Sunday, July 24, 2016

5076 Moving along

Sunday, July 24, 2016

"Writing gives you the illusion of control, and then you realize
it's just an illusion, that people are going to bring their own stuff into it."
-- David Sedaris --


The last three weeks have been very busy.  There was a lot of testing, of course, that kept me moving.  When this all first came up, I started out so very positive, and then things got more and more frustrating, and I got more and more angry.   I believe that one's attitude has a lot to do with medical outcomes, so being put under unnecessary stress made me even angrier, like a snowball effect.  

One thing is my insurance.  They've tried to be very helpful, but ... it turns out nobody much accepts this insurance.  When I called around to schedule the chest xray, for example, I discovered that my local hospital doesn't take my insurance!  Same when I was trying to find a surgeon for a second opinion.  My PCP recommends that as soon as possible, I should dump these guys and go back to just plain Medicare.  Medicare works everywhere.

Another frustration was that no one seems willing to accept that I want both breasts removed, and I DO NOT want reconstruction!  I get looks of disbelief, like an incredulous "You know that means you'll be just flat?"  Uh, yeah.  That's what I want.  The surgeon said she would not do a mastectomy, just a lumpectomy, and her reason was that because I have a long history as a smoker, there's an increased chance that "the flap" would not have enough blood supply, and the flap skin would die, so she doesn't want to make a flap.

Well, I did the research.  First off, the incidence of flap necrosis is in fact doubled for smokers, but as is often the case, a very small incidence doubled is STILL a very small incidence! People tend to forget that.  Secondly, the research indicates that the difficulty with the flap occurs ONLY when the skin is draped over a filler/mold/expander used when reconstruction is planned, because the flap is thin injured skin draped over non-living non-organic material, so the skin must be able to support itself throughout healing.  If you are not planning reconstruction, the skin is laid nice and flat over living tissue, into which it happily grows and shares blood with.  None of the research indicates a common flap problem when no reconstruction is planned.  But, this is the reason she gives for insisting on lumpectomy.

Why do they refuse to believe I want NO RECONSTRUCTION!  Are my breasts so magnificent they can't imagine my ditching them?

(You know, I'm almost believing that, because almost everyone was amenable to complete removal until they saw them in all their glory.  Then suddenly they were against anything more than lumpectomy.)

So, I had the lumpectomy last Wednesday, July 20.  Daughter took me in early morning (arrived at 7:40).  Things did not happen quickly after that.  There was a lot of waiting, with, of course, no food or water since midnight.  I finally got into the OR at 2 pm-ish.  That was kind of funny.  They had taken my glasses, so I couldn't see anything, but there were 10 or 12 people in the OR, mostly women, and it sounded like a party going on.   They have tumor conferences on Thursday, the interesting case of the week, and it turned that the prior Thursday was me.  Every doctor and technician I had seen since then knew all about me.  It felt weird.

We finally got out of there around 5 pm, I think.

I'm all bandaged and taped up, and probably swollen, so I have no idea what it looks like.  The right one is definitely smaller now than the healthy left, but not by as much as I had hoped.  Imagine a volcano shape.  Now blow off the top of the volcano, leaving the base intact.  That's what I seem to have.

They gave me a prescription for Percocet, which I haven't filled.  They chewed up my upper lip and the right side of my jaw inside, so I briefly needed pain killers for that.  But not for the breast.  No pain whatsoever from the breast or from the two lymph nodes removed high on the side of the breast.  Nothing but itching.

The surgery was Wednesday.  Wednesday evening blood showed in the gauze through the transparent bandages.  Thursday morning the red was replaced by pale yellow.  By Thursday evening there was nothing there.  The gauze actually looks almost clean, which is weird.  Thursday morning the itching started.  That's supposed to be good.  There's some slight tenderness off to the side, pretty much where the lump was.  And that's it.

The lump and lymph nodes went off to the lab.  I'll find out what the lab says when I see the surgeon in a few days.  According to my research, something like 30% of lumpectomies show "dirty" edges, and you need a second surgery to get to clean edges.  That's a part they never tell you.  I told her if she was going to insist on lumpectomy, she should "go deep, go wide, take a lot more than you think you need, I don't want to see dirty edges, and remember cosmetic result is not a consideration", so we'll see.  I will be absolutely pissed if we have to go back in there.  Um, considering I wanted a mastectomy.  Once and done.

Also in a few days I'll find out what kind of follow-on treatment I need.

Friday, July 01, 2016

5075 Surgery tentatively scheduled.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Short story - She lies. He lies. They lay.


I spend a good portion of yesterday and today on the phone.  Dr. Kohli, the surgeon, wants a nephrologist (kidney) consultation as part of the presurgical testing.  She wants to ensure that they don't kill my kidneys with whatever else they have to give me. 

We're having trouble finding one known to her and my PCP who will also take my insurance, and is fairly close to Monmouth Medical Center (where the Breast Center is).  Found one today, have an appointment with her July 14.  The surgery is scheduled for July 21.  Three weeks out.  I wish it were sooner.

I have to get a referral to the nephrologist from my PCP, so I called him today to ask for that.  The poor guy.  He's been getting scan and lab reports, but still feels out of the loop and isn't sure why we need the nephrology consult, so I have an appointment with him on Tuesday to fill him in on what's been going on.

I'm feeling a bit frustrated.  I don't like delays.  This thing is fairly small, in a good location, and so far the lymph nodes "look good".  But it's growing fast.  It's aggressive.  I don't want it to suddenly decide to become an empire, with colonies elsewhere.

As far as the kidney is concerned, it's only the left that we have to worry about (I guess).  I can live with one kidney, and even if the worst happens, there's dialysis, whatever.  I'd really rather take care of the thing that we KNOW will kill me and not delay working on that because of  worry about the possibility of something that might kill me.

But, I seem to be the only person worried about delay, so, maybe I should relax.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

5074 Changing plans

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

"It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong."
-- Voltaire --


Well, I said I would be willing to change plans after taking into consideration what the surgeon had to say.  And yeah, plans have changed.

I spent about an hour and a half with her.  She was open to double mastectomy ... um... but not right now.

It's a little complicated.  I'll explain.  And this explains why she cancelled today's surgery (or handed it off, I don't know) and moved my appointment from Friday to today.

