Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Bad Dog

In the movie, "A Christmas Story," there's a brief but memorable scene in which several dogs barge in and steal the roasted Christmas turkey prior to the meal.

We had our own ravenous dog scene, except that this involved just one dog and a three-quarter pound of leg of lamb for Thanksgiving that was left over after carving.  So fortunately, it didn't spoil the Thanksgiving meal because I'd already sliced most of it, but it did leave me without enough leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

The biggest problem is that the hunk of meat was still in the netting when he ate it.  And so the dog ate the netting, too.  A foreign object like string in a dog's digestive system can be a serious problem as this article describes.  I found some netting in his poop this morning, but I think there's more inside.  Hopefully he'll be okay.  He's eating well and pooping well, and I don't see blood in the stool.

That would be something -- mad at the dog for eating about $8 of meat plus having to pay for abdominal surgery on top of that.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Collecting Found Objects

Yet another quirk I have is that I maintain a collection of unusual natural items, which includes small things such as cat whiskers and claws, feathers, nut shells (hickory and pistachio are my favorites) as well as larger items such as tree branches and rocks.

I imagine that the objects have a certain energy in them and that I'm a shaman who's able to tap into these energies, combine them and create Objects of Power with them.

At the very least, these objects can be used to adorn a wreath, picture frame or some other craft item.  Cat whiskers also have the very practical value of making good applicators of liquid adhesive or paint when a very fine bead is needed.  I can imagine creating a Cat Mask that uses actual cat whiskers.

Here's a photo of the smallest of my collections.   My daughter keeps the fur in her own collection in her room.  Larger items such as turkey feathers and sheets of bark are in a different collection.  The tree limb is all by itself on the porch.

Do you like to collect anything?  What do you collect and why?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Confessions of a Quirky Shopper

Sometimes a product's container influences me to buy the product that's in it.  There are a few different reasons for this.

On the practical end of the spectrum, a certain container might be easier to grip, operate or store.  One example is stick deodorant.  I prefer containers whose covers are flat on top so that I can store them upside-down on the shelf.  When there's only a small amount of deodorant left, the upside-down orientation has a lower center of gravity, so it is less prone to toppling over.  Mennen Speed Stick gets this.  Secondarily, the mechanism to advance the deodorant needs to be easy to turn.  Most containers provide a round knob that's shrouded by the base of the container.  However, a few, such as Degree or Dove for men, are set up so that the entire base can be turned to advance the deodorant.

More quirky is my habit of buying things in order to get a container to reuse for another purpose.  I prefer to buy food that comes in glass jars whose openings are as wide as the jar itself.  It's easy to fill jars like this with leftovers or homemade ghee, or to use them as vases.  The Bonne Maman fruit preserve jars (see picture) are ideal.  There are sauerkraut jars that are just as wide on top yet twice as tall to hold more.  (In fact, the lids are interchangeable.)  The jars for almond butter are pretty good, too.  They are just large enough for a batch of ghee made from one pound of butter.  So I keep on hand a small collection of empty jars from jam, sauerkraut and almond butter.

Empty soda bottles are easy to "repurpose," too.  You can cut one in half and use the top as a funnel, and the bottom can be used under a small houseplant to catch excess water.  Make the cut angled, and the bottom becomes a scoop.  An even better scoop can be fashioned from an empty gallon (or half-gallon) jug from milk, water or bleach.  Here's how: Hold it upside-down by the handle. Then lower it as you would a clothes iron so it's horizontal.  Cut away the part that's now the top.  The Instructables website shows many ways to repurpose ordinary throw-away items.  Altoid mint tins seem to be favorite boxes for projects -- they're the ideal size for a set of AA or AAA batteries plus some small electrical components.

Even those annoying blister packs can be useful.  The frustrating slipperiness and seeming indestructibility of of the material can be exploited for use as shims, drawer slides or furniture glides.

What are your favorite containers and what do you use them for?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Dream: The Athlete's Blue Sports Car

I'm in an arena on a playing field waiting for a game (sporting contest) to start.  The pre-game show is in progress.  The announcer introduces the next feature, which is the sports car of the star player of tonight's game.  There's some excitement, but then I see the car.  It's a plain, blue, foreign, sporty, economy car.  It's not even shiny – the luster is gone.  And to detract further, there are large, dark green, plastic garbage bags in their folded state hanging from the door handles.  Apparently the field maintenance crew had hung them on the car for convenience, not realizing it would drive onto the center of the field.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Quirky in the Bedroom

Whoa, did I just title this "Quirky in the Bedroom?"  What was I thinking?

But it's true that my biggest quirk happens in the bedroom.  Umm, let me rephrase that.  My quirkiest behavior... -- no that's not gonna come out right, either.

