On the cult of printed books.

April 27th, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Memes | Reading | Reference | Soapbox | Whining - (0 Comments)

In which I’m kind of a dick about people trying to wean themselves off of their identification with their belongings (which is a very important stage of development, of course, but seriously, this has to be the hundredth blog post I’ve read about how deeply attached bitches are to their Harry Potter books, and I’m like, You were literally raised in the cheap portable personal electronics age, and your attachment to books, to actual paper printed books, is, compared to those who went before you and truly used books in a way you never needed to, tenuous at best, and yet here you are talking like you were a monk illuminator who just watched his whole life’s work burn to the very ground) because it seems really false and forced to me.

I love to read, but this maudlin affectation about book collecting currently infecting our group consciousness is getting silly. “I really love books!” is turning into some sort of off-kilter, past-worshiping, item-hoarding cult. We get it: you love the smell of books and the feel of a favorite volume in your hand. So does everybody else. Shut up already.

The vast majority of books you read aren’t that good, and won’t need to be read again. And reference is all online now, you don’t need encyclopedias or dictionaries or histories. You can put a thousand years of human knowledge on a single eReader, but you’ll still probably read throw-away pop fiction. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

The old fashioned library is dying, and in many ways, yes, it sucks, but let it go. Jesus. The TERRIBLE STRUGGLE you go through trying to pare down your embarrassment of stuff, to minimalize, to quit decorating with books you’ve never even read, truly verges on the absurd. You’re having crazy romantical identity feelings about a particular style of inanimate object. If you talked like this about rolls of aluminum foil, we’d tell you to see a specialist.

(I realize the analogy breaks down, because while aluminum foil is incredibly useful, it’s not potentially filled with knowledge in the same way a book is, but books aren’t dying: the format is changing. As are our lifestyles: we don’t have family seats where libraries can live for generations; we move every few years. The energy expended in moving a library of paper books that you could store on a six ounce device just for false nostalgia is wasteful. Period. And there are more books being published every day than used to be published in entire years.)

I get that it’s hard the first time, when you’re ten or eleven or so, and, because you spent all Saturday fucking off and not cleaning your room, your dad stuffs “everything that isn’t schoolwork or clothing,” meaning all your books and toys, into trash bags and throws it all out: yeah, you’re a kid, and you cry because you just lost your purple teddy bear for disobeying, and losing your beloved things is hard.

But if you’re old enough to have a book collection, you’re old enough to know that you are not your stuff, and that reading itself, that magical alchemy in which somehow an entire world fits inside you and lives there, isn’t going away, and everything in your books and papers can be digitized and stored in a smaller, lighter, more easily searchable format, and your maudlin attachment to a data format is too forced and common to really seem genuine.

books

I recently started learning how to make bread. It turns out that holding a ball of soft, living bread dough in your hand feels an awful lot like holding a book: it’s an act that belongs to everyone of us, it reaches backwards and forwards through time, it contains potential, it nourishes, and, honestly, you really have only a vague idea of how it’s going to turn out.

All of which is to say, hey, if getting rid of some treeware is truly heartbreakingly difficult for you, then you’re basically a Disney princess in terms of level of real world difficulty. Lucky you!

In which my life is so completely the opposite of rock star. I’m not entirely sure how I’m supposed to feel about it.

Both of the houseplants, the kalanchoe a co-worker gave me last year and the avocado pit I started in 2014, were totally root-bound and desperately needed to be repotted.

Pastels

On Saturday we went to the ghetto K-mart for pots and toilet paper. It was the first time I’d gone anywhere in the car in months! The weather was gorgeous but everything was still grey and brown; it took today’s endless hours of rain to start any greening.

I also got a little gardening tool — I have half a plan to dig up the overgrown bed in front of the building and grow tomatoes and parsley instead of weeds and grass — and some tomato seeds.

Tomatoes

On the other hand, the rabbits would probably eat any seedlings, the site gets brutal direct sun all summer, weeding sucks, and I could just grow tomatoes in pots in front of a window and eliminate pretty much all the bother altogether.

I recently bought myself an apron. AN APRON. So when I cook and clean and do dishes, I wear my little housewifery uniform. I’m pushing 50 and I wear an apron because it keeps me from wiping my hands on my clothes and that seems like a good idea.

Apron

I still haven’t bothered to go out and make friends; I’m perfectly content hanging out with my weird and wonderful boyfriend and never going anywhere. (Plus, as far as I’m concerned, “going anywhere” weather lasts about four months a year in this part of the country. I miss Walla Walla weather so fucking much.)

I keep thinking I need to join a stitch & bitch or drag my carcass to an open mic, but then I don’t, which makes me think I don’t really want to. I’m generally pretty hard to stop when I set my mind to going out and doing things.

I cook dinner every night, I do dishes. I sleep in. I make the bed, I tidy up, I fuck around online, I read a few hundred books per year, I play with miniature sewing machines.

Miniature sewing

I don’t knit for shit anymore.

I also don’t sit on the floor anymore, which is beginning to get on my nerves. There may be a rug in my life soon, so I can sit on the floor. Chairs are stupid. I also think they might be bad for your legs, or at least your circulation, and your lower back.

Here’s a zucchini lasagna I made. I even made the marinara from scratch, since all the store-bought sauces these days have added sugar.

Lasagna

I do laundry, I sweep floors, I maintain seasonally appropriate decorations. Basically the only people I ever talk to are Scott and the guy at the gas station. Once in a huge great while I walk over to the taco bar for a drink or three, but I’m so cheap these days I feel like that’s only for treat, not for regular, even though I always used to blow my cash at bars. I mean, you can get twice as much booze for the same price at a liquor store than at the bar!