I smoke.  Not a lot, but enough.  Where this causes a problem is in the blood supply to the skin that will cover the area.  I've got one count against me because of the size, a second count because of my age, and the third is the smoking, which constricts blood vessels, so there's a danger of the skin actually dying, and then we're talking necrosis and grafts and a royal mess.  

If I quit smoking right now, after about (I forget how many) weeks, (in a minute you'll understand why the time span doesn't matter anyway) my odds of no problems after the mastectomy go way up.  So, ok.  Cold turkey tonight.

The problem is that I don't have that much time.  We have to move on this fast.

I had noticed that every time someone scanned or prodded this thing, the size estimate went up.  I kinda figured that was because everyone was looking at or estimating something different.  Well, no.  It IS getting bigger.  Fast.

It's now at 2.1 cm by 2.2 cm by 2.2 cm.  On the 16th it was 1.5 ish.

I saw the lab results from the biopsy today.  Most stuff looks pretty good, but there's one bad number, and that makes all the difference.   Not in prognosis - that still seems pretty good - but it means we don't have time to waste.

Biopsy lab results: 
Grade 2 (of 0 to 4), in the absence of a lymph node biopsy, but the nodes "look good".
It is estrogen sensitive, 60%.  That's good for treatment effectiveness.
Slight progesterone , at 1%.
Her2/neu is negative, which is very good news.
Ki-67 is 40%, which is very bad.

Ki-67 is an indicator as to the aggressiveness, rate of growth.
Under 10% is almost like the tumor is resting.
10-20% is borderline.
Over 20% is high, fast and aggressive.
I'm at 40%.
That means that 40% of the cells are currently in the process of dividing.
Do you know what exponential growth is?

So, there's no time to wait for anything other than pre-surgical testing. 
She wants to do a lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy ASAP.
I had told her about my negative feels about lumpectomies, so I asked her to "go wide and deep, way beyond what looks like the margins, as much as you can take without creating secondary problems.  Remember, appearance is not a consideration."  She laughed, and agreed.  Go wide and deep.

And then, after we have the malignancy in control (after radiation and chemo, and how much of what kinds depends on what they find), after I've healed from all that, THEN we can do the double mastectomy if I still want it. (And I'm pretty sure I will.)

I swear I heard her say the lumpectomy will not require a hospital stay.  In and out in one day.  Interesting.

Now I quit smoking, and wait for calls scheduling all the pre-surgical testing.

Garbage collection is tomorrow, luckily, so I can clear out all the ashtrays and whatever tonight.  (One ashtray on the front porch, one on the back patio, one in the van.  I don't smoke in the house.)  That's a quick cut.  And I have all the milk, eggs, and bread I'll need for a long while, so I won't have to go to the deli and be tempted.

You know, I'm still not worried about the tumor.  The quitting smoking, yes, but not the tumor.  I'm surprisingly relaxed.  Or at least I am now.  I might not be so relaxed after four days cold turkey.


Rocky, any hints to make it easier?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

5073 Costs of medical care

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

"Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired."
-- Robert Frost --


I read a NY Times article this morning about the high cost of maternity care and delivery in the US.  When Daughter was born 41 years ago, the bill wasn't so terribly high, but I do remember that when I requested an itemized bill, the hospital objected at first, then finally gave in, and I was shocked to find that we were charged for things that we never got.  I'd had no medication whatsoever, not even aspirin, and yet we (well, the insurance co.) were billed for all kinds of stuff.  I noticed, for example, that we were billed some ridiculous amount for Daughter's blood typing, so I called the hospital and asked what her blood type was.  They hemmed and hawed, and finally admitted it had never been done.  Buncha stuff like that.

I informed the insurance company of all the bogus charges.  I don't know what happened after that.  It was like they had a standard list of usual procedures, and just charged for all of it, whether we got it or not.  

So, I wondered what the breast business might end up costing.  My insurance dealy has me pay 20% for just about everything up to a certain out-of-pocket limit, so I figured out what this has likely cost so far - just through the diagnostic part.
So far, I've had
- a diagnostic mammogram (how is that different from the standard mammo, BTW?)
- ultrasound
- ultrasound-guided core needle biopsy
- fine needle aspiration of a cyst
- MRI of breasts
- associated lab work and technical stuff for the above.

So far, I've paid a bit over $500 to the breast center.  If that's 20%, then so far it has cost over $2,500, and we haven't even got to the fancy parts yet.  I don't know if I should expect a separate bill from radiologists, but according to everyone I've spoken to so far, no, they are employees of the center, so do not bill separately.  The only ones who bill separately are apparently the anesthesiologists. (Incidentally, I did the math wrong first time through, and came up with $10,000 instead of $2,500.  Oops.  Not so terrible after all....)

Jay's brain cancer was intense, a lot of stuff done, many MRIs, three craniotomies, five different chemotherapies, immune system therapy, several weeks of daily radiation, steriotactic radiosurgery, many stays in hospitals and specialized care centers, many specialists, many expensive maintenance drugs, and yet between late 1998 and the end of 2001 the grand total was less than $300,000.

Wow.  I think costs have increased a bit ....  especially distressing given that insurance now covers a lot less of the total.

Monday, June 27, 2016

5072 Some exciting news

Monday, June 27, 2016

I am fully aware of all the things I don't know,
and those things seem more important than the things I do know.
-- Silk --


I had an MRI of the breasts today.  They were able to use my hand to infuse the contrast, so that was no problem at all.  The setup was kind of funny - I lay face-down on the table, with my breasts hanging through two holes in the surface.  I was quite comfortable.  I am seldom able to lie on my stomach, and I liked it.

Before we got started, I told the technician about my wonky left kidney, so we have to be cognizant that anything that goes into the lower chamber (my left kidney has two unconnected chambers and two ureters, and the lower one is blocked by a stone) may not be flushed out for a long time, so I would prefer not to use anything that might damage a kidney.  So he went off and talked to some doctor, and came back and did two things.

1.) They switched to another contrast that is gentle on kidneys, "It's the one we use for people with renal failure".  He told me the name, but of course I've forgotten it.  I asked him if it was as effective, does it give the same results, and he said yes, that the scans are exactly the same.  So I blinked twice, and asked "Then why don't you use that one all the time for everyone?"  He looked like I'd just voted for his favorite candidate, and said "Yeah.  That would make sense.  [shrug]  I don't know."

