Saturday, July 20, 2019

early Saturday afternoon

Waiting for the soil to soak, so I have a few minutes. Allergies are very bad, to the point where my ability to focus my eyes on the middle distance is slightly impaired and my eyes feel gritty, but I need to get this done.

Kind of anxious today:

1. Got to thinking about the Looming Procedure right before bed last night. I KNOW a lot of this stems from the fact that I'm a very healthy person and have not have had to have any surgeries or even things like this before - because maybe familiarity would take some of the anxiety off. I have literally had general anesthesia twice in my life:

sodium pentothol for setting a broken nose when I was 13 (I vomited for three solid days afterward, but that could also have been the codeine shot "for pain" they gave me without asking my permission. I HOPE they had asked my parents....I have a fairly high pain tolerance and I suspect I'd have refused it had I been given the choice)

Whatever the heck they were using for wisdom-tooth removal in the early 1990s. That was a lot less traumatic and I didn't vomit (thank goodness, considering what I'd just had done) and in that case the "pain management" was a prescription for pain pills that the doc said "fill this if you need it but try Ibuprofen first" and between ibuprofen and following the icing regime he gave me, I was FINE and tore up the prescription.

I was also give a prescription for....I think it was Toradol? after I broke my elbow in 1992 but I also never filled that one because once they got the cast on (simple break, non displaced, so no surgery required) I was fine and really the only problem I had was the cast was heavy and cumbersome and it was hard to find a comfortable position in which to sleep. I also tore up that prescription.

So yeah. (I also have a horror of being "dopey" or "out of it," which is why I tend to refuse the stronger pain meds and make do with anti inflammatories and stuff like ice. But that also explains why I have a horror of general anesthesia)

I'll see what the doctor says but if I can persuade him to let me to the less-invasive test for now (seeing as I have precious few weeks of free time this summer left in which I could schedule The Thing) and if it doesn't come back 100% clear, do The Thing at a later date.

but seeing as he's a GI surgeon, I bet he pushes for the full test, because he's probably seen too many people who let stuff go too long...

2. I get a "daily informed digest" over e-mail from the USPS. Most mail - well, except for catalogs and magazines, the stuff that passes a scanner, I guess - is photographed and those photographs are sent to you. I signed up for it back when I was concerned about mail theft (a package from Amazon that never showed - the seller reimbursed me but I am still baffled about what happened to it; I assume either a porch pirate got it (enjoy your bowls, freak!) or the system glitched and it's still riding around on a mail truck somewhere)

anyway, today's mail showed a letter from the IRS. You might remember a month ago when there was some horrific error the Jackson-Hewett person made that led to the IRS basically claiming I owed them most of the contents of my savings account. And I thought I had got it sorted (with another Jackson-Hewett agent's help, and a marathon FAX session).

And I thought: oh crud. This is the final decision. When this letter gets here, I'll know if:

- Jackson-Hewett woman was 100% right, and they're sending me the $800 that it actually looks like they owe me

- Jackson-Hewett woman was terribly wrong, and I owe a great deal of money and many penalties and I'll have to either totally deplete my savings, or dip into my retirement funds. And have the added stigma of somehow feeling like I am viewed as a Bad Person* and will be at greater risk of future audits and the like.

- Some combo platter, where I owe SOME money but not the frightening sum proposed before, and I'm still at greater risk of audits.

(*Yes, I know: it was not my fault, I was not trying to defraud. But I worry so much about how I "look" to others. And yes, it's a sad irony in our times that literally every city in my state has public officials dipping their hands into the till and justifying it themselves, that they are Perfectly Fine People and then someone like me, who is fundamentally pretty honest gets caught up in a mistake and she feels like she's a striped shirt and a kangaroo court away from being in the federal pen...but that's how life is, in'nit? The best lack all conviction while the worst are filled with passionate intensity?)

And so I was useless for several hours (well, mostly: I got my piano practice for the day done). Finally right before I was about to say 'forget it, I'm eating lunch and going to work" the mail arrived.

Guess what it was?

A crummy "we got it and are working on it" letter. A month after I spent a long, long time FAXing, and tried through all channels I could find to ask a person if they'd gotten it.

Yeah. So it's 60 more days before I hear.

Thanks, Universe! 'Cos I just needed another source of stress so badly today!

(A friend of mine who is a CPA tells me this is bog-standard and not to read anything into it, not that they're weaponizing to prepare to take me for everything, but also, I suppose, not that they owe me money and are trying to hold on for it as long as possible)


I need to get some useful work done over here and then maybe go home and get into comfy clothes and decide whether I want to brave the slightly-warmer-living room (it's STILL hot here) or if I watch something streaming on my laptop in my bedroom with the whole-house AC turned hotter but the little bedroom unit on...

I confess I will not be all that unhappy once summer is over. For one thing, it will be getting cooler, but for another, I won't be so alone with my thoughts for such long stretches of time and either wind up frantically looking for distractions or else uselessly ruminating.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Out and About

So I got up later than I might have, and faffed around a bit. Decided indeed to take my car in, so I ran over and got my Policy and Law book to read on while I waited. Took the car in, told the guy I knew they checked batteries anyway but I was specially concerned about mine.

I will say Fast Lane is fast. It takes much less time to get minor stuff done to my car than it did in the days when I had to take it to the regular service department. (Fast Lane is under the auspices of the Ford dealership, but I notice they have a sign saying they service any make of car, foreign or domestic. Good to know, if I get fed up and decide to go with a Honda or something for my next car, then I wouldn't always have to drive a half-hour south to have a trusty service place).

Battery was fine, still at a bit over 90% of its original power (in cold-cranking amps). Filter and oil were changed, tires rotated.

Then I came back here, ate, faffed around a little more, did a bit more piano practice. Decided that if I was gonna go do something, I better do it. I had originally thought of driving to Denison for the antique shops but meh, it's hot, and my brief jaunt out earlier today suggested some of the other drivers had been drinking their stupid juice today, and I didn't want to go out on the big interstate.

(Well, I wound up doing so anyway, just in the other - less-trafficked - direction).

And then I thought - well, I've never been to Caddo. Even though I lived here 20 years and they're like 15 miles away. They have a mercantile store that's supposedly like an old-time dry goods place, could be interesting... Google Maps told me they were open until 4, it was a bit before 1:30, so I decided to go.

It's a good thing I did. Google Maps doesn't update for summer hours, their summer hours are that they close at 2. Because it's an old, old building with no air conditioning.

When I got up there I saw the sign on the door, looked at my watch - 1:47. Door wouldn't budge. I groaned inwardly, I was too late. But then the owner came and pulled the door for me - it just stuck. I apologized for being so close to closing but noted that Google Maps didn't have the summer hours and she apologized and said "I better see about getting that changed."

It was a lot of random stuff. Mostly the sort of....stuff you'd expect in a tourist-area shop. (I did buy one thing, but it's for an online swap, so I won't describe it here in case my swapper reads this).

There's not a whole lot else in Caddo. There's a Dairy Queen that I think is well-regarded for some reason (yes, chain outlets differ in quality; I have eaten at IHOPs whose food was pretty good and others whose food was terrible) and the predictable medical cannabis dispensary* and a tattoo no real other reason than the mercantile for me to go up there.

(*I remember in the 1980s how every wide spot in the road had a video rental place, apparently those made money hand over fist. Now the thing is medical cannabis places, though I suspect the market for that is not going to be as big as the market for rentals of recent movies was in the era before streaming video online)

Driving up there....well, I wasn't expecting the little section of interstate I took to be under construction, and they had shortened the merge area of the onramp (they had a sign warning of that but by then it was too late to detour) and I had to literally pull to the top of the onramp and STOP. Bad form, I know, but it was down to one land and I didn't want to merge smack into an 18-wheeler. And as I said there, I said "oh fudge. You have to be fudging kidding me" and yes I really DID say "fudge" but I was worried about someone barrelling up the onramp and smacking into me and pushing me into the fairly heavy traffic....fortunately no, and I was able to merge in after not very long but yeah. Might not have gone had I known.

Decided to go the "other" way back - state route 22 is the one that goes through the town and I glanced at my big gazetteer and found that I could either go west or east on it and would eventually get to a way to easily get back home. So I went east, I was already facing that way.

One thing that strikes me about living here is how much empty space there is. Oh, I'm sure someone owns all that land, either a rancher or a pipeline company or someboday, but there's just not....a whole lot around. I looked closely every time I passed anything that looked like people might be there, just in case something happened to my car and I'd have to hike off to get help. (I SUPPOSE "*55" is still a thing but I don't know if the state police will go to every location or just the interstates...)

Eventually got to Bokchito, where I turned on to 70 and....yeah....the bypass, which I had never been on, puts you off somewhere TOTALLY different than what I expected - instead of coming in to town from the east, close to where my house is, I came in from the southwest (the bypass loops around town). So I decided: heck, I'll be coming in on Main Street anyway; maybe I stop and check out the new toy shop and also go to the gourmet shop. So I did.

