Monday, January 30, 2017

we've got to welcome them

If we attack Trump supporters, or belittle them... or pity them... or seem to be "concerned" about them...

... we force them to double-down and harden their positions.

I think we have to find a way to welcome them. And I can't think of a way to do it.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

still under the weather

I finally went back to work on Friday the 27th. I spent the day doing not much more than cleaning up all the detritus that had accumulated in my absence. With all that, I got an avuncular lecture from my administrator that I was working too hard (he was concerned about my checking my work email while I was out sick).

I'm on my ninth day of a ten-day regimen of antibiotics. Usually, by this time I'm so well recuperated that I have to remind myself to take the last few doses, but I'm still coughing up gloop. I'm a little worried that I'll still be ailing after the antibiotic regimen ends, and the bugs will regroup and attack anew, this time fortified, as their weaker numbers will have been killed off. I'm sure I'm being idiotic.

What I DON'T think I'm being idiotic about is the realization that these lung things might be what finally takes me to visit Charon and cross the Styx. For decades, I got every respiratory ailment that came around, and when I was sick, I was SICK. I had recurring bronchitis (which is what this is), and I wouldn't be surprised if it turned into pneumonia during one of these visits. (But everybody dies, and there are worse ways to go.)

I did feel well enough today to get on the Krakow Monster and take it out for ten miles. While my friends have been most eager to invite my on group rides, I'm sure I'm not ready. I'm blaming illness and headwinds (and the heavy Krakow Monster), but I did the five miles out at 12.8mph, and got it up to a smoking 14.7mph on the ride back. It's gonna be a while before I'm up to Hill Slug or Insane Bike Posse distances and paces.

There was one bright spot. The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I went to see the McCarter Theater presentation of the Bedlam Theater Company production of Shaw's St Joan. Four actors did the whole thing, and it rocked. I was in tears several times throughout. After, we went to Teresa's for dinner. Great date, and TEW and I need more of them (great dates, that is).

Anyway, thanks for checking in. I'm going to go shower now.

Edit: The thing I didn't tell you about, but which is hanging heavy over me, is that I just heard today that another priest, also a classmate at the seminary to which I went for college, has been removed from the priesthood for perpetrating sexual abuse. In college, he and I were friends, although I later discovered he had turned into kind of a jerk. I've alluded to classmates who'd done this and been defrocked before in this blog, but I never wrote about how it messes me up. We were going to set the world on fire.

I guess some of us did.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

illness and maths and medieval battle plans

So I've been ill with this bronchitis for well over a week. I have a class in two days I hope I can make, and I'd like to be able to go to work on Friday Jan 27, but I'm not sure if I'll make it. Sometimes I can't generate any voice at all; sometimes I sound like that announcer who does the voice-overs for the coming attractions in the movie theaters; sometimes I have a semblance of a voice that somebody might recognize as mine, but those moments are rare and fleeting.

Between lack of sleep and oxycodone, I'm half-asleep much of the time. The Excellent Wife (TEW) had the idea to reduce risk on the oxycodone by using half the prescription, which I'm doing; I've only used it for nighttimes. It takes a while to kick in, but it was effective: the morning after the first dose I was sleepy into midmorning. But today, I woke at about 2:30 am, and I'm fairly alert now, three-quarters of an hour later (as I'm typing this). Perhaps it's tolerance, or perhaps I'm just not as sick as I was.

When I'm alert, I've been doing a lot of stupid internet. In my ramblings, I found a couple of neat mathematics Youtube channels: I started with Numberphile (sample below):

One of the regulars on Numberphile is Matt Parker, a stand-up comedian who does math stuff, in the way Bill Nye does science stuff. Parker has an indisputable Michael Palin vibe. He's got a video about a computer circuit made with 10,000 dominoes, but I thought this one, about there being only one, true parabola was worth linking (yes, he does jokes about those other "only one, true..." preachers):

When I'm not watching these, I might have on Lindybeige (whom I referred to in my recent bow-tie post). His stuff is eclectic, and he's opinionated (and sometimes I dispute his interpretations of facts), but he's not boring. He does a lot on ancient battle weapons and tactics (and modern, too, now that I think of it). Here he is on vikings, and what they were really about:

... but of course he had that other one about bow ties, and he's done videos about why the rest of the world should drive on the left, how modern art is insulting, and a number of other targets.

