Friday, July 28, 2017

My Sweet and Precious Garbage Boy

Ah, Pyewacket. My sweet, cuddly, idiot baby kittyboy arsonist.

He has a lot of personality, and plenty of funny little quirks. For example, I thought he was accidentally knocking my plant off of the windowsill so he could wiggle his chubby little cat butt up there instead. I was wrong. He wanted to knock it over to spread a nice, even layer of potting soil in the bottom of the tub so he could roll around in it like a filthmonger.

[caption id="attachment_3677" align="aligncenter" width="513"] "What? I'm busy."[/caption]

Doing things to try to modify his behavior is not always entirely helpful. Like when I moved the plant out of the bathroom, so he wouldn't be tempted to roll in it.

[caption id="attachment_3678" align="aligncenter" width="513"] He later jumped up on the bed to say hello, all wet and spiky and fragrant.[/caption]

He's a playful little dude, too. Not interested in toys he can bat around by himself, he loves getting me to play with him by knocking things over, pulling my phone out of my hand, wrapping his entire body around my ankle, and headbutting me in the face. I love him and would like to shorten his reign of terror, so I give in.

And then he learned he could get me to keep tossing toys for him if he brought them back.
I know, I know.
This is my fault.

It was cute at first, though (between that, the digging, and the fact that he wags his tail when he's excited) I've begun to think the Humane Alliance had scammed me into adopting a weird looking, uncooperative dog.

The other day he made me play fetch with him for an hour and a half. With a crumpled-up cough drop wrapper. At four in the morning. I'm not allowed to refuse to play, because he'll begin knocking things over and amusing himself.
I used to like being able to get some time alone. Now I find it very, very suspicious.

So, how do I teach him to play by himself? I've never shared a living space with anything quite this clingy. (For real, I've lived with toddlers that required less stimulation and supervision.) Can I get him interested in balls and other toys, or am I doomed to function as some kind of feline batting cage forever?





Tuesday, July 25, 2017

If people like me had better access to healthcare, people like McCain might suffer less.

I don't agree with John McCain, nor do I wish bad things upon him. My maternal grandmother suffered from an inoperable brain cancer (don't smoke, guys) for many years -- far longer than the estimates her doctors gave her. It wasn't a good end. There was debility, pain, and the humiliation of not being able to recognize members of her own family or use the bathroom by herself. It is an awful end I would not wish on anyone.

There are a few things I want to say, though.

Idiopathic intracranial hypertension is often described as "all the symptoms of a large brain tumor, without the actual tumor." It's rare, it's mysterious, and there is no cure -- you manage the symptoms until you either go into remission or die. For this reason, organizations like the Intracranial Hypertension Research Foundation exist. They take willing research subjects, compile their medical histories, and look for common threads to find a possible origin. They also help people suffering from IIH to enlist in experimental treatments to hopefully develop new, more effective ways to handle the symptoms of this disease.

Unfortunately, involvement in research groups is not free.

Don't get me wrong -- they don't charge you anything to enroll. They do need your medical history, though. Every doctor you've seen, every medication you've taken, every diagnostic test you've had provides the data researchers need to learn more about combating your illness. All of those things cost money. If you are not able to work and carry health insurance for yourself, they cost your money. Unfortunately for many people with illnesses like IIH, rare diseases are sometimes not even well-known enough yet to be considered "disabling conditions." You can very easily end up too disabled to work, yet not disabled enough to receive SSDI.

I've sometimes rationalized having this condition by saying that, if someone in the world had to have IIH, I would rather it be me than someone in a country with less access to a doctor. I'm in a place where I'm able to be studied. Even if I have to deal with the dizziness, pain, and vision loss for my whole life, that can be used to make sure someone else won't have to.

Conservatives don't think I should be on Medicaid or benefit from a single-payer system, meanwhile it's Medicaid that has allowed me to be used for research. Medicaid pays for me to receive treatment, so teams of researchers can see how well it works for me and others like me. I signed up to be a guinea pig so others could benefit from better treatment in the future -- not just from IIH itself, but from the vertigo, nerve pain, nausea, memory loss, confusion, and other side effects that attend brain diseases.