2.)  They took some blood, and ran it straight to the lab for renal function testing, and came back in minutes with the news that TA RAH my kidneys are not just working fine, they're working exceedingly well!  He told me what they tested for, what the ranges were, and what my numbers were, and of course I've forgotten (I didn't have a pen or paper in there to write anything down), but translating to a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is a healthy teenager and 10 is you'll be dead next week, I came in like 1.2.    What the...?!?!?!

Remember that kidney doctor who tortured me through 2011 and 2012?  The one who, when I asked why we were doing the same (often painful) tests over and over when the results were always the same, answered "Because it's progressing" and wouldn't say anything more?  Who scared me to death because kidney failure is relentlessly progressive, kidneys once damaged never heal but turn into a chain of dominoes?  Yeah, him?  Before I just didn't like him.  Now I'm furious with him.

I fired him because I had no trust or faith in him, and I figured if I was headed for dialysis anyway, I'd rather skip all this useless testing between now and then, since nothing was going to stop or slow it, so I may as well sit back comfortably in the meantime. 

Apparently it's not progressing.  And I guess all the things I've been doing to protect my kidneys, like restricting foods and supplements high in minerals and salts and drinking lots of water throughout the day, have been working. 

Maybe now I can even have a banana occasionally.  I miss bananas. 

5071 Losing it

Monday, June 27, 2016

"God created Man in his own image and Man, being a generous sort, returned the favor."
-- Mark Twain --


In a comment on an earlier post, I wrote, in regard to mastectomy: "Daughter told me that losing them entirely will break my grandbaby's heart. "Huh?" Daughter doesn't even fill an A cup, and Nugget (5 years old) finds snuggling into Gramma's soft chest pillows very comforting."

That brought an old memory vividly to mind.

My grandmother was, no other way to say it, fat.  She was almost perfectly round from her shoulders to her knees, with big doughy arms.  She was no more than 4' 7" tall.

I forget how old I was at the time, still a child, anyway (but maybe into middle school?) when we went to visit her again.  We'd been living pretty far from Scranton and I hadn't seen her since the previous summer. 

She was skinny!  She was all flat all over!  There was nothing left of her! 

Mom said Gramma had been diagnosed with diabetes, so she had to lose weight, but that didn't mean anything to me.

I completely freaked.  It took me a very long time to come to terms with that.  I kept wailing, "Grammas are SUPPOSED to be fat!"

See, the way I saw it then, other fat people might take more than their share, but when a Gramma was fat, that meant she had more to give.  I was afraid Gramma couldn't love me so much anymore.

You know, I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that I've gained a good 30 pounds since Nugget was born, and it hasn't bothered me at all?  Now I'm a Gramma.  Grammas are SUPPOSED to be fat!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

5070 Mammo, pictures!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

“The flag is a symbol, and I leave symbols to the symbol-minded."
-- George Carlin --


It took me literally hours today to figure out how to read the mammogram disk from last Thursday, then to find out which of the fifty or more folders and files on the disk had the actual mammo pictures, and then how to copy/print/snapshot them.  Finally had to take a screen capture (another hour trying various methods to accomplish that).  So, anyhow, here they are.  (Just the one orientation - there were several.)  

This is the left, the "healthy" one.  I kinda wonder about that denser part in the middle....

This is the right, the "bad" one.  It's pretty easy to pick out the tumor.  This is a little deceptive as to location.  It's actually in the lower outer quadrant.   They had me twisted funny.
The hollowness just behind the nipple is a cyst.  They drained it and checked the fluid, and it's of no further interest.

You notice all the "processes going on" around the tumor?  That makes the lump feel much larger than it is (it feels about ping pong ball sized, although the actual tumor is about the width of my thumbnail) and that's the reason lumpectomy will not be acceptable to me.  I don't like the looks of that at all.

On to the next steps.

Friday, June 24, 2016

5069 More appointments, minor rants

Friday, June 24, 2016

Attention to detail: An apostrophe is the difference between a company that knows its shit
and a company that knows it’s shit. 


My MRI is scheduled for Monday.  That's going to be both without and with contrast.  I'm not looking forward to the contrast (see my previous experience at, but if they don't insist that I be dehydrated, it might be ok.  Might.

The surgeon appointment is Wednesday.  Apparently my biopsy results are interesting, because she requested that my appointment be moved up from Friday.  Interesting.  I have to be there about 8 am, to see her before she goes into surgery. 

On the subject of double mastectomy, I've been thinking about what the radiologists said about surgeons being reluctant to remove healthy tissue. 

Bull poopy. 

They were perfectly happy to remove tonsils, even when they didn't know what they were good for.  Same with the appendix.  I don't know if it's still true, but when I lived in St. Louis, it was a state law that if the abdomen was opened for any reason, the perfectly healthy appendix  had to be removed.  Again, no one was sure what the appendix did.  Also, all non-Jewish baby boys were to be circumcised, by state law.  I especially remember that one because I caused a furor with the hospital when Daughter was born (1975), when I said that if she was a boy and was circumcised without our permission, I was going to sue for mutilation. 

And of course there's plastic surgeons.  They are more than willing to remove half your nose for no reason, or masses of useless fat anywhere. 

I consider my breasts to be masses of useless fat that cause more current problems (back strain) and possible future problems (5 times more likely to have future tumor in the other breast) than they are worth (having no worth).  So what's the problem?


Missouri scared me.  There was the appendix thing, and the circumcision thing, and all this didn't come from doctors, it was the state legislature that made those decisions.  Then, the legislature decided that if someone was discovered unconscious and taken to the ER, and their blood pressure was below a certain level, internal bleeding was to be assumed, (regardless of medical history or nature of injury), and the chest and abdomen were to be opened forthwith!  (And of course I guess the appendix would be removed.)

What scared the heck out of me is that, at that time, my normal regular BP was below that cutoff.  For more than a year I wore a medical bracelet with my normal BP noted on it, just in case I ever fainted from the heat or something.

Finally, there was Roe v Wade.  The Missouri legislature freaked, and in their infinite wisdom, said, "Ok.  You can have an abortion if you want.  But you ain't gonna like it!", and passed (either proposed or passed, I'm not sure, although I believe it passed with almost no discussion) a law that said all abortions in Missouri for any reason would be by hysterotomy only.  That was the first time I'd ever heard that word.  It means "caesarean section".  Missouri's doctors finally had enough, I guess, and rose up screaming. 


