Thursday, May 07, 2015

stopped shoe shopping

Minimalist/barefoot running shoes have been disappearing from the stores in favor of well-padded zero-drop shoes. I'm pretty sure that's because people in general like to run on pavement, and pavement is hard, plus the fact that some people's feet really don't adapt well to minimal support.

I am not one of those people. I like to run behind my subdivision -- an area covered in sandy washes -- and I pretty much hate wearing shoes. Most shoes aren't wide enough anyway, and I have really short toes, and no shoe company I've found caters to that. Why would they?

So I made essentially a sock with a homemade insole, glued onto a 4 mm sole, shored up with paracord with its insides pulled out:


I'll cut the laces sticking out the back once I'm sure the tension is right, but that's probably mostly the finished product -- a floppy sole that's good in the sand and enough of an upper to keep out most of the cactus spines.

In related news, you can make more flat insoles than you could probably ever need for about $30 including shipping if you get a sheet of 1/8" p-cell foam. I used spray adhesive to attach some thin, stretch nylon I had lying around on the top so I wouldn't have to run around on plastic, but if you wear socks, you're already finished when they're cut out.

Similarly related:


You can see my running shoes' roots in my everyday shoes. I don't always wear orange, but I'm pretty good at tying things to my feet with gutted paracord. And if you look closely for the dinged spot on the ball of my foot and know that a commercial shoe did that, you can imagine why.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

adventures at Picacho Peak

Recently I learned that if you take a picture of your husband on top of Picacho Peak, you can get bugs in the picture that, despite being about an eighth of an inch long and not in the same focal plane as your spouse, look like helicopters. To get up there, you take a really steep trail built by the CCC and use cables put up by Boy Scouts to keep you from falling off. It's a fairly popular system, based on the traffic we saw on a Monday morning.

Right after we started, a side peak

 Spouse (no bugs)

Part of the peak

Me going down the hardest part (it wasn't as bad as it looks)

 Pictures of flowers, mandatory for children of botanists

I can report that going down was, for once, easier than going up, entirely because of the cables. Also, the state park campground facilities are fantastic, except for the part where it looks like all the sites have electricity you don't want to pay for. I've never seen non-electric sites that have a box -- a box with a note on it and a little lock. Who knew?


Friday, March 06, 2015

reduced typing skills and medical stuff

Today I learned that I don't like switching from Linux to a Mac. Because there are more bored engineers in the family than just me (some of them are legitimately retired), there's a project, and we needed a Mac, and I got it because reasons. I'm sure I can adapt to the fact that the Finder stays open all the time, so you hit the red x when you want to get rid of it, but for any other program, you have to do that (thingy)Q deal.

Besides that inconsistency, what's really driving me nuts is all the keyboard shortcuts are a little different in the web browser, so it takes two or three tries to do anything, and then I have to read a complicated journal article, and then I fish for shortcuts, read another article, etc. I can type in two different keyboard layouts, but minor alterations to keyboard shortcuts appear to be my limit.

In other news (news with much less whining), I went to the doctor, and I'm only the third patient of his with my particular issues to have reached this one goal in the treatment protocol. I'm determined to be happy about that -- he seemed really happy -- but realistically, I have no idea how many patients have tried.  (From what he said, it sounds like I am some sort of genius at taking pills, and most people suck at it. You learn something every day.)

It can be a little difficult to remember to feel good about being a genius pill-taker, so I'm going to be all excited about getting this one supplement rearranged, and suddenly I can function pretty well again, right in the middle of pollen season. I got to go on a five-mile hike yesterday, which hasn't happened since December, and there were a million wildflowers, and I should have taken pictures.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

all about understanding

Today I learned that the government has actually, as an experiment, sprayed the populace with something. In 1950 the Army was fiddling around with how someone might deploy a biological weapon, so they sprayed a totally harmless bacteria off the coast of San Francisco for three days. Twenty-six years later, when the records were released, people realized that the perfectly harmless bacteria had killed somebody, and to this day it persists in the area and periodically kills somebody.

I had no idea that the chemtrails people had anything beyond paranoia upon which to base their theories. Anti-vaxxers, sure -- there is always that tiny, tiny percentage that is going to have a reaction to a vaccine. But now I have some understanding of the chemtrails people.

Which brings us to an insight brought to us by a thread on an article about something stupid that I can't remember because it didn't make any sense. Someone pointed out that when you don't understand something, it's sometimes hard to see how another person can understand it, even if they're an expert. If you take that to an extreme, where you didn't understand anything in school and the world seems to run on arbitrary rules, everything is an opinion because there are no facts. 