The toy shop is pretty new - it was only a week or so ago I first noticed it. I hope it keeps going; there are almost no actual toyshops anywhere in the area (there's a couple aisles in the wal-mart, but they're they only have the pretty bog-standard things, nothing unusual or upscaley or more-creative). This shop has fancier nicer toys (some Melissa and Doug items, a lot of those sort-of-fancy craft kits for kids, lots of special kids' books). They also have a tiny area set up in the back with sort of a knockoff of the Build-a- Bear concept: empty stuffed animal skins and a big thing full of stuffing with a foot pedal and a blower. I wonder if they're going to start doing birthday parties or something...

I did buy two things, I wanted to give them a little support. (as I said, I HOPE they keep going but I'm not sure....sometimes people in this town are very weird about what they're willing to spend money on....). So I bought a tube of a little building toy called Plus Plus. I'm gonna hang on to it for my niece's birthday in October. (I figured: better buy it now, just in case - just in case the shop doesn't make it, or they're all sold out of it later) It was compact - so I thought it might be good for traveling - and it seemed like a fun, clever idea. (It says "ages 5 through 12" but I think an adult could have fun building with these too). (And turns out their prices are totally competitive with Amazon, which is good - there will be no "showrooming" that way).

And I bought something for, not one of the "stuff it yourself" critters; I might have considered it but I was self conscious. But they did have a small rack of Aurora brand stuffed animals (again: they do seem to be going for the slightly-higher-quality-than-what-walmart-has market, which is probably a smart idea). They had Llamacorns.

Which, the hangtag helpfully says, are 50% llama and 50% unicorn. (Apparently those unicorns get around; I've also seen pandacorns and kitticorns and pugcorns). So I decided to get one. Because they were pink and have sparkly hooves.

Not totally set on the name but am leaning towards either Sparkle or Twinkle.

I also got a new (collapsible, silicone) small colander because the melamine one I bought off Amazon (to replace a similar melamine one I dropped and broke) is developing cracks in it...the one I bought from Amazon was far less well-made than the first one I had, and I wish I hadn't dropped it. But at least a silicone one will just bounce if I drop it, and it will fold flat to store.

I need to finish my piano practice and once the sun's a bit farther over the yardarm I might try going out and doing a bit of brushcutting in order to get in my exercise for the day. Yes, it's very hot, but if I work in the shaded part of the yard it should be okay. I already bunged a coconut water in the fridge for afterward.

The Deleted File

Maybe instead of complaining about the anonymous spammy comments I get, I name and shame the worst ones here. (Removing, of course, any dodgy links)

Here's this morning's. The link was to (apparently) a website with a .fr extension, so maybe English was not the writer's first language (More likely: a bot stringing together bits and pieces from elsewhere)

"Tawanna Magdaleno is what her husband loves to call her although end up being not
her birth establish. Fishing is the hobby I'm going to never stop doing.
New York is her birth room. Meter reading been recently my profession for it
slow and Dislike think I'll change it anytime eventually."

Mmm, word salad. Almost as indigestible as real salad.

(Oh, and the website link in French....well, I know enough French to know it was about enlarging a body part I don't possess, without even clicking. And no, I would never ever ever click on a random botspam website)


 I admit, I'm really tempted to take today off and go antiquing even though it's going to be hot. I don't need to grocery shop; I have enough food (even enough milk) for the coming week.

But first, I need to be sure my car will start. I ran out to Pruett's last evening for a couple things and when I came back out, at first it didn't want to crank, and I am concerned that it's the battery - it's probably time for it to be changed. So maybe first I go out to FastLane and have the oil and filter change it's due for, and have them check the battery and replace it if necessary.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

and evening bliss

Anxiety finally went away midday and it's MUCH better now because I'm sitting in my bedroom with the window unit cranked up and it's decadently chilly in here.

(What? I never fly anywhere on a plane, I don't even drive that much, and I don't eat meat all that often; let me have my AC).

Sitting in my room, streaming "Summer Camp Island" (which is a lovely, quirky cartoon with a strong streak of gentleness to it - the two main characters are a girl-boy pair of best friends who care about and support each other) and knitting and just feeling happy to be cool. And I'm knitting on the big lavender blanket.

I'll turn it down before I go to sleep - or, I guess, turn it up? So the room is warmer? I don't want to get a stiff neck but this makes me feel SO much better.

also, one more AC .gif, this one from Summer Camp Island. That's Oscar, one of the protagonists (his friend is Hedgehog). He's supposed to be an elephant in case you can't tell.

Yeah, pretty much: it me.

I forgot how cold I like it in the summer. If I can get it that cold. If there were something like a meat cooler I could work in during the summer I happily would.

Thursday morning things

* Weirdly anxious this morning, but that could be any number of things that isn't actually anxiety:

- it's too hot. (Even with the window AC in the bedroom - I didn't want to keep it up TOO high to use too much power, and also, with really cold air in the night I get a stiff neck). So I slept less well than I might have (though probably better than I would have if it had been 78 in my bedroom)

- I think I pulled....oh, I don't even know what the long muscles that run from the abdomen to the chest are called, but I know they've gotten a bit lax of late and I started back up doing the dvd workout more frequently (which has a certain amount of "core" exercise and also abdominal twisting). And also, I seem more prone to pulling things and muscle cramps in the heat.

- My allergies are bad. I'm hived up and it seems that "unexplainable anxiety" and "hives" seem to go together. Man, I wonder if there are any allergists/physiologists who have looked at it. Chronic idiopathic hives seem to be not all that uncommon but there also seems to be precious little research on them and I'd love to read some discussion of the conditions that come along with them, and also ANY possible things - even a Hail Mary sort of thing - for shutting them down.  I do notice it's a LOT worse when it's humid.

- Next Wednesday is my GI consult and I have to remember to take Wanda's and Dessie's phone numbers with me in case they press me to make the appointment for the colonoscopy at the appointment and I have to call them to find out when they could drive me. (I am still hoping beyond hope he'll take my medical history and go "You know, you're awfully healthy and don't have any real risk factors, why don't we do the less-invasive test this go round?")
And I know, I know, doctors say "yeah the prep is bad but it's the best nap you ever had in your life" but I still can't even with the whole thing.

* Purlewe: the small AC units like I have (like, big enough to cool a bedroom) were about $150 five years ago and might not be a whole lot more now. They are not hard to install ESPECIALLY if you have help, though I highly recommend drilling pilot holes into the sash for the screws that hold it in place. (And even if it's not a ground-floor room, I think I recommend installing the screws, though more so the unit won't fall out than for "security" purposes)

I do think it's maybe a worthwhile investment - if you can bug out to the bedroom, you can set the whole-house unit to a higher temperature and save it/save some energy. And then you've got the little unit if the big one cacks it. (Though there's not a lot you can do in power outages, sadly.)

And I really hope we don't get brownouts but I am bracing for one because it is unusually sticky/nasty here and I know people are gonna run stuff. I ran my dishwasher this morning even though I really didn't want to because it was full and I was almost out of certain dishes, and the idea of handwashing everything made me want to cry.

I think maybe I hold off on laundry for a couple days - I can make it, probably - it might cool down a little Monday. And fortunately I have enough food that can be eaten cold or just zapped in the microwave so I don't heat up the house. (And I NEEEEED to get myself an electric kettle for when I want to just make tea - the burners on the stove do seem to heat things up a lot)

* But yeah. As much as I might want to go antiquing this weekend (and hit the Bed Bath and Beyond to see what they have in the way of electric kettles), I doubt I will. Even if the "distraction" would be good for me, because it's gonna be just as hot Saturday as it was yesterday and I could not deal with yesterday and the thought of going ANYWHERE in the heat does me in. (And Wednesday next week I have to be down that way for The Appointment)

I don't know. I know this heat is coming every year and every year it hits me almost like I don't expect it. It's like I forget how miserable and unbearable it is. (Well, I guess it's not *literally* unbearable, as I'm still here).

I will need a few fresh things but I think all of those can be obtained from the Pruett's.

But yeah, I am really kind of jonesing for some fun (this has been a long week, for various reasons) but there's not a lot of fun to be had right in town, but I'm also loath to drive far in this heat (and I need to take my car in for an oil change very soon)

* I suppose if I get something done this morning/ early afternnon (need to sort two soil samples to stay on schedule and I also want to update the lecture on the Clean Air Act), I could try going to the new little toy store that apparently opened up downtown. And maybe to the Kopper Kettle, even though I don't really need anything (I don't think they sell electric kettles, and if they did, they'd be the very most expensive kinds). I don't know. Or maybe I tell myself it's really OK to go and get an ice cream after lunch even if I am trying to reduce a little.

* There's a lot made of the "Full Moon Effect" (which apparently isn't statistically real, regardless of what ER doctors and nurses say) but I honestly wonder if extreme heat and humidity brings out more stupid crimes. We've had bad-stupid - a couple of extreme instances of road-rage (one case: drunk guy running a car off the road and the resulting accident killed the people in that car; another case, someone shooting at the other car for no clear reason) and just stupid-stupid (there was some crazy shaggy-dog story involving theft and apparently drugs and I don't even remember what else because I was doing my Duolingo practice while it was on the tv this morning and all I remember of it is thinking "that's both complicated and stupid" when they wound down to the end of it).

