Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Sunday, February 29, 2004

I missed the Saturday Slant yesterday...

Here it is:

What songs give you support or inspiration?
More so than any other media of entertainment or information, music often acts as a catharsis to help us move through and past difficult situations and times. What songs give you support or inspiration? Whether it's the pain of a breakup, the agony inherent in contemplating ending a relationship, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, or even just a rough day, we all have emotionally trying times. Tell your readers about a difficult time you've had recently and the music that helped you through it.

Music has always been very important to me. My moods affect the music I listen to, but also are shaped by the music. In fact, there are some types of music I really can't listen to, because of these effects. Tori Amos, for instance. I like her music, but it puts me in a foul, man-hating mood and no one wants to be around me. It doesn't even have to be the lyrics...the music alone will do it.

When I was a kid, I felt very alone and misunderstood. Two of my favourite songs were 'Shadows' by Simon and Garfunkel, Harry Chapin's 'Cat's in the Cradle', and 'Shilo' by Neil Diamond. They were sort of indicative of my depressive side. The things that made my mood very high were things like Cher's 'Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves' or Don McLean's 'American Pie'.

The one song that was most pivotal of all things was 'Unchained Melody' by the Righteous Brothers. I was listening to it, watching the movie Ghost when I decided to leave my husband years ago.

I love all sorts of music--classical, jazz, oldies, world, folk, New Age, classic rock, New Wave, modern rock, etc.

If I want to relax, the best thing for me to listen to is Loreena McKinnitt or other Celtic music. I also have a wonderful CD set of Alto flute and tuned crystals. I love Andean pipes. I love anything in a minor key. I love Middle Eastern and Indian music. I love strings, especially cellos and sitars.

I love music with a message, but also my battle with depression has made me appreciate dark, introspective music too...it was during my depression that I bought a collection of Simon and Garfunkel. I'd always loved their songs, and so much is musically upbeat, but I'd never realised until I reallyu started paying attention how many of them have to do with suicide, depression, and loss.

Even now, I idenitify with songs like, say, Matchbox Twenty's 'Unwell', Evanescence's 'My Immortal', or Sarah MacLachlan's 'Fallen'. They don't depress me; they remind me of a place where I once was, and how much better I feel now.

Show tunes also help when I need a pick-me-up. For cleaning or other activity, Les Miserables, Jesus Christ, Superstar, or Once More, With Feeling (Buffy: The Musical) are great. I go around the house dusting or vacuuming, singing along.

Hmmm...I don't know if that exactly answers the assignment, but I'm glad to have music in my life. I wish I could play music. I can't. I can sing, though, and now that I'm past the depression, I really want to perform again.

Anyway, that's my slant. What's yours?

Muttering to myself...

  1. Hollywood:: Star
  2. Censor:: Ship
  3. Nascar:: Car
  4. Lube:: Job
  5. Mortgage:: Rate
  6. Freedom:: Rings
  7. Champion:: Queen
  8. Reality TV:: Sucks
  9. New York:: New York
  10. Tease:: Kids

I'm having 'net withdrawal

It looks like I'm going to have to format my hard drive and re-install the OS to get my computer up and running. It lost the hal.dll file and it went downhill from there; nor does restoring it to the last configuration work. Apparently several files and clusters have become corrupted. I'm wondering if I finally got a computer virus--my anti-virus software was actually the first thing I lost. It'll probably take a couple of days for me to find my various bits of software and get everything back on and running. Fortunately, I have most of my actual documents backed up on CD.

Until then, no playing on the computer, which frankly is my main pastime. No blogging whenever I think about something. No going on the Internet when want to look something up, at least from home. No working at home. No job hunting from home. No news whenever I want. :( I didn't realise quite how much of my life was spent sitting at the thing. Fortunately, I've had other concerns anyway.

The good news is that I have paid my rent; I won't be evicted. My mom is the most wonderful mom in the world, and she came through. She wasn't happy, obviously, but she came through. Someday I will make it up to her.

I also have all the 'public' areas of my apartment ready for company--having your mom come up gives you that extra incentive; I suspect my mom does mad cleaning if her mom comes over...we're just programmed, I guess. Years ago, when I got married, I spent the night before my wedding day making everything spotless for my in-laws' visit rather than sleeping. The funny thing is that whenever I'm a guest at someone else's place, I could care less how spotless everything is; I'm there to visit the person. I wonder if other people feel the same way. Anyway, I tackled everything except the bedroom and study which are next on the list. The bedroom is mainly a matter of dusting and vacuuming and cleaning out the closet. The study, however, is the main trouble, because it has way too many books for shelves and a lot of laundry piled up. It's really more of a junk room at this point than a study, but I'm going to have to beat it into submission if I want easy access to my books. That, however, is last on the list. :)

It is a little bit of irony that I was cleaning to get things ready so I could work on Dwana's computer and have people over for dinner and playing games, etc., and the computer crashed. Ah, my life.

For now, though, I'm just enjoying the peace of an uncluttered living room and getting ready to do my laundry so that I can have clothes for work. I can actually sit and read and listen to peaceful music and let the sunlight wash over me. I can take a relaxing bath. I have counter space to cook. Life is good. And, it's in the 60s and sunny, so I've been opening the windows and the cats and Cerys have just loved basking, or in Spock's case, chasing the reflections of the mirrored glass decorations on my patio.

But today I get to play the game and visit with friends, and that's nice, too.

Oddity of the week

Seen whilst driving down Fontaine Avenue today, at the kerb of a house:
A coffin propped upon a support with the following sign:
Solid Cherry
One Owner
Slightly Used

...wish I'd had my camera. It hurt my brain. A lot.

Friday, February 27, 2004

No Friday Five this week, but

  • It's sunny.
  • It's Friday.
  • It's supposed to be in the 60s this weekend. (I'm ready for spring!)
  • I'm getting paid at KET today.
  • Someone was really sweet to me yesterday. He took me out for Thai food and gave me a beautiful purple crystal vase for libations. He really can't help with the financial situation, but he helped me so much in terms of comfort and giving me some hope, and encouraging me on. He is like my brother, and a true friend.
  • Not long ago, Dwana gave me a thank you card that was very touching. She is a true friend. Whenever I feel lost and alone, I take it out and look at it.
  • One of my co-workers, when I was worrying about calling my mom and asked her how she feels as a parent in such a situation, said two things that really helped. One--she'd rather know what was going on and hopefully soon enough to be of help, rather than put off until it's a crisisl, like I've done, and that her husband had always said that if it's a problem that money can solve, it was never really a problem. And in the grand scheme of things, that's right. I have health. I have family. I have pets. I have people who love me. And I'm trying to get to a point where I have the stability to flourish.
  • I called my mom this morning about the eviction. She's going to help me out. I hate that I've now transferred most of my stress to her. I so want a job that will allow me to take care of my responsibilities, and maybe even repay her for all she's done.
  • I may be able to get my computer working at home tonight...I know what's wrong. That would be good, as I have four jobs to apply for!
  • I am so blessed to not be alone and to have such loving people in my life. I've felt recently that my life has gotten out of kilter. Despite the financial stresses, I had been managing much better than in the past, whether financially, emotionally, whatever. The layoff could have been much worse--at least I have my benefits, and I'm not entirely destitute. But the last few weeks--I suppose because the unemployment was a sort of safety net will be yanked away soon--I really do feel like I'm out on a wire, and it's been paralysing. I've been fighting not to fall into depression again, to not feel worthless, and it's taking a toll. I know cognitively that I shouldn't lose self-esteem or feel like a failure. But I've never quite mastered the trick of distancing myself from my emotions without dissociating entirely, and that won't help in this case, either. I could go on with my head in the sand rather than running around like Chicken Little, but the world would come crashing down around me anyway.

...so, that's a lot to be happy about. But despite the fears, there's a lot of hope, too, thanks to my supporters. Thank you all.

Thursday, February 26, 2004


Sorry I didn't write in yesterday. I was busy with work and then ran some errands with friends and helped them set up some stuff. Once I got home, my computer crashed (again). Hopefully that's temporary.

I'm a little blue. The computer was just the third bit of bad news last night. Yesterday I found out that the Lexington Public Library position has been filled. That's the only one of the ones I've applied for over the last few months that I've interviewed for. The good news is I have a new batch of about five jobs that have opened up around the area in my field. And of course, I'm at a point where I'm looking in all sorts of fields.

But it's a little disheartening. The state and city have very few jobs of any sort available. I'm thinking of picking up hours with a temp agency to help make ends meet. And Dwana passed along a research assistant possiblity that's about 10 hours a week.

Oh, and I have I mentioned that my unemployment runs out in a couple of weeks and as far as I know, the federal government has decided that they're not going to do any extensions because the oeconomy is getting better? I so want another administration in charge.

Meanwhile, I got a notice to pay my rent by Tuesday or be evicted. Ironically, I get paid on Thursday, and we're getting a $225 bonus in pay to make up for the fact we're not getting raises this year.

I got my performance review, which was great, and in another year I would have gotten my full raise. Even though it doesn't translate into money, I'm glad, because it means I'm doing a good job even with the challenges of the reduction in hours, and I'm past the point of having lots of doctor's appointments eating into my personal time off or my health causing me to miss work. I also got the results in from the library needs assessment and the resources and services were scored very highly, especially in terms of my interaction with the patrons.