I feel like that could explain a few things, and I understand the world better now.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

nice bras and funny-looking shoes

Today I think I learned my bra size. I knew my existing bras were the wrong size because there were issues. Then last night I came across this video, which indicated I was a truly unusual size, but in the description had a bunch of suggestions of where to buy things. I mentioned to my spouse that I might want to go to one of them sometime and try on bras.

This morning, I was surprised to find myself in the car on the way to the Nordstrom Rack, which is clear across town. It appears that I have been fussing about bras enough to merit an emergency trip across town.

I learned that the unusual size wasn't available, but a much more common size (not anywhere near what I'd been wearing) fit fine. Pretty much any bra I put on in that size was pretty close, which was a totally new experience for me. We'll see if wearing them is a totally new experience, or if I should go in search of the truly unusual size, or give up entirely.

In other news, you can reshape the uppers of crocs clogs by putting them in the oven at 170 F for five minutes and then putting your double-socked foot in the shoe. The sole doesn't deform much if you stand on it some -- it's thicker, so it doesn't heat up the same way.

I knew you could stretch the straps on Crocs flipflops by dipping them in boiling water and then pulling on them, but the oven method results in a better fit because your foot is definitively the right shape. I was just guessing when I was pulling on stuff.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

politics and bathroom lighting

Those of you who live in Tucson and have a landline are by now well aware that we have an election coming up. Both sides (but as far as I'm aware, not the actual candidates themselves) have at this point essentially accused the other of intending to act like God did during most of the book of Job.

With today's telephone technology, you can blacklist phone numbers, so now our exposure to the vitriol predominantly supports the US Postal Service, through which we have learned that no matter what happens at the election, we're probably all going to live painful, short lives in the post-apocalyptic wasteland derived from the other side's policies.

In other news, after almost ten years in this house, we have concluded that the lighting in the master bath should be upgraded such that it no longer makes you look like you're dead. I thought I was just sick, but it's the lighting.

Internet searches revealed that ideally you should put lights on the sides of your enormous builder-standard mirror, not just the top, because that makes shadows under your eyebrows, and you look like you're dead. Because of the placement of the medicine chests in our bathroom, there is no room for lights at the premium locations, so I did what any self-respecting physicist would do: I got a laser pointer and figured out where I'd put a light or lights on the opposite wall to get the same effect. (That's the theory.) Then we got out our shop lights and concluded that a pendant light would eliminate the need for two wall lights. (That's the experiment.)

Now we're letting the idea simmer -- we're not exactly sure that a pendant light would look good. Or, as my husband put it, "Not everyone designs their bathroom lighting like a laser table."


Monday, October 06, 2014

things they don't want to tell you

Recently, I went on a new cell phone hunt, and I learned that when someone is trying to sell you something, they sometimes don't really want you to tell you much about it.

I was used to a cut-rate cell phone carrier because if something is cheap enough, it works great, almost no matter how it works, but I finally started caring about good reception outside of town. I researched the other cut-rate companies, ones with better coverage than I had, and I found that you couldn't get any information off their websites. I suppose that could simply be a result of a cut-rate website, but the cable company (not cut-rate) does the same thing, so it looks more deliberate. It makes you wonder if they're hoping you're stupid and will click on whatever they tell you to.

So now that I have a better cell phone camera, have the one unblurry picture I took at sunset last night.


That's Windy Point, halfway up Mount Lemmon. It is close enough that if you snarf dinner at five o'clock at my house, you can still catch an October sunset.

Friday, June 20, 2014

properly prepared in all situations

You know how when you buy a purse, it's all about what looks cute and happens to be in your price/quality range? Today I learned the process can be replicated by a husband.

See, I got a phone call from my husband saying he was near a porcelain repair place with his parents, and there was a purse factory next door, and could I maybe tell him the dimensions of something I might like? So I go get a tape measure, and I'm rattling off dimensions of things I would carry, and I'm thinking this is a hopeless case. How's he going to eyeball something like that, much less get something cute?

It turns out that if you're a particular type of man, who is along for the ride to a porcelain place with his parents, you go armed with a tape measure in your pocket, so dimensions are nothing. Then you just take your mom in with you, and bang, I have a new purse.

I freely admit that it took 9/11 to break me of carrying a pocket knife with me everywhere, but even I never happened to be carrying a tape measure at the right time.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

I'd have liked to have learned this sooner

The other day I learned from my doctor that people with mold exposure typically end up with a bunch of particulates stuck in their lungs. I learned this information because I did fine, but not great on only one part of one of those exhale-into-this-tube kinds of tests. I used to be super excellent at all parts of those, so there was a problem, and the doctor thought we could monitor it to make sure I wouldn't get emphysema down the road, but there was a nebulizer treatment for that.

