Saturday, May 31, 2008

I Found the Owner!

What marvelous knickers! I'm so glad that they've been captured and displayed on this blog. (I was going to save this picture for an entry titled, "The End is Nigh", but I've found a better one for that.)
What really pissed me off about that 'Mars' article was that this guy was intimating that if there is no other life, then logically, there might be no 'Great Filter', no bottle-neck that we may or may not squeeze through on our next evolutionary step. And he was saying it like it was a good thing! He doesn't want the Phoenix Lander to find evidence of life on another planet, so that we may toddle along blissfully, unafraid of his hypothetical filter. Well, the filter exists! It's called 'Time and Space', and none of us who are reading this blog or speaking this language or breathing this atmosphere are ever going to pass through it.
I'm for LIFE. "Life on Mars. It's a Good Thing!"
- Hermana

Damn, it happened again....

These are the knickers that Catherine collided with.

Sorry about the truncated message previous but something I don't understand is going on. I figure it out.

Terry Pratchett says that every second is a year to a gnat and their hearts beat reallyreallyreally fast. Elephants and people are, you know, like we are. And old growth forests have hearts that beat once each year with a resounding thump in Spring. That's what I was trying to say in the first post before it crapped out on me...time being relative and all.

Anyway, I'll be more clear and precise in some other post. I just wanted to say good morning. I have many more thoughts but I'll put them on hold.

I understand about the crane porn. I become livid when they say "you could be dead in an hour!---news at 11

The text box is giving me trouble...rats

This is a test blog. I'm having a terrible time getting my information out, I can't always make the text box work.

Anyway, that's a lot of info from you this morning, Hermana honey, very good info but lots considering you had nothing to say.

This picture is us. Sisters

Regarding the relativity of time: Terry Pratchett says

Not as WE know it.

The link below is to an article from the Boston Globe, a paper that's in an incestuous relationship with the NYTimes. I don't know which one of them wears the pants in the family (in other words, "who pimps whom"), but since it's completely off the point, it doesn't matter.

The article (above) concerns the ramifications of finding evidence that life on Mars delevoped at some point in the planet's history. The writer posits that if we DO find this evidence, it implies bad news for us. His point (I think) is that if we find that life has independently arisen twice in our small solar system, it stands to reason that other greater lifeforms and civilizations must be out there, larking around through deep space, in amazingly large numbers, given the vastness of space and the number of solar systems that inhabit each of it's billions of galaxies. And yet we have no evidence that such is the case. Where are all the E.T.s, the visitations, radio communications, alien soap-operas, nebular road signs saying "Bellatrix - 48 light years ahead. Use exits 4a, 4b, 5 (Spaceliners use Exit 5n to access beltway)? That there is nothing but silence means to him that there is some defining event or moment when life is extinguished, or at least prevented from developing much beyond a unicellular level.

What he doesn't mention is that for most of the history of life on Earth, evidence of extrasolar intelligence readily detectable to radio telescopes could have been blinking and beeping on and off like smoke alarms in a darkened house. Because even though we've been living in the house, we've been the slime mold that clings to the bottom of the step leading out into the garden. We wouldn't have known a smoke alarm (or a radio signal) if we'd oozed over one. In the last couple of hundred years we have indeed developed the technology to detect waves from the entire electromagnetic spectrum, to pin-point them in some cases (as in the gamma ray burst that indicated a particular supernova, or not, like the background microwave radiation that comes from everywhere at once; a remnant of the 'Big Bang'. (Now there's something for which to thank Bell Labs!)

But a couple of hundred years is nothing! The Universe is 15 billion years old. 200 years is a blip, a blink, a nanosecond. We've been looking and listening for virtually no time at all. Will we, as a species, ever traverse the galaxy? Probably not. It's almost certainly beyond our present potential. If we have time before our sun dies, we may evolve into beings who would make such a journey or at least be patient enough to listen for a phone call. Would they be humans? No more than the slime mold is. But they would possess that quality that all life on Earth seems to possess, the will to persist. And maybe they would be ready, listening in the right place and at the right time, to catch an invitation to the dance.

The picture at the top of this post is not of Mars. It's a rock, covered with colonies of lichens, two organisms that live in symbiosis in order that both may survive. These little plant/fungus colonies (And, no. A fungus is not a plant.) may increase their diameter by less than a millimeter a year. If they were sentient, would they take any notice of the large, mobile, juicy creatures that whizz by them in an instant, while they stay, dryly sitting on their grave markers and old stone walls? Most people (city boys) just think that lichens are crud on a rock. They don't recognize them as life. Complex, busy life, that people walk by everyday, seeing them not. What else is waiting to be found right under our noses, or right over our heads?- Hermana

Friday, May 30, 2008

Give Them Bread and Circuses!

Regarding the crane collapse in NYC today, this is the ad that's running on Channel Two:

"See and Hear the Panic Tonight at 11:00pm on WCBS News!", is the breathless announcement.

"Incredible New Footage as the Search for Answers Continues!"

It's pornography. It's tragedy as a sideshow. We think we're so much more sophisticated, more civilized than the crowds who used to gather to watch public hangings, but we haven't changed a bit!

"You Can See and Hear the Chaos!" They actually said that. I'm turning the channel.

- Hermana

Today I Post, For Tommorrow...I MOW!

  • Look! It's Albrecht Durer's backyard!

  • I MUST have paragraphs, so I'll make my own, using this handy-dandy bulleted list feature. Don't panic! Those are NOT spots before your eyes. (Well, they are, but I put them there.)
  • There's a downside to having had a wonderful, long phone chat with your sister the night before you post on your mutual blog: We talked about so much that I can't think of anything new! I'll have to go read the paper and see if there's anything in it that's horrible enough to inspire comment. I'm at my most articulate when describing something outrageous or disgusting. Presently, WanderingL has the market cornered on 'disgusting'.

  • -Hermana

Man Eater!

Actually, Small Black-Haired Woman eater! I just went for a walk! And I almost got eaten by a people gobbler! I was turning the corner from Cheyenne to go up N 19th to start my hill walking. I was listening to my Ipod and everything was cool. I looked up and this tan dog with black ears was all alert and started to come down the sidewalk at me. About a block away! I though "AHHHHCCKKK, PIT BULL!" I am not actually sure if it was but it had that broad muscular chest thing going on. I gasped right out loud like a real puss. But then I remembered a story about my friends Heather and Chris. They were out running once when a pit bull charged them. Chris clapped his hands really loud and shouted, then the dog left. So, as I prepared to flee in terror, I looked at the dog, stuck my hand out and yelled "NO!" He stopped right away and turned his back to me! I still fled in terror, but at least I did not cause the dog to chase me. So, I go back towards my house but decide to turn up N 17th because, damn it, it was 8am and I got up to get some exercise! So, I am walking, taking deep cleansing breaths, when I see a thing laying in the road. It was white and looked like a plastic bag from far away. As I got closer it looked like a stripped button down shirt. It wasn't until I got right up to it that I saw what it really was. Gigantic boxer shorts. Laying in the road. They must have been a 44XXL. I could have made a bed with those things, if I didn't have to touch them of course. So, in the space of about 5 minutes I faced down death and then knickers. I'm thinking of staying inside the rest of the day.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Hospital Havoc

It is weird to read about the hospital from another point of view. It really does suck, no matter where you work at. Hell for me is The Missing Med Pager. That's right, ladies. ONE pager, for the ENTIRE hospital, that nurses page (repeatedly, incessantly) for things they don't have, can't find, do have but won't look, don't need, already paged twice for........ Needless to say I am not looking forward to work tonight because that pager is my responsibility. But, it is my Friday and I have a mantra I've been humming to myself at Rx: Every second that goes by is one less second I need to be here. It really works. As for sour nurses, they really ruin it for everyone. They give all the good nurses who you never here from a bad name. I wasn't in the mood for it one night and I kind of sassed a nurse on the phone. I can still remember her voice shrilling out "What is your name?! What is your name?!" Bite me, lady. "My name is CATHERINE." See where it gets you.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Second in a Series: Hell is other Nurses

Seeing them, working with them, greeting them and saying goodbye. Hell is other Nurses.
Every night I work with the best nurses in the world. We run past each other and smile or say something supportive and then disappear alone into a patient room. We help each other when we can but mostly the best thing you can do for another nurse is let her/him get on with his work by taking care of your own patient assignment.
When hell breaks loose and codes are called everyone rallies around for a while and pitches in but there are still those others to be cared for.
Nurses nearly to the woman, are extremely well-educated. They know their stuff and they advocate for their patients.
Then there's the other 2%--you can't miss them. Angry and sour and always in a battle of wills with the patient and the rest of the staff They carry a forcefield of resentment around them and bash anyone that gets in their way. Why is that?
Most of us are a little older, burned out and tired to the bone. We don't have time for nonsense. We've seen too much. We've worked at this business for 30 or so years and have always been understaffed. On every shift. Every season.
Why do women become nurses? For the same reason we become teachers, because we can work it around our kids and families. Work any hour of the day or night, weekends or holidays--there's always a job for us. And when we get home there's usually another job.
Mommas don't let your babies grow up to be nurses.
Third in the series: Good Laughs

Goodness Gracious!