So, I'm trying to think somewhat positively. I'm trying to not be totally depressed--I need to fight it, because I need to act, no matter how overwhelmed I feel. I need to see if I can come up with the money. I have a paycheque coming from KET before then, albeit a small one, have some receipts to send in for reimbursement on medicines, and have a couple of avenues to fall back on. My friends are in no position to help, and I'm not sure about my family--I dread asking my mom, because she's done so much already, and I'm nearly 37, after all, but I don't want to be living in my car, either, especially with a small herd of animals.

I feel like I need a spider with a large vocabulary spinning over my head 'Hire her! She'll work hard! She's got talent! She's SOME librarian!' Hmm...I guess that makes me a pig trying not to get slaughtered. Yeah, that's sort of how I feel, actually.

I know it will get better, nor is it as bad as it could be. But part of me wants to just curl up into a ball, you know?

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The End is Near?

My best friend passed this interesting article to me. He's been reading about possible problems with the Gulf Stream causing Britain to become much colder. I have to admit, I've pooh-poohed it. Yes, it is a theory, but one of many. The causes of climactic changes are open to debate--what is natural, cyclical vs. what is caused by greed, misuse of resources, etc. Still, the fact that the United States is responsible for using up a huge percentage of available resources and that it has been reluctant to participate in global initiatives to protect the environment shouldn't be open to interpretation; it's a matter of history. The idea that the Pentagon may be looking at the effects of climate in terms of security issues--and in essence may agree with a variety of others across political, scientific, and doomsaying lines, helps lend that idea credence, and it certainly should be a concern for all of us.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Monday Madness!

Monday Madness:

(Almost forgot. This week, we have to fill in the blank with a word beginning with the letter given.)

1. If I could w[histle], I'd be so happy!
2. Maybe one day I will try my hand at c[apoeira].
3. Before I started blogging, I used to s[leep].
4. L[iverspots] sure make me scared!
5. If I could fly, I would fly to A[berdeen].
6. If more people were n[eighbourly], the world would be a better place.
7. I thought this meme was [fun] this week. (any letter will do for this one.)

Okay, technically I can whistle, but I can't do the whole happy tune whilstle thing. I want to whistle symphonies. Or at least three notes in order. :)

A quiet night for poetry

reading: Can you guess? [I'll post the answer in a comment.]

The sea is flecked with bars of grey,
The dull dead wind is out of tune,
And like the withered leaf the moon
Is blown across the stormy bay.

Etched clear upon the pallid sand
The black boat lies: a sailor boy
Clambers aboard in careless joy
With laughing face and gleaming hand.

And overhead the curlews cry,
Where through the dusky upland grass
The young brown-throated reapers pass,
Like silhouettes against the sky.

Here's a hint: It's old enough to not be protected by copyright...and no fair Googling! Well...I guess you can, seeing as that's what I would do if I didn't recognise it off the bat.

But first...

According to The Cheeky Squirrel Network: Squirrel Name Generator, my squirrel name is: Dances with Chipmunks. Yeah, you never know what to expect from the squirrelly Welsh. ;) (Says a girl with more than a decade's worth of experience with the Welsh sense of humour.)

Ironically, I started this blog...and took the name Rabid Librarian...after being bitten by a squirrel that I'd tried to save. It had been hit by a car, and in a moment straight out of Disney I reached out to help it get all the way into the tree and safe, thereby jostling it, and was soundly bitten. I have little feeling in my right index finger as a result of that bite, and it's a little piece of reality I keep with me at all times. Life is not like Disney movies.

Sadly, the squirrel died. After I'd gone and stopped the bleeding and started back out for the urgent treatment centre, I found it lying on the ground. It had used its last strength to bite me. How horrid, to be in pain and to have a giant numbskull manhandle you in your last moments of consciousness! Since it was dead, I put it in a box and took it with me because I had some vague idea that they would have to test for rabies.

It was actually rather laughable. I go in and they stick my finger in hydrogen peroxide for 20 minutes, and then fuss because they can't figure out what they can use on me since I'm latex allergic. I finally suggested gauze and paper tape, like when I give blood. Nice to know I can give the medical folks directions.

Actually, I found that rabies in squirrels is actually rather rare, and in most cases you won't be given the shots at all. Not a good thing to tell someone with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Since I did have the squirrel, however, the Nice Man from the Health Department did offer to come get the squirrel and have it tested, and it eventually came back negative. Thankfully.

Since it was about this time that I was starting counselling and trying to deal with some major depression/anxiety issues, I became the Rabid Librarian. See? :)

I rather like 'Dances With Chipmunks'. For a good while I rather twitched when I saw a squirrel, but the chipmunks have never bothered me. I'm finally to the point where I can enjoy squirrel company. I suppose I can't really help it...my dad had a pet squirrel named 'Herman' who used to ride about on his shoulders in college; it made it into the paper.

But there's still that little bit of numbness to keep me from (hopefully) being stupid enough to touch a wild wounded animal for awhile.

Post plague

    I have:
  1. Had breakfast and lunch with friends
  2. typed for hours on 'The Project'
  3. had a hormonal-like emotional spike even though I'm at the opposite end of the cycle
  4. watched Piper and Leo be torn apart but Chris' fate resolved (that's 'Charmed', for the uninitiated--hey, you try to get your parents to have sex so that you'll be born whilst daemons attack)
  5. cried through most of it and pined for true love
  6. watched Starfire tranform into a chrysalis and back
  7. discovered that my aquarium pump has died
  8. readjusted the aquarium so that the fish are at least getting bubbles until I can get a new filter/pump. Fortunately they're mollies and a pleco, so they're hardy.
  9. taken a 'gift' as it was meant and cleaned the catbox
  10. typed my last couple of entries in this blog as my doggie snores from the recliner :)
  11. decided that laundry and bathroom cleaning can wait till tomorrow
  12. watched my dog wake up and ask to go on to bed, and she's quite irresistable :)

Good night. :)

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Mutter, mutter

  1. Angel:: Wings
  2. Birth:: Day
  3. Logic:: Problems
  4. Stars:: are right! (ah, those Cthulhoid alignments...)
  5. Nursery:: Plants
  6. View:: Window
  7. Hart:: White (Book by Nancy Springer)
  8. Creation:: Universe as Art
  9. End:: Times
  10. Fortune:: Teller

Oh, come on...

Nader Seeks Presidency

  1. Isn't it bad enough that he was partially responsible for the fact we have Bush in the White House in the first place? (Mind you, not totally, but as a voter who really had to decide between Nader and Gore, yes, I believe things would not have been as close. And yes, I still think the Supreme Court and the Electoral College system are the main reasons Bush won.)
  2. Doesn't his entry (after the exit of initially strong Howard Dean and any other viable Democrat sans Kerry) as an independent detract from any sense that he's pushing for the good of all Americans?
  3. Is this the beginning of some sort of sick feeding frenzy?
  4. Dare we expect Hillary Clinton next?

[Mind you, I support Kucinich, at least through the primary or until he drops out. I also consistently score higher in terms of the Green Party platform than any other party, but I refused to vote for Nader last time precisely because I didn't want to 'throw away' my vote and aid George Bush. I have it on fairly reliable prognostication that Bush will, indeed, win 'four more years'. But that doesn't mean we can't give him a run for his money as a united front, as opposed to wussy fragmenting bits of fluff. Personally I'd like to see Nader get a cold shoulder from the voters.]

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Ah, clean

I think one of the worst things about being sick is that you spend so much time in bed, and if you're feverish you get...well, not quite as fresh as you'd like, and you don't really feel like bathing, either, so you just feel worse.

I'm at least to the point where I just had a nice long shower, and so I feel better.

I was watching a little TV before the shower (I must say, there really isn't much on Saturday nights, is there?) and found one show where an expert said that in 85% of the cases, depression can be treated within six weeks. I don't know if that's the case or not. It hasn't been my experience, or that of anyone I know. Once I was put on medication, it did help my mood immediately (although some of that may have been a placebo effect), but I'd it took about six months to get past the suicidal, severe aspects of the depression and about a year where I found I no longer felt depressed. It was very gradual. Part of that, I guess, is that they have to find the right medication and dosage. I was fortunate to respond to the first thing I was put on (Paxil). We decided to try that because of the social anxiety and OCD issues along with my depression, and it was useful in those cases. But even then, it takes awhile to work up dosage, and even when I was generally okay, around my menstruation I was still having severe depressive episodes brought on by hormones, so we tried Serzone (which left me zombified) and eventually just upped the Paxil a little. I've known other people who have had to go through several medicines to find the right one, or who responded to one, only to have it lose efficacy over time and had to start the process over. Some can't take Paxil, for example, if they have seizure activity or because it makes them severely nauseous. Every person I know who's dealt with anxiety or depression is on a different medication that works for them, or even a delicate mix. If it's the right prescription, then it seems the person feels completely normal, as opposed to drugged or emotionally flat.

Still, given that the expert was talking about preventing workplace violence/mass murders, and the trouble with identifying potential culprits so that the idea is to use employee assistance and other programmes to identify depression and treat it to prevent such tragedies, 6 weeks is probably reasonable for that. In that case, you don't so much want to get the person back to full potential but at least to a point where they're not going to storm the place with guns, right?

Saturday Slant: You. Fame. Live television. Uncensored.