I couldn't imagine why you would wait on something like that, so I got the nebulizer and everything and got down to business. I shortly learned that those things come with vinyl tubing, and that would be why people with chemical injuries might want to put off dealing with the nebulizer. Thus I ended up with Tygon tubing (no phthalates -- that's the plasticizer that makes vinyl evil) ordered off the internet. And fudged a little at both ends, it works now.

Here's the important part: I hadn't really been aware of the fact that I wasn't breathing right. You don't notice that kind of thing until somebody fixes it, and Holy Cow, I feel better.

This doctor is a little hard to keep up with, but I think I really like him.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

olive oil and something resembling cheese

Because my friend asked me to, today I learned that O Organics olive oil congeals if you put it in the fridge overnight. Why is this information interesting? It turns out that according to various newsish sources (Fox's Carol Alt and Dr. Oz), olive oil should solidify in the fridge, and if it doesn't, it'll kill you because there are additives in it that increase shelf life and wreck antioxidants or something.

One thing that happens when this information airs is that UC Davis' Olive Center gets a  lot of phone calls, and they, academically and fairly diplomatically (or potentially funded-by-olive-oil-companies-ly), think that congealing depends on the concentration of waxes and long-chain fatty acids, and they are not going to weigh in on any additives or whatnot.

In other food-related news, I made a ricotta-style cheese-ish thing, and it tastes pretty good, but since I haven't ever actually had anything with ricotta cheese in it, I haven't the faintest idea of what to use it for. If search engines didn't exist, I'd be in trouble, but I wouldn't have come across the recipe, either.

Monday, March 03, 2014

cooking tomatoes is overrated (at my house, anyway)

Today I learned how to make spaghetti sauce from scratch (and I mean no cans scratch).

What you do is have some cooked butternut squash lying around in the freezer waiting to be made into pumpkin pie. Thaw it, blend it until smooth, add spaghetti seasonings (onion powder, garlic powder, "Italian herbs," salt, pepper, olive oil), and then add vinegar and lime juice until it tastes right. It took me 15 minutes. If I'd started with a whole butternut squash, it would have taken an hour, but I'd have been sitting on the couch while chunks of it boiled on the stove for half an hour. Your sauce ends up orange instead of red, but if you can't find a tolerable jarred spaghetti sauce and have no interest in scalding tomatoes, you're all set.

I was using butternut squash because I had some from when they were really cheap in the fall, but I'd be surprised if you couldn't do the very same thing with summer squash. It'd just be kind of greenish, I guess. (So no one else on the planet will eat it -- more for the rest of us.)

Friday, February 14, 2014

recent entertainment

It takes the national park service and other map makers a while to make really official looking maps. Saguaro National Park East acquired some nearby land in 1991, and the current handout(pdf) looks like someone drew on it with a ballpoint pen. I actually sort of approve because it feels all hands-on, but I just wasn't expecting it.

In other news, we're downwind of some road construction, which I detect, maybe because of airborne dirt mold. It looks like the guys are about finished digging in the one wash, so things might be looking up. I'm not holding my breath (sorry).

In yet more news, I got tired of wearing the same pairs of altered jeans all the time and started an epic pants hunt. After years of wearing Levi's (altered) or Eddie Bauer (hit or miss), it appears that I fit Wranglers. I have never before worn Wranglers, and it kind of goes without saying that I had never before shopped at a place called Boot Barn. They are very friendly there, and they are all excited about the rodeo starting up this weekend.

And now that it's 80 degrees outside, so I'm not so likely to wear my new pants, I decided I wanted sturdier sandals, so have a picture of some unfinished sandals.
That skinned spot is what happened when I tried to wear new running shoes. Who thought running shoes could be that mean? Live and learn.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

historic tradition

Today I learned that Jeremiah 10:1-4 says this:
Hear the word that the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus says the Lord:
“Learn not the way of the nations,
nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens
because the nations are dismayed at them,
ffor the customs of the peoples are vanity.1
gA tree from the forest is cut down
and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman.
hThey decorate it with silver and gold;
ithey fasten it with hammer and nails
so that it cannot move.

So theoretically that means that the Bible says we aren't supposed to have Christmas trees, but what I get out of it is that for more than roughly 2600 years, people have been hauling trees in the house.

I have participated in a custom that is at least 2600 years old. I thought that in the era of cell phones and people who think chicken spontaneously generates on grocery shelves that we didn't do much our ancestors did, but we do. That's kind of exciting somehow. I feel all connected to history and a little like a cave person all at the same time.

Friday, October 25, 2013

in the effort to name roast beets

My family has a wonderful tradition of naming new dishes. You make something previously unseen at your particular dinner table, and your spouse, in an effort to put some kind of label to it, inadvertently comes up with an adjective that then sticks to said dish like dried banana. (Trust me, anyone who ever let banana dry on something knows what I mean.)