Well, it has to do with the way I sleep.  Yes, sleep, or were you thinking of something else?

I already wrote about my "Hernia Rock" several days ago.  This is a warm stone I place on myself before I go to sleep.  But I do an even quirkier thing than that.

Here it is: I cover myself completely, from head to toe, when I lie down to sleep.  The sheet and comforter cover me from the foot end of the bed all the way up to my neck.  But I also cover my face with a black T-shirt.  I do this to block out all light from landing on my body.

You might wonder two things.  First you might wonder "Why can't you just turn off the lights -- isn't that dark enough?"  No it is not dark enough.  One of the windows is a large bow window.  Getting a room-darkening shade for that window is very impractical.  On nights when the moon is anywhere near to full, the room can be too bright.  Besides, skin can react to even tiny amounts of light.

The second thing you might wonder is, "How do you manage to breathe?"  That's good question.  But long-time readers will know (or may recall) that I have sleep apnea, so I wear a CPAP mask when I sleep.  This machine ensures that I have access to air, and the mask itself keeps the T-shirt from lying directly on my face.

This quirk, of course, creeps out my wife.  It makes her feel like she's sleeping next to a corpse.  It doesn't help that I have poor circulation in my extremities, so I'm cold to the touch.

Still want more quirks?  This is one of the better ones.  But I'll add a few others before Dec 1.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20141125

I thought I'd do the weigh-in a day early this week. Things are hectic at work, and holiday preparations are eating into my posting time. But I've got quirks to share! Oh, I just remembered, I started the Weigh-ins in November, so I should have enough data to plot an additional year to my graphical summary.

Waist = 40.75"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Monday, November 24, 2014

Black Friday Memories

I've never gone shopping on Black Friday, the traditional day of crass commercialism and consumer spending right after Thanksgiving.  You could say this is another one of my quirks.  But eventually I think I might like to go to a store just to experience parking difficulties, the competitive nature of grabbing items that are both extremely popular and deeply-discounted, and long lines at the cash register to pay.  On the other hand, I've seen this experience depicted often enough in movies ("Christmas With the Cranks" is a holiday favorite, based on the book "Skipping Christmas").  So experiencing Black Friday is only an idea, one that won't come to fruition this year.

For the past ten years or so, I've been buying gifts at small, local shops, and buying works of art hand-crafted directly from local artists.  I've bought some items sold at fundraisers to help out veterans or homeless pets.  I like the dual benefit of fulfilling the gift-giving obligation while boosting the esteem of crafters by honoring their work with a purchase.

However, when I was a young adult, I was brainwashed into department store shopping.  I preferred to shop just a few days before Christmas, at stores that would stay open later at night.  Most folks didn't realize the stores would be open late -- most of my competing shoppers were of the "early bird gets the worm mentality."  My mentality was simply "Shop whenever most people didn't shop."

One Memorable Day, one day before Christmas, I asked my mom what she wanted for Christmas.  I had gotten home from work a bit early, so I thought I'd start my Christmas shopping.  She laughed.  But I insisted that I was serious.  So she told me, "You're never going to find it.  But I've been trying to find those Isotoner gloves in Cobalt Blue."  (They were plentiful in black, but I've never seen them in her preferred color.  Even today I don't see them online in this color.)

"Okay," I said with confidence, and I drove off to our nearest shopping mall, with its Macys, JC Penney, Lord and Taylor, and one other major cookie-cutter department store which probably is no longer in business.  It was less than a 15 minute drive.  I didn't bother to find a parking spot near the entrance -- I parked in the first spot I saw and walked briskly for another minute to reach the entrance.

I continued my brisk pace through the first department store, where I found the women's accessories (I knew where things were located in these stores, and, besides, the displays for women are usually placed near the entrances to entice women to enter.)

It was obvious they had nothing more than black, brown and red, so I dashed off to the next department store's women's section.  And there it was, a single pair of Isotoner Cobalt Blue gloves in, what I assumed, would be her size (because I forgot to ask).

Now the trick in paying for something at a department store is to know that there are cashiers located in all of the major departments.  And that the cashiers with the longest lines are in the women's, petite's, children's and to a lesser degree, men's clothing departments.  So to beat the long lines, I simply ferreted through the crowd over to the furniture department, paid quickly, and left.

I was home within three-quarters of an hour, presenting a look of utter despair in the hopes of surprising mom tomorrow.  But of course, since I came home after only 45 minutes, she knew I bought something, so she was already incredulous.  It was, in a way, a Christmas miracle.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Quirky is RIght Up My Alley!

Yesterday's NaBloPoMo writing prompt was "Tell us about a quirk or odd habit that you have."  I have so many quirks and odd habits, this prompt could provide a month of posts on its own.

Let me share just one of my many quirks, which demonstrates my germophobic tendencies.

