Saturday, October 28, 2006

sex

Yeah, we think about it all the time. Thinking about sex is the water between the rocks, the mortar between the bricks that pass for higher thinking in a guy's head. When a guy encounters an unfamiliar object, the first thought is, would I have sex with this? The answer more often than not is ‘yes,' even when the object is not organic. Guys are particularly fond of paper, especially the kind with pictures of women on it.

Guys are not picky. They do not prefer blondes. There are things all women, whether young, old, fat, thin, smart, or dumb, possess. Guys don't have these things. And they want them attached to their own bodies. But not in the grafting kind of way.

Sex is the default thought when other thoughts are not getting in the way. Consider the man a car. The RPMs at idling speed is the sexual thought level. If the engine is running (i.e. the man is not dead) there is RPM. When you press on the gas, the engine revs and you start doing something else, e.g. ignoring repeated requests to stop and ask for directions. However, the RPMs are still spinning at least at the idling level. Actual cogitation is just a layer on top of it.

Chart of male sexual thought activity. Note that the percent of preoccupation rarely falls below 30.
(Click for visible version.)

When guys are not getting sex they get tetchy. Feminists consider 'tetchy' to be an abbreviation for ‘testosterone poisoning,' but men prefer to refer to it as excess dander (around women).
Group date situation:
Girl 1: Where's Guy 3?
Guy 1: Oh, he said he was gonna be a little late
Girl 1: What's he doing?
Guy 1: {taking an opportunity} He's got a little dander, that's all.
Girls 1, 2 & 3: Dandruff? EWW!
Guy 2: Uh, yeah. {sidling up to Guy 1} Score.
Guy 1: Well, he's not getting any, he can wait a little longer

Short men and guys with small dicks tend to get tetchy sooner because there's less space for hormonal distribution. But whether small or large, guys suffering from excess dander will find a sexual metaphor in anything that meets their senses. Examples beyond the obvious include open windows, any large machine particularly those with arms, whining animals, bar graphs, coffee mugs, the vibrating stick shift, and tossing rocks in ponds. If allowed too much time to ponder these objects, guys will want them attached to their own bodies. But not in the grafting kind of way.

with a doff of the hat to Dave Barry

Friday, October 27, 2006

moving forward

The mate's doing better. Between Tobramyacin, Timentin, Cipro, saline, Mucomyst, albuterol, Advair, Spiriva, a little eucalyptus oil, breathing exercises 4 hours/day, and a half-hour percussion therapy, the fever has stayed between normal and 99.3 most of the time, and the white blood cell count has dropped from 28 to 13 thousand (normal range is 6-11 thousand). Energy is far more often up than down. The last 2 weeks have been very good comparatively speaking; she's done domestic stuff a few times, doesn't get out of breath walking around. Damn, if this keeps up, I might actually get some sometime soon. :D

Process-wise, we're in the waiting room: financing needs to be approved, and the involved sections of Stanford need to be organized to meet with us and continue doing tests. This includes not just the surgical team but the social worker and the shrink. They're putting all that time and effort into a transplant, they want to make sure that you're not gonna just layabout and piss it away. Then if we pass the tests, we get on the transplant list. And wait some more.

Appendix: what all this shit (and others) does
Tobramyacin, Timentin, Cipro, azithromycin: antibiotics taken via IV, inhaled, or orally
albuterol, Advair, Spiriva: opens breathing passages
saline: breathed in as vapor, it draws water to hardened mucus to soften
Mucomyst: breaks up sticky mucus
DNAse, aka Pulmozyme: breaks up dead DNA, which is sticky
eucalyptus oil: ingested; a folk remedy to make life just a bit more difficult for bacteria
breathing exercises and percussion therapy: shakes up the lungs to physically dislodge gunk
sodium nitrate: more commonly used as a preservative, it's fringy medicine that we couldn't determine any clear effect and have stopped using. Some CF bacteriae are gram-negative, which means they create a waxy coating to protect themselves. Sodium nitrate allegedly breaks down the coating, making them vulnerable to antibiotics.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

bush, obama

In 1980 we elected Reagan. In 2000, we got the monkey.