Bloody Mary

I actually like my job. I close the bedroom door, login to the other account on my computer, and take calls for Comcast. (You’d think taking calls for Comcast would be awful, but I support the security system rather than cable or internet, so we have totally different metrics and it isn’t.) After four hours, I log off and walk into my living room. I never have to wear a bra, or even brush my hair for that matter.

I routinely get perfect VOC (“voice of the customer” survey) scores, and about once a week somebody will ask to be transferred to my supervisor to report how much they liked my service. I don’t even have to wear shoes. When it’s slow, I read books between calls, or surf on my tablet. When it’s busy, the 4-hour shift goes by quickly. I have an incredibly comfy, cushy job and after the shock and awe of that year in retail I’m terribly grateful for it.

Comcast-bashing mail

I didn’t have to leave the building once during blizzard season. I worked from home and had groceries delivered! It was awesome!

I am basically the most coddled, most spoiled person on earth. Seriously. I don’t even get out of bed some days until two in the afternoon. The place is so small I can scrub the bathroom or clean the kitchen in half an hour. It takes minutes to sweep.

And the relationship is awesome. I love the shit out of him, and he loves me right back. We’re nice to each other and we help each other. There’s total affection and total parity, plus he regularly makes me laugh (even though he watches vintage pro wrestling way more than anybody should). If I get up to do some chore or another, he’ll jump up too and take out the trash, or run the broom, or pop off to the store with the grocery list (he does most of the household errands).

His only real bad habit is his regular failure to close cabinets. I close the medicine cabinet every single day, and kitchen cabinets frequently. But that’s it. Otherwise — well, beyond his propensity for puns and other forms of very unfunny, low humor — I couldn’t find anything to bitch about unless I made it up.

Sure, I do the bulk of the chores, but unlike all the other losers I’ve dated, this one actually pays the rent and the bills, so I’m happy to. And, unlike all the other losers I’ve lived with, he doesn’t treat our home like a hotel his mother works at. It’s fucking glorious.

Here’s the photo they’ll run if we ever get accused of some sort of heinous crime. (We won’t have committed it, though, because that would require us to go out and do something.)

First pic with new phone's front-facing cam

The neighborhood is host to tons of heavy traffic. I’ve never lived on a busier street, and I once lived on Powell boulevard in Portland. There’s traffic past our building 24/7, and a lot of it is emergency vehicles with sirens on. Tons of foot traffic, too, all year, although a lot more when it’s a decent temperature, of course. In the summer, there’s the pedal pubs too. Somehow it gives the impression that you’re doing something, all that activity just out your window, even though you’re probably just sitting around looking at Pinterest or something. Maybe that’s part of why I don’t seem to feel compelled to get out there and meet people.

I’ve lost a lot of of the weight I’d gained in the past few years, and intend to lose still more. But even though in some places my dimensions are what they were, say, five or ten years ago, that middle age thickening thing is clearly taking over. It’s something about where the fat lingers, and the elasticity — or lack there of — of the skin, somehow. I can look at myself in the mirror and know that this measurement and that measurement is what it was awhile ago, but now I look like an old lady. The body changes. It’s vaguely disconcerting.

My eyelid continues to indulge in its slow decline and now my eyes are entirely asymmetrical. I do wonder what causes one’s eyelid to droop. I think it’d freak me out more but Scott doesn’t give a shit, somehow that helps. I guess you can relax about the issue of your beauty or lack there of when you’ve already got a mate.

KINDLE_CAMERA_14386

Getting into other middle aged pursuits: old movies. Movies from the 30’s and 40’s. Movies I used to find uncomfortably dull are now enjoyable. I find myself thinking about how when the weather gets nice, I should persuade Scott to go for brief postprandial walks around the neighborhood with me, for our health.

I think about holidays and tea pots, whether I should buy a spiralizer, I read tons of recipes; I don’t think about bars, gigs, and parties. I put on makeup about every six months for no reason and then generally wipe it right back off. I consider appropriateness when choosing clothing. (Well, secondarily. First it’s comfort, then it’s “does this hide or emphasize the fact these old tits aren’t in a bra?”)

Becoming amused by my invisibility; when I walk around or hang out in front of the building veritable packs of “young people” walk by and they register me exactly the way twenty-somethings register people old enough to be grandmothers. It’s weird. I used to be them, now I think of them as idiot kids and they think of me as old. Conversations that were once painfully new and riveting are now painfully derivative.

(I do know the “cure” for these feelings of aging into obsolete unhip decrepitude is to go hang out with a slightly older crowd. Then you quit being an old lady and you start being the hot young thing; but again, I just can’t be arsed.)

It makes me invisible in a way, being older than the neighborhood, and it’s such an interesting dynamic, since most of it occurs internally. The kids in the building usually say hi on the rare occasions I see them, and certain personality types will nod as they walk past on the sidewalk, but in general most of the population’s eyes just slide off me like I’m not there. I’d probably be super bugged by it if I didn’t live with someone who smooches me frequently and somehow manages to grab my butt every single day of the year.

Aired up my bike tires! Told Scott to buy me some bike baskets. Getting ready to ride for groceries! Having them delivered is awesome, of course, but hardly necessary when it’s over 50F (and under 80F). Had considered going for a ride today, but it decided to rain non-stop. At least the grass has started to become green.

Maybe I’ll go ride my bike around tomorrow!

2015 Kindle Fire 7″

January 20th, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Gadgets - (2 Comments)

In which there’s a review, sort of. Not really. Whatever.