I just read "Surrounded: First in a Series". Zowie! I know it's a great post because it brought it all back to me. I can't do that kind of work again! (Pardon me while I go take a xanax.) Maybe I'll go work at the vet's. I'd rather risk anthrax, scrapie and round worms than even one night in full PPE again.
I think that I can make a list of links. It just involves a little coding, which 'eBlogger' helpfully supplies. I'll work on that later.
Write that letter of resignation immediately!
- Hermana

Surrounded: The First in a Series

Nothing has changed.
Not for the patients and not for the nurses.
Pity the lowly night nurse surrounded by the emotionally starved.

1. TURN EVERY 2 HOURS: Nice idea but this patient weighs 400 pounds and I'm alone here;

I'm 58 years old; hypertensive and not visiting my own doc because I'm pretty sure that my metabolic syndrome has turned into something else and I know what happens then. I see it all the time and I'm not letting it happen to me.
Time ravages us all. I'm going to live, live, live 'til I die.

2. DROPLET PRECAUTIONS: Gown, glove, mask, sweat. 40 minutes later emerge, scrub and move to:

3. SMALL BOWEL OBSTRUCTION: MD order reads 'insert NG tube' not a living chance, bub.
This patient is in a 2 bed room, its 2AM and I'm not going to have him gagging and crying and terrifying the guy in the next bed. I'll medicate him for pain and nausea and I'll reek compassion all over him but someone else at some other time is going to perpetrate this particular torture.

4. NEXT BED: TRANSFER FROM TELE: ADMITTED FOR CHEST PAIN: 50 y/o male confronting mortality for the first time. Scared and angry. Going home in the morning with an appointment to see a cardiologist.

5. ABSCESS 2 TO IVDA: CONTACT PRECAUTIONS: Gown, glove, administer pain med every 30 minutes. 5 minutes later, emerge, scrub, return in 25 minutes. This is the person I'm sorriest for. Aside from antibiotics and pain medication there is no help for him here.

Answer call bells, document, cover the institution's ass, steal crackers so you don't faint. Refrain from strangling the next patient on the list when she says: "the bed is wet--I didn't want to call you because I knew you were busy."
This is an easy night--business as usual.
No wonder there's a shortage.
Next is the series: HELL IS OTHER NURSES

Jake: To the Right of Sanity

I don't know if Jake will come here. I think he has limited access to the Internet considering he uses his computer for gaming only. But he slowly takes on technology, so there is hope. After all, he is the one who got me text messaging so much. Although, most of his messages say things like "Head explode" or "Have Ebola. In dump truck." But I will let him read it. He will be down to visit this weekend because I finally have days off! Yippee! Last night was very busy as we had (I had) three new chemos to mix. Two more days and then 5 days off. Mom, it is almost Anthony Bourdain time! Very exciting. Did you know he broke up with his wife and married a 22 year old? What? Jake is wanting to buy tickets to Bobby's wedding this fall, so we will look into that too. I don't think I can go, although I feel bad about this, I rather save that money and go meet my new niece in Florida come April. Tammy's (Chris' sister's) baby will be 6 months old by then. I'll be an aunt! How do you like that Tia Hermana? I dream of the day I can drive the little girl to a botanical garden while she plays Bruce Springsteen's 'I'm on Fire' on the kazoo. I love you both. Off for a run. That's right, a RUN. Who's been doing her knee exercises? I have!

Awake, alive, crazy

I've slept for nearly 24 hours and I'm finally thinking again. So, I opened the newspaper---does anybody remember that scene in 'Roxanne'
when Steve Martin buys a paper from the machine, screams in horror and then pays again to put it back in??
That's how I felt this morning. But once you're exposed to dismal reality can you ever put it back? No, that's the lifting of the veil, I suppose, but then I got to thinking some more--which is a curse and why there are so many blogs and horrors in the world.
Are newspapers and magazines and journalists and researchers only reductionists pointing out facts, embellishing, shading, diminishing...? Hegel said that there is no truth but the whole---everything in context. Can you put the entire front page in context? Probably, but it still wouldn't be the whole.
All the perceptions of all the perceivers and all their collected biases. I can't figure it out and I guess that's philosophy for you.
So, I'll pick my battles like a normal person.
Thank you, Charles Winpenny. Photographer extraordinaire.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

And They Said She'd Never Fly. Hah!

Click for larger image.

This is Big Ethel in mid-flight. To approximate her speed, imagine that she blew her ballast and began rising from the bottom, traversing 5 inches vertically in the amount of time it takes to say 'Jambalaya'. She's fast. She can descend that quickly as well. (The fistula needle tubing is for when I want to draw a water sample.) " BioCup still smells fine, the water is clear and I'll have to go back to Lake Matilda tomorrow because that's the last of the eurasian milfoil. And that indistinct fuzzy thing on the desk in the mid-right side of the picture is 'chicken'. (Seven keeps wanting me to throw it so she can bring it back to me. I've had to kidnap it from her.)

Look Who's Come to Play!!

Beautiful Girl, how wonderful that you've come! And you're not late to the party. Your Mom and I know that you are out in the world, busy with all the things we were busy doing a hundred years ago. We'll be happy to have you drop in whenever we can get you.
Vitriol, indeed! It runs in our veins. I think my blood is Type O-Vitriol. I suspect it's fairly common, especially in the elderly.
And our vitriol runs deep. My brain care specialist, Dr. FeelGoodEnough, has told me that I'd make the perfect terrorist. I'm courteous, amiable, non-threatening in appearance and behavior ( Unless provoked when, like Duko, I morph into Cthulu), able to make comforting small-talk to patients, and a good listener; very non-judgemental. But under the veneer, I'm Medea.
Our experience with the Big Tuna hasn't been a completely unblemished success but we're seeing definite progress. He even attempted to play a little today, (If you can imagine a walrus frolicking, you'll get the picture.) though he gave it up when Seven ran up the side of the wall expecting him to follow her. (Seven weighs 5 lbs to his 18lbs. She is very sweet and has a brain the size and consistency of a pitted olive. She also has a doll, which is named 'chicken', that she carries around the house with her. When she loses 'chicken', I say, "Where's 'chicken'? Where's 'chicken'?", and she runs around looking until she finds it. She loves everybody, the poor dope.)
I'll take pictures of BioCup One tonight. It's still chugging along with all inhabitants present and correct. (Even 'Augie', the segmented worm.) I've always wanted an aquarium but felt daunted by the tanks and filters and aerators: This is perfect for me. Of course, I can't keep any pretty fish but I'm happy with my snails.
I see we have no paragraphs again today. Even 'eBlogger' can be snarky.
- Tia Hermana

Now we are three--waiting for Shemp

Go, Cat, go! Get Jake in here too. He's one right winger we don't mind. And he's more eloquent than the average conservative.
Glory be, a family affair!
Hardly vitriolic,

I'm watching you. Finally.

