Saturday, August 22, 2009

2557 Discoveries, sort of

Saturday, August 22, 2009

From "Babylon Five": The future should come with a label,
"Some Assembly Required".


I went to a movie in Albany last night. A very wet and windy thunderstorm had come through late in the afternoon, ending just before I headed upriver. Southern Columbia county had apparently been hit hard by the wind. There were trees down all over the place. County route 10 was technically closed. I turned onto route 10 before they got the signs up on the southern end, so I got to see the damage - five large trees down in five different spots, chainsaw crews working. I had to edge past branches and treetops in the road. On route 9G there were flagmen at one spot to direct traffic off the road around a huge downed tree.

In a deserted wooded stretch I went through a puddle in a dip in the road, and lost the power steering! That was scary, because it was a winding country road lined by ditches and trees, and I was moving at 55 mph. The steering came back quickly, but the battery indicator in the dashboard blinked for a while.

The movie was "District 9". It was pretty good for what it was, but I think they concentrated on the wrong story. I would have been more interested in how the story began - where did the aliens come from, how were they rescued, what led to their being confined in a compound, how did people learn to communicate?

If you saw it, please answer:
In those first 15 minutes, did you think of "The Office"?
Did MNU's tactics remind you of Blackwater?


Herrad, at "Access Denied...", is finally getting fitted for a wheelchair, after having been confined to bed for one full year. "Fitted" is the keyword there. She lives in Amsterdam, and I can't help but contrast the support she's getting with what happened with Jay. They are measuring and adapting, forming and fitting, and she'll end up with (we hope) a chair that will be comfortable and supportive.

After Jay's third craniotomy, he had left side neglect, which is kind of like paralysis, but more. The left side of his body, of the entire world for that matter, simply didn't exist for him. Jay was 6'3" tall, and about 220 lbs, and he had no awareness of half his body. Proportionally, his legs did not account for his height - he had a very long torso. His shoulders were almost two feet wide. Sitting was difficult, because he didn't compensate for the weight of his left side, or the width of his shoulders. His bottom would slide forward in a seat, and he'd slump heavily to the left.

The reclining wheelchairs worked well for him in the hospital, because they supported the weight of his upper body, and prevented the forward slide. But reclining chairs were not available for home rental, at least not through the only medical equipment supplier available to us, a place in Kingston.

Whoever wrote the prescription for his chair must have noted that he was "a very large man", because the first chair delivered had a super wide seat. That was even worse for his slump. It was replaced by a regular chair, with flat seat and a low back, and that was it. Note that he couldn't shift his weight, change his bottom position, so this almost guaranteed pressure sores if he were to be in it long. The flat seat guaranteed a gradual forward slide, and he was too big and heavy for me to pull or push him back.

I called the suppliers, the insurance company, his doctors, everyone, and they all told me that was it, all we were getting. And, by the way, we had the best insurance coverage available. I suspect his diagnosis and prognosis factored in - there would be no custom chair for someone not expected to be able to use it for more than x weeks or months.

So I bought a gel seat cushion, well over $200 out of pocket. It worked, but it was thick, and raised him in the seat, which made the back even lower, and now he slumped backward as well as to the left. Tying him in with a sheet didn't work because with the low back, there was nothing to tie it to.

I finally took some super strong cardboard, and built a higher back with a "wing" on the left side. With pillows tucked in, this kept him upright and centered. The first time I took him to the hospital for a scan with this arrangement, the nurses had a fit. When he came back from the scan, the cardboard was gone. I had him in the wheelchair on the passenger side next to me in the front of the wheelchair van, and by the time we got home, he was leaning so badly his body was resting heavily on my right arm, making it very difficult to drive.

After that, whenever he had to go in for tests, I had to call a medical van service (not covered by insurance, by the way), and they took him in on a stretcher.

And this was in what "they" tell me is the country with the "best" medical care, and with the "best" insurance.



Two days last week I rebelled and substituted "bad" food for most of the Nutrisystem meals --- and lost two more pounds. I think I figured it out. Nutrisystem meals are loaded with salt, a lot more than I normally get. I think going off the salt resulted in a loss of water weight.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

2556 It's Meetup, damn it! Not Hookup!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Definition: Perfluxity - the feeling that
you are drowning in a sea of information.


I joined several Meetup groups, mostly travel, movie, and dinner groups. They are just to get out and meet up with some people to do things as a group. There ARE Meetup groups specifically for singles, for the purpose of meeting and exploring romantic possibilities, but that's not what I'm there for, and not the groups I joined.

Some guys seem confused. I've been getting regular mash notes and invitations from strange men. They can look at your profile and see your picture and what groups you've signed up for. One guy noticed I'd joined a few travel groups, so he wrote (through the site) and suggested that he take me somewhere for a weekend. Another has invited me to a movie in Rhinebeck (the next village down) - even though he lives in Manhattan. One young man in Albany, in his early 20s, invited me to go dancing. And so on.

Hey, guys - it's not an online dating site! What makes you think I'm looking to hook up? In fact, in my profile, I included a photo of me with The Man.

A more subtle way to approach it, if you see someone interesting, would be to watch what meetups they RSVP for, and then go to the same meetup. That way you meet in a group. Introduce yourself. Chat. See if she or he is open to overtures. Then maybe something might develop.

Some people might see that as stalking, I guess. I don't.

2555 Near Panic in the Schools, and other things

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gandhi: There is enough for everyone's need,
but not enough for everyone's greed.


I don't understand why anyone would volunteer for the foul and inexcusable abuse dished out on "Hell's Kitchen".