Whenever I need to pull a door open, I do not grab the handle with my entire hand.  I'm so reluctant to touch door handles that I use my pinky, or my sleeve, or (if I've just washed and dried my hands after using the bathroom) a paper towel.

I do this only in public.  At home, I don't bother, partly because most of the germs are mine or my family's, but also because my hands are usually already dirty from dog slobber, cat litter or cleaning household messes.

Would you like to know about my other quirks?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Things I Say

A standard phrase I'd use at work was "It's not inadequate," which was my wise-ass way of endorsing results that I wasn't thrilled with.  A student's paper with a grade of "C" would be "not inadequate."  If I was even less thrilled, I might say, "It's not terribly inadequate."  This latter phrase was my euphemism for "good enough yet pretty lousy all the same."

But some people took it the wrong way.  They actually were pleased to receive this response.  They'd show me their design or report, and I'd say "that's not inadequate," and they'd smile proudly, as if I'd just affixed a gold star to it.

Well I don't use it any more, perhaps because it has lost it's intended impact.  Or perhaps because sarcasm is being discouraged in much the same way as discrimination -- it's just not professional.  The utterly flavorless "good" has supplanted my "it's not inadequate" nowadays.

My new phrase is now "Crapizoids," which I exclaim out loud to myself instead of, um, well, a four letter word that begins and ends exactly like "firetruck."  I say "Crapizoids" a lot, like when the e-mail client freezes just before I click "Send" on a message that took 30 minutes to compose and included several links to various documents scattered in remote and obscure parts of the network.  "Crapizoids" is for when I hurriedly press Ctrl-A (which selects all content), instead of the neighboring Ctrl-S (save), followed by the Enter key and the witty content of a new paragraph, which replaces all the selected content.  (The Undo feature is my best friend for a good reason, but sometimes it reverts away from good stuff, too.)  "Crapizoids" can be heard right after every power failure.

Right at the moment I'm writing this in a public library as I wait for my daughter's karate lesson to end.  And it has ended, so I have to leave this post without a snazzy ending.  Crapizoids!  I hope it's not too inadequate.

Snoskred's response to the NaBloPoMo writing prompt, "Tell us about a quirk or odd habit that you have," inspired today's post.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Buy One, Get Six For Free

Temperatures here in the Northeast are at the freezing mark or below, so the heated indoor air is very dry.  This is a good time to use a saline spray to keep nasal passages moist.

I use a lot of saline spray every winter.  My preferred brand comes in little bottles of 50ml (1.69 ounces) and costs about $3.50.  That's $2/oz.  It doesn't last long.

The first bottle of the season already ran out.  So rather than buy another, I bought the saline solution that's marketed to users of contact lenses.  For the same price, $3.50, I got 12 ounces, a whopping seven times more, which should last all winter.

Of course, I don't squirt the stuff into my nose from that larger bottle.  Instead, I refill the little spray bottle.  I just remove the tip from the spray bottle and pour the saline solution in and then press the tip back on.

It turns out that the cheaper, contact lens saline solution is more soothing than the nasal saline.  Perhaps the nasal solution contains more anti-microbial chemicals to keep it from harboring germs.  After all, the bottle is inserted into one's nose.  With each squeeze, the user could aspirate germ-infested nasal mucous into the bottle.  So the producers of the nasal spray would want to ensure that their product won't result in re-infection with some pathogen.

If you decide to try this cost-saving idea, do your best to avoid contaminating the bottles and solutions.  Your workspace and hands should be as clean as possible.  You can place the spray bottle tip on a clean paper towel or tissue while filling the bottle.  Also, don't fill the bottle more than halfway, otherwise you won't get a fine spray when you squeeze but rather a surprisingly strong stream.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The High Cost of Vegan Cheese

My daughter has been vegan for about four years.  Vegans follow an even more limited diet than vegetarians.  The most devout ones don't eat anything produced by an animal or from an animal.  That includes eggs, all dairy, and even honey.

My daughter is devout.  But rather than give up mayonnaise, butter and cheese, she eats vegan-friendly versions instead.

My wife complains about the high cost of these vegan-friendly substitutes almost every week.  And she goes over-budget buying them.  But I tell my wife that if our daughter craves cheese and butter so much, it means her body is crying out for real, honest-to-goodness dairy.  As I wrote earlier, I don't fully endorse our daughter being vegan.

I say that we should buy absolutely no substitutes.  Instead we can buy eggs and dairy from producers that treat their livestock with care and respect, a major concern of vegans.  And I suspect that dairy produced the old-fashioned way is friendlier for the environment than the spreads made from vegetable oils or the cheeses made from cashews.  I believe that such substitutes require much more energy to produce because their raw ingredients are so thoroughly processed as to make them unrecognizable.