Okay, so this is what you guys have been doing. I'm most interested in Big Tuna and the BioCup (which would make an excellent children's novel). I'm also interested in the general bonhomie Mom gives off to deceive her enemies. When you read the blog (or talk to her at all) you realize her vitriol towards humanity is stinging. But, these are things I love her for. What would our family be without vitriol? Jake just left me a voicemail saying that the Bureau of Right Wing Diatribes needs to speak with me urgently. I'm not sure what that's all about but it definitely means blocking out two hours of my life for that one phone call. Besides that, I sent Chris off to work and I am about to go for a walk before heading to the hospital for hours of IV admixture. Woo!

Monday, May 26, 2008

5-25-08 thru 5-26-08

This is series of emails that were sent between the Wanderer and Hermana. The Wanderer is posted in purple; Hermana is posted in brown. (Editor's notes are in green.)

(It's all a big cheat because we didn't want to be bothered with posting today. We're nurses, damnit! We're busy! Those membranes aren't just going to soothe themselves, you know! - Editors)

WanderingL begins:

John Cusack writes for the Huffington post . He's OK.

I'm not going to up to intelligent blogging until Wednesday or Thursday so review Alec Baldwin's post as well and maybeMartin Sheen as well

Should I pursue this line of thinking or shall I pull William James and Georg Hegel into the fray?Or should I wing it?

Duko reminds me of Thetis--in a black fuzzy way.


Yeah, but Duko's not submissive. She's seductive. It's only because she's knows she's beautiful. I wish I could have gotten a better picture, but I didn't have time to get my real camera out. Her hair shines and, when she's awake, she fans her tail out like a peacock. Unless she's being a deranged nutcase.

She spends a lot of time in the bathtub, even when the water is ankle deep. (A wet Duko ain't so good-looking.) But she is the perfect ambassador, pleasing for a stranger to be with, tolerant when he makes small advances to her and then stealing his liver treat when he's not looking. She should work for the State Department.

I have read some of John Cusack's stuff and I like it. I'll check his new post. Steven Weber is also very good. (He was the younger brother on 'Wings' with Tim Daly.)


Arianna, Arianna, you wascally wabbit, you!
I would add HuffPo to the list I'm making of 'Links We Like', if it weren't for the right side of her front page. (Below the headlines.) The left side is perfectly inoffensive to me, even when Deepak Chopra has posted. But the right side has entirely too much Tom Cruise, Tyra Banks and Miley Cyrus, who is still a complete cypher to me. What is it that she does actually? (And Patrick Swayze does NOT look good, poor guy.) I really don't want to encourage the 'American Idol"-esque condition of politics. I know this isn't a new phenomenon, ("We Like Ike") but I still despise it.

I'm going to put 'Botany Photo of the Day' on. They have wonderful pictures and it's very informative. Also, 'Wayne's Word' and Robert Krampf's 'Science Videos'. They're lots of fun. (He's always blowing stuff up and getting wet and crushing things.) I'll do that later after further negotiations with Behemoth. Small steps, small steps. - Softly, softly....


Shadow was outside so I decided to open Big B's cage door (Editors Note: The cat's name is now 'Big Tuna) and see what happened. Nothing happened at first. He's been so isolated and disoriented for so many months that I think he's grown a little apathetic. I left the door open and went back to typing. Seven was asleep and Duko was looking alluring. After 45 minutes I noticed Moby Cat stroll by me on his way to the kitchen. Behind him, in an entirely new incarnation was Duko, alias Secret Agent Man! Suspicion radiating from every strand of hair, she followed him from room to room, until she started making ME nervous. I had to shut her up in the bathroom so he could walk around in peace.
He let me pet him and seemed to enjoy it. I didn't even try to pick him up; When I thought that his out-time was over I lured him back to his cage with tuna. He's a tuna hound.

- Hermana

Pinker and Dawkins, together at last.....for a soul-baring conversation! Read it. You'll like it. But it's 19 pages long so save it for your day off.


May 26th - Make that the Justice Department. With a GUN!

OMG!!!!! I never saw this coming. And I should've! When Duko (who's now 9 months old) and Seven (who's 8 months old) went to get spayed, they had to keep them in the same cage because when they were separated, Seven cried and Duko tried to chew through the side of her cage to get to Seven. Together, they were calm. Until some poor tech opened the cage door, at which point Duko would shove Seven behind her and attempt to amputate the tech's hand. The techs told me about this, and even Dr. Heidi said, "You know, Duko's a little mean." Mean? Naaah. Rowdy, yes. But not mean. I figured the techs were being weeners and Dr. Heidi was being extra cautious because she is seriously allergic to Duko.

But they were right! Remember I told you that while Duko was following Behemoth around the house, Seven was asleep in the bedroom with Eladio? When I let the Behemoth out again (an hour or so later), I had releashed Duko from incarceration and Seven was awake. Seven was cool. "Hi, Mister.", she said. And he said, "Hey, how're you doing, kid?" and started to amble on his way past her. "Great", I thought to myself, "Two down, one to go." At that moment, Duko, (who's new name is SYBIL !) caught sight of the two of them in proximity to one another and MORPHED INTO A TERRIFYING BLACK MAMBA! I've never seen anything like it! She didn't even look like a cat anymore! She looked like something out of 'Resident Evil'! If I hadn't intercepted her and thrown her into the bathroom, I'm sure she would have done him serious damage. Behemoth just stood there, startled, Seven was "Duh", as usual. And I was......completely astounded! This is terrible. It's just terrible! And, of course, now that he's back in the cage(s), she's pirouetting, singing sweetly and flicking her tail at him again.

I don't think that this is something that reason and conditioning will fix. She was operating on an entirely different level than I've ever seen before. I'll have to try something different tomorrow. I'll put the unknown quantity (Shadow) outside, I'll let the Behemoth out with Seven and I'll put Duko in the dog crate. And if she goes nuts, I'll cover the crate with a blanket. I suppose it wouldn't be a good deed if it was going to be easy.

- A Dazed and Confused Hermana

I hate that about good deeds--I just want them to be satisfying and lucrative. But you're right. It sounds like Duko has something special in her DNA. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Yeah. Kryptonite!) Blog all this; its damned interesting and makes a nice counterpoint to the whole philosophy/political thing we've got going. It brings life down to a small furry focus. Next we can talk about apoptosis and how its good for cancer cells but not for the human race as a whole.

Best to the Cat Tribe. I'd send valium if I could-- for you and Eladio.


In a few days, when all the characters have assumed their roles, I may put this all into a blog entry. It's just that I really don't want to encourage the cliche of women who blog about cats.

It has been a little exercise in diplomacy and feline psychology, though. Big Tuna (That's his new name and I think it's sticking.) was out and about all morning with Seven, They socialized a little but mostly did their own thing. When I got back from driving Eladio to JB's, where he is watching the ball game, Shadow was waiting on the stoop, wanting to go in. "Oh, what the hell, " I thought, "It's got to happen sooner or later." On his way in, Shadow looked into the cage and saw Duko instead of Tuna. Shadow's no idiot. He wasn't surprised to see Tuna reclining on the couch. Shadow laid himself down in a relaxed manner, fairly close to the food and water bowls. Tuna got down from the couch, walked to where Shadow was lying, stopped briefly to show respect, and then went past him to sniff at the food and take a little water. Then he went back to the couch where he is still lying now. Duko busted out of the cage (she really IS a beast) about 15 minutes later and came running to me in the bedroom. I gave her a serious talking to, with my hand on her head and good eye contact. (Duko, a true psychotic, has no problem holding eye contact.) I carried her to the couch and showed her Tuna and petted him. Then I put her down. She walked up to him, touched noses and then came away. And that is how it stands. I don't know what will happen if Seven innocently gets near Tuna while Duko's within paw shot of the poor guy. I've done all I can.

