January 2007 Archives

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January 31, 2007

I've been toiling away on site maintenance issues... but not here. Which I should be doing, but that's another story altogether. I really do want to get a new design going....

No, rather, I've been assisting Ith at Absinthe & Cookies. I still have some tweaking to do, but go ahead and visit.

Posted by Russ at 01:48 PM | Comments (1)
January 29, 2007
My Inner Child Reacts to a Session of Physical Therapy, 3

Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow.


Posted by Russ at 11:10 PM | Comments (1)
Down for Maintenance

More physical therapy coming up shortly. I promise not to cry like a little girl.

When I get home I'll be taking apart the PC for some much-needed maintenance — installing a new video card (the original just fried) and a major memory boost. The darn thing is pretty tightly wired into "the lab," so it'll be a nuisance to extract.

With luck, I'll be back online before midnight. That is, I will be if I don't have to crawl straight into bed after the PT.

In the meantime, go read this piece on multiculturalism from the always excellent (though occasionally surreal) Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom.

Update: Aaaaaand... we're back.

OK, I could in theory, be doing this from my linux box (as I did when originally posting this) or even from my work laptop, but you'll just have to trust me on this one.

Posted by Russ at 03:04 PM
January 26, 2007
No Cat Blogging Today

Sorry, folks. Mycah hasn't been at all photogenic this week.

Or rather, she has been, but not in any way that hasn't already been done.

Cuteness is fine and all, but something new would be good, too. Perhaps when I'm more mobile I'll be able to sneak up on her doing something adorably feline.

Posted by Russ at 05:35 PM | Comments (1)
Quote of the Day

Steve H., in the midst of riffing on college athletes:

Probability dictates that a certain percentage of jocks will be in the smart-to-brilliant range. They must be as lonely as waxing salon owners in Tehran.

I'm sure my brother (smart guy, All-American football player) could opine further.

Posted by Russ at 02:03 PM
January 25, 2007
My Inner Child Reacts to a Session of Physical Therapy, 2

"Is that what they call a 'bad touch'? 'Cause, it sure doesn't feel good."

Posted by Russ at 05:30 PM
January 24, 2007
So, What's All This About Physical Therapy?

As some of you, my miniscule audience of regular readers, already know, I have something of a history of back problems.

Some of you might recall that this past summer I broke a bone in my foot. At the time, I was having a bit of knee difficulties, and the usual periodic bout of sciatic pain. Not too long after I broke the bone, I tripped — over my own feet, I think — while walking through the lobby at my workplace. Something in my back went pop...

The regular sciatic pain went away, for which I was grateful. But then, going down the stairs at the office later that day, I noticed something unusual: I couldn't feel my heels contacting the steps.

As time went by, I noticed that I had lost some control, and the feeling in my legs. Mycah took advantage of this lack of control at one point, in an effort to eliminate me.

Humor aside, it was clear to me that there was a serious problem. I was falling down a couple times a week as my legs gave out from underneath me, and I could tell that certain muscles simply weren't responding. It was getting harder and harder to walk up the stairs at the office or at home. Particularly bothersome was the loss of the muscle responses that contribute to balance; I could no longer just walk, I had to think about every step, or I would fall over.

The balance problem has gotten worse since then. I don't fall down so much, mainly because I'm careful not to take chances, and I usually maintain a third-point-of-contact, with (for instance) my hand on a wall when I walk. Some leg muscles have developed to take over for those that aren't responsive, but walking and climbing stairs is still problematic. I still have motor control, but I can't always feel what's happening below the hips.

Some days are better, some days are worse.

The short version of this tale is that it's pretty clear that I've damaged the nerves that handle the legs, but the only pain I feel is in my back. At this point, I think I'd rather have the sciatic pain, if for no other reason than to be sure that there is something alive down there.

It's pretty clear to me that this is my old Army injury writ large. Convincing the Veterans Administration of that is something else altogether, but I'm trying. I suspect surgery will ultimately be involved; I face the prospect of being categorized as a "disabled veteran."

In the meantime, I'm on a regimen of muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatories and painkillers, and I'm seeing a physical therapist. I spend rather more time in bed than I am used to. As it's become harder to get around, I've been working from home more and more. I'm just glad I chose a career field in which telecommuting is a sign of professional capability.

