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Lydy's Anarchist Revival Meeting

23rd December, 2016. 6:35 am. Be Careful What You Ask For

Sunday night was the coldest night of the year. Seventeen degrees below zero, Fahrenheit. As I was driving to work, I saw a guy panhandling on the corner. I fumbled for my wallet, and pulled out a twenty and gave it to him with the earnest extortion, "Get inside. This is killing cold." I had just bought a new wallet, of a considerably different form factor than the old one, and don't have the new carrying protocols down, yet. I didn't notice that it was missing until around seven the next morning. I checked all my pockets multiple times, emptied my purse and knit bag repeatedly. When I got to my car, I checked everywhere. I checked under the car. Nope, nope, nope. Most likely outcome was that I had not quite gotten it into my pocket, and it had fallen onto the floor of the parking garage when I got out of the car.

When I got home, I called Abbott Northwestern's lost and found line. Which cheerfully informed me that this function was now being handled by Security, and transferred me to Security, which apparently never answers their phone. Instead, there is a recording. I left an urgent message, asking for a call back either way. An hour later, I did this again. (I still have not received a response from the bastards.)

Eventually, I called my bank, and asked if I could temporarily suspend my card, until I could ascertain whether or not it was, in fact, missing. I was told that I could, and I did that thing. There was no suspicious activity on the card. I was incredibly stressed, since I was leaving for New York City Thursday morning. I called Delta Airlines, and established that I could, in fact, fly without ID, although it would be difficult and irritating, requiring the filling out of forms and other indignities. There was also $147 in cash, and I couldn't easily replace it. I made arrangements to have Patrick PayPal me some money so that I would have cab fare from JFK.

I took a sleeping pill to get to sleep. Around one-thirty in the afternoon, my phone rang, and a woman named LaDonna said that she had found my wallet on the floor of the parking garage. I was overjoyed, and we arranged for me to pick it up after work on Tuesday morning. When I retrieved my wallet, I tried to give her twenty in thanks, but she wouldn't take it. I probably didn't do it right, I never know how to do these things gracefully. I really was grateful. She allowed as how she'd take $2 for a cup of coffee, I gave her a five, and told her to buy coffee for a friend. All the money was in the wallet, as well as the cards and ID.

When I got home, I called my bank, TCF Bank, to ask them to turn the card back on. It's a Visa/debit card, and I use it instead of cash most of the time. It's incredibly convenient, the more so in a strange city. The woman on the other end of the line, named Theresa, said, "Oh, I'm so glad you found it. Where was it?" I did not understand that this question was anything other than polite conversation while she was doing things on the computer, so I answered honestly. And she said:

"The card was out of your possession. I can't reactivate it. You will need to get a new card."

There then followed a long conversation, where I got angrier and angrier, with the word fuck becoming a larger and larger percentage of the words I actually uttered, and Theresa saying, repeatedly, "I understand," and "It was out of your possession, I cannot reactivate it." At one point I yelled, "Stop saying you understand. It is not a good sentence for you. I don't need you to understand, I need you to reactivate the card." At another point, "The card is out of my possession all the fucking time! I leave it in my office for hours at a time at work, and you don't deactivate it then!" At another point, "What part of 'I work nights' are you not understanding? It is already well past my bedtime, and I have no time to replace this card!" At another point, "Oh, for fuck's sake, woman, would you please just start acting like a human being, and admit that the rules are really stupid? I get that you have to follow them, but stop acting like they make fucking sense!" Her response was, "I understand." Seriously, customer service people should stop saying that.

Why, yes, I did lose it all over the poor woman on the other end of the line who had no real choices in the matter. But I was so very angry that she had asked me a gotcha question masquerading as polite chit-chat. And I was infuriated that she kept on trying to position the rule as something of benefit to me. The wallet was returned to me by a woman who had spent several hours trying to contact my boss (he wasn't in the office that day), was unable to find me in the hospital directory (I work for a company contracted to the hospital, not the hospital itself), who eventually called 411 directory assistance to find my land-line number, returned the wallet to me with all $147 in cash, and refused to take any money for this kindness. How was this a security risk? How is this, in any way, a greater security risk than every single time I give my card to a waiter in a restaurant, and they take it OUT OF MY POSSESSION, into a back room, and do god know what with it?