From this tradition come fantastic masterpieces such as Tuna Glop (actually a form of frittata) and Fluorescent Chicken (aka Cranberry Chicken, but it contained a strikingly orange variety of Russian dressing).

Tonight I tried roasting beets. They were very large, and I was very tired. The skin came off when they were done mostly as advertised, but I didn't cut them up, so everybody got a whole beet. I ate mine in an unladylike fashion that I won't go into here, but in an effort to eat like a real person, my husband cut bite-size pieces off of his. They had an unfortunate tendency to slide around when liberated. He became frustrated.

Thus I can report the new name for roast beets: Slippery Bastards.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

catching up

Today I learned that brand new wheelchairs with nylon seats really don't smell like much. If you get a used one, assuming that will be better offgased, it just reeks of whatever the previous people cleaned it with. I'm not kidding about the smell -- a friend of mine has been trying for years to make a used one smell reasonable, and he's gotten it to the point where, after replacing the seat material entirely, you only smell the wheels, which smell a little like a wet locker room floor. He's going to be able to whip this new one into shape in no time.

In other recent news, my oven broke, so while I save up for a new range, I've been using a convection toaster oven (teflon-free ones exist). I use it outside, so I don't heat up the house, and I can do anything I want in there. The worst problem I have is that because it's small, I have to make three separate pizzas to generate enough leftovers on pizza night, so it takes longer to cycle the three of them through one at a time. However, since my cheeseless pizza is always first in, and dinner occurs right after the second one comes out, I haven't burned the roof of my mouth since I switched. I don't miss the burns. (What can I say -- I have an impatience problem.)

In yet more news, I know I've talked about weird things that make EIs better, but the latest thing is the weirdest thing yet. I can't do it justice here, but it appears to be meditation where you get to do something instead of attempting to sit still and think/not think. It involves humming. I was still messed up a month ago from trying to go back to school, and the 'hummy thing' is helping. Some new supplements were helpful, too, but I regard those as a stop-gap until you can get better. I'm feeling better.

Weird stuff is weird, but I stopped asking questions about things that make me feel better, so have a picture of a volunteer cactus in my yard.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Q: What is it like to be a twin?

A: Being a twin is like having a sibling who is the same age as you, so you end up in all the same kinds of activities and classes as kids. Then, assuming you survive the damage inflicted by the mostly universal need to be a unique individual in high school, you end up with an eternal best friend, even if you live in different states and don't talk that much because everybody is busy.

Which brings us to tonight's real topic: characters in science fiction meeting themselves in alternate universes. Generally alternate universes use the good twin/bad twin, Cain/Abel model, so the good guys have to defeat the bad guys, who look just like them. On Fringe in season 3, one of the main characters met her double, and they instantly fought. A long time ago, on Stargate SG-1, the woman on the team met her double, and they were standoffish with each other until the end of the episode, when one of them allowed as how the other's hair could actually be cute.

As a twin, I am fascinated by these episodes because I can't understand why people can't cooperate with their doubles, plus, the first, not the last, thing that you do is admire each other's hair because you just got a free demonstration of something that would be flattering on you. (Also check for cute clothes and shoes.) You don't always have the same goals as your sister, but you can always understand what's going on and work something out.

The only show I have ever seen that handled the double episode properly was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where in one episode Xander got cloned. After they concluded that the extra Xander wasn't a monster or a robot, the two Xanders became instant best buddies and were hilarious together. The two Xanders were played by the regular actor and his twin brother. Maybe they gave the writers an idea...?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

why moms fuss about posture

Today I confirmed that the perpetually sore muscle in the bottom of my left foot was caused entirely by bad posture. I learned the bad posture slightly after spring break, very likely by practicing walking around school with too many books in a backpack. It seemed like reasonable exercise, but it was apparently an exercise in wrecking my foot if I took the pack off.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What happened to Miss Molly, anyway?