It always amazes me how Bush has never learned to disguise his frustration with penetrating questions. This happens at every press conference: a hectoring, angry tone creeps in, and peaks at a nasalness bordering on a whine.

Listening to Bush's press conference Wednesday morning, it's clear he believes that creating a fresh set of cliches will bring up his rock-bottom rating. The "new" direction he's taking is just a different wrapper on the same actions. After being mocked so badly for the "cut and run" broken record, he's fortunately finally succumbed to creating a timetable for withdrawal. He claims that this is a different action from the timetable for withdrawal the Democrats have been demanding for years, but is incapable of explaining the difference. But we will still have to remain in position until the Iraqis "step forward." So far the US has supplied the Iraqis equipment but hasn't trained them how to use or maintain it. This is not military equipment, but infrastructure: power generators, communications equipment, etc. How are they going to be able to run a country when none of them knows how to get the lights on again?

I can't wait for 2008.

Barack Obama has finally suggested he might run for the presidency. After watching him on Charlie Rose the other night, I would be happy to vote for him. He's articulate, thoughtful, and speaks intelligently. He has clear ideas about the role of politics and has a meta-view of it. He's the first person I've seen who doesn't seem to use ‘politics' as a dirty word. It would be damn nice to have someone who assumes the American people are capable of thinking in more than cliches.

Funny how Bush's role as cheerleader back in Yale hasn't really changed much. "Fight! Fight! Fight! We won't cut and run! Go team go! Stay the course! Rah!" This is how one directs mob energy. He'd be surprised to learn the US is not a mob of beer-soaked males in war paint.

I really can't wait for 2008.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

glass half full

The optometrist referred me to an ophthamologist, who found no sign of detachment. However, she found a thin spot on my retina. This concerned her more than the floater, so she referred me to a retinal specialist. (Finally, the ridiculous amount of money I give to my HMO every month might actually be spent. One month's worth that is.) He fortunately concluded that the thin spot is not a problem. But, oh, yeah, this was originally all about the floater. He looked at my eye again and said if I wanted to do a vitrectomy it would be routine and not likely to get complicated, but he approved that I was willing to wait a bit and see what becomes of it.

I'll give it a few months. The floater's getting bigger, but it also seems to be spreading out: the gaps between the clouds have widened. It's possible that it may break apart and fall to the bottom of my eye where it won't bother me anymore. In the meantime I've been trying to focus on what I can see, rather than the cloud itself.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

microfiction: glass

It started as an accident, or a series of accidents. Every time she went away, he had to wash the dishes, and every time he would accidentally break a glass. When she was around, he never broke them. Buying a replacement, even the expensive crystal, was never a problem, but the breaking itself was irritating, curious, and a little bit funny. The first few times, at least. It became a pattern: even taking extra care, he'd still lose one. Something would distract him: a bird flying past the kitchen window, the backup beep of a truck, something, and a glass would slip or tip. Just one glass, almost always after she'd been gone a couple weeks. Then everything would be normal and stay intact, and then she'd come home a few days later. Within a few months she'd have to go away again, and he'd break another one. Their tumblers were heavy, but often as not a seemingly light tap against a pot or the sink bottom would crack it, as if all the stresses they'd endured over the past months were finally enough.

When they first started living together, they had occasional fights like any other couple. Inside, she was often raging; she fought like an assassin, unexpectedly and from an angle he could never anticipate. One day he came home from work to find her dropping the paperweight on the floor. He'd bought it for her on a business trip years ago, a shining broad thing, voluptuous bubbles inside and a delicate web of cobalt strands randomly flung around the equator. It was one of the first gifts he'd given her, and she treasured it for its beauty and the love with which he'd given it. She'd kept dropping it until some of the strands snapped. She was angry at him for casually flirting with someone, even though at the time she'd said she didn't mind. After they'd made up, she was sorry for breaking the paperweight, but kept it. It became an object of regret.

But after those first few rocky years they grew into each other, teaching and learning. They became certain there was no better lover, no better love than theirs. Their friends envied the way they supported each other, never shouted at or insulted the other.

One day he had to take her to the hospital. She hadn't been well the past few days, and ended up staying for for three weeks. During that time he knocked over a glass next to the sink. The first one. The first of a long series.

