take my insulin.

I need to sit down and pay some bills, but I've got a few days before they're due, so I think I'll just take the comfy chair option and set my alarm in case I fall asleep to take my medicine.

Just in case I don't write anymore tonight, goodnight.

Every Monday Matters #3

Have AMBER Alerts Sent to You

From the website:
FACTS

  • AMBER stands for “America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response” and was created as a legacy to 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, kidnapped while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas, and then brutally murdered.
  • 76% of abducted children who are murdered are dead within 3 hours of the abduction, 88.5% are dead within 24 hours, and 99% are dead within 7 days.
  • 443 children have been reunited with their families because of AMBER Alerts.
  • Nearly 100% of cell phones are eligible to receive Wireless AMBER Alerts as text messages.
  • 100% of computers can have the AMBER Alert ticker downloaded onto them.
  • AMBER Alerts are active in all 50 states.
TAKE ACTION TODAY
  • Pay attention to AMBER Alert signs on the freeway or on TV.
  • Sign-up to receive AMBER Alert text messaging on your cell phone.
  • Download the AMBER Alert Ticker onto your computer.
  • If you see or receive an AMBER Alert, don’t take it lightly. The perpetrator might be closer than you think.

As mentioned the other day, Facebook is also now a source of AMBER alerts. All 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands have an AMBER Alert Facebook page. Just search out that page and either 'like' or join to get the alerts.

I've had the ticker on this website for years, but until I read this did not realise I could get alerts on my cell phone, so I signed up for it this morning. It's very easy. You only get alerts for your area, and their privacy policy includes not selling your number to third parties but only using it for the process of sending alerts.

In Kentucky, just as an aside, our lottery machines send out alerts. I discovered this when I was a gas station attendant. I think this is marvelous. Of course many places put it on the radio, TV, and even signs on the freeway as well. We are all responsible for the safety of children, and collectively we can help protect them from harm. Be sure you have the tools to know when an abduction has occurred. You never know when you can make a difference.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Even in death, she gave hope

9-year-old shooting victim's organs help save child

A child, apparently in Boston, received an organ donation from Christina Taylor Green, the young victim of last week's shooting in Tucson.

The Most Rev. Gerald Kicanas, bishop of Tucson, spoke about the donations at Green's funeral on Thursday, but he did not specify where the recipient lived, according to the Arizona newspaper.

"She wanted to make a difference in her life. She wanted to make her mark, and she did so in so powerful a way that even she cannot imagine," Kicanas said, the Republic reported.

Please consider becoming an organ donor--it can be a lasting and wonderful gift of life for someone suffering.

Wow--bully for them

From LISNews:

Library emptied in bid to fight closure
A town has emptied its library in a bid to fight plans to close it down. People in Stony Stratford, near Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, have spent the week withdrawing their maximum allowance of books in protest against council plans to close it as part of budget cuts. And today they said the plan had been a success, with all 16,000 books withdrawn from the library.
(emphasis Blake's of LISNews)

Incidentally, there's a picture of the empty library shelves on BoingBoing:

Threatened library gets its patrons to clear the shelves

Okay, I don't believe the 2012 apocalypse nuts

but we have floods of biblical proportions in Australia, Sri Lanka, Brazil--even Wales has dire flood warnings. And that's not even including last year's flood in Pakistan. What gives?

Hmmm...relaxation

I finished the game notes about dusk, having gotten a late start on them due to the grocery run (and subsequent nap). :) Then I put the cable on the meditative music channel (essentially New Age music) and read Vampire Forensics for about an hour before succumbing to the comfy chair (I never actually went to sleep, but I just chilled to the music and am very relaxed, for a change. Even my back feels loose, and that's almost never the case.)

