Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It's Not All Bad

Despite all my moaning and self-pity, as expressed in the last few posts, all is not unrelievedly bad.
I was out yesterday in my kick-ass Mary Janes, buying the last piece of furniture for my studio, when I was hailed by two nice ladies.

"Oh, miss," they said, trying to catch my attention, "miss." I love it when I get called "miss." It makes be feel like age hasn't totally caught up with me.

I did a quick inventory: no food on my face; my zipper was not open; what did they want?

"We just love your shoes! We were really admiring them. Where did you get them?"

Hah! I knew they rocked!

More Idle CPAP Commentary--Certified Curse Free!

CPAP tech: So, which mask are you using?

Me: The nasal pillow one.

CPAP tech: Well, at least you have the one that makes you look like a scuba diver.

Does it? You make the call.

CPAP tech also mentioned that her husband had a CPAP machine. "And he was so committed to it, he superglued it to the night stand. Then he lost a bunch of weight and didn't need it any more, so we had to buy a new night stand."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

In Which I Vent And Use Many Curse Words

Oh my god. I am so pissed. This is the post I started, planning to post it yesterday:


So, back to the doctors' office with the C-CRAP machine today. Yup--the machine was broken. No data at all. No record of use, of air pressure settings, no way to actually make this project be productive.

So, the technician gave me a new machine, and I get to try AGAIN to generate some sleep data AGAIN so I can go back to the doctor AGAIN with the damn machine.

You know, it's particularly discouraging because I'm not seeing any improvement at all. I still need about 11 hours of sleep a night, except when I wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep. You know, 3:30 in the morning is really dark?

Then, I used the damn machine last night. Sure, I only had about 3.5 hours of sleep the night before, so I expected to be able to sleep all night. But when I woke up and took off the damn machine?

Air. The air that was coming out of the mask was like a jet engine compared to what I had been getting before. Because guess what? It wasn't just the data capture that was broken on the old machine, IT WAS THE WHOLE DAMN MACHINE.

It looks like the "automatically adjustable pressure" wasn't adjusting at all. AT ALL. DAMN IT.

I mean, really. Look, I'm usually Pollyfuckinganna about stuff like this, all "well, it's going to be better now," and "it is darkest before the dawn" and shit, but give me a fucking break! I've had this damn machine for something like two and a half months, and IT WASN'T EVEN WORKING!!!

Look, I'm so frustrated, I'm using multiple exclamation points!! And lots of swear words!! <insert Charlie Brown type howl of outrage here> No wonder I wasn't seeing any difference--there was no difference, except for the annoyance and inconvenience of the mask. It certainly wasn't helping me to sleep or to sleep better. And I lost TWO MONTHS--TWO WHOLE MONTHS of my life which I won't get back which were spent trying and trying to get some benefit out of something that was NEVER GOING TO WORK because it was BROKEN and NOBODY even figured it out!

I excuse myself from the list of people who SHOULD have figured it out, because what the hell do I know? I'm the one who's all screwed up from sleep deprivation; higher cognitive functioning is not to be expected.

<heavy sigh>

Vocabulary Quiz

Q: Translate this sentence from Elizabethan English to modern English. "He hath splendid frocks."

A: "Dude look like a lady."

Monday, August 27, 2007

First Mate Butterfingers Escapes Keelhauling

So, after posting this about dropping the gas cap into the water, I got the most lovely email from Captain Mr. Sweetie.

Re: the gas dock guy. When I went to fill the tanks he unscrewed the tops and hovered there for a minute, not sure whether to set them on the gunwales, or hold them, or should he put the hose in with the chain in place, or... I pulled it out and he kind of made a gesture with his hands, like "don't drop that". When I put it in my pocket he acted out relief and said "you can't just order something like that from the supply catalog." I told him the starboard side filler top had already gone for a swim today and I told him "poor Cate, I was trying to show her how to check the gas level, and..." and he made a very sympathetic kind of sucking look. He was impressed we got it out...
Bet you didn't know there was that much drama to boating.
And wanted to let you know that you are not alone in the struggle with the sea gods who want bits of shiny things.