The Saturday Slant - New Every Saturday Morning

Britney’s 55-hour marriage. The Britney-Christina-Madonna kiss. Justin’s exposition of Janet’s breast. Today’s celebrities are turning noteriety into notoriousness, celebrity into shock value. Imagine yourself a celebrity. You are known by all and the frequent target of papparazzi cameras. You are about to appear on live television on an undelayed broadcast. You have the opportunity and means to distinguish yourself from the flock of Glamoratti parading across the television in a never-ending blur of one pretty face and perfect body after another. Here is your opportunity. What do you do with it?

When I was little, like most kids, I dreamt of fame. As a grew older, those dreams persisted, although I wanted to be a famous writer as opposed to, say, a performer. I'm very uncomfortable with the spotlight, and I'd rather be able to fade back into anonymity on demand. When everyone knows your name--but not necessarily your face--at least you can go to the local grocery without being mobbed.

As the years have gone on and the price of celebrity has paraded itself in front of us so clearly--suicide, drugs, papparazzi, the death of Princess Diana, things like that--you start to ask why anyone would want fame, whether it's due to talent, money, or power (i.e., the president).

But...if I had it...if I had just a moment, say at an awards ceremony, I think I would walk up to the podium, say thank you to the presenter, take the award, look straight at the camera, and say the following:

Never be afraid to dream, or to make those dreams reality. Believe in yourself, no matter what others think. Work hard. Love freely. Be yourself. Help others whenever you can. Anything less in a crime against the world, and a crime against yourself.

I'm not sure it would be as eye-catching as baring a breast or pulling a stunt...but it would be real, it would certainly be different, I wouldn't lose the respect of others who might see me as a rolemodel, and somewhere out there, maybe someone would listen.


listening to: 'Calling You' by Blue October
feeling: Better, but tired

I woke up with Blue October's 'Calling You' in my head this morning; it's just so damn catchy, and I can't resist the vocal style or the fact they have a violinist in the band. I love strings of any kind, but I find that using anything other than a piano or set of guitars adds more texture/dimension to the music. The funny thing is that I've checked out their other songs, and they're not really what I would call perky, but rather dark, and I like music that tends to explore that side, too.

I'm still tired and coughy and I think I'm running a low-grade fever, but I feel better than I did yesterday. My plan today is to just sleep when I feel like it, eat and drink occasionally, and just take it easy. If I feel better later I might do a little cleaning, but right now I just don't feel up to it. I got up about an hour and a half ago, watched some cartoons, and I'm ready to go back to bed.

Maybe I could at least read a little later. My dog and cats have been great to cuddle with, at least. Yesterday I couldn't seem to stay warm, despite the temperature outside being in the 60s and inside about 75. Today, at least, that seems better.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Sad; fortunately many were saved

Several Dogs Killed In Kennel Blaze

Quizzes make me feel better :)

What do you truly desire?
Peace. You Truly Desire Peace. Just relaxing
somewhere calm with a light breeze against your
cheecks is our ideal of pefect. You don't like
to start fights, but instead, end them without
using violence.


What Do You Truly Desire? *PICS*
brought to you by Quizilla


I woke up today feeling awful; I had an asthma attack, a head full of snot, I'm having IBS issues, I'm feverish, the weather's going to change soon so I'm achy and I just feel crappy. So, I stayed home from work, took some meds, and feel slightly better after some sleep. When I woke up, I was feeling depressed and overwhelmed and emotionally kind of panicky, but D&D called and we talked awhile and I feel better. Still achy and feverish, with a dash of yucky, but at least better. I think I'm up for a little food and maybe will try to stay up for awhile. At least it's the weekend now, so I can get some rest and hopefully be raring to go Monday.

For Dwana

This was a comment I left on another blog, but I thought I'd post it here, too. It was in response to a suggestion that infertility was God's way of telling someone that perhaps biological children are not meant to be, and had she perhaps considered adoption? I know that it wasn't necessarily meant to be offensive, but the fact of the matter is that no one who has just lost a pregnancy really wants to deal with that sort of 'helpful' advice. The irony is that Dwana has always talked about adopting, regardless of whether she has biological children or not. Since her miscarriage she's been up to her ears in platitudes that I think she'd rather not be dealing with, but she's too polite to say anything negative in response. So I volunteered. :) Today was her first day back to work after a very emotional and physically draining week. She's been in a lot of pain and has become anaemic, and I think it was taking all her fortitude to deal with people who were getting on her last nerve these past few days. As much as she wanted to come back, I think she's still overwhelmed by it all. So this is for Dwana.
I've come across the idea that people who try for in vitro rather than adopting as somehow selfish a lot lately. A whole bunch of people on a list I was on recently said as much. I noticed none of them had actually dealt with infertility. We take a lot of things for granted about our fertility choices until we come against a wall, whether it's someone given the hope for the first time in years to have a biological child or someone dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and considering abortion. In each case, adoption is thrown out as if it's something as easy as picking out a puppy at the pound. I'm all for adoption, but it's incredibly difficult and expensive to adopt a child; I've known one woman who had a child for four days before it was whisked back because the mother changed her mind. It was heartbreaking. She had spent thousands of dollars to aid the mother's living and medical expenses. She now has two beautiful daughters, adopted through another state. Kentucky's adoption process, from what I can tell, just sucks. Most successful adoptions I've known of have been international, and yet a lot of countries are re-examining or limiting these. The demand has been so strong that some children in other countries have literally been stolen off the street to be 'sold' to a couple in the United States.

My feeling is that 1) All children should be wanted children. 2) God has worked miracles through modern science's leaps in fertility. 3) People have many ways to approach creating families. Some never want to have children. Others do want their own biological legacy...that's okay. 4) Adoption can be a wonderful thing, but there are barriers in the system that are very real and very heartbreaking, and the truth of the matter is no matter whether you raise a biological or adoptive child, there's a great leap of faith involved. The loss of a child--or even a potential child--is palpable no matter how it happens. My thoughts are with you, D.

They say there's a card for everything these days. I think they're right. I found one that I think did a good job of showing support without condenscension. It read something like this: 'I can't understand fully what you're going through. I understand a little. But I care a lot.' Why can't people just admit that they don't know how a person really feels, but they love them anyway? Instead they try to fill up uncomfortable silences, come out with totally off the wall stuff, or even try to compete. Sigh.

Happy Friday:

When was the last time you...

1. ...went to the doctor? October, for my annual. It's nice to have insurance.

2. ...went to the dentist? January 2003. For a root canal. Okay, okay, I know...time to go back.

3. ...filled your gas tank?Last night. Right before the price jumped by about 14 cents. :)

4. ...got enough sleep? I'd say last night, since I woke up before my alarm this morning. Thank goodness for CPAPs.

5. ...backed up your computer? This afternoon at work. It automatically does so when I log out.

At home I back up any important documents as I create them, since I'm usually shuttling them about. System-wide I haven't since I upgraded my operating system about a year ago. I do backup my blog template whenever I add anything and about two months ago backed up the whole site's content. You can find out how to do that by going to Blogger's support area for directions. :)

Like anime?

Witch Hunter Robin is really quite excellent--beautiful, sometimes hyper-realistic art, complex themes and characters, and just overall a good show. They've just started showing them on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim at midnight Eastern Time. I'm still a little unsure of what makes a difference between a witch (defined as bad in the show) and a craft user (a hunter with powers), other than whose side they're on. Nor do I trust the organisation that supposedly is protecting humanity from loose cannons with powers...but then, I'm just naturally suspicious. Must be from too many years of playing Call of Cthulhu. :)

Thursday, February 19, 2004

I'm having an up and down day (but mostly up)

    Good Things:
  • Dwana is back at work, tired, but here. Yay!
  • I found my badge for work that also has the library keys and my KET card key on it. It was in a supposedly 'safe' place (a compartment in my car's cupholder!) that I totally forgot about. But, at least now I don't have to get replacements.
  • We're getting a small but welcome cash bonus at work. We couldn't really get raises this year, so instead they're taking an amount and splitting it up equally, so I'll have an extra $225 at the beginning of next month.

    Bad Thing:
  • There's been a small crisis at work born from miscommunication between people hundreds of miles from one another, finger pointing, and getting fired up and frankly, where I'm catching some of the fallout even though I don't have final control over the outcome, I've done what I can with what I have and frankly, with my hours cut, I'm not feeling the love and am just sitting here wishing I could find a nice full-time job somewhere else.
  • I'm stressing over the lack of money and lack of full-time job.

    Good Things:
  • Someone else is going to take on the job of smoothing feathers and work things out so I can just focus on my part of things.
  • It's almost lunch, and it's a good selection, and I suspect I'll feel better after I eat.
  • I'm free today after work, and it's beautiful outside.
  • I'm pretty good at handling stress these days.
  • I know this is small change and eventually I'll be in a better position.

How beautiful...

I somehow miss great movies when they come out in the theatre, and often for years afterward. Tonight I saw What Dreams May Come for the first time. I'd always known it was a modern-day take on the Orpheus myth with beautiful scenery, but that didn't prepare me for breathtaking imagery and a story that had me crying throughout the whole thing. A friend had invited me over for movie night after learning I hadn't seen it and knowing that it was coming on. I brought pizza and soft drinks, and we settled down to a comfortable night of TV viewing and spending time together.