One of the things that Theresa consistently assured me was that getting my card replaced would take fifteen minutes at any branch, and that I would get a new chip card, wouldn't that be nice? So, Wednesday, after work, I went to the closest branch. I was very tired, and since they don't open until nine, I had to dick around for a bit at Target waiting for them to open, but there I was and there they were, and the nice teller said, "No problem, here's a form...wait, you have a Gopher card. We can't do that, here." To which I did not say, "Are you fucking kidding me?" but she heard me, anyway.

So there ensued another uncomfortable conversation with the nice teller, who was a trainee and whose name I've lost, and the woman working with her, whose name is Mindy. Mindy was human and understanding, although she overused the sentence "I understand." It is possible I have become overly sensitive to the phrase. My account was opened when I was working at the University. It has no monthly fee, and a couple of other perks I don't remember, and possibly don't care about. However, it also has (oh joy!) a fucking Minnesota Goldie the Fucking Gopher on the card, for reasons, they can't just give me a normal debit/Visa card. In order to keep my current account, I must have a fucking gopher on my card. Which they can expedite, and will take one to two days, and come in the mail... Yeah, that's not working for me. I fly out the next day. So not working.

As I said, Mindy was actually very good. Eventually, she suggested that they generate an ATM card for me. I can't use it like a Visa card, but I can access my funds while in NYC at any ATM. And Mindy said that if was charged fees, I should come back to her and she will have them reversed, because this would not happen if they hadn't turned off the card in the first place.

So, I'm in NYC. I have an ATM card. And I am still really, really angry with Theresa from TCF. But I liked Mindy a lot. And I will be much more careful what questions I answer whenever I talk to customer service.

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15th December, 2016. 12:22 pm. Something is More Than Nothing

I called my two senators, Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, and my representative, Keith Ellison this morning. (And got points for it in Habitica.) Here is my script:

My name is Lydia Nickerson, and I voted for you. I wanted to let you know that I support your efforts to have the Russian hacking investigated. I also want to tell you that I have grave concerns about the incoming Trump administration. I believe that his business entanglements constitute, not merely conflicts of interest, but also very probably violate the constitution.

I want to strongly encourage you to fight for the preservation of the ACA, Medicare, and Medicaid. I also want you to continue to fight for LGBT rights. I believe you stand against hate, and I stand with you.

It wasn't fun, but it is done. Amy Klobuchar had the nicest and most encouraging staffer, Keith Ellison the least happy-sounding. All three staffers were polite, of course, but only Amy's sounded enthusiastic. So, there you go. Did a thing.

Need to call state people, probably tomorrow.

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11th December, 2016. 2:59 am. Habitica?

Anyone else using Habitica? I've just started, and there are community aspects that might be fun (or not, I don't know) and also I know pretty much nothing about it and hate reading documentation.

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11th December, 2016. 2:47 am. Things That Work

For no good reason, a random assortment of things that work:

1) My bed. I love my bed. It is a heated, king-sized waterbed, which means that it is exactly the firmness I want, and it is cuddly warm to slip into in the winter. After years of unsatisfactory linens, I found some reasonably priced micro-fiber sheets on Amazon which misleadingly call themselves 1400 Thread Count Cotton like. It's easy to miss the fact that they are not, in fact, a high-thread count cotton. They are, however, delightfully soft, breathe well, and fit my bed perfectly. While I miss my down comforter, the down-alternative comforter has been satisfactory, and I bought a feather pillow from Ikea at the same time. I haven't had a feather pillow since I was two, and my mother took them away on the order of the allergist, since I was allergic to all living things, which included feathers. (They also removed the drapes in the room, the fleece throw rug, and all knick knacks.) But the packaging assured me that the pillow was hypoallergenic, and machine washable and dryable. And it is delightful. So perfectly squishy. I love my bed.

2) CPAP. As far as I can tell, I have several different sleep disorders. The only one that's been diagnosed is obstructive sleep apnea. I've been using CPAP for almost 20 years, and my what a difference it makes. It doesn't fix the other problems, obviously, like delayed circadian rhythm disorder (which is actually an asset for a night job) or other weirdnesses in my sleep, but it does mean that when I go to sleep, I actually get rested. I love my CPAP.