I'm reading about vampires because of the mood I was put in due to the notes. Right now the adventure (campaign, actually) we're doing involves a Lumley-esque story about a Baron and his castle in the Carpathians. It seemed natural to read about the history of vampires. In Vampire Forensics, Jenkins doesn't write chronologically, really, buy rather presents pieces of a puzzle at a time. I am finding it interesting. I highlighted one quote from Dracula (which I read once-upon-a-time and think I have among a horror collection on the Kindle) he includes. It's particularly good for Call of Cthulhu--as we play it, anyway, I thought. It's from Dr Van Helsing:
But to fail here, is not mere life or death. It is that we become as him; that we henceforward become foul things of the night like him, without heart or conscience, preying on the bodies and souls of those we love best.
Something to remember, I think.

I just powershopped my way through a very large Kroger

I brought 8 reusable bags; I used 7 (plus there was distilled water and toilet paper). I got out of there in 30 minutes, and with enough groceries to actually have some staples for less than $150. I stuck to my list well, just getting some spreadable fruit to go with my peanut butter and hummus and pita I'd forgotten to put down. For a change I got lots of canned veggies, since I can't guarantee I'll be able to make it to the store for heavy stuff during inclement weather, and they don't technically have to be heated. I got veggie chili and baked beans as well. Plus a lot of dairy (please don't have an ice storm/lose electricity), fruit like bananas, pineapple, apples, blueberries, and strawberries, and some salad greens to go with the tomatoes and onions I already have. Everything was absolutely healthy and nutritious (although a lot of cheese, so I guess that's high fat), with the exception of my Diet Sunkist. I don't think I've made such a large run since maybe September, if then. While I was at it I got snacks for the game (cheese, flatbread crackers, and walnuts). I got some regular crackers for putting together with peanut butter for a nightly snack when I take my insulin, and I got some glucose tablets that'll fit in my satchel nicely.

I'm craving dairy. I suspect the stress fracture. I went ahead and got orange juice with calcium and vitamin D while I was at it.

What I did not get: ice cream, sweets (although the fudge looked divine) or anything like that. I didn't even ask if there were any more Krispy Kreme doughnuts in the box Brandon had in his van. :)

Bless Brandon for taking me. He's moving right now, and I know how busy that is. I am now eating something and thinking about getting back to those notes.

It's all the rage in R'lyeh


From 5 New Ways to Tie a Tie by Caldwell Tanner of College Humor, via Boing Boing. (Check out the other 4 as well.)

[Click the image to enlarge.]

I feel energised

So far this morning I have woken, showered, gotten dressed and all that, and taken all the recyclables plus the trash out. I filled up almost two Rosie containers with recyclables (but had very little trash). I'm so glad my apartment started recycling. The weather's been so icky that I had not taken it out, and my two hampers were full and overflowing.

I'm going to work on the game notes for awhile and then Brandon is going to come over and take me to the grocery. I have a list (a little list...sorry, went into Gilbert & Sullivan) and it shouldn't take too long, which is good, as he's in the middle of a move. I appreciate the help. Schlepping with a granny cart is no fun in the Frankenboot. :)

I've noticed since I began the insulin that I'm not groggy in the morning like I have been. My blood sugar has been better as well, mostly in the 180-190 range. That's still high, but much better than, say, the 260s like some days before.

Friday, January 14, 2011

So tragic



To those affected by this horrible disaster, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

Odd Britishism

Apparently a school crossing guard, at least a female one, is a 'lollipop lady'. I know this because of a sad story out of Scotland: Lollipop lady killed by bus in Ayr 'had heart of gold'. Audrey Williams was struck by a single-decker bus on her way back across the street after escorting some children. No one else was hurt. The bus itself had 30 children aboard. Apparently the reference, mostly used in Britain and Australia, has to do with the signs they use that look like lollipops. A male is called a Lollipop Man.

We just have stop signs and call them crossing guards. Not nearly so imaginative.

Snake handing day!

Years ago, YKWIA told me about the zodiac sign Ophiuchus. What evolved was Snake Handing Day in its honour. It's a in-joke, what can I say. Ophiuchus is a constellation in the form of a man grasping a snake, you see. But imagine my delight when Rachel Maddow discussed Ophiuchus and the 13 signs of the zodiac--and why they exist--on her show. And yes, I agree with her. I refuse to be a Pisces rather than an Aries. But I think it would be great to be an Ophiuchus.