Apoptosis. Cell death, right? Cell suicide. Let's assume each person represents a cell and that cancer is uncontrolled/chaotic cell growth. In the last 48 years the human population has more than doubled, from 3 billion in 1960 to 6.7 billion at present. Since this kind of growth is exponential, we can suppose that it will re-double in a much shorter period. At least 13.5 billion people by 2050? Remember your Frank Herbert? In 'Dune', Paul states that the 'Law of the Minimum' means that growth (of a tree or a business or a population) is limited by that necessity which is present in the least amount. Sufficient food, drinkable water, clean air, suitable shelter......we're running short on these things right now. Right now! Did you hear about Barcelona? They're having to have water trucked in from France, which is starting to piss off the French because they're beginning to worry about drought themselves. Last summer, Atlanta, GA, was doing a countdown for the number of days their drinking water would last. (It got down to less than thirty!) And, while it's true that a large part of human suffering, like famine and disease, is caused or abetted by political machinations and/or tyrannical lunkheads, we're still living on an ecological knife-edge. With this many people (or more, in years to come) there's no wiggle room for droughts, failed harvests, climate changes or pestilence. We will ALL be refugees and there won't be any refuge to be had!

There are some stats I keep in my head. For instance, the number of people who died on 9/11 roughly equals the number of US citizens who die in motor vehicle accidents every month. I'm not counting the maimed and disfigured. Another good stat to keep is that the USA contains less than 5% of the world's population yet it consumes more than 25% of it's resources. I keep this stat handy for when anyone (See? I'm getting ready to post this!) blames Africans and Mexicans for the high price of gasoline and tomatoes. So, yeah, let's blog about that.

Everything is so quiet here. I wonder when Duko's going to set off her next bomb?


I'm an idiot. I wrote all that and forgot to make my point! My point is (if we're substituting people for cells) we won't be dealing with apoptosis. We'll be dealing with ischemic necrosis, due to billions of cells (people) being starved of oxygen and nutrients. (The basic necessities of food, water, shelter.) THAT was my point. I can see I'm going to have to clean this up a little before I post it.


Yes! People ARE the cancer--killing the host (earth). Growing uncontrollably and eating up all the good stuff and throwing off wastes in masses that starve the host and smother it. I see the host surviving this and people starting from scratch again.. Maybe learning to live with the golden goose intead of chopping its head off. When I used to attend the drug seminars the point was always to get the cancer cells to understand that living forever wasn't a good thing--one had to die off and make way for the young healthy potential. I always hooked this right onto humanity but wasn't able to give voice to it.


You don't have to read all these letters at once. Save them for when you have a week or two off from work. Duko is flicking through personalities like they're a deck of cards. One moment she's lying on the couch with Big Tuna, licking his head. The next moment she's an entire SWAT team, determined to exterminate him. What a NUT!
- Hermana

Unfortunately, initiating some sort of 'apoptosis' in the human population (such as birth control, or a ban on golf courses and SUVs) will be seized upon as an attempt to impose on individual freedoms. (Although no one seems bothered that I have to take my shoes off and throw away my seltzer before I get on a plane!) Politicians know this. It would be 'un-poopular', as the Vita-Meeta-Vegamin Girl might say. So, get ready for ischemic necrosis on a grand scale.

I can't find how to add permanent links to our sidebar. Do you know, or should I keep looking?

Duko's last incarnation was Charlotte Corday (The one who murdered Jean Marat, not the one on E.R.) She's under lock and key now, with no chance of liberation. I may put her on ROR later this evening. It depends on how she behaves in lock-up. I think I'll name that crate 'Riker's Island'.

'Stab, punch, kick, bite, smile, purr, then impale!'

- Hermana

Keep looking but I think that any sites we add as favorites have to be Google related somehow. Not very populist.You'll notice that the 'help site' for the blog has a list of its own favorites. I'll look too, but probably not until Wednesday. I like it that Duko flips through personalities like a deck of cards. Mom used to do that. Too bad we didn't lock her in the bathroom (She would've chewed her way out!!! Can you picture it?!)


This is a reply that I wrote yonks ago. It's similar to what you just received. (His letter is appended to my response.)
Dear Sir,

Well.... I think that the word 'intolerance' has 11 letters in it. I think the word 'forgiveness' has 11 letters in it. And I think that if I went to a phrenologist and had him feel the bumps on my head, he would find 11 of them. Because that's how many times I pound my head against the wall everytime I read that some Muslim or some Christian has used his/her faith in God to legitimize wholesale slaughter. If I sound a little cranky, it's only because of this fearful headache I seem to have developed.

-Tia (I gave up numerology years ago) Hermana
ps: There's a reason they named that font 'Wing Dings'.

Uncle Spam wrote: This is about Sept have to read this.

I would like to know who figures this stuff out. Go to the end, it is strange..
1) New York City has 11 letters

2) Afghanistan has 11 letters.

3) Ramsin Yuseb (The terrorist who threatened to destroy the Twin Towers in 1993) has 11 letters.

4) George W Bush has 11 letters.This could be a mere coincidence, but this gets more interesting:

1) New York is the 11th state.

2) The first plane crashing against the Twin Towers was flight number 11.

3) Flight 11 was carrying 92 passengers. 9 + 2 = 11

4) Flight 77 which also hit Twin Towers was carrying 65 passengers. 6+5 = 11

5) The tragedy was on September 11, or 9/11 as it is now known. 9 + 1+ 1 =116) The date is equal to the US emergency services telephone number 911. 9 + 1 = 11.

Sheer coincidence..?! Read on ! and make up your own mind:

1) The total number of victims inside all the hi-jacked planes was 254. 2 + 5 + 4 = 11.

2) September 11 is day number 254 of the calendar year. Again 2 + 5 + 4 = 11.

3) The Madrid bombing took place on 3/11/2004. 3 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 4 = 11.

4) The tragedy of Madrid happened 911 days after the Twin Towers incident.Now this is where things get totally eerie:The most recognized symbol for the US , after the Stars & Stripes, is the Eagle. The following verse is taken from the Quran, the Islamic holy book:

"For it is written that a son of Arabia would awaken a fearsome Eagle. The wrath of the Eagle would be felt throughout the lands of Allah and lo, while some of thepeople trembled in despair still more rejoiced: for the wrath of the Eagle cleansed the lands of Allah and there was peace."

That verse is number 9.11 of the Quran.

There's more but it was written in Wing-Dings and won't render properly in the blog format. You're not missing anything.

- Hermana

Sunday, May 25, 2008


The 'cat' is here. I say 'cat' because he's clearly not a St. Bernard, though he does approximate one in size. And he's obviously not a wolverine, though his attitude would suggest that he is. He's only slapped me once and he kindly kept his claws sheathed. (It was like being bopped with the large end of a turkey leg. When I first met him at the vet's, two techs carried him into the room at arm's length, wearing thick leather gloves with matching gauntlets. It wasn't an image to inspire optimism.)

He hasn't been allowed out of his cages yet (the dog crate was too small for him (!) so I've had to add an addition: I'm using the cage that served as Duko's 'time-out' room back when she was impolite.) We all slept with him last night. I put the couch cushions on the floor next to him and Shadow slept there with me. The two girls slept on top of his cages. I went to sleep with my fingers through the bars and he woke me up around 2:00am because he was playing with them. Progress! One more day and night in the cages and then I'll try letting him out for brief periods. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Have Your Bible And Eat It Too

This is the text of an email I received from a person who knows very well that I am NOT a person of faith and my reply to it. She has sent me other, weirder ones. I may post the one about the Archangels.....

What I find most interesting is the link she provided to a Q&A, regarding the Bible's position on diet. To me, the question is silly, the answer is pointless. But read the last paragraph of the answer. Apparently, Christians are not supposed to make life-style choices for other Christians. I think that'd be news to a lot of Christians. (Also, the Bible scholar does a good job of blowing off the Old Testament in favor of the New. This is after he criticizes others for cherry-picking passages.)

Click here: Question & Answer


I came across this question and answer when I was looking up the section of the Bible stating that we are not supposed to eat meat. I know that your inquiring mind will be interested. I still don't understand why God allows us to slaughter animals for food. A question to ask when I meet Him. Love ya!

Dear ////,

In answer to your question, (Aren't you getting tired of me pontificating at you?) the Bible presents enough contradictions and ambiguities to confuse anyone on any number of subjects. So, even if I were a person of faith, I wouldn't be able to take it as 'gospel'. (Hah! Sometimes I crack myself up!)

