Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wednesday Weigh-In 20150930

We've been enjoying spaghetti squash as a substitute for wheat-based spaghetti. It's a great way to replace a serving of a grain with a vegetable, and it's suitable for all our diets: Blood Type, Paleo, Anti-Inflammatory, Vegan. Spaghetti squash is a variety of Winter squash, so it should available now in the Northern Hemisphere.

Waist = 41.0"
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Dumbed Down Doctors

I had the most illuminating discussion with a doctor today.

My wife had been under his care since March for a condition that is slowly getting worse.  The condition itself erupted in June of last year.

We had gotten a second opinion from a very well-respected and experienced doctor.  One piece of advice from this doctor was "take four biopsies and send them to four different labs."  When we mentioned this to the regular doctor, he shook his head and said, "That doesn't make sense.  What if you get four different results?  What do you do then?  I think we should take just one biopsy."

I was almost too aghast to respond.  Eventually I said, "If you really have so little faith in the results, why even bother doing one biopsy?"

But here's what I wish I had said:
  • When dealing with large uncertainty in data, the proper method is to increase the sample size, not decrease it, and,
  • What you're suggesting is that it's possible that at least three of every four lab results can be incorrect. That means the one result you get has at least a 75% chance of being wrong, and,
  • Didn't you have to take statistics in order to become a doctor? I think you should get your money back.
But, as I said, I was too aghast at his ignorance.

I could've accepted the one biopsy response if he said that insurance won't cover it, or that hospital policy forces us to use our own lab, or some other bureaucratic bullshit because I've become accustomed to it.  But I never expected such blatant ignorance.

And this doctor was voted Best Doctor in his specialty in our region.

I'm beginning to think that we need to go to a doctor outside the USA or consult a Shaman.  I no longer have faith in AMA-bred medical professionals.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Too Many Yellow Postcards

Yellow postcards now arrive about once every two weeks.  Twenty years ago, I'd get two each year to coincide with Thanksgiving and with Spring Cleaning.  The yellow postcards are from charitable organizations who offer to pick up your donation from your home.

More and more organizations are soliciting curb-side donations more frequently.  We're requested to place gently used clothing in boxes or bags, attach the bright yellow postcards, and place them at the curb in front of our homes.

But listen up -- I need my clothing!  That's what I wear.  And I continue to wear each item even after holes develop, or stains fail to disappear in the laundry.  And then, after an item gets so incredibly worn out and disgusting-looking that it's no longer fit to be worn in public, it becomes the uniform I don for home repairs, gardening and yard work.  And then, I might cut out whatever material is still fairly decent for use in crafts.

Charities are starting to request appliances via the curb-side pickup method.  As a tinkerer and handyman, I manage to keep my appliances functioning long after their warranties expire.

Currently, the handle on the dishwasher that releases the door latch is almost completely broken.  When it broke, I was worried that I'd never get it open again, and that most of our clean dishes and utensils would remain trapped inside.  But I managed to open it, and now I install a loop of sturdy string around the inner latch mechanism before I close it.  I simply pull up on the string to open it again.

The inner elements on the toaster fail to heat up unless I press the "Bagel" button.  I think it's stuck in some sort of Englishman's Toasting Mode, because, according to Sting, Englishman prefer their bread toasted only on one side.

The laptop power adapter stopped working.  I opened the module and discovered a bad solder connection.  I resoldered it, glued the module closed, and put it back into service.  Speaking of laptops, the screen went dead on the older laptop.  The inverter board that I bought for it also didn't work, but I can still use the laptop if I plug in a desktop monitor.

When the plastic handle broke off the lid of the crock pot, I bought a wooden cabinet knob from the hardware store and screwed it in.

These are just the most recent examples of the appliances I've been able to keep working.

So charities, You won't want my clothes or appliances.  So don't bother sending those yellow postcards to me.  All I'll do with them is hold them behind the cats' bottoms to keep their streams of piss inside the litterbox.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Quotes From "The Raven's Gift"

Ravens may drop walnuts on your head, storms may batter your canoe, blizzards may scatter your reindeer, but lighten up; nature is "'playing' with you and that is all.  It is not to be taken seriously." (page 210)
I wonder, does nature make traffic lights turn red just as you get to them?

The Koryak Creation Story
When the cosmos was new, there were no people, so Etinvin, our God, made people and placed them on the earth.  He started off first by making the Northern People.  He gave them the best, richest, and most wonderful place on the planet, right here near Vyvenka and above.  He put salmon in the rivers, seals in the bays, and reindeer on the tundra.