So, I'm not even on probation! Even though it was probably a one of a kind, nearly impossible to replace, vintage gas cap, and it was totally my fault that it went into the river, and that disaster was only averted because Captain Mr. Sweetie skillfully deployed a fishing net to retrieve it from the much that is the river bottom. . .

The Sea Gods must have been feeling generous.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

What Women Really Talk About

Heard at a table of women in a fast food court.

C: So, my doctor was this charming older guy and he even wore a bow tie. And I called him about this virus, and he asked "Do you want me to come around?" And I was "No! That's fine!"

A: Man, you never get a doctor who makes house calls anymore.

C: But when I went to get birth control, he was all concerned. "But surely you want to have children?"

B: Maybe he didn't want you to leave it until too late.

C: Well, it was better than the last doctor I went to. I asked him for birth control, and he just looked at me.

B: Was he younger than you?

C: Well, he was maybe about 15 years younger than I am.

A: You know, it is so disgusting to think about senior citizens like you having sex. It's totally like thinking about your parents. Ewwwww.

C: Well, maybe he just thought there was no point.

A: If your doctor is thinking "I wouldn't tap that," that's the sign of a seriously screwed up doctor-patient relationship right there.

That's FIRST MATE Butterfingers.

So, we went out on the boat tonight with a group of people from church. And as we were doing the last few things before leaving the slip, Mr. Sweetie asked me to check the gas levels, which requires using a long dipstick and dropping it into the tank. Which I did, and as I pulled it up, I was surprised by how far the stick was coming up dry. I mean, At the first tick, I didn't really expect any, but by the second tick. . .and then the third. . .

And as I was watching this stick remaining mysteriously dry--

I knocked the gas cap loose and plop! it fell into the river.

Right there in front of all those church people, and the pastor, and a party of eight on the boat in the slip next to ours. . .

And even the guy manning the gas dock knew about it.

So, I guess I need a new pirate name. That's First Mate Butterfingers, if you please.

(Yes, Mr. Sweetie managed to retrieve it from the mucky bottom with his skillful use of a fishing net. So we didn't explode the boat with all those people from church, plus the pastor. Thank God.)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Computer Follow-Up: Never As Good As The First Time

So, I took my computer back home and went online looking for a Dell power box thingie. This is a technical term. I went online to the Dell website, entered my special number that identifies my computer, and looked up a replacement.

There was one. Refurbished.

Now, keep in mind that this computer is only 2.5 years old. Maybe 2.75. At any rate, it's not obviously old. It does not have floppy drives. It does not run in gray scale. It has USB ports rather than all those old pin ports. It is NOT the computer equivalent of a 8-Track tape player.

It does not have parts, apparently.

So, to check, I called the customer service for out of warranty machines. (N.B.--the current financial advice is not to buy extended warranties. If we had one, would I have gotten a better service rep?) I identified my machine, asked for a power box. After being off the line for a while, my service rep checked and found they had NO power boxes to fit my machine. But I could call this long distance number and ask them.

Who are they?

They sell a lot of Dell parts.

Do you order your parts from them?

No, but they do sell them.

I got the name of this place, looked them up online. Their stock listing had nothing on it that matched my machine.

I went ahead and ordered the part from the Dell website. They promise shipping in 1-2 weeks. WTF?!?!? WEEKS? Do they have to go searching for it or something? Maybe. We'll see. Stay tuned for further updates.

This Almost Never Happens

Our desktop computer is ailing. It was fine when we went to bed one night, but the next morning, the CPU would not turn on. All the peripherals worked just fine--power was getting to them, we could still connect through our wireless network--only the computer itself was inaccessable.

So I pulled out all the connections and hauled that baby down to the Geek Squad. Now my Fabulous Babe sister, Suefunky, has had a horrible experience with the Geek Squad out her way, and the end result is a brain-dead computer. Which is what makes my experience so amazing; because I have heard her tale of anguish and botched repair and shitty customer relations. (Not just a descriptive term--this was customer relations that shit all over her.)