And it does often seem people behave worse, and are worse-tempered, in the heat. I know for me even routine things like going to the grocery feel like a much larger effort than they do when it's cooler. I try to remain calm and civil because it doesn't do some random store clerk any good (nor does it do you any good) for you to take out your frustration on them, but I will tell you that of all the times I've been close to tears, close to walking out and leaving my food behind unpaid for, close to just sitting down on the floor and giving up in a grocery store - 90% of them have been in the hottest days of the summer.

* At least this story turned out the opposite of how I thought it would. (The girl was at a treatment facility in Colorado. There, she made a friend and they ran off. Both of them apparently needed medication. She was missing for like a week. My expectation was 100% that they hooked up with some creepo who killed them but it looks like not.

Interestingly: last night a large number of people held a vigil for her in Sherman. And then this morning we find out that she's been found, alive [we don't know how safe, yet] and has been reunited with her family. ) So at least there's that and I'm happy I was wrong in assuming I knew what the outcome would be

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Change of venue

It's been very, very hot here. Or rather, it's been "normal" hot for Oklahoma in the summer, the thing that makes it unbearable is the humidity. We had a couple months of heavy rain and I guess that moisture is now going back to the atmosphere and the air feels soupy and thick.

One thing I've noticed with my maybe-five-year-old whole-house airconditioner unit, is that at times like this it labors. Especially very late in the day. Part of that, I think, is where they had to put it - the older, smaller unit was behind my pecan tree and got some shade. But that was not up to code and the new one wouldn't fit there anyway so they had to put it *in front of* the tree, and it gets the full afternoon sun there. (If I had had more tolerance for life-disruption at that point, I might have looked into having the ductwork - which runs under the house - rejiggered so the unit could go somewhere on the north or east side, rather than the southwest corner).

My preferred temperature is 74. (Well, really, my preferred temperature would be 72, but we have to compromise). Late in the day the thing just runs and runs and stays at 76, and I suspect that that's all the cooling it can do. So I grumble and punch the button a couple times to put it up to 77 to give the unit a rest. (I worry about it burning itself up).

Also, this evening I went out in the heat and cut and pulled all the vegetation that was growing up close to the thing, in the hopes of it getting more air circulation. I did that barely 2 weeks ago. It's frustrating here: weeds will grow inches in a day, it seems, but the plants you *want* won't.

And still it labored. I put it up to 77 to give it a rest, but then it was so hot and so sticky (and I'd been outside and working, and I had done a workout earlier) and I just felt nasty and sweaty.

And I thought: well, if this heat is sticking around, maybe you get the little window unit out again and install it. This is the hundred-and-something dollar unit I bought back in 2014 when the whole-house AC died, and it was July 4 weekend, and I tried to at least get a motel room for one night, and the only thing on offer was a smoking room, and I figured in the end the little window unit was probably cheaper than a night in a motel.

I haven't used it recently, haven't really needed it, but I had it boxed up and tucked away (and in a rare flash of intelligence, I had even sealed the screws needed to attach it to the window sash in an envelope so they'd not get lost.

It took a lot of wrestling, though - first, find the screwdriver needed (I wound up in the end going with the new-ish ratchet set I had). Then move the books I had on the table just under that window.

Then I realized: the screen. I had put the screen back in the last time I took the unit out of the window. Womp womp.

So I had to get dressed again (I had been still in my workout clothes, but then had taken them off - too warm - and put a duster on, but that's not good when you're crawling through weeds). Grabbed the stepladder and went out there. Got the screen off.

Then wrestle the unit into the window - first I had to put the silly accordion pleated bits that allow it to fit any window back on - and try to get it positioned.

This is where you really need another person. But I don't *have* another person, so, I had to fight it in place myself. Finally what I did was attach the sash-screws to the top sash, and then, by opening the window while balancing the air conditioner with my other hand (that was a trick), I FINALLY got the part seated right on the lower sash, and installed the clips, and screwed them in tight to the lower sash. (I might be less cautious about that except my bedroom is on the ground floor, the window is at the back of the house, and I do worry about someone thinking it might be cool to enter my bedroom, especially when I was in there at night, to see what was in might still be possible with determination with the screws in place, but at least it would be slow enough and loud enough that I'd be able to bug out of the room quickly and be out the front door of the house and on the phone with the cops before the person got all the way in....

But anyway, yes. Recirculated air, and cooler than what I can comfortably get the whole-house unit (which has to cool the whole house) to produce on demand. So I guess I use this for a while, at least until the heat and humidity die back. (The one drawback to it is that it's not as tight as a closed window is, so I get more noise - I can hear the neighbor's dog right now - and sometimes I get bugs.)

So yeah, anyway. Gonna stay up a bit more (I don't have to rise early tomorrow to work out; tomorrow is a rest day). Have a pair of socks I was knitting on a while back to work on. Maybe I see if I can get Amazon Prime to stream and watch something, I don't know....

New to me

I guess Pip Lincolne has been blogging for a while, but I had never seen her blog. (And granted, some of the posts look like those "hey here's cool stuff to buy" posts that I tend to gloss over). But it looks like she has a nice life, and it might be interesting to read.

What got me over to the blog was the link to her essay The Middle Matters, Too. And yeah, this sums up some things I've noticed about online - and heck, about life in general these days. Everything has to be The Best or The Greatest. Whatever. Or the other superlative: The Worst. The Most Boring.

I get that the The Best pieces are aspirational, to try to tell people that yea, there IS someone out there (apparently) living their Best Life, and so maybe you should strive a little harder too, or....alternatively..."sucks for your circumstances" because sometimes circumstances do prevent a person from having what they want in life.

I'm not quite as sure about the other end - is having a The Worst meant to be cheering, like "at least your life isn't this"? Is it like my friend in grad school who said she watched The Jerry Springer Show because "no matter how much my life is in the dumper, I'm doing better than some of those people"? Or is it a point-and-laugh thing, or that same inclination that makes you shove a carton of milk you think has expired under someone's nose and ask them to sniff it?

I have more experience with seeing, and disliking, the The Best Ever Lives stuff. Because I've talked before about how I dislike the Superstar (or Rockstar) mindset. We don't need a few deucedly-brilliant people doing everything well - we need everyone to have something they do competently and that they enjoy (or even something they're not that good at but that they enjoy).

(The link came from a Metafilter post talking about the saying "the good is the enemy of the great" which seems a bastardization of the one I always heard, which is "'Perfect' is the enemy of good" meaning if you're a perfectionist and you keep working on something, either you never finish it, you miss your 'window' on it, or, you overwork it to the point that it's actually LESS good. And someone else pointed out that "the good is the enemy of the great" is a terribly insidious phrase, because it also can lead to stuff like the "Always Be Closin'!" mentality, or the mentality that for a business to survive, its workers must be accessible 24/7, or that you should not just go the extra mile, you should go the extra 20 miles of additional unpaid unthanked work....and that may be what's killing a lot of us).

But another post on the blog caught my eye: comfort reading. I was thinking about this, given my very recent re-reading of "The Hobbit" (as a way of trying to distract my mind at bedtime from stuff that's worrying me, mainly the looming medical thing). But then I thought - what are my other comfort reads? I admit, I am not a big re-reader, but I do re-read some of the Inspector Alleyn mysteries, and some of the Albert Campions. Because for me there is a very specific comfort in returning to a character I like, and especially in mysteries - which, fundamentally, are stories where being observant of your world and being intelligent are celebrated - the detective character is enjoyable to read about.

But also: many books from my childhood. (Well, of course: "The Hobbit," but also the Narnia books, and the Moomin books, and The 101 Dalmations, and "A Wrinkle in Time")

I think to be "comfort reading" a book has to be one you're RE-reading, so there's no risk of bad surprises (sympathetic character getting killed - that seems to be stock-in-trade of some modern mysteries) or doesn't require too much hard thought. Though I will say for me, another class of "comfort reading" is what you might call "pop" or "layperson" non-fiction - either popular history (and yes, I know, I can hear the Historian Eyeballs rolling from over there, but I do try to look for biases and read a variety of authors) or popular science that is slightly outside my field.