Ever since my Dad passed away almost ten years ago, I've kept as a memento the cane he used when he had the problems that resulted in knee and hip replacements. I never expected to use it myself... but I'm tempted. So tempted.

Posted by Russ at 11:32 PM | Comments (1)
January 22, 2007
My Inner Child Reacts to a Session of Physical Therapy

"Mo-o-o-ommy! The mean man hurt me!"

More later.

Posted by Russ at 07:46 PM
January 19, 2007
Little Miss Chunkytux*

Mycah had another trip to the vet this week — but it wasn't actually for a bad reason. I'm not sure why dissolving stitches weren't used when her tail was amputated, but the stitches on the tip of what remains of her tail had to be removed.

In all her past vet trips, Mycah never complained as much as she did this time. I held her on the table while the vet went to work. She hissed, she growled — you know that long, low "rrrooowww" cats do — and while the last stitch was being pulled, she turned and bit my hand.†

Portrait of a biter:

"Touch me like that again, pull back a bloody stump."

It was merely the slightest bit difficult to keep telling her she was a good girl, but I did, and she calmed down as soon as she was done being handled by the vet.

She was also due for her 6-month diabetes checkup, so a blood sample was taken. The results were very, very good. Good, as in, the diabetes is so well under control that she no longer needs the prescription food to control it.

She was, however, in the higher end of the "normal" range for some kidney-thing-I-don't-understand. But she's doing very very well, overall.

* Nickname courtesy of Laurence Simon.
† No blood, no foul.

OK, people — you know the drill. Friday. Modulator. Friday Ark.

Sunday: The Carnival of the Cats at Enrevanche. Be there.

Posted by Russ at 05:00 AM | Comments (1)
January 17, 2007
Quick Movie Review

Cast Away
(Directed by Robert Zemeckis, starring Tom Hanks and Helen Hunt)

Lesson learned: never travel without a solar-powered satellite phone in your pocket.

4½ Stars

Posted by Russ at 04:58 PM
January 16, 2007

I'd been without a pet for over twenty years, until three years ago today. Now, I cannot imagine being animal-less ever again.

The first picture I took of Mycah, the night she arrived:

Happy Gotcha Day, ya furball.

Posted by Russ at 07:04 PM | Comments (2)
January 15, 2007
Quote of the Day
When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Martin Luther King Jr.

Posted by Russ at 05:27 PM
January 12, 2007
Sleeping on the Job

Lately, due to some minor mobility problems (i.e., I can barely walk some days), I've been occasionally working from home. Since there isn't enough space on my normal desk for an additional computer, I've shanghaied my hobby worktable into filling in as a work worktable.

Having joined me in my hobby pursuits, Mycah has had no difficulty adapting to the break-neck pace of the high-tech work world. In other words, she has, all on her own, worked out the high-concept principle of "siesta."

[Click for larger.]

If I could figure out how to get her a regular paycheck, we'd be set.

Alternate caption: "Does this make my butt look big?"

You can see in the photo that the hair is growing back — albeit slowly — on the remnant of her tail. Not shown: her tummy, which is also re-foliating. She's doing well.

If it's Friday (and I do believe it is) then It's time for the Modulator's Friday Ark.

Coming Sunday: the Carnival of the Cats, this week at Pet's Garden Blog.

Posted by Russ at 04:00 AM | Comments (1)
January 11, 2007
Durham in Wonderland

Despite the fact that it's less than 20 miles up the road from me and could be considered "local news," I haven't written anything about the Duke lacrosse rape case, primarily because I have nothing to add to the public discussion.

However, for those who hear about the case only from the 30-second evening news blurbs, there's a source of information not to be missed. Brooklyn College and CUNY Graduate Center professor K. C. Johnson, a Duke alum, has been following the case almost from the outset at his remarkably thorough site Durham in Wonderland.

Short version: the good professor is no fan of Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong.

The Wall Street Journal's Dorothy Rabinowitz, who did stellar (i.e., Pulitzer-winning) work on the unjust prosecutions of daycare providers for wholly imaginary sexual assaults (based on false memories planted in very young childrens' minds by investigators with agendas) offers up her take on the matter today. Well worth reading.