I more or less demanded this for Christmas, because they had them marked down to $35 and you know that’s a shitload of hardware for $35. I thought we’d put Android on it or something, if it turned out nobody was using it.

61vuTHMmf0L._SL1000_

Well, I love it. So much more comfortable to use than the big ol’ 8.9″, plus the OS is kinda neat. Way more store-like, but still, fairly charming in its way. And it’s really, really fast.

The only problem I have with it is that that battery life sucks. Really bad, actually. Thing dies every day and needs to be plugged in, and I really don’t think I’m getting 7 hours of battery life out of it. Well, that and the fact that you can’t find the pictured wallpaper anywhere.

But other than that, it’s pretty great.

The 8.9″ is still worth, on eBay, between $80 and $100. I’m considering selling it, plus its keyboard and case, and then getting myself the Fire HD 6″, the model up from this one, which is HD but actually a wee bit smaller than this one. Maybe I’ll sell this one too, or give it to someone who needs a tablet.

Seriously, having three Kindles — two Fires and a Paperwhite — is pretty ridiculous.

Five Inches

December 21st, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Food | Health - (5 Comments)

In which I went on a half-assed diet the Monday after Thanksgiving because I was fucking miserable in my own body.

On Thanksgiving day I did not measure my waist, but I’d measured it awhile before so I knew it was 40 inches.

40 inches! My waist! That’s fucking insane! I’m 5’4″; not even my hips should be 40 inches. But there it was, obesity, as a result of a completely unregulated diet.

tape measure

As you probably know, I fell in love with a boy a few years ago and moved two thousand miles to be with him. He’s awesome and I’m totally glad I did, but, well. He’s male. And he’s 13 years younger than me. He eats whatever the fuck he wants when he wants it, just like I did at his age, and I fell back into the habit of pizza and potatoes and bread and Basmati, because that’s how he eats and it’s nice to eat together.

But I’m not 35! I can’t eat white bread and white rice and pasta and potatoes! (Well, I can, obviously, but not without getting totally fucking fat. Which is what happened. Under the skin of my back is basically a slab of solid fat, from neck to ass. It’s terrible how much fat I’ve packed on this little frame.)

So the Monday after turkey day I went back on the diet I was on 3 years ago when I got so slender: basically, modified vegetarian Atkins. Which means I’m not eating white stuff or refined stuff for the time being, and I’m using an app to track my food intake with the goal of keeping my daily net carbohydrate intake to about 40 grams.

In three weeks, I’ve lost five inches off my waist. Five inches! In three weeks! (I have no idea what I weigh, because we don’t have a scale, but seriously, who gives a fuck what they weigh.)

I feel so much better! Being so fat makes me utterly miserable. My feet and hands swell up and I’m forever exhausted and disinterested and lazy. I had an experience on Thankgsiving weekend when, after getting up from having sat at my desk for a few hours, I found my legs from thighs on down to be so swollen and water-logged that they felt like sausages, and the skin on the bottom of my feet felt like it would split. It was awful.

Not to mention how terrible the hangovers are when your metabolism’s all fucked up. Basically totally incapacitating.

It’s also amazing at how immediately the body responds when you stop feeding it pasta, white rice, potatoes, and white bread at every turn. And no trips to the gym required!

It’s still a diet, in the sense that one must abstain from nomming certain things that taste good (I’m looking at you, Mesa Pizza’s peerless portabello bleu pesto), but it’s so much easier than low-fat calorie-counting. For snacks, I have olives and cheese cubes and walnuts instead of potato chips. Breakfast is eggs with veggies and cheese, or a plate of foule with a hard boiled egg and olive oil. Dinner’s a tuna melt on Jesus bread, or bean & cheese nachos (the number of chips being dependent on my carb count for the day). Heavy cream in one’s coffee is delicious. Very dark chocolate is allowed. Butter on anything you like.

In place of hash browns, I sautée cabbage in butter with salt & pepper. There’s an edible cauliflower “dough” one can use for garlic-cheese “bread” sticks. There’s spaghetti squash as a pasta substitute. You’re never hungry, but you pretty much have to eat at home because restaurant food is — with the exception of, say, burrito or sub sandwich bowls — universally rife with refined carbohydrates.

So, in a couple months I hope to have my waist down to under 30″, and my physical misery vanquished, and my health much improved. (Well, as improved as it can be for a sedentary hedonist, at any rate!)

Being fat sucks. Whenever I get fat, I develop an amazed respect for those persons who are truly grossly obese and still go to work every damned day, and get their laundry done, and raise children. Everything’s so difficult when you’re always tired, always hungry, and too big for comfort. Not to be terribly crass, but when my waist was 40″ around I could barely wipe my own ass: I have no idea how even bigger people manage. My toenails are still dragon talons as I’m waiting for another inch or two to go away before I tend to them; sitting folded in half for even the few minutes it takes to trim and clean one’s toenails is disturbingly uncomfortable when you’re too fat to bend over your own gut.

Furthermore, I feel terrible that a lot of really big people are big because they’re poorer and have to buy the cheaper food, most of which is nothing but low-fat refined carbohydrates, like boxed mac ‘n’ cheese, TV dinners, ramen bowls, and drinks, and also that the government is still endorsing the low-fat diet theory publicly even though it’s been thoroughly debunked by over forty years of study.

At any rate, I got fucking huge, which often happens in new relationships, and it was fun while it lasted, but I’m off white bread and potatoes and I’ll be back to normal by spring. Smooches!

In which I freak out. Seriously. Not even kidding.

