Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Thursday, June 30, 2011

This has been a very taxing week (I really did not mean to make a pun)

As I believe I've written before, I have a payment plan with the IRS to pay off my taxes. Back in March I set up the agreement and then signed paperwork to have the amount automatically taken from my bank account each month. But there was a catch--it would take awhile before that would happen, so I had to make payments in the interim either by cheque or through an online third party by the 25th of each month. They were supposed to let me know when the first payment would come out. I think you can see where I'm going with this. The last I heard from them was in May, a duplicate set of letters saying it was taking a little longer to review my account, and that was it. So I've been checking each 25th of the month to see if anything has come out of my account, then going through an third party payer and paying the amount that night, so it's still on time.

I did this on Saturday. Apparently on Monday, the money came out automatically, sending my account into quite the negative. Since the online payer took out the amount owed and a second debit of their fee, and then the IRS took out the amount owed in two instalments as well, there were four insufficient fund fees (even though there was enough money for what I paid on Saturday).

I've talked to the IRS, the third party payer, and the bank. The IRS says it sent a letter telling me when it would start. I suspect I was supposed to get two different letters back in May and somehow a duplicate letter was sent instead. I have no way of proving that, of course. They will still require a payment next month; the double payment just lessens the timeframe of the payments. They suggested talking to the payer. The payer said that it would take 6-8 weeks to investigate things, that it would ultimately depend on the IRS, and since I still have some time to pay on the money I owe, it would be ultimately denied. The bank was sympathetic, but because there was no bank error they 'split it with me', taking off two of the charges.

The upshot of this is I cannot pay my rent on time this month. I am going to talk to the leasing manager tomorrow. Normally this is how things unfold: You have until the 5th to pay the rent. On the 6th, there is a $50 charge and normally you get a seven-day notice to ante up or they'll file for eviction. Sometimes they don't send the notice out for a day or two. Then you have seven days, with each additional day after the 6th costing $5 more. If I get the notice on the 6th, I have until the 13th. I get paid on the 14th, but could pay first thing that morning (late payments must be made by money order). So it will be a close thing, which is why I'm going to discuss it with them first. It also means I have to pay $90 in late fees. If they file in court, I think (if I recall from some of my less fortunate financial times), it's $100 on top of that for court costs, but you get to stay.


So that's where I stand on that. I can get my bus pass, pay my phone bill, and eat for the next two weeks, but not pay my rent. I have checked and I think I will be able to pay my other bills (including the IRS) even with the additional charges when I get paid on the 14th.

Boy this is a pain. The sad thing is that it's really no one's fault (well, the IRS maybe a bit, for sending me the wrong notice), and if it hadn't been for the fact that it was on a weekend, the money would have come out and I would have known not to pay any more.

I will say that when I found this all out (before talking to the various agencies), I called YKWIA, who is oddly comforting at times even though he generally is not. In this case he was, I suspect because he realised through my disjointed blubberings that it was not, in fact, my fault for a change and that I'd been screwed over by karma or whatever whilst trying to be responsible.

I called him whilst waiting for the bus, then got into work a total mess. I'd obviously been crying. I hadn't eaten yet, so I stopped by the cafeteria and my satchel fell off my arm, scattering the salad I was making all over the bar. I did not lose my cool, but it was a close call. Then I went back to my office, stopped by the bathroom to wash my face, ate my salad, and hid in my cubicle doing what work I could do to take my mind off of things and letting my face return to normal rather than the reddened mass that weeping had created. It took a good two hours to truly calm down, and then I got caught up in teaching someone who is my backup what to do, and so I didn't call the others until the next day.

On Tuesday I also found out the results of my MRI. I have three bulging discs and a congenital stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) made worse through bone growths called osteophytes. The combination means the nerves are being compressed, causing my arm and shoulder to hurt and my lower arm to go numb. The good news is that it is not severe enough to require surgery, although they are going to send me to a neck surgeon to oversee my care (the doctor I'd seen was a hand/upper extremity specialist). Since I can't see the neck specialist until mid-July, they want me to start physical therapy for relief from the pain and numbness. I start tomorrow morning at 7:30 am. Yeah. That early. And when I made the appointment I told them early because I didn't want to miss work, and totally forgot that I'm off tomorrow. :)

Another theme that has been continuing throughout the week is trying to fix a computer where Internet Explorer opens and then shuts down immediately. The first day I tried several things, had no luck, mainly because most of Microsoft's solutions required a working browser, and got home late and went on to bed without blogging. Tuesday, the day of horribleness, I got over there only to find that the disk I'd made with Firefox on it was not in my satchel. I got home late that night as well. Yesterday I managed to take the disk with me, but even trying the other things and updating to IE 9, there was no luck fixing IE, but Firefox works. Last night we discovered that .mth files weren't opening in Firefox so I went over again and within a few minutes had the problem solved by downloading an add-on for that. I still haven't given up on the IE issue, as the person is used to that browser, but for now online browsing is a go, favourites have been imported to bookmarks, and saved files will open. I actually got home by dusk tonight, called to make sure he knew I was home, and took his suggestion to kick back and watch 'Bones' and relax for a bit. If anyone has suggestions for what to do about fixing Internet Explorer, I'm all ears. But for now, I'm not going to think about it. I'm home at a reasonable hour for the first time in days, when I didn't just fall into bed. And I have four days off! Here's to getting some things done, and getting some rest, and knowing that things will eventually get better. It'll be rough for the next month or so, and then hopefully improve. Wish me luck!

Monday, June 27, 2011

YKWIA showed me this over the weekend :)

It's Disney's version of The Music Man, with Matthew Broderick in the title role and Kristin Chenoweth as the iconic Marian. I'm not so much into the shushing, but on the other hand, I might kill for the library. I particularly like the slamming of the desk's entry and the odd powers he has over his puppets...um, the patrons. Wouldn't you love to be able to hand someone a book and get them to do what you want?

Also, you've got to love a song that rhymes librarian with carrion, don't you? Am I right?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Home after the game

which went really well. We managed to prevail, although more through a miracle than our own skill. Play was cut short as someone needed a ride to work and waited until just a few minutes before he had to be there to ask. That annoyed everyone, as it's always nice to savour a victory with a little interaction afterwards, and we had to rush out instead. On days when we do the grocery run, we don't start until late. I guess we didn't start playing until about 5 pm, and had to run out by 10.

I'm really tired now and am considering just going on to bed, since I was up at 5 am, did lots of housework, the grocery run, and the game. It takes a lot out of me. The game master let me have some ibuprofen (I forgot to bring mine) and an ice pack when my arm was hurting, and it feels better, if a bit numb and tingly. With some difficulty I moved my Medic-Alert bracelet from the right to left hand in case it was contributing at all. It's not like I've been wearing a watch lately, and besides, with it on my right hand I'm always a bit concerned that I'll snag it putting my dominant hand into the copier at work. :)

Okay, I'm definitely going on to bed. Hope you had a good weekend. Good night.

Good friends

call you the night before you come over (even if it's 1:45 am) to tell you to bring a container for soup to take home, then tut-tut when they realise you're 44 and have just little plastic bowls not worth messing with (I eventually decided on a flour-sized canister that is stoneware, but has a sealed lid and had just a handful of dried lentils left in it that I could put in a baggie and then wash out the canister--not the best solution for the bus, but I'll be careful and make a note to self to buy a stacked set of suitable bowls for the future).

Better friends don't scream at you when, at 2:15, as they're going to bed, you discover that the insulin pen you have still has a needle on it that didn't twist off with the cap last night, that you didn't notice at the time, and you call your friend with medical training back to make sure that what you think will get any air out will (hey, they specifically say in the instructions not to store it that way, and as he surmised, I watched way too many medical shows in the 70s, like Quincy, MD). Fortunately I'm lucky in my choice of friends, who deals with an anxiety-ridden me on a regular basis with the patience of a saint. Although he did tell me to look it up on the Internet to make me feel better and verify, because he knows I'm neurotic, even though I trusted his answer.

I feel dumb. Not stupid. Dumb. For all my medical-librarian knowledge (which admittedly is primarily orthopaedic), and for all that you'd have to have a lot of air in a syringe and probably a bigger needle, my anxiety level rose, because I'm new to this injection stuff and not quite as savvy about things as I could be. I thought I was right to change the needle, tap a bit, and do an air shot or two, and I was, but I needed confirmation from a better source. So I guess when it comes down to it, I'm dumb and anxious.

Thank you to my friend, who like I said, has the patience of a saint. Having boldly injected myself, I'm going back to bed. Good night.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Well, Twitter didn't let me down for news

Have you seen this?

Traumatic brain injuries in illustrated literature: experience from a series of over 700 head injuries in the Asterix comic books

[Acta Neurochir (2011) 153:1351–1355, DOI 10.1007/s00701-011-0993-6]

For more, check out Why Study Brain Injuries in a Comic Book?

Thanks to @PFAnderson for letting me know about this.