Posted by Russ at 04:00 PM
January 09, 2007
Lowest Common Denominators

I am sick and bloody tired of everything having to be dumbed-down so that the idiots among us can keep up. Case in point: today I opened up a new pack of cotton swabs, no problem there. As I was putting the package away, however, I noticed the information printed on the back.

CAUTION: Do not enter ear canal. Use only as directed. Entering the ear canal could cause injury. Keep out of reach of children.

Every pack of swabs you can buy in this country will have a similar warning. Yet, is there anyone using these things for anything other than plumbing the depths of auditory regions into which a pinkie finger cannot fit?

To clean ears, stroke swab gently around the outer surface of the ear.

Look, I could do that with a washcloth. I do do that with a washcloth. More to the point, though... who actually needs instructions for operating a cotton swab? How utterly stupid do you have to be to... to...

[Count to ten....]

I almost burst a blood vessel there.

To Open
Press in bottom center and pull up along perforation.

To Reclose
Return cover to original position, pressing in corners (1) to lock.

(Remember that "(1)" — we'll come back to it in a second.)

Now, maybe it's just me, but I figure that if people can't puzzle out how to open a package of swabs, perhaps they deserve to have dirty ears. For the riders of the short bus, however, our swab manufacturer has decided not only to tell us how to open the package, but also precisely what and where the bottom center is.

Oh, and how thoughtful it was of them to mark the corners (1).

If closing a pack of swabs is just too damn difficult to muddle through without directions — or without a hint of what is meant by "corners" — then perhaps spending one's free time every day playing "pick all the swabs up off the floor" is the right way for idiots to keep themselves out of the public arena, or to prevent them doing themselves (or more importantly, me) any harm.

Actually, I kind of wish people that amazingly stupid would take themselves out of the gene pool, but unfortunately when idiots go out in a blaze of ignorance, they tend to take innocent bystanders with them.

I swear, I want to pull out what's left of my hair.

Posted by Russ at 08:40 PM | Comments (5)
January 05, 2007
Everyone Needs a Hobby

In the wee hours of the morning, when I get home after work, I can't really go out to the garage and run my power tools — the neighbors would probably disapprove, and as much as I like our local police folks, I'm not keen on them showing up at 2am on a disturbing the peace complaint.

So, to fill my need to do something constructive as I wind down from work, and to satisfy my hobbyist urges, I've taken up ship modeling. It's really quite relaxing.

Last night, having figured out how to get safely from the recliner up onto the work table, Mycah decided to join in.

[Click for larger.]

Usually she would be begging for treats. I expected her to beg for treats. She knows where I keep them handy — in this photo, about three feet away from her butt, at her seven o'clock. I thought when she got up on the work table that she would make a beeline for them.

Nope, not this time. Instead, she plopped down in front of me and purred like a nitromethane-fueled chainsaw. She sat there purring, no begging, not even a hint of an ulterior motive, treat-wise.

She reveled in close to half an hour of brushing, skritching and petting before she decided it was time for her nightly trip to the litterbox, and off she went.

It occured to me that maybe she had just wanted to be near her human, but I'd worked from home, so she couldn't have missed me. Maybe she knows what I did for her during her recent bout with cancer and was just being polite to me in return. More likely, she just found a nice place to lay down.

Or perhaps, she's taken up a new hobby: hedonism.

Woohoo! It's time for the Modulator's Friday Ark.

Check back on Sunday for a fresh link to the Carnival of the Cats, this week at Leslie's Omnibus.

Posted by Russ at 04:00 AM
January 02, 2007
Instant Message Excerpt: On Being a Network Engineer, 3

Sunday night, while I worked from my home office:

John (16:28:53): nothing like working on new years eve
Russ(16:29:11): nb gvbffffffffffffffffffffffffff
Russ(16:29:21): the cat is on my desk
John (16:29:39): lol
John (16:29:43): good stuff
John (16:29:53): nothing like making money with your cat typing for you
Russ(16:30:01): she wants treats, and won't stop pestering
Russ(16:30:04): me up[;------------po-0
Russ(16:30:17): me until I give her some
Russ(16:30:21): hjnyu
Russ(16:30:39): stupid cat

Posted by Russ at 05:07 PM | Comments (1)