I haven’t spent much time in chans or forums because they’re stupid, but even so I’ve seen countless nerds type “kill yourself” at each other, and sometimes it’s hilarious. In IRC it’s practically a tradition to tell chatters to go commit suicide — preferably immediately, by gun, and live via Skype. It’s typical shock-based online shenanigans and it’s funny.

BUT THEN THERE’S MOTHERFUCKING FACEBOOK, AND THESE PEOPLE ARE NOT EVEN KIDDING.

I’ve been ranting forever about the impossibly dumb shit people post about — the anti-vaxxers and the New Age hippies and the holistic practitioners with their weekend retreats and cooking classes or whatever — but after today, I think I really just can’t afford to look at Facebook ever again.

Because today on Facebook, I saw someone I went to university with tell somebody with cancer to do the Gerson “protocol” instead of taking his chemo.

Which is literally one person saying to another, “lol go kill yourself fgt,” only it’s not even mildly funny.

If you have the kind of cancer that would have chemo prescribed in the first place, you have a type of cancer that has a record of responding to chemo. (If your cancer historically doesn’t give a fuck about chemo, they’re not gonna recommend it.)

Chemo is demonstrably effective and does save lives. The evidence is literally everywhere, because basically everybody knows someone who has survived cancer through chemotherapy. Fuck yeah, chemo sucks. Fuck yeah, nobody likes it. But we do it when indicated because even though it sucks ass, doing chemo is much more effective against certain kinds of cancer than not doing it. People telling you that 2% bullshit are trying to sell you something.

Juicing, on the other hand, DOES ABSOLUTELY FUCK-ALL FOR CANCER*, and all the other wacky shit in the Gerson ‘protocol,’ like the no-salt diet and the liver injections, is actively fucking dangerous:

Between 1980 and 1986, at least 13 patients treated with Gerson therapy were admitted to San Diego area hospitals with Campylobacter fetus sepsis attributable to the liver injections. None of the patients was cancer-free, and one died of his malignancy within a week. Five were comatose due to low serum sodium levels, presumably as a result of the “no sodium” Gerson dietary regimen. As a result, Gerson personnel modified their techniques for handling raw liver products and biologicals. However, the Gerson approach still has considerable potential for harm. Deaths also have been attributed to the coffee enemas administered at the Tijuana clinic.

…A naturopath who visited the Gerson Clinic in 1983 was able to track 21 patients over a 5-year period (or until death) through annual letters or phone calls. At the 5-year mark, only one was still alive (but not cancer-free); the rest had succumbed to their cancer.

And forty years before that:

In 1947, the NCI reviewed ten cases selected by Dr. Gerson and found his report unconvincing. That same year, a committee appointed by the New York County Medical Society reviewed records of 86 patients, examined ten patients, and found no evidence that the Gerson method had value in treating cancer. An NCI analysis of Dr. Gerson’s book A Cancer Therapy: Results of Fifty Cases concluded in 1959 that most of the cases failed to meet the criteria (such as histologic verification of cancer) for proper evaluation of a cancer case. A recent review of the Gerson treatment rationale concluded: (a) the “poisons” Gerson claimed to be present in processed foods have never been identified, (b) frequent coffee enemas have never been shown to mobilize and remove poisons from the liver and intestines of cancer patients, (c) there is no evidence that any such poisons are related to the onset of cancer, (d) there is no evidence that a “healing” inflammatory reaction exists that can seek out and kill cancer cells.

These idiots have been torturing human beings (and not curing cancer) for over forty years! And yet it’s the real doctors we hate?

Using woo and pseudo-science to scare people off an effective, proven tool like vaccines is one thing (because you’re likely to be far removed from the real-life results of your stance, alternately known as “other people’s dead babies”), but telling someone diagnosed with cancer to buy a fucking Vitamix? Seriously?! Someone freaked out and terrified and grasping at straws, you’re gonna give them half-assed off-the-cuff advice about shit you know nothing about and are UTTERLY UNQUALIFIED TO DISCUSS? HOW THE FUCK DO YOU EVEN SLEEP AT NIGHT?

I mean, I know. I know. You’re not trolling, you really do believe in this stuff. You’re nice people and you have big hearts and you’ve dutifully internalized everything you’ve been told about “healing” (which is not the same as actual medical science, which is fine… until you’re dealing with actual disease) and you hardly ever truly contemplate the sources of these teachings. You honestly think you’re being helpful and insightful and open-minded and you pride yourselves on being alternative. Shit, a lot of you have undergone various numbers of years of training in these things, and make your livelihoods from selling your services to the worried well.

You’ve bought the conspiracy hook, line, and sinker, and you really do think that “natural healing” modalities are being suppressed by The Man because money. You haven’t stopped to deeply consider that “natural” not only doesn’t mean anything (everything that exists is “natural”), but that even if it did it wouldn’t matter because natural isn’t intrinsically better. Which is why we take aspirin, which is dosage-controlled, uniform, and well-understood, rather than willow tree bark, every example of which will vary wildly in terms of strength and effectiveness. It hasn’t really occurred to you that the vast majority of the time, Reiki and yoga and Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine and herbs and homeopathy and The Secret are fine because they give people a very deep and very needed sense of agency — I myself do Sun Salutes and eat kitcheree and throw I Ching on occasion — but that for actual life-threatening diseases, these approaches universally fail to produce measurable, repeatable results**.

Which means, in a nutshell, that they’re placebo. They don’t work. They don’t work because the Universe is orderly and full of laws, and regular ol’ unenlightened people only get cured when the cures actually work.

