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This post is going to be a bit of a whine. We’ve been dealing with a lot of health issues this year and it seems that things get better and then they get not so very much better — meaning things slide downhill. I was just congratulating myself that I’d made it through Capclave okay with only a minor headache and a few muscle spasms. Then, I felt up for World Fantasy Convention (WFC) in Columbus, Ohio. Had a great time at both conventions.

Got a lot of exercise as well as fresh air walking about within a 1/2 to a mile of the hotel while in Columbus. However, had a couple of severe muscle spasm and a low grade migraine the last two day which got worse on the drive home to Maryland. The day before we left to come home, our cat sitter texted that the cat, Dorian, had a few accidents but was still greeting her when she came to the house and didn’t seem lethargic.

Just after Christmas last year, Dorian had a severe downturn in his health but recovered and is known in the vet’s office as the miracle cat because they didn’t think he’d make it at all. He’s got a heart problem and only 1 half of a functioning kidney and is 14 years old going on 15 (so in cat years that mid-70s). We got home to number of accidents (from both ends – use your imagination) throughout the house. We called the vet and took him right in. He was dehydrated and with really high levels in his blood work that indicate his kidney may be shutting down. They did some rehydration and gave him anti-nausea meds along with some other medications. We took him home and had to bring him in again today. He was there all day for treatment. His tests came back today much better in some way and yet still worrisome. He’ll go in again tomorrow and then we may, depending on his test results, have to start making some very hard decisions about his quality of life. He’s more active and moving about but seems not himself. I’m cautiously optimistic but still worried.

Afterall, what can you be but cautiously optimistic when the cat sits and stares at the bubbling water bowl for extended period so time. Maybe it is cat meditation. Currently, he’s crawled under the lowest level of the cat tree and is not sleeping but probably contemplating the universe and his place in it.

Meanwhile, the magazines (SFRevu.com and GumshoeReview.com) went up as planned on November 1st. However, I still have some things to do — essential the reviews I was doing still need to be finished and added to the contents as well as writing the overview editorial for each magazine. Hoping that a good nights sleep will finally vanish the migraine — it is really hard to think clearly when someone invisible is using your head for an anvil.

If the headache finally eases off with a good nights sleep, I can finish up tomorrow while Dorian, the cat, is again at the vets. But, with so much stress my allergies and asthma have kicked in. This puts a bit of perspective on the migraines — though on the whole, lots of pain vs difficulty breathing seem to be in a tie.

Life goes on so far.

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This past month has been one thing after another. It seemed like I spent half the month in doctor’s offices or waiting for someone who was in for a procedure to drive them home.

I’m now taking an extra antihistamine and, for the last few days, it’s been making me feel like a zombie. When asked a question there’s a significant pause while I have to parse the sentence and retrieve the answer. May make you drowsy. May make you sleep through your day with your eyes open and minimal functioning. On the plus side the itching is nearly bearable but the headaches are back.

The upshot is that the two magazine (SFRevu.com and GumshoeReview.com) are going to be up online on time but missing the reviews assigned to me. Those reviews will be added in over the next few days as they’ll take me longer to draft, write, and edit. It helps if you’re awake — or so I’ve been told.

I missed Balticon this year also. I got email with my program schedule and I wasn’t on anything as far as I could tell so, since I was feel crappy I decided not stay home and sleep. Hopefully, next year May won’t jump on me with both feet.

Enough whining from me. But hopefully, I can get back to updating my blog regularly.

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hyperion avatar Yesterday after a long day at work, I stopped by the post office to mail out the latest batch of books. Shortly after getting into line, a woman came in and asked if anybody liked cats, because there as a kitten outside that looked like it was in some distress. What she got was a lot of folks ignoring her, or telling her that they were dog folks, or allergic, or one of a dozen other excuses. I too was reluctant to speak up, because while Gayle’s allergies are being kept under control as long as we use the Allerpet on Emnot, there’s no guarantee that it would be effective on a different cat. Nor was there any guarantee that Emnot would tolerate another cat in the house. He has a tendency to go all territorial warlord whenever another cat dares to come up on the porch. Of course, that display is limited to when the door is closed, or when one of his human’s goes out to back him up.

In any event, one of the other customers told the lady there was an animal shelter nearby and that she should just call them and they’d come and pick the cat up. I offered to get her the phone number, but she said she’d just drive over and report him in person, and have them come get him. And for a while I though that was the end of it.