I love this movie. It deals with themes like death and suicide in a sensitive way, but more than anything else it's about true love and facing all fears and barriers in order to save it. What can I say, I'm a truly hopeless romantic. It's the type of love I long for and fear at the same time. I'd like to have the movie on DVD, and see how they did some of the effects. I've always thought Robin Williams had a rare gift for both comedy and drama. Whoever was in charge of the set designs and effects was a genius.

If someone put me on the spot and asked me to list my five favourite films, I'd say: The Wizard of Oz, To Kill a Mockingbird, Auntie Mame, Pleasantville, and now, What Dreams May Come [please don't make me put them in order of preference, though, that would be so difficult!]. There are other films that I watch over and over for fun, some I find disturbing, some innovative or inspiring. But those five touch something much deeper and really reflect what I value most in life. Oddly enough, at least four of the five are based on books yet happen to be excellent adaptations that stand on their own. Several are also visual masterpieces, using the medium of film to its best effect. But most importantly, they're all about living life fully, never taking what you have for granted, and fighting injustice. It's how I try to live my life. Maybe I don't always succeed, but I'm on a path that's a lot closer than I was years ago.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

N has fallen in love with this darling

and is considering a road trip to have her Devon Rex meet Minnie Mee. I say go for it.

Note to self:

The Commonwealth of Kentucky has many official state holidays.

Presidents' Day isn't one of them.

I goofed. Sometimes it's not good to just work a few hours a week--I'm on the e-mail lists but I sometimes still fall out of the loop. I talked to the office manager today; she'd put my cheque in the mail and turned in my timesheet, which was up to date, yay, but I missed out on helping with a project that had a deadline the next day. Unfortunately the e-mail telling me that hit right after I left my other job (I usually get the e-mails at home and work) and headed to the gym, and I didn't get the e-mail until the next day. I hope my boss will understand. I now have the official list for future reference.

Things you shouldn't tell a woman who's just had a miscarriage...

(and for the record I didn't; these gems were all from the same clueless person who as near as I can see has his head stuck somewhere far from reality)

  1. I know just how you feel. (Especially if you are male.)
  2. I broke up with someone/lost a girlfriend (who's still alive), so I understand.
  3. I had a bad feeling because I had the flu and then this haemorrhoid. I understand the pain you're going through.
  4. (When informed by his own mother that no, she didn't have a miscarriage) Thanks for being a good mom and not having a miscarriage with me (the implication being that somehow the person wasn't good enough, when in fact, she's been through hell to have a child).
  5. At least you're married and might have a kid (nevermind she's been fighting infertility, and this pregnancy happened after a potentially fatal complication and in vitro). I don't even have a girlfriend.
  6. I blame your dead ex-boyfriend who also happened to be my best friend (even though that has nothing to do with situation whatsoever).

I would like to give the person the benefit of the doubt...I don't think he was trying to malicious, just self-centred and clueless. And the person he said those things to tends not to tell people what a jerk they're being; even though she was hurt, she just said she was going to end the conversation because he was starting to piss her off (I think she was afraid to say something she might regret later. Pity he didn't feel the same). I doubt he even realised how hurtful those things were or how disappointing. I mean, it's one thing if a casual acquaintance said it. It's another when it's someone who's been there for you over the years and then suddenly it's like they're a pod person. And I won't name names, but it's entirely possible he'll read this, and I hope he thinks about it and realises just how...well...I can't describe it without swearing...it was.

Dang, I wish she'd put permalinks in...

but if you want an excellent summary on Paganism and the terms surrounding it, check out the 2.13.2004 post for What was it I was doing again? Nice to know she paid attention to all those discussions. :)

Mourning a loss

AIDS Ribbon
Lt Brenda Cowan, 40, Lexington's first black female firefighter, will be laid to rest today. Thousands of firefighters from around the area are expected to attend her funeral, as she is given full honours.

Lt Cowan, an EMS responder, was shot on Friday whilst responding to a domestic violence call. A man claiming alien clones had taken over shot his wife, Lt Cowan, and another firefighter and kept the police at a standoff for several hours. The man's wife and Lt Cowan were killed; the other firefighter was injured.

Cowan had been promoted to Lieutenant on the Tuesday before her death, and Friday was her first full-duty day since the promotion.

Today we had a special election for our Congressional Representative (since the former holder is now our governor), and I vote at the fire station nearby. It was a little eerie to see the flag at half-mast. It's the first time since September 11th. Citizens have been asked to wear a red ribbon in remembrance, and so I've decided to display one here as well.

It's so scary that your life can be over...like that...because of a loon with a gun. I pray that her spirit, her family, and her co-workers find peace. It's so easy to take our police and firefighters for granted; here in Lexington, it's a particularly sore point because our force is underpaid and there's concern over whether we can keep all services in place and retain gifted officers and fighters. It's also a shock because of the manner of her death; in the history of Lexington, three firefighters have died: one fell off a truck whilst responding to a fire, one was trapped in a burning house, and now Lt Cowan. Mind you, the first death was only in 1987--all have happened during the time I've lived here, in the grand scheme of things, a very short time. I guess we've been rather lucky. But it's causing people to rethink response policy and other procedures to see if the system can be improved to prevent further deaths. I'm glad they're doing that.

But today, it'll be long processionals, bagpipes, and bells, as the city mourns someone who fell in its service.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Stupid. And they give an otherwise worthy cause a bad name by acting like crackpots.

Yahoo! News - Goodbye Slaughterville, Hello Veggieville?

Slaughterville was named after a family that helped settle the area in the 19th century. The family ran a dry goods store and blacksmith shop.

However, PETA want to make a political case of it by asking the town to change its name to something stupid when the city isn't even named for animal slaughter.

Sigh. Shouldn't the point of a group called the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals should focus on that????

Monday, February 16, 2004

Happy Monday

Almost forgot...

this Monday Madness has you choose a letter which must begin all your answers. Mine was 'R' (the beginning of my last name). I'm going to regret this, I think...

1. Name two types of food that you could care less if you ever ate again. Rutabaga and Rabbit. (I'm allergic to the first, and I'm still scarred by the second.)
2. Name one animal. It would be too easy to say rabbit again, hmmm? How about, rook? (The bird, not the game or chesspiece.)
3. List three words to describe yourself. Reasonable rabid reader. :) Couldn't leave out that adjective, could I?
4. Name two things you might find at a zoo. Reptiles and Rodents.
5. Name three things you might find living in the water. Rasbora, reticulated rabbitfish, and ribbonfish. (Always helps to have a guide to aquaria about.)

I am completely addicted

to the computer version of Monopoly. See, as an only child, I loved board games, and even had a few, but never really got to play them, unless you did the utterly pathetic right hand against the left hand sort of thing. (And yes, I did have some friends, but then the board games I liked were a little odd, like my Bicentennial history or Bermuda Triangle game, Clue, or Scrabble...I could usually only get other people to play Trouble, Sorry, or Don't Break the Ice--games that didn't require much thinking or strategy). We did play Yahtzee as a family, and we had a 3D chess game, so I did learn the basics, although I've mostly played computers, since I've only known one person who liked chess. My mom taught me solitaire, although it was a sado-masochistic version and I didn't realise it untili I started playing on the computer. In her defence, she taught me the game she was taught, where you couldn't move anything once placed and lost if you missed putting an ace up. The couple of times I played Trivial Pursuit in the dorm led to me being banned because I had a head for trivia and won both times. Thankfully, I have friends now who like board and trivia games (and we're nicely even in ability and have different specialities, so trivia games work well). But Monopoly takes so long in real life, most people I've known have gotten bored somewhere in the middle, so it's nice to have the computer version.

My favourite current real-world game is Cranium. We played it over at N's house on New Year's Eve, and it had a great balance in terms of type of thinking...it's not just knowledge-based. It uses charades, acting out, drawing out clues (I'm apparently good at doing this with my eyes closed), humming, or sculpting. The only trouble with it is that you need a lot of people to play. Oh, and never give the tone deaf person the humming one. :) It also makes you act very quickly; you often have just a few seconds to answer or convey the answer.

Okay, having bankrupted the computer, I'm heading on to bed. Have a good week.

It's a toss up

Sitting in a recliner, listening to soothing New Age music, with three purring, treading cats OR
having braved the cold to retrieve your laundry, a nice hot shower followed by clean, comfy clothes.

Heaven, either way. Funny how the smallest things are the greatest. Also, I do believe a nice, ripe banana beats candy or other sweets any day. And they're Cerys' favourite, too.

I think the exercise earlier not only stretched out my back and generally made me feel better, it's making me sleepy earlier, which is probably good. Between that and the music (and now the shower), I'm quite relaxed, something that doesn't really happen that often. I don't know if exercise makes me keep in touch more with the moment or not, but everything seems to taste better, whether it's water or the banana, and even feel more vibrant. Hmpf. Maybe they should take people who tend to dissociate and put them on treadmills. :) I don't tend to much anymore, but I spent probably 80-90% of my first 35 years doing it as a coping mechanism. Now I can still do it on command (i.e., when dealing with physical pain) but I interact with people more fully and as a consequence my memory has improved. I think I was short-circuiting the whole memory process by not participating in the first place. It's nice to be living life more fully now.

Yes...so true

Unshelved today is dead on. Trust me, I don't dislike Macs; I have in fact finally learned to love them, rather than continue as the DOS snob I once was.