I finished the notes around 8 pm and then took a break

listening to blues music and getting away from the computer for awhile. I fell asleep, but I'd set two alarms just in case because today is the day I pay my tax bill, and it can't be late. I let it go till late in the day because at some point it's supposed to go automatic, and I didn't want to accidentally pay twice. But after four months I'm still waiting on that, apparently.

One of the good things about doing the notes is I get to think about what we know so far and go over it again. The more I thought today, the more I came to believe that we are dealing with a cult to Yog Sothoth. I may be wrong, but some of the clues use language dealing with him, especially words like 'key' and 'gate', and references to being outside of time. Yog Sothoth is a hard one to deal with. Two of my characters just spent two game years trapped inside the entity. We finally get out, and the first thing we as players (the characters are different ones than those involved with that) deal with seems to be a manifestation of the same entity.

This is turning out to be a very exciting adventure. One, it's set in the ancient world, in a Greek colony in Italy around 450 BCE, right after the rout of the Pythagoreans from Crotone. As someone who specialised in ancient and mediaeval history in school, that's fun. There's also a definite timeline--we have six more days to prevent the end of civilisation and the possible destruction of the world, not to mention our own ascension into horrible things. I'm not sure what the name of the adventure is called, but it's from Chaosium's Strange Aeons II. So far it's been riveting. Not all are. Campaigns, for example (which are generally book-length) tend to drag a bit, such as Beyond the Mountains of Madness, which spent a ridiculous amount of time assembling supplies and going through the ship's hold.

Speaking of Cthulhu, I have a book called The Lovecraft Lexicon: A Reader's Guide to Persons, Places and Things in the Tales of H.P. Lovecraft that I'd like to show the game master. It might help with a project he's working on.

I didn't really see much in the news to blog about. I think I may put some more books into LibraryThing or maybe just read for awhile. Good night.

What a terrible shame

Lexington woman dies in crash on I-64, trying to avoid bicycle in road

Kawthar Suleiman, 23, had just completed her first year of medical school at the University of Louisville. She and a cousin had planned a trip to Palestine, and she was interested in volunteering with refugees. It's a shame her life was ended over something as innocuous as a bicycle lying in the freeway. My condolences to her family.

Well, that wasn't too bad

I set my alarm for 4 pm and awoke in a nice sunbeam all comfy and gently, but then looked at the big clock on my dresser (an analog alarm clock that is probably 12 inches in diametre) and thought it was five, so then I was a bit grumpy. But I also didn't have my glasses on, and realised when I did stretch and checked my phone that it was right before four, and all was well. So now I am really going to start those notes. It should take longer than it has for the last few weeks because we had a mission, and that means investigation, so I have to include more detail than when we have downtime or combat. Afterwards I really need to some work on the house, but if I don't, I'll blog some more (news, not my every move, like I seem to be doing today.)

So far today

I've catalogued nearly thirty books on LibraryThing, taken the bus to Taco Bell, gotten a couple of 7-layer burritos for lunch, walked over to Kroger, picked up my Lantus (insulin) and some groceries, and ridden the bus back/walked home. Now the string and cream cheese along with the Lantus are all in the fridge, I've got a cold drink, and I'm contemplating game notes. Oh, and taking some ibuprofen, since I forgot to this morning. But first, maybe a short nap. :) Really, a short one.

PS Last night was the first in three weeks where I could put my pillow on my left arm (the one that's okay, and the one I normally sleep on), and put my right arm (the one that's been hurting) on top of the pillow next to my head. Since I sleep better on my side, this is great, although I'm still treating things a bit gingerly.

I seriously doubt I could ever make that climb and hike

but it sounds glorious. When I was a kid I got a book called World's Last Mysteries, which was a Reader's Digest publication from the 70s. In it are wonderful artists' conceptions of how sites like Teotihuacan, Babel, Catal Huyuk, and Stonehenge looked when new. Oddly enough, there is no corresponding one of Machu Picchu, although it does show pictures of the ruins and discusses the history of it. I love that book. I still have it--as does a friend, as we discovered when comparing our collections. My favourite was Angkor Wat, with its canals. I'd love to go somewhere like this, but with my health problems and lack of funds, I'll be lucky if I ever make it out of the States. Still, a girl can dream.

The Hidden Route to Machu Picchu
A typical Machu Picchu package tour to Peru lasts a week. But anyone able to stretch that to two and a half weeks — and who has relatively sturdy legs — can hike in blissful solitude through roughly 100 miles of some of the world’s most varied and beautiful terrain while pausing to gawk at Bingham’s greatest hits. (April through October are the driest months to undertake such a trip; we traveled in October.) Best of all, by circumventing the most common approaches to Machu Picchu — the train from Cuzco and the Inca Trail — the Backdoor Route avoids the site’s notorious crowds almost entirely.

Thinking of all those people displaced by the floods in Minot

Neighbors, strangers aid Minot flood victims
As the Souris River rose relentlessly beyond its banks and swept over levees on Friday, the people of Minot came together as North Dakotans do -- with fortitude, determined generosity and few words.

While more than 10,000 people were evacuated from areas ravaged by the worst flood in this city's history -- roughly a quarter of the population -- only 225 sought refuge in two shelters set up by the Red Cross.

Residents on high ground took in those from low. Some lent campers to the newly homeless. Others offered trucks and trailers along with their strong arms and backs to move evacuees' possessions to safe havens. With the state's oil boom and an influx of new workers, few, if any, apartments and hotel rooms could be found.

"We were prepared for about 800 people," said Susan Ewertt, the newly named site director of disaster operations for the Mid-Dakota Red Cross. "The community has been great. It speaks so highly of their kindness."
Here's to the safety of everyone. It's good to know that so many people helped others move their mementos and necessities while waiting for the water to come. But even more so is the kindness of giving people places to stay, as human lives, unlike things, cannot be replaced.

I guess when you conquer parasites and germs, these get you in the end

UN: Deaths up from cancer, diabetes, heart disease
Nearly two-thirds of deaths in the world are caused by noncommunicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart and lung disease which are rapidly increasing at a cost to the global economy of trillions of dollars, according to U.N. estimates and preliminary results of a new study.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report circulated Monday that while the international community has focused on communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, the four main noncommunicable diseases "have emerged relatively unnoticed in the developing world and are now becoming a global epidemic."

According to the report, 36 million people died from noncommunicable diseases in 2008, representing 63 percent of the 57 million global deaths that year. Nearly 80 percent of deaths from these diseases were in the developing world, and 9 million deaths were of men and women under the age of 60, it said.

In 2030, the report said, these diseases are projected to claim the lives of 52 million people.

Ban said the rapidly increasing magnitude of noncommunicable diseases is fueled by rising risk factors including tobacco use, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, obesity and harmful alcohol use — and is driven in part by an aging population, the negative impact of urbanization, and the globalization of trade and marketing.


New York governor signs same-sex marriage bill into law
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the state's marriage equality bill hours after it passed the Republican-controlled Senate on Friday night, making it the sixth state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage.

Cuomo signed the bill into law after the legislature cleared the way to legalize same-sex marriage with a 33-to-29 vote, the first time a state legislature with a Republican majority has approved such a bill.

Opponents insist that such a measure will undermine marriage and families. Because of course heterosexuals have done so much with that. Giving people who love each other a chance to marry and have families of their own undermines nothing--it simply gives them the same chance to show their commitment to one another in the same way everyone else does--with the same risks and the same rewards. Hear, hear, New York!

A sure sign you're getting old

I fell asleep by 9:30 tonight (pretty good for me, actually) and slept through two alarms until I was awoken just before 1 am by a young woman with a sweet voice asking for someone who doesn't live here--and I'm afraid I was a bit grumpy when I told her it was a wrong number. I wasn't impolite (heavens, no, I'm Southern, after all), I just inflected this slightly grandmotherly tone that admonished her all the same.

When did I get a grandmotherly tone? And when did I stop staying up till 1 am? Ack.

I suppose I should be thankful she called; I need to take my Lantus insulin. And the fish needed feeding. So now the question is to stay up or to go back to bed immediately? Since I still have game notes and therefore should get up at a reasonable hour, I'm leaning towards the latter, but just now I'm not sleepy (I guess the adrenaline from coming in from the other room to answer the phone kicked in.) And it's time to take more ibuprofen.

I'll check the news and then head back. If I see something blog-worthy I'll post, otherwise, good night.

Friday, June 24, 2011

RIP Peter Falk

I loved 'Columbo' when I was a kid. He looked like he'd just come in from a windstorm, but he always got the bad guy. I also liked him as the grandpa in The Princess Bride. So I was saddened to learn he that he died on Thursday. He lived to be a respectable age--83, yet apparently suffered from Alzheimer's.