3) Red Juice Cleaning Solution. A really, really long time ago, I used to work in a massage parlor, and one of the women I worked with was thinking about quitting The Life and starting her own business. She was enamored of Speed Cleaning, and wanted to start a business cleaning other people's houses. Which, in its own way, is an interesting indictment of prostitution, if you think about it. Speed Cleaning has pretty good books on how to make housework simple and fast, and a host of products. I pretty much ignore their advice, but I do like the cleaning solution called Red Juice. It's your basic spray-on-wipe-off cleaner, but much better. It has various claims to environmental friendliness which I can't evaluate, and claims to be perfectly safe in kitchens. It comes as a concentrate, which you dilute 10-to-1, and put in your own spray bottle. And that, that is certainly a lot more environmentally friendly than buying a new spray bottle every time. The stuff works really well, cuts through most dirt easily and quickly, and is not perfumed. I love it a lot.

4) Feliway diffusers: Lady Jane Grey and Nuit will probably never like each other, and they continue to squabble, but it's been a while since Lady peed on my bed, and I think that is largely due to the two Feliway diffusers that I'm using. Mind you, that's $20 a month to keep the peace in my feline family, but so worthy it.

5) Scrub skirts: I basically don't like pants. I dislike trying to find pants that fit me in the waist, hip, crotch, and leg. Mostly, I can find something that fits one or two of those parameters, but not all four. I love skirts, and I like the swish of fabric around my calves or ankles. The problem with skirts, though, is that they tend to not have pockets. I was wearing jeans skirts, which had jeans pockets, and were nice, but then I found out that there are scrub skirts. They are made from the same material as my scrubs, which means they launder well and don't wrinkle, and they have enormous pockets. I love them to death. My only complaint is that they cling to my legs when I try to wear leggings under them in the winter. I may have to switch back to my jeans skirts for the cold months.

And as we used to say, "Five things make a post."

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24th November, 2016. 3:26 pm. Thoughts on Reconciliation

I have some complicatedly connected but nevertheless disjointed thoughts on the various calls I have seen for people on the left to empathize and sympathize with Trump voters.

There's a weird pairing of false equivalencies which I want to talk about, and tease apart. The story seems to be that the so-called white working class feels resentful because East Coast liberal elites condescend to them. Before I get to how this is a weird set of false equivalencies, though, I want to challenge a couple of the terms and assumptions, here.

First, let's start with "condescension." In 1979, at the age of seventeen, I moved from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Washington, Iowa. It was my senior year of high school. I was frightened, and I was desperately lonely. I was in an alien environment. Many people complained that I was rude, condescending, and hoity-toity. They were incensed that I knew nothing of them or their ways, that I found small town life and farming to be an alien landscape. Their proof that I was condescending was primarily my accent. They were also insulted that I talked too fast, and wouldn't meet their eyes. My accent was, you know, a pretty standard Pittsburgher accent, with bits of Upstate New York and Boston. It was a product of where I had lived, and not the least bit artificial. I was also extremely deferential, and that was manifested by talking very quickly, so as to not presume upon other people's time, and not making as much eye contact as I would with an intimate. I was sending out every signal I knew to say, "I am a stranger here, and would like you to like me" and the Iowans were hearing "I am so much better than you." It was years before I understood what had happened. I think it also notable that Iowans were infuriated that I knew so little about their state, and yet could not be bothered to get my home town right, and constantly referred to me as being from Philadelphia. They were, to my ears, deeply condescending when I tried to correct them, as if there was no actual difference between the two cities. I was mockingly known as Pennsylvania Polly.

This experience makes me very dubious of the claims that East Coast Liberal Elites are condescending towards the white working class. I suspect that a lot of the things that are being interpreted as condescension fall into two categories. One is the thing I just described, a failure to correctly read the social signals of people from a different sub-culture. The other is a failure to understand the frustration and anger that the left feels with people who voted for the fucking fascist, and their attempt to not say "fucking fascist" but instead, something less incendiary. I honestly think that they vastly underestimate the amount of anger we feel towards them.