Biologically, humans evolved to be omnivorous. It's true that we eat far more animal flesh than we need, (thus providing a good living for cardiologists) but our cells do require a full complement of essential amino acids in order for them function correctly. There's no culture I know of (not religion, mind you, but culture) that ever chose vegetarianism as their diet. In fact, vegans and vegetarians are able to sustain their dietary choices because of our modern, highly technological society. It's only in the last few hundred years that we've been able to enjoy such a vast variety of plant foods, particularly soy and other legumes which provide amino acids that other plant matter doesn't. (Where would vegetarians be without tofu?) Most vegans and vegetarians also have to take dietary supplements to remain healthy; to replace what they're not getting from animal proteins. This simply wasn't an option for people who lived in earlier times or who live today in poorer conditions than Western societies. To them, meat is precious; costly and difficult to obtain.

Of course, there are monks, yogis, ascetics and various religious sects throughout the world who sustain a largely vegetarian diet in fairly primitive conditions. They also sleep on bare pallets, kneel on stone floors to pray and wear hair shirts in order to chastise themselves. These are the articles of their faith. They suffer (from anemia, almost certainly) as a sacrifice to their God (or Gods).

Factory farming, a cruel practice, is slowly coming under scrutiny in developed countries. It is possible to raise animals for slaughter without causing them to live miserable lives or die in pain and terror. (Reference author Temple Grandin for specifics on humane abattoirs.) It will cost more. We'll have to pay it. And we'll have to get used to eating less meat and more vegetables. It's that simple. Too bad that 'simple' doesn't mean 'easy'.

- Hermana

WanderingL, rambling...

...and WonderingL deciding whether to send her letter of resignation a bit early--oh, by the way, I'm not wearing my glasses, mistakes may be made.
Next Day: Tired from too many nights at work. Lots of overtime but what good will it do me if I have a stroke for Pete's sake?
I love the Pacific NorthWest. Has everyone seen that a fourth foot has turned up on Vancouver Island?
This would be a great movie--a comedy. Although I doubt the reality of whatever is happening is the least bit funny
The Behemoth has beautiful eyes. How old is he? And how has Shadow reacted so far?
Hey, here's my resignation letter first draft:
"I'm outta here!
WanderingL, RN, FU"

...low and crass, unworthy of me.
I'll actually tell them that I'm leaving to pursue other interests.
Now I just have to decide which ones.

Five nights down, two to go. I'm in no state to blog today---I'd embarrass myself and I'm saving that for another day.
And so I leave ya'll

Unexpected developments

Alrighty, this is the first time I've posted whilst enjoying a touch of the grape. Be kind.
In addition to BioCup One (see previous posts) I'm also maintaining a holding tank. You may have noticed it in the pictures I posted earlier. I keep it simply to hold extra pond water, duckweed and milfoil, because the only vegetables I regularly keep in the house are black olives and I can't be running off to Lake Matilda everytime the snails run out of greenery, for Christ's sake!
Something's happening in there. I collected a different variety of milfoil the last time I went to the lake. (I believe that what I have in BioCup One is Eurasian Milfoil, which is an exotic and invasive species.) What I have in the holding tank is native. And it's.....increasing. Fast. It's only been in there a week, but like Topsy, it has grow'd. It has grow'd right up out of the water. I just thought it was garbage. I almost discarded it but it was so green know how when you've got a really healthy plant, and you just barely touch it and you can feel it buzzing with life? That's how this plant felt. So I threw it in with the spare crap and forgot about it. Until today, when I noticed that it was rising like Lazarus. It's rising in two places, though you can only see one in the picture.
Let's talk about snail snot. I know it's not snail snot; it's snail slime. But what IS it? Some sort of colloidal suspension, I suppose. That doesn't really narrow it down. Proteins and carbohydrates can both form long-chain molecules. So can plastics, though I think I can safely rule them out. If it's protein, then we're dealing with nitrogen. As a renal nurse, I'm suspicious of nitrogen. Nitrates, nitrites, urea; they're all bad news in high concentrations. Does this cup need dialysis?
It's 4:18 in the morning and I'm listening to Koko Taylor singing 'Wang Dang Doodle'. What else is on my playlist? Hugh Laurie singing 'Too Long Johnny' of course. I haven't got enough of that yet. Celia Cruz singing 'Te Busco', Tom Waits - 'Burma Shave' (Lordy, what a sad song.) Les Nubians, Phil Roy, Stevie Wonder, Errol Garner, Wes Mongomery, Chet Baker, Ry Cooder, Diane Reeves, Traffic, Blind Faith and, if you can believe it, Captain Beefheart! All these are interspersed with Vissi D'arte, Nessun Dorma, ("None Shall Sleep" Sounds like something Gandalf would bellow at the Ball Hog. One day I'm going to get myself a tee-shirt that says 'Villa Nova'.) Lascia Ch'io Pianga, Nunc Dimittis, Pie much beautiful music.
If I don't go to sleep (now it's 4:43am) I'll never be able to get up on time tomorrow to kick Eladio out of the house so I can sneak that damned cat home. How do you keep an 18 lb cat a secret in a two and a half room house? Oh, Tom Waits is singing, "come down off the cross, we could use the wood". 'Raglan Road' comes on after this. It'll make me cry. I'll say 'Goodnight' now.
- "sniffle"

Friday, May 23, 2008

When I am Dead I Shall Wear Purple

I have a better name for Mad Madam Mim. Let's call her 'The Widow Twanky'. It fits because her whole life has been a pantomime. Remember when she was wearing the Old Man's clothes and claiming his chair as her private pew?
I have to tell you that right before Cherry Bomb became so volatile, she started wearing colorful clothing. Previously she was exclusively into earth tones: Beige, sage, taupe, oatmeal, dust...she was dun-colored. She should have had a sonnet written about her. When she started wearing pinks and yellows and bright blues I thought this was a good sign. It wasn't. It was a sign that she was entering a manic period, during which she would impulsively make many bad decisions and piss off her best friend. Be warned. You may start getting strange messages on your answering machine.
If you see Jake, remind him that HE thought up the title for this post.
- Hermana

Shadow's new wardrobe

This is someone else's rendition of a tough cat, but I gave him the tooth.
If Shadow gets a couple more tattoo's there won't be a problem with Bonkers Cat--or maybe this IS Bonkers Cat. Well, I feel confident that all will be well.
I love all the new names and I'll remember them. Especially Eladio--that's a great name--.
You are a Saint for sending the Cherry Bomb to Dr FeelGoodEnough.
That is friendship.
I'm keeping Mad Madam Mim of-her-husband's suits to myself. Last time I saw her though she was dressed in red fleece; top to toe. hmmm..
I'm too tired to risk writing very much. Good luck with the new kitty.
I'm sure Eladio will give Shadow double love as the work goes forward.


Cool picture. I can't imagine why it charms me so.

I've decided to change some names. I've already changed 'Angry Friend ' to 'Cherry Bomb'. I'm changing 'Jose' to 'Eladio', because it sounds more lyrical. 'Cancer Friend' is doing so well that I don't want to think of her by that name. But I'm having a hard time coming up with a good one for her. It'll come to me. My sweet mother-in-law will be 'MiL', simply because 'Mother-in-Law' is too hard for me to type. And my personal brain care specialist is, of course, Dr. Feel-Good-Enough, the no-frills psychiatrist. (That's the way I like my Docs. They should just do what I want and then leave well enough alone. Imagine having to go to a psychiatrist who wants to pry into your personal life!)

Rich Simon will be called "Rich Simon', since he's got his own blog and uses his own name. (Check out Rich's blog today. It's dizzying. . If we set up a list of links, he should be on it. Also 'Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog'. and Arts & Letters Daily and SciTechDaily)

Nominally Yours,
- Maggie

Shadow says, "You did WHAT????"