Peter Falk, TV's rumpled Columbo, has died


I'm curious as to what they'll tell me on Tuesday when I have my follow-up appointment. They gave me a CD of my images to take with me, and being the curious medical librarian (and sometimes hypochondriac), I went ahead and looked at a couple. The kyphosis that could be seen in the x-ray is shown here as well, of course (my neck basically goes straight/slightly opposite of the correct curve, something that another family member has). It looks like a couple of discs are hanging out too far from between the vertebrae (although mostly to the anterior direction, if I'm oriented correctly), but the spinal cord itself looks fine and there doesn't seem to be an incursion into it that I can see. Mind you, I'm totally untrained in reading MRIs, so don't take my word for it. There might be small protrusions. There's also a spinous process (those pointy things in the back) that looks really short. I asked one of the nurses (who's now administrative, so she hasn't actually practised nursing in awhile), and her opinion was that I have Weird Spine Syndrome. :) We compared a few images of a normal cervical spine with mine. Neither of us could tell you exactly what was wrong, but we could tell it was a-b-normal. And I couldn't make heads or tails of the slices that show the cross-section of the vertebrae at all.

Oh, well, I'll wait and see what the experts say.

Speaking of which, it's about time to take some more of the ibuprofen now.

Good to be home

Just got in, ate something, called about a couple of prescriptions (one of which didn't transfer when I changed pharmacies) and updated my Java and Flash Player, along with taking Firefox up to version 5.0. All that took about fifteen minutes.

I feel pretty well, and not particularly sleepy, which is good given the fact that I've been up since 5 in the morning. I got out to South Broadway, accidentally got off a bus stop ahead of where I meant to, and then proceeded down to Rite-Aid. I signed up for one of their cards (does anyone NOT have a loyalty card these days?) because a 500 count bottle of generic ibuprofen was only $6.99 (regularly almost $20, and even the 100 count was more expensive). I went down to the MRI place, went through the paperwork, and got taken back promptly. They were very nice. I would highly recommend Lexington Diagnostic. They were happy with my choice of clothes; I only had to take my bra off due to the hook and eye closures in the back. They gave me earplugs, put my neck in a sort of cradle, stuffed lots of foam in to isolate my neck, and then put something that completed the ring around my neck and that was a little confining. It was an open MRI, but it can still get a bit close, but they put a fan on and that really helped, since I had fresh air circulating. I really appreciated it. The whole thing took about a half hour, less time than when I had my brain done. It's somewhat hard for me to lie still for that amount of time, but I did okay. A certain amount of vibration kind of made my neck and arms ache afterwards, and I was glad to get out of there, but it was okay.

I came out to get my satchel and put my bra back on and found that the locker was screaming. That would be the ringtone I promised to put on my phone for my friends. I talked briefly with one of them and consequently missed the bus by about two minutes. Since I had 70 minutes before the next one, I headed down to Waller Center (it used to be Imperial Plaza), intending to have Backyard Burger when it hit me that the Great Wall Chinese restaurant, my favourite in town and home of Tofu Goodness (also known as sesame tofu, which is fried tofu with a sesame sauce and broccoli) was also in the shopping centre. So I went there. I'm used to carryout and eating it at home (at least when I had a car), but I had it nice and fresh and probably burned my tongue three times on the tofu, it was so hot, but it was wonderful. The only trouble was I forgot to take my insulin until I got to work. I do that sometimes when I'm out and eat.

I only did the library stuff for about a couple of hours, since I didn't get into work until a little after noon. Then it was data entry. I left just a bit early.

I'm taking off next Friday so I can have a four-day weekend, and so we're going to have my backup person do the entries that day. She'll sit with me sometime next week to refresh her memory, and this will be a trial run in case I take vacation or am sick.

Okay, I have to get something done for a friend. I'll try to write later. Take care.

Okay, so the yesterday getting up at 5 am thing didn't work out

But I was up that early today, and I am doing laundry, enough to get me through Tuesday, although I plan to do more tomorrow.

I have taken to, as part of my morning routine, checking Amazon for their free Android application of the day, then going over to the Android market to see if its actually compatible with my device. Today's, for example, isn't--it's a ant colony simulation sort of game that looked interesting, but was pretty intense when it came to space taken up, and then it turns out it won't work on mine. Glad I checked ahead.

So today's the MRI. The plan is to go about 7:20, catch the bus, go out South Broadway and get there ridiculously early because of the way the bus on that road runs, stop by Rite-Aid, get some ibuprofen, something to drink, and maybe something like a protein bar for breakfast, and then walk down to the Lexington Diagnostic Center. My appointment's at 9:30. I figure it will be an hour, hour-and-a-half between preliminaries and the actual test, and then that will determine when I can catch a bus back. If it's going to be awhile (the South Broadway bus runs every 70 minutes), I'll grab lunch at Backyard Burger (they have a vegetarian burger they cook on a dedicated George Foreman grill), then head to work. But I figure about half of my workday will be shot. Good thing it's Friday, at least.

The increased ibuprofen has been helping my arm, with more numbness now than pain. I didn't walk yesterday because we had a tornado warning (got to spend time in the hallways, just like in elementary school). I think that is the first time in 14 years I've actually been at work when it wasn't a drill (they spent an hour-and-a-half a few weeks ago sheltering but I was home then, oblivious for all but the last 45 minutes or so that there was a warning).

Okay, it's time to check the clothes. Have a great day.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

By the way

Have you found the 'Easter Egg' in Google's search page for this month, which is Gay Pride Month? Type in 'gay', 'lesbian', 'transgender', or 'bisexual', hit enter, and a rainbow appears to the right of the search box. Some people are thrilled by it. Others are a little miffed that it didn't rate a whole-out doodle, although the actual anniversary of the Stonewall riots is the 28th of June, so I'm reserving judgment on that one. Anyway, go ahead and try it.

This walking thing might just be the ticket

I feel so much better doing it, I don't get sleepy in the afternoon, so can concentrate on my work, and I'm not as hungry. I'm wondering if I can go for a walk in my neigbourhood each morning, eventually, and then walk on break at work. One of my co-workers has said she might be able to go with me on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And if I can get to where I'm more active, I might add the stationary bike in the evenings. That's the plan, anyway. That, as well as eating less, could really impact my weight, but even if not, it would at least make me feel better.

I think the increased dose of ibuprofen is helping take the inflammation down from where my nerves are impinged at the neck. I've had much less pain today, so long as I'm careful with my arm, and I've had better feeling in it, less numbness. I looked at the bus schedule today for Friday's MRI. Because the South Broadway bus is a seventy-minute schedule, I have to get up at 7, leave here by 7:20, get to the bus stop by 7:40, and I'll be at the diagnostic centre about 8:35. My appointment isn't until 9:30, but the next bus doesn't go by until 9:45. I'm not sure what I'll do for that hour, as I doubt any of the shops on Waller will be open yet, and otherwise there's just St Joseph hospital over there.

Tomorrow the plan is to get up early and do some laundry, as I need clothes clean that have no metal in them. Getting off my Medic-Alert bracelet on Friday is going to be a pain to do--I think I'll enlist the tech to help if I can. At least it's on the arm that I'm having trouble with and not the other. I've had a bit of a sleep (as opposed to a nap) this evening, so I think I should be able to swing 5 am. I also need to do some light housework.

Hope you have a good night.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Catching my breath for the first time in days

The last few days have been so incredibly full that I have not had much chance to blog. Tonight I came home and slept for a few hours and got a chance to catch up on some sleep and reflect on the past four days.

Saturday--All in all, I spent about 2 hours sitting this entire day, much of that on the bus. I left the house about 8:30, thinking I'd miss the bus, so I took my umbrella (it looked like rain) and granny cart, and headed to Liquor Barn on foot. The bus passed me as I was almost there, so I could have hopped a ride on it a block or two and saved myself the walk. As soon as I left my apartment complex it started to rain, and continued for my entire outing. I got the wine a friend needed, observing that Burgundy is not in fashion anymore as an appellation--even if it was produced there, but the grapes for Burgundy are pinot noir, so I'll know that for next time. I know this from my little guide for dummies on wine basics I have out of the library. I asked three people about Burgundy and no one knew anything, the only wines labelled as such being cheap jug wines. The very helpful clerk who looked things up for me was new and didn't even know how to pronounce Chianti. It was a bit sad. I mean, I know next to nothing about wine, but I don't work in a liquor store. He was at least new. The others were just clueless. Anyway, I got some of the best quality of what was called burgundy for cooking, as well as some pinot grigio and chianti from Italy with the dancing Etruscans on it (the vineyard is Candoni) for drinking. Unfortunately the store did not carry their pinot noir, and the chianti was the only red wine they had of theirs.

Then it was back into a driving rain for quarters from the bank and grocery shopping from Kroger. Because I had a credit with the latter, I used it for a stockpot set that included pot, lid, inner colander, and steamer, and still had enough to get some off my groceries. I bought a few things for my friend, the game snacks, and some food to have at the house, about six reusable bags full, then set back out (in the rain) for home. As I got to the apartment complex, it lessened to a sprinkle. Mother Nature was definitely having a laugh at my expense.