Some vegans will argue that there's a health issue with dairy.  They complain that it's loaded with saturated fat, which is bad.  I reject that entirely.  Saturated fat has been unfairly demonized.  The fat from pasture-raised, grass-fed cattle has a ratio of Omega3 to Omega6 that's comparable salmon, plus CLA (conjugated linoleic acids) and butyrates, both of which are important for good gut health.  The heart and brain both use saturated fat as fuel.

It's true that some people just can't tolerate dairy.  It can promote inflammation and mucus production.  Some people are lactose intolerant.  Others must avoid casein.  It's the casein in dairy that can mimic opioids in the brain in individuals with leaky gut syndrome.  So these intolerances are really the only good reasons to avoid dairy.

Well, even if our daughter agreed to eat real butter and cheese, our cost would still be fairly high.  Organic dairy from humanely-treated, grass-fed cows is not inexpensive.  But at least it's real and wholesome.

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20141119

Temperatures are at the freezing point today, with a brisk wind. I wore my fleece jacket and scarf.

Waist = 41"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dream: The Bull and the Subaru

I'm leaving a large department store.  My father and brother have left about a minute earlier.  As I approach the car, a two-tone green Subaru Outback wagon, I notice a large bull and at least one white sheep about 15 yards away on the other side of the car.  The bull has noticed me, too.  It's staring directly at me.  Its horns snake out from its head about 18 inches and taper down to two very sharp and deadly points.  I wonder where my brother and father went.  I quickly get in the car for protection, just in case it charges.

I'm in the back seat, semi-reclined so as to hide.  But I peer out the rear window.  The bull approaches the car from behind.  It knows I'm inside.  It pushes the car with its huge head planted on the left rear directional light.  The car gains momentum and heads for a stand of medium-sized birch trees and shrubs.  I list in my head the damage that's being done: the signal light lens cover; scratches and dents to the rear car body; maybe a broken pawl in the transmission.  If the car smashes into the trees there will also be front end damage.  Plus a tow truck may be needed to remove the car.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Dream: Disorganization at Work

I'm at work on the shop floor.  I notice three assembly / test stations.  Two are occupied; the one in the middle is vacant.  I overhear two people discussing that empty station.  They are suggesting that our IT guy take it over to use as his office.  "That's really ridiculous," I think to myself.

The two other stations are for different operations in our process.  I think of other areas of the building in which the stations aren't grouped logically by operation.  One area should be devoted in its entirety to, say, soldering.  However, the way the production managers have arranged things, the soldering stations are scattered in different areas.

I recall how things were when I first joined the company about 20 years ago.  At least they understood the simple concept of workflow.  The company seems to be degenerating.

Now I'm outside at the loading dock with DM, with whom I share part time IT duties.  He asks me, "Are you coming with me?"  At first I don't understand so I respond, "Where are you going?"  But suddenly I  infer that his question is about quitting the company and getting a new job somewhere else.  I nod.

Since we're outside and visible to many, DM hides his mouth each time he talks in case someone who reads lips is nearby.  He actually bends overs and talks into his knees.  But when I respond, I don't bother to cover my mouth much.  I'm more concerned about how I'm wearing nothing but "tighty-white" underpants, so I'm squeezing myself into a hidden corner of the area, partly behind some equipment.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dream: My Basement Room

I'm in the house I grew up in.  I'm in my bedroom in the basement.  I've just woke up, and it's about 6:15am on a weekend.  My mother and sister are still asleep it seems.  I have the memories of dreams lingering in my thoughts, and I want to write them down.  But it's so early.

I walk over to the computer that's near the foot of the stairs.  I'm concerned that any sounds that the computer makes will travel up the staircase and become amplified; its long, narrow, tunnel-like dimensions make a good conductor and projector of sound.

I walk to the foot of the stairs and notice that the area was cleaned up a bit.  A small desk was just placed there next to the electrical outlet. This is a good sign - someone finally decided to make productive use of the space.

I turn around to go back to my room.  Now I need to climb some rickety stairs.  I wonder about this.  These stairs seem to run parallel to the main stairs that I was just standing at the foot of.  That would mean that my room is on the main level of the house after all and not in the basement.  Yet curiously there isn't a way to get into the room from the main level.  I wonder what part of the house my room is adjacent to - perhaps there's a secret passage that connects the two.  In the back of a closet, perhaps?

When I reach the top and enter the small space, I notice how the ceiling of my room appears buckled as if years of water damage have warped the panels.  The whole room (plus the stairs) seems to have been stuck onto the side of the house like an afterthought.

