5-20-2015 World Metrology Day

The weather has been pleasantly cool this week, in the 60ºs and 70ºs. This allowed me to actually make corned beef dinner last night, whereas last week cooking anything was to be avoided. This may be why the kombucha I’m trying to start hasn’t seemed to produce a mother yet. I’ll give it another week. Meanwhile, I found an absolutely adorable jug for the Kombucha at the health food store. They’ve got a kombucha dispenser (choose from four flavors), and they sell pint and quart jugs to put it in. The older I get the more I use labeling, so I got one. But I am trying to make my own, as I’ve done in the past. The kids think it tastes disgusting- they’re allowed.  The trees are really leafed out, the blossoms have passed on the apple orchards, and the lilacs up here are opening. (a bit early, but, they say we no longer have to wait for Memorial Day to put in the tomato plants, so I guess that’s it.
I guess it’s pollen season. Today when we went out there were heaps of oak “pollen” (at least dropped off blossoms) on the car, and they’re heaping up alongside the roads as well. The lilac we planted last year seems to be alive, and we got a new, white one to go next to it. The bleeding hearts are amazing. I love them! The narcissus that are the closest I’ve been able to find to mother’s are coming up. I’ve come to the sad conclusion that everything she taught me wasn’t correct. I think knowing that intellectually is easy, but since I have to discover it over and over, I don’t think it’s sinking in. And in this case, it’s not a big deal, the words narcissus, hyacinth, jonquil, and daffodil have a lot of overlap, and unless we get to the latin designations, I don’t think that any of them is used universally.
My birthday balloon finally came down this week. It is now able only to balance on it’s “neck” and blow around when I turn on the fan. Wow, those last a long time (an hundred days)! When I was a kid the floating balloons we had didn’t always stay up overnight.Aqua-Vitae DSC01983I finally remembered to get a picture of Molly in the outfit we got her at Williamsburg.  That’s it for the pictures, we didn’t do anything much worth commemorating on film this week.
We’re getting used to Willow being in Florida. It’s a challenge for me to cook for only three. I got a packet of the waterlily stamps for her because she loves them, and we “message” back and forth. WaterLilies-Forever-BGv1_Block4-nostrokeMy facebook connects to her smart phone. We had to mail her her vitamins because they wouldn’t fit in her suitcase. Let’s face it, she’s down for a month, and who knows what all she’ll be doing? She tried to get everything into an old hard sided suitcase, but she was dubious about the clasps, so we tried the old American Tourister gorilla test, and threw it across the room. The clasps held admirably. The seams, however, gave out. So she used Dad’s Lands End canvas case. I recommended it because although it doesn’t have wheels, (or legs-don’t we all wish we could have Twoflower’s Luggage?), it does have a shoulder strap. Now that I know they don’t make those anymore, I love it even more. (I found something similar for £400, no wonder it’s so sturdy!)

This week we had a LOT fewer doctor appointments! Kat saw Dr. Mozumnder (her primary) because her psychiatrist doesn’t think the nausea and regurgitation she’s still getting since starting on the medication. I have to say I find it understandable, yet irritating, that psychiatric medicine is held aloof from the standard levels of doctors sharing information. Yes, I know that there’s a lot of stigma and mistrust around psychiatric issues. If we DON’T stop treating it like something that’s the person’s fault and a risk to those around him, a lot of people are not going to get the help they need! It seems to me that every doctor should know ALL the meds (herbs, etc.) you are taking in case they might interact. But Dr. Q and Dr. M say that people don’t unless the patient personally shares the information. Ridiculous! Anyway, while the OTC Prilosec helps- she’s simply feeling queezy and occasionally getting a small repeat of her food rather than spewing, as she did at the beginning, it hasn’t stopped completely, and they think the medicine shouldn’t do that. (So do I.) Actually the Mirtazapine is supposed to be an anti-nausea med, so it’s probably the quetiapine, which is known for stomach upset. We bring them the updated list of the herbs, vitamins, and meds, but I think that they should be sharing that information. This is, of course, at odds with my usual attitudes about privacy, but if you’re willing to take the stuff, someone should track it, and computers would help flag interactions and risks, as well as overdoses.