I went immediately out with two bags, one with three bottles of wine, the other with a two litre of soda and game snacks, and headed to the bus stop. I got over to my friend's house and visited for a bit, then he spent four hours teaching me to cook. We made a potato and leek soup, mushrooms au gratin, kugel, and a salad. I got to use the immersion blender of doom. That was really fun. But I got home about 11 pm and just collapsed, having spent hours on my feet. Cooking takes a lot out of you, I've found, at least when you're really cooking and not just heating something up like most people do.

Sunday--This was game day, of course, so I went over, cleaned house, got done early for a change, visited for a bit, and then embarked on an adventure set in an ancient Greek colony in Italy which has been quite intriguing and is proceeding at a quick pace. Then there was the normal post-game recap and commentary via phone. So I guess I was going strong from about 5:30 am-11:30 pm, and just faded at the end.

Monday--We had a big clinic, meaning I had lots of data entry sheets. I normally get everything entered AND verified, but only just managed to get everything in. Then it was over to a friend's who had had some bookshelves built to put books back on the shelves. That took a couple of hours. I really should put 'librarian for private collection' on my resume at some point. He's got many more books than I do, and I'm no lightweight in the book department. I'd say it's about 4,000. Considering the library I work in has something like 1,300 books and 30 journals, you see my point. Afterwards I got to eat the soup I made on Saturday and it was very good. I will work for nummy soup. Even though I just followed the real cook's instructions, it was nice to have things turn out well and everyone liked the food. Then I got home about 11 pm and just collapsed.

Today--Throughout everything, I've dealt with a more than moderate amount of pain in my right shoulder and arm, with a loss of feeling in my lower arm and hand. I'm sure that all that stuff I did didn't help. This has been going on for two to three weeks, now, and has only been worsening, so yesterday I broke down and made an appointment with a physician's assistant at Bluegrass Orthopaedics for this morning.

He thought my symptoms sounded like they were caused by a possible impingement derived from my neck, so they took an x-ray and it seems my fourth, fifth, and sixth cervical vertebrae are degenerating rather badly (Even I could tell that the x-ray was not normal. Instead of happy vertebrae, it looked like the discs were misshapen and outside of the normal bounds.) I have an MRI on Friday. I lobbied for an open MRI, outside of their facility, because in the past I've tried the regular one with my head and couldn't do it. I have enough trouble when my leg is in the tube, much less my head. The open MRI doesn't bother me, though, and this way I don't have to try to get someone to take me and be sedated (I really only have two people I know who might have been able to do it. One lives a county away and the other has small children to take care of, so this was better.)

In the meantime, I'm supposed to take three ibuprofen three times again to try to get the inflammation down, and return next Tuesday.

I had two packages on my doorstep when I got home tonight. One is a book I have coveted for some time, that I got via the used book dealer Abebooks for $9 as opposed to the price through Amazon of $24 and up. I found it for a friend years ago, and he has a copy, but I couldn't afford it at the time and really have wanted it. It's called Death to Dust: What Happens to Dead Bodies?, by Kenneth Iserson. What can I say, I'm fascinated with forensics and the like, and this book has all sorts of information related to death. It's a potential murder mystery writer's dream. Some of the data related to funerals is a bit old (this is the first edition, which was copyrighted 1994), but the science remains the same. The other package was Charlaine Harris' new Sookie Stackhouse book, Dead Reckoning, which I'm looking forward to reading, which I got for almost nothing through a special deal. Yay!

That brings me up to date. I'll try to get back into the swing of things. There's poop burgers (which may or may not be a hoax) to blog about. And then there's the new mushroom, Spongiforma squarepantsii, named after SpongeBob Squarepants, which is true.

Hope you have a good night. Hope you had a happy solstice. I think I'm going to go back to bed.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Oh, dear God

Buy a half-gallon of sugar water at KFC, give a dollar to diabetes research
A local promotion promises to give a dollar to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund if you by a mega jug--one-half a gallon of soda. 800 calories, 56 spoonfuls of sugar.

Okay, so Diabetes Type I (also known as Juvenile Diabetes), unlike Diabetes II (sometimes known as Adult-Onset Diabetes, although lots of kids are getting it these days with higher obesity rates), is an autoimmune disorder that does not directly come from drinking sugary drinks and being overweight. But...as the author, Jess Zimmerman, point out, it is somewhat ironic to
"Benefit sick kids by enjoying something they can't!" If you're going to go that route, why not go whole hog and make it a "drink this soda in front of a child with diabetes, making over-the-top yummy noises, and we'll give that kid a dollar" fundraiser
and after all,
You drink half a gallon of soda on the regular, and your chances of perma-f*cking your insulin regulation are going to shoot right up (giving you a unique sense of kinship with the children you're helping, granted). So this is basically equivalent to a "smoke cigarettes to raise money for colon cancer" promotion.
Hear, hear.

Another person, Joe Waters, writing KFC Shows They Don’t Give a Cluck. This Time with Juvenile Diabetes, wonders why the JDRF signed on board to do this.

JDRF, in a statement, points out that it is a promotion in a local KFC in Utah consisting of a single store whose owner has a connexion to juvenile diabetes. Their statement in the comments of that post basically says they value their donors, juvenile diabetes' risk is not associated with sugary goodness, and they don't endorse any particular product or diet.

So it wasn't really something they signed up for, it seems. But on the other hand, as one commenter pointed out, the actions of one store could affect the perception of a larger brand.

I'll leave it up for you to decide if this is in bad taste or not. I think you probably know my thoughts on the matter. And you know some yahoo parents are going to give their (non-diabetic) kids this thing, even though it's bigger than them, practically. And just for the record, let me say that while it was a little weird for my mom to give me diet drinks as a kid, I've been drinking them since age 8, rather than the giant cups of sugar water. Diet sodas aren't particularly great for you either, of course, and there is a lot of concern about artificial sweeteners, but I'm not diabetic because I've been swilling sugary sodas. I'm diabetic due a heavy genetic issue (having four other members in the family with diabetes at present), have eaten way too much so I'm obese, and I don't get enough exercise. So I haven't made good choices, either. But I wouldn't hand a child a half-gallon of sugar water (or imbibe it myself), so I guess there's still some sanity, and at least I'm trying to eat more healthfully and start exercising. I'm afraid I can't do a thing about the genetics, although at least I didn't pass them on. :)

Okay, speaking of diabetes, I just took my insulin, so its time to go back to sleep. I found a couple of good recipes (an heirloom tomato salad with eggs and mustard vinaigrette and also a nice tofu stir fry with bell peppers), whilst listening to blues music. It left me relaxed and I went to sleep for awhile, but I made sure I got up for the medicine. Good night.

Good to see

U.N. Gay Rights Protection Resolution Passes, Hailed As 'Historic Moment'
The United Nations endorsed the rights of gay, lesbian and transgender people for the first time ever Friday, passing a resolution hailed as historic by the U.S. and other backers and decried by some African and Muslim countries.

The declaration was cautiously worded, expressing "grave concern" about abuses because of sexual orientation and commissioning a global report on discrimination against gays.

But activists called it an important shift on an issue that has divided the global body for decades, and they credited the Obama administration's push for gay rights at home and abroad.

"This represents a historic moment to highlight the human rights abuses and violations that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people face around the world based solely on who they are and whom they love," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a statement.

I'm not sure how much weight it will really have, but it does set up a process to document abuses against gays as human rights violations.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I walked again today

Not quite as far, but faster, and I didn't feel quite as good afterwards, but not bad, either. Today was quite productive, and I got information for both my boss and her boss, which is always good in terms of proving your position's worth. Once I got home I took a small nap, and the sky went from gorgeous sunshine to a dull metal grey. Tomorrow there are supposed to be scattered thunderstorms. I hope I can do my errands between them.

I just sat down and paid some bills, so I am decidedly poorer than I was an hour ago. But hey, I get phone, internet, and electricity, and that's a good thing.

So now I have to decide what to do with the rest of my evening. I don't have to do game notes this week, as I finished last time's last Saturday and we didn't play on Sunday. I don't really feel like crawling through the news feeds and blogging, to be honest, or watching television. That leaves working on the house or reading. Although I should probably do the former, I'm thinking about reading something less fluffy and more brain-inspiring, such as the Thoreau my friend gave me. On the other hand, I'm not sure I'm up to a lot of thinking, either. Since one of the errands tomorrow is getting groceries, I may go ahead and look through some cookbooks for recipes for real food, rather than the easy-to-microwave snacks and dorm food I make, so I can come up with a shopping list. I have decided that one thing I plan to do with that credit from Kroger is to get a stock pot so I can make soup. YKWIA is going to give me the recipe for the one we made together a couple of weeks ago. It was very easy, but very nummy. Maybe there is hope for my learning to cook after all. :)

I may write again later. If not, have a good night and a good weekend.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hmmm....yet another way to try to explain evil

From Hitler to Mother Teresa: 6 Degrees of Empathy
Dr. Baron-Cohen, a professor of developmental psychology at the University of Cambridge and director of the university’s Autism Research Center, proposes that evil is more scientifically defined as an absence of empathy, exacerbated by negative environmental factors (usually parental, sometimes societal) and a genetic component. When these three exist in tandem they result in what he calls a Zero-Negative personality. Zero-Negative takes at least three forms (and possibly more), borrowing from terms used in psychiatry: Zero Type P (psychopathology), Zero Type B (borderline disorder) and Zero Type N (narcissism).