All of the times I did not have health insurance or access to knowledgeable doctors equate to times that I was not of use to the scientific community. If I couldn't afford treatment, or couldn't pay to fill my (many, expensive) prescriptions, I couldn't provide useful data. Every doctors appointment I had to miss was a missed opportunity for more knowledge.

Maybe if I hadn't had to have so many gaps in my coverage and times when I had no access to the doctors I needed, there would be more treatment modalities that could help McCain and others like him suffer less now. Will conservatives continue to insist that sick people pull themselves up by the bootstraps?

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Curious Things This Week -- 7/23/17

Hello! It has been a big week for exhumations. They exhumed Salvador Dali for a paternity test and found out his mustache was still intact. They exhumed H.H. Holmes, famous serial killer, and found out his brain was still intact. At the rate we're going, this is building up to be one seriously weird dude-Voltron. That's not all, however:

People Who Tried to Take Panorama Shots and Ended Up Opening the Gates of Hell -- I'm pretty sure Butthorse and Satan goat gave me nightmares.

The Deadly Pain Medicine Sold by Skeletons -- "One 1907 article in the California State Journal of Medicine article entitled 'Poisoning by Antikamnia' described a woman who had taken the drug as being 'practically without pulse, cyanosed, with shallow breathing, and a ‘leaky skin.''"

Whiteness is Dead -- The comments are mostly best ignored, but one person did manage to crystallize a thought I hadn't really been able to put into words before: "Too many people are rootless because they are 'white,' and then they get angry and confused when other people still remember their actual roots."

Whatever happened to television’s most famous couples? -- "Cory and Topanga, Boy Meets World. Killed in The Great Harvest."

Thursday, July 20, 2017

My ring game is on point.

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I have very particular taste in jewelry. I've said before that it's a good thing my S.O. and I would rather be together without marriage, because I'd have a serious time trying to find an engagement ring that both fits my aesthetic and actually looks like something a human person would use to signify an engagement.

I don't think Tiffany & Co. makes anything in "forest hag."

I dig rustic and witchy. I like animals and plants. I want shapes that evoke weathered antlers and autumn branches. There are some Etsy sellers that make gorgeous rings from little more than resin and dried herbs, and I am going to get one for every finger as soon as I can decide which ones I want. (I'm very much leaning towards these rings with fern and moss, though!)

All this is to say, I recently bought this ring from moonspinnershop and I'm kind of infatuated with it.

I've admired moonspinner's work for some time, but couldn't really make up my mind. I love the style of this artist's jewelry -- rustic but refined, with a wide variety of uniquely beautiful gemstones. The use of texture gives their pieces dimension, turning even a simple band into something statement worthy.

Of course, since I'm a sucker for corvids, I couldn't pass up this ring. It took a little while to get to me -- since it had to be made to order, I waited with bated breath for three weeks or so -- but it was every bit worth the wait.

[caption id="attachment_3670" align="aligncenter" width="513"] Raven shield ring, moonspinnershop. Raven/crow/rook/currawong ring, Deborah Laun. Viking-style ring, Wulflund Jewelry. Tank, Akua Creative.[/caption]

If you're a fan of nature-inspired gemstone jewelry, hie thee hence to moonspinner. I can't tell you how many of their pieces I'd like to have in my jewelry box. I didn't even get paid to write this. I just dig them that much and, if you enjoy my particular brand of being, you probably will too.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Unf*** My Tap Water.

Note: This post contains some links to the products I use, which allows me to earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting this site!

So, city water. It's a bit crap at the best of times, doubly so if you live in an area that uses a lot of chlorine and has plumbing that consists of 100-year-old wood pulp. I've been struggling with things as simple as taking baths, since I have pretty sensitive skin and can't seem to do it without breaking out in a rash and feeling itchy and miserable for hours afterward.