In my case, I set my CPU on the counter, the Geek plugged it in and nothing happened. He opened the case, said it was a dead power box, and that since it was a proprietary item from Dell, he couldn't fix it for me, but I could order the part and install it myself or bring it in for them to install.

Okay then. What do I owe you?


So, this Geek opened up my computer (which was easier than the last time I did it with a 1989 model)(which I had no idea how to do, so that was something in itself), diagnosed the problem, gave me the solution, and DIDN"T EVEN CHARGE ME ANYTHING.

Okay--I can read the posted list of services and prices. Diagnosis is something like $59. Hey, those clip on ties aren't cheap you know. A Geek's gotta keep himself in short sleeved polyester shirts. Last time I took a computer in, that Geek told me it was going to be about $300 just to open up the laptop to confirm what the problem was and I'd be better off just buying a new computer.

Maybe I just got the newbie who hadn't been fully trained on wallet-vacuuming. If I were younger and prettier and thinner, I'd say maybe he was flirting with me. He was cute, and cute guys have a way of not charging cute girls. But I'm not cute enough for that to be the answer.

So, instead, I'll just take my free diagnosis service, and get the hell out of there before someone finds out!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Back In The Good Old Days

Back to school shopping this year included a USB Flash Drive--1GB specified. They are readily available at Target in your choice of designer colors, shapes, and accessories. They run less than $30.

When we first came back to Minnesota after graduate school (not quite 20 years ago), Mr. Sweetie, working for the State government, purchased 1GB of memory for the State. It cost $40 million.


There is nothing else to say.

1776--Now With Bermondsey!

Of course we rewrite everything to include the dog. After all, can you deny that he is a very intelligent looking dog?

Today's offering comes from 1776--the play in which the Founding Fathers sing and dance their way to independence. Specifically, the scene in which John Adams is trying to convince each of the members of the Declaration Committee to take on the task of actually writing out the grievances against the crown. He turns to each of the members of the committee, asking them to be the author, because "if I'm the one to do it, they'll run their quill pens through it. I'm obnoxious and disliked, you know that's true."

Each member gives his excuses: Benjamin Franklin offers this refusal:

Mr. Adams, but, Mr. Adams
The things I write are only light extemporania
I won't put politics on paper; it's a mania
So I refuse to use the pen in Pennsylvania

Roger Sherman also pleads his inability:

Mr. Adams, but, Mr. Adams
I cannot write with any style or proper etiquette
I don't know a participle from a predicate
I am just a simple cobbler from Connecticut

Robert Livingston is off to New York and a newborn son, leaving poor Tom Jefferson the grueling task of remaining in a hot, fly infested city to write the first draft.

Too bad this all happened 230 years before Bermondsey existed, or he could have offered his own excuses:

Mr. Adams, dear Mr. Adams
The proposition you put forth is not supposable.
My talents are not lingual, they're more nose-able.
And besides my little thumbs are not opposable.

Opposable! Opposable! He can not hold the quill!

Weird Al Yankovic is not the only one who can do this, you know.

So! How's The Sleeping?

The sleep struggle continues. I got the new, smaller, lighter mask, which is now adjusted to not slip around so much, but is still a damn heavy plastic thing that smashes my lip against my teeth and is still a long tube attached to a machine that interferes with my ability to sleep comfortably.

However this does answer a question. To wit: if the CPAP machine is 85%+ effective, why do people turn to the other, much much less effective alternatives--like incredibly invasive surgery, or oral appliances?


Sorry for the shouting, but it was unavoidable. Incidentally, see how closely CPAP looks like CRAP? Coincidence? I don't think so.

So, last week I went back to the doctor to check on the progress. The machine I'm using is self-adjusting, which means that the amount of air pressure changes throughout the night. So part of the night I'm sucking to get enough air, and part of the night I'm probably getting too much. The machine keeps data about all that, which gets printed off at the doctor's for their evaluation.

So, I took my machine in, and guess what. No, you won't guess. Because the DAMN MACHINE FAILED TO RECORD ANY INFORMATION for the last three weeks, and EVEN ERASED some of the information from before that.