PS Rachel Maddow is an April Fools' Day baby, so her birthday is one day off of mine. She is also six years younger than I am. Gee.

Via Joe.My.God.

In a comparative religion mood, I guess

I've been listening to Jesus Christ, Superstar at work (I had to put it on today--a student was watching an old VHS tape with one of our former doctors on it and his voice was soothing to the point of hypnotic. Rock opera can counteract this immensely.) I had noticed one of my recommended books for the Kindle was an Interlinear Latin-English Vulgate New Testament. It was nice that they credited Jerome as the author. I saw a few New Testaments for the Kindle that had God as the author.

In the interest of being ecumenical, I looked for a good Tanakh (the Jewish scriptures, which are (mostly) the books the Christians call the 'Old Testament'). There were several, although I couldn't find an interlinear Hebrew one (that would have been great). I did find a version of one that we used in class (I was a Judaic Studies minor.) It is considered one of the best modern translations out there.

Next I found a copy of the Qu'ran that was quite reasonable and highly rated. I've never read it (unlike the other two).

I have several of the Indian texts such as the Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana, etc. (that collection even came with the Kama Sutra). :) I also have Babylonian, Greek, and Aegyptian texts. So I've got a nice collection of religious texts on the Kindle, most of which were very little price-wise. I love having this sort of thing at my fingertips.

Okay, I'm going to check the news and then do some reading. If I don't get back here tonight, good night.

Philanthropy Friday #2

Philanthropy of the Week: Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
Amount donated: $25


This is a great organisation.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization working in more than 60 countries to assist people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe.

Please see their websites, whether American or International, or their Wikipedia page, for more info.

You can follow MSF on Twitter (@MSF_USA--search for your own country's, as I know there's one for the UK, Australia, and Canada at least) or 'Like' it on Facebook to keep up with their activities as well.

Why I like it as a charity:

  • It provides vital services in the face of harsh conditions such as war, disaster, etc.
  • It does so without partisanship.
  • 85% of the funding of MSF comes from private donations.
  • It is well established, having been founded forty years ago.
  • It has received the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts.
  • 'The organization actively provides health care and medical training to populations in about 70 countries, and frequently insists on political responsibility in conflict zones such as Chechnya and Kosovo. Only once in its history, during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, has the organisation called for military intervention. In order to be able to speak and act freely, MSF remains independent of any political, religious or economic powers.'--from the Wikipedia article.
  • The American branch was given a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator.
  • In 2008, according to Charity Navigator, only 13 cents per dollar raised were spent on fundraising for the American branch. 1.3% was spent on administrative costs. A full 86.8% was spent on programme expenses.

If you're an Anglophile like me

and you get BBCAmerica, you should watch 'Law & Order|UK' on Friday nights. It's a great programme. Here's an humourous advertisement to get you up to speed:

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Trying to be a little proactive

I just joined Medic Alert, something I've meant to do for years but now that I have such a robust profile of diseases and allergies to my name and I am on even just a tiny bit of insulin, it made sense. It's $35 a year, and that's not bad for peace of mind in case I'm in an accident. I do keep a list of medicines (which I need to update a bit tonight), along with a copy of my living will, etc. on a thumb drive I have with me all the time, but health care workers are more likely to notice a bracelet.

I've eaten about 1600 calories today and put it in my food log. I feel pretty satisfied. I ate well (veggies, a little fruit, and quite a bit of dairy, although I had nacho chips and cheese for dinner, which wasn't the best fat-wise), and the only sweets I had were three small sugar free lemon cookies. I've taken all of my medicine correctly today, even the evening dose of Janumet I often forget. There's just the insulin tonight to take before bed. I also took off the boot and weighed myself today. I weigh 291.6 lbs. I'm concerned that the insulin will cause me to gain more weight, so I need to really watch what I eat and start exercising. I have an exercise bike borrowed from my grandmother. I'm going to try it out to see if it hurts my foot or not. I wouldn't think so; there'd be no weight put on it, really. Maybe I can start on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for a few minutes and work up to everyday for half an hour.