Recently I learned that I'm still not well enough to spend a lot of time indoors in public places. I tried taking accounting classes at the university that required ten hours a week of classroom time, and I was sick by spring break. A week off helped, but then things went seriously off the rails with two weeks to finals. I skipped a bunch of classes, studied for three of my four finals, and pulled off three A's and a B. (The B wasn't going to get any better even with a perfect grade on the final, hence the lack of studying. Ok, I studied a little. I didn't want a C.) Here are some crazy things:
  • I found out I need bifocals. I'm in my 40's, so that's ok, but I didn't have time to go get new glasses while I was in school. I wore my old glasses to see the board in class, and it turned out I could see my notebook just fine under the edge of them, so ta-da, bifocals. That's a wonderful solution until you have to pass a rule that if you're in the building, you have to wear a respirator. That fills up the space under your glasses, leaving me a tiny hole through which I could see my notebook with one eye at a time.  As of Sunday, I am the proud owner of some brand new actual bifocals. And unless I find some other activity that requires distance and close vision close together, I have no real use for them.
  • This part has to do with being an eternal optimist, once I got my brain retrained. As you're getting sick, the constant stress on your system can condition your brain into a constant state of fight-or-flight, and you adapt so that you look normal, but you are prone to things like depression and assuming the sky is falling. So, brain retraining, etc., and now I deliberately expect things like being healthy. With that in mind: the week after I had to skip class, I got called for jury duty. So I called up my doctor, who had just seen me the week before, while I was not in such hot shape (but I was feeling better!), to get an excuse. I've done this before, so I was expecting a postcard from the jury office promising to call me when I was better, but instead, I got a permanent excuse. I thought, these things can be permanent? To cement the whole thing, the doctor's office sent me a copy of the form letter, where, under 'when this juror will be able to serve,' the doctor had written 'never.' I thought it was hilarious -- never! Never??? What a grumpy-pants one-word answer! And then I thought, hey, wait a minute.... Um, uh oh?
  • The last week of class, a group I'd worked with all semester had to give a final presentation. Weeks before, we'd decided to put our two most confident speakers at the beginning and the end of the talk, and, as the biggest floor-hog, I was selected to wrap things up. We had a good project, a good group, and beautiful slides (thanks to the deliverer of the introduction). I delivered the summation in tasteful business casual wear, complete with heels, with half my face covered by a big blue respirator with purple filter housings. It went fine.
 So that's where I've been and some of my adventures. I'm sure there will be more, but part of them will be trying to figure out what to do next, given that I learned that buildings with enclosed corridors (for example, the accounting department) will kill me.

Friday, July 27, 2012

rejoining regular life

In the last couple of days, I've gone on two group bike rides, about 30 miles each, during mold season. My first real bike rides since 2004. During mold season. I'm sore, but that's a badge of honor.

Friday, July 20, 2012

more progress, but different

I'm not going to talk about me this time. For the benefit of people with chemical sensitivities on top of some other disease, I'm going to talk about my friend the really, really sick lady, who, one of these days, is going to need a different pseudonym.

My friend has Th1 disease (as defined on the Marshall Protocol website) on top of or as the cause of MCS and fibromyalgia. To tackle the MCS and fibro, we did DNRS together, and she's doing some energy work, which neither of us understand at all, but those two things are helping. She gets stronger every week, and she is fully present now, cracking jokes, passing information between caregivers whose shifts don't overlap, and teasing her husband. Back around six months ago, I hate to say this, but she pretty much just sat like a lump or slept, because if you feel crappy enough, that's about all you can pull off.

The inflammation (read: pain) from the Th1 disease didn't seem to change much with those treatments. But since she was doing better, she decided to try a modified version of the Marshall Protocol, which approached head-on, involves taking a lot of Benicar, a blood pressure drug with a very reasonable track record, along with a very low dose antibiotic. The Benicar does indeed lower your blood pressure, but it has the side effect of killing intracellular bacteria, which you then have to detox, and you get a major light-sensitivity problem. (That's actually a diagnostic tool -- if you get light-sensitive from Benicar, you have Th1 disease.) The antibiotic is supposed to make all that go smoother, and I imagine it does, but people who are really, really sick cannot handle those kinds of things.

Thus my friend is taking an eighth of a Benicar (around 5 mg) mostly every day with no antibiotic ever, and her pain is decreasing. She can get a funny reaction if she gets too much (those pills are hard to cut into eighths), but she hasn't had any trouble with light sensitivity.

So there you go: the state of my friend, who needs a new pseudonym.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

update on EFT

Last week I learned that modified EFT really helps me. Six years ago, I learned that straight-up EFT really pissed me off.

What I learned comes from Planet Thrive, which is one of the good EI sites, which means positive instead of oh-my-god-we're-all-going-to-be-sick-forever. A guy who goes by 'T-Can' did DNRS like I did, but after a while he got stuck. My progress lately has been as good as stuck, even though I'm a lot better than I was. His solution, instead of inching forwards, was to try something else, so he tried EFT and WHEE and HAMR. I freely admit that I don't yet have a clue about WHEE and HAMR, but his version of EFT totally works for me. You don't have to say any stilted phrases. You tap various accupuncture points while singing the first line of 'Happy Birthday' (or a similar simple something) and then counting to five. Maybe if I hadn't tried DNRS first it wouldn't have worked, but with that as a background, the procedure is easy, I understand the point, and there's a part where you get to pat yourself on the top of the head. (What can I say -- I'm easily amused.)

