Sunday, October 26, 2014

Gotta Get Some Wood

I attended my class reunion this weekend... More about that later.  ;)

Anyway, I think it's about time for me to build something else.  I figure that if I start by building boxlike or boxesque (gee, doesn't that make it all sound nicely highbrow?) wooden structures, I will eventually start to understand the nature of the medium and make some pretty things.

Okay, the truth is that I need a slide out tray / drawer / thing for under my bed, to store my shoes.  They're getting a little out of hand.  I would go the cheap route of buying plastic boxes, but there is only 6 inches of clearance and no box worth having is that shallow. 

Which means that I have to build one.  And I need to get on building that crawl space door, because my once dry-as-a-bone under-house area now reeks of mildew and rotting dead things.  It will only get worse if I don't replace that door.  

I promise, I've hidden no bodies under there.  Not yet. Low, dark, damp, creepy places are just not my thing.  I'm claustrophobic. 

I've been duly frightened off using power tools by the men of my immediate family, who are sure that I will lose some fingers due to my natural female clumsiness.  Okay, I take it back.  I'm just clumsy, and we all know it.  I'm also accident-prone, and everyone knows that.  The fact that they consider me to be incompetent simply due to my being female is a whole separate issue.  But I'm gonna have to risk getting hurt because I'm the one who has to take care of all the day-to-day repairs around my house.  I don't actually know anybody who would be willing to do any favors for me anyway -- serious compensation is always demanded.  And there is that issue of everyone being so busy all of the time. 

If nobody is going to have confidence in me, I might as well have it myself.

Hey, chivalry is dead.  Not that I was ever a princess.  More like a scullery / chambermaid.  But I still say that knowledge is power, and I know a lot more than I used to.  :)  Mwaahaahaa!  Where's my wand!?!

So as for the warning that I will suffer death by jigsaw, ehhhh... Whatever.  I've gotten nowhere in life from knuckling under to my fears, last night's refusal to dance and sing karaoke being case-in-point.  

Still, I think it would be much less dangerous if I buy myself a Workmate that I can clamp the wood I'm about to cut to.  :D.  I just hear that those things are a devil's puzzle to assemble, most of the time.  

I'm thinking 1x4s for the sides, some smooth plywood (see, I don't even know what it's called -- finish grade??) for the bottom, and some furniture slides for movement (because casters would eat up the height and render it useless).  If I can construct a box out of cardboard, moving up to wood only requires understanding how to measure, cut, and attach the wood, and I might even learn to use a countersink bit on this project.  

Next thing you know, I'll be building flush wall niches between the studs.  

Okayyyy.... That might take a few years..... Im a little skittish about sawing through paneling and hitting WIRE.  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Jaqen H'Ghar Returns?

I've read rumors that Tom Wlaschiha has been in or was headed to Northern Ireland for more time on Game of Thrones. :D 

Oh, I hope so! Since I can't watch any of the German movies he has been in (how in the world can I find them without delving into the world of pirated movies? ) I would like to see him reprise his role as Jaqen.  By far, he has been my favorite character in the series, and I believe he shows up in the books again, though not necessarily using his Jaqen persona.  

But even if I couldn't see his face, I wouldn't mind hearing his voice!  It's just.... I don't know, something about it that has serious appeal for me.  Every once in a while you hear a voice that just goes right through you for one reason or another.  It literally makes your hair stand on end.

Some kind of magic.

One other time I heard a voice like that in voice chat playing World of Warcraft -- we were trying to get some new guild members, and this guy spoke... I don't know what it was about his tone, but it got to me. I wanted to say, "Heyyyy, I know you're not going to join our guild, but could you maybe read the dictionary to me for an hour?"  

Pretty potent stuff.  Makes a lot of sense that Tom Wlaschiha is a voice actor. Smooth tones. :) And speaking five languages is pretty darn impressive. 

Greedy Monopolizing Companies

I'm rather aggravated.  This is going to take some explanation.  

My Cricut, an electronic cutting machine, was languishing unused because I couldn't do the things I wanted to do with it.  I suddenly decided to try making it useful again, and bought a few new cartridges, none of which created the effect desired.  Darn it, those cartridges are expensive.  

I cut some vinyl with it and created a name sign for my classroom. I also monogrammed my water bottle. Unfortunately, you can't do a whole lot of overlapping with the options are presented, and Cricut really doesn't provide a decent monogram capability.  Well, at least as far as I know, because I have one of the original machines and I'm not going to buy one of the brand-new ones just for new options, which still won't to allow me to do what I want to do. 