So you’re not malicious or even truly stupid, I know that, but I just don’t think I can stand it anymore. It’s not just the political nonsense; I can’t count the number of times some addle-headed creature I’m friends with (usually but not always from Fairfield) has posted some pseudo-scientific jargony bullshit on Facebook and I’ve replied with the appropriate Quackwatch or Snopes or Wikipedia link… and then gone back and deleted it ten minutes later, because these are nice people and their intentions are good and they’d probably be really hurt if I called them gullible addle-headed twats right on their own Facebook walls.

But the truth is that Reiki doesn’t cure anything, homeopathy doesn’t cure anything, and The Secret just make terminally ill people feel guilty for being sick. Making the worried well feel better is something, obviously, but it’s NOT THE SAME AS ACTUAL MEDICAL SCIENCE. We need to develop the discernment that allows us to tell the fucking difference between a healer-prescribed smoothie diet for your psychosomatic fibromyalgia and chemo-fucking-therapy for your actual cancer: The first does nothing, is not detectable, and operates only in the so-called sufferer’s head. The second is measurably effective in the real world. Which is what you need if you’re unenlightened and sick.

Most of the time, believing in bullshit is harmless. Most people, regardless of their Facebook posts, do get their vaccines before international travel, and they do take chemotherapy when they get cancer, so what they “believe” in between times is essentially irrelevant.

But man, these posts! I’m like, HOW DO YOU EITHER NOT KNOW (OR NOT CARE) THAT JOE MERCOLA HAS BEEN SANCTIONED BY THE FDA… MORE THAN ONCE? He sells diagnostic equipment as a breast cancer “cure,” for fuck’s sake! He lives in a multi-million dollar dwelling and repeatedly claims he’s not in it for the money! HE’S TOTALLY A FUCKING QUACK! JUST LIKE OZ AND JOHN OF GOD AND CHRISTIANE NORTHRUP AND EVEN CHOPRA! How do you not know that mercola.com and whale.to and naturalnews.com and acam.org are not news sources but stores, selling snake oil to the ignorant masses?!

Well, you do know. You obviously know, because you’re the ones buying all the pills and capsules and drops and teas and herbs and mushrooms and salves and books and tapes and retreats and seminars and cruises. You people are a multi-billion dollar industry. You’re making Oz and Oprah and Mercola and Chopra filthy fucking rich.

It literally takes only seconds, to vet anyone who’s ever been on Oprah for quackery, using an internet connection and a search engine. Seconds! I’d never even heard of this horrific and crazy Gerson therapy until I read that Facebook post, but I knew in less than 90 seconds that it was bullshit, and unsafe bullshit at that.

Those of you who continue to believe in your ridiculous “vaccine reform” nonsense are doing real damage. Infants are dying of fucking whooping cough now, because you think your feelings and half-assed, biased internet “research” equals real expertise. Well, you’re not fucking experts, you don’t understand most of what you read, and you’re not qualified to think what you think, period. I’m totally unqualified too, WHICH IS WHY I READ ACTUAL EXPERTS RATHER THAN FAME-SEEKING RETARDS LIKE THE ENTERTAINERS ON FUCKING OPRAH. You want to get involved in “vaccine reform”? Go get a BS in molecular biology, chemistry, biochemistry, or microbiology. Until then, shut the fuck up because you literally do not know what you’re talking about, regardless of your feelings. Seriously.

Those of you who tell people who are genuinely sick and suffering to turn their backs on the sum of human scientific and medical knowledge and let some unqualified, credulous woo practitioner direct their treatments ARE DIRECTLY CAUSING HARM by choosing not to vet your own goddamned idiotic beliefs! HOW CAN YOU NOT SEE THIS AND FIND WITHIN YOURSELF A DEEP AND URGENT DESIRE TO CORRECT YOUR FAULT?

Yes, yes, karma, blah blah blah. Somebody may be “destined” to logon to Facebook, see a link, and fire their oncologist because they’re “supposed” to die an awful, unmanaged, hideously painful death at the hands of charlatans. What the fuck ever. I’ve read my scripture and damn right it’s my duty to at least try to stop the tide when it gets to the point it’s doing actual damage.

Listen. Any modality that blames the patient for not getting well is not medicine, it’s woo. And all woo does this. Sick? Stressed? Dying of cancer? It’s your fault! You deserve it. We were unable to cure you because there’s something inherently wrong with you, you didn’t try hard enough, you’re not pure. It’s your karma.

I just don’t know if I can deal. While I do learn a fuckton of (mostly useless!) knowledge looking up every second or third claim I see while scrolling down that Facebook feed, I just don’t know what to do when grown-ass adult human beings are posting Mercola and naturalnews.com claims as if the shit wasn’t all utter garbage, or when people are telling each other NOT to do chemo and let some fucking hippies inject them with liver extract and withhold sodium until they’re in a goddamned coma, or even just when people make claims about welfare fraud or the non-existent gender-based pay gap that I can disprove with a single URL.

I JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO IN THIS BRAVE NEW WORLD OF SOCIAL NETWORKING. Do I tell you you’re a total fucking retard? Or do I scroll on by and let all that insular, awful, Dark Age-level “belief” in totally made-up stuff continue to snowball? What’s that old adage about just standing by and letting shit happen because it wasn’t your job to do anything about it?

The following random ER doctor’s blog post sums up my conflict perfectly in a piece about a young woman “treated” with Gerson who is probably dead now:

Most woo is harmless — but that’s because most woo is directed at chronic, ill-defined, or otherwise incurable conditions. Think chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia. Wave a magnet at somebody, get them to do a lot of enemas and go on a special diet, and you get to write a book and go on Oprah and collect a lot of money. If the subjects of the “magical thinking medicine” think they are better from the intervention, then so much the better.