So now I'm sleeping with an ordinary polyester pillow for the first time since 2004, and I have to say that it is a huge step up from a rock-hard balled-up organic cotton blanket for a pillow. I use power tools without fear that I will remove fingers or lose an eye. I can run two miles cross-country without stopping one day and go for a bike ride the next day, where my husband says I keep up better than I have in years. I sat in a doctor's waiting room for half an hour that two weeks ago I left immediately, despite my success repeatedly sitting in an accounting classroom last semester. (Seriously, I don't know what that doctor's patients do with their spare time, but it smells like they recreationally soak themselves in bug repellant.)

The biggest change for me is that when I feel weird, I can do the tapping, or just some of the tapping (the points on your hands are inconspicuous), and I feel normal. Not like I normally felt up until last week, but just straight-up normal. That little edge of tension that I just couldn't conquer goes away. I haven't felt normal since 2005, and I distinctly remember it. It lasted for about three hours after an acupuncture visit that cost $50, and since no one can afford $50 twice a day and maybe once at night seven days a week, what I'd heard was that acupuncture treated symptoms, and feeling normal for a little while gave you the confidence to go make yourself really, really sick before you saw the acupuncturist again.

All I have to do now is catch up on things like deferred house maintenance and figure out what I want to do when I grow up -- accounting or engineering. One of my doctors remarked that engineers are old and sick by the time they retire, but people who work for themselves can work at a reasonable pace until they're eighty, so those extra years in school might be totally worth it.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

high scores and losing control

So since I haven't updated this in months, no one is going to read this, but I learned something today. I'm taking an accounting class so I can practice controlling my fight-or-flight reflex in a room full of college students, which boils down to inhaling laundry chemicals and who knows what else for an hour and fifteen minutes twice a week while learning obscure facts (obscure to physicists, anyway). Accounting, according to the prof, is hard. According to the college students, accounting is hard. According to someone with a graduate degree in a hard science, accounting is pretty straightforward, but it's harder if you are trying to recover from a neurotoxin-induced brain injury.

The long and short of it is that we had our first test, I got 100%, and I was really pleased, but I couldn't calm down and pay attention in class after we got the tests back. So fight-or-flight is not only about being freaked out -- it can also be about simply being wound up.

Next time I ace a test, I will think calm thoughts about how grateful I am to have a functioning brain.

Next up: jury duty. We'll see what happens.

Monday, October 24, 2011

10 months in

Today I thought about it, and I realized that the very recent tendonitis/inflammation in my foot could be coming from having surgery two weeks ago, during mold and pollen season, and then going to my first bar since probably college, on a Saturday night, while I was in the middle of a hormone reaction.

In retrospect, maybe it wasn't the greatest move, but those high heels I wore were cute.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

early six month update

Since I haven't been updating reliably, and now there's too much to say, here's a list of stuff:
  • bisphenol A lingers in your system
  • styrene will kill you
  • I had major gut surgery in the beginning of June, and it went great. I've been healing faster than the doctor is used to, so all those years of learning to recuperate must have been good for something.
  • Pain triggers my fight-or-flight reflex, so it's still a little out-of whack, but I just need more practice keeping it settled down.
  • I practiced almost exclusively in the sauna over the last few months, so I feel great in there. If I don't get in there for a few days, like after surgery, things are not as good, so I need to practice on the couch. Also standing at the sink doing dishes.
  • I'm still sensitive to moderate-range air quality problems, but mid-moderate instead of almost-good moderate.
So now I'm contemplating a different, minor surgery that I'd been putting off, but that can wait another few months. How many EIs do you meet who have a couple of surgeries saved up who actually want to go through with the second one? Getting your lumps and bumps taken out so they don't hurt anymore is really beyond description.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

four month update, really late

I have this problem where stuff that happens as a result of my 'staging a miraculous recovery' sounds too weird to post, so I put off posting it. It's time to erase it or throw it out there, so here is what I wrote at the end of April, in all its weirdness:

Instead of learning anything today, I'm going to report on how things are going four months after I gained control of my fight-or-flight reflex.

This is the first year you haven't heard about pollen season, and we're right in the middle of it. I still sometimes wake up with heart palpitations around 4:30 am, but I can usually make them go away. Not without a struggle, but they go away. The first few days something new starts blooming I can't always get myself settled down, but after that the 'switch' just requires a little extra vigilance, like when I first started this whole thing.

This improvement is balanced by the fact that I have been having an increasingly hard time tolerating other EIs. Anyone who is detoxing anything makes me sick fast, and if I don't leave fast enough, I even feel it the next day. At first I thought it was just EIs who'd gotten into mold, in which case I could blame it on my immune system, which, freed from reacting to any old thing, started really going to town on anything mold-related. Now it looks like it's not that specific, because now I react to mail from EIs, some of whom I am pretty sure don't have any mold problems at all. I don't seem to have trouble with other mail, like bills, beyond the annoyance factor of having to pay them.