So I dug out my old laptop, on which I had installed a purchased copy of the program Sure Cuts A Lot.  It is a fabulous program, which overcomes the limitations of using a Cricut. Unfortunately, the parent company who wrote the software was sued by the makers of Cricut,  basically to punish them for coming up with a much better idea that made purchasing extra cartridges unnecessary.  Truly, Provo craft should have thought of this themselves. I understand they lost a lot of sales in 2013 to newer machines that could use extra features easily.

Well, the laptop wouldn't stay on long enough for me to get the software off of it. I investigated and found that the CMOS battery was likely dead -- after four years in a drawer I'm sure it was dead, and I bought that computer seven years ago.  So I cracked open my laptop and replaced that battery. 

But that didn't fix the problem. The laptop will not stay on. Honestly, I was thinking about making it a machine dedicated to that particular software.  Now it looks like I will have to transfer all of that hard drive information over to another PC laptop.   I don't want to buy another PC laptop.  *sigh*. 

It looks like the only thing that I can do is to take my laptop hard drive and put it in to another computer as a slave drive. I never wanted to buy another PC laptop again though. I don't need one. So it looks like I have a machine of limited use and software that I can't use with the machine anymore.and I really don't want to sink any more money into the situation. 

It would be so much better if Provo Craft would just become user-friendly and stop trying to gouge people for $50 cartridges.  All we need is the ability to create our own designs.   It's so frustrating.  My suggestion would be for them to make iPad compatible software which would allow people to cut their own freehanded designs.

Monday, October 20, 2014

That Trip to Urgent Care...

By Sunday my migraine hadn't gone away.  Unfortunately, by that time I still couldn't keep anything down and I was in so much pain that I was screaming, wailing, and even twisting large hanks of my hair down to the roots hoping that it would distract the nerves. For a few seconds, it did.

And then the pain came back and I started wishing I had a pistol.  That was when I became desperate to end the pain and checked the local emergency clinic's hours.

I hadn't worn my contacts since I took them out Friday night, so I couldn't see much with any acuity, and the tiniest bit of light hurt me horribly.  What I could see was full of black blobs and purple sparkles though.  I was too dizzy to walk straight, so driving into the sun wasn't going to happen. 

I texted and got no responses so I called and asked my father to take me, which he did.  I wore a cap and my darkest sunglasses and only took them off once.  

There was sunlight.  A lot of sunlight.  I looked hideous anyway, because I had eaten nothing but crackers since Friday night.

I signed in, told about the nausea (which was unusual for me) and sat for an hour in an exam room.  The light kept going off.  Then coming back on...  So I turned it off, because the darkness was a relief, and the nurse who did my vitals did ask if I would like the lights out.  And then the light came back on. Then off again, then on again.

I'll admit that at the time I entertained the possibility that my exploding brain was turning the light on and off.  

Finally the doctor came in and was horrified I haven't tried anything stronger than Tylenol in recent years.  She was also concerned that my regular doctor never was concerned enough to send me for an MRI of my brain.  (Gee, he seems to love racking up fees for complaint less tests!) She had me get a shot of Toredal and Phenergan, and though my butt was stinging ridiculously from the alcohol, I was relieved that maybe the pain would go away sometime soon.  


Well, it wasn't instant.  (Nice wish though.)

The doctor said the light went off because there was no movement in the room.  But what about when it came back on and I still hadn't moved, hmm?  Weird.

So I was given a prescription for Imitrex, and told that if I burn through it before the end of the month, to come back and she would double the dosage.  I hope it works.  

In the meantime, I went home and went to bed, and experienced multiple people pinging me on facebook, calling me, and texting me.  :D Thanks for caring, but now it's Sleepytime, ya know? Loooooveyouuuuuuugbyeeeeee....

I slept the rest of the day, but even when I woke up very late at night, I could still feel my headache gnawing, trying to hit again full force.  I was dizzy all day and felt kinda like the shot was still affecting me, but it was great to have some relief finally. :)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

I'm Getting Wood

A few weeks ago I bought a wooden swing from our local craft fair. I'd wanted one for about 15 years and when I got lucky enough to find a nice one for a good price i bought the last one they had. My new brother-in-law helped me by hanging it up on my back porch.  When we sat down on it we all discovered that the wood was so new and raw, it was Velcro-like in texture.  

The next day, I remembered that I had bought a detail sander -- a Black & Decker Mouse -- about a year earlier.  Wonderful!  Sanding would be a piece of cake.

Except for the fact that I never bought extra sandpaper sheets when I bought the sander. 