This dream mirrors reality.  I did wake up at 6:15 this morning with dreams in my head, and I considered getting up early to write them down.  (Actually the Pee-Meister Squirt cat demanded to be let into the room, which is why I woke up.)  But instead of getting up I went back to bed to dream some more.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Alternative Hernia Treatment

I've had an inguinal hernia for several years.  The recommended remedy involves repairing the abdominal wall using a mesh sheet, which is put in place during laparoscopic surgery.

I'm reluctant to have surgery at this time, especially with my wife's unpredictable medical issues.  So I've found, through experimentation, two types of treatments that reduce the swelling and pressure in the area.

The first involves diet.  There are inflammatory foods that increase swelling and pressure.  Wheat is the most notable culprit.  So by reverse logic I decided to stick with a mostly anti-inflammatory diet, and the one I chose is my trusty Blood Type Diet.

Overeating can also exacerbate the condition.  It's simple -- there's just so much stuff you can put into a gut before it tries to expand beyond its confines in the abdomen.  Don't over-stuff it, and keep the pressure down.

The second approach is mechanical, broadly speaking.  Coughing produces the biggest stress to the area.  So if I'm about to cough, I'll apply upward and inward pressure on the area with my hand.  This is difficult to do discretely in public however, so my alternate method is to bring my knee up and across my body.  This is even more bizarre looking to the general public (I suppose), but at least I don't look like a perve.

Lying supine on a decline bench is great for providing momentary relief of acute pressure, especially when combined with the inward and upward hand pressure described earlier.

Wearing pants that are not tight around the waist also helps.  The tighter the wasit-line, the greater the pressure on the hernia.

Lastly, keeping external pressure applied for an extended period really helps.  So when I lie down to go to sleep I apply the pressure.  I used to place my hand on the area.  But then I decided I'd use a weight, instead.  I chose a stone from the garden for the weight.  I warm it before bedtime by running it through the dishwasher.  I think the combination of pressure and warmth brings healing.

2014-11-22 - SPG  Edited to add the second to last paragraph regarding the waist line of pants.

Friday, November 14, 2014

How to Maintain Brain Function

The current issue of Neurology Now magazine includes an article on how to maintain cognitive function.  "Staying Sharp: What you do during your free time could help save your brain" lists the following "brain-boosting activities":
  • Learn A Second Language
  • Become A Social Butterfly
  • Play Music
  • Exercise
The article also claims that heart-protective measures may also protect the brain.  For example, it recommends:
  • Don't smoke.
  • Sleep 7–8 hours a night.
  • Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check.
  • Eat a low-fat, healthy diet.
  • Get plenty of exercise.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Limit alcohol consumption.
  • Get blood sugar levels (and diabetes, if you have it) under control.
Yes, cholesterol is still a villain, despite assertions from both cardiologists and neurologists that high blood sugar causes damage, and it's the cholesterol that aids in the repair of that damage.

The biggest payoff is to stimulate your intellect while elevating your blood flow.  Learn to dance or practice martial arts for example.  I try to meditate while I walk, or walk mindfully.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

That Twee Thing

Tuesday's Colin McEnroe show on "Twee" whisked me all the way from "What on Earth are they babbling about?" to "Oh my Gosh I LOVE TWEE!" before it ended.  Mr. McEnroe often takes on important and controversial issues.  So devoting the entire show on something called "Twee" must mean that "Twee" is important, right?

But in the beginning it really didn't seem so important after all, as they struggled to define the term.  The thing that caught my attention was a person called "Zooey Deschanel" whom I've never heard of before.  They'd repeat her name, Zooey Deschanel said this, Zooey Deschanel did that.  And all this in the context of this "attitude" called "Twee".  I was so intrigued that I actually picked up my Android tablet and used Google's voice search to find out "Who is Zooey Deschanel?"

I saw several images of the beautiful entertainer / actress, plus a list of TV shows and movies that she performed in, almost all of which I'd never seen or even heard of.  The only movie that I was familiar with was one of my all-time favorite movies, "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."  Yes, Zooey Deschanel played the role of Trillian, whom I'd wistfully imagine asking me to go to Madagascar with her.  "Yes, of course, I'd love to!" was always my reply.

My favorite scene is the one in which Zooey shoots Zaphod with the Point-of-View Gun.  Of course, it's so much better when viewed in context with the story line.

When I connected Twee, Zooey Deschanel and the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" movie, it helped me define and pinpoint that movie, and how its tone differed so much from the books in Douglas Adams' "Hitchhiker's" series.  Yes, while the books depicted the Universe (or at least the Galaxy) as a harsh and unforgiving place in which if anything could go wrong it would go wrong at the worst possible moment, the movie was Twee, wasn't it?  It was a place where torture involved having to listen to really bad poetry.  It was a place where the zots from numerous Vogons' guns couldn't possibly hit you because the Vogons were such poor marks-creatures and their firearms so cheaply made.  It was a place where, if your house got bulldozed to make way for a bypass on a planet that was demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass, someone would come along and make exact replicas of both.