It's amazing what that leap to insulin will do for your willpower. I just hope I can keep it up. I really wanted pizza last night, but resisted, because I would have gotten breadsticks and eaten them plus maybe a slice or two of pizza and that would have just been too much.

Today I went to the pharmacy and picked up all my medicines that my doctor had called in. It's the first time I ever bought them all at once. It was $270. Gee, I was afraid I'd put too much into my flexible spending account. I don't think I have to worry about not spending enough. The scary thing? If you add up the actual cost of the drugs (what the insurance pays plus what I pay) it comes to $1,806.60. That's per month. I so need to keep my insurance! Aggh!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I did it!

Despite a lot of trepidation, I managed to relax and focus on the directions for giving myself the injection. I put on the needle tip, primed it, primed it again just to make sure :) and then gave myself the injection. I didn't actually feel the needle go in--then I counted to 10 and took it out, and it only stung a very tiny bit. Yay! Have had a bit of a snack and am ready for bed. Tomorrow I need to go pick up all my medicines that have been refilled before work.

Okay, good night!

I knew this day would come


Got these at the doctor's today. I don't know if you can really see what they are, but they are:

  • a Lantus® SoloSTAR® injection pen
  • a box of 50 needle pen tips
  • a take home kit containing glucose tablets, needle pen tips, lancets, alcohol swabs, and a whole bunch of information on how to inject insulin glargine (long acting insulin).

My doctor and a nurse showed me how to use it. It looks pretty easy, although of course I hate needles, but at least it isn't an actual syringe. He didn't want to take me off Abilify because my mood is so good, and stable. He did up my Strattera a bit. I also have an appointment now for a bone density scan.

On a brighter note, I went by my podiatrist's office and an incredibly helpful woman named Audrey (who is, incidentally, also in a boot) put foam around the offending edges of mine, then took an old boot that they couldn't charge for anymore and switched out the lining (which is taller than mine) so there's more cushion as well. She also gave me new straps from that boot, the thing you blow the boot up with (I'd lost mine) and a whole lot of those little padding inserts. She also gave me some surgical booties like they cover shoes with in the OR to see if I could get them over mine (they work well for her to keep out the wet, but mine is blockier, so we were having trouble). Even so, the fact that the cannibalised boot was larger means there was excess fabric in the liner to tuck over my toes and keep out the snow. Today was a much better boot-wearing experience as a result of this, and I was able to go without the hand towel, so it was more comfortable. I almost forgot to go since I had insulin and needles on the brain--I was halfway out to the bus stop and then realised I was supposed to stop next door and then had to go all the way back up there. :)

I'm home early today for a couple of reasons, so I wasn't actually at work that long today. Now I'm in and warm and snuggy, and I had some wonderful kidney bean curry that came with a CD of percussion instruments of India. I think I'm going to take a short nap and then get up and try to do something about my living room.

Given Facebook's scope, this could be a very good thing

Facebook to Send AMBER Alerts to Users
AMBER Alerts will now be sent out via Facebook, in an effort to bring more abducted children home safely.
Facebook, The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) announced in a press conference today a new partnership to disseminate the alerts. Tomorrow is the 15th anniversary of the kidnapping and murder of the little girl for whom the AMBER Alert Program is named.
If you're in Kentucky:

Kentucky Amber Alert Facebook Page (just hit 'Like' to get updates)

Otherwise, just search for your own area's page on Facebook and like or become a fan of it. This is the best AMBER-related idea I've seen since I realised that our state's lottery machines sent AMBER alerts to all those convenience store clerks. :)

I know it's a tiny thing

and I don't understand the glee it produces...

but they made a rule at work that if Fayette County schools are closed due to inclement weather, we get to wear jeans.

Guess who's doing so this morning? I may not have kids, but I have reason to check those reports now. :)

Remembering

Today marks the first anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti. Please take a few moments from your busy day to remember those who were killed, those who struggle today, and those who are in country to help.