I break a glass for every day she's gone.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Friday, October 20, 2006

north korean sanctions

The luxury-goods sanctions have some strong possibilities. While they won't stop him from getting drugs and weapons out, it'll at least make it harder to get Kim's favorite yummies in. Imagine some poor slob schlepping through the airport with a diplomatic bag of melting ice and restive lobsters ... the bag tips and a few grams from the half-kilo of meth spills (it was supposed to be going out, but the courier "mislaid" one) ... thus fortified, the lobsters snap the rubber bands on their claws, slash their way to freedom and tear through the airport, leaving behind them screaming children and a vacationing Maine fisherman with a mangled left ankle ... the lobsters present themselves at the American embassy, claiming to have been kidnapped to serve the regime ... the lobsters begin filling out the political asylum forms but get stymied at the part where they must declare they are not addicted to dangerous drugs ... but by then the meth high is wearing off ... the ambassador makes a phone call to his wife, then helps them complete the forms ... and thus these new American citizens are transported to the ambassador's residence, where they are promptly thrown into a pot of boiling water... the Korean courier loses his job and has to go back to drinking grain tea with his tree bark...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

not a proper blog entry

About 1 month ago I noticed I have trouble seeing details on the left side of my face. It looks foggy. Viewed through my left eye, words on the page look partially erased with sandpaper. Last weekend driving back from Napa I cannot see cars in the left mirror too well. There's a grey cloud there, opaque in place, maybe about 35%.

The pair of small floaters I've had in my left eye for a year or so have suddenly merged together and grown large. It's right in the middle, though there's a small space dead center that's clear. Right now, if I look at the opposite wall about 10 feet away, the cloud goes from the floor to the ceiling. I made a map of it a week ago, and it's bigger than that now.

I've had a headache for the past 3 days. Part of that was due to drinking a little too much beer yesterday, but the headache started before that. I wake up darkearly no matter what time I go to sleep. I don't like that.

The optometrist wants me to see an ophthamologist (sp?) and possibly a retinal specialist. He's worried I may be having a retinal detachment. The hypochondriac in me is worried the whole thing is detaching.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

ends and re-beginnings

Yesterday Karl said the anti-inflammatory (a steroid) was making Ishii so jumpy, so I took him off that and he did seem more mellow last night. Still, I found out that falcons hiss when they're feeling defensive. I've only heard them do the begging call (an awful yark, like a seagull). Ishii looked pretty vigorous and alert, and I had Karl come by. He was pretty pleased and took the bird home. I learned a little about falcons and have a new reason why I don't want one: it'd eat me out of house and home.

The visiting nurse that came yesterday was a dipwad. He was delayed once, rescheduled, and arrived hours later than that with no phone call and no apology. The antibiotics have to go on a schedule to lower the risk of the mate's bacteria turning resistant. We ended up hooking up the bag ourselves. This generally isn't difficult since we've done it many times before, but little details change and you have to figure out the new bits.

When the guy arrived, he proceeded to what we later decided were scare tactics designed to keep him employed. We weren't to change the dressing ourselves, he had to do it, and he changed it even though it was only 3 days old (Just billable hours. PICC dressings are normally changed once a week, and I've done it 4 or 5 times. It's easy.) He dissed the hospital nurses, claiming they did things we have never seen them do, like leaving the connector hanging uncapped, and they did a lot of things wrong. The way he wiped the connector was right. Alcohol doesn't sterilize, the prep pads just "push the dirt around." He was very big into keeping things sterile, yet he didn't wash his hands with the antiseptic scrub. Instead he used the gel, the active ingredient of which is alcohol. And he obviously didn't think our schedule was important. In short, he was one of those people who thinks his way is the only right way. And somewhere in our conversation, the issue of patient compliance came up. We got the impression that if we didn't do things his way, that the insurance would stop paying for a visiting nurse.

This kind of talk works on the old, and the mushy sort of patient who doesn't get involved in his or her own care. We are neither of these types. The mate called today and made her complaint to VNA, and they'll be giving us a different person.