When Etinvin finished, there were many places left on the earth with no people.  But he ran out of genuine parts to make people with.  He asked Kutcha [the Raven God] what he should do and Kutcha suggested that they carve some people out of wood.  So Etinvin carved people out of wood.  These people became the Europeans.  They are stupid because they are made of wood and not genuine parts.  They fight too much and they don't think about the future of the earth.  They build too many machines that destroy the earth.

When all the people were finished, Etinvin looked down and saw a woman on the tundra.  She was giving birth and crying in great pain.  Her husband didn't know what to do, so he tried to cut the baby out of the woman's stomach with a large knife.  But that made the women and the baby dead.

Etinvin was sad and called Kutcha: "These people are new and they don't know how to live.  You must fly down from the heavens and teach the people how to live."

So Kutcha gathered the people, and explained: "Women must go to the tundra.  Watch the birds and see how they give birth."

The women walked out to the tundra and watched the birds laying eggs.  And then they understood.  They had many healthy babies and their numbers grew.  But still the people didn't know how to live very well.  So Etinvin called Kutcha again and told him to go back down to earth and tell the people out to live.

And Kutcha gave the following advice:

"Ocean water is full of salt and is not good to drink.  Drink water from the mountains.  That is the sweetest water.

"When the sun is setting, your children must not cry.  They must sit near you and you must tell them stories.  After the stories, the children must sleep.

"You must wake up early in the morning, especially in the spring, when the earth is waking after the winter night.

"If a child falls down, you the must say, 'Stand up.  Don't cry.'

"When fish swim up the river, you must have silence near the river.  The fish will have babies, so you must be quiet to respect the children.

"If you have a headache or stomachache or other pain, you must call Kutcha and say, 'Help me.'  And Kutcha will put on his raven coat and fly down from the heavens.  He will spit on the place that makes the pain.  Then you must push the pain through the body with one finger.  Pick up the pain on the other side of the body, grab it in your hand, and say, 'Go to your mother.  She lives in the darkest place in the North.'  Then you must go outside and throw the pain into the wind." (pages 194 - 195)

From "The Raven's Gift," by Jon Turk

Dream: Falling Behind in the RF Microwaves Course

It's the first day of the RF Microwaves course.  My colleague from the engineering society, CB, is teaching the course.  Several coworkers are also taking the class, and SK introduces CB, saying that she will also apply to our company for a job.

I have a pen but no paper.  "No worries," I think to myself.  "I'll just find some blank photocopy or printer paper."  But as I look around the room, I don't see anything like this.  I see piles of used papers, so I get up from my seat to look through them, hoping to find at least one piece that's blank on one side.  But even the scraps of opened junk mail envelopes have handwriting on both sides.

Then I see a cardboard box with stacks of pads of lined paper all wrapped in cellophane.  I cut the wrap with my pocket knife and take one pad and return to my seat.

The lecture has begun.  The professor has already written on the board so I need to catch up.  But the "board" is a wooden board in some dark finish like walnut.  The professor's chalk marks barely leave a mark.  In addition, to my dismay, the paper that I found is dark maroon.  My black pen marks are barely discernible on it.  I wonder, how I can do well in the class if I can't even take proper notes on the first day?!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Wednesday Weigh-In 20150924

I had some Oreo cookies next to my home computer on Tuesday. I was annoyed and a bit hungry, so I ate all of them.

Waist = 41.0"
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Welcome to USA Pope Francis

Pope Francis will be visiting the USA from today until Friday, so I'd like to extend a warm welcome to him.

It seems a fitting time to give readers a condensed timeline of my religious background, especially since it all started with Catholicism.

I was born in the early1960s to Roman Catholic parents and baptized into the Church, in which I had my first Communion and Confirmation.

Both G-d and Santa Claus were used as threats in order to temper my behavior.  G-d would punish me while Santa would grant or deny presents.  Actually, I never believed in Santa; I knew my parents and other relatives provided the presents.  Rather than write a letter to Santa for presents, I would simply pray for them.  And I'd write a list for my mom.

Being musically inclined, I was involved in the Folk Group as a teen.  We played during the Saturday evening Mass.  Then I turned 18 and graduated high school, and I left the group and stopped attending Mass altogether.

In my mid twenties, I went on a binge of reading about Christian Mysticism, as described here.

That changed after I proposed to my fiance and we became engaged.  She was Roman Catholic, too.  One of her first actions was to pin down a wedding date, select a Church and have us start attending Mass together.  Since we both viewed Catholicism as more punitive than nurturing, we "shopped" all the local Christian congregations until we settled on a modest Lutheran church in our town.  I joined their choir to sing bass, and we were married there several months later.

