February 2008 Archives

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February 29, 2008

It's been almost three months since my surgery. Since then, the news has been almost all good.

My recovery is proceeding, albeit slowly. I am walking almost exclusively with only (only, he said) a cane. It it only rarely I feel the need to resort to crutches — only on occasions when I think the walking is particularly treacherous... like walking down my very steep driveway to get the mail.

From a seated position, I can lift my feet straight up off the floor. I can and do negotiate the stairs in my house several times a day. I can walk without even a cane for short distances... though I don't like to take the risk. "Don't get cocky" isn't just a line from a movie, it's good advice for those, such as I, who wish to avoid face-planting on the carpet more than once a week.

I go to the physical therapist's office for the twice-weekly torture sessions, as there are some exercises and stretches I am as yet unable to do unassisted. My progress there is slow, but they keep adding weights to my ankles as I do the various routines. I'm up to a whopping four pounds per leg on the leg extension exercise, for instance.

I had a visit with the neurologist this week as well. After testing my reflexes and muscle strength, he pronounced himself very pleased with my progress... but he also scheduled me for a nerve conduction test.

Yes, another test. Since the surgery, I have regained the use of the muscles in my legs, but some are considerably weaker than they should be, and there is a remaining degree of peripheral neuropathy. In addition, some "wires" still seem to be crossed. For example, when whacking one knee with the little rubber hammer to test the reflexes, both legs react.

So, another test. This is the one I refer to as the Taser test. By sending an electric current into specific nerves and observing the muscle reactions, they can gauge the functionality of the nerves in question.

Of course, it involves being tazed repeatedly. It's not terribly fun, let me tell you. Really, though, I can take it. If it were being done to no purpose, I would object, but since there's a good reason for it, and might ultimately lead to a better fix for me, I can tolerate it.

So, to summarize: I'm doing a heck of a lot better than I was three months ago, and continuing to improve. I may not ever make it to 100%, but I am nevertheless very happy with how things are proceeding.

Posted by Russ at 12:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
February 27, 2008
I am **Terrible**

I saw this headline at Instapundit: "WELL, IT'S PROGRESS: Hillary picks up half a delegate."

My first thought was, "Max Cleland?"

I am a bad bad bad bad man.

Posted by Russ at 10:42 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Class Act

Senator Joseph Lieberman (Ind-CT) on the Senate floor, on the passing of Buckley.

Posted by Russ at 05:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
"A Singularly Remarkable Life" *

William F. Buckley Jr., R.I.P.

More, with must-see video, at Hot Air.

Posted by Russ at 11:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
February 26, 2008


I'll take "Charcoal."

(via Allahpundit at Hot Air)

Posted by Russ at 08:11 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
February 25, 2008
Death Pr0n

The media leftists sure do seem to want to paint their darling Obama as the next JFK, RFK and MLK all rolled up into one... and the fact that all three were assassinated hasn't escaped notice.

Dan at Protein Wisdom points to another example of the media's "Obama's gonna be assassinated" drek, and asks a vital question.

My guess: no one — he'll accidentally overdose while huffing changey hope-itude.

I've had a near lethal dose just from seeing the ongoing media reportage this campaign season.

More from Bluto at the Jawa Report.

Posted by Russ at 02:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
February 22, 2008
Quote of the Day


I’d like to think that maybe the spirit of Dred Scott really was hovering over his pen — whispering “I didn’t have a choice, but these people do”....
Posted by Russ at 08:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Baby Got Bag

Like (I suppose) most cats, Mycah siezes every opportunity to perch on anything on the floor that can be lain upon. Paper grocery bags, bubble wrap, flattened cardboard boxes, stray items of clothing... and here, a plastic grocery bag that had fallen to the floor:

She really like the plastic bags, I think because of the crinkly noises they make. Not, of course, that the noise prevents her drifting off to sleep.

I wish I could get to sleep so easily.

Be sure to visit the Modulator's Friday Ark.

A visit to the Carnival of the Cats would also be in order, this week at the House of the (Mostly) Black Cats.

Posted by Russ at 09:00 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
February 21, 2008
History Sort Of Repeats

I don't like John McCain a whole lot, but an unverified and unsourced NYT smear-job might just get me to support him. If they don't like him, there must be something worthwhile about his candidacy — the enemy of my enemy, etc., etc. I'm only surprised they didn't figure out how to hold the story until the Friday before the general election.

Just wondering... has anyone seen Dan Rather or Mary Mapes recently?

Posted by Russ at 05:12 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
February 20, 2008
Eat My Dust, Losers

I got my tax refund checks, state and federal, in the mail this week.

Plus I got a letter from the IRS saying I'd overpaid on my 2006 return; they're sending me another check (a whopping $137) in a few weeks. Why they bothered with a letter without including a check is beyond me.

Despite my detestation of the IRS, its employees, their families, their friends, and everyone who has ever spoken nicely or had a kind thought about them, it sure is nice to be getting money back from them.