So, I'm going to wrestle with this for another few weeks until we get that information re-generated. Plus, I'm still tired, and still sleeping about 9.5 hours every day. The only person really getting any benefit from this whole thing (besides the makers of the DAMN MACHINE) is Mr. Sweetie, who doesn't have to listen to me snore all night.

Not that he has ever EVER complained. But I think he's getting better sleep now. Too bad I'm not.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Things I Wish I Had Written

Man, I wish I had written this--it's just so damn funny and so damn true.

In a review of the new movie The Invasion, the latest of the Body Snatcher movies, Mary Elizabeth Williams writes:

Yet what might have been the movie's worst misstep turns out to be one of its few clever conceits. The child-in-jeopardy motif is an overused cinematic crutch, but the fact that the story follows a mother and son heightens the drama and works as a metaphor. What is parenthood, after all, if not a fierce protectiveness mingled with torturous sleep deprivation and the constant threat of someone barfing all over you?
This is the true fear, isn't it? It was what Alien was about--the fear of pregnancy and childbirth writ large. But given the advances in medical care over the last 200 years, childbirth is much more rarely the death sentence it was in the past. It is, however, nearly guaranteed sleep deprivation and the certainty of close acquaintance with the expulsion of bodily fluids.

It is also the fear of becoming mindless--the childless person's fear that friends who become parents only want to talk about their children, uninterested in what had made them who they were before the advent of parenthood. With the added horror that these people don't realize, or don't care, how much they have changed!

After all, isn't pregnancy itself a sort of body snatching? Pregnancy-related memory loss, sleep deprivation lasting for years, touching all those things babies expel from their bodies--sometimes even at projectile speeds? Who needs a movie when you have real life?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Non-Sequiturs Explained

We took the kidlets to see 1776 at the Guthrie Theater last week. After being in Williamsburg in March, it was a natural, and was a huge hit at Chez Evil. The Bunny downloaded "The Lees Of Old Virginia" from iTunes, they've located film clips on YouTube, and the snappier lines have had a second life around the dinner table.

I saw the film about a million years ago, and didn't remember it being quite so, um, well not exactly indecent, but there were a good number of jokes and references to sexual activity and sexual organs. Not overtly, of course, but unmistakeably salacious to those who can parse the wit. Thomas Jefferson doesn't want to write the Declaration because he wants to go home to his wife. "I burn, Mr. Adams."

Adams sends for Martha Jefferson, and Thomas takes her up to his room, and closes the door on Adams and Franklin. Adams wonders, "In the middle of the day? Incredible." Franklin goads him with "Not everybody is from Boston, John."

Perhaps most obscure is the comment Franklin makes objecting to being called an Englishman. He says "It is like a ox being called a bull. He is thankful for the honor, but would prefer to have restored what is rightfully his." His antagonist, John Dickinson retorts, "When did you first notice they were missing?"

So, after three hours of singing and dancing their way to Independence, as we were walking out of the theater, Pony says to Bunny "If you like this, you'll love Romeo and Juliet."

On the face of it, that is about the most ridiculous comparison ever. A musical comedy revue and a 16th century tragedy? The signing of the Declaration of Independence and the deaths of Paris, Tybalt, Mercutio, Romeo and Juliet? Does affinity for one really mean a fondness for the other?

I think that the Pony meant that the mental exercise of processing the jokes is similar. Pony did say that part of the fun of the 1776 was the verbal wordplay. Like Shakespeare, she said, where you have to think a little bit before you get what is being said. (Pony has had a wonderful English teacher, who made Shakespeare very accessible and even explained the naughty bits.) So, for her, there is more similarity between the Broadway production and the classic tragedy than I would have recognized.

Harry Potter and Math Anxiety

J.K. Rowling tells us that Dumbledore is 250 years old. This is from an interview, and not actually inside the books, thus is "extra-canonical" if that is even a word.

But--if he was 250 (more or less throughout the series), then he was already 200 years old when Tom Riddle was at Hogwarts, but his hair was still auburn. Hmmmm.