Whereas psychiatry groups these three loosely under the term “personality disorders,” Dr. Baron-Cohen proposes that they all share the characteristic of zero degrees of empathy. (His “empathy quotient” scale is available in the book or online, with an instant numerical score that is translated into degrees of empathy from zero to six, or super empathy.)

Out of curiosity, I took the questionnaire, with these results:
Your score: 55
0 - 32 = low (most people with Asperger Syndrome or high-functioning autism score about 20)
33 - 52 = average (most women score about 47 and most men score about 42)
53 - 63 is above average
64 - 80 is very high
80 is maximum

So, I'm no Mother Teresa, but I'm pretty empathetic in the standard sense of the word. I had to score myself lower on some forms of social interaction, because I was late in learning the rules and still sometimes get a little wrapped up in myself rather than listening completely to others' feelings, and I have social anxiety, so I don't easily interact with strangers. I am good at explaining people's (often seemingly irrational) behaviour, and am very 'feelings' based [I score high on that section of the Meyers-Briggs, being an INFP). However, on this questionnaire I score very high when it comes to feelings about animals and empathy for what is going on in terms of news programmes and movies. Not bad for someone with one of those personality disorders (borderline), albeit a relatively high-functioning one.

I do know people who would score very low. One would score in the zero positive range (as would most people with autism), I suspect, even though he is not autistic. A few people in my early life would score low as well, more on the negative side. The questionnaire results don't plot you on the spectrum; I'm inferring from the questions where they would go.

Overall it is an interesting hypothesis, although it certainly does not explain evil completely. I may have to see about getting a look at this book, The Science of Evil by Simon Baron-Cohen, which does have a Kindle edition, although I think I would get it in physical form in case I want to lend it to a friend who has an interest in psychology; it's just a couple of dollars more.

I feel energised

Yesterday one of my co-workers was looking for someone who could fit a pair of shoes they had found in her grandmother's closet that had never been worn, and she asked if I wanted to try them on, and lo, they fit, so she gave them to me. The only pair of athletic shoes I own are some New Balances that have distorted since I tend to carry my weight on the outside of my feet, so these were very welcome. They're Reeboks and pretty comfy.

In celebration of this, I decided to wear them today and go for a walk midway through my day, in that after lunch period when I'm usually so sleepy. Some time ago I downloaded a free exercise and weight application for my phone and although I've been logging meals and weight (and I have lost 6 lbs!), I had not tried the cardio workout feature before.

When you use it, it starts playing music from your phone and then a voice that sounds rather British comes in occasionally, telling you how far you've gone, how fast you're going, and how long you've been walking. You can choose other means of exercise as well, such as running, biking, stationary biking, etc. I walked a mile in 18 minutes around the hospital parking lot and driveways, and the GPS kept track of where I went. I averaged between 3 and 4 miles an hour, enough to break a sweat and get my heart up, walking faster than my normal amble. It's a start.

I feel so much better. The pain in my back and arm went away due to the natural endorphins released during exercise, and my back still feels relaxed and wonderful, even after doing the data entry for the day. I'm just now getting hungry, and I'm eating a light meal of cheese and crackers. My mood is good and the sleepiness I normally have in the afternoon did not present itself at all. I need to start doing this regularly. One thing I may change, however, is I left the hill till the end, although it probably was a good thing, in retrospect, to haul myself up it, as the incline provided a better workout.

So now the plan is to walk as much as I can, weather permitting, and increase the length and speed of walking, at least as best as I can within my break time. I may just repeat the circuit as needed. I started to walk down to the next bus stop when I left work, but someone offered me a ride, and I decided I'd get home much quicker.

My foot gave me just a bit of a twinge here and there, as the shoes pretty much supported my foot.

The key, of course, is to do this regularly. My neighbourhood is good for walking, too, so if it's too hot at midday I could come home and walk a bit when it's cooler. I may not be able to run, but walking is really good exercise, too, and easier on the joints. Wish me luck.

I love the woman's comment at the end

Thanks, Google, for giving those of us in North America a chance to see the eclipse

through your doodle.

Google Homepage Doodle Provides Lunar Eclipse Live Feed

It was so fun. :) I tuned in right as it hit totality. It's still up if you want to play it through again.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I don't mind snakes, but....

there's a limit!

Idaho family abandons snake-infested house
They slithered behind the walls at night and released foul-smelling musk into the drinking water. Ben Sessions once killed 42 in a single day.

Shortly after buying their dream home, Sessions and his wife discovered it was infested with thousands of garter snakes. Their growing family lived as if in a horror movie for three months. They abandoned the property, but the home briefly went back on the market more than a year later, and they fear it could attract another unsuspecting buyer.

Thanks to YKWIA, who told me about this.

It's 4:54 am

and I just woke up in pain, partly from my arm, but mainly from apparently starting my period five days early. Ever since I got the phone, I've been tracking them, and they're generally 25 days apart for five days. I thought I was going to start yesterday (hey, I've been doing this 32 years now, so I recognise the signs), but checked the calendar and said, no, surely not. Yet here I am, cramping and uncomfortable and bleeding. I have eaten a couple of string cheese servings to settle my stomach and taken some ibuprofen for the pain. I think it will kick in soon.

I'm wondering if maybe I am entering perimenopause, because your periods can become irregular. I have polycystic ovarian syndrome as well, which can also do that, but I've never missed a period and for the most part they've always been pretty reliable, with the few surprises coming from me not watching the calendar.

As PubMed Health says:
In some women, menstrual flow comes to a sudden halt. More commonly, it slowly stops over time. During this time, the menstrual periods generally become either more closely or more widely spaced. This irregularity may last for 1 - 3 years before menstruation finally ends completely. Before this the cycle length may shorten to as little as every 3 weeks.

I am 44, so it would make sense that I would start becoming irregular about now. That would put me at 46-48 or so for cessation of menses. I think my mother was 49 when she hit menopause itself, and that can be an indicator as to when a woman will actually stop.

That means I have to start thinking about things like hot flashes, osteoporosis, mood changes, etc. I've recently been given a bone density scan due to the stress fractures in my foot and it was normal, so I have a baseline as far as osteoporosis goes. Mood changes are an issue since I'm already bipolar II with more of a tendency for depression, but that is being treated. Hot flashes are supposedly awful, and I'm hot-natured anyway, but I can hopefully deal with them, because I still have doubts about some hormone replacement therapy, namely conjugated equine oestrogens (such as Premarin or Prempro), and its effects on the well-being of mares and foals used in the industry.

In general I welcome menopause, as I have no plans to procreate and I frankly would feel better in a relationship if there was no chance of conceiving. I certainly don't want to be one of those people who suddenly finds themselves raising a child in their mid-to-late 40s. I don't have enough energy for myself, let alone a child, plus I don't have the financial stability and frankly don't have the temperament for it, and recognise that fact. I wish more women who were bad mothers did.

One important thing that would change would be the timing of my monthly libations to Hekate. During the years of menstruation, the wine is given to coincide with the period. Once I go through menopause, that will move to the dark of the moon. Fortunately I'm very good at keeping an eye on moon phases (it being full as of tomorrow afternoon, for example). It's a fairly minor change in timing, but different all the same, so it has an impact on my religious practice.

Thank you for putting up with a post on a subject that many people, especially men, shy away from. I'm going to go back to bed now that the pain is gone. Have a good rest of the night and a great tomorrow as well.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The end to a satisfying day

Today was a productive day, both at work and afterwards. I woke up at 6:45 am, having gone to bed just about as soon as I got home last night at 7:30. I got quite a few things accomplished at work, and then Brenda came and got me so we could do the big grocery run since we didn't go Sunday. I have about $3 in my bank account till Thursday so I used the Rx rewards Kroger gives for transferring prescriptions and got $25 in food (and toilet paper, yay for that) free. Then I got a free meal, a double fish sandwich combo from McDonalds, something I haven't had in about a year. Then Brenda and I stayed awhile and visited, since we hadn't gotten together on Sunday. It looks like some of our characters that rarely get play will have a mission next time, a challenging scenario (fortunately not a campaign, but still, some stories are harder than others, and this one sounds like it may be).

My blood sugar's done pretty well today, probably because I was able to space out my meals better. I feel better, too.

So now I'm home and thinking about getting ready for bed. I downloaded a live wallpaper for my phone (something I don't really use much, as it drains the battery), but I'm a sucker for aquarium scenes and it has clown fish and other sea animals on it, so I have it when I'm in the mood for it, and of course, it was free.