Wow.  Twee.  I love it!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20141112

It just occurred to me that the reason why I tend to lose weight in late fall and throughout winter (and gain in Spring and Summer) is due mostly to the end of Daylight Savings Time. A secondary reason may be that I expend extra energy in order to maintain body temperature -- I don't usually wear a jacket unless temperatures are close to (or below) the freezing point.

Waist = 40.5"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pee-Meister the Squirt

The vet doesn't believe me, but our eight year old neutered male cat masturbates on my lap.

He has always been my lap cat.  Even on his very first day with us, he preferred to curl up on my lap and fall asleep.  Sometimes he would knead my thighs for a short while beforehand.

But for the past two months he's been acting out almost exactly as described in this web article, in which the vet wrote that it's sexual behavior.  The only difference between that cat and mine is that my cat thrusts on my lap, not next to me.  He briefly touches his hindquarters down and leaves a small wet spot on my pants.

On one such occasion, he suddenly decided to mount another cat that had been sleeping right next to me.  That's Mounted, as in jumping on the other cat's back and biting the back of his neck, the way you see the lions do it on those nature programs.

This isn't the first time I've written about this cat.  You might remember him better as "Pee-Meister," depicted here.

Well, our vet said it was impossible for a neutered cat to behave this way.  He claimed that the cat was simply marking me with urine.  He prescribed Vallium, which is supposed to address urination issues.  And he recommended that we give one tablespoon of camomile tea to each of the other cats, just to calm everyone down.

Well, I refused to give the Vallium to Pee-Meister, especially considering the diagnosis was incorrect.  But all the cats, including Pee-Meister, are getting the tea.  The specific recipe is to steep one standard camomile tea bag in 4 ounces of hot water for ten minutes.  Store the brewed tea in the refrigerator.  Then add one tablespoon of the cold tea to the cat's food once each day.  Here's a reference to a website that recommends 1/2 tsp camomile tea.  That's one-sixth the amount recommended by my vet.  But then again we have Big Cats.

So should we continue to call him "Pee-Meister," or would "Squirt" be better?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Dream: Scattered Like Bones at a Reckless Dig

My co-worker JR, our lone female engineer, is a cast member of a science fiction TV show.  She is stranded on a planet with other crew members after the spaceship they were traveling in crashed.  She is standing in front of me wearing the uniform that's she depicted in every week -- a mostly-white jumpsuit with a solid red triangular feature that points up to the collar and tapers down on the left and right symmetrically at 45 degree angles.

Now I'm in the training room at work, waiting for PD to show up to provide the weekly training to the class.  Instead, a substitute arrives.  Class begins quickly and I struggle to keep up.  He shows us a mnemonic to help us remember something.  It's "MO" in the numerator and "SO" in the denominator, although I'm not sure what it's supposed to remind us of.

He has written some detailed notes on the board.  But I've not copied them down yet -- I wanted to listen to his explanation first.  Unfortunately the board has changed into a scene at a paleontologist's dig in a desert.  And his notes are now a pile of bones partly submerged in the sandy soil.  Some people approach the bones and dig very recklessly, dislodging and scattering the bones.  I realize with dismay that now they are a jumbled mess.  I know very little about digs, but I do know that bones are supposed to be uncovered very gently.  These guys are doing it wrong -- they've messed up big time.  But I'm the one who's been shortchanged by their mistake.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Blood Type Diet Sale -- 15%

D'Adamo Personalized Nutrition, aka "The Blood Type Diet" store, is offering 15% off nearly everything*.  And shipping in USA is free on orders of more than $150. New customers who use this link can save an additional 5%.

This is a great time for me to stock up on my favorites, which include:
Disclaimer: As an associate of North American Pharmacal, I may receive non-cash rewards for each click-through-purchase of any NAP product.  But I buy these items regularly, and I wouldn't recommend them if I didn't think they were worthwhile.  This is a great deal!

*Offers valid now through November 30, 2014. Savings applies to full priced items. Offer not to be combined with other discounts. Excludes Books,Test Kits and Packs. Free shipping is via UPS ground on US orders of more than $150 only.

2014-11-26 SPG  Fixed links.
2014-12-03 SPG  Fixed links, again.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Health Insurance

You can let food be your medicine, but don't expect insurance to cover it.

Likewise, medical research tells us that pets provide their owners with stress relief.  It also tells us that too much chronic stress leads to disease.  But show me an insurance company that will reimburse for pet food and vet bills, and I'll show you a three-legged duck.

The one alternative health care practice that insurance does cover is exercise.  They do this by paying for the cost of joining a gym.  Joining is covered; the monthly fees, however, are not.

What healthy lifestyle choice would you like to see covered?