The second term I really want to challenge here is "white working class." I am not sure that "working class" actually means anything useful, anymore. It was originally coined for a very different economy than the one we have, now. However, even if you let that go, your average Trump voter isn't working class. Your average Trump voter is middle class, and rural. Lots and lots of them are retirees. White, though, yeah, mostly white. But the things that seem to bind this voting bloc together aren't economics. Otherwise, you'd have seen more city-dwellers voting for Trump, and more minorities. This was a tribal identity, not an economic one. I think that one of the reasons the "economic insecurity" thing gets traction is because that's something you can think about, and work on. It's a problem that the left is actually interested in dealing with, and thinks is soluble. On the other hand, tribal identity is all about the feels, and incredibly difficult to address. (Are there tribal identities on the left? Yes, yes there are. But that's for another essay, I think.)

Now let's get back to the accepted narrative that the white working class voted for Trump because they are resentful towards the East Coast Liberal Elite condescension. If one ignores my terminological quibbles, and accepts this narrative on its fact, it still creates a moral equivalency between condescension and resentment. Condescension is based, yes, on a feeling that one is better than someone else. But the corollary is not that the person being condescended to should be hurt or damaged. Usually, it is coupled with a desire to help or uplift the benighted. And while that can be problematic in so many different ways, it is very different than resentment, which assumes that the other guy has something they shouldn't or something that you are entitled to and don't have. Resentment is also usually coupled with a desire to hurt the other person, or at very least to take something away from them. By trying to create a moral equivalence between condescension and resentment, it suggests that contempt is actually an attempt to do harm. This, then, justifies the attempt to harm the so-called liberal elites. It also artfully sweeps under the rug the attempt to dominate and harm vulnerable populations.

Let me state this very clearly: condescension may not be the best behavior in the world, but it cannot possibly excuse the wreck-it-all resentment that the Trump voters have shown.

Another strand here is the anti-intellectual bent of swaths of white voters. It is common for people to experience an attempt to explain something as an act of condescension. I have had this problem at various jobs, where any attempt to explain why a thing needed to be done a certain way was greeted with a huge amount of hostility. The types of resentment alleged by rural whites have to do with the cities getting too many tax dollars, their own concerns not being properly addressed, etc. However, any attempt to actually discuss this, to parse out where tax dollars actually go, what things are and are not being done to address their concerns, what things are and aren't feasible, all these conversations are impossible, because as soon as you do anything other than validate their emotional responses, you are "condescending." It's not possible to constructively engage with someone who believes that the use of facts is an act of aggression.

I keep on wondering about a way forward. What do we do, next. I don't know. I don't want to hurt the average Trump voter. I am furious with them as a group, and with several individual that I know personally. I am uninterested in sparing their feelings; they sure don't care about mine. Looking back at the two huge changes in my lifetime, civil rights for black people and civil rights for LGBT, I think it is clear that worrying about the tender feelings of bigots doesn't get you anywhere. Trying to gentle them along is not the way forward. Those attitudes, those laws, those behaviors are anathema and have to be treated as such. Are Trump voters redeemable? Who knows. This is not my problem. If they are, they must redeem themselves. People change, and that can be a wonderful thing. But I reject the idea of catering to their gross prejudices. Just because your feelings are hurt doesn't mean you get to try and kill me and mine.

I do think we need to work harder to get people who do not currently have power into power. Just as poor people need money, and homeless need homes, the powerless need access to the levers of power. I really hope that the DNC chooses Keith Ellison. He will bring a different voice, and a different set of experiences. Look, I don't expect to agree with every minority on the issues just because they're a minority. But multiple view points in the halls of power will help create new perspectives and new solutions. Diversity brings with it both strife and resilience. We need that.

And for those of you who think that the Trump voter is not trying to kill me and mine...one of the people I love most in the world gets their health insurance through the ACA. And has diabetes. That's just one example.

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17th November, 2016. 2:20 pm. It Hurts When I do That

(Content note: Needles. Lots and lots of needles. The sharp kind, not the knitting kind.)

