Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Allergies are weird

Last night I woke up with a mad itch. First it was just in one place, then two -- and then it spread. When I finally stumbled out of bed and looked in the bathroom mirror, I discovered I was having yet another major allergic attack.

My lips were all swollen, as were my gums. And something inside my ears must have blown up because I couldn't hear a thing. The front of me was purple and my back was a whitish yellow. It was hard to breathe because something was swollen inside my nose, but I was able to breathe through my mouth. I felt like I couldn't stand and was close to passing out.

Luckily I've been through this before. I didn't have an epi-pen on hand but I had the next best thing: a full prescription of prednisone. I've gone to the hospital in this condition before and all they did was give me prednisone. So I asked my doc for a spare prescription. Thank goodness. I was able to start the medicine immediately.

I also breathed albuterol through my nebulizer to ensure that my lungs kept working. And then I headed back to bed, because why not? There's nothing to do but wait these things out. Today I still have swollen lips and I feel a tad shaky, but the big problems have diminished and I'm on my way to being well. I'm not looking forward to seven days of prednisone, but what can you do? (It makes you shake like crazy. It's instant crazy-guy.)

Seriously, allergies are weird. And I don't even know why this happened. I didn't eat anything unusual before bed, and it's the same bed I always sleep in. So why did I experience this attack? Who the heck knows. At least I've got the symptoms under control. That's all I can ask, really.

Here's hoping you slept well last night.

Pope to hold Jubilee Forgiveness Sale. Hurry, hurry!

Did you know that the Roman Catholic church sometimes has special forgiveness sales celebrations? It's true, they really do this. Pope Francis wrote a letter about an upcoming "Year of Jubilee, a celebration of forgiveness based on a biblical ritual of debt forgiveness." Now, isn't that sweet? At all other times, you go straight to hell -- but the Jubilee Year is coming and it offers hope, even to fornicating Jezebels!

It seems it's easier to be forgiven during this spiritually special year. Essentially, Jubilee Years are the equivalent of a church sale on forgiveness. But what about that letter the pope wrote? 
[H]idden within today’s letter — which offers various particulars for the coming celebration — is a discussion of abortion, something Francis describes as a “tragedy” but which he insists can be forgiven. Francis then declares a new church policy: During the jubilee year, women who have abortions will be able to receive forgiveness from a priest, an action that has historically required a bishop.
Now, isn't that marvelous? So, for a short time only, women who did what they thought was best for themselves and their families -- by having an abortion after careful thought and consideration -- can be forgiven for their giant, unspeakable sin. 
Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, told ThinkProgress that he found the pope’s words “refreshing,” but still flawed for many Catholics.
“The letter really tells us about the approach Francis is taking generally to his papacy, being more pastoral and less political than his predecessors,” he said. “However, Francis gets it wrong, because Catholics who have abortions at the same rate as other women have stopped looking for forgiveness a long time ago. They recognize the reality of their lives is one they can embrace, and they recognize as good Catholics they can make decision about contraception and abortion in good conscience. They don’t need to be forgiven or look [for] forgiveness.
You tell 'em, Jon. They can stick their forgiveness where the sun don't shine.

(You can probably see how the gay issue will go down the very same road. Francis is changing nothing. He's just holding sales and saying meaningless things. Thanks, Frankie!)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Hue Lights: fun but flawed

Last Xmas my nephews gave me a set of Hue Lights. (Thanks, guys!) The lights are produced by Philips and they come with software that allows you to change the color of the bulbs. They're a bit pricey but lots of fun. You get three lights (and a "bridge" that you plug into your Wi-Fi router, which makes the lights work) with the original set, which costs about $200. Additional bulbs are sold separately and they cost $60 each. Not cheap.

I didn't install the system last Xmas because I was about to move, and the lights in my old house were way up there on 20-foot ceilings. No way I'd climb a ladder to put a bulb up there -- especially since we planned to move during the coming year. So I waited until I arrived at my new location to plug them in.

