Saturday, April 28, 2007
I know Liza and I know she means well when she suggests edits. She is an incredible writer and I fully recommend you read her stuff. However, for as good a writer as she is, she makes an equal number of mistakes as I do and for the same reason; she doesn't have an editor reviewing what she posts and it is hard to edit your own work. Yet I can't remember ever suggesting as a comment on her blog that she correct her errors and typos. M, my wife, sometimes makes mistakes in her blog. She has asked me on occasion to correct mistakes. When I find them I tell her personally about the errors. I don't post the corrections on her blog.
For those who use the "Anonymous" tag, it is impossible for me to know if they are good, always mistake free writers. However, my own experiences as a writer makes me doubt it. I cannot learn if their blogs or journals are wildly inaccurate because they do not share who they are or where their blog is. Maybe they don't write at all and don't understand how hard it is to edit your own work?
I have stated at least three times before in this very blog that this is where I get out my thoughts and I make no excuses for my errors-- posts are frequently my way to get ideas and frustrations out of my head as well as to communicate with the world. While I am proud of being a damn good Technical Writer as a career, that doesn't mean I am going to take the same care here to have everything I write edited. And, since it is much harder to edit your own work without missing things, I make no excuses for the typos and grammar errors I miss.
My posts run the gamut from 2 am rantings to carefully crafted dissertations on subjects. Most often they are just dashed off thoughts and feelings on things that have just happened. Nearly all of them are topics about which I need to gain perspective and writing them down is one way I use to gain that perspective. I sometimes wince when I reread the posts with the most errors hours, days, weeks, and even months or years later. And I nearly always find changes or mistakes that I could correct. Yet I leave them as a show of how raw the writing was over the subject, or how emotional I was about a given event. Hell, one of my most grammatically challenged posts was partly what led M into my life; so there is something to be said for raw, emotional, grammatically challenged writing-- it could lead to marriage!
While I appreciate everyone's time and effort in correcting my mistakes, do not be surprised when I ignore them. I will continue to do the best I can to edit many of my posts-- and will ignore editing a certain type of post-- but I will also leave the errors I do make up there for all the world to see. It is one way I make this blog feel different from my job and it is another way for me to "keep it real."
Friday, April 27, 2007
I sometimes view the spam emails I receive, especially if it makes it all the way into my Inbox, rather than being caught by my spam filter. Recently, these emails have specifically said across the top, “Based on your web participation and purchases….” The emails have tried to sell me feminine hygiene products, home mortgages, penis enlargement/enhancement products, weight loss products, and, accounting for the bulk of them lately, high-end watch knockoffs. And, of course, sex; it is somewhat amazing how blatantly some spam emails sell outright sex. I was unaware there were so many women in
Now, I have done NO shopping for, nor any sort of web participation in, any sort of feminine hygiene, home mortgages, weight loss, or knockoff watches. And I happen to like the size of my penis—it has served me well for many years now. Lastly, do you really think that, if I needed sex, I would want to have sex with someone who advertises through spam emails?
If there was any truth to the “based on your web participation and purchases” line, I would like to inform them that there data mining program is malfunctioning. Or I’m getting someone else’s spam. However, we know that there is no data mining and that the emails have nothing to do with your web habits; it is just the latest gimmick trying to get you to read and respond to what is sent. It is yet one more bother in a world and society that is increasingly bothered by the unwanted.
Sometimes I think emails should be charged. Even if we charged $.001 per email, the average email user across the country would only be charged about $1 a year (that would be for 1,000 emails). But these companies that send out 200 million spam emails would be charged $200,000—that would quickly make it unprofitable for the majority of spam/bulk emails to invade our homes.
Another way to do it would be to have the option to say all email address are disallowed from sending to my account at all. And then you add the email address you want to allow. No spam filter, no bulk email folder—if you aren’t on the list, the email doesn’t even go to your account. Period. Yes, it would be harder to set up, and would take more time and effort to maintain, but I think I would move to that email account if I could find one with that option. Then, even if well-meaning friends inadvertently use your personal email address or they get hit with a virus that steals their address book, emails from unknown accounts simply wouldn’t get to you.
I can dream.
that are not commonly used anymore.
A few that have struck my fancy:
- biwrixle: to change, transform
- skeg: a fool or clown
- skingy: cold, nipping, as applied to weather
- zarf: a cup-shaped holder for a hot coffee-cup... usually of metal and of ornamental design
- snam: to snatch or rob. Mostly used to describe that kind of theft which consists of picking up anything lying about and making off with it rapidly ("snatch and grab")
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Here's what I'm thinking:
- I love my wife and am getting tired of being apart.