What can you do when your tap water makes you itchy? When having a date night means purposefully not shaving your legs and underarms, because you don't want to be distracted by the burning and itching all night?

Sure, there are shower and bath tub faucet filters, but these only go so far. While most of them contain filter media that's supposed to last for three months, you might be lucky to get a single month out of them if your water's bad enough. Since most people don't take cold baths or showers (especially in cool weather), the heat makes them wear out even faster -- the warmer the water, the greater its potential for dissolving and picking up all of the things you're trying to filter out.

I've even tried just using the spigot to get wet and soapy, then using a couple of wash cloths soaked in distilled water to clean up. It's a solution, I guess, but not really one I can sustain long-term.

Unfortunately, since we rent, a whole-house filter isn't really an option. In the end, we ended up compromising by using a couple of things. First, we picked up a filter that attaches behind the shower head, like this:

It's pretty easy to install, you just unscrew your shower head, screw this to the spigot, and screw the shower head to the end of the filter. The middle portion is threaded, so the capsule itself opens up so the filter cartridge can be replaced. It doesn't seem to harm the water pressure or flow rate at all, either. Even when the cartridge is full of junk and ready for replacing, everything seems to work just fine. The only complaint I have is that the cartridges only last us for a few weeks before they need replacing, but, as I said, it's very difficult to compare how long a filter is supposed to last against how long it lasts with actual real-world usage.

While the filter's great for grabbing some of the compounds that leave a film on your skin and rings around your tub, I needed a little extra help coping with the chlorine content. (After a shower, I come out smelling like I've been in a swimming pool.) A little sodium ascorbate powder helps a lot, though. When using vitamin c to remove chlorine, a little goes a very long way. It may take some experimenting to find the sweet spot between "skin irritated by chlorine" and "skin irritated by too much vitamin C," but it's well worth it. My skin feels better, my bathroom doesn't smell like a YMCA, and $10 worth of vitamin C lasts for a heck of a lot of baths.

As a side note, it's a good idea to pick up ascorbic acid versus citric acid -- citric acid tends to be a little harsher and have a more dramatic effect on pH.

Lastly, I keep a bag of epsom salts on hand. I like using them to make homemade bath salts, and they're great for helping muscle cramps, strains, and assorted other aches and pains. You can get a couple pounds of them inexpensively on Amazon, but they're also likely to be available at your local pharmacy in smaller quantities. Add a couple of drops of lavender and frankincense oil, and you're good to go!



Thursday, July 6, 2017

What's proper etiquette for "Please stop almost burning all my stuff?"

I really like my apartment. The building itself is neat, the location's fairly rad, it is full of cute dogs, and all of the neighbors I've met so far have been friendly. I can say this with confidence, because I regularly get to hang out with them every time the fire department shows up.

There's one neighbor who is otherwise cool as far as I can tell (Ha! Pun!), but, from what I have gathered, ends up going out and forgetting their stove is on. They're not in the age range I'd expect to have memory problems. (Though neither am I, so who knows?) I don't know why it keeps happening, but it freaks the butts out of me every time it does. Especially at, like, 4 o'clock in the morning.

[caption id="attachment_3633" align="aligncenter" width="513"] BEEP BEEP WAKE UP MOFOS[/caption]

There are some older people who live here, so I always end up imagining one of them getting hurt in the middle of cooking and being unable to call for help. Or maybe my brain conjures up an electrical fire, and one of the friendly dogs who lives here being trapped inside as the place fills with smoke. Or maybe it's just an accidental fire and nobody's in immediate danger, but now I have to figure out how to evacuate two panicking cats while my heart feels like it's going to explode.

Ignoring a continually beeping fire alarm isn't really an option. I can't keep coping with the fire department rolling in to bust doors down every time either. I don't want to say anything to the office, because I don't want to cause more trouble for this neighbor -- they already have to deal with a smoky apartment, broken down door, and the embarrassment of everyone on the floor knowing they're that person. I don't know what to do.

Have you ever had a situation like this? What would you do?