I found this in reference to Britain's vote to leave the EU:
But this was not democracy in action. This was fascism in action. People voted because they were ignorant, and they were ignorant because the fascists are terribly, terribly good at propaganda. The people were manipulated.

What's amusing was that when I first read it, I thought it was referring to the Republican primaries.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

5068 Anniversaries!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Checking the calendar to note future appointments (MRI next Monday, surgeon Friday of next week) I noticed two anniversaries.

1.  Happy belated birthday Becs!  (it was Monday.)  I hope you treated yourself to Indian food and a kutri.

2.  Yesterday was the 12th anniversary of this blog/diary.  Over the years it has been very useful, to go back and find when things happened, and so on.  I don't intend to quit.

5067 News from my corner

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Ye shall know the truth, and the truth will make you mad.
-- Aldous Huxley --


Most people will interpret "mad" in the green quote above as "angry", but given the source, it's more likely "insane". 


When you think of Antarctica, and the research station at McMurdo, what do you "see"?  Probably a small cluster of connected space-lab-looking canisters, and a land covered in ice and snow, miles thick.  Right?  

Well, it's nothing like my mental image.  Something I read sent me off to look at pictures.  McMurdo Station looks like any small town in the US, and as for all that snow and ice, check out McMurdo Dry Valley.  It's like that all year, not just summer.

 Amazing.  So very different from what I imagined.


I've been among the missing lately as far as blogging goes, mainly because there's nothing much happening, and politics is disgusting (to use one candidate's favorite word).  Favorite joke right now - "Orange is the new Black."

I think things are going to heat up pretty soon, though.  I've been visiting the Jacqueline M. Wilentz Comprehensive Breast Center at the Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, NJ.  I'm impressed and happy with my impression so far.  It's the first in the region to be designated a Certified Quality Breast Center of Excellence, the highest recognition attainable from the National Quality Measures for Breast Centers and is also a recipient of the Women’s Choice Award as one of America’s best breast centers.

I had a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound Thursday of last week, and an ultrasound-guided core needle biopsy last Tuesday. The lab results from the biopsy came back today, the radiologist called me this morning.  I have a 1.5 cm invasive ductal carcinoma in the lower outer/right quadrant of the right breast. I didn't ask for details as to grade and so on in the phone call.  It really doesn't matter right now, and I'll get all that info when I see a printout.  My lymph nodes seem to be fine, but we haven't checked them yet other than by ultrasound.

I'm very relaxed about this whole thing.  I don't have that feeling of doom about it, and neither does Daughter.  In fact, when I first felt the lump (about six or eight weeks ago, yeah, it took me four weeks to finally admit that I had to make an appointment with a doctor, I hate doctors that much, but I lucked out there, the PCP assigned by my insurance company, although Egyptian, is very nice and really talks to me without condescension).  Anyway, my first thought, and I'm serious about this, was, "Oh, wow, maybe I can spin this into a double mastectomy."

I have to talk to a surgeon next.  I chose a woman from India who has been at Monmouth for five years, has fellowships at Mount Sinai and Beth Israel.  Have to make an appointment with her.  My PCP recommended a male surgeon at Monmouth, but he's going on vacation on Monday and won't be back until August.  Actually, I'm a bit relieved.  I'd rather a female, and this woman was recommended by the radiologists (male and female) who did the biopsy.  So, we'll see.

[Flash - just got a call from Monmouth - tentative appointment with surgeon Friday 7/1, secretary is going to try to rearrange her schedule to get me in sooner, schedule MRI before that.]

My reasons for wanting double mastectomy (no reconstruction):
  1. My first bra, at age 12, was a B-cup, and they grew quickly.  They've been DD since my 30's.  For men and women alike they've been my defining characteristic all my life, ahead of any of my other skills, talents, or abilities.  
  2. Men of slight acquaintance walk up behind me, reach around, and grab them, so often that I have developed an automatic back-elbow-jab response.  They always look embarrassed and say, "I just wanted to know if they were real..."  Yes, they all say the same thing.  I don't want or need this.  I want people to see ME when they look at me.
  3. I am now 4'8.5" tall, with DD boobs.  I have a fragile back.  These things hang off the front and pull.  They're too heavy.  I walk around the house cupping them in my hands to lift the weight and center it more over my spine, and it feels so much better.  With them gone I'd almost feel like I could fly.  I need double, because one gone would unbalance me even more.
  4. Once you have a tumor in one breast, you have five times the chance of another in the other.  
  5. Face it - they have no use whatsoever once you're past childbearing age.  If I need something to make clothes hang right, a nice light padded bra would do just fine.

One of the technicians at the breast center warned me not to get my hopes up, because surgeons are highly reluctant to remove healthy tissue.  That's one reason I'm fine with switching from one of the male surgeons recommended by my PCP to a female.  I'm hoping she might be more understanding, (men get emotional about breasts), easier to convince, and able to convince my insurance --- but if the insurance refuses to pay for the other breast, I will.

So, further developments as they occur.

Please don't leave mushy comments.  I'm not a hugger, and really, I'm fine with this.  It's just news from my corner.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

5066 Circles

Sunday, June 12, 2016

"Accomplishing the impossible means only that the boss
will add it to your regular duties."
-- Doug Larson --


You know, I'm tired of people sneering that "Adults should not drink milk."  "Humans are the only animals who drink milk past infancy."  Not true.  Farm cats regularly line up when cows are hand-milked.  Many cats and dogs love milk.  Why?  Because it's high in protein and fat.  The same reason humans find it beneficial.  Other animals will relish it when they can get it, especially in the form of cheese.  

They just mostly can't get it.


Tinfoil hat time.  It's no secret that Americans in general seem to be getting more and more incapable of rational thought / critical thinking, and they seem a lot more poorly educated than previous generations of the same social class.  (Not to mention the rest of the world.)

I don't think that's an accident.  

Stupid people are a lot easier to herd than intelligent people.  All you have to do is feed them a load of garbage, tell them what they should fear, and then convince them that you are the only one who can save them from these fears.  If you've done your job well, they won't be capable of figuring things out for themselves and they'll believe you and follow you.  