- My father turned 30 the year I was born. Mom was 26. I'm 6 and 10 years older and only just got married and no sign of children any time soon. Times have changed.
- I wonder what it would be like to float in a container of water that was exactly my body temperature?
- Renee made me two loaves of cherry bread for my happy day. She did an especially good job on it, as it is moist without being wet. It is superb. Now, the hard part is to not eat it all before lunch!
- Dad sent me a card with a check for $75. Little does he know, he is now paying for fingerprints and a security check from the California and US governments!
- If I turn 36 today, that means in 11 days someone else is turning 36. And I'm bald and he's got gray hair. We're both married now. He has a child through his marriage. Times are changing there, too.
- I have been on some medication and dealing with the liver disease and the rheumatoid arthritis since 1995. That's 12 years of daily medications, at minimum quarterly blood draws, near constant pain and discomfort, headaches, weight fluctuations, constant doctor's visits, dealing with insurance companies, and mental stress.
- On a list M sent me of 239 movies, I had for sure watched 175 of them, had viewed parts of around 10 more (on TV, but never sat and watched the whole thing), and had 2 more at home from Netflix (one of which I watched last night). The list said that 89 or higher indicated "No Life." What is more than double no life?
- During the first Gulf war, which occurred as I was graduating High School, gas went from $.89 a gallon to a whopping $1.39 a gallon. Now, I barely bat an eyelash at paying $3.39 a gallon. The processes for refining gas (and, therefore, the costs of it) have not significantly changed or increased since then. And the crude cost has only doubled. So, the gas companies could be making a significant, world-leading profit margin selling gas at somewhere around $2.25-2.50 per gallon. The remaining nearly $1 is all profit and greed.
- I am very much looking forward to DnD tonight. May be the last session we play for some time.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
I received a letter from my insurance company today saying they couldn't process the claim because I didn't provide a procedure code. Well, no shit. I included the bill, so they had all the information I had. A brief look would indicate that it didn't include the procedure code, so I didn't include it.
So I called them and asked how I am to get that information, as they had the original bill. I had been an idiot and not made a copy of the bill, so I was without the info. Not sure what brain fart caused that, as I normally am pretty good about that sort of thing. The rep I spoke with this time seemed put out that I made her go look up the original bill, provide me with the phone number, and identifying number, so that I could then call the ambulance company and ask for the procedure code.
Then I phoned the ambulance and spoke with Lori in billing. I told her my problem and asked for the procedure code. She wouldn't provide it. Instead she said, "If you had just sent the bill in with your insurance information, we would have billed them directly." I replied that the bill I received had no statement to that effect and no place to put that information. I was so surprised by that, that I showed it to Renee at work and she can verify that fact! However, Lori assured me that it did, in fact say that and have an entire entry area on the back for that information. I, again, assured her that I have a witness that it did not.
She took my insurance information by phone and will bill the insurance company directly.
This is all troubling because it could have been avoided in a number of ways.
- The bill could have and should have had the insurance portion like Lori said it did. All I can figure is that I received a second notice instead of a first and the second notice does not include that information.
- The insurance company could have simply called, identified themselves and the patient for whom they are calling, and asked for the needed proc. code. This would have saved time, money, and a lot of people's efforts.
- The ambulance people could have taken my insurance information one of the three or four times I offered it and billed insurance first thing.
- The original representative to whom I asked questions could have provided me with better, more detailed information. Or suggest I contact the ambulance company directly and see what their billing dept could do for me.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Friday, April 20, 2007
tears because of a perceived lack of communication. I actually heard
her yell, "I don't understand how we could have such bad
miscommunication on this!" to a programmer.
The funny thing is that she has been 'miscommunicating' with my boss
on documentation. And with me on alerts. And with QA on testing needs
and procedures. And with other programmers for other changes she
needs. And with product support for issues that have come up with
changes she requested. And even with others in her own group.
Yet, all of these are everyone else's fault, not hers. Never hers. At
what point will it be enough to hit that limit where she says,
"Everyone I am in contact with is not understanding me or what I need.
Is there another way I can deal with them that will be more
At my previous employer there was one manager who was almost
exclusively at fault for about 200 people leaving the company. We know
this number because those of us who survived him kept a running tally
in plain sight of the number. Yet, when asking other managers about
this singular trend, we were told they were all "isolated incidences"
of employee dissatisfaction. Some of us know what was said in exit
interviews and in termination of employement letters, as we were
friends with the people who left (and in many cases still are).