And, of course, with Youtube's autoplay-the-next-video feature, sometimes the videos just keep playing into my headphones while I'm snoring through what I hope is my recovery from this affliction. I have had it with being so sick, I assure you.

(Yes, I'm actively avoiding discussing anything political. Isn't if #$%@ing OBVIOUS?)

Friday, January 20, 2017

if it weren't for bad luck...

On top of everything else, a cold from earlier in the week has developed into bronchitis. I'm ensconced in my Archie Bunker chair in the front room, saturating handkerchiefs, coughing just enough that I don't get much sleep, and eating too much in an effort to manage the chills (I find I feel warmer if I'm full, and junk food doesn't do it). The affliction is almost certainly viral, which means that antibiotics aren't effective (not that I'm eager to use them anyway; twenty years ago I worked in a hospital under a doctor who prescribed antibiotics only too frequently, so I've probably been incubating drug-resistant strains right in my own carcass for years).

When I feel well enough to think of it, I wallow in self-pity. Then the aches and fever come back, and I can forget my self-pity for a while as I try to find a position that aches the least.

I've been in to work for 90 minutes in the past three days (honest, I tried; I just couldn't). The Excellent Wife (TEW) has been most patient; I'm tired of myself, so I can only imagine how she feels.

Back when I was a Catholic, St. Blaise was responsible for throat ailments, and, as his day comes on February 3, we used to go get the throats blessed with candles, often right at the height of flu season. It turns out he got the throat job from dislodging a fish bone rather than respiratory ailments, but then the job descriptions of the saints always seem to end with the same clause at the end of the Description of Responsibilities: "26 d: And other duties as required." (Besides, the good Irish gal, St. Dymphna, is probably good and tired of me by now. She the one who handle us crazies.)

You're glad you're not any closer to me than you are right now.

Edit Jan 21: Went to the Brunswick Urgent Care; wound up with rx for antibiotics, told to get Mucinex DM (which, although not prescription, is behind the counter because of the dextromethorphan); was also given rx for codeine hydrocodone cough medicine which I hope not to have to fill (I'm afraid of opiates, given my history). No work until AT LEAST Tuesday.


Edit Jan 22: Over the past three days and nights, I've had a total sum of about seven hours sleep. The doc was right; I'm filling the codeine hydrocodone prescription. The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I have already discussed some planned controls.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

webcomic: lunar baboon

Regular readers may know (or may not; I haven't linked to any of my regulars in these posts for about a year and a half) that I have a few webcomics that I check out regularly. I've got another favorite (just because I check them regularly doesn't mean I like all of them all the time). Below is the most recent Lunar Baboon:

(The quality probably suffered due to compression; you can check out the original.)

I wish he posted more regularly and frequently.

I'm home sick from work today, which makes me feel both guilty (leaving my responsibilities on my coworkers) and anxious (twice in my life, I've returned from a work absence to find my job in jeopardy). This comic (this one, AND the series) helps me to find perspective.

The artist and I have little in common; he's 30 years younger than I, with kid, but I like the way he places his priorities (he makes many comics about priorities).

Check it out.

Monday, January 16, 2017

in which plain jim confesses to utter dissipation

While friends have been out hiking and biking, I've been spending my recent days in unproductive idleness. The Excellent Wife (TEW) was down in Florida for a few days: the Excellent Mother-In-Law had decided that she was Florida-bound to see the grandchildren and great-grandchildren (and the one daughter who lives down there), and TEW went along to act as guide on the plane, arranger-of-arrangements, carrier-of-luggage-and-bottled-oxygen-supplies, fetcher-of-airport-wheelchairs, and to attend to similar duties. She left me alone from Wednesday to Sunday with adequate food and warnings not to get into too much trouble while she wasn't around to monitor my comings and goings.

I get up quite early most days. On weekdays this is partly due to the fact that both of us need to get excercised, abluted, dressed, and out the door in time to arrive in a timely manner at our respective employments. On the Thursday, I didn't have to be at work until 10. Normally, I'd be out of bed before 5:00 in order to allow for the activities noted, but, without the need to make space for her, I lolled about a bit, then a bit more... and almost didn't make it to work on time.