Petra called me from the Animal Hospital. Petra is evil made manifest as a charming, elfin-faced immigrant from the Czech Republic. She's a law unto herself and she will not be denied. An excellent vet tech, she also serves in a semi-official capacity as a one-woman animal adoption agency.
She had a very sad story to tell me. It's the story of a cat who had lived all his life in a Manhattan apartment with his brother. Their owner died about eight months ago and this 18 lb, eight year old boy had nowhere to go. (His brother was adopted very quickly. What kind of selfish git would adopt one brother and not the other?) Anyway, 'Pasha' has been living in a cage in the vet's Manhattan office all this time and has started to go bonkers. Petra can't stand this. Aware that my cat population was recently reduced by one, she's called upon me to bring him home. I said yes.
But only conditionally! Shadow is a fine fellow and has always been good to the kittens and the females. But he's never been forced to share lodgings with an adult male before. (Pasha is neutered. I hope that helps!) I told Petra that if, after a reasonable breaking-in period, Shadow is unhappy about Pasha's presence, then Pasha will have to go. She said that she understood completely and that she was confident that I'd find a way to make everything work out. Fiend! I pick him up tomorrow at 3:00pm. And I haven't told Jose yet. Oy. Jose is Shadow's champion and makes no bones about preferring him to all other pets. He even prefers him over the dogs he had as a boy, and he LOVED those dogs. Every couple of days, he'll be petting Shadow and he'll say, "You know, this cat may be the best pet I ever had."
But I feel sorry for the bonkers cat. (If he stays, he's getting a new name!) I have to give it a try. 18 lbs! That's even bigger than Shadow, though not by much. Maybe he'll drop a few lbs when he's here. I only serve dry food, except when tuna salad is being made. The rule for tuna salad is that everyone gets some tuna.
And if he's at all playful, Duko will manage his exercise program. Man, she's big now too. She's closer to Shadow in size than she is to Seven, and Seven is only one month younger than the Dukester. Seven's no slouch in the zooming-around-like-a-loony department either. Gosh, I hope this works.
You know, when I started blogging here, I told myself that I would never post an entry about cats. That I would mention them only in passing. That I would avoid the middle-aged, childless, frumpy cliche of being a cat fanatic. But it's important to me that they have a good life and that they know someone's is looking out for them and loving them. Why should their feelings and welfare be any less important than Cherry Bomb's or Cancer Friend's?
I put a pair of chopsticks in BioCup One so the snails would have something to play on. Crazy, huh? They like the chopsticks, though. Even Augie likes the chopsticks.
I will tell none of this to Dr. Feel-Good-Enough. I won't have to. Cherry Bomb will.
Tia Hermana LOCA!!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cherry Bomb

I was supposed to write about the 'Cherry Bomb' this evening, but the story is too gruesome.

Getting back to an earlier subject, by definition; the word 'elite' means the top layer, the cream of the crop, the unusually successful, by whatever circumstances of birth or good fortune. I think it also implies privilege, entitlement and expectation of deference. Phooey on that.

But you needn't be elite in any area to enjoy and benefit from intellectual pursuit. What you must be is curious, mentally adventurous and self-confident enough to realize that what you discover can only increase your awareness, enjoyment and informed appreciation.

It's been easy for you and me. We not only like to read; we need to read. We've been reading since we've been old enough to hold a book. I'd like to describe my taste in books as catholic, but I think the better word would be 'indiscriminate'. I've read crap and I've read classics. And when I've been stuck in the bathroom without a book, I've read the ingredients on the toothpaste tube. If you read that much, you can't help learning something!

If I ruled the world, I would take all those people who are capable of reading (and don't), put them in a locked and sound-proofed room with a comfortable chair, good-lighting (toilet ensuite) and a copy of 'Candide' or 'Huckleberry Finn', or 'A Short History of Nearly Everything.'. And when they'd finished those I'd toss in copies of 'Mind Swap', 'My Family and Other Animals' and 'Onions in the Stew'. Then they'd have to read 'Life on Earth, 'The Dancing Wu Li Masters' and Bronowski's "Ascent of Man'. They'd be better people when they came out of that room. Hungrier, smellier and grumpier, but better!

People don't want to become informed because it's hard work for most of them. They also might find out something that would shake their image of the world. If Joe Blow learns about the difference between the specific gravity of saltwater and freshwater, he might begin to understand the consequences of all that cold, freshwater that's running off of our shrinking glaciers. If he learns that the country's infrastructure is being neglected in favor of tax rebates and the costs of war, he might think twice before driving over that big old bridge.

I'm yawning and my eyes are tired. Blog on!


I like the way you associate megalomaniacs with coconuts. They have something in common. Do you know how many people are killed by falling coconuts every year? One hundred and fifty, according to several internet sites, although The Straight Dope points out that's merely an extrapolation from limited data. Anyway, regarding death, the differences between megalomaniacs and coconuts are quantity and intent.

It's silly, but I'd rather be killed by a falling coconut. Even though it's a less dignified death (there's that word again) and would eliminate my eligibility for martyrdom, I assume the coconut would gain no satisfaction from killing me. I could be wrong about that. There could be more to coconuts than I think. Everything has an agenda.

This is Chuck of Pool's photo but its so pretty

..that I use it to illustrate this morning in Tacoma. Gray but hopeful.
Hey, Hermana, what a great tirade about the globalization question. And that picture is beautiful.
The globalization thing is kind of crazy--I thought maybe I was missing something important but you straightened me out good. Stuff just naturally gets around this small world. Wind, weather, birds, planes, coconuts, megalomaniacs. We all just breeze through life for this tiny amount of time; as a species we should be more particular about what we get hysterical over. The intellectual question bothers me as well. Why do you suppose that the USA is anti-intellectual?--I think its a good thing to look around and be interested in what you see. I KNOW it is. What's so scary about it?
And what's wrong with elite? Everybody is some kind of elite. You wouldn't want to be an elite serial killer. But an elite assassin might be profitable. An elite good ole boy--it worked for GWB. I could go on.
Is it a jealousy thing? Don't Republicans and Christian fundamentalists go to college? Don't they take literature courses?, don't they study western civilization? Comparative religions? Oh, maybe not that.
I've run out of words---I'd better get some sleep.
PHOTO thanks to Charles Winpenny.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Life in BioCup goes on. As far as I can see, no one has died except the mosquito and gnat larva. At the very top of the cup, above the waterline, is my segmented worm. Click the picture and you'll see him better. Below him are Large Marge and MaryLou Retton. (At the bottom left is my finger, attempting to hold my reading glasses in front of the camera lens. Duko ate a pair of my glasses. I should find what's left and remove one of the lenses just for this purpose.) Big Ethel has misbehaved. She snips off all the milfoil from where I've anchored it under stones, so it floats to the top and looks all messy. Every time I fix it back up, she does it again. So I'm leaving it.

You'll notice that, right above the Seattle's Best logo, is a streak of pale, translucent stuff which I can only assume is snail snot. It's usually gone by morning, appearing again throughout the day. I turn the grow lights off at night. Could this be significant?

I opened the lid a bit today and took a sniff. It smelled very faintly of fresh asparagus, which I suppose is a trace of methyl mercaptan or SO2 from the thin layer of decomposing bits at the bottom of the cup. It wasn't a strong or upleasant smell. It just smells like a pond, I guess.

We're coming up on two weeks in the cup. It amazes me that everyone is doing so well in what must be a very poorly oxygenated environment.

I need to give my worm a name. I was thinking of naming him 'Augie'. It's a good name for a worm, don't you think?

Stirring the Pot

I chose this work by Durer because it was painted around 1500. Yet I can recognize at least four (possibly five) species of plant life that are living happily in my yard as I write this. It's true that there are many species native to both Eurasia and the Americas (like some roses and rhododendrons), but I know that dandelions and miner's lettuce were both imported by colonists from Europe. As were honey bees, apples, almonds, starlings, wheat, rosa multiflora, oriental bittersweet, english ivy and, of course, Europeans! (With the discovery of Solutrean stone tools on the East Coast of the United States, Europeans may have been here far longer than we think they were.) In turn, Europeans benefited from the introduction of corn, potatoes, tomatoes, bananas, rubber and cheap rum. It could be argued that world globalization began when the first representative of Homo ventured out of Africa. By the time of the development of industry and the advent of global exploration and trade, the pot was well and truly stirred.

If I may take the liberty, I think that opponents of globalization feel that individual cultures; their languages, cuisines, artistry and beliefs will be subsumed within the great homogenization. And they're right. There are far fewer living languages than there were a millenium ago. Local farmers, bakers, and weavers have long suffered the introduction of imported goods. Archeologists regularly find Roman coins next to Hadrian's Wall and Minoan pottery in Turkey. Also, Anti-Globalists target the WTO because they suspect that corporations will end up ruling the world. Again, they could be right. You and I both know that pharmaceutical companies are actually writing legislation that will be introduced to Congress. Oil companies don't just consult on our energy policies, they dictate them. Literally!