I begin to wonder, at what point do all the "isolated incidences"
become a singular truth that indicates she is the one at fault? Where
is the threshold that causes those in superior positions to get smart
and say, "If I fix this one thing, all these other things will fix
themselves" and they eradicate or educate the one wayward person,
rather than refusing to believe the masses? When does all the evidence
simply become enough, and action is taken against the one person who
lies at the root of the issue?
Thursday, April 19, 2007
My gaming group has, typically, six people in it. Three of those six have been gaming together regularly since 1995 now. A fourth was brought in about two years later and has been with us every since and the fifth and sixth are newer, but not that new, to this group. For awhile, we had three wives playing with us, too, which made for a very large and interesting group. One of those wives was a starting member in 1995 (giving us a quartet at that time, three players and a DM). She was also the last woman to stop playing in the game and only did because she had children. She still sometimes wants to play with us, but until the kids are older, has to stand back.
Most consistently, we have two games running at any one time. Originally it wound up being one current and one on hold until the current DM hit a wall, life intruded, or we reached the end of the particular storyline. Then the other game would start back up and we would keep going. We have been lucky in that nearly all of the players also like to DM, so we have played a variety of different games and styles due to this wealth of resources.
We went from playing every week on Friday to playing less often and on the weekends for awhile, until a DM stepped up and started a “fortnightly” game on Thursdays to augment our playing. Now we play once a month on Saturday for a long session of one game and once every two weeks for a shorter period of time in another game.
Soon, one friend needed to quit the fortnightly game, but the rest of us continued on. He has continued to attend the monthly game.
Now, our current monthly session DM, who is also one of the players in the fortnightly game, has decided to call it quits from roleplaying altogether. While I understand that life issues came up, he dumped his game at an awkward time an way and has been in little to no contact with our group since then; it’s hard not to take that sort of thing a little personally. However, I assume he has his reasons and he has quit before only to come back 6 months or a year later to play for a while longer. The friend who quit the fortnightly game is seriously considering a move out of state. The friend who hosts and DMs the fortnightly game is moving about 30 miles away through some awful traffic patterns. This may impact our ability to meet on a “school night” for gaming. Especially as one member already lives 30 miles south of the current location—that will make for a long night and drive home for him!
So, after a good, long run, it looks like this group may no longer be able to continue their gaming as this year progresses. If we can, it will be likely in fits and starts and with a much smaller cast. And this cast will get smaller still, as I am actively working on my immigration process to go to
I hope this group can continue until I leave and beyond. It’s a good group of people.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Monday, April 16, 2007
I suffer from something called Sleep Paralysis. I have pretty much all of the symptoms; the images of someone or something crushing me, the inability to move (initially), and usually taunting, acerbic comments from the being keeping me from moving. Mine tend to occur about mid-way through my sleep cycle and most often involve the image of a dark, shadowy figure entering or suddenly being in the room. It is then that I become unable to fully move. The figure walks toward the bed and does something that involves crushing me. Sometimes that is supernatural in some way, other times it is simply getting on top of me to strangle or in some way smother me.
In my cases, as a child, there was usually nothing I could do about it. I would have to hope, in my head/dream, that something would occur to drive the figure away or make him leave. Oftentimes, my parents or my sister getting up, making some noise, or similar would drive the spirit away. As I grew older, however, and I developed some minor dream control (lucid dreaming), I have learned to fight against this figure and to literally “throw” him off of me. As soon as I can recognize the situation, the more quickly I can start the process of fighting back against this unseen assailant. I find that, as soon as I recognize what is going on and start to struggle, I regain some movement. This allows me to focus entirely on my chest, where the crushing sensation is always focused. My heart rate goes up and I have been told I start a strange thrashing around, as I can move everything except my chest. Although I may talk, yell, and have my eyes open during these things, until I throw this sensation off of me, or it is driven away, I am not awake. However, once it is gone I always wake up fully.
In this regard, my sleep paralysis has some traits in common with night terrors; another classic sleep disorder. Night terrors involve the increased heart rate, talking, yelling, or screaming, thrashing about, etc. The two disorders have some traits in common. Some have even argued that I use a night terror to rid myself of sleep paralysis.