It shows up not just in politics.  How many of those stupid made-up memes on Facebook are taken as fact by people who have no idea how to check the facts?  It's not an accident that the fastest-spreading and most believed ones are those that feed into people's carefully cultivated fears and prejudices.   They don't WANT to have them disproven.   They will close their ears and eyes to science, logic, and evidence.

I don't understand.

An example - I've been trying to understand how anyone can believe that contrails are actually "chemtrails" meant by some nebulous group (usually the government) to poison us.  You can give them all the science, all the data, and they won't listen.  You can point out that if someone is actually doing what they think, those people are also poisoning themselves and their own children, and still no lightbulbs go on.

With the ability to search the internet, you'd think people would be able to check facts.  But A.) they're too lazy to do it, and B.) when they do, they can't tell the difference between valid sources, screaming idiots, and bogus "news sources".  So they just indiscriminately choose whatever source agrees with their prejudices, no matter where or who it comes from. 

Watch the movie "Idiocracy".  Do you see a parallel with the Trump candidacy?

It's getting darker and darker out there, and that scares me.


In earlier centuries, people were poisoned by lead.  In makeup.  In paint.  Artists were especially susceptible, like Van Gogh and James McNeill Whistler.  The lead tended to affect certain segments of the population.  More recently, lead was in gasoline, the solder in food cans, water pipes, house paint, toothpaste tubes, and pesticides.  Lead wasn't banned in paints in the US until 1978.    

According to a footnote in a book I'm currently reading, "although lead has been removed from most consumer products, it continues to build up in the atmosphere because of industrial applications.  The average person of today has about 625 times more lead in his system than someone of fifty years ago."** (Note, sources differ, see my footnote below.)

Anyway, in earlier centuries, only some people got lead overdoses.  Now, everybody has very high lead levels.  I wonder if that contributes to the general mental nightfall.

It's getting darker and darker out there.


I came across an interesting discussion of why the Japanese have so much difficulty with English, both in learning vocabulary and pronunciation.  In English, we have letters that represent individual sounds.  Given a written English word and the sounds of the letters, you can figure out (or approximate) how to pronounce that word.  Given a spoken word, you can phonetically figure out how to (approximately) spell it.  

In Japanese katakana (in simplest terms) it's even easier to figure out the pronunciation of a Japanese word, and how to spell it, but the problem is that there is no correspondence between the Roman alphabet and katakana.  Katakana has five vowels and (I think) one consonant, and all of the remaining symbols represent syllables.  For example, there is no katakana symbol for the sound of the letter "P" all by itself.  The closest symbol is for a syllable like "pu".  So katakana pronunciation guides for English words will have the learner pronouncing the final letter of the word "stop" as "pu".  "Stopu".  There's a good video on the topic at


**Said book has an extensive bibliograpny, but no connection between the bibliography and the text (phooey!), so I have no idea where the author got that from.  I did search a bit and found the "625 times more lead" in this book:
but it's significant that this reference says we have less lead since unleaded gasoline, but "625 times more" than a hundred years ago.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

5065 Not done yet

Saturday, May 28, 2016

"Egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity."
– Frank Leahy –


Strange thing I noticed -- Trump's current wife has Ted Cruz's eyes.


I can't figure out why Ex#2 is getting heart valve replacement surgery.  Or maybe repair.  I don't know.  

It's not like it will improve his quality of life any more than just keeping him on oxygen would.  At this point, he has no quality of life.  

I guess I'm still hearing the doctors refuse certain treatments for Jay on the grounds that it "wouldn't improve his quality of life."  Actually, physical therapy for example would have improved what life he had left immensely, and he had a lot more life left than anyone ever expected him to have, but they just didn't expect him to live much longer.  

Those words still ring in my mind.

So how is surgery for Ex#2 justified?  Who makes those decisions?  It doesn't make any sense.  With everything else that's fallen apart, why fix the valve?  Is the only criteria just a matter of getting it approved by insurance?  I wanna know what insurance he has!

5064 Pressure

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Where hangs the smoke of hate burns a fiercer fire called fear. 
– old Russian proverb --


From the Rhinebeck Community Forum, regarding the Memorial Day parade:

The parade will proceed south on Mulberry Street, turn west onto East Market Street and stop at Village and Town Halls for simultaneous flag raisins and a wreath laying ceremony

So many questions.  Does no one proofread anymore?  Raisins?  And it's one parade.  The village and town halls are almost a quarter mile apart, so I wonder how that "simultaneous" works. 


I'm in procrastinate mode again.  Everything is tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.  

Daughter's father, EX#2, is in the hospital again, has been there for quite a while.  What I get from Daughter tends to be very garbled, so I'm not entirely sure what's going on.  He's in some kind of rehab facility and is supposed to have some kind of heart valve replacement surgery soon, actually I was under the impression that was supposed to be some time early in this past week, but Daughter has said nothing more, and I don't like to ask because she acts like I'm harassing her when I do ask, so.... 

What made me think it was to be early this past week is that she and the Nugget went to visit him about 8 days ago, because she thought it was important that she see him before the surgery.  The rehab is in Camden, which is a day-trip, but when they move him for the surgery he will be much further south and visiting is a much harder trip, especially with the Nugget.  

I've had to walk on eggshells lately with her because she's very tense for a long time about this week.  They all left this morning for a week-long visit with Hercules' mother, who is currently living in, uh, Arizona?  New Mexico?  Wherever she is, it's way out in the middle of nowhere, something to do with a reservation school or something.  I don't know.  I don't ask.   

I do know that the MIL is nuts.  Oh, not that kind - well, that kind too, but she's fine if she takes her medications - I mean she has some weird ideas and is frequently, in fact usually, completely unreasonable.  There's the orbs thing, and the astrology, and the way she "wouldn't let" Hercules and Daughter name the baby what they wanted to name her, loudly rejecting name after name as being "bad omens".  "Wouldn't let" is in quotes, because of course they could have chosen any name they wanted, but if they did, she'd have made their lives hell.  I am mostly pretty easygoing, but after one hour in her presence I quite literally want to strangle her.

Poor Hercules.  He drew some bad straws in parents.  His father actually told him that Daughter was a gold-digger, that she would eventually leave him and take all his money.  Not suggested, TOLD him.  When Daughter told me that, I said that she should casually drop into conversation sometime how much she stands to eventually inherit from me.  She won't need any of whatever pittance he leaves Hercules.  Anyway, he gives Daughter a hard time.  Nothing she says or does is acceptable. 