I often wonder what's happened to all the people who worked for the Olivetti Typewriter Company. I mean, the company may still be in existence but I'm sure that plenty of their staff have been laid off. How about all those factories that used to make vinyl records? And what about the people who were employed to install and service public telephones?

Human history is a long list of cultures that have risen and fallen. The Age of the Pharoahs lasted 4000 years. The Roman Empire extended to Constantinople in the East and the British Isles in the West. Portugal and the Netherlands were once significant world powers, and that really wasn't very long ago. History 101: Every Culture Fails.

I don't like the idea that corporations are influencing Congress. But I'm informed enough to know that I will take aspirin instead of Plavix and niacin instead of Crestor. I will never be manipulated into buying an SUV or having Botox injections. I'll continue to read; Shakepeare, S.J. Perelman, Douglas Adams, Carson McCullers, Lawrence Durrell, and John Gower. ("Johannes Gowere, thou art a wanker!" says Chaucer!) We baffled dwarves stand upon the shoulders of giants. And time isn't going to stand still just for us.

Question from Left Field v.s Naivete

I was reading a review of Naomi Klein's book The Shock Doctrine

and I want to know why globalization is a bad thing. Hasn't it already happened?
If it hasn't, isn't it inevitable?
Does it have to be Halliburton and their ilk that does the job?
Can't it be we the people of every nation that do it??
How would we do it? Are we doing it?
People will get hurt.
I love that line in '1776' when John Adams yells: 'this is a revolution, we have to offend somebody!'
I don't mean to be naive but the fact is that I haven't given this any thought or research up until now. I'll do some research but, Hermana, tell me what you think.
And in reference to my previous post: Am I daring to be daring simply because I have nothing to lose?
Or am I just overthinking the latest issue that I've stumbled over?

Leaving town--Moving the line

Today I add two photos that I like a lot. They're not good pictures but I'm happy when I look at there you have it.
As for my plan to leave town, it's been considerably refined since I first made the decision. Here's how it stands:
I'm going to be handing in my resignation on July 1st, effective August 9th, 2008. In that letter I'll state that I will be available to take per Diem work beginning September 1st. I'll see what happens. My objective is to be free of institutional say so over my time off, I've worked for 40 years and these remaining years are mine.
In addition, I find it repugnant that insurance agencies hold such power over us with the threat of with-holding health benefits if we don't behave in the way their actuaries have found to be profitable for those insurance companies. I'm very fortunate to be able to carry my own benefits, but I only do it because my family already considers me a loose cannon (they are correct) and I don't want them having to deal with DSHS if I fall apart before Medicare kicks in..
I've been looking into medical staffing agencies and there's one that I particularly like, I'll sign on with them for per Diem work; they staff for local institutions and when the winter comes they'll send me south to Arizona or California to work until the sun rises again in Tacoma.
I'm going to keep my apartment here. Moving, storage, relocating, unstoring and moving again will run into a bundle, so, I'll keep this lovely, affordable home and carry the rent for 3 or 4 months out of each year.
Once again, I have to say that I'm very fortunate. I have a portable job that pays well and I'm not responsible for anyone but my cat.
Further reworking of the plan is sure to come. This is only what I think today.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Common sense would dictate that I could better spend my free time by tending my garden, cleaning my house, paying my bills.....but I'll not be dictated to. So I spend my time playing with this crap. Actually, I made these quite awhile ago but I chanced upon them while looking for good 'blog' pix and decided to put them up. Maybe I'll post something a bit more substantive later. (Yeah, right!)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Nursing 101: Everybody Dies.

Speaking as a nurse who appreciates professional behavior, I have never trusted any nurse (or doc or aide) who says that they "love" their patients. They either don't mean it (which would make them liars), or.........they DO mean it, which is so far beyond creepy that I'm giving myself the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it. I've been fortunate enough to have never been hospitalized, but should that occasion arise, any nurse who says she loves her patients is barred from my room. (They're the ones who would be carrying syringes of pancuronium in their pockets; "The better to have to resuscitate you, my dear.") Medical staff shouldn't be getting their emotional jollies from the patients. It's non-therapeutic, thus counter-productive.

I often enjoy chatting with my patients about subjects unrelated to the status of their health. We talk about news, and movies and how cute their grandchildren are, and there's no harm done. It puts patient and nurse at ease. And I've had times when I truly sympathized with a patient or their family over a bad outcome. Fresh out of nursing school and barely into my orientation at that hospital where I worked, I was assigned to watch a patient die. It was late in the dayshift and there were admissions and discharges whizzing in and out. The nurses were short-staffed and there was no one else available. It wasn't a physically onerous task, nor a complicated one. The man was suffering from end-stage liver failure and was hemorrhaging from....everywhere, but especially his esophagus. He was conscious and aware and resigned. There were no family members present. We were total strangers to each other. I pulled up a chair and sat with him, rising only to empty his emesis basin when it had filled with blood or to replace soiled linens. We were calm as he lay dying, and the atmosphere was of a deep and resounding finality. It wasn't good and it wasn't bad. But he was leaving all he'd ever known and he knew I was there with him. It was a communion of sorts.

And that's all I have to say on the matter. (I've got plenty more to say, but if I said it all, my fingers would fall off.) Oh no, there is one more thing. Remember my charge nurse on 2nd shift? (You worked with her in another situation.) When her mother was admitted with advanced cancer, my charge nurse assigned me to be with her. She did it because she knew she could trust me to do right by her mom. That was an honor. I'll always feel honored by that trust.

Bitch, bitch, bitch

That would be me. In my opinionated and ranting mode.
Re: patients and nurses--just how much compassion is necessary? Is it enough take good care of them? Do you have to ooo and ahhh over them?
Can a nurse do for a patient but reserve indications of sympathy/empathy/approval?
That is: do the work but in a reserved manner short of radiating disapproval.
I think so.
I don't know if its the weather or my age or what but I'm tired of whiny smokers/drinkers/gluttons/addicts of any form.
I don't mind if you have vices--everybody does--vices are what makes the world go round--but don't come crying to me when they catch up with you. I'm particularly non-fond of the middle-aged individual who's finally hit the wall. Too much of something has aged or damaged them and in they come weeping about how unfair it is: Why me? It hurts. The food here sucks. I won't take that medication. I won't do that therapy. Well, then why on earth did you come to the hospital? Why on earth did you see a doctor? So you could have an audience?
If the persons I refer to were of below average intelligence or demented or had grown up without benefit of newspapers or TV I would be able to understand the Holy Cowness of their incredulity but these are your everyday working people who are out in the world and on the internet--who have probably lost parents and grandparents---never thinking that they also are part of this world with all its joys and sorrows.
I've gotten old and bitter. Give me the hard living reprobate every time--the one who appreciates that he's gotten the chance to live at all. Give me the 46 year old teacher with end stage cancer who tells me that now he's teaching his children how to finish life --and then does it. With good humor and flair! How hard is that!?
Go home with your bitching and crying. I have real people to take care of.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Desk with a View

(Click pictures for larger images.)

Okay, I'm not messing with it anymore, except to add more plants if the snails start getting skinny. And, just as a point of interest, I took the second picture using a macro lens that I made by shooting through one of the lenses of my reading glasses. I'm a clever monkey.

Jose is off to the Ethnic Club for a membership meeting, so I'm going to treat myself to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a home-made Orange Julius for dinner. There's nothing good on TV tonight so I'll read a mystery or watch a DVD. 'Blackadder', I think. The one where Lord Melchett comes to the beer-drinking party wearing those outrageous fake boobs.

Smell ya later! - Nelson Muntz (Ha ha!)

Anyway, the Romans stole everything from the Greeks and the Etruscans. They didn't even have enough imagination to make up their own Gods. They just gave new names to Greek ones. It was their lack of imagination made them such marvelous bureaucrats.