Right now I'm reading a book on the aurora borealis (Lucy Jago's book - it's more about the process of learning and writing about them than it is very much about what they are). Part of it is the history-of-science thing, part of it is, I admit, the vicarious thrill of reading about Birkeland and his team living through an extreme northern winter. I will say it's not the HAPPIEST book ever - early on, one of the team has to quit (and loses his dream of becoming a surgeon) because he develops severe frostbite and has to have his fingertips amputated, and another member of the team dies in an accident, and apparently Birkeland had his own personal demons (I am not all the way through the book yet, though). But somehow, it is comforting to read because....well, it's DIFFERENT from the life I am living right now* and it also does contain within it the idea of people fighting against very difficult odds to do something important, people taking some kind of a risk**

(*This is why I always side-eyed the educational 'advice' that kids need to read books with protagonists Just. Like. Them. all the time. Yes, okay - I get that representation is important. But it's also important to see lives UNLIKE your own, and to also have the mental escape of learning about different times and places. If I were only given books about middle-aged single women working what are more-or-less office jobs to read....well, I wouldn't read. Because I live that and it's boring to read about what you live all the time)

(**Sometimes I wonder if part of the reason we fight online about such petty stuff is that we don't have, most of us, big struggles we're trying to work on. Or, perhaps, the big struggles of our time are utterly intractable for individuals to work on, so instead we default to something like arguing over New York style vs. Chicago style pizzas. Though sometimes.....I will admit those discussions can be entertaining (e.g., "What defines a sandwich?") But the sort of arguing where you attack someone for having an aesthetic opinion slightly different from yours, and you get your friends to try to attack them, too....nope. I'm even not all that comfortable with the joking "well, you're an idiot if you like that" thing because I am literal minded enough that sometimes I go, "Wait, does that mean the person really does think I'm an idiot and likes me less?")

She also seems to have periodic "cheering-up linkfests" that fall under the heading For when you're feeling a bit s*** and yeah, as the cool kids say, big mood. (And I suppose that feeling a bit... could be physical (I am still achy today, though I don't know if it's because it's stupidly hot and humid out and it's triggering hives everywhere, or if I did have a virus, or if I hurt myself on the last workout I did)

And yeah, there's a whole archive of these that I'll have to look at at a time when I'm not actually yammering at myself that I Need To Do Work.

Oh, and she also has a whole sidebar linking the crocheting she's done, and I assume there are patterns.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Headed back home

So, last night, after Bell Choir, I felt weirdly chilled - so much, I turned the air conditioner up several degrees (that NEVER happens in summer). I thought either working in my chilly research lab (I figured out where all the AC in my building went) chilled me, and it took me a long time to get over it. (I didn't exert outside at all yesterday, and it was also cooler, so I didn't suspect heat exhaustion)

Went to bed. But realized my stomach was a little oogy, too. Also, pulled all the covers over me (I keep a quilt on the bed in the summer but fold it down to the foot of the bed at night. I also keep a flannel "sheet-blanket" on top of the regular top sheet, but usually fold that down too. Last night, I had BOTH of those and one of my little fleece blankets)

Woke up in the wee smalls (I think it was shortly after 2) in a flop sweat and with my heart pounding. Part of it was an unpleasant dream that I mercifully don't remember now, but part of it was that I tipped over from the "too cold" to the "too hot" part of whatever this is. So I got up (had to use the bathroom anyway) and popped the AC colder, and went back to bed and slept some more.

I felt....better-ish....when I woke again a little before five, so I got up and did a workout (45 minutes on the cross-country ski exerciser, and in retrospect, maybe I shouldn't). Ate my usual breakfast. Went over to work.

And yeah, mid morning I started feeling....not good. Stomach cramps/nausea again, and muscle aches. And cold again.

So, I don't know. Did I pick up some dumb little virus? Did I eat something that had gone off (those cherries I had at lunch yesterday might have been just old enough to have a bit of bacteria going on in them). Could be a dumb little virus even though I am seeing literally no people on a regular basis (I suppose it's possible I picked it up at church). Especially since I felt cold and achy - that's classic viral stuff, not so much with bacterial (though then again: I get the muscle aches with food intolerances; inflammation, I presume).

At one point I actually wondered if I needed to run down the hall to the ladies' loo and hurl, or, failing that, run into my much-closer research lab and hurl in the sink (and then try to clean it up myself, and apologize profusely to our nice custodian, who really shouldn't have to deal with that). And I NEVER hurl. NEVER. I think the last time was six or seven years ago when I had a killer migraine, and that was more bile than anything...

So anyway. I figured for that reason (and, um, other potential lower-GI reasons) I was better off at home I went. (No question of "does this merit a sick day" since I'm not technically being paid right now - it just means I don't get the soil sorted quite as fast, or the powerpoints for Policy and Law updated today).

I wasn't hungry at all at noon but was shaky so I figured I needed SOMETHING. I ate one of the "healthy breakfast bar" things (You know: whole wheat pastry and some kind of fruit filling. I think it's Nature's Way brand? From the natural-foods store). Anyway, I decided to eat that and see.

Right now I'm fine, and feel considerably less like I'm likely to hurl, so maybe I find something else to eat too. (I have applesauce, I could eat that. And maybe make a cup of tea - just plain tea, no sugar or milk, in deference to my stomach this time. Or maybe I make the mint herbal tea I have; mint is supposed to be good for stomach). Anyway. Maybe I take an afternoon off, do my piano practice, wash my hair. And do more knitting:

start of Hey Girl

It's hard to figure it out from that photo, but that's the start of "Hey Girl" (a sort-of-tailored cardigan with a subtle textured-stitch pattern). It's knit from the top down; that's the beginning of the yoke. The separate unattached part is the back collar; I guess it gets attached to where you cast on for the yoke at the very end.

You can also see (though they're small and not well focused) the lovely little "Fluttershy" themed stitch markers (and ONE "Applejack" themed, and I picked the tree of those, because of a joke other MLP:FiM fans might get). They came from String Theory Colorworks...

I also am still working on the big blanket out of the fluffy yarn, I'm a bit more than half done at this point:

w blanket 2

Photo is a little dark (no flash) but it shows the cables better than with flash does.

I also wore my newest "Sanrio Loot Crate" shirt today, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Mission blast-off*

(*Weird to think: I was alive when all that happened but I was so young I wouldn't remember it. If my parents even had a tv then - I know for a while they didn't)

In the same loot-crate there was a small duffel bag (black, with the same design on it) and coincidentally, yesterday, a call went out from the campus nurse (who is involved with various Good Works, both on campus and in the community) that they are collecting new or lightly used small suitcases and duffels....for kids going into foster care. (A perennial thing here, in a lot of cases the kids are being pulled out of pretty sad situations). I feel moved to donate it - for one thing, it's a size that's inconvenient for me - a little too small for me to use as an overnight bag, and for a knitting bag, I prefer an open tote. And I remember years ago, our AAUW group did something similar, after we heard about how many foster kids were either given brown paper grocery sacks or trash bags to carry their clothes in, and that feels like an insult on top of a yeah, if it makes some little kid's day a little better to have a bag with Hello Kitty on the Moon on it to carry their clothes in....that's good.

I need to get back more to the sense of "I may not be able to do big things, but I can do little things that help." Someone the other day was talking about the concept of Mitzvot (singular: Mitzvah) which originally had a specific religious meaning, but which I also tend to think of as "small good things you do just because." Because you love God and want to love other people. Or because you recognize you've been blessed and you want to spread those around.

I should look at the lists of other things they were doing "drives" for - I think school supplies was one - and maybe get a few more things to take in with the bag, so I'm not just walking over there with one thing.

But right now I'm sitting at home. The breakfast bar "sat" okay, and I drank a little thing of apple juice (maybe not the smartest, now I think of it: sometimes some of the sugars in apples are a little hard for the body to break down, especially on an upset stomach) but now I have a cup of this:

"Produced under license" it says on the box, so apparently they're not just using the Hobbit name uncredited. It's just plain mint leaves but it's good - I buy it from Lehman's but I suspect other places might have it. It's made in Dalton, Ohio, which is probably why Lehman's carries it. (It's a mix of spearmint and peppermint leaves, which I prefer to just straight peppermint, and yes, I can taste a difference).

And yes, Hobbit tea! I could imagine Hobbits drinking mint tea, especially since it's supposed to be good if you've eaten a bit much and are dyspeptic....

 And I was thinking this morning - maybe one of the reasons I like The Hobbit and have always liked it is that Bilbo is a character who never feels quite equal to what he's doing - I mean, he's recruited as a "burglar" and that very description outrages him a bit, and he's never gone on adventures, and he has no magic other than the very everyday sort that allows one to walk quietly and hide well so larger creatures you can't see.....and seemingly everything he goes in to do, he feels not-equal to it and like he's going to fail....but he does it anyway, and more often than not, succeeds. (And at any rate: succeeds enough to return home in one piece). And.....that's kind of me. Lots of things I've done in my life, even going back to the very first fall, 20 years ago now, I started teaching here. (And I still remember - sitting in a terrible old Kettle franchise (long since closed) as my parents were preparing to go back to Illinois after moving me here - and really, it was VERY close to exactly 20 years ago now, because it was mid-July - and I was sitting there crying, partly because I was being left somewhere very hot and very buggy (it was one of the cricket-outbreak summers) and my parents were going to be 700 miles away, and I'd be left to my own devices, and this town, oh my gosh, 20 years ago this town was SO small, so much smaller than now, and Sherman seemed impossibly far away. And I was also crying because I was scared - scared I'd fail, scared I'd not be able to do it, scared all my students would hate me - and then a man, he was an older man, came up to the table and asked what was wrong, and if he could help, and I somehow managed to choke out that I was taking my first ever teaching job, and I was scared, so on and so forth, and he looked at me and said "You'll do fine. You'll be fine.