But this SOOO reminds me of a guy named Mike I once knew. Of course, he also believed in intelligent viruses and non-electric radios, too. But it was like the mysteries of the Mac and AOL were wondrous things that the rest of us couldn't appreciate fully. Thank the Gods.

At the risk of being shot (I do live in the Bible Belt, after all), I really want a 'What Would Dewey Do?' T-shirt. Only $14.95 + shipping and handling, and in my size. Oh, my!


listening to: Once More, With Feeling (Buffy: the Musical)--voted by this reporter as the best workout CD ever
feeling: Energetic, but waning fast with the sunlight

Today I worked at the hospital (no President's Day off for us) but didn't at KET (yay! to be a state employee). So, instead of working on web pages I headed to the gym and worked out for the first time in awhile. I didn't push too hard, but I did the random programmes on the treadmill and bike (15 mins each) and did a circuit of the main weight machines, worked up a sweat (and an appetite) and got quite a lot done. I think I was there for about an hour and a half. Then I went over to Captain D's and got some fish and finished up Auntie Mame. As much as I love the Rosalind Russell movie (the Lucille Ball one is, unfortunately, a clunker in comparison), I must say I love the book even more so, even though my favourite line--'Life is a banquet, and most poor sons of bitches are starving to death! Live!' is from the Lawrence and Lee stage version, it still captures the essence of the book best. Edward Tanner, who wrote as Patrick Dennis and under other names as well, was an incredible person, with a personality as large as Mame's. I'd like to read Uncle Mame, the biography by Eric Meyers. And I wish they'd taken his son's advice and produced an annotated version--having led a life more in line with Agnes Gooch than Mame Dennis and never having been to New York (certainly not during the time in which it's set) I'd love to have footnotes. But I really do think this is going to wind up a tried and true classic.

Now I'm home, doing laundry, and debating whether to work more on the living room or just settle down for the evening. Right now the latter is starting to seem very attractive, as it's getting dark and I do my best cleaning in bright sunlight, although I suppose that sounds crazy. Hmmm...maybe if I play more showtunes?


I love learning about other cultures, so

I love reading Salam Pax. I really appreciate learning about a Shia holiday from someone who's a gay, rather secular person raised with both Sunni and Shia traditions. :) Somehow I think some reading it would start getting together stones, but I'm glad to see a different view of Islam; every Muslim person I've ever known has been very moderate, celebrates diversity, has a great sense of humour, and asks great questions. [A former co-worker Mo, from Iran: 'Let me get this straight. Jesus is the son of God. But God is not married to Mary. So how can Jesus be the son of God?'] I think most Americans tend to see a bunch of extremist zealots and forget the vast majority of the rest of Islam that isn't.

Maybe they should read Salam. Then again, I've known quite a few Americans who'd be reaching for stones, too. (Shakes head.)

Plus, I wonder what he thinks about having his very own Wikipedia entry. That's pretty cool.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Facacta computer went out on me yesterday...thank goodness for startup disks!

So, for your Sunday pleasure, I'll catch up with an Unconscious Muttering:
  1. Dragon:: Wings
  2. Molecule:: Manipulate
  3. Tire:: Gauge
  4. Mighty:: Mouse
  5. Octane:: Gas
  6. Troll:: Bridge
  7. Atmosphere:: Planet
  8. Guide:: Hitchhiker's
  9. Leash:: Dog
  10. Dustmite:: Sneeze

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Here's an update on the standoff from last night

Bizarre Dispute Erupts: Firefighter shot, killed; Suspect's wife also slain in disturbance

Have I mentioned lately that mental illness sucks? It sounds like that man was completely irrational. Now his life, and two others, are destroyed. Who knows how many others have been affected? I can't imagine going out on calls knowing that at any time this could happen. So sad. His wife seems like she was a very vibrant woman, and they apparently had a daughter. So was the slain firefighter. It's hard to believe that this sort of delusion could have such results, but of course, it does happen. And I don't care what people say about our right to bear arms (which, after all, is based on the idea of a militia rather than the right to blow random people away), this is certainly one man who should not have had a gun in his hands. Granted, he could have killed his wife with a knife or other weapon, but he wouldn't have picked off Lt Cowan or shot at the others from a distance, now would he?

Valentine's Day is for lovers...

...which means the rest of us get the day off. :) I slept late, then talked with Dwana for awhile on the phone. She's still having a rough time, but I think she's doing okay. She doesn't have to have a D&C, which is good.

Now, I'm playing a computer game and getting a bite to eat.

Later I'm going to work on my living room and do some laundry, take some library books back, and read some more of Auntie Mame. It may sound boring to some, but it'll be the first day I have just to myself in awhile, and I'm looking forward to just chilling.

Odd thought for the day

Eighteen years ago today I 'lost' my virginity. (It always sounds like when you lose your keys...it's not like you can find it again). What can I say, I got carried away with Valentine's Day, 1986. I am the age now that my mother was when I went off to college (She had me at nineteen and I went off to school at seventeen). This is a bit unnerving. Ergh.

I'm kind of glad that the only 'teenagers' I have are all pets. :)

This is unreal

For a metro area with a quarter million people, Lexington has been pretty lucky. We've averaged about 18 murders a year over the last five. I only know of only three on-duty firefighter deaths in the history of Lexington. That's why this is so shocking: Firefighter Dies, Two Others Injured While Responding To Domestic Violence Call

Lt Brenda Cowan, Lexington's first African-American female firefighter, who was promoted to Lieutenant just last week.

The standoff went on for hours, but the gunman, identified as Patrick Hutchinson, was taken into custody around 10 pm. The woman originally shot in the domestic disturbance--believed to be his wife--was unable to be reached because he had the first responders pinned down and the police worked at talking him down. Parts of Interstate 75 were closed down at times to evacuate the wounded.

I hope no children or other family members were in the house. It sounds like the gunman was delusional. This is just so sad. My prayers are with those who were injured and the family of those killed. I'm glad that it was resolved without further bloodshed.

I suppose we'll know more tomorrow. I first heard about it when a friend came back from getting a haircut but didn't see the news. When I tried to catch up online, I found that most of the local news sources were way behind, with the best online updating by WKYT and the fire department web page.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Happy anti-Valentine's Day...

Here's a card for you [actual card link should work for a week, but if you want to send your own or look at all the examples they have, try: the Me(ish) website. The card is the one portraying Cupid.]

Friday the 13th Five

1. Are you superstitious? To some degree. (Hey, I have OCD, after all, some of OCD rituals are grounded in superstition, so I guess you could say my Paxil makes me less so.) Some superstitions have religious aspects, for example, and those I tend to give more weight to. I, however, really love to learn about superstitions. I have several books of collected ones. It's interesting to find out their history.

2. What extremes have you heard of someone going to in the name of superstition? The worst was something I did. It was, I'm afraid, a borderline moment. I went to back into a parking space and there was a black cat who refused to move and I wouldn't force it so I was late to class since I had to find another parking spot and then babbled to my professor--who probably thought I was nuts--about the whole thing. But you have to realise that a couple of months before I had struck and killed a black cat, at midnight, on a Friday the 13th, after leaving a get together where people had stupidly played with a Ouija board and something had attacked the house wards. So I was still spooked.

3. Believer or not, what's your favorite superstition? Crushing eggshells so evil can't use it as a boat to get to you. Oh, and rowan tree and red thread as a protection against evil. (It's part of the reason I chose Rowan as my last name.)

4. Do you believe in luck? If yes, do you have a lucky number/article of clothing/ritual? Oh, yes--good and bad. Remember, there's a Roman Goddess of luck, Fortuna. My favourite number is 13. I rather think since I'm Pagan it should be lucky for me, anyway.

5. Do you believe in astrology? Why or why not? I do, but not the kind you read in the paper. Astrology is much more precise than that, and those generalisations are virtually meaningless. Why do I believe? 'As above, so below'. Platonic philosophy teaches us that we, the microcosm, are reflections of the greater macrocosm. It is the structure of the universe. Do I think that the planet Mars, ruler of Aries, is sending little rays of whatever to control my every thought? Not really. Do I believe that everything in the universe impacts everything else, with even seemingly infintesimal things like butterfly wings or a drop of water into a pool having some effect? Yes, I do.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Crazy Mixed Up World

I haven't been blogging more than occasional bookmarks, and I'm sorry, but life has been very difficult for the last few days for people in my life. I've been in the strange position of being the anchor, the earthy one who can make some things better, but unfortunately not everything, and it's taken a lot more effort than I realised it would.

Of all that's happened this week, the worst has been the emotional rollercoaster Dwana has been on. For those who haven't been reading, my friend Dwana, who is quite possibly the most loving person I've ever known, has had a long fight against endometriosis pain, infertility, etc. She started having problems from age 13, and doctors long told her never to expect to have children. But things have changed over time, and methods have progressed so that for the last couple of years, she's had real hope of having a child, but with the catch of a window as the endometriosis grows. The more surgeries she has, the less the chance of having a baby. So with several surgeries already, it's a race against time, even though she's only 29.

A few days ago I was catching up on some of my reading, and on one of the library social lists, there was a huge discussion about people who go through fertility treatment, about multiple births like septuplets, and most who wrote in thought people who go through such treatment must be incredibly selfish, especially with all the children in the world who need adoption. They made it sound like adoption was as easy to do as picking out a dog at the pound. They haven't a clue. Dwana has taught me that.