“But the really pernicious thing about allowing fantasy medical theories and treatments into the mainstream is that when they gain enough credence among the masses, they will tend to be used in place of real medical treatments that work.

Tons of so-called “alternative medicine” is placebo, and that’s fine. It’s fine because much of what ails us is psychological and we need the time, the attention, the touch, and the feeling of agency we get when we have capsules to take and exercises to do at home — these things help us feel like we’re doing something to combat our “illness.” But woo doesn’t heal actual maladies, people. There’s a huge difference, and I know we’re all smart enough to recognize this.

I got so much more satisfaction visiting a midwife — who scheduled 45-minute appointments, and listened to me and paid attention to me as a whole person — than I ever did seeing a gynecologist. But believe you me, when it turned out I had a fucking prolapsed fibroid cyst coming out of my uterus that was about to get infected and kill me, I went to a surgical gynecologist and not a nutritionist. Because I’m not a total fucking idiot.


* Unless you’re so sick you’re having trouble swallowing; then smoothies can be a good way to get nutrition inside you. But they won’t heal your fucking cancer. Because cancer is CANCER, not fucking scurvy. Of course life-long dietary influences must have a part in cancer-causing, but there is absolutely zero evidence that feeding people sugars is beneficial.
** Yes, I know modern science has and does and will prove that certain ancient modalities do work: the Neti pot, for instance, and Artemisinin. But Ayurved is also responsible for killing people with lead poisoning and traditional Chinese medicine prescribes toxic herbs too, and the wildly divergent dosages from one plant to the next… don’t even get me started. And the majority of treatments offered by either tradition, in terms of measurable results, are entirely indetectable. Which means they don’t actually do anything.

More reading:
Weighing up claims about cures and treatments for long-term conditions

I Don’t Know What to Believe, about evaluating scientific claims


Update: A few days later, someone else in my timeline solicited the medical advice of Facebook on the topic of an iron shot. Apparently she’s chronically anemic and her doctor recommended the shot to, I assume, alleviate this condition. She cancelled the appointment due to her concerns about “toxic” side-effects and is looking into woo iron supplements. Because at least they’re unregulated, arbitrarily dosed, and “natural.” *headdesk*

Things!

October 17th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Life - (0 Comments)

In which there’s a post about some things.

I’m employed! I have a job. It starts on the 2nd of November. I’ll be doing call center work from home, probably for Comcast, dressed in my drawstring pants and t-shirts and not wearing a bra. I’m excited to have money coming my way again, so I can buy silly things and also save up for vacations, and about not having a commute during blizzard season, which will be here any day now.

It’s tech support for a well-known and much-hated behemoth, and I will probably start raging almost immediately. I expect I’ll revive my old dead fuckingsupport Tumblr as a way to channel the call center rage into internet hilarity.

I got an email yesterday with my new work email login, VPN info, chat client login, and general instructions for setting up my machine for work. Uninstalling Norton was as stupid as it ever was, and setting up a user profile in Windows 8.1 takes for-fucking-ever, but the machine’s pretty much ready to go. Now I need to figure out where I’m going to work and get a desk or something set up.

Toshiba Satellite S55T-B5335

The last time I worked from home, I just built a desk in G’ma’s basement of old wooden crates and a slab door. Sure wish we had the materials and the space to do that here! The problem is that my shifts will most likely be at odd hours for the next 6 months, so I may be working at any time. Should I set up in the living room or the bedroom? Hard to know.

I made sourdough bread! From my homemade sourdough starter! And it’s sour!

It’s also really dry and heavy and chewy, with very little loft, even though I let it rise for three times longer than the recipe called for. Kneaded bread is stupid; give me the no-knead recipe any day!

Sourdough baguettes

We’ve now used Instacart twice and Prime Now once! People just bring shit to your house and you literally don’t even have to go anywhere, ever! I am somewhat ashamed about having people bring me groceries but they keep doing it for free!

Amazon Prime Now

I really need to do my dishes.

There is a zombie bar crawl going on downtown, and we keep seeing drunk zombies out our living room window.

Living in Uptown

August 4th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Life | Moving | Weather | Whining - (0 Comments)

In which I’m all about the neighborhood.

I’m an Uptown girl!

Uptown!

After a full month, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not that I’m stupid and missing something, it’s that there really is nowhere to put our remaining stuff. It has to go away somehow, or get packed into the basement storage closet, because there’s just no way to organize it. And I’m sick of having bags and boxes in my living room! Ugh!

For people who don’t have much shit, we have too much shit. Hell, we have an entire drawerful of single-function kitchen gadgets. I mean, I’m sure I really did feel like I needed a garlic press, tongs, corkscrew, can opener, and thermometer at one time or another, but all that crap in one drawer and it’s basically a bunch of shit that wants to gnaw your arm off at the wrist. Dude, seriously, that drawer is dangerous and pointy. Stay out of it.

I’ve also got a bit of buyer’s remorse, on the level of the apartment’s issues. The window and air conditioner leak when it rains. None of the outlets will hold a plug, so everything’s always falling out, which is frustrating as hell — I can’t even count how many times we’ve had to reset the digital alarm clock on the nightstand, or how often the internet’s gone out because the router plug (which we have taped to the wall) just fell out.

Laundry list of first world problems. I know. I know. There’s more, of course:

The A/C basically only half-works. It comes on, but even if you have it on full blast, it cycles off every few minutes and just blows recycled air. (Even if you run it for hours it never gets cold in the apartment, and merely cooking a meal makes the place unbearable even with the door freshly weather sealed and two fans circulating the air). Half the lights in the kitchen overheat after ten minutes and turn themselves off, so cooking and dishes and cleaning is done mostly in a sort of dim gloom. And it’s smaller. And there’s no cross breeze. Plus it costs more than the other place!