And you know? I know, I know as a scientist I am not supposed to believe in literal angels and angelic visitations but when I think about that I honestly wonder. I don't remember ever seeing the man again, he didn't introduce himself like "I'm a professor there myself" or anything like that. So I do wonder. And yes, I guess I did do fine, and I am (pretty much) fine. But I didn't know that then.)

A little later I might try some cheese or something....I don't have a lot of "easy grab" (without cooking) foods on hand. I've got some chicken I must cook up but I think the sell by date on that is Thursday so I can do it tomorrow if I'm not up to cooking it tonight.

But yeah, this is helping the stomach. Maybe it was something I ate....or maybe it was a little short-lived virus.

Monday, July 15, 2019

One thing done

I made the final corrections and additions (incorporating my co-author's comments) to the manuscript this morning and sent it in.

As I said to myself sending it in: "Godspeed, little manuscript*, may you be accepted with minor revisions"

(Accepted with minor revisions is about the best you can hope for. There is straight acceptance, where you need not make any changes, but that is vanishingly rare, and perhaps actually, making revisions makes for a stronger paper. Minor revisions is good because that usually means just stylistic things and maybe adding a statement or two here or there. Major revisions is less-good, you must overhaul the paper and often do additional data analysis and it can slow down publication a good bit, because often there's ANOTHER review process. Revise-and-resubmit is "rejected, but you can try again" and that's where you decide "is it worth it to me?" Outright rejection is the worst....I've received several of those in my career. Not as many as some people, because I don't aim all that high with my publications. It's a matter of philosophy - my advisor always believed in shooting for the most-prestigious and widely-circulated journal where your work might fit, and expecting to be rejected a lot of the time and having to drop back to a "lesser" journal. Me, I care less about prestige (and in the era of online availability and things like JSTOR, circulation numbers might matter less) and what I care about is the minimum of psychic pain to me, and the maximum of being able to count another paper "done" I mostly go for smaller, regional journals that are more likely to accept a solid but unexciting paper, where for the "big" journals you have to either have something really special or somehow catch the attention of an editor or reviewer....a lot of good papers get rejected for lack of space but I just don't want to deal with that)

(*I am specifically referencing the old, old Simpsons episode where Homer and Ned are leading some kind of Scout troop camping trip, and they get lost in a rubber raft, and are trying to catch a fish with the literal last piece of food they have - a cheese doodle. And Ned puts it on the hook, and before throwing it into the water, says, "Godspeed, little doodle" because yeah, I often feel like there's a certain futility to undertaking academic publishing just like the futility of that little doodle catching a fish to save their lives...)

And I also got to thinking about the figurative nature at that statement: we all want to be "accepted" in one way or another.

But the truth is: the best we can hope for in this world, I think, is "acceptance with minor revisions" - meaning we do have to sand down some of the rougher corners of our personalities or take out some of the dumber pop-culture references**

(** I am eternally sad I didn't stand up more for secretly leaving "huge tracts of land" in a paper I wrote; my co-author suggested editing it to "large areas of land" and while I guess he had a point....I really kind of wanted to be able to say I had a paper published with a line from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" in it)

And I also find myself thinking again of the Molly Wolf essay on knitting, and her comment that

"I wonder sometimes if, after death, God frogs us - holds us firm, undoes the
years of pain and wrong and suffering, reknits us together in eternity's womb,
so that we emerge in glory, just as we should have been if this life weren't
so broken and bloody imperfect."
And yeah. Though I think there's a difference between being made perfect by a Higher Power and us trying hard to edit ourselves down so that we are found acceptable....we can never really do that second, or so my faith teaches, so we have to rely on the first....

Monday morning random

* Slept better last night, probably a combination of:
- getting into bed earlier
- having changed the sheets
- reading something diverting for a while (I guess this is my life now; I have to read before I go to sleep and it has to be something to un-track my mind from whatever was bothering me)

* The book I chose was "The Hobbit." Yes, my umpteenth reading of it, but it helped. Lots of thoughts about the book...I could never make it through "Lord of the Rings" (the battle scenes bogged me down) but I think because in its way "The Hobbit" is a smaller - perhaps you might even say, more "domestic"- epic, I can read through it happily.

I first read it at eight or so. Yes, I did. Checked it out of the school library. Had seen the not-very-critically-acclaimed Ralph Bakshi* animated version and kind of fell in love with the character of Bilbo and wanted to read the book. I remember my dad seeing me reading it and him asking me if it wasn't a book I found kind of scary (my parents never censored what I chose to read, but they did sometimes ask questions). I remember being baffled by that at eight: no, it wasn't scary, and anyway, it was a story, I wasn't actually having to go through that stuff myself.

(*Correction, apparently the Bakshi film was the Lord of the Rings animated thing from the 70s; the Hobbit was actually Rankin-Bass. (Which I should have remembered, given the character designs - very reminiscent of some of their animagic specials and also that one with the mice and the clock that was more-traditionally animated. And I guess it wasn't quite so critcally-panned as the version of LOTR. I remember the film as being quite good but then I was a kid who loved adventure cartoons and loved the Rankin-Bass style - and apparently some of the animators on that film went to work for Studio Ghibli)

The funny thing is: on one of my re-reads of it, when I was in  my thirties or forties, I realized: holy heck, this really IS kind of scary. Especially the underground bits. (Then again: I don't remember feeling claustrophobia as a child; I think that's something that developed in adulthood).

But still: I do like the whole idea of Hobbit life, of the smallness and peacefulness of it. And I get that that's maybe not the POINT, and the POINT is that Bilbo gets pulled out of that comfortable life and changed forever (though maybe not changed as much as you might think) but it's the little touches towards the beginning of the book - the comment about how he liked maps, and had one of the area where he lived with his favorite walks marked on it in red and that feels like it would also be a very on-brand thing for me.

I also remember once hearing some commentator on Tolkien suggesting that really, aren't most humans very Hobbit-like: loving of comfort, more interested in the minute concerns of the day ("What shall I eat for lunch?" "Here is an unexpected guest; how do I propel him on his way without violating the rules of hospitality?") than in global-scale questions. BUT - and maybe this was more a reference to LOTR - that when their way of life (and the way of life of those around them) is threatened, they can rise up and do great things, even though they seem small. And maybe that's actually what Tolkien meant. (I also read somewhere a proposition that the Hobbits were like the British people, especially as the threat of WWII bore down on them. Mmmmmaybe, I don't know)

But yes. I admit, I prefer the "house porn" (if you will) part of the books, where you have the loving if brief descriptions of Hobbit-holes, and the little features (apparently Hobbits eat five or six times a day; they are "inclined to be stout," but apparently that doesn't matter, they like bright colors, especially green and yellow....). And yes, also the idea of Hobbits mostly thinking adventures were messy, nasty things that made one late for dinner - that is very much my thinking as well.

* I was also thinking, on my way out to get dust masks (Yes, it's time to start hunting through the soil samples for any inverts the extraction may have missed) about some of the horrible comments some people get online. Particularly thinking about the nasty YouTube comments, and particularly one subset of nasty comment.

And, I don't really want to go gender-politics here, but it does seem that there's a pattern to them; that certain male-type people make comments about certain female-type people. Where they criticize their appearance rather than critique* their singing (or how they present the tutorial, or their acting, whatever) - you know the ones. The ones that focus on the woman's chest. Or her size. Or maybe her hair, though I think in general that particular type of commenter cares less about hair than body.

(*and yes, there is a difference between "critique" - giving helpful feedback for improvement - and "criticize" - trying to make the other person feel bad by pointing out "flaws" that may either be matters of opinion or uncorrectable things)

And I wondered: why? Why do people make comments like that. I don't remember that I've ever commented on a YouTube video (well, maybe I once said of a piano arrangement someone had done: "This is a nice rendition of that song" or similar). But why do people feel like criticizing a woman's chestal area is even pertinent to the song she's singing or the tutorial she's doing or whatever?

Is it....a sense of entitlement? Like, he feels he deserves her attention about that (What's she gonna do? Has ANY woman thought "Gee, I should go out and get implants" in response to some rando's "your chest is too small" comment?) Or that he thinks it makes him more of a man? Or that somehow making someone who put herself out there, who made herself vulnerable in a particular way* by allowing herself to be videoed and it put online, by making her feel small and icky and doubt herself, is that somehow winning the guy points? Or is it just a "I want to drive everyone whose appearance is not 100% appealing to my particular set of standards off the internet" thing? (There is such a thing as "if you don't like it, don't watch it"). And also: if everyone drove everyone they didn't 100% approve of off the internet, there's probably be no YouTube or similar.