We trying herbs and acupuncture, Bach’s flower remedies, and now homeopathy (I saw an article about homeopathy for depression). The advantage is now toxicity, but I would like to find a practitioner who could choose the correct remedy for the case. It’s not “snake oil”, and I would hate to imagine people trying various prescription drugs simply by what they read on the internet. Yes, I think everyone who takes a treatment of any kind should research it as far as they can, because the doctors might forget something. But doctors are also trained to know things that might not occur to us, and have the experience to develop instincts for diagnosis, so we should take advantage of that too. It’s also been pointed out to me that homeopathics do have a shelf life, and I have gotten a replacement kit for my old one. Some, like arnica, against bruising, we’ve used up and replaced, but some we’ve never opened in 10 years. I also need to go through my jars of herbs and toss most of those. Anything that’s lost it’s label goes, or lost it’s color.
While I was at it I ordered a new hair-brush. I have one I keep in my room and one I keep in my purse, and haven’t seen the one I keep in my room since we got back. This means I have to come downstairs to brush my hair. Usually I put my hair up before I get dressed because it’s now so long it gets caught under my bra straps. The lost brush means I’ve been wearing my hair down all week because I don’t bring my pins down with me. (I keep thinking it will turn up somewhere!) I don’t think I’ve worn my hair down this many days running in decades!
Kat saw the dentist again this week- we were happy because the teeth he’d indicated might need root canals didn’t.  Kat wondered if daily regurgitation could have been affecting the enamel on her teeth. I’m not sure that a teaspoon full is the same as the whole meal, but it’s something to take into account.  One more visit should take care of the rest of her cavities. I’m not entirely certain I think that cutting away any bit of the tooth that’s gone soft is the best treatment- shouldn’t there be something that can strengthen it again? It’s like saying “you have gangrene, so let’s take off your leg”. We need the equivalent of maggots for teeth. They always take a “bit more” to make sure they’ve gotten everything, then go deeper to make something for the filling to hold onto. We need a better technology!
Today she got an ultrasound of her liver, gallbladder and pancreas. I’m afraid it will look normal and they’ll go one step further- endoscopy- the one where they put a camera down your digestive track. I love that we have this technology, but at the same time I worry that we may simply use it because we have it, when it’s not going to change treatment or the condition. What if they can’t find anything? It could be a case of “yes, this med makes you nauseous, deal with it.”?
The replacement balance board for the wii arrived, and we’re back to using that for exercise.  I also have a few new books: Medieval Popular Religion, Medieval Handbooks of Penance, and Witchcraft a Short Introduction.  These may give me talking points in the discussions on the Magic in the Middle Ages course, course. Portrait of a Priestess, & A Short History of Women’s Rights in the Ancient World will inform the Greek and Roman Mythology course. I have been enjoying, but am having a problem with the course The Rise of Superheros and Their Impact on Pop Culture (or as I think of it, the “Comics as Myths” course). I am really enjoying the information. The professor told the story of pitching the course to his dean who was all set to deny it when he asked him “Do you know the story of Moses?” and asked him to briefly describe it. He then asked “Do you know the story of how Superman got to Earth?” and as the dean started telling the story: his people were at risk, his parents sent him out all alone so he’d survive, he started protecting the people… OK, yes, there is a relationship between comics and myths. Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Iron Man, Wonder Woman,  they are our modern mythological heroes; they provide the universal stories that let us talk about ethics and other large issues. I have finally found out when the “Golden Age of Comics” was (during and just before WWII), but sadly, most of the homework seems to be creating a comic book hero- and I am having trouble with the Sketchpad they want us to use with Google Slides, or Powerpoint, or other things I haven’t figured out yet. I also I think I might be spending too much time in the discussions for the classes, and hesitate to add in another activity that will be a draw on my time. I’m enjoying them, I’m learning, but I’m not getting credit for it, so I’m not sure I need to invest in learning the new skill, although it would probably be fun.
Jane called earlier this week, her book is done and has been sent to the publishers, and I need to finish the cover ASAP. I should probably drop everything else (except feeding ourselves and driving to appointments) and do nothing else, but I haven’t. After Jane gets back from Rites of Spring, we’ll have to jump into getting the CTCW ball rolling, because we’ve let that slide too long as well. It doesn’t look like I’m going to be going to Panteria, or anywhere else, so I’ll be able to concentrate on the painting.