But the location is great. I love the location. Bars, stores, tacos, falafel, liquor, parks, lakes, libraries, coffee, nail salons. Pretty much anything you could ever want is within walking distance.

Well, except for a job. I still don’t have one of those, but I’m not out of money yet so I’m trying not to freak out about it. I basically don’t let myself go out and spend money more than once a week, and usually that’s either a trip to The Egg & I for breakfast, or down to CC Club for a drink. Just to get out while it’s not blizzard season and enjoy the fact that I can. But basically I’m afraid to spend, because part of me is convinced I’ll never get another job again. Too many online friends out of work for two or more years, all those ladies at Home Depot with two or three jobs, my age, plus getting turned down by that little CU for both of their P/T teller gigs…

Oh, and this: I applied at the wrong grocery store. My Saturday interview last weekend wasn’t over here at the neighborhood store, it was 4 miles and a half hour bus ride away, on the other side of what Scott described as “pretty sketchy areas.” Never occurred to me that the Cub on Lake street would actually be on Lagoon, and that the one on 26th is actually called the Lake Street one. Because how would anyone who doesn’t work there even know that?!

Anyway, we moved here so I could make friends and have a life without needing to buy a car or drag my beloved everywhere all the time. To make friends, you go out. Frequently. And people get used to seeing you and start talking to you, and the next thing you know you’ve been off on adventures and you have a back story and now you’re friends. The last time I went through this process in a new town I was spending the last of my money like a dumb kid (which obviously worked out okay or I wouldn’t be here, but still isn’t very responsible) or I was on unemployment. It takes a lot of money, actually, to just hang out in a bar or a bookstore or a coffee shop enough to belong there. Well, “a lot” if you have no income, I mean.

So I now live somewhere cool! Yay! And I’m not doing shit. Boo. Right now I have time and no money; by the time I’m working again I’ll have money and no time (and it’ll be too cold to go anywhere anyway). I’m basically screwed either way.

I should really be looking for a band, but it’s too hot. I just can’t even. Actually I found a couple of musicians via Craigslist last spring and then blew off following up with them because of work and moving and travel and blah blah blah I suck.

The old place was closer to Scott’s work, had a park next door, no traffic, everything worked, was bigger, was cheaper. He didn’t want to move; I did. I just didn’t like the neighborhood, because everything was a mile or more away over an overpass. Now I like the neighborhood but I’m too old and too conservative to spend money without a job and I basically just look at it out the window and feel like an asshole because I know any second now there will be three feet of snow out there and it’ll be twenty below and it won’t matter that there’s a corner store because I’ll just wait ’til the weekend so I can get a ride in the car to the grocery, like I did at the old place, and we’ll have moved for nothing.

Because that’s how the Midwest works. You’re frantic in the spring and fall to Go Out And Do Things, and the lakeshores and streets are absolutely stuffed with humanity. During summer there’s still a lot of bodies (because these people don’t seem to understand that HUMIDITY IS AWFUL) but less than spring and fall, I think, and in the winter you hardly ever see anybody outside besides in grocery store parking lots, at all, ever, because the weather will legit kill you. They don’t even plow most of the sidewalks, because people aren’t walking.

Lots of traffic at our intersection. Really a strong noise comparison with the old place. Cars here 24 hours a day, lots of emergency vehicles, foot traffic pretty much all the time. Lots of activity and vibrancy. It’d probably feel amazing if I knew anybody, but mostly I still feel like a tourist. Or a tourist’s mother.

Seriously. I unconsciously classify the vast majority of people who walk by as “kids.” How did I get this old? (more…)

In which I don’t think I got the job.

Well, it’s Wednesday afternoon, and I haven’t heard back from the CU. Pretty sure they offered both of their lovely P/T teller positions to other applicants. I’m sad, because I really wanted to be able to live and work 600 feet apart, and have regular hours, and spend my work time in a quiet building.

I opened an account there anyway, because being 600 feet away it’ll be the only convenient place to buy quarters for laundry.

Oh, well. Guess I’ll call the other place back, even though I don’t really want to do full-time helpdesk, but maybe it’ll work out.1

I suppose I could apply at the Cub grocery store a few blocks from here, but that’s basically just like the last job, what with the industrial lighting and the standing up and, probably, the random scheduling.

So, the ideal little job I want being pretty much off the table, I responsibly paid my Chase rewards card off (like I do every month) and it took almost half of my remaining funds. As wonderful as it is to sleep in and cook Scott’s dinners and shop online for shoe racks, I guess I really need a job now.

Ugh. Job hunting. So hard. Especially considering that the comfortable, reasonable part-time job seems to be a thing of the past. Retail offers nothing but part-time so they don’t have to pay bennies but it’s really much closer to full-time hours because they’re always understaffed, and ‘real’ business offers nothing but full-time because apparently there’s no such thing as a qualified applicant who will accept part-time employment anymore.

After much consideration, I’ve determined that in order to finish unpacking the last few boxes, we need a little rolling rack for the bathroom, a shoe rack for the closet, and possibly a small shelving unit for the bedroom. I also continue to want-but-not-need an old fashioned coat rack to put by the door for umbrellas and jackets and bags and crap. Even with that many purchases, I still wouldn’t have any place for the officey/desk box of stuff that you’d normally store in your desk but Scott’s desk doesn’t have any drawers or storage or anything, so where the hell are the checks and staplers and mail-that-needs-to-be-saved-for-awhile supposed to go?