I stood in line for nearly 20 minutes until I was finally able to pass off the packages to the mail clerk and get back on my way. But I couldn’t just leave without checking to make sure the kitten had been picked up. I walked around to where the woman had indicated … and there he still was. Maybe eight inches long from nose to rump. Certainly less then a year old. He was a shorthair, mostly yellow-orange, mixed liberally with white fur. And he was lying on the brick patio near the rear door to the lobby. He was motionless except for the distressed panting as he tried desperately to breath. I knew in that second that the kitten wasn’t going to survive until nightfall. And I’d already discounted any hope that the animal shelter was going to arrive, or that the woman had even gone to them.

I called our vet and described the situation. They agreed that I should bring him to them. If animal control was called, they’d just put him down immediately. So I scooped him into the basket that I’d been using to carry the packages. I didn’t know if he was at all used to humans, and I didn’t want to terrify the poor thing any more than I had to. When I slid my fingers under him, he managed to twitch a little and pull his head back, but he couldn’t move his legs or body. I hurried back to the car, cooing stupid things to him, like you do, and tried to get him to the vet as quickly as I could. Maybe it’s just me, but I think I hit every red light on the way. I ran the air conditioner up and he seemed to relax a little as the temperature in the car dropped. He even managed a few meows.

I took him into the waiting room and three nurses swooped down on me and bore him off to the back where the doctor was waiting for him. I waited in one of the exam rooms and when they came to find me, the prognosis was not good. He was in shock, dehydrated, there was blood in his urinary tract, and there was something wrong with his bladder. They couldn’t tell for sure without a lot more tests.

They wanted to know if I was planning on keeping him and, to my embarrassment, I had to confess that it would depend on how much it would cost to nurse him back to health, assuming that it was even possible. It’s a sad, but unfortunate truth, that finances can not be ignored. The doctor said that they would keep him overnight and see how he was in the morning, and that I should call them and we’d discuss it more then.

I called Gayle on they way back and told her the story. We talked about the situation last night and this morning, and we went over the finances to see just how much we could afford.

I called back this morning, ready to negotiate if need be … and was told that he’d passed away last night. They’d found evidence of internal bleeding, and one of the nurses had taken him home with her so that she could care for him, and he’d passed away in her car on the way.

So at least he went peacefully, with someone that cared for him. Not alone and baking to death on the pavement while dozens of people walked by and ignored him.

Unfortunately, I never though to take a picture of him.

So, for the kitten that was only part of my life for a couple of hours, I’m sorry that the world is such a cruel place. That so many humans, that wield such awesome powers, just don’t give a damn. I’m sorry that you didn’t get to meet Gayle or Emnot. That you won’t be able to join our clowder.

But I’m glad that you were able to spend the last few hours of your far too short life, surrounded by the best representatives that humanity has to offer. The people that do care, sometimes far too much.

Goodbye little one.

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drawing of Tooth side view -- cut away with rootsFor the last few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about teeth. Last Tuesday, I forget what we ate, but I thought I might have something caught in my teeth so I flossed. It still seemed a bit sore. Wednesday it was even worse — brushed my teeth and flossed about five times. By Thursday morning, I was resorting to over the counter pain meds and ice packs. A call to the dentist where he reviewed my previous set of x-rays and the symptoms and I was referred to then endodontist for a Friday morning appointment.

It was necrotic roots and the start of an infection. Verdict: I needed a root canal.

I currently have a great dentist. But even though he’s great, it’s the awful dentist from my childhood that gets my stomach roiling and my hands sweaty and my pulse racing. I keep trying to tell myself that everything will be fine, but while my head agrees, the physical side of me is afraid of that childhood dentist who liked to drill with no Novocaine (because “children don’t feel pain like adults”). And yes, I grew up in the dark ages of dentistry. My reaction to the childhood dentist was to brush often and well and hope to heck nothing happened because I wasn’t going back if I could help it. Luckily, because I was scared and that fear caused me to take care of my teeth — I haven’t needed to see a dentist very often.

This was my first root canal. I’d heard stories of how awful it was but to be honest — there was little to no pain once it was numbed. Of course by the time he got the tooth totally numbed I couldn’t feel the right side of my face from the middle of my lips to my ear and all the way up to and including my lower eye-lid. He was fast and efficient and it was over fairly quick. I understand that most of that was because the nerves were already dead and there were no fractures.