Steve came up for dinner Sunday. He’d sent me what mother called an “S”, a surprise gift, an external drive for my computer, but it didn’t work. Apparently it was too advanced for my old computer. This is, of course, why Apple no longer builds disc drives into the imacs, because they break more quickly than anything else. Sadly, Kat’s, which came out after they figured this out, has 4 usb ports. Mine has only 3. One usually links to the modem/wifi, and one to the keyboard, and I have a splitter on the last one into which I put connections for the back up, the printer, and thumb drives or camera card reader. I already would like to have more ports, and will need one for the disc drive. When did we start to “need” all these attachments?! He also brought Kat an update for her word processing program, but she hasn’t got an original to update. She’s been investigating data recovery services, but it’s hard to convince ourselves to risk a huge amount of money on a “no guarantees” service. Also, they seem to be priced for businesses- if you lose data, either you write it off or you have money to pay for recovering it. Stress!
While painting I have “watched” a few things: I finished the documentary: Egypt rediscovering a lost World, the shows about the discovery of how to read hieroglyphs. Wonderfully done! I also so a “Rear Window” type movie called Disturbia, I’m afraid that David Morse will always be a creepy villian for me since he played such a nice guy in St. Elsewhere (what, 25 years ago?).  Rather than reading the rest of the Odyssey, I listened to the rest of it on Youtube, read by Ian McKellan. I am now totally convinced that it is better listened to than read.  I am hoping to find an audio of the Homeric Hymns when we get tot that. When I’d go to bed I still am relaxing with the juvenile books from the Roman Mystery series: Colossus of Rhodes, Fugitive from Corinth, and Sirens of Surrentum. They continue to be well written and enjoyable.  The Hollow City, a sequel to the weird Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children I read in March, is also juvenile, and also seems to be a weird adventure created around some very bizarre old photographs. It reminds me a bit of Hugo, in the dark, surreal style, and the graphic novel aspects. I haven’t finished it yet, (haven’t even gotten to a hollow city) but I’m enjoying it. I also read some bits of Little Lord Fauntleroy. Hadn’t re-read that one recently. I love the sentiment. It’s by the same author as The Secret Garden, one of my favorite books when I was little. I love that Dearest told him to be good, kind, brave and wise. I would like to think that was what I taught my kids, but I fear I taught them that what other people think of you can be dangerous. I’m still having some problems getting into the non-fiction, which I’d say is a symptom of the depression. At least False God of Rome is adult fiction which I’m reading on my kindle.
I’m still not entirely comfortable with the kindle. For one thing, you can’t flip back and check the map in the front (if there is one). I like maps. They help me orient myself. You can’t even check to see how much you’ve got to go. Yes, it tells you you’ve read 24% or 67%, but that’s not like “another 45 pages”. I know this is because there isn’t a number of pages since they can change the font size- but still, I like to visually say “OK, I’ve got about 70 pages to go, I can read half that tonight.” I’ve taken to using post-it notes for book marks. I’ll put it at my “stop here” place, and if I’m being good, stop, if not I may move it ahead another chapter. You can’t do that on the reader. There are things I think should be advantages- you can search the kindle. Given how often I forget which book something I remember was in, IF I had all the books on the same kindle, maybe that would help me find it. On the other hand, I’m still nervous about buying an ephemeral copy of anything I’m not willing to let disappear if I mess up the technology. (I think it’s like people who’ve had their houses broken into can never open their door with the same confidence again. Having lost all my computer stuff, all stuff on the computer is not real the way printed material is real to me.) I like a lot about the kindle, but let’s face it. A kindle is only one discharged battery away from not being there.

This week someone linked a couple of documentaries, The Trouble with Chicken, and Sugar: the bitter truth to my facebook page, and I watched them. I’d heard about the Frontline documentary the day before, and was eager to watch it. We knew that poultry carried salmonella. We knew that salmonella and other bacteria is getting more anti-biotic resistant because of the agricultural use of antibiotics. Still, it’s concerning enough that this week I bought the $5/lb organically raised chicken rather than the $2/lb variety. I understand that organic doesn’t guarantee it’s less likely to be contaminated, but it does indicate the attitude of the producers, and if I keep  it up (just eat less chicken and be willing to pay more for it) and others do, the market will push the other chicken producers to take another look at the way they raise and process chickens.