Anyway, after staring at stuff a lot, that’s where I’m at. Everything’s full but I still have more stuff to put away. Ergo, we need to obtain things to put said things away in.

I’m going to go throw the bedding in the wash, and then go get milk and eggs. Everything is humid (68%) and hot (81F) and I’m miserable because in my old age I no longer tolerate heat well, but at least it’s overcast so the temperature has stayed down. Sorta. But not really, because HUMID. Even with two fans going in a tiny apartment it still manages to feel stuffy in here; guess I better fire up the A/C.


1 It didn’t. I called the HR lady and she told me that the entire bank is moving to Plymouth in October, abandoning their downtown tower. WHO KNEW. Bus ride from Uptown to Plymouth? An hour and twenty-four minutes. Each way. And I happen to know from my adventures last week that cab fare is forty bucks. So no jobs in Plymouth, that’s for sure.

Grateful

July 12th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Food | Gadgets | Life | Photography | Reading - (0 Comments)

In which it’s a lazy Sunday.

It’s so shitty outside there’s a heat warning on! Stay inside, stay hydrated, check on your neighbors, that sort of thing! Temperature in the mid-90’s with a heat index of one hundred degrees! A big-ass line of storms tonight! Large hail possible!

So I’m staying inside with the A/C on. I’m so grateful to have access to air conditioning technology. And fans, too — we have two fans running, to circulate all that conditioned air (because otherwise it just pools by the door and does no one any good at all).

I stayed up super late last night devouring part three of Seveneves. Other than the agnostic science fiction writer’s silly dream that a catastrophe survived only by scientists would somehow end religion1, it’s a really fantastic read. Being the jaded reader I am I’m loving being so absorbed in a story, since it happens so infrequently to me now.

I’d like to go look for curtains and wood glue and a few other needed household items, but I’m pretty sure leaving the apartment is a bad idea. Scott’s asleep anyway, taking a lazy Sunday afternoon nap.

I slept until two-thirty, then got up and made fried potatoes, Hollandaise, eggs, spinach, and toast for brunch. Not as good as the AMAZING Eggs Florentine at The Egg and I, but still edible. I also had a brilliant iced cardamom mocha breve with the last of the Radiance Dairy cream in it.

The bit of sky I can see under the blinds looks nice and blue, with fluffy clouds and a strong breeze ruffling the leaves, but it’s probably as damp as sweaty crotch out there. I’ve always maintained that the Midwest looks lovely all summer but feels awful.

Yesterday I installed Flickr on my phone and it worked. (It’s never worked on this phone before, and getting images off the phone and onto Flickr has been a pain in the ass since I got the phone last year.) It worked so well, in fact, it uploaded all 200 images in the phone’s gallery and now I have to delete them!

The credit union didn’t get ahold of me at the end of the week, but neither did they do so last time. I just don’t think they’re in a hurry about anything. Hopefully they’ll offer me a position next week! *fingers crossed* If they don’t, I’ll have to start looking for something else in earnest. I mean, I’ve applied for three jobs this week so as not to have too many eggs in one basket, but I’ll really need to buckle down before I run out of money.

Friday, I got my nails done because they looked awful. That evening, Scott went to a ball game (and watched Detroit lose to the Twins in the final inning) and I had the evening to myself. I drank some wine, then rode my bike down to Nicollet and ate at a Mexican restaurant.

El Nuevo Mariachi Restaurant

Then I went home and took a nap, sprawled diagonally across the entire bed, with a fan blowing on me. It was a fucking glorious Friday night.

I just looked up to see that the blue sky is gone, and is now the gunmetal grey of a thick cloud deck. The last time I checked, storms weren’t due for five more hours. Maybe it’ll get interesting out there!


1 We all want to end the bullshittery of organized religion, of course, but evolution and bureaucracy are part and parcel of human nature. Wherever there are human beings, there will be religion, because there will always be a need for jargon to describe the internal and the numinous, and there will always be weird little rule-following bureaucratic assholes making people miserable. Basically, every time a writer kills “religion” in a book, it just tells you that s/he has no idea what religion actually is beyond what it looks like on the surface.

Embarassing stumble

July 9th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Life - (0 Comments)

In which IT WAS BASICALLY QUICKSAND.

Yesterday, I stepped into wet concrete.

I’d walked to Las Geel (the Somalian bodega on the corner) and seen the cement truck and guys pouring the stuff right in front of the store. I went in, shopped, paid, and exited. I carefully skirted the fresh section of sidewalk and crossed the street.

Aaaaaand stepped into another fresh bit of sidewalk, with both feet, a bit that didn’t have a barrier around it and was only vaguely marked with an orange traffic cone!

I sank past my ankles and nearly lost a Birkenstock, which I fished out and used to smooth the horrible mess both my feet had made. Then I scurried home with my groceries to rinse my feet before I got chemical burns.

My shoes were so bad I considered throwing them out, but they’re Birkenstock clogs and not cheap and so I figured I’d try to save them even though they’re suede and COVERED IN CONCRETE.

Rinsed my legs and feet first. Then put my shoes on a big piece of plastic and wiped and scraped off as much concrete as I could before rinsing the shoes in the tub, too. Put them in the sun on the front porch.

Then, of course, I had to clean the tub.

The shoes survived, miraculously, and today the spot was covered by one of those bumpy panels that might be for traction but don’t seem to be, so my error is gone.

I made rice and dal for dinner, and fried up some cumin papadums. I did the dishes. I made the bed. I paid my cell phone bill and made my monthly hopeless student loan donation. I applied for a random tech job. I read some of Seveneves.

I did not do laundry or unpack any boxes.