The FIL has an odd arrangement.  His second wife, Hercules' stepmother, is an identical twin, and her twin sister lives with them.  The women have the same hairstyle, dress alike, the three go everywhere together, do everything together, at least as far as I know, but of course I know next to nothing.  I don't know what their domestic arrangement is, but it does leave one wondering.  You'd think a guy who has so much money that he's worried about gold-diggers would say, "Hey, let's install your sister in her own apartment."  But, like I said, I know nothing.  I seldom gossip, but I don't feel in the least guilty about this instance.


Almost forgot.  Back when Daughter and Nugget visited Ex#2 a week ago, he was sitting in a wheelchair, and the urine bag was on the side.  Daughter moved the wheelchair, and the bag somehow came disconnected, and urine spilled all over the floor.  She attempted to clean it up using paper towels or something, and then the nurse came in, and told her that she shouldn't have touched it because Ex#2 has a UTI, and it's a MRSA infection.  

Daughter was freaked enough that she called me from the road on her way home, wondering what kind of danger she and the Nugget might be in, and what she should do.

I didn't say it to her, but I figure she should have asked at the hospital.  I'm surprised that if it was very infectious that they would allow the Nugget in the room.  Of course, on the other hand, it was supposed to be confined in the bag.  I told her to call her doctor or pediatrician the next day.  I haven't heard anything since.

To add to the stress, her cat Titus has had some kind of mouth problem since kittenhood (he's 9 this year) and it finally seems to be causing him problems eating, so Daughter ... well, long story short, several thousand dollars in surgery needed.  


Well, I may regret this post.  Daughter is extremely defensive of her "boundaries", and I'm sure she'd figure I overstepped here.  But damn it, it affects my life, too.  I have issues of my own that I have been unable to bring up for the past few weeks because I didn't want to add to Daughter's problems.  So I have a right to complain about things that are attacking her, at least.

Friday, May 13, 2016

5063 Ticketmaster

Friday, May 13, 2016

"Any war that requires the suspension of reason as a necessity for support is a bad war."
– Norman Mailer --


(Eek!  Friday the 13th!)

I got an email this morning saying that as a result of a class action suit against Ticketmaster I was eligible to get a certain number of $2.25-off coupons on future tickets.

I hate Ticketmaster.  They charge ridiculous fees in addition to the ticket prices, that often total another 50% above the cost of the ticket.  If you download the receipt, print it yourself using your own printer, ink, and paper, then take the receipt to the venue, and stand in line at the ticket office to pick up the actual ticket, Ticketmaster still charged you significant "delivery", "convenience", and "service" fees (separate fees, in addition to others).  That's what the suit was about, that the fees do not reflect the actual costs of any of their services, they're just pure profit disguised as costs.  And what pissed me off the most about Ticketmaster is that for a lot of events, they were the ONLY way to get tickets!  They were a monopoly.

So, anyway, the resolution to the class action suit is that you have to buy MORE tickets on which you can use your $2.25 coupon.  And in all the online articles I have skimmed, nowhere do I see any indication that Ticketmaster has been required to halt the ripoff fees.

I really don't think the plaintiff attorneys on this case earned their millions.


Tuesday, May 03, 2016

5062 Corporate Conscience?

Tuesday, May 2, 2016

Fifty is the new forty for men. Fifty is still sixty for women.
– 30 Rock --


I had written a post on the demolishing of IBM Kingston Bldg. 025, at  Rocky's comment was about contamination at IBM Endicott, and Becs commented on a pharmaceutical company.  You know, I suspect all large companies (and some small ones) dirty up their grounds.  It's cheaper and easier that way, and you know what any company's main concern is.  Sigh.

Anyway, I did a little internet research.  IBM fouled Endicott, Kingston, Poughkeepsie, and Fishkill, four NY plants that all worked together.  The Fishkill one was new to me, and when I'd said that Jay had been out of Bldg. 025 for a few years before his cancer, well, surprise, he'd worked that time at Fishkill.  

The most surprising thing I found out was that IBM was aware of the groundwater pollution plume in Kingston back in the late '70s.  They built Bldg. 025 smack on top of that plume after they found out about it.



5061 Waterloo

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The less people know, the more stubbornly they know it
 – Osho --


I've managed to make it up to the Hudson Valley house every weekend lately.  Not that I manage to get much done every trip, bit every little bit is a step ahead.  That doesn't leave a lot of time to fool around here.

The weekend of April 29, as I was leaving on Monday, I decided not to leave my notebook (notepad?  mini laptop?  whatever the heck it is) there.  I had planned to leave it, since that's pretty much the only place I use it, but I carry an overnight bag every trip not because I need anything while there, but in case something goes wrong and I have to stay at a hotel.  I hate ending up at a hotel without my toothbrush and toothpaste, and something to sleep in.  Since my phone is useless for anything but calls, I decided maybe I should carry the notebook all the time, too.  Just in case.  I'm less likely to have an emergency if I'm prepared.  That's just the way it works.

So I packed it up and put it on the porch next to the front door so I could grab it on the way out.

Naturally, I forgot it.

I didn't notice until I was unloading the van here.  If I had realized I'd forgotten it at any point on the highway, I'd have turned around and gone back for it.  So I called the Hairless Hunk and asked him to take care of it for me and I'd collect it this past weekend.

He hid it behind some junk on the porch.  Sigh.   Oh well, it didn't get wet and was still there....

This past weekend's trip, I managed to clear out almost all of the pantry closet, producing four bags of very heavy garbage and one of containers to recycle.  It was all stuff from before Jay's illness, so everything in there was like 16 years old.  All kinds of mixes, spices, varieties of pasta, all kinds of rice, five kinds of flours, just a lot of stuff.  I was really good about dumping it all.  There was about 10 pounds of sugar, and I hesitated, thinking even though I won't use it maybe Daughter could, but then I shrugged and dumped it, too.  I suspected she'd be mad at me for not tossing it.  We had a lot of trouble with mice, so almost everything was in glass or heavy plastic containers (many of which I kept, dumping just the contents), so there was nothing wrong with it but age. I was amazed that the three kinds of brown sugar was even still soft.  Tossed it all.

I finally lost my determination, met my defeat, when I found the three unopened bottles of Pickapeppa Sauce.  I love that stuff.  It's made in Jamaica, has always been a bit difficult to find, and is impossible to find around here.  I can buy it on Amazon, but only by the case, and very expensively.