One year out and things are kind of grim--an not just because of the cholera epidemic. According to Wikipedia:
A few days before the January 12, 2011 anniversary of the quake Oxfam published a report on the status of the recovery. According to the report, relief and recovery are at a standstill due to inaction from the government and indecision on the part of the donor countries. Robert Fox, executive director with Oxfam Canada, said, "The dysfunction has been aided unabated by the way the international community has organized itself, where pledges have been made and they haven't followed through [and] where they come to the table with their own agendas and own priorities." According to a UNICEF report, "Still today more than one million people remain displaced, living in crowded camps where livelihoods, shelter and services are still hardly sufficient for children to stay healthy". The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, set up in April 2010 and led by former US President Bill Clinton and Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive to facilitate the flow of funds toward reconstruction projects and to help Haitian ministries with implementation, have, so far, started no major reconstruction. Only 2% to 4% of the rubble has been cleared, and then likely just moved to the road in front of the property. Amnesty International reports that armed men prey with impunity on girls and women in displacement camps, worsening the trauma of having lost homes, livelihoods and loved ones.
There's still such a long way to go, but it can only be accomplished by us all working together. Check out the American Institute of Philanthropy's ratings for groups with an established presence in Haiti, which includes 'grades'. The two I donated to last year, the American Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders//Médecins Sans Frontières (USA), were both listed. The Red Cross has an A- and MSF-USA has an A.

The AIP also includes links to how to donate safely, information on scams, etc.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Every Monday Matters #2


Turn Off Your TV

This is not a problem for me. I watch TV maybe 2 hours every two to three weeks, if that. That includes DVDs. It's usually the weather, actually. I prefer either interactive activities such as roleplaying games or doing stuff on the Internet, or ones where I can totally immerse myself without commercial interruption, such as reading.

Go to the link, though, and see what average TV viewing is like, and why it's good to take a day off sometimes and do something else.

Speaking of alternative activities, I'm going to go read for a bit and then probably head on to bed. Good night.

I stopped at the library on the way home from work

And got these gems:

Small Favor by Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files, book 10)
A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris (the complete Sookie Stackhouse short stories)
The Trinity Cat and Other Mysteries by Ellis Peters

With all the sleeping I did last week, I didn't get any more books read, although I did read several stories from Household Tales by the Brothers Grimm. I must confess I've played several games of Monopoly instead of reading. That's what I did at the doctor's office while I was waiting.

I know I said I would try not to write about my foot for awhile. This is only tangential to that. The worst thing about the boot is even though I pad it with my pants, the padding that surrounds the foot, and a hand towel, it rubs on both sides of my leg. It's very red. This is the first day. That's not good for someone who's diabetic. On the other hand the podiatrist only tends to have the taller boots now, and my calves don't fit. I'm going to check with the office to see if they know of any solution, because after 32 days I'm not going to have any skin left. I don't know if it's the design, my body, or I'm doing something wrong. I'll have to find out. As it is for the moment, those areas are hurting about as much as my foot is.

Wednesday I have my regular doctor's appointment. I'm going to talk with him about two things: the need for a bone density scan since I seem to be breaking them so easily and I'm only 43 (and theoretically should have stronger bones because of the weight I bear, although I suspect that isn't the case). Also, there's the Abilify issue and higher blood sugars.

I eat a goodly amount of milk products. Today I had 3 of those half-pints of 2% milk, 2 things of yoghurt, and some cottage cheese. I don't think I'm particularly calcium deficient. I do have some supplements, but they're horse pills, although they can be broken in half (they're still hard to swallow that way, chalky). I understand from talking with a couple of women that they make petite forms of calcium pills, now. I'll ask Dr Nesbitt what he thinks.

It was a good day. It was a little slower in my capacity of librarian than last week, but I had a lot to do with the data entry, including catching up on some filing and statistics. I don't feel particularly sleepy, either, so I'm going to try to go catch up on some things now. I'll probably write some more, but just in case, have a good night.