Am I being too unkind to IRS employees (their families, etc.)? I don't think so. Go read Ezra Levant's thoughts on denormalization.

There is nothing "normal" about a federal agency seizing a part of your income before it ever passes through your hands. There is nothing "normal" about the government laying claim to the product of your labor. There is nothing "normal" about being taxed on your productivity.

When someone other than you has a prior claim on the fruits of your labor, it's called slavery, which historically may be "usual" but it certainly ought not to be "normal."

IRS bureaucrats should not feel any more comfortable in their positions than Levant's inquisitor was made to feel.

On the whole, I'd just as soon not have them withholding money from my paycheck and then making me explain why I want it back.

Taxing my behavior, sure, I suppose can deal with that — because I have a choice. I can choose not to buy a new car this year. I can choose to buy guns instead of butter... literally... if I want. On the other hand, choosing to have a job with a paycheck isn't really a choice, given the alternative, is it?

I'm beginning to think those various flat/fair tax proposals have some merit.

Posted by Russ at 01:46 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
February 19, 2008
Banner Headline

Right now on Fox:

Breaking News >> Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro Retires From Presidency

I can't wait to see what Val and the rest of the crew at Babalu have to say.

Before I forget to say it: good riddance.

This is a step in the right direction for Cuba. Only one step — Raul Castro will probably move in where Fidel leaves off — but the longest journey, as they say, begins with that one step.

Update 3:01am: headline now reads "Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro Steps Down As President And Commander." No article online yet.

3:08am: CNN has a story up — Castro resigns as president, state-run paper reports

3:11: Ah, Fox does have the story, linked off the headline on the front page (rather than listed with their other stories.)

3:15: CNN — "Fidel Castro captured the world's attention and imagination at 32 when the bearded revolutionary led a band of guerillas that overthrew a corrupt dictatorship -- and then became an irritating thorn in Washington's paw by embracing communism and cozying up to the Soviet Union."

I guess that's about as worshipful as they were prepared to be at this hour of the morning. No doubt the lauds will come later.

[Later...] As predictable as a sunset... CNN: Be kind to castro

I guess there's an upside to working nights... I get to see all the stories that break in the wee hours of the morning. This would be maybe the second such in three years.

Posted by Russ at 02:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
February 17, 2008
Extreme Customer Disservice

Do you have your cell service from T-Mobile? Think they're pretty good?

Think again.

Posted by Russ at 09:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
February 15, 2008
Worth It

For her cancer screening, Mycah got ultrasounded and x-rayed earlier this week. She did very well — the vet called again Wednesday to say that the images had been examined by an expert, and there is no sign that the cancer removed a year ago had spread from her tail to her body.

For such good news, the shaved tummy and associated loss of dignity is a small price to pay.

Interesting... a rather clever feline Valentine's Day proposal.

The Friday roundup of pet/animal links is at the Modulator's Friday Ark.

And don't miss the Carnival of the Cats, this week at Mind of Mog.

Posted by Russ at 11:40 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Maybe I Should Try Reality Programming

I think I've been watching too much cable TV news. Everything is starting to look like this to me:

Posted by Russ at 11:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
February 13, 2008
Holiday Irritant

The best part of tomorrow being Valentine's Day? Knowing that the most extraordinarily insipid TV ads ever created will be going away for a year.

Ticking me off this year, as every year: Vermont Teddy Bears, PajamaGrams.

I'm such a grouch.

Posted by Russ at 11:37 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
February 11, 2008
Well, That's Different

At the unholy hour of 7:30 this morning (I work nights, remember) I took Mycah to the vet for her cancer followup screening. Such a day is bound to be full of indignities for the cat.

The screening consists of x-rays and an ultrasound; the former requires that she be anaesthetized, the latter that her tummy be shaved. As is usual for such procedures, she wasn't allowed to eat after midnight last night, so I had to lie to her ("It's breakfast time!") to get close enough to her to pick her up and stuff her into her carrier. I did, however, make up a meal, complete with her medication, and packed it along in a tupperware container. I didn't feel quite as guilty about the lie.

We got to the vet and she was whisked away, with a promise that once she was finished and awake she'd get her food.

This afternoon, I got the call to come pick her up, so off I went again. Let me tell you, after the better part of a year of having to rely on others for transportation, it's a wonderful thing to be able to just get up and go as needed.

When I picked her up, the vet pointed out that she had not in fact eaten the meal I'd prepared for her. This is extremely uncharacteristic for Mycah, but I suppose that wasn't too surprising — immediately after my recent medical procedures, food was the last thing on my mind.

Mycah was wide awake and meowing unhappily the whole way home. I'd have liked to let her out of the carrier, but I don't think that's a particularly safe thing to do, so I limited myself to sticking my fingers through the carrier door and skritching her to the best of my ability.

We got home, I let her out (I could see her shaved tummy — the indignity!) and fed her. She was ravenous... but that's not terribly unusual for her.