School's about to start, and it seems that many of them are going a bit overboard with the swine flu craze. Some have washed down the entire building(s) and contents with bleach. Many colleges have done the same, especially with the dorms. (I wonder if they replaced mattresses?) They plan to pass out hand wipes, and at the first sign of illness anywhere, they plan to cancel all gatherings, including athletic events and concerts. (Will the colleges close down the large lecture halls?)

The swine flu may spread easier than the usual seasonal flu, but from what I've read, it is actually less dangerous than seasonal.

So I have to wonder whether all these precautions are to protect students from swine flu, or to protect the school from lawsuits if one student dies. "Well, we did everything we could...."


All day yesterday and today I've had thoughts of crawling into bed. I feel so tired, but I know if I lie down I'll feel worse when I get up. Maybe I'm a little depressed.


Tuesday and Wednesday I rebelled, and ate carrot cake! And pulled pork quesadilla! With cheese! And sour cream! And I ate ice cream! (Sugar free.) And a spelt pecan cookie! And a handful of yogurt-covered raisins! I was very bad. But at least I watched quantity, and spread it out over time. Many small badnesses each day.

I got up this morning and I've lost another pound. I suspect this is NOT what the gypsy meant (in her comment) when she said I had to change something to get past the plateau.

I don't understand.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

2554 The concert I didn't go to

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Definition, from "Something to Talk About": Poison - homeopathic aversion therapy.


This just in - photo of the Bethel grounds. I didn't go to the 40th anniversary concert because I would have been alone, and I was convinced I'd never find the "turquoise"-ish tarp and the rest of the group (especially given that I knew none of them personally), and I didn't want to be alone. I think I was right.

Anyone see a turquiose tarp there?

2553 Evening plans (I wish)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

W. Somerset Maugham: My own belief is that
there is hardly anyone whose sexual life, if it were broadcast,
would not fill the world at large with surprise and horror.


I'm going to dinner and a play in Albany this evening. The above quote does not apply to the evening.

I don't I agree with Mr. Maugham's belief, by the way. It probably does apply to me, I've got quite a surprising and horrifying history from the viewpoint of the average person, but I suspect that's true of relatively few people, actually. Most people putter through their sexual life in a very quiet and conventional way.

I guess whether you'd find something surprising and horrifying depends on your own experiences. If your total life experience consists of one or two partners, tops, one or two times a month, and always missionary, then even the average person's sex life might be shocking to you.

How one interprets anything one looks at comes down to one's own experiences, expectations, and definitions.

Poor Mr. Maugham.

Monday, August 17, 2009

2552 Getting Discouraged

Monday, August 17, 2009

Laugh, and the world laughs with you.
Laugh hysterically for no apparent reason, and
they’ll leave you alone.


Today is the two-month anniversary of beginning the weight-loss regimen. I lost 10 pounds the first month or so, and just 2 more since. I'm still getting fewer than 900 calories per day, and I'm walking at least three times a week. I don't think it can be explained by building muscles. The measurements haven't changed much either.

Today I discovered one of those diabetic dinners in the freezer, so I stuck it in the oven. It's a vegetable patty, carrots, and green beans. When I took the cover off, I was shocked by how much food was in the tray. I'm going to eat half of it now, and maybe the other half for "dessert" later instead of the Nutrisystem dessert.

My judgment of how much food should be on a plate has changed. Restaurant meals always looked large to me anyway - now they look ridiculous. I no longer lust after the candies, chips, and cakes in the gas station. In fact, I look around and curl my nose, "All trash! How unhealthy! Why can't they have any good snacks?" (It's because they probably wouldn't sell.)

Market forces and capitalism conspire to create obesity and diabetic complications.

Which reminds me - something I read recently. When "they" give the mortality rates for various conditions and diseases, many of them were not what is reported, but are actually the result of diabetes. Like, my father's death would have been reported as a heart attack. But the heart had likely been destroyed first by diabetes. A lot of deaths credited to organ failures, circulatory problems including embolisms, and even accidental falls, are actually deaths due to diabetes.

(No, I don't have diabetes. Not yet, anyway.)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

2551 Medicare premium panic abates

Sunday, August 16, 2009

He was born on third base and decided he had hit a triple.


The link in Wondering Woman's comment on my post about the letter I got from the SSA said that they used 2007's income in figuring the premium, not 2008, as I thought. The letter was in the car, so I checked it, and yeah, it's 2007.

That feels a lot better. I know what happened now, and I might be able to convince the SSA that it was unusual.

2007 was the third and final year in the plan to move my savings from individual stocks to tax-free bonds and mutual funds. I sold a lot of old stocks, much of which had split five to eight times since I'd started buying them in the sixties, which resulted in huge capital gains. That's not likely to ever happen again, now that everything is settled down, as the 2008 returns should show.

So thank you, Wondering Woman. There's a short window for appealing, and left to my own misreading, I'd have missed it.

2549 Explain it to me

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Swedish proverb: God gives every bird his worm,
but He does not throw it into the nest.


Sunday morning TV news. Folks at "town hall" meetings on health care, protesting, carrying signs, getting loud and angry. People interviewed on the street saying they don't want the government deciding who is worthy of treatment, who lives or dies, letting older people go.

I don't understand.

That's not how it would work, but even if it were, are they really saying that rather than decisions based on outlook, probabilities, and statistics (which are what a good doctor uses anyway), they prefer that decisions (often overruling doctor's recommendations) be made by insurance companies whose first priority is profit?

I really really don't understand what those people are thinking.

I DO understand the motives of those thinking FOR them.