Dwana has always wanted to adopt, regardless of whether she has a biological child or not. She is the least selfish person I've known, and one of the bravest, and the thing is most people have no idea what sorts of things she gone through. She has a very severe case of endometriosis, and also has been newly diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome, which has actually turned out to be more of a problem. She did attempt to conceive naturally, but they couldn't take a long time, given her health issues, and so moved on to insemination where they take the husband's sperm, wash it, spin it, and then insert it via catheter in the hopes of getting the egg and sperm to unite more easily. That didn't work. After two cycles/four attempts, they decided to do in vitro.

People have misconceptions about in vitro. They think, for example that those huge multiple births are a result, when really, those are usually the result of fertility drugs boosting the number of eggs and then either natural or assisted insemination. Such multiple births can be dangerous for both the mother and children, and are usually recommended to be 'selectively reduced', as in abortion of some of the foetuses, as a means to increase the successful outcome. People with religious beliefs against abortion probably should think very carefully before doing something like that. Also, most doctors these days try to prescribe treatment in such a way that such huge 'litters' are avoided in the first place. Certain factors, such as which drugs are used, the amount, etc., can be balanced to help with the desired outcome, depending on what the exact health issue the couple is dealing with is.

In in vitro, though, stronger drugs are given, but eggs are removed technically before ovulation, then inseminated in the lab and the resulting embryos are allowed to grow for a few days. Then, a few (usually two, three tops) are put back into the woman's womb and any additional ones are usually frozen.

Sounds simple, right?

What that doesn't cover is all the shots you have to take. Since Dec. 22, Dwana took 75 shots in her belly or butt, as medical science basically took control of her endocrine system through a series of injections. Her husband had to learn to give the shots, and their schedule revolved around them. Everything went according to plan until they went to retrieve the eggs. The surgery went fine, but Dwana went into hyperstimulation syndrome, which is a potentially fatal condition where fluid begins to collect in your abdomen and chest and you can become severely dehydrated. She wound up spending several days in the hospital and had pneumonia, but improved enough that they could go ahead and put the embryos back in.

So then it was a waiting game. Three little embryos, but waiting to see if they would implant. She did have the symptoms (spotting, cramping) and then started in on morning sickness, although in the afternoon. Monday she went in for a blood test, and shockingly enough, it came back pregnant, although the levels were a little low. That seems to be the norm with in vitro pregnancies. Judging from the levels, it was a singleton, so no triplet jokes. She was trying to stay guarded, but everyone involved, directly or those of who are in her cheering section were excited.

Wednesday she went back for another test. She had an awful moment before the test where she and her husband were driving and they watched a cat struck by a car. The driver had just sped up and run away. They stopped and tried to help it but it was too late. They were both very upset. Dwana and I react the same exact way to the death of an animal; we become nearly hysterical. She was still very upset and I think in the back of her mind, saw it as an omen. When she went to call for the results of the test, I was with her. The levels should have doubled or more. They fell by 30 points. That means she'd miscarried, probably within the morning before. An already terrible day just came crashing down.

The ironic thing is that if this had been a 'normal' pregnancy, she wouldn't have even known she was pregnant, because there was no missed period, and she wouldn't have shown up on a home pregnancy test. There are a lot of missed miscarriages at that point. We knew she was at a high risk for miscarriage due to the scar tissue from the surgeries, but every step was taken to try to help it along. And to have such happiness follow such a letdown...it was hard.

The good news is she knows she can get pregnant...and she has eleven frozen embryos, so several more attempts can be made without risking hyperstimulation again. I suspect she won't try that again, given how her body reacted. But all is not lost. It just doesn't happen to help too much at the moment.

I took her over to where her husband works so she could tell him in person. I feel so badly for them. She has to go back tomorrow to make sure her levels are at zero, or they have to do a D&C--and risk further scarring.

Monday they'd gone out to celebrate. Wednesday it was comfort food and spending time together as a couple, starting the grieving process.

There are some who wouldn't understand, who would say that it wasn't as if it were a viable child, or for that matter more than a few cells. And there's some truth to that. But there's so much hope invested in a pregnancy; and it's not false hope, but completely natural. She is glad that if it had to happen, it did so early. And I think in the end, she is glad she knew about the pregnancy, so it gives her hope for the future.

In the meantime she's taking a couple of days off from work. It's harder when two people in your department are pregnant and you work in a children's hospital; I think she needs some alone time. Her sister stayed with her today. I've checked on her, and I'm sure her family and other friends have, too.

I feel so helpless. At the time, when she needed me to be strong, I was. I could be sympathetic but had the distance she needed; her family are as invested emotionally in this as she is, after all. Most of her other friends have had recent pregnancies, all with their own challenges. She's got an incredible network of people who care for her, many of whom have gone through aspects of her experience, although not the total package. I haven't. I know that I can't really understand what it's like. I haven't been pregnant or dealt with that loss. But I think it helps her to know I care. I just wish there was something I could do to help her more.

We talked on the phone last night, and for the first time, I cried with her. I'd gone home and thrown myself into cleaning (and now have a spotless kitchen as a result) but then finally sat down, sorted through the emotions, and called her. Please don't think I'm doing this 'it's all about me' thing; I'm not. She may eventually blog about her own feelings. I can only describe mine. I'm just, well, surprised at everything that was milling about inside. I guess since I know I'll probably not have children, and Dwana is the first friend that I really felt should have children, I've tied my emotions into my support for her. I'm so sad for her, but hopeful, too.

My feeling is that it will happen. She was so sick when this pregnancy started, my hope is that on a normal cycle where she hasn't been dealing with such stress, a pregnancy will take. I have faith that it will happen.

Knowing Dwana has changed me on several levels. Certainly she is a far more complex person than this one issue, but the fertility issues are a big part of her life, and I've learnt a lot about what people go through and the intense disappointment and hope that they live with. Dwana is the second person I've known who went through infertility treatment, but I've had a much more intimate look at it with her. The very idea that she can keep her optimism and humour is amazing to me, and I really admire her for it. I only hope that in the end, this dream is realised for her.

It seems like it's been Friday the 13th all week. Can we have a little good luck, please?

Wednesday, February 11, 2004


Government Withdraws Subpoena for Records Relating to Antiwar Meeting at University

I'll vouch for that

CNN.com - Study: Women over 40 biggest online gamers - Feb. 11, 2004

I've been beaten by 65-year-old grannies who tore up Scrabble boards at 2 am.

This is just too great

Swimmer drives with shark on leg

Yep. They make them tough Down Under.

Received this today.

Dear Dogs and Cats,

When I say to move, it means go someplace else, not switch positions with each other so there are still two of you in the way.

The dishes with the paw print are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Please note, placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

Stairways were not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Beating me to the bottom is not the objective. Tripping me doesn't help, because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king size bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue to sleep on the couch to ensure your comfort. Look at videos of dogs and cats sleeping, they can actually curl up in a ball. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out the other end to maximize space used is nothing but sarcasm.

My compact discs are not miniature Frisbees.

For the last time, there is not a secret exit from the bathroom. If by some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, try to turn the knob, or get you paw under the edge and try to pull the door open. I must exit through the same door I entered. In addition, I have been using bathrooms for years. Feline or canine attendance is not mandatory.

The proper order is kiss me, then go smell others' butt. I cannot stress this enough. It would be such a simple change for you.

To pacify you I have posted the following message on your front door...

Rules for Non-Pet Owners Who Visit and Like to Complain About Our Pets:

  1. They live here. You don't.
  2. If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture.
  3. I like my pet a lot better than I like most people.
  4. To you, it's an animal. To me, he/she is an adopted son/daughter who is short, hairy, walks on all fours and doesn't speak clearly.
  5. Dogs and cats are better than kids. They eat less, don't ask for money all the time, are easier to train, usually come when called, never drive your car, don't hang out with drug-using friends, don't smoke or drink, don't worry about buying the latest fashions, don't wear your clothes, don't need a gazillion dollars for college, and if they get pregnant you can sell the results.

Here, here.

A look at how people really search

As librarians--with master's degrees in the science of searching out and accessing information--we sometimes forget that what we see as obvious isn't how other people search at all. There is a gulf in our assumptions on par with those who ask why you need an advanced degree to 'shelve books'. Since part of our job is to educate users and help them find the information they need, studies such as this give a better idea of the base skills of the average patron. In order to assist a patron, you have to know 1) what he or she is actually looking for, even if it's not what was vocalised (i.e., through the reference interview) and 2) what steps a patron has already used or how the patron's thought processes have worked so far (so you don't duplicate steps or so you can show the patron a more efficient way of searching).

So, check this out: Journal of Medical Internet Research - How do Consumers Search for and Appraise Information on Medicines on the Internet? A Qualitative Study Using Focus Groups. Especially enlightening is how individuals interact with others in the group in trying to suggest or explain how to search.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

HIV Drug in Pregnancy May Sap Therapy Later

A popular treatment to prevent HIV transmission from mother to child in developing countries may make the virus more resistant for mothers who receive future treatment.

HIV Drug in Pregnancy May Sap Therapy Later

A reminder that we still have a long way to go.