The system is great fun. I bought two additional bulbs so I've got five colored bulbs in all. I love being able to display dim, glowing colors in my house. And with a tap of a button on my iPad, they change from red to blue to...well, that's the problem. There isn't much range. The ads make you think you can use any photo to change the colors. Just upload it to your iPad, take the Hue software eyedropper and pick up the color you want. Nuh-uh.

Basically the lights want to be a pinkish lavender. When you "choose" another color, what you're really doing is trying to fight your way away from pinkish lavender. It loves that color. Beyond this, there's no real blue. You can get a tinge of green, but that's it. And there are very few vivid colors you can produce. So it's wildly limited.

But the main problem is that the software sucks. Let's say you add a bunch of bulbs and now have a system of 12 bulbs at your house. The problem is that you can't segment them into groups. All you can do is choose all the bulbs and set them individually. So if you have blue bulbs everywhere, for instance, and you want to change one to white, you either change it permanently (which you didn't want to do; you only wanted to light a white bulb in the kitchen for five minutes; you like your blue bulbs) or you have to make a new "scene" (what they call the saved color schemes) and set all the lights again, this time setting one to white. Then you have two full color schemes and must click between them to have the white light for a few minutes. Tch. Think what happens when you have 50 bulbs in the system. Pain in the butt.

They've had literally years to fix this but they haven't done a thing. Philips' attitude is very PC and not Mac at all. You have to improve your product when everyone's bitching about it. And everyone is, I assure you.

Still, they're fun and I don't know of any product that does the same trick. I just wish they did it well.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Big Brother is in the sky and packing heat

Now, this is ominous.
North Dakota’s police agencies can fly drones armed with Tasers, tear gas, bean-bag cannons, and other “less-lethal” weapons, thanks to fierce lobbying from the law enforcement industry on a bill that was initially meant to restrict police use of the flying robots rather than outfit them with weapons. While other local police departments have flirted with weaponizing their drones, North Dakota is the first state to explicitly allow the armaments.
And not the last, I'm sure. How can someone not understand that this is the first step on the road to insanity? An America where drones shoot citizens down from the sky? And someone actually thinks this is a good idea?
The weaponization of law enforcement drones could facilitate police abuse of force. Military drone pilots can develop a “Playstation mentality” toward their deadly work, according to United Nations official. The physical remove of a drone pilot desensitizes him, the thinking goes, and makes it easier to be rash about deploying his armaments. Pilots themselves contest this desensitization claim, however, and there’s reason to think military drone operators experience post-traumatic stress disorder despite sitting far from the battlefield.
Far from the battlefield and far from reality. If this isn't slapped down instantly, we are in for a real sh*tstorm.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Another bad move by the pope

So you think Pope Francis is sweet, eh? Not to gays, as I keep telling you. I came across this today:
Pope Francis has become wildly popular in the United States for striking an unusually inclusive tone as pontiff, winning praise — and possibly converts — for encouraging his fellow Catholics to be less judgmental towards the poor, immigrants, and even LGBT people. But when the pope travels to Philadelphia next month to attend the World Meeting of Families, he’ll be rubbing elbows with people known for advocating a very different kind of conversion: Ex-gay therapy.
So now that "ex-gay therapy" has been rejected by most Americans, including medical professionals, the pope thinks it's a great time to go to a conference that says sexual orientation is a choice and it can be changed. No, it can't. There is no gay person on this planet who "became straight". Nuh-uh. Doesn't happen. They just turn into closet cases -- who go on to do what closet cases always do: they attack gays who are happy to be gay. In other words, they become our worst enemies. This is who Pope Francis is siding with.