I comment on this now as I had a classic example of sleep paralysis last night. I have no memory of any dreams prior to suddenly “seeing” an image of a dark, shadowy figure at the door to my bedroom (just inside it, as it was closed). I was instantly unable to move. As I became aware of my paralysis, I started to struggle and my arms and feet started to flail about a bit as I attempted to get “leverage” on whatever was on my chest. Once I was able to both mentally and physically get my leverage (there is always a willpower component to these dreams), I was able to make one huge heave and throw it off of me. The figure stayed in the doorway for a moment after I woke up fully, and then faded from my vision. And I was lying on my side and my arms were outstretched from the effort of the heavy lifting. My heart was beating pretty fast and I was a bit sweaty from the struggle. I am pretty sure I yelled out loud, “Get off me!” In this particular case, the figure had supernatural abilities; his mere presence and constant stare was enough to crush me. This time, I heard no taunts or laughter; he just stared malevolently at me and tried to kill me with his hatred.
This happens to me maybe once or twice a year. I used to get them 4-6 times a year as a child and young adult. They eased back during high school and afterward to maybe 2-3 times a year. I only remember one last year and now this one this year.
Unless or until you experience one, you cannot understand or fully comprehend the incredible feelings of helplessness and panic from this type of betrayal by your body and mind. As one who values the mind above all other things, and tends to rule himself with his willpower and determination, there is no more fully helpless feeling than to have this happen. And I also do not know what stressors bring on this feeling. Sometimes it happens during stress-filled periods, other times during peaceful and relaxed times. Sometimes it has happened right after a big blow up fight with someone close to me, other times when all my relationships seem to be going very well. It has occurred when I’m sick and when I’m healthy. When I have slept poorly for awhile and when I have been sleeping well.
It just seems to “be.” And that, for me, may be the single scariest component of the disorder.
Friday, April 13, 2007
You are Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
|Dependable and trustworthy.|
You love your significant other and
you are a tough cookie when in a conflict.
Click here to take the "Which Serenity character am I?" quiz...
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
- People who drive 35 in a 55 zone in the fast lane.
- Comedy programs that aren't funny. See: The Office, Reno 911, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, et al.
- People who come to a stop more than one car length from the intersection.
- People who are ten or more cars from the intersection but who take off the break and start to go as soon as the light turns green-- whether any of the cars in front of him/her are moving or not.
- People who drive 65 in a 35 zone and then don't pay enough attention to realize you, who are driving the speed limit and with care, keep winding up right beside or behind them at every red light.
- People who ride their bicycles on the wrong side of the street and then get mad at cars for the problems they are causing. In the US, bicycles are considered vehicles and are supposed to follow all the rules of the road as a car (including which side of the street they are on).
- The cop who is sitting in his car waiting for speeders or others who doesn't at least shout out to the bicyclists who ride by him on the wrong side of the street.
- Why my cell phone carrier doesn't allow me to edit my phone book online. Don't they realize that the vast majority of people don't like typing things as complex as an address into their phone using the stupid 9-key system the phone has?
- Those cell phone commercials where the line goes dead and people fear the worst. Everyone I know hears the line go dead and immediately says, "Hello?"
- How I can call four different doctor's offices in Los Angeles between 10:30 and 11 am today and get the answering service for all of them. Is today a freaking holiday and no one told me?
- Why America still uses the electoral college or a bicameral system. We don't need either any more. One person, one vote. We have the means and the technology to get it done.
- How the news, the news for pity's sake!, has become so biased and out of kilter. The news is supposed to be something people can trust. In the 40s through the early 80s, someone like Bill O'Reilly (just to name one-- there are plenty to choose from on both sides of the aisle) would never have been allowed on the air.
Today, I could not entice anyone to lunch with me, so I decided to call a favorite place, Gina's, and order something. Since I was calling, and I know how long it takes them to make one, I got a Calzone. The guy taking my order said, "Give us about 20 minutes to get it done." I already knew that, but it was good to have confirmation.
So I waited 20 minutes. I then cruised over (took about 6 minutes) and paid for my meal, which took another 3-4 minutes as I had to wait in line for the next cashier and there were a couple of people ahead of me.
And then I waited.
About 15 minutes later, as I was growing visibly upset with the wait, they finally completed it and gave it to me with a perfunctory, "Sorry for the wait."
No, damn it, get it done. You took 35-40 minutes to get a 20 minute task done. If that has become the norm, then how long do other people wait for their meals?
I helped make Gina's a popular place. When they first opened up in this location, they weren't doing all that great. Yes, they had the University crowd, but that was it. I spread the word about it, emailing friends, making suggestions, ensuring that a large number of people here at work knew about it. With me, and others like me, we made it a popular place to go for the business crowd that surrounds the school.
And Steve, the owner, appreciates it. Whenever he's there, I get a discount off my meals and the best service. However, when he's not, everyone gets poorer service now. They are too crowded. They cater to too many different things.