NASA BOS Exhibit Visiting Kentucky

NASA 'Benefits of Space' Exhibit will be going on today through Thursday at Dunbar High School here in Lexington. The exhibit is free and open to the public from 4-8pm each day.

Looking for good continuing education, especially in consumer health?

...but don't have a lot of travel money in your budget?

Check out the MLA's online courses.

Knowledge, Policy, and Marketing with a Dash of Oops

Business, Science Clash at Medical Journal (washingtonpost.com)

This article discusses a situation in which an editorial whose questions were valid and timely was rejected due to marketing concerns, not scholarship. Apparently there was a concern that in publishing it, the journal would offend a major drug company/advertiser.

Knowledge is power, but unfortunately, so is money.

A followup appears in the news extra of this week's BMJ. Apparently the journal, Dialysis & Transplantation, reversed its original stance, but the author has declined to resubmit it for consideration.

Kudos to the author for blowing the whistle on this by publicising the rejection e-mail. :) One good thing about the Internet is that it helps keep accountability by allowing nearly-instant fallout.


Have you ever felt like everything was falling into place, a sort of Zen moment when you realised that everything that you've done--all the hopes, all the fears--were shifting into a new focus? Like change was right around the corner, and it was a good sort of change, a path to enlightenment, life in balance, even contentment?

I had that feeling really strongly today. I don't have any real reason to feel that way. I woke up this morning feeling like today was special. And it was, in a way, because I did get some really good news, although not news that personally involved me. And although I think the feeling may have touched upon that news, I really feel like there's a shift in my life coming...and I'm curious as to where it will lead.

And before you say it, I don't have a tendency to be manic...it's an expansive feeling, yes, but not mania. It's more like...being in tune with the world around me. Like I fit the puzzle. I, who for so long felt like an outsider. I feel like I've stop swimming against the current and I'm learning to become part of the flow.

All those years ago when I changed my name as a means of shedding my father's name and the pathetic person I had been, I chose Eilir because it meant (alternatively) butterfly, spring, or rebirth. I felt like I was going through a rebirth at the time. Oddly enough in the years since, I've come to recover the good parts of my personality, the ones I'd buried for so long whilst dissociated myself from the world, and learning new skills and gaining new interests. I became a much stronger person, but essentially I am more the child I once was, only older and wiser. It took me awhile to find her, because she was hiding in a far corner of my mind, which had become this overgrown, thorny place designed to keep everyone out and yet at the same time only led me to more hurt.

Now I feel like the child has had time to grow, to excel, to become the woman she was meant to. And in a way, it's like it's like I'm doing early adulthood all over again, only with a better frame of reference this time around.

Maybe none of this makes sense. Suffice to say I was a really late bloomer. But I feel like I've gone from bud to that loosely furled bud swollen to perfection, ready to burst forth in full bloom. Or, to take the butterfly model, I feel like I've crawled my way out of the chrysalis and I'm resting on a twig waiting for my wings to dry.

I really believe we go through stages in our lives where we face tests, and based on how well we do, we progress to the next level or stick around for remedial work. Actually, I think it's bigger than that, encompassing many lives. I've come a lot further in this life than I think anyone ever gave me credit for. I've surprised even those who had faith in me. I've surprised myself. And I've come far enough where I want to see what lies beyond.

Who knows what's in store now?

Monday, February 09, 2004

So, is it basically a liability issue from Disney's point of view?

CNN.com - Disney turns away visitors on Segways

Disney says visitors aren't allowed to use them because they're not FDA approved as medical devices. But people with neurological or other mobility issues say it means the world to be able to enjoy activities standing up, eye to eye with others, rather sitting and looking people in the waist.

I guess Disney's concerned that they could somehow incur liability in terms of the devices operating in the parks. Still, from what I understand most anybody would benefit from a Segway when visiting Disneyworld or other Disney venues; they're huge.

I can definitely understand the anger of those denied access, though, and their desire to take their business elsewhere. My feeling is they'll eventually lighten up, especially if the device is recognised as a benefit for people with disabilities or at least is sold in enough numbers to establish a good safety record.

I'm not sure the liability would be any different than, say, if someone tripped on a kerb or because they were using a stroller--which as far as I know, isn't a medical device.

Good grief

It's pretty sad when an 18-year-old supposedly thinks he's at such an acme in life that he can murder a total stranger just to see if he can get away with it--especially a kid who planned to major in criminal justice.

CNN.com - Police: Student flunks his murder test

listening to: 'Grand Central Getaway' by Jimmy Dorsey
feeling: Motivated

I've been steadily picking up odds and ends that really just need to be purged from the house or put in their respective places for about an hour and a half. Maybe the spring cleaning isn't a bust after all. I've found on those rare occasions when I'm home, if I can come in and not sit down, turn on some swing, jazz, or show tunes, and just bustle about, I' get things together pretty quickly. I've gone through the refrigerator, kitchen, dining room, and living room and thrown away quite a bit of junk mail and other detritus that builds up when you've been busy and you have animals (okay, I admit it, I'm a pack rat, it's hard to throw away stuff, but having cats jumping on things just makes it more chaotic). I've been working so late the last couple of weeks that it was nice to come in a little early, even with working at the second job. Over the next few days, I'll be getting off at the normal time, so I'll have some of the afternoons to work with.

I probably won't push it all at once--just an hour or two a day. When the house has been shut up for awhile it gets dusty, and between that and the animals shedding I'm certain to start wheezing if I push it (one of the reasons it builds up). But I want to have friends over, which means I need to have a place for them to sit and a kitchen counter to prepare food on. Just about every horizontal surface in the house had stuff on it, mostly books that I don't have bookshelves for. I may just corral all the books into the study until I can afford to display them and work on that bit by bit.

Now I need to take a break. Then I'm off to get some cleaning supplies. I probably won't be able to vaccum tonight--it's getting late enough that my neighbours probably wouldn't thank me, although actually they tend to keep the same late hours I do, so maybe it would be okay. Sometime in the next few days I'd like to steam the carpet and upholstery. What I can do tonight is run the dishwasher and get the laundry together.

Okay, Cerys is trying to make a bed out of my dirty clothes...cute but not helpful. Until later...

Nice article highlighting the usefulness of librarians in an information-overload world

from the NY Times [free with registration]: When a Search Engine Isn't Enough, Call a Librarian.

It also discusses problems with finding sources of Internet material and critical skills when processing information. They did make an error (MedlinePlus is not a subscription service; they were probably thinking of one of the many non-PubMed interfaces for Medline that provided value-added items or full-text for a fee. Still, overall, it's nice to remind people that the information professionals have been and continue to be their local librarians.

Info for you to use

I received this after some of my complaints regarding child porn spam were forwarded to the FTC.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent violations of Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them.

To file a complaint on above issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free,
1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, Children's Online Privacy Protection Act and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Locus Online: 2003 Recommended Reading

Enjoy science fiction/fantasy? Check out: Locus Online: 2003 Recommended Reading

Editors take on Elsevier

Editorial Board of Scientific Journal Quits, Accusing Elsevier of Price-Gougi:
Zvi Galil, another editor of the journal and dean of the school of engineering and applied science at Columbia University, said that Elsevier had increased the subscription rates unnecessarily, because production costs for the journal had not risen recently. 'Basically, we do all the work,' Mr. Galil said, 'and the company makes all the profit.'

Oh, this is scary...

and in a public library where patrons where restrooms--an obvious security issue--are kept locked and patrons check out the key. Somehow this man got into the women's restroom, attacked, raped, and nearly killed an 8-year-old...and left...without anyone knowing. The only reason he's in custody is because he told someone about it.

I don't know how we can make libraries safe and still provide open access. It's a difficult issue. You don't want to strip away all the benefits of the library just because of rare but scary things like this.

I have to admit, though--I don't know how parents sleep at night with things like this out there, or how they every get to a point where they can let the kids out of their sight--something that has to happen to build independence. I have a lot of respect for those of you out there who every day deal with this possibility--whether parents, public librarians, police, etc.

Homeless man arrested in assault on girl at library

Need a lift?

Try this version aimed at downtrodden librarians: Desiderata for Libraries

The Week in Review

This week I:

  • Worked overtime at work as part of our new system launch.
  • Helped someone I care about deeply.
  • Had my hair cut short.
  • Took my dog for a sleepover.
  • Missed her terribly.
  • Said goodbye to the cursed Sentra of doom forever.
  • Discovered my tape deck in the new car doesn't work.
  • After putting in a CD adaptor so I could listen to Buffy the musical. :(
  • But it doesn't matter because I'm mobile and the stereo itself rocks.
  • Decided that I'm at an age where inexperienced know-it-alls and stuffy know-it-alls equally annoy me, and make me feel blest that I'm in that laid-back groove where you know you don't know it all, that your experiences are unique and so are everyone else's, and that judging others, although natural, is best not done in print via e-mail. :) [I've been catching up on my backlog from the chatty librarians' list, which led me to this conclusion, oddly enough.]
  • Started my period.
  • Didn't have the slightest PMS except a little physical tenderness. I'm hoping my days of major mood swings before my period are far behind me.
  • Received two somewhat condescending e-mails from someone I'd hoped to never encounter again.
  • Decided in the end that it didn't really bother me, and that I'm just glad I'm enjoying my life as it is.
  • Cuddled with the cats.
  • Kept warm. Mostly. Pined for spring. Dratted groundhogs.
  • Started spring cleaning early, but didn't get very far.
  • Decided it's best to wait for sunny days and warmth to spring clean.
  • Bought a soothing CD of bamboo flutes and tuned crystals.
  • Decided I needed to spend more time meditating, doing yoga, and exercising.
  • Found out I was right about a plot twist.
  • Broke the masque of my CPAP machine.
  • Discovered pantyhose can, in a pinch, substitute for keeping the masque on your face.
  • Wondered what anyone would think if they saw a woman running around with pantyhose wrapped around her head.