(*One big reason why the whole "online teaching and oh you should have your lectures filmed and put online because Access" thing never gained much traction with me - I am not having video of me teaching out there where any jerk can see it, because I don't need jerks telling me I need to smile more, or that my voice is grating, or that I'm fat (HELLO I KNOW THAT ALREADY) or whatever. I would grudgingly consider it in a "locked" setting where only my existing students could see the videos and have no commenting ability....but then again, a determined "griefer" could get access. And this is also why I'm uncomfortable with unfettered cell-phone-camera use in class; you never know what that footage of you might be being used for)

But I don't know. I don't understand people. Maybe it IS a sense of entitlement, that "she's online so she should have to listen to me because..." Because, I don't know why. Because he's a HE? Because he deigned to watch her free video and she owes him? Because maybe she might pay attention to him? (Maybe that's it. Though I find that I get attention from people more easily by (a) having a relationship of some sort with them first and (b) being generally positive/helpful)

* I was also thinking about the periodic commentary I read online about how "gifted students" were really kind of done a disservice in many ways (the most egregious one being: where they are recruited to "teach" the less-speedy-to-learn kids - which is frustrating for all involved, and also often winds up in the gifted kid being ostracized even more).

And I got to thinking about how really kind of useless it was to be that kid who was Good at School.

(Oh. I know how I got onto that topic: I was thinking about how the back-to-school supplies were out already on sale, and about how when I was a kid, back to school was an exciting time for me, because I liked school and I liked learning and I liked the regimentation of it all, and the little achievable goals....and then realizing all the commentary about How School is Bad, Actually because it trains kids to be little row-sitting sheep that are pretty much just equipped for the sort of office jobs that have either been offshored or efficiencied out of existence, and the claim that it's really the rebel kids who didn't learn who were the smart ones....and it's the whole Einstein Was a C Student argument all over again, like that kids used when I was 13 to neg on any skills or talents I had, and it makes me profoundly tired).

And yeah. I was Good at School in some very specific ways: I read well and liked to read. I was quiet and listened to the Adults, and obeyed them. I wasn't particularly creative but I was smart and good at picking up new material. But mainly I was compliant. I didn't like to make waves and I didn't like being in trouble.

(The ONE time I got threatened with detention....I was sitting next to a friend in class and we were talking. And after the threat ("If I have to speak to you about this one more time, you are getting detention!") I clammed up for the rest of the day (didn't even answer questions in class) and sat there at my seat, head down, so no one could see the tears)

And yeah. One thing I've learned is that being Good At School isn't good for that much in the work world. I'll never set the world on fire; I am not a disruptor. As I said, I'm not even all that creative.

But then again: I guess I have made a pretty good life for myself. I have a roof over my head and food on the table. Granted, I haven't really done anything that will outlive me in the way that some people have. But I don't know why that's such a modern obsession (or such a personal obsession) - probably 98% of humanity lived and died without making much of a mark on anything beyond maybe the next generation (if they had kids). And I daresay most people didn't care. (I've often thought part of the reason Christianity held such sway in Europe in the past was that day-to-day mortal life was sufficiently terrible for most people that the thing to be hoped for was the literal streets of gold and mansion-for-everyone that at least some branches of Christianity promised. And that has changed in some modern Christianity. And personally, I'm not even sure what I imagine the afterlife to be, whether as some literal immortality with the streets of gold, yada yada or if the whole "they are with God now" thing is more an 'eternal rest' sort of thing where there isn't really a continuation of consciousness in the form we recognize it as...and that "immortality" is more a figurative thing, that you "live on" in the hearts of others or in what you've done....and maybe that's the source of so many people's anxiety about making a mark, or being an influencer, or leaving something behind, that our idea of our personal immortality has shrunk. I don't know).

But yeah. Maybe that's just my own personal weird anxiety (well, one of them) I suppose, but I do wish sometimes I was better at just relaxing and going "I am not a terrible person; I pay my bills, I keep a roof over my head, I am doing a job that does not actively cause harm, so everything is fine and I should just relax and be happy" instead of agonizing about "am I doing enough?" But I think the "am I doing enough?" is a very modern thing, at least for people in certain careers, and the way those careers are structured now, it's like it's designed to feed that anxiety (post-tenure review, I'm looking at you). I men, yeah, it probably makes people more productive, but it's also kind of miserable.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

All that said

I have been working on stuff this weekend.

I got four rows of the Tabula Recta quilt sewn together. I am sewing on each row as I complete it, so I don't get them mixed up. I ran out of bobbin thread while sewing the fourth row on to the rest so I just quit there for now. Having the fabrics organized helps but sewing together 26 squares to make a row is a lot.

I also got the yoke cast on for the "Hey Girl" sweater and got about 15 rows done on it. I also figured out and wrote up the specific order of increases (because you are doing standard raglan increases on one pattern, and increases to make the V neck "V" on another pattern, and it's easy to forget what you have to do when if you don't have it written out, or at least I do).

I also did a little hand quilting and maybe will do a little more this evening. Or maybe I knit on the cabled blanket, I don't know. I still have to eat dinner and put some laundry away and change the bedsheets too...

seeking a diversion

I need to try to figure out the nicest, most absorbing, and most diverting book to read on before going to sleep tonight. (And I am also going to change the sheets on the bed, and maybe take a lukewarmish bath with Epsom salts before bed)

Because I need to distract my mind from a Thing.

In 10 days, I have the consult with the GI doctor. And after that, I have to schedule the colonoscopy.

Part of my dread is the logistics: I have two possible drivers lined up but having to coordinate schedules and also feeling like I'm imposing on someone makes me unhappy. Whoever drives me, it will be almost a full day thing for them: half-hour down there, then the procedure takes a half hour to an hour, and apparently they want to keep you for an hour or two after to be sure you're OK, and then a half-hour drive back....

A bigger part of my dread is just the procedure. I don't know if the doctor I am going to uses mere sedation (I HOPE so) or insists on putting you totally under. But I admit, that's what scares me.

And almost no one gets that. People tell me "Oh, ha ha, yeah, the prep is terrible, but then they give you the 'good drugs'" and I am like "I DON'T WANT THE GOOD DRUGS"

I worry excessively about that kind of thing but not being in control of my body while I'm being poked and prodded at bugs me a lot. It's one reason why I refuse gas for even fairly detailed work at the dentist (I claim it's because I am claustrophobic - don't want anything over my nose - and have asthma, but really, I don't like the idea of not being able to....defend myself?....if something bad happened. Like, what if a fire broke out? Would I be able to get out of the office safely? Yes, I know that's impossibly unlikely, but that kind of thing worries me)

But other worries:

- What if I stop breathing while I'm under and they can't get me started again?
- What if I have a bad reaction to the anesthetic? Or, what if I have a bad (anaphylactic) reaction to the prep drugs? Having had a surprise reaction to a sulfa antibiotic several years ago, and getting a scratchy throat/runny nose the last time I ate peanut butter (several years ago now) makes me worried about new surprise allergies showing up.
- What if something the process? I know that's really unlikely but again unlikely things can happen.
- What if they find something bad enough that I get whisked off to surgery/what if something goes wrong and I get whisked off to surgery? (I don't even know if "immediate surgery upon finding something bad" is a thing with this....I know when my dad had the heart catheterization one of the things they warned of was "we might be taking him immediately for open heart surgery" which didn't happen, but apparently can)
- What if they find something REALLY bad and I'm faced with the choice of "horrific invasive surgery and follow-up treatment to maybe buy a few more months, or decide that "fifty years and a bit is a good run"?"

I did tell myself today that maybe I should quick write out something like a holographic will (yes, I know: bad me, I never made an actual one yet, but it's hard to bring myself to do it) and also a list of what I would want....done....if I didn't make it (fundamentally: whatever is the least trouble to everyone else) and put them in an envelope that's clearly labeled as to what it is and leave it somewhere (maybe on the top of my piano lid) where it could be found if it needed to be....

I mean, I hope I will be able to laugh later that day about having been so silly and scared, but....I am silly and scared. (I also need to get that manuscript totally proofread and in....before....because just in case).

And no, I am having no symptoms whatsoever, and I doubt I'm a high-risk person: I did have one aunt (mother's sister) who developed colon cancer at like 82, and they only found it because she was having symptoms (and she was successfully treated and got something like seven more years of life afterward, but)

But also, yeah: it's just a gross idea to contemplate. I am somewhat neo-Victorian in certain sensibilities and that is definitely one of them ("They want to put the camera WHERE?"). And yes, yes, I know: having something go undetected and untreated is worse, but....yeah.

And I know part of this is the fundamentally-healthy person's horror of medical stuff, because of lack of experience. I have literally had general anesthesia twice in my life - at 13, to set a broken nose (Sodium pentothol, and I threw up for three solid days after that), and "twilight sleep" at 21 to have my wisdom teeth removed (that wasn't quite as awful but I still didn't like it)

The whole "the prep is really awful" doesn't even factor to me; I've had food poisoning and bad food-intolerance reactions to stuff, and bad GI infections and I can't imagine the prep being a whole lot worse, especially if I am careful about what I eat in the days before.