None the less, it went well. Mid-way through I calmed down and just remembered to breathe and think of calming images. Of course, because of the infection will take awhile for the pain to completely go away but so far it looks like the antibiotic will take care of it. I’ve got my fingers crossed that I don’t get any complications from that infection.

Mostly, I’m so glad that modern dentists seem to believe in explaining what they’re going to do before they do it. And will explain what they’re doing while they’re working on you and what you’ll feel and hear. It’s so much nicer than having to guess what’s going on and what those sounds and smells mean.

By the way, I love the smell of cloves. Each time I have to go to the dentist now — I’m really impressed by how much things have changed for the better. I hope eventually, my childhood fears will just melt away.

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Can you believe that after noting here that Earth Hour was coming up and getting all excited about it — well, I never got a chance to do anything about it. We had a planning meeting that day, and it was in DC. After the meeting, because we were there and it was supposed to snow, this years Capclave Chair and Hyperion and I met to discuss strategies for the Capclave website and Blog and online publicity.

Once that was done it was about an hour Metro back to the car and then we had to do the weekly shopping in Waldorf. By the time we headed home it was nearly 8:30 and by the time we got home it was nearly 9:30 p.m. We kept light to a minimum but in the past we’ve turned them all off and either read by candle light or oil lamp. So, we’ve been very careful the past few days to turn lights off when we leave a room and not use one if not necessary. Okay, we do that anyway but I’m being compulsive about it now.

Meanwhile, SFRevu and Gumshoe Review go live with the new issues on April 1st so I’ve been working steadily on getting things ready.

What’s making everything more difficult is the lack of energy. I’ve got problems with energy levels anyway and after fighting the flu for the past 3 1/2 to 4 weeks — I feel like walking across the room is the equivalent to running a quarter-mile. It’s weird when you stand up and suddenly all our energy drains out and all you want to do is curl up on the floor and sleep. I find myself looking down to see if I can see the energy leaking out of my heel. I’ve taken to wearing shoes and socks instead of going around in just my socks in case that will help hold in the energy. Haven’t seen anything leaking out of my heel — but really it feels like it should be visible.

But, the good news is that while I was sick, Spring sprung. One day last week — I think it was Wednesday — I looked out the window and the pear trees had flowers, the forsythia was blooming, the daffodils along the woodland path were in bloom, and the chives and some other herbs were showing signs of growth. Spring happened. I just sat with my coffee and contemplated how nice it was to just wake up and see such signs of spring all around me. It’s a great change from all the grey dreariness that came before with rain, overcast skies, and blah days.

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Today is blog action day and the topic is water. About two thirds (2/3) of our planet is covered with water and yet many people do not have access to clean water. Of all the water on the planet only about one percent is fresh water than we can drink and we are continually polluting that water. [Note: These numbers and figures differ slightly depending on which authority you get the numbers from — I picked conservative numbers.]

Blog Action Day 2010: Water from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.

Many of today’s blogs will probably deal with the facts and figures of water, water contamination, pollution, and the need for clean water. I’m going to talk about me — after all this is my blog.

Before we moved to our present house, my husband and I lived in cities and water was no problem — it was just there unless the water main broke. Water to drink. Water to cook with. Water to wash with. Water to flush toilets. Water for house plants. It was just there. In some places it didn’t taste quite right so we got a Britta filter — problem solved.

Then fast forward to our present house and we have a well. Our house sits on 5 acres with its own well and septic system. Now we had to think about water and sewage. We have to be careful what we flush down the toilet because it’s going to go through the septic system and back out into the groundwater — hopefully clean again. If you put the wrong stuff in, the system may not work and that’s an expensive proposition of pumping it out, and so on.

But drinking water hasn’t been a problem. The well is deep and the water has been tested and is safe to drink. There’s an electric pump that brings the water up from that deep well and into the house. No electricity means no water.

A few years back, a hurricane knocked out the power and we were without water for over a week. No pump, no water. Earlier that year we’d bought a rain barrel which sat under a drain pipe from the roof. We’d been using that water to water the garden so we wouldn’t be stressing the well. With no electricity, we could use that water to flush the toilet but it wasn’t drinkable. We had to travel and buy water at stores; an expensive proposition when you needed water for everything — drinking, cooking, washing dishes, washing us.

That experience really made us appreciate just how reliant we were on technology. I remembered staying at a camp when I was a kid that had a hand-pump to bring water into the kitchen sink. But, electric pumps have replaced that in our lives and now without electricity we’re without many of the basics we take for granted — one of which is water.