For example, the last time I took friends with me there, I was the only one who got his meal. The other two people finally had to badger the workers for their meal and get it to go-- we had wasted an entire hour there without eating! Their excuse? A large phone order for pizzas. Yeah, so? The point is you have people in your store, now, who have actually paid, and who will likely not come back and will give you a bad review if asked by anyone because of the bad service. The orders you lose due to the bad in-house service far outpaces the good service you provide to the phone in order for pizza. You have to keep some of the oven and food prep area and people free to continue to work on the steady stream of college kids and professionals you have coming in for lunch.
Now, don't get me wrong; the place is clean, it has good food and generally good prices, and it is nice to sit outside on a day like today (80 and sunny) and have a good lunch. And the food is far superior to any you'd get a fast food joint. But, and here's the kicker for Gina's, I would rather pay for and eat the fast food if I can get it in under 10 minutes and be on my way. I don't want to be waiting 35-40 minutes for my 20 minute meal. I have better things to do with my time.
Next time I can corner Steve and talk with him for a bit, I will mention it. I'm sure he's noticed that a lot of regulars aren't so regular any more (I haven't seen any of the other people I frequently bumped into there in quite a while).
Thursday, April 05, 2007
While I do my best to focus on how good I will feel after the shot as the pain from my arthritis eases away and I become mobile, flexible, and able, the pain of the injector shooting the needle through my skin and the drug coursing into my flesh makes me hesitate. For those 15 seconds as the medication injects into my thigh (or arm or abdomen) it is hard not to tense up. But, of course, tensing those muscles or moving the needle during the process just causes more pain and discomfort.
I have a friend who is very afraid of needles; he winces when someone else gets a shot and hates to watch, so you can imagine how much he hates it when he has to have a shot or give blood himself. How badly would doing something like this affect his psyche?
Diabetics have to prick themselves multiple times a day so that they can test their blood. While it is a simple prick, just enough to cause bleeding, imagine for a moment that you had to do that -- make yourself bleed -- 1, 2, or 3 times a day. Any diabetics willingness to do this for years on end staggers me.
A friend has a device attached to aid the function of his kidneys. Another friend has something similar for his diabetes. Both have to deal with the shunt, with the awkwardness of wearing the device nearly (or actually) 24 hours a day. Imagine having to relearn your sleeping habits so that you can get rest with such a device attached to you. Imagine the embarrassment and discomfort of wearing these devices under your clothes, out in public, when you are trying to be intimate with your loved one.
Now, stretch your imagine a bit further to those who have cancer, HIV, or a similar disease that requires incredibly invasive medications and treatments. Imagine having to hook up to an IV daily, having the medications sap you of all strength and most of your willpower. Having it change your appearance and very being.
Imagine being a child of 4, 5, 10, or 14 and having to deal with any or all of these situations.
Western philosophy on medication and illness is one that is extremely aggressive toward the disease but tends to forget about the mental and physical stress those treatments can cause. In some cases, it is so aggressive toward the disease and dismissive of the patient that the treatment regiments are designed to kill the patient with the goal that the doctors can, with some luck and a strong will-to-live from the sick person, forestall the death long enough that the disease is destroyed or goes into remission. Then they can refocus their efforts on strengthening and healing the patient.
I am not proposing that Eastern (or other) medicinal practices are better, but they do take the entire person into account. If a person's mental or spiritual health are affected, non-Western medicine will take those aspects into account and will alter treatment accordingly.
As my leg warms up, the now-familiar bump at the injection spot turns red and rough, and I feel the medicines from the injection coursing through my body, I wonder if there is some other way in which I can achieve this type of pain-free life. I wonder how many more times I can relax my breathing and my muscles enough to keep the injection as simple as possible. I wonder if my mind and my soul will continue to accept this type of physical treatment 52 weeks a year, for many years to come.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Came out of nowhere as I felt fine Sunday and Monday. I was very much looking forward to DnD last night, but had to cancel my appearance due to the illness. We have a session in the other game scheduled for Saturday, and I'm wondering if I will feel up to going.
On a happy note, on Monday night I managed to get the remaining bubbles of XP needed to reach level 50 with my CoH character. Yay! I unlocked the two epic archetypes for use, got a lot of congrats from those who were on that late, and celebrated by going back to Galaxy City and training that last level where it all started; plus, any cool-named low-level characters got free Influence from me.
Now I just need to figure out a way to transfer some of my 30 million influence to my other characters-- once you hit 40s, influence is not really a problem any more. You spend about 1.5-2.5 million per level (took me just over 2 million to purchase a totally new set of enhancements at level 47-- which didn't even take me under 20 million at the time) and earn well more than that as you adventure.