If he was 250 years old at the end of the series, then he was born in 1747. He spend two months with Grindelwald in 1763--so his final duel with Grindelwald happened 180 years later? Albus wasn't kidding when he said he tried to avoid the duel until it was too embarrassing not to.

On the other hand, the Statute of Secrecy was only about 80 years old when the two boys planned to overturn it, so it wasn't quite the longstanding policy then that it was when Rita Skeeter published her book.

Or am I just getting this all wrong, because I was an English major and can't do math for beans?

You Know You've Raised A Reader. . .

. . .when she corrects grammar in the lyrics while singing karaoke.

Yes, Snow Patrol, we're looking at you. Fine, go and chase cars, but be aware that while you "just lay there" you are condemning yet another generation of kids to remedial English grammar.

You don't "lay," you "lie" there. Hens lay. Pony knows that.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

When The Cure IS The Disease

So I saw the doctor at the lung clinic recently, about the sleep apnea and the usefulness of the machine. And--this is so embarassing--but I cried. I cried! Because really, I am trying so hard, and it is just not working.

I mean, I have this thing called the "Comfort" mask, which is a lot like something you would use to portray an elephant for an extended time, and not only is it heavy on my face, with a tendency to weigh down on my teeth, but it also is toxic. I wear it and I get a burning sensation on my skin--it feels like something out of Harry Potter, like it's a horcrux on my face or Delores Umbridge has assigned it to me for detention.

As I am sure I have groused about before, when I called in for some help, I got some very snotty lady who insisted that it wasn't happening, and I should just clean it and wear it looser. So I did. And not only did it not help the burning thing, but once it was looser, it just wobbled all over my face and made it hard to sleep.

This was confirmed when I went in for my appointment, and the electronic data showed that after I loosened the damn thing, it leaked like crazy and really was no help at all. So, remind me why I was using this thing? Oh yes, because I was not sleeping well. And with it? Surprise! Still not sleeping well!

My god. I mean, what do you do when the "cure" causes the exact same problems as the disease? I'll tell you what I do--I go to the doctor's office and cry. Yes, I am apparently as emotionally resilient as a toddler.

So, the doctor was sympathetic to my complaints, and I went in to meet with another technician who offered me a different mask--called something like a "nostril pillow," which only touches my face under my nose, and has two small bud-like projections to direct air into my nose. So, I tried that the first night. And guess what?!? That's right--it was even worse for sleeping than the other mask! Why? Because anytime I moved to my side, I would push the "pillow" into my pillow, and the whole thing would move sideways on my face. Which wasn't a problem for my face, but the little buds in my nostrils? Ouch! Let's just point out that there isn't much flexibility in cartilage, okay? I ended up sleeping with my neck muscles tensed so my face didn't touch my pillow.

Restful it was not. Even better was the fact that I was a good little DoBee and took the damn thing apart to wash it after the first night--and an important piece that held the whole thing together got lost. I think the dog might have gotten it. So, after one bad night, I didn't even have it any more.

So, back to the "comfort" mask, which I swathed in sterile gauze and cloth first aid tape. Some of it still got onto my skin, however, and I had a red mark along my cheek for the entire day. After three days of this nonsense, I was about on the point of tears again--I wore the damn thing, I suffered the painful reactions, and I STILL needed 9 or 10 hours of sleep each night. Plus, Mr. Sweetie noticed I was still snoring.

Yesterday, right before bed, I found the missing piece to the "nostril pillow," and apologized to the dog, who was innocent. I tried it again, and found it was less heinous than the first night I used it. Once again, I needed nine and a half hours of sleep before I woke up, and managed to start yawning before I had been awake an entire 12 hours!

You know, I read somewhere that Bill Clinton only slept about 4 hours a night while he was president. I can't even imagine that--how did he keep from walking into walls, and falling asleep at his own press conferences?

Anyway, for those few of you reading this for actual medical content, I can only say that I have another appointment in the near future, where the data should show some indication of the amount of air pressure that I need, and that a constant flow of air (rather than the variable amount I'm getting now as we attempt to calibrate my breathing) will make this whole thing more useful. Right now, my goal is to get to this next appointment with enough data to actually be useful, and to not cry!