Don't you just hate this picture? (see above) It makes me want to slap Zeus right in his big, smug, hairy face. (And it makes me want to tell Thetis that she should wise up and get herself an MBA and a 401K plan.)

89 DEGREES??? Holy shit, that's HOT! It's nice here; a little cloudy but very pleasant otherwise. I should have put the rest of my tomato plants in today (Beefsteaks and Sweet One Hundreds) but I said "nah". I'll do it tomorrow.

Tonight I'll post the new pictures of BioCup. You'll be able to see Big Ethel. Duko likes Big Ethel (especially when Ethel's in 'zeppelin' mode) and wants her to come out of the cup to play. I'll have to put the fence back up again. I took it down when I put my orchids outside but I can't have Duko ruining my experiment. Damn cat.


I have nothing to compete with your last picture. You're right, I'll use my own words in the future but I was in a hurry to get to sleep and I felt that thinking would have caused a rise in adrenelin and kept me awake.
I'll think tonite at work and have a big part of my mind ready for your perusal tomorrow or sometime next week.
It's 89 degrees out. It's been like living in a cool damp sponge for the past 8 months and now this!
It was worth waiting for.
Tell us the story of Mary Lou Retton.


You can post LINKS to articles: You can't fill up your blog post with the text of the article. (This does not apply to lengthy quotations or poetry.) I want to hear your words. I want to peek into your mind. To be fair, you did write three paragraphs, so I really shouldn't moan about it. And the fact is that I've been dying to use this picture, so I took the first opportunity. It's great, isn't it?

I had a dream last night. You and I were going to some sort of ceremony and we had to pick out the jewelry we wanted to wear. The jewelry was all mounted on a wall (probably a reference to our visit to Metropolitan Museum of Art last year.) But it was all ultra-modern stuff, angular and bulky, and made of titanium and brushed steel. And Dad was there. He looked great! He was walking down a ramp, and he had a big, proud smile when he saw us. Brooke Shields was there, as was the Dutchess of York and Ed Begley, Jr. It was weird!

There's a good video on . It's him and Lawrence Krauss chatting onstage. Watch the QuikTime 'discussion' part. It runs almost an hour. I didn't watch the second video, which was a Q&A with the audience. (Depending on who the audience consists of I sometimes get embarrassed by the pointlessness of the questions.) I used Freecorder to download the audio so I can put it on my mp3 player and listen to it in the car.
I took some pictures of BioCup One, using my antiquated, first-generation, steam-powered digital camera. They came out better than the one I took with my phone. I've added more milfoil to the cup and given names to three of my five snails. They are, in order of descending size, Big Ethel, Large Marge, and Mary Lou Retton (That one's too long a story). The cup looks very vibrant, though as expected, all the mosquito and gnat larvae are gone now. And something that I initially identified as a big beetle larva (about 1.5 cm in length) is probably an annelid. It's very active and shows no sign of turning into anything else. Also, it takes trips from the bottom of the cup all the way up to the wall above the level of the water. I was hoping it might be a leech, but I think it's just a plain old segmented worm. Hey, you should see Big Ethel when she decides to surface. Sometimes she just slides up the side of the cup but others times she blows her ballast (however she manages that) and floats up like a hot air balloon.
BUGGER! My paragraphs are gone again! (They disappeared right in the middle of my post.) I'm going to figure this out if it takes me til the crack of doom!

Beautiful Day/Keeping an open mind

Great day here in thePNW. I didn't even need my jacket when I left work this morning. This picture is from the North Slope District about 30 minutes ago. That would be about 8:30 AM PST

The weather people are predicting 84 degrees today. On a day like this I can't wait to quit my job--I don't think I'm alone in this.
The Dragon Boats are racing in Commencement Bay today. I'll be staying home and sleeping, last night was my first is a series of 7; I'm in a good mood today and still rested after 3 days off but just watch my mood deteriorate as the days go by. By day #7 I'll be railing against anyone who crosses my path.
Today I'll just post an article from The Edge regarding this year's question: What have you changed your mind about? It all boils down to the last paragraph but here is the entire article by James O'Donnell

JAMES O'DONNELLClassicist; Cultural Historian; Provost, Georgetown University; Author, Augustine: A New Biography
What have you changed your mind about?
I stopped cheering for the Romans
Sometimes the later Roman empire seems very long ago and far away, but at other times, when we explore Edward Gibbon's famous claim to have described the triumph of "barbarism and religion", it can seem as fresh as next week. And we always know that we're supposed root for the Romans. When I began my career as historian thirty years ago, I was all in favor of those who were fighting to preserve the old order. "I'd rather be Belisarius than Stilicho," I said to my classes often enough that they heard it as a mantra of my attitude — preferring the empire-restoring Roman general of the sixth-century to the barbarian general who served Rome and sought compromise and adjustment with neighbors in the fourth.
But a career as a historian means growth, development, and change. I did what the historian — as much a scientist as any biochemist, as the German use of the word Wissenschaft for what both practice — should do: I studied the primary evidence, I listened to and participated in the debates of the scholars. I had moments when a new book blew me away, and others when I read the incisive critique of the book that had blown me away and thought through the issues again. I've been back and forth over a range of about four centuries of late Roman history many times now, looking at events, people, ideas, and evidence in different lights and moods.What I have found is that the closer historical examination comes to the lived moment of the past, the harder it is to take sides with anybody. And it is a real fact that the ancient past (I'm talking now about the period from 300-700 CE) draws closer and closer to us all the time. There is a surprisingly large body of material that survives and really only a handful of hardy scholars sorting through it. Much remains to be done: The sophist Libanius of Antioch in the late fourth century, partisan for the renegade 'pagan' emperor Julian, left behind a ton of personal letters and essays that few have read, only a handful have been translated, and so only a few scholars have really worked through his career and thought — but I'd love to read, and even more dearly love to write, a good book about him someday. In addition to the books, there is a growing body of archaeological evidence as diggers fan out across the Mediterranean, Near East, and Europe, and we are beginning to see new kinds of quantitative evidence as well — climate change measured from tree-ring dating, even genetic analysis that suggests that my O'Donnell ancestors came from one of the most seriously inbred populations (Ireland) on the planet — and right now the argument is going on about the genetic evidence for the size of the Anglo-Saxon migrations to Britain. We know more than we ever did, and we are learning more all the time, and with each decade, we get closer and closer to even the remote past.
When you do that, you find that the past is more a tissue of choices and chances than we had imagined, that fifty or a hundred years of bad times can happen — and can end and be replaced by the united work of people with heads and hearts that makes society peaceful and prosperous again; or the opportunity can be kicked away.
And we should remember that when we root for the Romans, there are contradictory impulses at work. Rome brought the ancient world a secure environment (Pompey cleaning up the pirates in the Mediterranean was a real service), a standard currency, and a huge free trade zone. Its taxes were heavy, but the wealth it taxed so immense that it could support a huge bureaucracy for a long time without damaging local prosperity. Fine: but it was an empire by conquest, ruled as a military dictatorship, fundamentally dependent on a slave economy, and with no clue whatever about the realities of economic development and management. A prosperous emperor was one who managed by conquest or taxation to bring a flood of wealth into the capital city and squander it as ostentatiously as possible. Rome "fell", if that's the right word for it, partly because it ran out of ideas for new peoples to plunder, and fell into a funk of outrage at the thought that some of the neighboring peoples preferred to move inside the empire's borders, settle down, buy fixer-upper houses, send their kids to the local schools, and generally enjoy the benefits of civilization. (The real barbarians stayed outside.) Much of the worst damage to Rome was done by Roman emperors and armies thrashing about, thinking they were preserving what they were in fact destroying.
So now I have a new mantra for my students: "two hundred years is a long time." When we talk about Shakespeare's time or the Crusades or the Roman Empire or the ancient Israelites, it's all too easy to talk about centuries as objects, a habit we bring even closer to our own time, but real human beings live in the short window of a generation, and with ancient lifespans shorter than our own, that window was brief. We need to understand and respect just how much possibility was there and how much accomplishment was achieved if we are to understand as well the opportunities that were squandered. Learning to do that, learning to sift the finest grains of evidence with care, learning to learn from and debate with others — that's how history gets done. The excitement begins when you discover that the past is constantly changing.