I mean, I'm going to DO it (unless the doctor offers me the choice of the less-invasive home test first, which I doubt, but which I will jump at if offered) but I don't like the idea one bit. During the day I can distract myself by working on stuff either AT work, or knitting/quilting.

But last night, I got into bed - later than normal, later than I really should have, and so I decided not to read as I usually do before trying to sleep. And maybe that was a mistake, because I started thinking about the whole thing and it took me forever to get to sleep, even reminding myself I was safe, and I didn't have to think about The Thing for more than a week yet, and tried to think of other things, but it did take me forever to sleep.

I've always been like this, though: excessively good at seeing the consequences of things and imagining all the things that could possibly go wrong. I've not done or experienced some things in my life I might have because I worried too much about consequences. (On the other hand, that's kept me out of a lot of bad trouble...)

Edited to add: I read on the Mayo Clinic website and I'm a bit reassured in that I have exactly 0 of the signs or symptoms that would suggest something is seriously wrong, (TMI habits are pretty "clockwork" as in you could set a watch by them and I haven't noticed any change) and of the risk factors really the only ones I have are "one blood relative" (an aunt, so not in my direct inheritance line, and my parents never even had polyps), the fact that I teeter between "overweight" and "obese" depending on how strictly you hew to BMI and if you cut any slack for muscularity, and the fact that I just hit 50. I am pretty active ("exercise most days of the week," yeah, that fits me), I've never smoked, I don't drink alcohol, I don't have any of the inflammatory conditions that increase risk or diabetes, I try to eat a lot of fruits and veggies and not a lot of highly processed food (not a lot of meat, even, compared to many)

The *most* likely outcome is "everything's fine, come back in 10 years" but still I am a worrier. I will be very glad when this is over.

(yes, I almost said "when this is behind me" but nope, can't make dumb puns about it)

Saturday, July 13, 2019

So I dunno

I took the "word verification" (whatever form it's in now, I can't see it on my own blog) off because I know people hate it and I moderate comments any way* in the hopes that maybe there were some folks who wanted to comment but the dealing with "click every picture that has a chimney" or whatever was too much of a hurdle.

What I got instead were more bots. Trying to comment on ages old posts. I don't fully know why; I assume it's some kind of weird SEO thing, maybe? Though some of them are anonymous, so I don't even know how that works.

But anyway. Put verification on in addition to moderation, people don't comment because it's too much of a hurdle; take verification off and get spam comments you have to delete

This is one of those things: like junk mail, like spam phone calls that should not BE in the modern world, I feel like.

Like I said in the last post: it feels some times like we've conceded SO MUCH in the name of "eh, it's an imperfect world, so...." So we have not just billboards but lit-up flashy billboards, and not just spam calls on our old landlines but spam calls to our cell phones and spam texts and spam to our e-mail mail boxes.

And some days, it just feels to me the ratio of noise to signal is too high, like I wind up wading through fifty e-mails that are nothingness or at least nothing I want to find the ONE that is actually from a real human being I wish to communicate with, and fewer than 10% of the calls that come in to my home phone are someone I actually want to pick up for (and I've missed a few "real" calls from people with cell phones because it comes up WIRELESS CALLER and my reaction to that some times is

Because I've been burned picking up and getting some silly bot.

And, I don't know. I don't know where I'm going with this but sometimes it feels like this future that was promised us with all these great connections and ability to, I don't know, virtually tour the great museums of the world, and instead we wind up with "Ad-blocker make Mongo SAD. Turn off your ad blocker or else no content" and then you do and get sludged up with a ton of malware, or the site has so darn many blinky autoplay videos on it you can't even pay attention to what you went to see...and the "new friend" you thought you made might be a creeper and....sometimes I feel like this isn't my beautiful future, this isn't what I hoped for back in 1985....

But I guess I leave the verification off for now in the hopes for a "real" comment or two. I will look at the ratio in the coming day and if it's less than 1 real comment to every 20 wannabee spam, maybe verification goes back on. I don't know.

(*I often think about what someone else wrote a long time ago, back in the heyday of blogs, about commenting and why they moderated: basically, they saw it as being like letting someone into their living room, and if someone came into the living room and argued, maybe that was fine and okay depending on how strong the blogger felt that day, but if someone came in and figuratively peed on the carpet....well, you wouldn't let someone do that,  because it's your living room (and also, that rug really tied the whole room together...) and the idea being that your little corner of the web is YOUR little corner of the web, and you don't HAVE to allow unfettered freedom of speech....which includes not having to allow spammy spambots or people dropping dodgy Youtube links)

Edited to add: I think this is just that I am feeling kind of lonely this evening. I trucked over to school and worked for a while but I was the only one over there. And yesterday other than the quick greetings and interactions with the people in shops, I didn't really talk to anyone....

I tend to imagine that "everyone else" is having more fun and is more....well-adjusted?...than I am, in the sense of having lots of friends around and fun stuff to do. That's probably not actually true (this minister's perspective is that LOTS of people feel loneliness, and the insidious thing about loneliness is that you get the sense that you're the only one in the world experiencing it at that moment, and yes, that's true. And I suspect with my particular "stuff" - feeling like I've been "on the outside" so much, and my worries about rejection/abandonment (mostly unfounded, but my emotions don't always listen to my intellect)....well, it does make it a bit tougher to take some times.

What I really need to do now is get into my pajamas and clean up the kitchen and then knit on this new sweater, maybe that will make me feel more connected to something. Or even grab one of my stuffies (Well, Yvette is right here on the table next to me) and have it sit on my lap while I knit...

"Ancient arcane knowledge"

I'm updating some of my Environmental Policy and Law material this summer. I ran short of material both times I taught it so I figured I could flesh out a little more the introductory stuff about "attitudes towards nature" and especially the history of conservation in the US.

And a lot of the early stuff is long before my time, and maybe....yes, a little arcane given that most of the people I teach have career plans to be game wardens or work at a state agency or go into industrial hygiene. But I think as I've attained the age of 50, I'm allowed to be a tiny bit of a minor-league crank about some things, and this is my thing:

I think people should know stuff tangential to their specific career training. I think there should be some elements of humanities incorporated into STEM classes, and elements of history.

So that's why I have a copy of the painting commonly known as The Oxbow in one of my lectures, and I at least mention the Hudson River School. And I have a couple slides about Transcendentalism, and even Thoreau (even though I admit I think of him as a bit of a poser - perhaps even "the first hipster" and not in the positive sense of wanting authenticity so much as in the "look at me" sense). And I spend some time on John Muir (yes I know he's been declared Problematic in some ways, but my experience is that most of our students are willing to sit with that distinction and not throw the whole person out because of it) and Hetch Hetchy and all of that.

It's when I get into the later stuff that I have weird emotions. I LIVED some of that stuff. Granted, I was a baby with the Cuyahoga River burned (and yes, it freaks people out who are unfamiliar with that fact, but it is absolutely a thing, in fact, it burned more than once, but the 1969 fire is the one that gets all the press) and I wasn't even really a toddler yet when the first Earth Day happened, and yet, and yet....all of that was kind of in the air when I was a kid.

I think I've already mentioned that I have a copy of "Sparrows Don't Drop Candy Wrappers" (a 1971 book that is like an environment primer for kids) that my mom bought for me. (And we had other books like that, some about doing more with less, some about organic gardening).

One thing I remember about the 1970s was that in some ways, they seemed a more optimistic time. For one thing, maybe we weren't aware of the scope of the problems we faced (I think there was awareness of rising CO2 levels, and I remember for a fact talking about the thinning ozone when I was in fifth grade - so about 1979 - but there wasn't the sense of "we're doomed and every time we take a hot shower or turn on the AC we are making it  immeasurably worse")

I think there was partly more of a sense we'd somehow innovate our way out of some of the problems. And also, I think, maybe, a sense that individual action DID help....that, for example, picking up litter on your street and encouraging people not to litter and put out trash cans so people could avoid littering would fix things in a very specific way, and our lives would be better....and now sometimes the sense I *almost* get from some quarters is "meh, litter doesn't matter and we deserve to live in an ugly world because we're terrible people" or the endless lawyerballing about how what little things an individual can do don't really matter because multinational corporations are doing so much worse....and I think that maybe does lead to a bit of paralysis in the individual.

(Kind of like the whole "faith left mortally wounded by works that didn't work out" thing I talked about the other day, now I think of is easy to lose optimism and hope when you feel like anything you do is tiny and useless in the face of larger badness. Or like my periodic bleating about how my efforts to individually be a kind and caring person seem not to matter at all in a world where some person can spray bullets from a hotel room window and kill a couple hundred people because...well, some reason we'll never know)

But I am sharing the things I remember, and it makes me feel old.

I remember when billboards were a HUGE fight. We seem to have largely conceded that.