I brought them home.  I won't tell Daughter how I failed.  I'm cooking a pork chop for dinner, just for the Pickapeppa.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

5060 Bureaucrats

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.
– Socrates --


Today I called and asked for a check from my 401K.  The real estate taxes are due next Monday (although the grace period extends it to the 10th), and having the RMD from the 401K will make it easier, so I don't have to shift money around to pay it.  I meant to make the call last week, but forgot.

The rep said the check would be cut tomorrow, and would arrive by US mail "in a week to 10 days."  However, for a $25 fee, they will send it by UPS and I'll get it Monday.

????? Huh?  Overnight mail is cheaper, 1/3 the cost, and I'd get it Friday, or at least Saturday. 

Nope.  They don't "do" overnight mail.

I don't understand.

(I guess I can't complain too loudly.  I don't "do" automatic deposit, either, for equally arbitrary reasons.)

Saturday, April 16, 2016

5069 Earthquake

Saturday, April 16, 2016

In case you haven't heard, the island at the southern tip of Japan has been hit with three earthquakes in the past few days, the latest and strongest at 7.1 a few hours ago.  In addition, Mt. Aso volcano in the same area started erupting today.  Worse, torrential rains are expected this weekend, with major flooding.  (Remember when the tsunami hit, and within days they had a blizzard?  Those people can't catch a break.)

Taiwan was also hit by earthquake today.

Taiwan having also been hit would indicate that this is a very broad plate movement, so who knows where more epicenters might happen?  Anyone worried about tsunamis?


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

5068 Bldg. 025

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Jen White: "We'll export democracy so flipping far we'll have to leave the country to find it."


Last trip up river, my daffodils were just getting started, so I figured by now they'd be in full glory, so this weekend I made sure I took the camera.  It was pretty sad.  They'd had snow sometime last week, and the daffodils were devastated.  All lying down every which way, broken stems, they looked like a bulldozer had run over them.  Poor things.

But since I had the camera anyway, on the way home I went past the old IBM Kingston campus.  I'd heard Building 025 was being demolished, had driven by it on my previous trip but didn't have a camera then.  (My phone is an old flip clamshell.  It does take very bad photos, but I can't then get them off the phone.)

Here's what's left of Building 025:

The pile is much larger than the photo shows.  We're looking at the northwestern corner of the heap.  It extends a lot farther to the south and east.  What amazed me is that the heap of rubble is as large as the footprint of the building, and about a story high.  Which seems like a lot of rubble for  building that started out three stories high.

This is what it used to look like, seen from the parking lot, southeast corner:
I forget whether it was an "L" or "T" shape.  "T", I think.  It was one of the newest buildings, built in 1982ish.  My product area moved into the building in 1983, I think.  That's where I met Jay.  It was nice inside.  As with many IBM buildings of that era, there were no offices with windows.  None.  All the offices were on interior aisles, so although you didn't have a window, as you moved around inside, you could always see outside.

The building was occupied only until about 1995ish (I'm foggy on the exact date) when IBM, after having fired or retired about 11,000 people in the Kingston and Poughkeepsie plants, consolidated what was left in Poughkeepsie, and sold this campus to a developer who had grand plans.  Poor guy.  He's been unable to sell any of the buildings, and has tenants in a few, but even that hasn't worked out all that well.  Building 025 has office space for 200-400 people, but there's nothing in this area that needs that much.  BOA used it seasonally for processing NY tax returns, but that was for only a few years.  Mostly, it's been empty.  Not just this building, the whole complex.  So now they're demolishing it, this one being the first of five or six buildings that will disappear this year.  I guess the guy thinks he might have better luck with naked land.

The other buildings to be demolished are all much older.  Most people writing articles seem surprised, because this one is still in good shape.  Those of us who worked in that building since the construction are breathing a quiet sigh of relief. 

There was something very wrong with that building.

Shortly after we moved in, people started complaining.  Unfortunately, the complaints were vague and individual.  Some skin problems here, digestive problems there, breathing problems, vague weakness, inability to sleep.  Nothing specific, but a lot of people claimed they felt much better when they left the building.  Finally IBM brought in some environmental firm that tested the air and so on, and found no problems.  

After two years or so, people started getting seriously ill.  Bone cancer.  Brain cancer.  Serious endocrine problems.  Pancreatitis. All kinds of weird things.  Again, IBM had some group look at it.  They decided that it was just a statistical anomaly.  A "pocket."  What management offered us as "proof" was that many of the cancers and conditions were not of a variety that happens suddenly -- they take time to develop, and we hadn't been in the building long enough.

This was never considered back then, not that I know of, anyway, but I now wonder if it might have been magnetic/electrical, EMFs or something.  Almost the entire second floor was a computer raised floor, many mainframes and large peripherals, and we worked directly over and under them.  If something was wired wrong, or not properly shielded, heck I don't know the terms, but what if?  Is that possible?

(No, I don't think Jay's brain cancer was due to the building.  He had been out of the building for four years when it hit, and his was a very fast, very aggressive, tumor.)

So, those of us who know the building are not sorry to see it go.

5067 Quick trip north

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Abraham Lincoln: "It has been my experience that folks who have no vices
have very few virtues."


I had intended to drive upriver to the old house last Saturday, but I started the day with a complaining back, so I cancelled the trip.  Then on Sunday I got an email from the Hairless Hunk.  He had made one of his usual inspection trips around the outside of the house, and found that one of the basement windows was open, and the screen had been removed.  That worried me.  There are copper thieves up there.  (HH doesn't have a key to the house.)

So I drove up late Sunday evening.

That window had been used by the guys installing the A/C last summer.  They said then that the window wasn't latched when they opened it.  I never checked whether they'd latched it when they were finished.

Nope.  It wasn't latched, and they had apparently not replaced the screen.  It probably blew open in a storm or something, had swing in at the bottom, just a few inches.  There was no sign that anyone had been in the house, although it was obvious rain had come in.  So I latched it.  That latch does take a little convincing.  HH had put the screen near the front porch.  I took it inside, but didn't replace it in the window (mostly because it was awkward).

I drove back early on Monday.