On that note, I think I'll go on to bed and do the mummy thing again. I need to check with the medical supply company for another latex-free masque. I've gone through three in two years. That's not too bad, I suppose. I do wish they'd stop putting them together with thin plastic, though.

Monday Monday Monday

Okay, so I'm getting a head start...

1. On Sunday afternoon, I like to just...fight evil Lovecraftian horrors with my ninja, psychic, and magical powers in Call of Cthulhu aka sit around a table eating munchies, rolling dice, and chilling with friends whilst crafting an interactive story.
2. I'm behind someone at a traffic light, the light turns green and they just sit there, I...wait patiently for a few moments to see if they 'wake up', then tap the horn.
3. My immediate reaction to someone making a nasty remark to me is...think that it says more about them than it does me. Now, a true, but nasty, remark, I take as criticism and ask more about it.
4. If I had to live in a state/country where it was cold most of the year, I would...probably go stark raving mad (yeah, I haven't yet).
5. When the weather outside is hot and humid, I prefer to...have a fan blowing on me.
6. My favorite 'comfy' clothes to wear around the house are...shorts and a t-shirt.
7. If given a deadline at work/school to finish a project, I usually...procrastinate until the last minute, then use the adrenaline produced to finish the job well.
8. If someone gave me a pet for my birthday, I would...politely decline, seeing as I have a small herd now.
9. As far as watching the clock on weekends, I...don't. Have I ever mentioned I don't even wear a watch?
10. I usually wash my car about every...four months, except if it's got a lot of salt on it.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Freshly associated

Unconscious Mutterings:

  1. Identity:: Theft
  2. Reveal:: God
  3. Live:: Band
  4. Attitude:: Adjustment
  5. Night:: Saturday
  6. Nevada:: Silver
  7. Weekend:: Yay!
  8. Write:: Novel
  9. Friend:: D&D (not the game, the people)
  10. Seventeen:: Magazine

PS Yay! the Weather Pixie's back online!

Saturday, February 07, 2004

I wanna sing...

listening to: 'String Quartet no. 2' by Alexander Borodin (played by the Lark Quartet)
feeling: Peaceful

On the drive home, I was listening to some classical and vocal music on WEKU, and I realised just how much I miss singing.

I mean, yes, I still sing in the car, or with my Les Mis or Buffy the Vampire CDs, but I really miss the interaction of voices singing together live. There's such a unique dynamic you just can't get as a listener or through a recording.

For awhile, I dropped out of chorus because I just had too much on my plate in terms of my health. Now I'd like to get back but the day they rehearse really isn't good for me anymore; it conflicts with the main recreation I have--the game--and would make for a very long day. But I'm in a much better position to really sing--for one, my asthma is under control, and I didn't even know I had it at the time, I just felt breathy and couldn't seem to get much in terms of volume. Now I can hit everything from my low range on up without too much work.

There are other options, I guess. I'm not into barbershop-style overmuch, so I don't think I'd do well in the Sweet Adelines. One of my professors has long tried to get me to join the Lexington Singers, but they have a fairly demanding schedule that sometimes includes travel, and are just a little too overpowering in terms of number. A co-worker sings in an Renaissance and early music troupe, and I would love to do that style of music, but I don't know if they have spaces open. Still, it's apparently hard to get (and keep) first sopranos, so it might be worth looking into.

Shades of McCarthyism?

From the are-our-civil-liberties-going-down-the-tubes? department:

Feds Win Right to War Protesters' Records

For what may be the first time in decades, a university has been ordered to hand over records relating to an anti-war protest. One of the protesters who is charged with misdemeanor assault upon an officer during the protest--but claims she simply went limp as a means of peaceful protest--is a librarian.

Mental illness sucks. Majorly.

listening to: 'Dante's Prayer' by Loreena McKennitt
feeling: Serious and reflective
Breathe life into this feeble heart
Lift this mortal veil of fear
Take these crumbled hopes, etched with tears
We'll rise above these earthly cares

--Loreena McKennitt, 'Dante's Prayer'

I have been blessed, in a way, to have dealt with depression and anxiety issues. I say that because it has helped me understand other people so much more. I can, to some degree, understand the case of psychosis in Andrea Yates' case (the woman from Texas who drowned her children). I've never been psychotic (in the clinical sense, anyway) but I've dissociated to such a degree that I was no longer grounded in reality and irrational things really did seem to make sense. I can understand the need to escape this life, because I have been suicidal. I understand the need to shut down, because I've done that too. But for now at least, I seem to have beaten back the majority of my daemons and am enjoying my life. So I have a little distance. But I can never forget that dark place. And I wish there were an easy way to save those drowing under the weight of life.

Nearly everyone I know has at some point in their lives dealt with some aspect of mental illness, whether panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, addiction, personality disorders, eating disorders, or depression. In some cases it really seems to be a matter of physical brain chemistry (especially depression and anxiety disorders). In others, dysfunctional family dynamics or a lack of useful coping mechanisms may have been contributors. Whereas it was once taboo to speak of it, now it's actually a sort of touch point between people...admitting you have a problem tends to lead them to disclose their own experiences. I'm not really sure there's anyone out there not touched by mental illness in some way, either personally or in terms of a loved one. I sometimes think it's harder for those who love us to deal with our illness than we ourselves, because they can't make it better--not really. That's a step that needs to be taken by the individual. They can help, they can be supportive, but in the end we are the ones who have to want to get better, to get help, to come back from the brink. And mental illness, particularly depression, can take you to a point where there seems to be no point in doing that. And for those who have not had problems themselves, it's that much harder to really, truly understand, no matter how hard they try. At the same time, mental illness has a tendency to be contagious--depression, especially. Sometimes it seems like the other person is being pulled in by a strong undertow into the world of darkness.

So many people are afraid to admit they have issues that require professional help and possibly medication. Medication doesn't make you less of a person. It simply helps right an imbalance in the system that can stabilise the mind to a point where counselling and other treatment can help. But finding the right combination is extremely tricky. Generally speaking, if a person feels zombified, they haven't received the best mix yet. Sometimes it's a matter of trying different meds in succession, and that takes time, since some take weeks to build up in efficacy.

Even harder, sometimes, is jumping through the hoops of bureaucracy to get help. A person dealing with mental illness is really not in the best position to keep appointments, fill out paperwork, apply for social security or health service benefits, deal with insurance, medicare, or pharmaceutical drug programmes. Without an advocate who can sit down and go through the paperwork or go to appointments and describe what the person's behaviour actually is--rather than his or her perceived behaviour, it's hard for providers to realise the gravity of the situation. A person could seem to have a depressed affect but generally be okay, when he or she is in fact ruminating on suicide. That kind of information doesn't get easily volunteered, and in an overborne system, providers often don't have time to figure out the whole picture. I don't know how come more people don't slip through the cracks. Unfortunately, many people who are mentally ill are ostracised or otherwise isolated from those who could advocate for them.

I'm not a medical person, but I can say I've experienced mental illness from several perspectives. If you're dealling with mental illness, know that it can, slowly, get better. Find an advocate, whether a friend, a spouse, a social worker, etc., who can help you with the overwhelming battery of steps it may take to get better. Find people on the Internet to connect to, or blog...anything that will help you vent or find information of feel like you're not alone in this.

If you have a loved one dealing with mental illness, offer to be an advocate--and follow through. Be up front with the person. Don't hide behind polite, normal behaviour. Sometimes it takes a trusted person to tell us we're acting crazy for us to believe it. Don't be afraid to ask how they're doing...and be ready to listen. Never trivialise their problem, but try not to enable helplessness. Do a little research on their illness so you know what to expect. Know that small things can seem huge when you're living inside your head...an off-hand comment can be misconstrued easily, so think before you say it. If they're depressed, don't just try to cheer them up and expect it to get all better. True depression isn't just a slump. Help them get professional help, but let them make the decision to seek it. Don't be afraid to call the authorities or medical help if they become a danger to themselves or others. Know that sometimes, despite your best efforts, it doesn't work. I know of one woman who, as a nurse, tried to get her father into a psych ward when she realised he was having psychotic breaks. They kept him a minimum amount of time and then let him loose. He then had a break and stabbed her mother to death, thinking her a threat. They'd been married nearly 50 years. He was taken away and put in a mental hospital, without any real idea of what he'd done. Once he was put on medication and treated, he realised it and is haunted by the memories. In some ways, lucidity is its own curse. And the tragic thing is that it didn't have to happen. It would only be natural for the daughter to feel guilt, even though she did what she could. It's the type of thing to trigger depression in and of itself. Mental illness is insidious that way. But it can be shouldered, and even become something that can either remit or be tolerated to such an extent that you can get your life back. The hardest thing is never letting go of the faith that things can get better while taking baby steps to make them so.