And junk mail: the little book I referenced suggested sending back prepaid envelopes with a note with your address asking to be taken off the list. Or to save up a stack and mail it back to them with a note about the waste they're generating. The idea was that that would do some good. (Now, I don't know. Though for a while I was tearing up and sending back the "preapproved" credit card offers with a note with my address and a request to be taken off the list)

And noise pollution. Again, the little book I have from the 1970s talks about trying to persuade your friends and relatives to ONLY use their horns in emergencies and to get their mufflers checked. (The horn thing makes particular sense to me. I always jump when I hear a car horn because to me it signals "impending accident' and I look around to see if I have to take evasive action). And things like keeping radio or stereo volumes down, especially if you live in an apartment....

And again, it seems we've conceded a lot of these things. And yes, I hate busybodies as much as the next red-blooded American, but.....but.....I think there's something about considering your neighbors to be considered here. I try to keep the noise in my area down - like, if I have to edge the lawn, I do it in the afternoon or evening even if first thing in the morning might be less deadly hot, because I know people don't get up as early as I do and I was kind of taught as a kid that you didn't make a lot of noise outside before 10 am (or, for that matter, after 8 or 9 pm, depending).

And I do wonder if some of it is a loss of community spirit, where we don't know our neighbors as well. (For a while, one of the neighbors I had worked nights and slept by day; he had a sign up on the door asking package delivery companies not to ring the bell. During that time I was extra careful not to be too loud early in the day)

(And yes, yes, I understand it: sometimes the dude with the messed up muffler can't afford to get it fixed. But similarly, the dude with the very loud stereo system on his car who drives around with it blaring late at night - he bought and paid for that and he could choose not to use it then)

And I wonder if maybe we haven't lost some of the cockeyed optimism of those times (and also, it was a time when it seems both political parties at least grudgingly worked together on things, instead of one immediately going "I'm agin' it!" when it hears an idea, no matter how good, was proposed by someone in the other party)

And I think there was maybe optimism in some other areas....a lot of the Americana stuff. I don't think it was so much a "my country, right or wrong*" as it was a "there are good things about us just as there are things we have to work on" in many instances

(*Yeah, probably, in some, but the flavor I got more as a kid was "we're all in this together" and "we can work to make things better" and "we've made some big strides in recent years")

Although one bit of actual optimism, I guess: I remember as a kid being told that bald eagles would probably be extinct by the time I was an adult (DDT had only been banned in, I think, 1973) and they aren't, in fact, they have been taken off the endangered species list.

And Pogo. In my material on the first Earth Day, I included this image:

Because that was a commonly-used panel from the cartoon at the time (And yes, the whole, larger comic has an environmental theme: Porky Pine is waxing poetic about the forest primeval, but in the second panel we see that he and Pogo have had to walk over all kinds of litter, and Porky complains about it hurting his feet, and Pogo responds with the famous line.

And I'm guessing most people of my generation or younger are unfamiliar with Pogo (despite the unsuccessful attempt to revive it some years back; I suspect it was both very much a product of its times, and also, a thing whose magic could only be captured by its creator, who had long since died).

The comic strip of Pogo is a *bit* before my time, but my mom was a fan, and she had some of the books that were compilations of the strips, and she gave them to me to read, just like she gave me her Peanuts compilations. I mostly didn't "get" Pogo as a kid (but I liked the funny animals) and I admit I don't "get" a lot of it as an adult because the references it makes are from the 1950s and 1960s, and I am a kid of the 1970s and even my "history" in school kind of ended with World War II. (History classes tend to run out of time).

I don't know, though. With some of this stuff it's really weird to look back and remember some of my childhood experiences, and think about how different attitudes are now, and think about how things have changed. And as I said on Twitter, I almost feel a little bit like the crone living deep in the forest and trying to scream wisdom out to the kids who dare venture close to her house (daring each other to touch the doorpost, or, I suppose, take a selfie while there) and sometimes it's really odd to me to think of how we got HERE from THERE....I doubt there's any going back, though, I don't really see a future path to both parties trying to work together much again, or to people re-forming in-person communities where they maybe do stuff like say to themselves, "You know, maybe throwing this drink cup out of my car isn't a good idea, because it'll ugly up someone's lawn and they'll have to pick it up." (Not that people throw drink cups specifically maliciously most of the time; it's more of a thoughtless - in the literal sense, not thinking of the other person - act)

And yes, I understand that a lot of this is maybe viewed through my  very specific growing-up lens: a white, middle-class, suburban kid, where things like "don't litter" were important messages because there was not really a struggle for things like food or shelter, but still.....there are still a lot of middle-class, suburban-type people who maybe could consider some of those things. And also I find myself thinking of this video  yet again

And yeah, the vague folk-rock patriotism of that, the optimism (though yeah, without any real solutions offered, and maybe that was the key to the 1970s optimism, I think sadly: the hard work wasn't considered because there weren't concrete solutions suggested beyond things like "pick up litter on your street!" or "don't waste water!")

people's money priorities

So another one of those "LOL can someone good at budgeting help us" alleged-clueless-rich-person thing is making the rounds. (I say "alleged" because I'm pretty convinced it's a hoax designed to raise outrage among those who have less). Supposedly a couple who live in Kansas City, have no kids, make a combined income of $500,000.....but are going broke.

LOL yeah.

Allegedly,they spend $10,000 a month on a mortgage, which, unless they're in a literal castle, I don't think fits for KC. (I don't know: I've never been there, and also I don't have a mortgage on my *own* house - between a little inheritance from grandparents left over, a gift from my dad, and some money I had saved up, I was able to buy a small, older house needing some repairs outright, do many of the repairs myself...and not have a mortgage payment to be concerned with).

And they spend $3000 a month on food as a couple....which seems high to me, I don't know. Some months I spend a tenth of that and I feel like that's more than I "should" be spending. (Many months, especially if I'm not going to restaurants and not eating much meat, it's closer to $200....)

(And much hay was made on Twitter about the $400 a month "party supplies" thing. I admit I'm literal minded and also innocent, and I forgot they didn't have kids, so I was actually imagining paper plates and pinatas and party hats....I think the conclusion was that was a euphemism for booze...)

But anyway. How anyone spends their money isn't really my business, unless they're regularly going into debt and then hitting me up for loans, or if they're a family member I'm expected to support by cutting back on my own spending.

In some ways I'm pretty frugal. I tend to agree with the sentiment that there's nothing you can buy that feels better than not carrying a heavy load of debt feels. (I am very fortunate in that I have no debt, currently. I was able to make it through my education without loans, largely by being able to live with my parents through graduate school and working as a TA, which paid my tuition and got me a tiny stipend).

But there are things I spend money on (as the last post shows). Craft supplies are a big one, though really, I should be working down what I *have* already, both for financial and storage reasons. And books, though at this point it's kind of the same, I have a LOT of books.

And there are things I don't: I could probably save myself a lot of time and some physical agony by hiring a lawn service instead of mowing the lawn myself. But then again: you have to do a long-term contract with places here, and some of them want to spray chemicals (I don't care if my lawn is a little weedy; it's never bad in high summer because the St. Augustine crowds the other stuff out, and I don't like risking poisoning the beneficial insects or birds). Same with a cleaning person....

though also, I admit I have the sense of "this is your mess, this is your area, you should take care of it yourself" and I also dislike the fact - which some friends have told me of - that at least with some lawn services, when you need them to come out, you have to call several times to schedule and ugh, I would rather just mow my small lawn myself than have to use the phone...

If I weren't physically able to do it (and that may become a thing in the future, I suppose) that's one matter. But if I can, I feel kind of like I should.

And new furniture or new household "things" or even stuff like renovating the kitchen....with furniture, especially, I get attached to the stuff I have and would rather not have to replace it. I replace stuff when it breaks or wears out, but I know people who get bored of their furniture and sell or donate it so they can buy new....I think the last "new" furniture I bought was the recliner chair, and that was because the overstuffed chair I bought in 2000 was wearing out and breaking down, and when the furniture place dropped the new chair off they took the old one for recycling/disposal. (I kept the big ottoman though because it was still in good shape). And yeah, I think I would like to have a redone kitchen, with fancier newer cupboards and more functional flooring than the silly white ceramic tile (gets slick when damp, and shows every speck of dirt) but the idea of managing the logistics of it shuts me down (I know someone who had her kitchen redone and because the contractor was slow, she was without a functional kitchen for eight months and I cannot even imagine that).

(Heh. What I would spend money on? Someone to run the logistics for me. Someone to call the contractor and chew on him for not getting the work done to schedule, or to call the lawn service back and tell them to get out here and mow the lawn because they're three days late...)

But honestly, if I had a lot of money I felt free about spending? The biggest thing I'd buy (provided I could either make room in my house, or have new construction done to expand part of the house, or have a climate-controlled shed built for it out back, or rent studio space, or whatever) would be a longarm quilting machine (and lessons in how to use it). The fancy ones are upward of $10,000 but I would want one you could either do free hand or "pantographs" (printed patterns, like the old templates for hand quilting but you can get almost ANYTHING in a pantograph - flowers, stars, animal shapes, you can have a lot of fun doing themed quilting)

But yeah. That's my one big spendy "want" right now - not a fancy car, not fancy jewelry, not even a fancy vacation somewhere....