My arm's just aching tonight, probably from bringing in my friends' groceries, and then leaning on the table while we were visiting. I should probably take some ibuprofen before I go to bed. Changing the mouse to the left side at work has helped, though. It balances what I do with the data entry between my left hand on the mouse and my right hand on the number pad. Apparently people are amazed that I can use the left, being right-handed, but I'm fairly close to ambidextrous (I can write slowly, if coherently, with my left hand, but it takes effort, but do a lot of other things with the left). I find that I'm just a tad slower on the data entry, but it makes me focus on what I'm doing better, too, so that's good. I do still try to put my right hand on the mouse though, even though the tray and pad are no longer there, so I just wind up pawing the air. :)

Okay, I think I'll turn in. Tomorrow I'll try to actually blog some things I've been e-mailing myself for just that purpose. I hope you have a good night.

We had a memorial service for a co-worker today

I didn't really know David Halteman, even though we'd worked in the same hospital--a small hospital at that--for fourteen years. He'd been there 22 years, in fact. He worked as a prosthetic technician so he was mostly in the orthotics/prosthetics lab, a place I've never really ventured into, so I mostly saw him when he came out for smoke breaks, etc. Even so, he was a fixture there; it seems so strange that he is gone.

I wish I'd gotten to know him better. Today at the service, his friends and family came and there were so many employees who either took a break from their work or stayed late to attend, that they had to set out more chairs in our auditorium.

David had a lot of challenges in life--he used prosthetic legs and had one arm shorter than the other--but he overcame them and devoted his life to helping kids with similar issues. From the stories I heard today he was a great guy to hang around with, who wanted to make sure that what he did count. It sounds like he was a good man, and it's a shame that he died at the young age of 55.

I hope his soul finds peace and that his family finds comfort in what was said and shared today.

It occurred to me today that I am very lucky to work in an environment where people really care about each other, a sort of second family, full of mostly good people (I'm not privy to their personal lives, for the most part, of course, so I won't make a universal statement) who may have started out just trying to find a job to support themselves and their families, but who make a difference every single day in the lives of children, no matter what their function at the workplace is. Many went into their careers to help others. I have one co-worker who adopted a little girl from India; another who adopted one from Romania, another from Russia. My point is that many of the people I see every day go an extra distance to make a difference, without much recognition, and without seeking it, because it is just a part of what they do. But it is very special.

David apparently fit the bill of that sort of person, and I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to know him before he died. I know just about everyone to some extent in the hospital, except maybe some of the night people, but I try to chat with people and get to know them a little. I'm sorry I didn't get the time to know David a little better. Maybe the lesson there is to reach out to the people you see around you daily, because you never know what Fate has dealt them--or you, in terms of time on Earth.

Thanks to Blogger, there is a mobile version for this blog

that isn't so busy. If you access this page from a mobile device, it should automatically give you that simplified version. You can also point your camera (if you have an application that reads QR codes) to the left sidebar and scan said code directly under the Rabid Librarian picture, or scan it here:

Hopefully that should make browsing simpler if you're using a phone or other mobile device. :)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

They have a point

We do somewhat odd things online we would never do in person.

Thanks to YKWIA for showing it to me today.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Apparently the system broke for renewing books at the library after hours

I went to the website and when I try to renew I get this:
ORA-01034: ORACLE not available ORA-27101: shared memory realm does not exist

I called the renew phone line. I put in my library card # and pin and got dead silence, then tried calling back from two different phones and it just rang and rang. I have three library books to renew before midnight. I guess I'll just have to check tomorrow and see if I can get the fines that will have accrued off.


On a more pleasant note, I watched Doctor Who tonight and it ROCKED! We finally learn who River Song is. It had all sorts of great things happen--you should really watch it when it repeats. Sadly, there won't be another new one till sometime late this summer.

But this will keep me for now. :)

Journalists die and their killers go free, and this tells you where it's the worst

Getting Away with Murder

The Committee to Protect Journalists recently released their Impunity Index, a measure to determine what ratio of unsolved journalist murders were found when compared to a country's population. They list the top 13 offenders, where journalists have been slain and governments have been unable or unwilling to catch their killer, covering the years 2001-2010. This year's and last year's rankings are shown. Russia appears to be doing better, while things are spiraling for Mexico. It's a grim look at the reality of places where it's vital to get word out of what is happening, and many brave men and women do so every day, but the dangers are great.

In an era of recordings, be very careful of what you, the angry customer, leave on the phone

In Austin, TX, there is a chain of movie theatres called Alamo Drafthouse. Apparently, a young woman who was texting was removed from one of their theatres, and later she left a profanity-laced message (in badly executed English that may or may not have been due to inebriation) on the theatre's voicemail. So the theatre made a PSA (public service announcement) from it and is running it before their R-rated movies (due to the language). Here is a censored version.

Texas movie theater makes an example (and a PSA) of a texting audience member

According to Tim League, the Drafthouse's founder, the woman in question was warned twice about texting during a screening, and then, in accordance with company policy, was escorted out without a refund. "I don't think people realize that it is distracting," League told The Lookout. "It seems like nothing, but if you spend as much time as I do at the movies, you realize the entire theater sees it and it pulls you out of the movie experience. It's every bit as intrusvie as talking."

So apparently the theatre and the owner have a sense of humour, as this proves as well:
Perhaps the latest PSA will pre-empt such unfortunate film-related incidents. "We didn't expect it to blow up like it did," said League, of the spot that as of this writing had just shy of 400,000 views on YouTube. "It's cool, it's drawing national attention to an issue and letting people realize that their behavior is selfish. Maybe in some small way it will make it better to see a film all over the place."

"Ma'am, you may be free to text in all the other theaters in the Magnited States of America, but here at our 'little crappy ass theater,' you are not," he wrote on the Alamo Drafthouse's blog. "Why you may ask? Well, we actually do give a f*$k."


Plucky Welsh boy saves father from bull

Abergavenny boy, 10, in tractor saves father from bull
A 10-year-old boy who watched a bull attack his father may have saved his life by driving a tractor at the beast.

Tom Phillips watched as the animal attacked his father Andrew at their farm in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire.

After driving off the bull, which left Andrew with 10 broken ribs and internal injuries, Tom raised the alarm.

"Andrew only survived because of Tom's amazing reactions," said Tom's mother Amanda. "He's my little hero. I can't tell you how proud I am of him."
The boy had never been allowed to drive the tractor, but had apparently seen how his father worked it. He ran to the tractor cab for safety, then slowly put the tractor into motion and drove off the bull. While I don't normally approve of children and large farm machinery, this was obviously a special case and the boy used his wits to save his father's life. Good for him.

Friday, June 10, 2011

You mean the students wouldn't have to worry about collapsing stairways?

UK in negotiations to move fine arts college to University Lofts building

Basically they're talking about moving the faculty and studio spaces from the Reynolds Building, an old tobacco warehouse that had all sorts of things wrong with it that had never really be completely renovated, to another former warehouse on Bolivar that had been turned into loft apartments. This was where there used to be retail shops and Lazer Quest. If the sale goes through, it would still be cheaper to buy and renovate the apartments into studios than renovate the Reynolds Building. It is also closer to the main campus.

I've been in both buildings. There are a lot of things wrong with the Reynolds Building. One year a stairway collapsed with people on it, for example. A friend spent much of his undergraduate time there and I visited, and it was just amazing to me how art studio students were apparently the red-headed stepchildren of the university. So it's nice that they may be getting a facility worthy of them. The Reynolds Building would be converted to storage.

I've never played Angry Birds, the popular game for smartphones

but I found this pretty fun. T-Mobile set up a life-size version of the game. Here's the video's description:
For the first time ever, watch how people use a simple smartphone to play a life-size version of the cult Angry Birds game. Complete with real shooting birds and exploding pigs!

It's nice to know my phone carrier has a sense of humour. :)

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

This is great

MI6 attacks al-Qaeda in 'Operation Cupcake': British intelligence has hacked into an al-Qaeda online magazine and replaced bomb-making instructions with a recipe for cupcakes

Thanks to mystery writer Gary Corby for the heads' up on this. :)

An interesting look at the persistence of anti-Semitism in Germany from the Middle Ages to the Nazi era

The Persistence of Hate: German communities that murdered Jews in the Middle Ages were more likely to support the Nazis 600 years later

Turning the tables

With moving truck, Fla. couple threatens bank with foreclosure: Bank of America wrongly foreclosed on a house that the Nyerges’ had paid for in 2009
Months after Bank of America wrongly foreclosed on a house Warren and Maureen Nyerges had already paid for, they were still fighting to get reimbursed for the court battle.

So on Friday, their attorney showed up at a branch office in Naples with a moving truck and sheriff's deputies who had a judge's permission to seize the furniture if necessary. An hour later, the bank had written a check for $5,772.88.

:) New Zealanders love their sheep

New Zealand mourns Shrek the sheep
Shrek the New Zealand sheep, whose ability to avoid the shearers made him a national celebrity, has died.

Shrek came to prominence in 2004 after evading capture for six years by hiding in caves on the South Island.