So I went to Lowe's to find appropriate sandpaper sheets. While I was there, I got a crazy impulse to build a rack for my cutting boards that I could attach to the end of my countertop. I have a serious shortage of countertop in my kitchen and getting those cutting boards hanging up somewhere would be really helpful. 

I thought, I have a sander, drill, a Roto zip, and a jigsaw. I pretty much have enough tools to start building things out of wood.  Not that I really know what I'm doing. After all, have lived my whole life as a female and nobody taught me anything about woodworking even when I asked.  I was told that I'd have a man in my life someday to do all of those things for me. (So where is he?) Nevertheless, I did sneak peaks at my dad's woodworking magazines over the years.  

Still, it's a shame that I was denied education because I'm female.  I guess that means to be worth the attention, I'd have had to be a male with a thirst for learning to make things.  Don't be fooled -- much as I'd like to have value in this world, I'll never be better than chattel - a second class citizen at best. Mysoginy is alive and well in every generation alive today, even the ones professing to be gentlemen.

After asking the man from the tool department what kind of wood he thought I should use, I picked up a 1x2 and a 1x3  and headed home with an idea in mind.  It seemed logical. I did some measuring and marking and dry fitted all of the pieces together in my head.  

Then I got my jigsaw out and started cutting.  I figured that if I completely screwed things up, there was little cost involved and I could just burn the pieces that I destroyed.

I made a few mistakes along the way, and I realized what I had done wrong when I did them.  No big deal, it was just a starter project and I was working blind anyway. 

1.   I had no semblance of a workbench to clamp my wood to when I cut it.  I simply held the wood with my left hand, propped the wood across two plastic bins, and cut across my line holding the jigsaw in my right hand.

2.  After being left with a couple of stalactites on the ends of my cut boards, I realize that I was pushing the jigsaw forward instead of letting it chew up the wood and move forward on its own terms.  Let the tool do the work and do not force it faster than it needs to go. Hey, I was clueless until I realized.

3.  Not wanting to get any splinters into my hands as I worked, I used the sander to soften the edges of all the boards and to remove the stalactites before I screwed anything together. If I had done much more sanding, my pieces might not have fit together snugly.

4.  I didn't take into account the actual dimensions of the lumber I used. 1x lumber is never quite 1 inch. It will usually be 3/4 of an inch. News to me that day.  However, that didn't even matter with my project. I was just making it up as I went along. Everything worked out just fine in the end anyway. 

5.  I was very careful to inspect the lumber before I bought it. I did know that I should make sure my wood didn't cup or bow or twist or any of those horrible things, so I looked down the length, flipping it over, rejecting several pieces, avoiding knots.  Some of that wood was in dreadful shape. I don't understand who would buy that.

6.  I forgot the L brackets. I would need them to hang up my finish project if it worked out okay. I had to make a second trip back to Lowe's to find the L brackets, and when I had to go find where they were, I learned a few new things about bracket hardware as well. 

7.  My wood screws attempted to split some of the wood.  At that time I had no clue about countersink bits and how useful I would find one. :) Ha ha, now I know.  Next time.

8.  I discovered, marginally, that a Workmate might be a good purchase for me... If I can figure out how to put it together.  I'm not sure exactly how to use one, but just clamping wood to be cut to it would improve my life tremendously.

My finished project actually turned out very well for a crafter who did not know what she was doing.  It's sturdy, attractive, and big enough to hold my largest cutting boards easily, and most importantly, out of my way.  Also out of reach of my dog's weewee aim too. I tested that before I mounted the rack.

I showed a photo of it to my brother, foolishly proud of my work as I was.  He asked what kind of wood I used.  I told him I guessed it was pine, because I just pulled wood from the 1x rack. 

He responded, "You should have used oak."  Right... In my orange knotty pine paneled kitchen, overdue to be painted completely white, I should have used expensive wood for a beginner project.  

Maybe he was just saying that I did such an excellent job on a free handed project that I could have made it out of nicer wood.  Maybe?  

But I swear I heard this tone and sentiment:

"The little lights aren't twinkling, Clark."
              -- Clark Griswold's father, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

My theory is this:  it's my house, and if I mess up something that I try to do, I can learn from my mistake, and try again.  I just might get it right.  I can't get it right if I don't even try, right?