A while ago the Nugget and I had been in a Pier 1 and she fell madly in love with a Papa-San chair - those huge round pole rattan thingies.  She requested one (right now!  this one!) for her birthday (some months off), and I told her I didn't need to buy one, that I had one in my old house that I could bring down for her.  The last few trips up I had driven the little car, and every time she met me in the driveway on my return to ask if I'd brought the chair back for her.  She hadn't forgotten!

So this trip I took the van (that chair is HUGE), and made a special point of loading up the chair.  It's now in the dining room, but it will have to go somewhere else when I bring my furniture down.  I don't understand why this house is supposed to be larger in square feet, but my furniture simply isn't going to all fit.  I have one more small bedroom here, but every other room is smaller than in the old house.  I don't understand.

The Nugget doesn't want to use the chair like a seat, you know, with the round part and cushion tilted forward.  She wants the rattan cup and cushion set straight up.  She looks like a little bird in a nest when she's in it.


Nutella.  It seems like every so often I have to learn about it all over again.  Every few years I buy it with high hopes, having forgotten the last time I guess, and every time I end up throwing it out.  That stuff doesn't improve anything you add it to, it's thick and dry and it glops up my mouth.  It sticks to the roof of my mouth and my gums, but unlike peanut butter, no amount of tongue action loosens it.  I dislike the taste and the texture.  Maybe it might work heated and poured over ice cream --- but I doubt it.


I'm hearing and reading that "(adjective)er than the next" construction a lot more lately.  I wish people would think about the meaning of what they say.  Sheesh.  If "each one is weirder than the next," that means the first one is the weirdest, and each one following is less weird, right?


Bloggers are dropping like flies, so I've been wandering around trying to find new ones (that don't think they're hot stuff and should be paid for blogging, you know?)  I came across this guy:   About half of his posts are sports-oriented, which would interest mostly only Pittsburgh and Baltimore fans, but he also gets into social commentary, meme-destroying, and political rants, and those posts are great.  Y'all gotta just wait for them, and the wait is worth it.

Friday, April 01, 2016

5066 Trip North

Friday, April 1, 2016

[A] computer is a stupid machine with the ability to do incredibly smart things, 
while computer programmers are smart people with the ability to do incredibly
stupid things. They are, in short, a dangerously perfect match.
– Bill Bryson, in I'm a Stranger Here Myself


I went up to the country house Tuesday, returned Thursday.  I actually managed to get some stuff done this time.  I cleaned out the little desk in the living room, and started on the kitchen pantry.  Man, I'll never have to buy another envelope in my entire life!  I can't believe how much stuff was in that tiny desk!

The pantry also revealed some surprises.  I guess once upon a time I actually cooked.  There was some delicious-looking stuff in there.  Unfortunately, it all probably predates Jay's illness, so even if it escaped the mice, it's probably no good.  There's like six different kinds of dry pasta and several types of rice in glass containers, and I seriously considered just bringing it all home, but Daughter says that even macaroni has a bit of wheat oil that would have gone rancid, so no.  It might not kill anyone, but probably would taste "off".  So I dumped loads of dry stuff into a garbage bag and set the containers aside for recycle or reuse.  I brought home four boxes of roasting bags, five in each box, gave two to Daughter.  There are several bottles of flavored vinegars still there.  I wonder if they'd be still good.  Vinegar never goes bad, right?

That pantry is wonderful.  It has sliding doors like on a very large closet, and there are six or seven shelves on each side, packed solid.  I managed to clear two and a half shelves.  I'm going to have to get faster.

I had taken the little car, so I was limited in what I could bring back, but I met my goal of two large bags of garbage, one bag of paper and containers for recycle, and two bags of "keep" stuff.  I'm still overwhelmed by the amount of work, but at least I'm making progress.  And with real A/C, I'll be more likely to get some real stuff done this summer.

(Damn Daughter.  She doesn't think I am capable of making decisions.  She met me when I pulled into the driveway and helped unload the car.  She took the recycle and garbage bags away from me, said she'd put them in her cans.  She thinks I'm unaware that she's afraid that between now and garbage collection on Monday (recycle on Wednesday) I'll go through the bags and save stuff.  Sheesh!)

Oh, speaking of summer and A/C, the country house is expecting snow this weekend.  I keep saying that our last snow had always been the first week of April.  True again.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

5065 Taxes done, sort of.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

America's laws should reflect Christ's teachings. (Except for
forgiveness, charity, and selling everything you have and
giving to the poor. F—k that commie s—t.)


Well, I got my tax packet together and sent it off to The Angel.  He charges $450 to do my taxes, but that has been paid every year by Piper, who has committed to pay this year, too, since I was his client through 2015.  But for the 2016 taxes, I'm going to have to either find my own accountant locally, or pay The Angel myself.  

Is $450 reasonable?  I don't know where to start to find someone else.  The agency that handles my house insurance advertises that they do taxes, too, but somehow I just don't find them .... credible?  I'm half tempted to wait until after April 15th and give them the packet as a test and see what they do with it.

By law, companies are supposed to mail the 1099s by January 31, but I was getting documents all the way through February and into the second week of March.  I have some Freeport-McMoran stock, and I never got the dividend statement from them at all.  Luckily I was able to reconstruct the total from my deposit record in my checkbook register.  This happens every year - there's always one or two things missing.


It has been so warm here the past two weeks or so that I haven't needed so much as a sweater when I went out, so I put all my warm coats and jackets away.  Today it's in the low to mid 30s, and we have snow flurries.

Sigh.  So much for spring.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

5064 Resolution

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Maybe this world is another planet's hell.
– Aldous Huxley –


Wouldn't it be interesting if Trump supporters turn out to be the same folks who accused Obama of "dividing people"?


I need to get organized.  I think I have a bad case of internet addiction.  It's not unusual for me to spend the entire day online, reading articles, following links, looking stuff up, watching videos.  I get nothing else done.  

There are two classes of things I'm not getting done:
A.) Everyday household stuff like washing dishes, laundry, paying bills, vacuuming, sorting, filing, whatever, and 
B.) Things in furtherance of long-term goals, like getting out of the country house, rearranging things here so I can move furniture down, refiguring the budget so I don't need to depend on withdrawing principal now that I can (am forced to) use the IRAs, and so on.

I think the way to get moving is to commit to two from column A every day, and one or two (depending on complexity) from column B every week.

We'll see how long I can do that.  Having made the resolution on the drive home Thursday, I already failed yesterday.