PS We're supposed to get 2-4" of snow tonight. Joy. It already feels like February around here. It's also been colder than average. Maybe I'm getting old and grouchy. I used to love snow. I still think it's pretty, but I don't get off school and get to play in it much these days. :)

Sometimes I hate being right

Usually I'm all for it, but not today. I do have a stress fracture, and I have to wear my immobilising boot for a month and then check back in with my podiatrist. Mind you, we're supposed to get 2-4" of snow tomorrow. This should be fun. I'm already a klutz. Why don't they put rugged treads on the bottom of those things? Okay, I'm off to get into the boot and head back out for work. I'll try to make this the last foot-related post for awhile.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

I'm in from the game, and from the grocery run

and oddly enough, I'm not really all that tired. I guess it's because I slept so much Thursday and Friday. I need to go to bed soon, though, as I have a 8:45 am podiatry appointment tomorrow. Ah, the foot saga continues. I wonder how many posts have been about my feet over the years.

Here's a video YKWIA showed me today. I'm subscribed to the channel, but hadn't seen it yet. How things might have been, if they could have just avoided all those terrible plagues...



I think it's funny. Course I'm an odd duck in some ways. Enjoy.

Listening to:



I think most of us would prefer to be remembered fondly for the good things about our personality, the things that were important to us. We'd like to think someone would care at our passing. This song captures that desire perfectly.

When I listen to a song, the music is important, but for me the lyrics are doubly so. It's best if they're married together into a rich harmony. I think the band did an excellent job with the song.

Also, the video is visually interesting, with sets of a starship and the breathtaking views of space--where loneliness would bring forth just those sorts of thoughts, having left behind loved ones, so it tied in well with the song.

Just my opinion. I don't like everything that Linkin Park does, but I like several of their songs. This is one that wasn't familiar to me until just the other day, but it's already one of the ones I'd listen to often.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Twitter was alight with reports

like this one, the news I missed today while I was working on other things...

Congresswoman wounded, six killed in shooting

There's a lot of stuff going around that may or may not be true. If YouTube videos purportedly made by the gunman are genuine, it sounds like he's a whackjob. But you never know. My thoughts and prayers are with the Congresswoman, who was severely wounded in the head, and with the families of those killed in wounded. One killed was a federal judge who apparently was shopping and stopped by to chat; another was a 9-year-old girl.

Sad.

This is the poem I mentioned...

Isn't it lovely?
Remember

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann'd:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
--Christina Georgina Rossetti



The poem in the video above is read by Eleanor Bron; the drawing is by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the poetess' brother and a founder of the pre-Raphaelite movement (one of my favourite schools of art). There is another video where the words appear on the screen rather than be read out loud, but the imagery is beautiful, and the person who put them together did a wonderful job, but I can't embed it due to the person's request. It can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YRh2ebJYvs&NR=1.

Today I have:

  1. Blogged more than 'Hi, I'll blog later!'
  2. Eaten tuna for breakfast, cooked macaroni and cheese for lunch, eaten crackers and cheese for dinner, and blended some frozen berries and fresh strawberries into a tasty treat.
  3. Learned to upload a video clip to Blogger.
  4. Finished the game notes.
  5. Put said notes on my Kindle for tomorrow.
  6. Napped (yeah, you would think I wouldn't have, but I took a break during the notes).
  7. Gone out to a convenience store for some things (yeah, I wasn't going to go out, but they had the walks clear by 9 am and the drive clear by 2 pm, so it wasn't bad, just cold).
  8. Listened to some music.
  9. Played (and won) a game of Monopoly on the Kindle.
  10. Called my mom and checked on her and my grandmother, who's been getting frailer. Starting Monday my mom will have some help in taking care of her mom, which is good.
  11. Called someone who's been helping with that situation and let her know my mom has found some help.
  12. Called a friend who was cooking so I let him get back to his sauce. I have now made more phone calls in one day than I usually do over several.
Left to do:
  1. Charge batteries for recorder for the game tomorrow (should have been doing that all day, but if all else fails, I have some regular batteries I can take with me. I just prefer rechargeable ones).
  2. Put batteries, recorder, and Kindle in my bag for tomorrow.
  3. Clear up some of the stuff that I moved all over the place when trying to find a sympathy card the other day.
  4. Make a sympathy card with a lovely Christina Rosetti poem inside. I knew that poetry collection on my Kindle would come in handy.
  5. Watch something from the DVR, which means either Tower Prep or Doctor Who. I still have loads on there I haven't touched, and I'm not used to having the time to do so. And since I actually don't feel like conking out early this evening, I may get a chance to watch.
PS Found a nice use for the Kindle the other day. A friend called to ask about a point regarding Latin pronunciation. Having studied both classical and mediaeval Latin, and having gotten rusty in both, I wasn't sure of the answer, but...I have Wheelock's Latin (THE gold-standard Latin grammar today) on my Kindle and was able to look it up. Mind you, I have a copy at home (an earlier edition, though, but really, how much does a dead language change?), but I wasn't at home when he called and wouldn't normally have had that on me. Although it's true a book can be easily used via index and table of contents and carried about in a backpack or purse, the right book out of hundreds is not so easy to pick. With my Kindle, I have access to up to 1,500 books or so if I so wished. The newer ones can handle over 3,000. As it is, I have 150 books plus collections in my hand (so probably more like 400 books), so that is an advantage. Plus, I can change the font size as needed (I often do as my eyes tire over the course of the day.)

Listening to, and quotations

Linkin Park: Minutes to Midnight

'Hands Held High', which includes the following quote:

When the rich wage war it's the poor who die.--Jean-Paul Sartre, The Devil and the Good Lord (1951) act 1

How true.

When I had that NY Times subscription

on my Kindle, I was struck that each day they listed those who were killed in Afghanistan (and there was a rare day when no one was). Often, the men and women listed were from the 101st Airborne Division, which is based in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

101st Suffers Deadliest Combat Year Since Vietnam

They arrived in Afghanistan in February 2010. Since that time 106 members of the division have been killed, surpassing those killed in Iraq.

My thoughts are with their families, and with other servicemen and women--and those left behind--during such a difficult time. I know three people personally whose husband or son have been or are in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

I was a child of the Vietnam War whose father spent most of the first six years of my life in southeast Asia. There is one picture of me (I'm about 2) with my finger pointing at his picture. My mother always thought it looked like I was asking, 'Is this my Daddy?'

War is awful--horrendous on those in the battle zone and agonising for those left behind. I wish we could end this conflict easily and just bring them all home. I just don't think that is possible at this juncture, though.

Philanthropy Friday #1 (a bit late)

Because I crashed last night, I didn't get a chance to do my first Philanthropy Friday post. But I did do the first donation Friday morning, so even though it is Saturday now, here goes...

Philanthropy of the Week: God's Pantry Food Bank (Lexington, Kentucky)
Amount donated: $25 worth of packaged food


Despite their name, they are not a religious organisation as far as I can tell. They do work with hundreds of churches and social service agencies to make this all work. They were founded when a concerned citizen in Lexington started giving out food from her basement. Eventually this grew into a food bank. God's Pantry is allied with Feeding America, a network of 200 food banks throughout the country. Their mission statement is: The mission of God’s Pantry Food Bank is to reduce hunger in Kentucky through community cooperation making the best possible use of all available resources.

At work this holiday season they had several containers for God's Pantry and we filled them with almost 500 lbs of food, so they decided to leave us a container post-holiday for ready access with donations. So I took in some of my food there.

What I wish I had read first:

Top Ten Items To Avoid Donating [from someone who has relied on food banks throughout the country, who incidentally gave God's Pantry the best of thumbs' up]

That article explains what you should be giving instead, things that don't particularly need to be cooked or mixed with other things. Here is that list:

1. Dried foods (meat jerky, dried fruits, nuts, and even dried veggies!)
2. Canned Chicken and Fish
3. Canned Low Sodium Soups and stews
4. Canned Fruits / Canned Vegetables ALSO CANNED BEANS!
5. Nut butters like peanut butter, cashew butter, and almond butter

Next time I give to the food bank, I'll specifically go buy just those sorts of things, and contact God's Pantry for other suggestions. Or, there's always donating monetarily to them directly at: http://godspantry.org/donations/new

From that site:
Demand for food assistance is at an all time high and continues to grow each month. Our clients are living on the brink and are facing their own personal disasters each day. Together, we can make a difference. God’s Pantry Food Bank will distribute nearly 1.6 million pounds of food this month to those in need, but we need your help today. For every dollar donated, we are able to distribute $10 worth of food and services into the community. That’s right! Your $1 donation can deliver 4.5 meals to those who need it most in central and eastern Kentucky.