Our daughter was born a few years later.  We continued to attend services weekly.  Six months later, our daughter was baptized.  We would keep our tiny daughter with us in the pew among the other choir members and walk out with her if she acted up, which she rarely did.

After our daughter became a toddler, we decided to leave her in the daycare that was provided.  At this point she could become upset and quickly react with a meltdown under certain conditions, including being left alone in a room.  We called that separation anxiety.  So on that first day in the nursery we made sure she was comfortable and occupied, and we reassured her that we'd be back.  She seemed fine.  About twenty minutes later, the daycare provider was trying to comfort our screaming daughter, who was writhing and arching her back as if the woman was torturing her.  The woman was aghast and asked if our daughter were sick (or abnormal, perhaps).  We drove home right away -- we needed the entire 10 minute car ride to calm her down, and we kept our daughter with us in the pew among the other choir members for a few more years.

Eventually our daughter would be diagnosed with Mild Autism, and she was enrolled in the public school's preschool for children with developmental disorders.  Sunday school was difficult -- the church had no professionals to provide therapy or support.  The teachers were mostly parents or grandparents of "normal" children.  So my wife and I would attend the earlier grades of Sunday school with our daughter until she settled down.  But she never really "took" to it -- she formed no connections with the other children.  This continued into her teenage years and the Youth Group.

What she did connect with was the choir.  Unfortunately there was no children's choir at the time.  It wasn't formed until after our daughter was a bit older and after the idea about singing in a choir was no longer fresh and interesting.  Still, she gave it a go.  But with her extremely well-tuned ear for pitch and her sensitivity to tonal quality, she was disappointed with the other children and lost interest.

In the Lutheran Church, children wait until they enter grade 5 to receive their First Holy Communion.  And then they get confirmed even later.  I sincerely thought she'd drop out before getting confirmed.  The more she "learned" about Christianity, the less sense it made to her.  Fortunately the assistant Pastor made some accommodation for her, and she squeaked by.  And then she announced that she was Pagan and left.

I continued to attend the services as a choir member.  But it bothered my wife.  She didn't want to sit in the back with me and the other choir members, and she didn't want to sit alone in the regular seats.  So I stopped wearing the choir robe and sat with her in the regular seats, joining the choir only when necessary.

After eight years was getting tired of the weekly rehearsals and the getting up early on Sunday.  I had planned to announce my retirement from the group.  But the choir director beat me to the punch -- one evening she announced her retirement.  So I remained quiet about my own desire to leave.  It took one full season for the church to find a replacement, so I stayed on in support of the interim choir director.  I was the strongest bass we had.  I wasn't necessarily the best singer, but I could sight-singing and learned the parts quickly, even the tenor and alto lines, too, to help folks with their parts.

When the cat died, the emotional impact of singing was nearly too great for me.  Leaving my sad wife and daughter at home twice each week was an additional burden.  Plus my wife had been hospitalized two years earlier for four weeks and left with chronic pain and fatigue.  I stuck it out for another three months and then abruptly failed to show up for the first rehearsal of the next season.  When they called, my wife said simply, "He quit."  I stopped going to church for several weeks and didn't even speak with anyone until a couple of months later when I'd accidentally bump into a choir member.

We would attend some services, such as Good Friday (my wife's favorite) and Christmas Eve.  These days, getting out of the house by 9:30am five day each week in time for work is challenging for me.  It takes me four hours every morning to get myself ready, feed the four cats and dog, get my daughter ready for school, attend to my wife's needs.  So I like having the weekend with no morning obligations, church included.  And frankly, I've always considered prayer a solitary endeavor, so I never feel the need to be a part of a congregation.

Recently my wife became reacquainted with her Reiki instructor.  It turned out that the instructor was a practicing Buddhist.  We were invited to attend some meetings / sessions / whatevers.  So my wife decided to join them.  She and my daughter are now official Buddhists.

And me?  I really don't know.  I need to strip away all the brainwashing that I received and then figure out what make sense to me.  Most followers of the major religions in our world could be considered psychotic.  Do you think not?  Then read this: "I believe if I say certain words at a certain time each week, that life will be easier for me and my loved ones, and it will bring about World Peace.  And best of all, when I die, I won't actually die -- I'll go to a special, wonderful place."  That's some really crazy sheet.

Sorry about all that content, Pope Francis.  I do hope you enjoy your stay here.