FWIW:  it's been 24 hours and I'm still sick from my overdose.  I was brought some saltines i had requested, along with some very disappointing news.  I haven't eaten anything but a few crackers today, and I feel like I'm full to the top of my neck with acid.  Tums isn't helping, and my migraine is still tormenting me.  Lots of aches coming on, probably from not eating.  I finally drank some milk, probably the wrong thing to do, but it made me feel better for a bit.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Don't Dream It's Over

No more time for any more of this illness or the bull surrounding it.

Last night I revisited a country I never thought I'd see again.  Self-Poisoning.  Yes, I poisoned myself again.  It was a pretty horrifying stay in that land but at least what is left of my carpet survived.

Now before your fingers start flying to text the local mental health connection so you can force me out of your life completely, not so fast, Tattletale.  (I'd have grounds for a killer discrimination lawsuit if you did, by the way.) I didn't do it deliberately.  If there's anything I absolutely despise, it's vomiting.  I'd skirt a route completely around that if I were trying to remove myself from this planet.  Lots of means that would totally avoid the possibility of vomiting, I assure you.

I'm drinking a Pepsi right now and getting that horrible relief that finally comes after you obliterate the vomit taste from your throat (making everything else contrast to it in an overwhelming sensation of sweetness.  Literally, syrupy, sugary sweetness in taste).  And I was sick a bit over 12 hours ago, so I've been lying in bed for quite a long time, trying some Internet distraction, and wondering whether the grinding sensation in my abdomen was menstrual cramps (oh so much worse at this stage of my life than ever before -- the pain has grown exponentially), plain old hunger, or further poisoning nausea.  

It has been a stressful school year.  Either my ability to deal with people's everyday jerk-ness has declined sharply, or they are just shoving it in my face because they don't give a damn (it's coming from all directions, though I won't name names, and the guilty ones are always unable to recognize their own horrible attitudes and behaviors anyway).  It doesn't matter.  My anxiety has peaked and never dropped down to normal levels again.  Result? A lot of people will never be forgiven by me for what they do to me right now.  I'm tired of dealing with their self-serving treatment of me, and it's time for me to change.  Too many have "counted on me" to ease their way and provide them with ease and personal reward, and if they can't remember they owe me grand amounts of friendship and generosity (though I will gladly accept as little as genial kindness), well, then, it stops right now.

It's stopping right now anyway.  I'll be saying no a lot more.  They need to realize tha when it's "just this one little (read: massively huge) favor to them, there are twenty others similarly expecting me to ease their lives at the same time.  I will probably say no even when I wouldn't have minded saying yes, because I need retraining.  It's all about me, you see.  I wasn't part of their lives anyway, until they wanted something.  I do favors, oh, it's forgotten.  Repaying loans is forgotten.  But doing me a "favor" in return?  I'm expected to pay.  Literally pay.  Money, goods, inconvenience.  Maybe I should start keeping score, so that I can remember it is time to say no.  Jeeves is dead.  

Maybe it's not the vomit still sourly coating my throat.  Maybe it's a whole different type of bile.  

Yesterday I felt horrible.  I spent the day in a lot of pain, from my abdomen, my torn up hip, and then my head.  Because it's so appropriate to start the weekend you need to rest sick and in pain that will overtake the entire two days off.  Still, that's a normal day for me.  The rare days are the ones I'm not in constant pain from everything at once, and I feel happy and well for absolutely no plausible reason.  

... you have to remember -- this is God's plan for me.  How dare I try to avoid it?

So after a horrible day with some decidedly ungenerous thoughts after many nasty things were said to me, I realized that I had a massage scheduled.  I hoped it might lighten some of the pain, but by then I had already dealt with more than I could handle and my eyes were swollen.  I'd taken all the Midol I was allowed over the course of the day.  I had eaten half of my breakfast in the morning, because my appetite was gone, and I'd eaten the last couple of bites for lunch because skipping lunch altogether would have been a bad idea.  Hypoglycemia on top of everything else would have just iced the cake.  

I tried some temple and scalp massage with essential oils for my migraines, and rubbed some on my belly, hoping for some relief there.  When I was face down for my massage, I got upset again and of course my whole face clogged up because I was trying to hide it while not thinking self-deprecating thoughts.  Hey, I'm the common factor in all of this so it must of course be all my fault that these people feel it's okay to use me constantly, right?

Wrong.  Maybe a lot of the people around me are just hideously selfish?  I can see my own selfishness  (and change my approach quickly, because I don't want to hurt anyone else's feelings!) , so why in the world can't they self-reflect, and see their personality deficiencies, without falling in love with their own reflections?

Or should I just adopt a monstrous ME! Attitude so that I will fit in? Hmm?  

In any case, I only mean to demonstrate what had me so torn up yesterday, making the day worse as it went on.  