Friday, November 7, 2014

When Technology Does Too Much

Sometimes, technology does too much.  When that happens, we are inconvenienced.

I had a telephone with a really neat feature.  If you got a busy signal when you dialed a number, it would hang up and then re-dial the number for you automatically.  But that stopped working when the phone company rolled out new technology that would give you a call back when the busy line became available.  The phone company's feature reduced the number of repetitions the busy signal would produce, making it impossible for the phone to detect it.  Now the busy signal beeps just twice, and it's followed by a matronly voice that says, "That number is busy.  If you'd like us to call you when the number becomes available, please press 1 now."  Of course there's a charge every time you use this feature; my phone provided the same type of feature for free.  No matter -- the phone was fried just over a year ago along with the DSL modem.

My coworker likes to use a Keurig machine to make coffee, but he doesn't like all the waste inherent in using those pre-filled, foil-sealed, plastic K-Cups.  So he uses a filter cup, like the My K-Cup.  Unfortunately the Keurig machine at work is designed to tip the used K-Cup into a reservoir bin after each brewing cycle, saving the next person from the "drudgery" of having to remove the used cup from the machine.  But if you're using a filter cup, you'll want to retrieve your filter cup, which means partially disassembling the machine to get at the bin.  And in the process of tipping the cup into the bin, the machine spills undrained liquid and messy grounds all over the bin.  Worse than all that, the additional components that perform the tipping are costly, use more electricity, and require repair.

The Keurig machine itself is an example of too much technology.  It's not too hard to fill a drip coffee maker with fresh cold water, place a coffee filter into the machine, add grounds, and then start the machine.  And after reading this online critique of the Keurig system, it would seem to be healthier to use the drip coffee maker, too.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20141105

Recently my wife was told by her Naturopathic Doctor that she's diabetic. She was flustered and upset, so apparently it means we'll be eating more of a paleo-type diet again. I don't think it's serious -- at 100mg/dL, she's at the very upper edge of the normal range. Considering how she had been abusing chips, candy and ice cream, 100mg/dL is pretty good result.

Waist = 41"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

NaBloPoMo 2014

National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) has started, and I plan to participate by posting every day in November.  I don't know yet how I'll find the time.  I have no free time, so it's a matter of shuffling priorities, eating less, getting less sleep, perhaps taking fewer and briefer showers.  Ugghh.

I'd like to call your attention to the NaBloPoMo Blogroll, which is the listing of all the official participants.  In particular, I'd like to promote the two blogs that my blog is sandwiched between (if I may be allowed to do so by ending with a preposition).  At number 568 we have an awesome blog called "Being Weirdly Awesome".  At number 570 we have "The Lipstick Memoir! oX: A kiss and tell composition of life as I know far that is!"

November is the month when I appreciate how difficult it might be to be a journalist, to come up with content for a new column, day after day, year after year.  Right now I have more content in my head than I have time to write it, so it's not so bad.

Anyway, if you'd like me to write about a certain subject, please let me know. Now would be a good time for me to fulfill your request.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Farewell to Doorbells and Knockers

Do you remember how when everyone started to use a cellphone, telephone booths gradually faded out of existence?  Will the same happen to doorbells and knockers?

Consider how people call or text when they arrive at their destinations: "im here where r u"  Why bother to ring a doorbell or knock?

A few weeks ago I arrived at my daughter's friend's house to pick her up.  She was at a gathering that wasn't going well and needed a ride home while the party was still in full swing.  I could see a few kids through a gap in the blinds.  I don't have a cellphone*, so I rang the doorbell.  Nothing.  I knocked on the screen door.  Still nothing.  I knocked on the door frame.  Nothing yet again.  I Knocked Really Hard on the Door Frame.  Finally, I got a head to turn in my direction.

Fortunately they had been viewing a movie on a dinky little laptop.  What if they had been watching on a home theater system with surround sound?  I'd've had to knock on a neighbor's door and ask to use the phone.  Or drive right up to the front door, honk the horn and flash the lights.  Or forcibly enter and search among the hooded bodies until I found one that resembled my daughter.

This homeowner's doorbell stopped working.  Will she ever notice?  Will she ever get it fixed?  Why bother? It's obsolete.  Besides, the only people who use the doorbell now are strangers: Trick or Treaters, door-to-door salesmen, Jehovah's Witnesses.  You're better off not answering.

When was the last time you used a doorbell?

* My brother doesn't have a cellphone, either. But at least I check Facebook once a month or so.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Dream: Roadside Mica

I'm outside during my lunch time break at work.  On my daily walks, I'd been stopping to care for a plant / bush / tree on the side of the road.  Today, I see that the side of the road has been dug up.  And I'm very dismayed to see that all the plants have been hacked down to just stumps, presumably to make room for the equipment that would allow construction to take place.