I have decided to lay the blame on a sebaceous cyst that's going away. (I didn't know they did that.) My doctor said cysts like that are places your body parks stuff it can't detoxify right away, and it looks like my body, in the spirit of working through the backlog, has decided to start in on the cyst. I imagine there are all kinds of detox products in there since it grew while I was really ill, so now I'm detoxing my detox products. Thus, my system is not prepared to deal with anyone else's detox products.

So that's my theory, and if it sounds made up, that's because it is.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

more things that'll kill you

I'd tell you what I learned today, but I can't think of it right now, so here's what actually stuck from recent events.

A week ago I went to a meeting of the local sick people group, and we had a speaker on how the FCC and smartmeters are trying to kill us.
  • The FCC: maintaining the switched network phone system is getting burdensome for phone companies, so they want the FCC to stop making them maintain it. Conventional wisdom is that all of us can just use cell phones or VOIP, which ignores the fact that people with EHS (that's electromagnetic hypersensitivity) have a terrible time with cell phones (that's obvious -- normies worry about those) and computers. Computers come with things like power supplies and fans, which are just electrically noisy or create magnetic fields. Plus, you haven't seen a tri-field meter max out until you've put it near a computer monitor. The EHS community is pulling out all the stops for this. They have enough trouble without having to give up phones and switch back to US mail, which, when you need to ask a store a question, is just not going to cut it these days.

    The problem arises when they rope in other people. Apparently you get more protesters if you use some fear tactics, like explaining that people can listen in on your cell phone conversations, which hasn't been true for something like ten years. The most annoying argument they're using is that people with Alzheimer's will not be able to figure out how to make a phone call over the computer. I want to say, "You know how I know you don't know anything about VOIP?" but they don't. They can't use computers without frying themselves.

    I really wish people would wise up and recognize EHS in its own right, so then they wouldn't have to say stupid stuff to get attention. (Also, it's electrical noise, not 'dirty electricity,' but whatever, said the nerd. And the nerd just said EHS is real because it is, and I'm a physicist, so I learned critical thinking, thank you.)

  • On smartmeters: Apparently the EHS community is not worried about power companies transmitting information over power lines. You can get plug-in filters that take the noise off your household wires, and then you're all set. This solution will still not make ARRL happy, since their antennas are outside.
In other news, bisphenol A will still kill you, but at least it comes out of your system pretty fast when you stop ingesting it.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

what is wrong with the air now?

For the record, this is what's going on in air quality around here according to the EPA:
...Several questions from around Arizona have come in concerning the unusual haziness across the Phoenix forecast area. There haven't been any major winds in the past several days and it's been less than a week since our last "major" rain. So what's going on? A deeper look into the situation uncovers a possible phenomenon that occurs every now and then known as an Asian Dust event. Every so often a large dust storm rolls off the coast of China, most often originating in the Mongolian Desert. This dust cloud is transported across the Pacific Ocean and sweeps through the western U.S. This particular event made landfall Thursday in Baja, Mexico and southern California (http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/PS/FIRE/DATA/SMOKE/2011D150314.html). Friday's report has this haze spreading as far east as New Mexico and western Texas.... According [to] the current monitored air quality levels, there are no health concerns at the surface associated to this upper-level dust event....
So EIs definitely feel this kind of event, and husband wondered yesterday if normies felt it, too, but didn't know any better. He had some errands to run and observed that people in general seemed kind of cranky and preoccupied.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

snake accidents, post-breast-cancer fatigue, and death in a bag of sugar

Today I learned that if you watch a 4' snake crawl along the top of a cinderblock wall, wobbling a little, the snake could screw up and fall off. It makes a louder-than-expected thump when it hits the ground, even accounting for it landing on an aloe plant. (The snake was fine -- it didn't even look embarrassed while I laughed my ass off as it slithered away.)

In other news, about a third of breast cancer survivors have lasting fatigue such that their norepinephrine (a stress hormone) levels rise more than expected when given a somewhat stressful task. Initially the fatigue comes from chemotherapy, but the lasting fatigue appears to come from the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems being out of balance. The sympathetic nervous system, the thing in charge of stress hormones and your fight-or-flight reflex, is an energy hog, and it makes people tired. The researchers mentioned they had another study going looking into whether yoga could help straighten these people out.

As someone who had to gain voluntary control over my fight-or-flight reflex, I can tell them now that yoga won't fix it. Lying on the floor doing relaxation exercises won't fix it. Exercise, something they're looking into, helps, but won't fix it either, particularly if you're fatigued enough that you can't do things like ride your bike for four hours at a time.

I was telling an EI about my experience with fight-or-flight the other day, and he said it must have been hard to be fearful all the time. I wasn't. I was depressed and sometimes anxious, and didn't process information or chemicals quickly.