The massage helped some, but when I got home my migraine intensified and I looked in the nightstand for some Tylenol PM to maybe knock me out.  I had eaten a few gummy bears to avoid taking Meds on an empty stomach.  Not only did I have no appetite, the gummy bears didn't even seem to have any flavor.  Okay, taste buds dead. No appetite.  I went to buy some nacho cheese and Doritos.  "Street Taco Flavor!" ... Does that sound like a recipe for street taco food poisoning to anyone but me?    I ate a few chips and cheese dip, drank a Pepsi, and looked for something to take some of the teeth out of the pain.

I didn't find the Tylenol PM, but I did find the hydrocodone leftover from when I had the large tumor surgically removed from my neck.  (Seriously, it looked like a golf ball growing under my jaw and it didn't do much for my already shaky self-esteem.). I took one, and got a little dizzy, but the pain never went away.  Three hours later, I took a second one and wondered out loud if they were just too out of date to work.  

Then I felt ickier.  My stomach started giving me hints that it was unhappy. I stood up, thinking to go to the bathroom, just in case, and suddenly that mechanical-feeling weirdness hit my upper chest and I ran to the bathroom. Hey, projectile vomiting is one of my unsung talents, by the way.  Fortunately, the force behind it all made me quite on target when I got sick and everything from yesterday came back out. I was sick for quite a while.  When I thought I was finished and did all the rinsing and cleaning up, it hit again.  Rinse, clean, repeat.  Feel the burning throat all night despite drinking water to get rid of it. Take three Tums and hope for the best.

Fortunately, all that illness had given me a case of shivery shock-chills which made me cold enough to sleep, finally.  

Oh, but if only that were the end of the story.  

I have a very distinct memory of walking around the back of my car to the passenger side this morning, in that misty time before dawn.  I remember standing there thinking how pretty it was, and that it was one of my favorite times of day.  I should see it more often.  I also remember being the slightest bit concerned that someone might see me out there, and then thinking that nobody would be out early enough to see me so it was no big deal.  I was dreamily nonchalant about it.  Walking back toward the house, then my memory faded out.  

And I woke up in my bed several hours later, wondering if that was a vivid dream or if I've started sleepwalking again.  My feet were a little dirty, too.  *sigh*. The deadbolt was still key-locked, and  the key still hanging up.  It wouldn't be the first time I've sleepwalked outside and never really woken up through the whole thing. 

But if I can fetch the key, unlock the locks, get outside, walk around dreamily ruminating about the pretty grayish-mauve mist in the air, all without waking up, what scarier things might I get myself into?

Truly, I don't have time to be sick.  I have to go and build a replacement crawl-space door with my fledgling carpentry skills.  I'm learning.  I have to, because things are falling apart around my house. And I'm on my own with that.

An Outside Thought About Anti-Vaccination Support

I found this as a (Facebook comment) response to a Huffington Post article written by the mother of an autistic child who believes that vaccination did NOT cause her child's autism.  I know of intelligent parents (one was a pharmacist) who held off on vaccinations for their child until she was two, but nonetheless, had her vaccinated on schedule after that.  The point is: they had good reason for the delay, but vaccinated her when they felt it was a better time for her individual health situation. They had her appropriately vaccinated.   Period. 

The original article:      

(Sorry -- my ipad blogging app has a problem with creating hyperlinks)

This parent has a very particular point of view about the necessity for vaccinations that people are often clueless about.  We simply don't understand the impact of our irresponsible inaction until it lands in our own laps, and fortunately, it rarely happens.  However, this is information that simply needs to be widely known, due to our own sometimes willful, sometimes accidental, ignorance.

For the record, I'm fully vaccinated, have tetanus shots more often than required (because bloody germy accidents come my way quite often), and I'll be getting the flu shot next week. The shot.  Not the nasal mist.  I understand the shot is better.  The last time I had the flu was the year the swine flu was a problem, and that's what I got.  I hadn't taken the experimental vaccine that just came out, and I was exposed to it by my nephew at Christmas.  (Unintentionally, of course.) Fortunately for the community, my sickly self was home alone for Christmas Break and it ran its course before I felt well enough to get around other people.  And again, I'm getting the flu shot because I know how bad the flu can be, especially when there is no one to take care of you.  Do I have a reaction? Yes, usually.  My injection site gets a little hot and my arm is a little bit sore.  I think the first time I got a flu shot, I did get a little feverish, but after that, it's like my body says, "Oh look, it's the flu vaccine again.  Well, I still have a tiny bit of immunity left from last year, so I won't have to react harshly this year. " It's like a yearly booster, with just a dash of new strain tossed in. Layman's terms, of course.  I've had scant medical training.  