I can't even identify the plant that I had once cared for or its location.  So I turn around and walk slowly in the opposite direction, looking carefully.  Some little bits of sparkling mica catch my eye.  They twinkle like snowflakes in the moonlight as I walk by.  In one little pocket of sand, I see a larger shiny stone, about the size of a flattened pea.  I stop and bend down to pick it up.  But my fat numb fingers are not nimble.  They push the stone deeper into the sand, and they dislodge more loose sand that slides down over it, like a mini avalanche.

Frustrated, I scoop up the area with my fingers and let the sand fall between my fingers, leaving a few small sheets of extremely fine and clear mica.  They are about half the size of a microscope slide, but they are amazingly clear.

I realize that I might attract the attention of a construction worker.  In fact, one walks by, rapidly pushing a large, heavy, orange roller, which tamps down a foot-wide section of sand along the edge of the road.

A woman from the construction company notices me and walks up to me.  She's not a laborer but either a supervisor or a company representative.  She's curious to know what I've found, so I hold out my hand and show and tell her.  Unfortunately it's apparent that I mistook the mica for some clear plastic hanging file folder tabs.  It stands to reason that I'd find office garbage in this industrial complex.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Ebola, Science and Civil Rights

Should all people who enter the USA from Ebola-stricken countries be quarantined?

Maine resident Kaci Hickox returned to the US after caring for Ebola patients as a nurse in West Africa.  She arrived in New Jersey, and she was detained in a tent under strict quarantine, even though she had no symptoms.  New Jersey allows its own healthy residents to self-monitor for symptoms of Ebola, but the state's officials didn't know what to do with Kaci.  All this despite scientific evidence that Ebola spreads only when the infected person experiences symptoms, such as a fever and body aches.

Now Kaci is back home in Maine and remains healthy.  As a nurse who fought to contain the deadly virus, can she not be trusted to self-monitor and report for medical treatment at the appropriate time?  Some people don't think so.

There are some US politicians who would impose a travel ban on West African countries.  Those who disagree say that such a ban could be circumvented.  They say that infected individuals could arrive here indirectly, so it would be better to permit them to travel normally and simply monitor them.

It almost seems reasonable to me to give the Ebola medical volunteers complete freedom to travel, provided they monitor themselves for symptoms and maintain a record of their contacts and activities.  What do I mean by “almost”?

“Almost” means that I'm not 100% certain that these volunteers are unable to transmit Ebola when they are asymptomatic.  Basically, I don't trust science.  Science lives by its data.  If it lacks data, or if the data shows poor correlation between Thing A and Thing B, it will announce that there's no evidence that Thing A causes Thing B.

Correlation is wishy-washy.  A study could show poor correlation between Thing A and Thing B even if one instance of Thing A was “well associated” with Thing B when 99 others weren't.  That one data point might be considered an outlier and discarded.

Thus when a so-called medical expert recently claimed that there's no evidence that someone with no symptoms can spread Ebola, and that Ebola is spread only through contact with an infected person's bodily fluids, I became suspicious.  To believe in this claim, I'd need to read the study, look at the data, understand the limitations of the measurement system, etc.

I'd want to know why science was unable to find evidence.  And yet science seems to be unable to explain how other seemingly well-equipped medical volunteers became infected.

Bodily fluids can be coughed into the air and sneezed onto a surface, and then you and I could come into contact with it.  Science might claim that it's unlikely that we'd catch Ebola this way.  But not impossible.

What do you think?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Halloween 2014

We enjoyed Halloween at work as we usually do.  The company allows for a costume parade.  Those who wish to participate can dress up.  Then the rest of the employees vote on the costumes.  Prizes are given for scariest, most original and most creative.  (Don't ask what the difference is between "original" and "creative".)

My plan this year was to dress up as a beach bum with dreadlocks.  But yesterday morning's sudden chill dissuaded me from putting on the swim trunks and tank top, so I dressed up like a stoner with dreadlocks.  Notice the focus on dreadlocks, here.  That was what we prepared for -- dreadlocks as the centerpiece of the costume.

My daughter and I fashioned the dreadlocks from an abundance of cat fur, which we rolled into many thick strands and stapled to the lining of an old baseball cap.  It looked really cool, but judge for yourself.

My wife encouraged me to get into my costume before leaving for work.  When she saw me she said, "Oh you look like such a dirtbag!  What a loser!!"  I sense that she's been wanting to get that off her chest for several years.

I got favorable reactions from the guys, especially the retired Jamaican janitor.  The reactions from the few females that didn't totally ignore me ranged from disgust to revulsion.  I thought one woman was going to vomit, that's how green her face became.

Halloween can give us a chance to experience society from others' perspectives.

How was your Halloween?