Monday, October 09, 2006

coming home

Yep, the mate is coming home Tuesday morning. I'm counting the hours. :)

our charge, day 2

The little guy is a trip. He's 50 grams lighter than P, and looks about 2/3 the Harris's size, but eats about 2-3 times as much. He's a little furnace. I have no idea where all that pigeon (one of the richer foods you can feed a raptor) goes. Donations of pigeon are welcomed at St Marcus's.

They seem stupider than Harrises, but I'm thinking on the scale of human intelligence: the ability to interpret what the human is up to, and respond accordingly. Falcons seem more mechanistic, and their skills are in the command-and-control area. Ishii recognizes me certainly, but gives no impression of like or dislike.

He's being a little hellraiser this evening. He's bobbing his head everywhere, bating around to get onto a higher perch (the futon), rousing, and doing that crisp buzzing falcon tail-waggle. Quite a change from the greenish lump that plunked down onto the perch last night and just wanted to go to sleep. Hasn't taken a bath yet, but if I put him out in the sun tomorrow, perhaps he will. Then I'll really know he's a normal falcon.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

SMRRF


Welcome to Saint Marcus's Refuge for Recovering Falcons. Here, brothers, is our newest arrival. His name is Ishii and while he was perched outside two days ago, he was attacked by a wild red-tailed hawk. The redtail had him by the head when his falconers rushed out to rescue him. Presently he's on an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory, and is generally dull-witted for the moment. However, as you can see, he's able to tuck into a quail leg, so chances of a full recovery are quite high. Brothers, come vespers we shall add his health to the prayers we say for all our charges.

I would have called it "Recovering Raptors" but thought SMRRF a bit more euphonious. And silly. Ishii's one of the vineyard birds, and Karl's so busy right now he can't take care of him, so he asked and I said yes. Ishii should be okay in about two weeks at the outside.

wifi nearby

muahahahaha... I'm a bandwidth thief. My new laptop has a better-powered antenna than the Linksys dongle I had for the old one, and it actually is picking up a distant someone with an 11 megabit connection. But thieves do have a code of honor, such as it is. I plan to hitchhike this goose only for the long journeys, in other words any downloads more than 7MB, like those ridiculous Windows Updates. That takes 20 minutes at 56K and maybe 3 minutes on the faster connection.

I don't know if the goose is tech-savvy enough to know he's got a rider. The fact that the network's unsecured makes me think so.

Before I found this, I was playing a point-and-click flash game called Onamis 2. It was completely painful at 56K, but the speed was not so much a problem as piss-poor programming. Every single scene seemed to be a separate chunk of Flash, and a big one each and every time. Let's say you're looking at a wall with two devices, and click on the one on the left. Fresh load of about 1MB or 4 minutes. The picture changes to viewing the device at an angle -- you've turned. Click on the device again, and again wait 4 minutes so you have the honest-to-god close-up of the device. Which you desperately hope is a puzzle so you can actually do some interaction.

It isn't. It's just a picture showing you that one machine of three are on.

Back out of the scene, and shift over to the device on the right. Two more scenes, 2 MB, eight minutes. It has a lever which you turn on. That's it.

See why that would make anyone click that little box with the X before they go bald? There were a grand total of three puzzles in this game that took me two hours to play due to load time. On the fast connection, I would have finished it less than 15 minutes. In short, there hardly any game there. In contrast, play some of the Submachine games by Mateusz Skutnik. Clean and tidy, you get the whole game in one load, and it has dozens of scenes and plenty of puzzles.

Bandwidth, like computer speed, tends to be something people take for granted. Once they have it, they don't think about how slow it runs for someone without. This (and also not trimming function libraries to exactly what you need) leads to major code bloat. An oldish version of Microsoft Word contains a pinball game. I'm sure the programmers found it clever, but to me it just increases the size of the program and the load time without any benefit.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

a pedestrian pleasure

Driving in the City is a schizophrenic combination of aggressiveness and gentleness. It's brisk, but drivers in SF are trained to stop on a dime for a pedestrian. In California pedestrians have the right of way in any marked crosswalk and the corner-to-corner intersection of any two streets (walking at right angles, not diagonals). Pedestrians are assertive here. You don't mess with one.