The cunning Merino lost his giant 27kg (60lb) fleece in a televised shearing.

The 16-year-old sheep had a high-profile career. He met then Prime Minister Helen Clark, became the subject of several children's books and made regular charity appearances.

He raised thousands for charity.

Bizarrely, the British ranked 7th funniest and 4th in 'least funny' out of 15 countries

Americans rated most hilarious in global poll: Nein! Germans are voted 'least funny nationality'; Ole! Spanish are runners-up

Maybe some people just don't 'get' British humour. I think they're hilarious.

The Tudor coroners' reports sound fascinating

(but that may just be me, the history major)

Tudor coroners' records give clue to 'real Ophelia' for Shakespeare
An Oxford historian has found evidence of a story that could be the real-life inspiration for Shakespeare's tragic character, Ophelia.

Dr Steven Gunn has found a coroner's report into the drowning of a Jane Shaxspere in 1569.

The girl, possibly a young cousin of William Shakespeare, had been picking flowers when she fell into a millpond near Stratford upon Avon.

Dr Gunn says there are "tantalising" links to Ophelia's drowning in Hamlet.

A four-year research project, carried out by Oxford University academics, has been searching through 16th century coroners' reports.

The mystery world has lost a prolific and beloved writer

The Cat Who author Lilian Jackson Braun dies
Lilian Jackson Braun - the author of 29 The Cat Who... books about a crime-solving journalist and cat owner called Jim Qwilleran - has died aged 97.

Although I love mysteries, I've never read this series, but I've seen the books and knew about the author. The first is The Cat Who Could Read Backwards. I may see if it's available at the library.

An important, if terrible, document

Landmark Hitler letter on Jews unveiled in New York
Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said that the organisation bought the letter for $150,000 (£90,000) from a private dealer last month.

He said the letter - the existence of which has long been known to scholars - was a critical document from World War II because it "ties Hitler directly to the destruction of the Jews".

"In 1919, when he was a nobody he writes a letter... we need not emotional pogroms, we need legislation, we need a national government that would be ruthless enough, to do what? Total removal of the Jews from society," he told the BBC.

When it was written, Hitler was serving in the German army, and had had a tendency to stir up troops with his anti-Semitic rhetoric.


Matt Smith to return for new Doctor Who series

I love this quote:
Earlier this month, the writer [executive producer Steven Moffat] told the Radio Times the Daleks would be given "a rest" from the series.

"There's a problem with the Daleks. They are the most famous of the Doctor's adversaries and the most frequent, which means they are the most reliably defeatable enemies in the universe," he said.

Good for him

Memory card in mouth saves police shooting video

I'm a big fan of police, but there are times when they step over the line, like smashing a cell phone because someone films them. If they're not doing anything wrong, it shouldn't matter. Plus, you'd think a video would be better than a witness in the case of an investigation. But no, this man was treated like a criminal, had a gun held to his head even though he had no weapon, but got the last word in by removing the card from his smashed phone, and now it's out there for the world to see. Not cool on the part of the Miami Beach police.

65 years later, a mystery is solved

96-year-old woman confesses to 1946 murder
The woman, who had been part of the Dutch resistance against the Nazis, mistakenly believed that her victim had collaborated with the Nazis. In fact, he had sheltered Jews and given money to help others, and allowed a banned Catholic organisation meet in his home. The woman was never a suspect, but knew details that have convinced the authorities of the veracity of her story. She will not be prosecuted, however.

I think this is a wonderful idea

Especially for those estranged from their own families who find others who become like family. I wish I could make my best friend legally my brother. He's closer to me than anyone.

Picking your parents: Adult adoption creates new bond: 'No matter how old you are ... you never lose the desire for a family'
Sandra Titus mists up with a mere glance at her adopted daughter’s baby photos.

After the adoption went through last November, Sandra and her husband, Ross, reveled in their new family’s first Christmas together. One of their first gifts to their daughter Jillian: a sterling silver baby cup engraved with her new initials.

“To me, the cup means: ‘We’ll always make sure you’re taken care of,’ and no one can touch the fact that we’re family, that it’s unbreakable, irreversible. It’s priceless,” Jillian says.

Impressive words from the “baby” of the family. But then, Jillian Titus is 29, and an executive at Nintendo in Redmond, Wash. Her new parents — Sandra, 49, and Ross, 46 — also work at the video game company. The trio met at the office in 2008 and, initially, bonded over their Boston terriers. They later asked a judge to approve their homemade family for two reasons: love and money.

Why do we try to change people's inner natures?

This is a highly disturbing article of what happened to a little boy who was punished for being himself, with the blessing of psychologists with their own agenda, and who later touted him as a successful case while making a career of proving homosexuality could be prevented. Read all the way through to the end, and you'll be disgusted with this whole situation, but particularly with a certain researcher. We'll never know if Kirk Murphy was gay, or just perceived as different as a child. But he was obviously a troubled man, and the beatings for effeminate behaviour, while they cannot be proved as the reason, surely didn't help. That they were done in the name of science makes it so much worse.

Therapy to change 'feminine' boy created a troubled man, family says
Kirk Andrew Murphy seemed to have everything to live for.

He put himself through school. He had a successful 8-year career in the Air Force. After the service, he landed a high profile position with an American finance company in India.

But in 2003 at age 38, Kirk Murphy took his own life.

A co-worker found him hanging from the fan of his apartment in New Delhi. His family has struggled for years to understand what happened.

"I used to spend so much time thinking, why would he kill himself at the age of 38? It doesn't make any sense to me," said Kirk's sister, Maris Murphy. "What I now think is I don't know how he made it that long."

Monday, June 06, 2011


A Disabled Boy’s Death, and a System in Disarray
Jonathan Carey did not die for lack of money.

New York State and the federal government provided $1.4 million annually per person to care for Jonathan and the other residents of the Oswald D. Heck Developmental Center, a warren of low-rise concrete and brick buildings near Albany.

Yet on a February afternoon in 2007, Jonathan, a skinny, autistic 13-year-old, was asphyxiated, slowly crushed to death in the back seat of a van by a state employee who had worked nearly 200 hours without a day off over 15 days. The employee, a ninth-grade dropout with a criminal conviction for selling marijuana, had been on duty during at least one previous episode of alleged abuse involving Jonathan.
Unfortunately it was not one bad employee, one instance of abuse. The Times story shows the pervasive culture of abuse in the state institution. It makes me sick to think of these people being treated this way. I know that people with developmental disabilities can be a challenge, especially if they get upset easily or act out, but they don't deserve to be treated like animals, and I hope these institutions will either be reformed or closed before someone else dies.

We all know plastic pink flamingos are tacky

But I have to admit, these...different...flamingos look fun.

Skel-a-flamingo set of two:

And Devilmingos:

I'd be afraid they'd be stolen at the apartment if I put them out front, but maybe this Halloween I can decorate the library. The bones of the skeleton flamingos are apparently moulded. And I really like the devil ones. One of my co-workers collects flamingo items. I wonder what she would think about these?

I couldn't resist the name or description

For today's free Android application Amazon has Aporkalypse: Pigs of Doom, a strategy game. Here is the description from Amazon:
Some little piggies go to the market, while other little piggies stay home, but these pigs are all grown up and ready for war. Follow these four heroes of ham through fiery puzzles and save the pig world from certain doom. Use brains, brawn, and bacon to stop the Aporkalypse in Aporkalypse - Pigs of Doom on your Android device (not optimized for all tablets).

The Pig Problem

The world has a pig problem. According to an old prophecy, the four Pigs of Doom should proclaim the end of the world in a distant future--but something went terribly wrong and the gates of Heaven and Hell have already opened. Now it's up to the greedy Hunger Pig, the heavily armed War Pig, the controlling Pest Pig, and the ghostly Death Pig to stop this madness.

Know Your Pigs

• Hunger Pig: This guy's got a healthy appetite and can swallow objects and cough them up again elsewhere. This is a great skill for building bridges or activating tricky buttons.

• War Pig: This pig is heavily armed and is not to be messed with. He can shoot at enemies or through targets to clear the way.

• Pest Pig: Enemies should watch out for this nasty stink. When an opponent touches the plague cloud surround this pig, you gain control over the enemy and can move it around.

• Death Pig: This ghoul of a pig reveals the souls of the dead. After an enemy dies, Death Pig teleports to its location in ghost form.
Travel Through Dangerous Puzzles

Lead the pigs through a collapsing world full of puzzles and dangers. Combine their supernatural powers and find unforeseen riches. Don't cast pearls before swine, but collect coins for your piggy bank. Send angels and demons back to where they belong. Nobody can escape the wrath of the pigs.