Exposure to chemicals, even voluntary ones like chemotherapy, ramps up your fight-or-flight reflex gradually (if it does at all). You don't see it coming. If you constantly tried to fight or run, people might figure out that there was a problem with your fight-or-flight reflex. They don't. It's not obvious, and yoga isn't going to uncondition somebody's sympathetic nervous system unless there's something going on there that I haven't heard about.

Also, sugar and high fructose corn syrup will kill you. Sucrose is half glucose, which your whole body processes, and half fructose, which your liver handles. If you get too much fructose at once, your liver turns it straight into fat, which leads to a fatty liver, a key part of metabolic syndrome, which will totally kill you because then you'll get type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The trick is figuring out how much is too much, and no one wants to put a number on it. The best number I came up with was the amount of sugar the FDA thought typical Americans ate in 1986, back when we, as a nation, were not so wide. They said 40 lbs/year/person, which is 200 calories of added sugar per day. The USDA, considered much more reliable, said 75 lbs/year/person.

So I was going to figure that 200 calories of sugar per day is a reasonable upper limit -- that's like a quarter of a batch of cookies, which, after my initial 'I can eat cookies again' phase, is not something that will ever again occur here on a daily basis -- but then, toward the end of the article, it starts talking about cancer. Trying to handle all that insulin makes your cells go nuts and sometimes turn cancerous. Cancer started rising way before 1986, so we're unsafe at any speed.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

things you can't do even if you're feeling much better

Yesterday I learned that doing homeless EIs' laundry is a good way to contaminate your dryer and not just one, but both washers.

Here's how you do it: you wash a bunch of new t-shirts in your auxiliary washer for one of the homeless ladies, mostly following her directions. Then she comes over and sniffs (and touches) the shirts, each one, probably more than once, and also touches the giant glass jars they were in. She still reacts to the shirts, and you're reacting to her at this point, so you say you'll keep washing them until they're ok.

So you go inside, and since you washed the jars just an hour ago, you put them over near the washer and dryer, and without examining the situation, you put your own stuff from the good washer into the dryer.

At this point, you suck whatever the heck is coming out of the homeless lady and getting onto everything she touches into your dryer, contaminating it and your clothes. Plus you put her stuff back into the auxiliary washer, liberally coating the inside of that with whatever it is. When you take your stuff out of the dryer, you get a surprise, so you try to wash it out in the good washer, which just doesn't work on this stuff. Ta da!

So now both washers and the dryer have been scrubbed to within an inch of their lives, which probably only took about six hours this time, and I learned my lesson.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

lousy food and frying electric company customers

This evening I learned that it's not worth buying Chinese food even if you tolerate it because it's so salty that it just tastes like salt. I have that at home.

In other news, I got curious about smart meters because there's such an uproar about them in the electromagnetically-sensitive (ES) subset of the EI community, and last I heard, PG&E (in the SF Bay Area) wanted to charge people something like $20/mo to opt out and have a dumb meter. I was, before I got sick, a radio frequency (RF) engineer, so I thought maybe there would be some thing you could do to filter out frequencies entering the house or cut down on electrical noise. We'll get to that, but here's what I learned:
  • You can have a one-way or two-way RF network connecting the utility company to people's houses. With one-way, meters throw out information at some interval to a local collector, which then sends the information to the utility over the phone or the internet. Two-way communication lets the utility do things like send meter upgrades or turn on or off service. Either way, that's like having a small, intermittent radio station or cell tower (depending on implementation) on the side of your house.
  • Another data collection arrangement is where all the local meters play telephone with their information, passing it down the line and going around any obstacles, like broken meters. That takes more power because more data gets shuffled around, and that would only make things worse on the side of your house.
  • Worst case scenario, your electric company decides to use power-line communication (PLC), where they send an RF signal over the local power lines, seeing as they own them and all. This kind of thing really, really upsets the ham radio guys (ARRL) because it makes a lot of interference, and I cannot imagine something like that going over at all well with people with electromagnetic sensitivities.
So what's the solution? A mediocre solution would be to put the transmitter out on the end of a wire as far as possible from the house, and then you'd need to put a bunch of chokes or something in there to keep it from acting like an antenna and bringing the signal right back to the house. A really lousy solution would be to build a nice Faraday cage in your house to hide in, but then you'd be caged, which sucks. A better solution, which I'm sure they would have thought of and must have rejected for some reason, probably expense, is to have meters call in using the household phone line every night at 2 am or something. Sure, it's not data at 5 minute intervals, but you don't have to send somebody out to peer at a dumb meter.

Seriously, if PG&E is expecting about 150,000 households to opt out, it seems likely that, given economies of scale, someone could come up with a phone-home meter for a semi-reasonable price.