I'm walking out of the hospital this afternoon, a little depressed over the mate's fever, which is still flying up and down the scale like Beverly Sills. Across the street is the parking garage where my car is, and a 3-way stop. There's a baby-shit-green Honda at the stop, moving forward. I cross the street, in the crosswalk of course. We're on collision vectors, but he should stop, even in the intersection, because this is San Francisco.

He doesn't. He doesn't even acknowledge I'm there.

But he slows down just as he's passing 3 inches in front of me. That's opportunity.

I slam a good kick, hard as possible, to the rear-seat door. Pity I was wearing runners and not my boots. If I had more presence of mind I would have whipped out my keys to give him a more permanent reminder of how to treat pedestrians.

Monday, October 02, 2006

onto the holy cause

I would crow-hawk, but the designer of the CRV put the driver's window switch on the dash near my left knee. If that sounds facile, visualize. With a hawk on my left hand, I cannot steer and put the window down at the same time. If I steer with my left knee, I can't reach the switch. Believe me, it's a game of Twister with potentially fatal results. And I'm pretty coordinated, capable of smoking and talking on the cell phone while driving, and have more than once hooded a hawk perched on the back seat.

So, in the cause of crow-hawking, I'm putting in a window switch on a cord, so I can control it with my right hand and steer. It'll take some practice but I think I can learn to do it. Now I gotta find a CRV master switch...

Sunday, October 01, 2006

hawk giveaway

I'd been feeling a little bummed out about falconry because I'm not doing it often or well. Silly as it is, I like my hawks to express their like of me, and P doesn't do that. His ingrained habits (defense posture around his perch every morning, never calmly coming in and out of cars but always in a half-bate, random grumpiness, refusal to hood) are disconcerting and makes me not want to deal with him. S showed his love by trust: being willing to try anything I might offer. Like an old lover, I compare all hawks to him.

The mate used to love to come out hawking; we learned together and she knows everything I know about it. But the health situation complicates and awkwardizes, and these days it's all she can do to come with me and sit in the car while I hawk. Which makes me not want to go fly.

If a lung transplant is going to happen, I need to be very available. We're talking time off from work kind of available.

So I've been wanting to give P away and take a season off. Over the winter or spring the mate will have the transplant, and the lack of bird dander in the house can only be good. In the spring, start with a new eyas that I can shape, that is really my bird, not a transfer.

But days like today make falconry all fresh and new. P was 628 grams, a titch higher than I like, but he was hungry. I saw him sharpen up 10 miles before we got to our field: as we came into the flat land he's so familiar with, he was looking hard all around. It was 2:30 in the afternoon, but foggy, so the crows were still walking the lawns, which got a lot of attention. This was much earlier than we usually go, so his sharpness was remarkable, all over his posture. When we got into the field, he flew in ahead of me for once, and stopped on a fence post to case the joint. When I was ahead of him, he came to the glove. Three minutes into the field, a bunny got up and P was burning after it. And had it: the first flush was the first catch.

I slipped him off onto a quail leg, and tried to stuff the bunny in my pocket, but dropped it. P lunged, but was still holding tight to the glove and leg, so a little confusion resulted. When we got straightened up and the snack swallowed, he flew over to the bush where the bunny had gone. But he only looked for a few seconds before coming to the glove. Just perfect, perfect behavior.

We trotted along, got a few more flushes. One was impossible, just a butt disappearing under a bush, a couple others good and clear, but he got dusted. His flying was sharp, energetic, determined, a pleasure to see. Then we spotted one sneaking. P watched it a moment and it began moving away, but it was hampered slightly by the grass. That's opportunity, in the hawk book. A quick snap of the wings and he went straight for the target, and got it.

I gave him the other quail chunk and one front leg off the bunny, and kept aside the other front leg as reserve. Let him feed up there in the field, on the ground: they like that. Snapped his flying jesses to the glove, and when he was finished, showed him the other leg on the glove. Hop up, and back to the car. Like clockwork. This is the kind of hawking I like: you get to see the energy, the effort, and the hawk's satisfaction when he's rewarded. This is the way (my old lover) S used to behave all the time: full confidence and expertise with the bunnies.

If I can get him to be this way all the time, I won't feel so bad giving him away.