The idle time has me re-thinking retirement plans. In a few months, I'll be old enough to collect Social Security. My Social Security "full retirement age" is sixty-six-and-a-bit, but if I can't find anything better to do than I've been able to come up with this weekend, the inactivity might be malignant, perhaps even fatal. I'd better keep working, unless work becomes worse than idleness.

Friday afternoon, though, I engaged in an activity I'd been thinking about, off and on, for thirty-plus years. When I first moved to New Jersey in the mid 80s, I worked at the Fireman's Fund Insurance Company (since taken over by Allianz), somewhere on Route 10 in Parsippany. Paydays brought an extra quarter-hour for lunch, and my fellow employees went to Arthur's in Morris Plains for excellent burgers a few times. On the menu then, and now, was/is a 48-oz. steak. It was a topic of some discussion among my coworkers then, and I never forgot it.

Now, I loves me some steak, and have always eaten about as much as is available without seeming like a complete Philistine. TEW asked me once, "How much steak will you eat?", to which the answer was (of course), "How much have you got?". It's been on my mind for a few years to go order the 48-oz. steak, just to have the experience, and I knew that TEW would not want to participate in it (and her disapproving eye-roll when she heard about might result in permanent ocular damage). So I decided to go on the Friday she was away.

I'm glad I did. It's not a great steak (although the concept of a "bad steak" is not one that will stay together in my head), but it's good. It's good enough that there was not enough left to worry about bringing any home (there was a streak of fat in the middle that I left). I now know how much steak is enough (two and a half pounds would probably have done it), and I never have to do this again. (In case you were worried, TEW's eye-roll caused only minor vertigo and no visual problems to speak of.)

But now it's time to get back to routine: work, keeping my usual hours, and arranging my diet so that the six-or-so extra pounds I'm carrying doesn't take up permanent residence. The ankle is improving; if the weather holds this weekend, I'll try to get a few miles in on the bike to see what I can do.

Monday, January 2, 2017

new years, and new eccentricity

It turned out, just as I had nothing pithy to say about Christmas, I had nothing much to say about the turning of the year, either. On New Year's Eve, we went to an open house at a Quaker friend's, then to the Lawrenceville Hogmanay Bonfire, where (in the not-too-cold) we wrote our 2016-related troubles on paper (I, of course, had come prepared with a bulleted list of nine items) and threw then into the fire, symbolically (if not effectively) consigning them to the ashes. We then enjoyed a hot dog from Captain Paul's, official caterer to the event; went into the Brearly House to hear the promised bagpiper (who had, by some process beyond my ken, transformed into a fiddler); and came home to be in bed by 10:30 pm.

There's nobody parties like Regina and Jim. Boy, howdy.

(If you're in the area, and you haven't done so, do go to Captain Paul's. It's not gourmet food, by any means, but it's the friendliest place [almost all of the staff are family of some degree or other], and both times we've gone, we've been accosted by amiable eccentrics of no mean entertainment value. The proprietors keep to limited hours in deference to their employees' real lives, so we can't always make the 40-minute trip in time to get there before they close, but I have yet to be disappointed by the experience.)

In other news, speaking of eccentrics, I've got a new eccentricity (I can hear the groans of, "Do you NEED another one?"). In the work Secret Santa giveaway, I received two Yule-related neckties, one of which was a not-a-clip-on bow tie. I've tied bow ties on others' necks, so I thought it would be a simple matter to do it for myself, but it's not as easy backwards and in the mirror. A Google search unearthed Alton Brown's video, so I used that method.

The bow tie got YONKS of comments, and I was smitten. I've already started a collection, and designated Wednesdays as Bow Tie Day.

But a day or two later, I happened upon Lindybeige's video. His method is different. It uses less of the tie's length. And I just couldn't get it.

(Lindybeige is cool, too. Let's start with this: he's a Lindy dancer with useful opinions on weapons, including medieval ones. Don't you find that intriguing? Well, I did.)

After trying (and failing) at this method, I found I couldn't replicate Brown's, either. So I went on a mad search for videos on tying bow ties (and their names are Legion). I've got a method, now (I've been practicing all weekend) that's mostly based on this:

... but don't ask me to teach it to you.

In other news, if you're stuck for a gift to give Plain Jim, a bow tie might do. I wear 'em with white shirts, so don't be afraid of the gaudy.