Yesterday, I stopped off at the clinic to get my flu shot. No biggie. I've been doing needles since I was two, and while I have never learned to like them, I'm not afraid of them. My girlfriend was out of town, still, so I headed for her house to feed the cat.

Look, I had a plan, ok? It was my last day of work this week, so I was going to go to Beth's house, feed the cat, drive to the grocery store, buy orange juice and a rotisserie chicken, come home, make pasta, eat pasta with parmesan and chicken, make mimosas, and start on a batch of broth for my cat Naomi. I would just like to point out that this was a perfectly good plan. David was planning on getting up a little early, and sharing the mimosas with me. The champagne was chilling in the fridge, everything was perfect.

About fifteen minutes after my flu shot, while I was driving, about six blocks from Beth's house, I had a sudden pain between my shoulder blades. It then migrated to my chest, an horizontal pain just under my breasts, slowly getting worse on the right side. I remember saying, out loud, "This is bad, this is very bad." It wasn't enormously painful, probably about a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10, but it came with a sense of impending doom. Also, I felt a trifle dizzy and short of breath. It hurt to inhale. The fact that I was driving at the time made everything that much more frightening.

Things I know about how heart attacks present in women: back pain rather than chest pain is not unusual. While denial is a very common symptom in men, some reasonable percentage of women have a sense of impending doom, instead. The classic "radiating down the left arm, elephant on chest" set of symptoms is less common in women, and women tend to have just plain idiosyncratic pain responses when it comes to heart attacks. Heart attacks are about as common in women as men, but not diagnosed as often.

So, I get to Beth's, park in the drive way, go in, feed the cat, take out my phone, and call the nurse line. The nice lady asks me a series of questions. The pain is nearly gone, now. She says that since I am alone, I should call 911, and have them take me to the emergency room. I should not drive. She was very emphatic about that. I also should not eat or drink anything. I ask her what emergency room I should go to. She says, rather earnestly, "The closest one." Ok, then.

Do I call 911? Oh, you sweet summer child, of course not. What I do do, though, is call David. He's a little bleary when he answers the phone. I say, "I need you to put on your clothes, come to Beth's house, and drive me to the emergency room." "Ok," he says, and hangs up the phone. At this point, I am feeling fine, but terrified. In retrospect, I'm not sure why I felt it necessary to tell David to get dressed.

The closest ER is Fairview Southdale. There was a brief period of entertainment when the GPS signal was lost and the Google would not tell us how to get there. We muddled through. I was in a room at approximately 9:30, just about an hour after first symptoms. They wheeled me into a room, and did an ECG. The technology was really cool. The electrodes have little tabs which the leads clip to. It took the tech less than five minutes to put the electrodes on, attach the leads, and do a full 12-lead ECG. Once she had a nice picture of my heart, she took off the leads and electrodes, and wheeled me into a private room. By this point, David was back from parking the car, and sat in the room with me for the rest of the time.

A very nice nurse named Michele came in, and the fun began.

They wanted to draw blood, and they wanted to place an IV. Like you do. As I've said, I don't particularly like needles, but I've endured an enormous number of them, so you know, here we go. Except, we don't go. Two or three tries in my right elbow. A couple in my left elbow. Several tries on both hands. It was...it really was. I gave up early on, and started saying fuck a lot. A whole lot. I apologized to the nurse, who apologized to me. I went back to saying fuck a lot, and she said that her 19 year old daughter would like me, that her daughter apparently can't complete a sentence without using the word fuck at least once.

At some point, she came in with this really cool machine that shone a different type of light on my arm, infrared, maybe? Maybe David knows. Any gate, it makes the veins show up vividly. The IV was only necessary if they needed to give me contrast to do a CT of my chest. Even with the fancy machine, she couldn't get the IV placed. Eventually, we agreed that she'd just draw bloods, and if the clotting factor test came in high enough that they needed to place the IV, they'd do that then. Meanwhile, we'd just do the clever little butterfly needle. That, too, did not go well. I think it took three sticks before she managed to fill all her lovely little vials.