The HPV vaccine? Well, I'm not so sure that one is safe for the public at this point, so I don't believe it should be mandatory.  I think it should be more extensively tested before it becomes an option, but never mandatory.  

But "childhood" epidemic diseases are a different matter.

"An Open Letter to Non-Vaxxers:

Tonight, while enjoying a nice dinner, I got a call from the director of my son's preschool. She was calling to tell me that they had made the decision to put my son in a different class because two children in the class he was supposed to be in have "opted out" of their vaccines. This may not sound like a big thing. He is still in the Tuesday-Thursday class, and since he doesn't start school until next Tuesday, it's not like he has to get readjusted to a whole new class. No harm, no foul. Actually, this is a big deal--a very big deal. You see, my son is immunocompromised. He has cancer. He was fully vaccinated and supporting the whole "herd immunity" thing before his cancer diagnosis, but that darn chemo wiped out his immunity to the communicable diseases against which he had already been vaccinated.

So, parents who choose to not vaccinate because you feel it's the "right choice for your family", I would like to thank you. Thank you for adding yet another worry to my plate and my husband's plate. You see, we already worry about a lot--it's an unfortunate part of your child having cancer--you worry every night. On top of worrying about things like relapse, organ toxicity brought on by chemo, debilitating late effects of chemo, secondary cancers brought on by chemo, the mental effects of having more than three years of painful treatment, we now get to worry about, of all things, measles. And mumps. And whooping cough. And chicken pox.

Let me explain something about having a child with cancer to you: everything is robbed from your child in some form or another. Friends, Halloween, Christmas, play dates, school. It's all taken away at some point or another and in some form or another because we have to protect our children from germs, because if they catch the wrong germs during the worst part of treatment, they can die. My son was isolated from everyone except immediate family for an entire year. For parents whose children are going through chemo, the decision to send them to school is a momentous one. It requires a leap of faith and trust in the surrounding community, in your child's teachers and administrators, and in the families sending their children to school. It requires herd immunity. Now, even though my son is now in a different class than your unvaccinated children, I get to worry about him using the communal bathroom, the playground, and even walking around the halls with them. If there is an outbreak of measles in, say, Austin this winter, I won't know if you have relatives in Austin and went to go see those relatives for Uncle Bobby's birthday. I won't know if your child was exposed to measles at the Austin Chuck-E-Cheese and then showed up at school on Tuesday. Oh, I'm sure you'll do your due diligence and call the school to inform everyone that your child has come down with a case of the measles once it appears, but, the damage is done--the exposure to my immunocompromised child has already happened. It's too late. Your choice just earned him a ticket to the hospital. Your choice just earned him a lot of shots and more toxic drugs in the desperate effort to stave off whatever disease your unvaccinated child passed to him. If, God forbid, he does come down with that disease, your choice just earned him a trip to the Pediatric ICU for a while--days, maybe weeks. Who knows--it depends on how his already stressed body handles everything.

People like to say that in choosing to not vaccinate, they are making the "best choice for their family", and that, after all, their children are the ones at risk, not other people's children. No, sorry, you're wrong. Choosing to home school is a choice that is made in the best interest of a family--it impacts nobody but your family. Choosing to eat all organic and locally grown food is a choice that impacts nobody but your family. For that matter, choosing to eat nothing but fast food and frozen meals is a choice that impacts nobody but your family. Choosing to not vaccinate impacts my family and my immunocompromised son. It impacts the teacher who is pregnant and teaching your non-vaccinated child. It impacts the man going through chemo who happened to be behind you in the grocery store when your unvaccinated child sneezed. It impacts the mom next to you at the pick up line at school who is on immunosuppressive drugs for her rheumatoid arthritis and who is bending down to hug her child just as your unvaccinated child coughs. Your "choice" has repercussions for your community.
Part of the cost of living in a first world country is that you have to do things that support the community in which you live. You pay taxes to pay for the police that respond to your 911 calls, to pay for the teachers who teach your children, and to pay for roads to be plowed and paved. You obey traffic laws to ensure an orderly flow of traffic. You don't shout "fire" in a crowded theater because to do so would cause pandemonium and chaos. Sometimes, to live in a place with the privileges we enjoy here in America, you suck it up and do things you don't want to do because it's for the communal good. If everyone chose otherwise, we would not be a first world country. We would be a country without laws, roads, and schools. We would be a country overrun with disease. Your responsibility to your community is to vaccinate your child. The number of people who actually, literally, physically can't have vaccines is extraordinarily small. The number of people who choose to not vaccinate is not--it's growing. These people cite a vague unease about the number of vaccines a child gets or statistics they learned from Internet memes on autism. They confess conspiracy theories about Big Pharma and how it's all a ploy to get doctors and pharmacists rich. They share anecdotes of a college friend's neighbor's son who got so sick from his vaccine he was hospitalized. They say their child got incredibly sick from the one round of vaccines he or she got at his 2 month visit, and they said they're not vaccinating anymore. Guess what--if your child is sitting here today, talking, walking, eating, laughing, playing, and learning, he or she wasn't that ill from the vaccine. He or she got a fever and reacted to the vaccine--it doesn't mean they had an "adverse" reaction.