The easiest way to donate food? Go to a Kroger store in Lexington.
Kroger Bags – all Fayette Kroger Stores stock pre-made bags of food (vegetables, fruit, meat and pasta products) valued at $2.50, $5 and $10 located near the checkout lanes. Simply pickup a bag, have it scanned and drop it in the blue barrels on your way out of the store. Your charitable donation is registered on the receipt. It’s easy!

Checkout Hunger – Kroger Stores also have coupons valued at $1, $2, and $5 located at the checkout lanes. To make a donation, simply rip off a coupon and have it scanned. Your charitable donation is registered on your receipt.

So you live somewhere other than Central Kentucky; what can you do?

Find a food bank in your area and give either food or money to help your neighbours who may not be able to eat nutritious meals otherwise. It doesn't take a lot, but it can mean quite a bit. God's Pantry has programmes, for example, for kids (where they pack backpacks of food for the weekend when they don't have access to school lunches), seniors, and then the food bank. Volunteer with a food bank, so you can really see how it helps. I know one day I was just riding the bus before Thanksgiving and this woman had a box with her. I thought that odd, so I paid attention to it, and it was a Thanksgiving-in-a-box from God's Pantry. It probably meant the difference between an ordinary day and a holiday meal to her family.

Anyway, that's the 1st charity of the year. I already know what I'm doing next week. As you may remember, January 12th is the anniversary of the Haitian earthquake, which has caused so much death and suffering and now they are dealing with a cholera outbreak. Like last year, I plan to donate to MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders) in memory of that anniversary.

Again, it's not how much you can (I can't imagine donating much more than $25 at a time to anywhere, I'm just not that well off), but it's that you do donate, and others do, and every bit helps.

This is how heavy it was coming down

video

Now the sky is trying to clear, so maybe that's all we'll get for awhile.  The worst thing is that the temperatures are hanging around 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but the wind is going to pick up, making it seem in the single digits.

PS This is my first attempt to upload a video directly to Blogger rather than going through YouTube. Let's see if it works. :) It's very short.  YKWIA, you should be able to see it.

So much for that; I did it again


This time I slept 13 1/2 hours. Was I just that tired? Or is something else going on? It's been a very busy week at work, and yesterday was especially so, so that may be it.

I woke up to snow. We've actually been without snow on the ground since about the first of the year. Now there's about three to four inches and it's still coming down at a good pace--great big snowflakes as I write. I'm not sure what the forecast is for. Needless to say, I'm not going anywhere if I can help it today, although tomorrow taking the bus at 6 in the morning may be fun. :)

This is the entrance to my apartment building. The snow came all the way to the threshold of the door--I opened it and my bare feet struck snow. Out the back it's undisturbed. You can see how much snow is on the grill.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Believe it or not, I had heard about this before

but it's a particularly good time to bring it up, and of course, it happened in my own state...

You think birds falling from the sky is weird?

Flocks of birds falling en masse from the sky in Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky and even Sweden is strange, but these mysterious mass deaths don’t hold a candle to the “Kentucky Meat Shower” of 1876 when it comes to avian oddities.

“Flesh Descending in a Shower. An Astounding Phenomenon in Kentucky – Fresh Meat Like Mutton or Venison Falling From A Clear Sky,” read the headline in the New York Times on March 10, 1876.

Of course, the reason I knew about it is all those books about the unexplained and paranormal I've read since I was a kid (I loved 'In Search Of...', too) :)