So, the two primary things that they were worried about were a heart attack and a blood clot in the lungs. Both are potentially fatal, of course. There are blood tests for both of these. At some point, the doctor came in, and was cheerful and informative. Very nice man. I believe his name was Treirweiler, but I have probably spelled that wrong. They also hooked me up to a nice little monitoring set up, that checked my blood pressure periodically and kept track of my heart and oxygen levels. Oxygen levels generally quite good (100% when hyperventilating), I got to watch my heart throw a perfect little PVC (not a good thing, but I did already know that my heart did that), and my blood pressure was unusually high, 158 over 95, I think, or something like that. Since it's usually 120/70, that's unusual. But there you go.

There then ensued much boredom. I played a little Pokemon Go, sent texts to various people, whined about not having my cat, and allowed as how I hated life a lot. Then a cheerful young man with a large piece of equipment came in, and I said, "Oh, fuck. You're here to place an IV, aren't you?"

He allowed as how he was. My nurse came in to explain that the bloods indicated that I had not, in fact, had a heart attack, but that the clotting factor thing came in at .6, when normal was .5 or lower, so they were going to have to do a chest CT. She then warned the new tech that I cussed like a sailor, and he said that I had already established that.

I do not know what machine it was that he had. It was different than the one the nurse used, and I was past asking questions. I was very tired, I had not eaten since one that morning, I was a couple hours past my bed time, and I was scared. He had this round-headed thing that the rested against my elbow, and gently pressed and massaged my elbow. I'm not sure, some sort of ultra-sound or something? No idea. Any gate, he took a good shot at the left elbow, and failed. I made a new land record for the word fuck, and burst into tears. David said later that when he finally gave up on the left elbow, the needle had a thirty degree bend in it when he took it out. He then went to the right elbow. That took a lot of time, although I think it was really just one extended try. At some point, I said that this was the last time, I was not doing this again. At some other point, I started talking in a very childish voice about Pokemon Go, and getting shots as a small child, and then stopped and said, "I am two. Or maybe four. That's not good." In general, if my system breaks to the point that my individual personae start popping up, I'm under a lot of stress and there's hell to pay, later. Very destabilizing.

He did get the IV in. At which point there was a lot more waiting. It was in my right arm, which meant that I couldn't really use my phone any more, since every time I moved my right arm, it hurt. I was resting the arm on the bed rail, and would move it from time to time to get more comfortable. Each time I did so, I would forget about the IV, and bend it slightly, and it would hurt. I would complain, and David would make fun of me for forgetting. Which would make me laugh. David was absolutely wonderful throughout. Calm, easy, distracting, kind, and infinitely patient.

Eventually, there was the CT, which was much less uncomfortable than I had feared. The contrast does feel intensely odd, but it doesn't hurt. So nice to have something that doesn't hurt. I was relieved that the IV was still working.

The results from the CT came back pretty quickly. I have gall stones.

The doctor said that the symptoms were not caused by the gallstones. However, some time in the future when I have a piece of pizza or a slice of meatloaf, or some other fatty food, and then suddenly have an "oh my god I'm going to die" pain in my right side, I should remember this conversation with this incredibly smart, handsome, bald doctor. I laughed, and he went away for a little bit.

They had left the door to the area where the med people were open, and a little while later, I heard my doctor say, "Yeah, we should probably get more blood. I don't think she'll like that." I didn't know if he was talking about me, but it seemed a good guess. So when he came in with a tech, I knew what was up. He sat at the foot of the bed, and cheerfully explained about how the enzyme test they had done to establish that I didn't have a heart attack had been done within the window where it was possible that the enzyme hadn't yet shown up, because I'd come in so quickly, so they were going to need to run it again. While he was talking and being entertaining, the tech took some blood from the already placed IV. I pointed out that I had noticed he was just distracting me while the tech was stealing my blood, he agreed, and everybody went away again. In actual fact, I didn't care about them taking more blood. It's the getting the needle in that was the problem. Once it was there, the very slight about of pain that drawing blood causes was no big deal.

More waiting, and then the doctor came in and said that the second enzyme test also came back negative. There is, as far as he can tell, nothing wrong with me. A little while later, another tech came in and took the fucking needle out of my fucking arm. I got dressed, and we left. It was about 3:30 in the afternoon. Parking cost $7. I have no idea what the medical bill will be like.