I am horrified, non-vaxxers, that you are so quick to forget the lessons of history. You're spoiled and selfish because you have never seen the horrors of a society in which vaccines are not available. Perhaps you should talk to my mother about her neighbor growing up--the one who contracted German measles while pregnant with her third child. That third child was born deaf and with brain damage, thanks to his mother catching that communicable--and now preventable--disease while pregnant. Perhaps you should talk to anyone over the age of 60 about what it was like when polio was around--how nobody was allowed to go swimming or use public drinking fountains for fear of catching that dreaded--and now preventable--disease. Perhaps you should talk to the parents of a child with cancer whose daughter spent a month in the Pediatric ICU during treatment because she caught chicken pox--a preventable disease--from an unvaccinated classmate. Perhaps you should take a trip to a third world country and explain to them why they should not be lining up in droves to get their children vaccinated by the Red Cross or other relief organizations. Perhaps, better yet, you should keep your children out of school.

If you agree with my thoughts above, please feel free to share this post.
Alex Pomadoni"

Back to my personal understanding: my grandmother contracted German Measles when she was pregnant with my mother.  Mama was born extremely hearing-impaired -- nearly deaf -- and missed out on a lot of life enjoyment because of her disability.  School was a frustration for her in the 1940s and 1950s.  Job opportunities were limited.  She had to have bulky, expensive hearing aids all of my life, and they still never made her hearing good enough.  I know that she was bitter because of her disability.  Now that it is a preventable disease, I can't understand why anyone would deliberately expose other people's innocent children to these horrible diseases under the guise of protecting their own children.  

Saturday, October 11, 2014

My Exploding Crock Pot

Lately I've been evaluating some freezer-slow cooker recipes so that I will start eating healthier meals, because I've been pretty fatigued for a long time.  I actually started by eating legitimate breakfasts instead of protein bars, and I began to feel better, so I thought general nutrition might be the key for me.  

I make a big batch of breakfast burritos and freeze them, then heat one up in the morning for a very tasty meal that sometimes leaves me not hungry for my 10:30 am lunchtime. No, I'm not kidding about that.  10:30. *sigh* 

Yes, I've gained weight.  Again.  Just not to the point of my heaviest weight, and truthfully, I've not been going to the gym to work anything off.  I know that's a factor.  I've also developed a horrible passion for Jif Salted Caramel Hazlenut spread, but we ain't gonna talk about that right now.  Pepsi is back in my life, and that's a huge contributor.  But so far, nobody has said anything about noticing, so I may be able to fix it yet.

That's for another post, though. Maybe several other posts.  Hee hee. 

So to introduce the situation, I was already aggrieved by financial matters, and this was the icing on the exploding cake.  I finally amended a slow-cooker beef stew recipe to my liking (tomatoey beef stew is what the original recipe tasted like -- I wanted a gravy-tasting stew) and bought all of the ingredients to make two batches, freeze one batch, and make a batch of taco soup to freeze and slow cook later.

The idea is to pull a ready-to-cook meal out of the freezer, thaw it, and then cook it on low all day, to come home to a fabulous aroma and a hot meal ready to enjoy after work, and before I ran off to painting class on Tuesday afternoons.  

First, some background information.
1.  The first time I tried the chicken teriyaki recipe, I managed to not turn the crock pot on, because my mind was thinking it was just like my older, smaller slow cooker that had two settings when plugged in - low and high.  Nope.  My less than a year old and rarely used 6 quart slow cooker had off, low, high, and keep warm settings.  Oops.  Had to throw that all out.  I was pissed at myself.
2. I had tried cooking steel cut oats overnight not long after I bought the new cooker, and despite using the instructions fron the manufacturers themselves, it was a blackened, dry mess when I woke up and checked on it.  I still don't know what went wrong, but I suspect a thermostat went haywire.