Push the Piggy

Controlling your Piggy is simple. Just tap on a pig to select it and touch anywhere on the screen to move the pig towards your desired direction. You can also choose to use the on-screen D-Pad to maneuver around each environment. Push objects out of your way by simply running into them. Once you progress through this Aporkalypse, you'll be able to switch between multiple pigs. Tap on the switch icon to jump between the available pigs. Scroll freely across each level by tapping on the spyglass icon. This can help you plan out your swine strategy as you make your way across each level.
I played it through one level on my break at work. It looks like it'll be fun. But there's just something mind-bendingly hilarious about the Four Pigs of Doom as a take off of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. :)

Saturday, June 04, 2011

In the enormity of disaster, statistics pile up

and sometimes we forget there are stories behind each of the dead. Here are some from Joplin:

Remembrances of the Joplin tornado victims

This made me cry

'Daddy will always love you': Soldier's heartbreaking goodbye letter to his baby daughter from beyond the grave after he dies in Afghanistan
Two days after she laid her beloved soldier husband to rest Emma Weaver opened the laptop he'd had in Afghanistan and was overcome with emotion.

There were two Word documents on the desktop, one called 'Dear Emma,' the other marked 'Dear Kiley' for the couple's baby daughter.

Mrs Weaver realised her darling husband Todd, who was killed by an IED on his second tour of Afghanistan in September 2010, had written both his leading ladies goodbye letters in the event of his death.

I cannot conceive trying to bake this....

A Little Endless cake. Via @neilhimself (Neil Gaiman on Twitter).

Ah. I love Sandman. And Death. And Delerium. And....

If all else fails, and you're just too tired to blog

go on to bed at 8:30 and wake up at some ungodly hour in the middle of the night and do so. :) Really.

The last few days have been really long for me. Wednesday is kind of a blur. I did some errands that went a little long before work, then got pizza because I couldn't get money out of my account for lunch, and that was a big mistake. I ate on it all day, but for dinner I forgot to take my Novolog, and by the end of the night my blood sugar was over 400. Needless to say, I went ahead and took the insulin then. I have decided that it is impossible for me to do well with pizza, unless it's sold by the slice and I can eat it in moderation. To keep ordering it expecting different results would meet the definition of insanity. :( Considering how much I like pizza, this is a bummer, but I largely cut out ice cream, my main food nemesis, eating it only on rare occasions and not keeping it in the house.

Thursday I went in to work at about 8:45 because I'd come in a little later the day before, and since I was up I went in a little earlier to account for any time the bus might be late, although now with the new schedule, that doesn't happen as a general rule, since I get off the bus about five minutes till my shift starts. I was actually there early enough to eat breakfast at the cafeteria, something relatively nutritious such as scrambled eggs and a (small) biscuit.

The IT department was able to fix a couple of extremely small yet annoying things on my computer for me that morning. One was that all my tasks in Outlook doubled. Another was there was a notification of a problem with a USB cable that came up every five seconds. I discovered that I am much clearer in the morning, when I can wake up. This was pretty decent considering the night before I'd had double vision and felt awful. But work went really well.

Thursday night I finished the job search for a friend that I do every week (the search had aborted due to high blood sugar the night before, because I couldn't see straight). I promised to look into something that came up. Then I went on to bed, because all that energy in the morning had evaporated some time ago.

This morning, I got up early and went to Central Baptist Hospital. There was a meeting of the Kentucky Medical Library Association there at 10:30. I'd misread the agenda to mean I needed to be there by 10 (I supposed I got into my head that was when I should be there because that's when I normally start work.) Anyway, I took an earlier bus to make sure I'd get there on time, so since I was there by 9:30, I decided to eat breakfast (Total cereal and 2% milk, if you're interested). I then went to the gift shop, which was probably a mistake. I found a little wrist wallet that has room for my essential cards, cash, and my cell phone, something I can take with me to the lunchroom rather than my giant satchel of doom.

The meeting was one of the best concocted things the librarians at Central Baptist have ever put on--and they're good. We came into the auditorium and they had soothing ocean scenes playing. Two massage therapists were giving hand massages. When it was my turn, the guy gave me a lovely massage, especially working on the forearm, which was pulling my hands and keeping them stiff. He gave me some pointers for self-care. I took their brochure and card because I really liked their style and their business is near me. They are called Healing Hands Therapeutic Massage and are located in Patchen Drive. Their rates seem reasonable. I've never had anything beyond a chair or hand massage such as at one of these sorts of events, and with my various areas of myofascial pain, I'm thinking of going. I picked up a card for YKWIA, too.

Then we had a representative from EBSCO give a presentation on their new interface that will be launched for ebooks in July, which was very informative. Then one of the massage therapists got up and gave us tips for self-care to help since we have jobs where we sit for long periods. He gave us a small bouncy ball (one you might get out of a gumball machine) and encouraged us to use it for stress relief on the hands and feet.

We had a wonderful meal of fettuccine (with grilled chicken on the side for those who eat that sort of thing--Lonnie at CBH is pretty much like me, and chooses not to eat meat, so he's very conscious of that when planning menus). We had steamed vegetables and rolls, a salad, and there were several desserts. (I did have a bit of carrot cake, I'll admit.) Everything was delicious.

Then we went into our main business meeting. They were looking for an appointee to represent us with the Greater Midwest Region of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine on their Regional Advisory Council. I was very intrigued by the opportunity and offered to do it. It's a long term commitment, running several years, but one of the perks is they pay your travel to come to a meeting in Chicago each year to work on various issues, so there's no need to try to get travel built into an institutional budget, etc. or outlay a lot yourself. Of course, it does mean flying, but it's a short trip that I've done before. But although I've been to Chicago's airport, I've never been in the city, so I'm excited. And I'm already interested in one of the areas the RAC works one. I have a counterpart in Chicago from our system who will be thrilled that after all these years of corresponding we might actually get to meet.

After the meeting, I came back to the hospital (that's four hospitals I'd been near today, two I'd been in), got in about four, and worked on data entry until it was time to go home. I was shocked to learn that one of my co-workers had died. That's the third person to have passed in the 14 years I've been there. It's so odd to think that the person you see in the hallway one day will be gone forever the next. I didn't know him well, but he was a fixture, having been there a long time. I'm keeping good thoughts for his family.

After work, I came home and did some downloading to my phone (I had to move some things to the memory card because I've already used the phone's storage) :) and to the Kindle, did the investigating and called a friend briefly to let him know my results. I started to watch TV but couldn't bring myself to spend $6 on a new movie (I probably will watch it, but just not tonight) and went on to bed, waking up at 2:30 this morning.

So it's been an eventful few days. Tomorrow and Sunday are pretty full, too. Tomorrow I have to get my rent in, get some quarters, pay a fine at the library (I'm going to stop trying to watch an entire season of the British 'Being Human' until they make it a free 7-day loan), pick up some medicine, get something from the grocery for a friend, go over there, help with a few things, and try to get back in time for Doctor Who, although realistically speaking I'll just make sure it's ready to record. :) Oh, and I still have game notes to do, although really, that should only take an hour or so. It was mostly getting the folks who'd been trapped in Yog Suthoth home and properly taken care of and caught up. Then Sunday is the game prep and game itself. Next week there are no major things planned, so hopefully I'll get some blogging of the news, etc. in.

Sorry this post was so long, but hopefully I've caught up. I think I'll go back to bed and get up early and start all the various things I need to do tomorrow. I don't think the pharmacy opens till 8 and the bank isn't open till 9, at least for getting change. (They won't send quarters through the pneumatic tube. They're no fun. When I was a kid there was a store in Danville called the Hub. They had a centralised cashier who sent all the money to the various service desks through a smaller pneumatic tube than you see in a bank. I loved that. Sadly, the Hub is no longer a fixture in downtown Danville (although the people behind their demise were shunned by the town for years afterward, it was so beloved). But the building survived. Now it is a bookstore/cafe for Centre College.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


for their free application of the day, Amazon.com had the new Android version of 'Plants vs. Zombies' for download. Since I'd heard great things about it, I got it, but then realised it was a wi-fi download only because it's a big file. I don't normally have access to wi-fi--my house is not wireless, and with the bus I couldn't just drive somewhere that had one. I got off the bus about 9:40 pm, and I after taking some items to the book drop, I decided to try standing outside the closed library and use their wi-fi to download it. It was a poor signal, but it did work, although it took about 20 minutes to download. Thank goodness the police didn't come up to ask why I was loitering. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to work on my phone--it goes to a blank screen, maybe plays music, and then shuts down. :( At least I didn't pay for it.

Today's free program was Pac-Man. I got that and it's fun, although on my phone the very top doesn't show up properly, probably because I have a smaller screen than most Android phones. But since I know what they look like, I can get around it. Still, these are the first two I've had any real trouble with.

The one game I can't figure out at all is Abduction 2. Yeah, I know you move the phone back and forth to make the cow hit the various levels to jump on. I only knew that from watching a review on YouTube, though. I didn't see any real help, but maybe I didn't look hard enough. The point is, I suck at that game, majorly. Even on the kids' level I fall, I just don't die because it's the kids' level. I've made it through one level on the classic mode. But I get a bit better each time. I'm up to the 65th level of a bubble shooting game, though. :) I only have a few games on the phone; most of the applications are actually useful things.