We went to Punch Pizza, and I had pizza and a beer. I got home, and eventually got to bed. My left arm still hurt from my flu shot (remember the flu shot?) so I had to sleep on my right side. I slept from about 5:30 p.m. until about 8:30 a.m. this morning. Lady Jane Grey came and curled up against my tummy and snuggled for a long time.

And, you know, I'm just fine. Just fucking fine. Except that I'm a still a bit emotionally unstable. That was a whole fuck ton of stress. I guess I'm glad I went in?

Gall stones, huh? Ok, then. Gall stones. Sigh.

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12th November, 2016. 4:32 pm. Personal note: A Mess and a Muddle

In the last four days, I have managed two and a half actual meals, and several snacks. I spent the first thirty hours after the election in bed, most of them asleep, although there was a memorable 5 hour stretch where I was in terrible pain and unable to sleep, but also unable to get out of bed. The pain was not the pain of a hangover (I'd already slept through that), but the weird sleep-onset pain that I get in my legs sometimes, except ramped up considerably. I have been weak and listless, easily nauseated. My digestive system seems like it's finally getting back on track, but not with much enthusiasm. In the midst of all this, my beloved grey cat, who has been very well behaved for over a month, peed on my bed last night. When I took the bedding apart this morning to wash it, I found blood on the mattress pad. She has an appointment with the vet on Friday.

My brain has always had the ability to make my body miserable. Stress expresses itself in physical symptoms. My brain chemistry was reasonably fucked before the election. Getting the house ready for the Election Party was almost more than I could manage. I did manage, barely, but for weeks I've been weird and difficult to be around, and have found daily life almost insurmountable. I cannot bear the news, right now, it's like pouring salt on open wounds.

There is a need to do something. I do not know what that thing is. I do not know if it will be enough. I cannot think my way through this in my current state. It's all very well to put on one's own oxygen mask first, but if the plane goes down, possibly that doesn't matter. I have many muddled thoughts about the various suggestions people have had on how to respond to this election. I am not thinking clearly, though, and am badly constrained by my broken neurochemistry. Possibly things will become clearer, soon.

I will say this: I liked Hillary a lot, more with each passing day. I was not, in the end, a reluctant Hillary supporter, even though I started as a Bernie supporter. I was an enthusiastic, cheerful Hillary voter. I kept on being weirded out by news media insisting that she was unlikeable. It resembled the weird narrative that Gore was uncharismatic. I saw him on the stump; he was electrifying. The way the news media covered the email issue was a scandal; and it created the opening for Comey to do what he did.

I am a failed anarchist; I believe that we need big institutions to keep civilization alive, and that government is one of those necessary, big institutions. Civics courses, when I was a child, spent a lot of time on the hows of government. How bills became laws, how people got elected. They spent no time on the whys. Why we need to have roads and libraries and sewers and a health inspections for food and vaccinations and a check on other large institutions that use us for their own profit. We need to reclaim this understanding. No, I don't know how. I don't really know anything.

I am going to go see if I can manage to make my bed, now. Goals for today: make the bed, finish the laundry, clean the cat boxes, pay bills, stay up late enough that I can shift my sleep schedule to fit my work week, get to work. Honestly, that's probably more than I can manage, but I've got to try. Life does go on, until it doesn't. I kinda want it to go on.

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6th November, 2016. 6:41 am. Taco Tuesday Election Night Party

My place, starting at 6:00 p.m. I hope to celebrate our new Taco Truck Overlords. If the Angry Cheeto wins, there will be beer and margaritas to soothe the pain.

There will be tacos, chips, salsa, guacamole, beer, margaritas, soda, television, and wi-fi.

If you supported Trump, you will be roundly mocked. If you voted for a third party, I am willing to argue with you about how bad a choice that was, but if you'd prefer I didn't, just tell me to fuck off.

I expect that this will run late, even if they call the election early. If you want to show up after midnight, you should probably call first, just in case I made it an early night, after all.

At a pinch, I can probably bed four or five people if you end up not being able to make it home under your own power.