So at this point I was being pretty darned over cautious about doing things precisely right when I used it.  No frozen food in the crock.  Only thawed.  Make sure to fill the crock sufficiently, even though it means you will be eating beef stew for lunch and dinner for the next seven days.  Never latch the lid lock on, because you aren't transporting the cooker anywhere.  Make sure there is plenty of liquid in your recipe.  

The first time I'd made the stew it was perfect, though tomatoey.  The second time I'd made it, I figured out how to make it more gravy-tasting after the cooking time.  (A packet of brown gravy mix stirred into the finished stew was the secret.). The third time I made it, I was feeling confident that I wasn't a total loser with a crock-pot, and prepped that second batch for the freezer.  

The first batch went into the cooker, no colder than the refrigerated stew meat I'd bought.  I made sure everything was set up perfectly, turned it on low, and went to bed thinking how nice it would be to take beef stew for my lunch.

I didn't sleep well that night.  I kept waking up and smelling the food cooking, and wondered if the smell was keeping me from resting well.  I had nightmares, which isn't normal  for me anymore unless I'm under a lot of stress from work.  So I got up the next morning thinkg a good lunch would help make up for the fatigue.  My dog woke me up at sometime just after four am, nearly three hours early.  *sigh* Why?  WHY?? Let Mommy sleep!  (There's beef stew in it for you, fella!)

I let him out, glanced at the cooker, and saw the lid was steamy in places, and dripped clear in another.  He came back in. We went back to bed.  

* I'm pretty nearsighted, by the way, and I don't sleep in my contacts because I have abnormal blood vessel growth into my corneas. 

At 6:30 I let my dog out again and got ready to deal with spooning up the stew into various containers.  

I stepped on a small chunk of broken glass on an otherwise clean floor.  It cut my foot.  Being so nearsighted, I couldn't see it or avoid it.  While I was pulling it out I couldn't figure out where it had come from.  So I tried to lift the lid off the crock pot next and discovered a gaping hole where I thought had been a clear spot on the glass lid.  What I'd thought was steam was completely shattered glass, held together by pure physics, like a caternary arch.  The unused travel latches fell into the batch of shattered glass stew now in the crock.  Still very liquid, despite hours of cooking.  

I was in a state of disbelief and probably didn't get all the glass out of my foot.  Nearly two weeks later, my foot is healed... But still sore under the skin.  Been there before -- the glass I failed to remove eventually cut back through my foot a few years later.  Ugh.  Home exploratory surgery or patience and pain?  I dunno.  I can't decide.

Later that day I called the parent company to let them know what happened and they said they would send me a label to send "it" back to them.  It being what?  The bits of sharp glass formerly known as a lid? The whole appliance? Where would I find an appropriate shipping container and how would I avoid cutting myself worse?  Internet research said they would only replace the lid and if you sent the whole thing, you'd only get a lid in return.  

I never really got mad.  I felt like I'd already been kicked to exhaustion.  I felt defeated, which had been my default state of mind fora few weeks.

A couple of days later a customer service lady called to interview me quite thoroughly.  I suspect the major concern was a potential personal injury lawsuit, but let's face it, I haven't sued when I should have before, so a little cut wasn't going to get me all fired up this time.

She asked me if I would like a programmable model to replace it.  I said that would be fine, but I'm scared still to use a slow cooker again. That glass lid exploded outward, with glass landing on the floor.    They sent me a nicer cooker worth $80, with a metal insert to brown things on the stove before slow cooking.  It looks nice. Scary nice.  I'm still scared to use it.

And they didn't include a user manual in the box. Grr!  I hope that programmable panel is user friendly and idiot-proof, because as God is my witness, I seem to be that idiot.

As it turns out, lots of companies that make slow cookers have had explosion issues.  There have even been recalls for several years.  That might explain why my new cooker has a metal crock instead of a breakable ceramic one.  Oh sure, it has a "ceramic" coating (looks and feels like enamel to me, which is a-ok) that could get chipped but that baby is about a third the weight of the other crock.  Maybe it is idiot-proof. I'll be trying it out tomorrow... While I'm at home.

As for why my dog woke me up at the bizarre hour of 4... I think he must have heard the lid explode and woke me up to check on it.  And stupid blind Mommy didn't notice the problem.

Summary: The Crock Pot company replaced their faulty product with a better one and were very nice to me in the bargain.  I'm still scared to try it out.