Now, think about the many people living on this planet who can’t buy clean water. People who need to collect water from rivers, streams, rain barrels and then take their chances drinking it that it won’t make them sick — or kill them. We’re not talking fancy smart waters or flavored waters — just plain clean, disease and parasite free, water. 42000 people die each week from drinking unclean water. Think about that — that’s twenty times the population of the little town I grew up in in Maine. That’s every week just because they lack clean drinkable water.

Humans need water to survive. I’ve heard, but haven’t verified, that you can survive longer without food than you can without water. Yet, we treat our planet as if all its resources are infinite. They are not. While water is in many ways renewable because it can be treated, filtered by the ground, evaporated and returned via rain, it’s not a perfect system in the face of humanities every increasing abuse of our planet and its resources.

In my family we do what we can to help. We use rain barrels and recaptured water for gardening. We try not to buy bottled water and instead use our own water in reusable water bottles whenever possible. When we do buy, we try to buy where some of the money goes toward clean water programs. We try to put our efforts and money into programs and actions that will help everyone sharing the planet with us.

We’re all on this planet together and it’s about time we all spent a bit of time thinking about how we use it and how we can help others to have the basic necessities of life and the most basic of these is clean drinking water.

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Cover of Julie & JuliaI noticed that today would have been Julia Child’s birthday. I remember seeing her on TV when her cooking show was new and I was young. I remember her voice and the fact that she made it look like no matter what happened, or what went wrong, it was okay, because who’d know what went on in your kitchen if the guests were all in the living room. I have to wonder what she’d think of the popularity of open floor plans where your guests gather around the kitchen island and watch you get dinner ready. Somehow I doubt that it would bother her.

Last week we finally watched Julie & Julia based on the book by Julie Powell. Powell wrote a blog where she cooked her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I, in a period of 365 day making 524 recipes. You can still read the blog online — the Julie / Julia Project. The last post is about when Julie heard that Julia Child died. (Amazon has the book available in paperback with a look inside so you can get a taste of the writing.)

Julia Child was an amazing woman. She did so much at a time when women were so circumscribed in what they should or shouldn’t do with their lives. If you haven’t seen the movie here’s the trailer — maybe you’ll decided it’s a must see too.

I thought the movie was informative and affirming. I like cooking and I’m no great chef — I’m more a plain home cooking type with once in a great while a foray into making something fancy. I admire Julie Powell for working her way through all those recipes — that’s a lot of work, especially when holding down a full-time job. Seems there are lots of daring women in the world we just need to keep our eyes and ears open.

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Men's Underwear AdvertisementThis morning I caught sight of an article entitled, “U.S. scientists design underpants that could save lives“. Actually, the article I saw pointed to this article and said something like “Military pays for Hi-Tech underpants”. It was the title that caught me but it’s the article that got me thinking.

Here’s a the information that got me:

Printed on the waistband and in constant contact with the skin is an electronic biosensor, designed to measure blood pressure, heart rate and other vital signs.

The technology, developed by nano-engineering professor Joseph Wang of University of California San Diego and his team, breaks new ground in the field of intelligent textiles and is part of shift in focus in healthcare from hospital-based treatment to home-based management.

Well, since the military is paying for this experimental underwear, I’m sure it will get a workout in the field. But the scientist seem to be on my wavelength. Many elderly want to live at home but most have health problems. My grandmother, for a while, had the service where she could call for help if something happened to her. She canceled it because they were always bothering her to find out if she was okay. I’m sure lots of people don’t like their routines upset — because we all know those phones calls only come after you’ve sat down with a good book and a cuppa, or settled in and are just dozing off for a well-earned nap.

But if you just get dressed in the morning and the waistband of your underwear sends biological information back to a central area that monitors — if something happens you’ll get the help you need even if you’re unconscious and can’t get to a cell phone or landline. More people could stay independent and in their homes. Sort of a person security system instead of a home security system.

Now if they also get these briefs to deliver medication or administer the required medications as a stroke or heat attack occurs — where minutes can mean the difference between paralysis and a quick (or relatively quick recovery) that would be even better. (And yes I’m way, way overgeneralizing.)

So, something that at first looked/sounded silly has on second thought and more reading turned into one of those things you wonder why no one thought of it before. Of course, before now the technology just wasn’t available to do the job.

Imagine smart underpants may be in all our futures as we live our lives in the forward direction that usually means growing older, wiser, and most likely a bit frailer.

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