There are cats in this house. The nominal cat-free zone has been cat free for six months or so, but I never got around to spraying the furniture with the allergen remover stuff, and cat fur and dander does waft in under the doors, so plan accordingly. Smoking outside only (sorry, smokers.) Not even remotely child-proof, but kids are welcome if they can be persuaded to not hurt themselves or their surroundings.

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4th October, 2016. 11:11 am. Egg-spectations

So, the last two 2K eggs that I hatched were, respectively, a Pikachu and a Charmander. Very exciting. And the last two 10K eggs I hatched were a Jinx and a Scither. WTeverlovingF? I have several Jinxes (which are both horrifically racist and sexist), and another Scither. Mind, I do also have other Pikachus and one other Charmander, but how is it that the 2K eggs are ever so much better than the 10Ks?

Pokemon Go, an everlasting font of delight and confusion.

P.S. Sharon, I have used my very first tag, just for you.

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28th September, 2016. 6:20 pm. Pokemon GO, Ten Thousands Steps, and Health

So, I'm back from my second Pokewalk of the day. According Pokemon GO, I clocked about eight kilometers, total. This is approximately ten thousand steps, that magical number of steps that people were so enamored with a bunch of years ago. When I was working for the university, they gave everyone a very cheap and crappy pedometer, and gave us brochures on how easy it would be to incorporate those ten thousand steps into our daily routine. Park a couple of blocks further away from work, take a short walk on your lunch hour... and so on. The promises of health benefits mentioned cardiovascular improvements, but most of all, they stressed weight loss. So much with the weight loss.

I have Thoughts about this. First of all, I'm whacked. Tired and foot-sore. The idea that this is something I could easily incorporate into my daily life is fucking nuts. And the idea that this is something that everyone has the time and physical capacity for is deeply insane on so many levels. The brochures they handed out claimed that people take about 5,000 steps naturally during their day. However, I doubt this claim. My best estimate is that I get maybe two to three thousand steps in in the normal course of a work day. That leaves between five and six thousand steps. If a kilometer is about thirteen hundred steps, we're talking four to five kilometers. Average walking speed, according to the Google, is five kilometers an hour. That means finding an hour of extra time in a day, every day, to walk. I don't know about you, but that's kind of a lot of time during my work week. I can usually manage two kilometers a day, about a kilometer before and after work, but more than that is hugely difficult to manage just on time.

The claims that this will improve your health are... well, I dunno. I've been walking every day, sometimes as much as ten kilometers in a day, but usually at least two, for two months. I have seen exactly no change in my weight. My tight navy scrub pants do fit a little less snugly, which suggests that I may have traded a little bit of fat for a little bit of muscle, but not by very much. I may well be doing my heart and lungs all sorts of good, but I've also given myself several fairly small asthma attacks, and heart stuff you mostly don't notice until you have catastrophic symptoms or death.

Which leads me to BMI as a measure of health. Medicine, as a discipline, has this problem: it really has no good measure of health. Medicine is much better at measuring disease. If you have, say, Stage II Breast Cancer, that actually means an actual thing. It tells you useful things about your probable life expectancy, and provides a useful gauge for how aggressively you should be treating your disease. And while it is perfectly possible to make mistakes, if they kill off the cancer, they generally know that they have done so. If you've got pneumonia, they can usually figure out if it's viral or bacterial, and design a treatment program for it.

Health is largely measured by absence of symptoms or disease. And that's because health is holistic, and man are bodies complicated. At this point, the medical profession is pretty sure that health is enhanced by avoiding carcinogens, being physically active, and eating nutritious food most of the time. Exactly what is a carcinogen, how active, and what exactly is nutritious is under debate. And that is partly because all of those things interact complexly within the human animal, and with the unique biological machine that is each person. None of this is measurable. However, activity and food consumption correlate with weight, and weight, weight is measurable. It's nicely objective. This height, this weight, this BMI, man is that something that fits nicely on a chart. And, it's bullshit. It doesn't measure health. It doesn't even correlate as well as they say it does. I think that doctors rely on it so heavily because that's the only thing they have. They can't actually measure health, at all. But they can put you on a scale. And so they do.

In sum, I did my 10,000 steps today, and I am happy about the Pokemon. So there.

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