Still, after watching the one on Sugar and metabolic syndrome, I kept following links for Robert Lustig (including The Elephant in the Kitchen), and have been reminded of other things I already knew. Sugar is a toxin. Sugar is 8 times as addictive as cocaine. The “average American” eats 185 pounds of sugar a year. That comes out to 370 cups, or close to a cup of sugar every day. (A pound of sugar contains 2 cups.) For most of human history we were getting about 15 pounds a year. Our bodies were not built to process this much. Even the AHA suggests we eat no more than 6 teaspoons a day (about 1/8 of what we do). Lustig (an endocrinologist) suggests simple results: eat a low sugar, high fiber diet with real food, He tells his patients no sweet drinks: no soda, no juice, no sweetened drinks like gatorade or fruit drinks, essentially nothing but water or milk. Other than that, make sure your carbs have fiber, (eat fruit, not juice, less processed food), and get some exercise (every hour in front of the screen, put in an hour of activity). These instructions are not difficult nor specific, so they tend to do well. In the various talks he shows the connections between diabetes, depression, heart disease, hypertension, obesity, & kidney disease. I tell you my kids are going to be cross, because I’m going to try to reduce the amount of sugar they eat. Poor Kat has been drinking MORE Coke recently since it’s one of the few things that settle her stomach. I have three sources of sugar in my diet: honey in my tea, chocolate, and baked goods. I get a lot of emotional support from people enjoying my cooking and baking, and I like eating it too. Over the years I’ve “given up” sugar, but when it comes to Christmas cookies, or a chance to make a favorite recipe for a guest, I’m buying sugar again. I’d say of the granulated sugar that comes into the house, more goes into tea than baked goods (but I haven’t tracked it, so I could be fooling myself). I think that if we did give up on the soda and tea sugar, we’d  could do it. I once worked out that I could make a dozen kinds of Christmas cookies, plus another batch of cookies, a pie and some other sweet (like jelly donuts) each month,  8 birthday cakes a year, and still stay under 25 pounds of sugar per person per year which is about where my great grandparents were before WWI. This does NOT include honey or sugar in tea, or the processed sugar in a prepared tomato sauce, or other prepared foods, but I have a hard time thinking of prepared foods we eat. I just did think of ketchup, salad dressing, barbecue sauce, yogurt, and there may be other foods I’m just not thinking about- (is there sugar in pickles?). Or we may be better off than the people who’s diets were examined to come up with the 185 pound figure. (I may have a follow up list next week.) Breakfast cereals- the ones we get aren’t too bad Shredded Wheat 0g sugar, Rice Krispies 1, Corn flakes 2, “cheerieOs’ 4. I already dilute my juice (I remember thinking Jasmina was odd when she did it, now I do), and make lemonade with a half cup sugar per gallon rather than 1.75 cups.
Ah well going too much stream-of-consciousness here.
Got to get going. I haven’t got a guest for tonight’s show, so I’m going to be talking about Tarot, about how to design your own spreads. I haven’t really planned it too much so I’m not too disturbed that after sending out 180 invitations, I’ve got me and one other “coming” and 2 “maybes”.
Some final ruminations. I’ve been really enjoying the cooler weather, and feeling really good especially as I lie in my comfy bed going to sleep or just waking up (somewhere between alpha and theta). I have recently been finding myself bombarded by images of my past: from Farmington, Winchester, Malden, Lyndeboro, when I was a kid, as a young mother, in the SCA, at the lake, meals to cook, floors to sweep, furniture to arrange, pictures I painted, stories I wrote, the inconsequential days and pieces of my life.
We all accumulate these moments, are they coming back through holes in my consciousness? The places where I lose track of what I was saying or doing? Have I accumulated so many memories that I can no longer keep them organized, and they fall into chaos? Like my library, or a house, do we have to get rid of some things so that there’s enough room to organize what remains?  I think about all the clothes that I’ve worn, and loved, and lost or tossed out. Yesterday I found my starry skirt that is soft, but no longer the thing of beauty it was when I made it in the 90s in the back of the closet. I remember finding a lion footed brass cup in the kitchen of the church we used for events at Anrhevedodd, that had been left behind and forgotten from one event to the next, or finding the painting of a baby holding its shoe I’d donated to an auction, and found in a junk shop. Things go out of our lives and we don’t remember them until they come back or something else, a scent, a photo, reminds us of that time. The “stuff” of my life flows out like flotsam or weeds in the bilge of a ship, landing on  my pillow, like the shore of my memory. Like a piece of sea glass, it no longer serves it’s original function, but sparkles, a thing of fragile beauty.
OK, now that’s REALLY too stream of consciousness.
Wishing you well until next week!
“About 15% of the US populations actually has a brain.” Robert Lustig
“When GOD made the poison, he packaged it with the antidote.”

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