And as I mentioned the other day, while the pope plans to lift the spirits of gay-haters everywhere by meeting with fictional "ex-gays", his minions continue to attack gay people:
By contrast, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput told reporters in June he had no intention of allowing LGBT groups to speak at the conference, saying, “We don’t want to provide a platform at the meeting for people to lobby for positions contrary to the life of the church.” 
Indeed. Chaput is one sick cookie. He's always lashing out at gays and the pope is openly siding with him. I think at this point we can assume that the Roman Catholic church hates gay people and apparently always will. But it is church leaders -- not typical American Catholics -- who feel this way. Polls show this to be the case.
Ex-gay therapy is also widely rejected by most Catholics. A 2011 poll from the Public Religion Research Institute found that an overwhelming majority of American Catholics (69 percent) don’t believe that sexual orientation can be changed, and the group is actually more supportive of same-sex marriage than any other American Christian denomination. Some parishes even march in gay pride parades.
So there you go. For no rational reason (they've never cited one that makes sense), the church under Pope Francis will continue its pogrom against gays.

Because god is good. Or something.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Sadly, even the NYT does it

In an editorial at the NYT today, by (ahem) the Editorial Board, I found this sentence:
Recently, NBCUniversal, a division of Comcast, recently invested $200 million in BuzzFeed, the digital media company.
I mean, seriously. No editor or copy editor at the entire New York Times noticed the double-use of "recently" in that sentence? And you know, I might not have mentioned it but this error is online. How hard is it to correct an online error? (Answer: not hard at all.)

Tacky. Really tacky.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I found it!

Moving is awful. You think it's going to be really, really bad -- but in the end, it's even worse. Much worse.

I don't know how other people handle moving, but for me it began with total inaction. I couldn't imagine doing it: going through everything, tossing stuff out (since I was moving to a smaller place), packing, cleaning and finally arriving at the new place. I just sat and stared at the wall for a month, unable to do anything. But finally I started to pack. It's not pleasant. For a month or so I had no clue where anything was because all my possessions were in boxes. It made for a shaky period where all I said was "Where is my goddamn (fill in the blank)?!"

But finally the boxes were all packed and moved to the new location. I'd like to say we had people move us, but that would be a lie. We did it ourselves so we could suffer immensely. Luckily, the first heatwave of the year hit exactly as we carted the heavy stuff. You want to be as uncomfortable as you can at a time like this, and I'm pleased to say we succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.

And then you think you're done but you've got all those boxes to unpack. Sheesh. So you rip them open and stuff things here and there in your new home, and finally you're done -- and you realize you still have no clue where anything is. In the coming days I'm going to walk around the house with my iPad and open drawers and closets as I dictate where everything is. Socks are _____; bedding is _____; etc. And then I'll alphabetize the list so I can find anything easily. I'll just open my "Where's My Stuff" file and presto, I'll be able to locate the item.

The worst thing was that I couldn't find my book of character names. I created the grandest list of character names in the history of the universe, with the idea of using them in upcoming novels. But the book was nowhere! I almost cried, truly. I tore through the house again and again but I couldn't find it. However, I'm thrilled to report that it turned up today. Again, with the almost-crying. Thank Dog! I feel so much better now that I've located it. Sweet, sweet book. Mwa!!

The upshot is that it's just about over. A great craftsman built a huge closet for me this week, so I can store the extra stuff that wouldn't fit anywhere else. This closet is huge. So now, even with everything put away, I have several empty shelves available. Again: sweet.

As for the location, it's heaven here, as I knew it would be. I'm literally living inside the novel Xmas Carol. My house is part of the very horse farm that inspired me to write my lovely little horror novel. It's a tremendous place, 300 acres. I can easily go on a six-mile walk without encountering a single human being. To me, that is the very nature of heaven. And all along the way I encounter beautiful horses. They're such nice creatures, calm, friendly and curious.

As for the wildlife, I'm currently in the process of making friends with a huge murder of crows. I adore crows. They're not 100% on board with the idea that I'm their new pal, but due to the magic of peanuts, I'm making headway each day.

And did I mention that I found my book of character names? I am set. Hopefully, now that things have settled down you'll see a few more blog posts around here. I plan to get back to work on the new book by next week, and I also hope to keep the blog going with fresh posts. This is a new beginning. I love that.

So I hear summer happened while I was packing. I totally missed it. Tell me, how did you fare? We're experiencing another heatwave right now in upstate New York. Tch. Not good for walking. C'mon, spit it out: how has your summer been?