The good news is that the ultrasound and x-rays looked normal. So for once, we've had a vet visit that didn't result in the diagnosis of one malady or another.

The indignities, however, have not ended... because as soon as I can, I'm going to get a picture of her newly-shaven tummy. I'm heartless.

Posted by Russ at 03:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
February 08, 2008
If it's Not One Thing, It's Another

Mycah has surely had her share of problems as she has gotten older.

Two years ago there was the diabetes, for which she is no longer taking insulin; special food has that well under control, and there's no sign of that changing.

A year ago came the cancer, which resulted in the loss of half her tail. She seems to be doing well, but she has a followup screening next week — x-rays and ultrasound — and will continue to have similar exams periodically for the rest of her life.

Last week was her semi-annual checkup. The verdict? Hyperthyroidism.


She's lost some weight over the last six months or so. I thought it was because we had her diet (i.e., portion control) well in hand. Indeed, that may have been a contributing factor, as the severity of her new condition is actually pretty mild according to the vet, but the hyperthyroidism might well be part of the reason for her weight loss, too.

Still, though.... In nature, hyperthyroidism is a lethal condition, but it's completely treatable with medication. And it can be cured, with either radiation or surgery.

Mycah started the meds Wednesday, a quarter of a pill per meal. [That makes her medication bill about 50 cents/day. Quite reasonable.] So far she hasn't objected... but the way she snarfs down her meals, she probably never will notice that she's being dosed.

Her appetite remains unaffected.

Be sure to see all the critters at the Friday Ark.

And don't miss the Carnival of the Cats, either. This week, it's hosted at Pet’s Garden Blog.

Posted by Russ at 09:00 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
February 07, 2008
Positive Trend

In what may be a sign of things to come, I made a trip to the office yesterday to get my new laptop configured with all the standard corporate software. The folks there at the office were rather surprised to see me — the last time I was there was a brief stop in June.

In what may be a further sign, the configuration appointment was cancelled by our helpdesk people, and I came home unconfigured to work my shift at my usual desk here.

So I have this nice shiny new laptop that is as yet unuseable for work purposes... and I'm not particularly interested in using it for anything else, either. It occurred to me today that I spend virtually every waking minute in front of a computer... and to be honest, it's getting pretty old.

It'll happen in due course, but I'd kill to be able to go out to the garage and do a little woodworking.

The config appointment is now rescheduled for tomorrow. Driving isn't hard at all, but it's still rather a difficult chore to get cleaned up, dressed up and packed up to go to the office, and will continue to be for a while, but the key thing is that it's getting easier.

Posted by Russ at 06:49 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
February 04, 2008
"This is the Call That Never Ends..."

Weekend afternoons/evenings at work, we're perpetually in a state of being short-handed. There are typically only two or three of us on duty until our Singapore office comes online, but they go the minimal-staffing route on weekends, too. So at best, there are only four or five of us on duty at night to handle 30,000 managed routers and switches.

Usually, this isn't a problem. Routers are, on the whole, pretty reliable beasts — certainly as compared to PCs. I have personally seen routers with "up" times in excess of five years — running for over five years without crashing, without failing.

[One story, almost certainly apocryphal, is told in networking circles of a router that had been walled up in a disused closet, and for years no one ever realized it was there until they got curious about where some particular ethernet cables were leading.]

When these usually-reliable devices fail, though, they can do so quite catastrophically. Such was the case this weekend.

Saturday night I spent the entire night on one conference call to deal with a switch that had failed. When that switch failed, we lost access to scads of other devices — how many, exactly, I never learned.

The call started early that morning before my shift; a card in the switch was replaced, which was when the real problems began. I joined twenty other people on the call that evening and spent the night trying to troubleshoot by phone. No one had access to the switch except a technician on-site with a terminal, so I would tell him to type in a command and he would read the output back to me. This went on until the wee hours of the morning, and eventually I passed off the call to one of my graveyard-shift colleagues.

Sunday when I started work, I learned to my dismay that the conference call was still going on, and I was again needed on the call. I spent the entire night on the call. When I left, we were trying to get the hardware to replace the entire switch, not just the one card.

For all I know, that call is still going on. I have never been so glad that Monday is one of my days off.

Posted by Russ at 06:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
February 01, 2008
Coulter backs Clinton?

Shorter Ann Coulter: "Why pick the lesser of two evils?"

Posted by Russ at 03:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Lazy Kitty

Mycah now had something she can use as a bed in almost every room in the house.

In the family room, there's a towel she had previously shredded — she likes to hide in the bathroom cabinets from time to time, leading to the demise of whatever towels I used to keep there before I wised up.

Why she lets the stuffed mousie have the lion's share of the "bed," I don't know. Perhaps she is trying to lull it into a false sense of security before shredding it.

It's the end of the week, so be sure to visit the Friday Ark.

And don't miss a very well done Carnival of the Cats, hosted this week by When Cats Attack!

Posted by Russ at 11:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)