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9/10/07 05:04 pm - National Invisible Chronic Illness Week

So, apparently it's National Invisible Chronic Illness Week, as mentioned by zlana over here.

I don't talk about my chronic illness much in public entries, so this is a bit of a stretch for me. Maybe some of you won't have known about this before now.

I have an invisible chronic illness. You wouldn't know from looking at me most days (hence the invisible part), but I'm almost always dealing with the effects of my illness. I think the earliest signs of my poor health dated back to my early teen years, but things really took a nosedive in college, when I was around 19 or 20, and they've been getting worse ever since. I don't have a specific diagnosis yet, and some of the best doctors in the country don't know what's wrong, much less how to fix me. The easiest way to describe what's wrong is to tell how it affects my life.

I'm constantly exhausted. No matter how much I rest, how many naps I take, or how careful I am about my diet, I'm constantly, debilitatingly fatigued. I can sleep for 9 or 10 hours a night and still wake up feeling like I haven't slept at all. If I DON'T get 9 or 10 hours on any given night, it's all I can do to drag myself out of bed.

Everything I do is a struggle. I'm constantly pushing myself to keep up with the various things I have to do to carry on living. Feeding myself, showering, getting groceries, doing laundry, everything is a struggle. Often I have to pick and choose what I REALLY need to do on a given day, because I only have so much energy. I'm constantly triaging, picking and choosing what HAS to get done versus what can wait another day, like, say, laundry. There's a really good description of this called the Spoon Theory.

I have difficulty concentrating and remembering. I'll draw a blank on your name and your face, because I wasn't able to concentrate enough the first time I met you. I'll say something that seems completely out of context, because I'm too exhausted to be coherent. I'll come across as flat and unemotional because emotions take energy, and I can't spare it.

I'm often in pain. My muscles go from tired to painfully exhausted with very little exertion, and after that even basic movement only makes things worse.

I have to eat constantly. If I don't, things get much worse, and I sometimes can't concentrate well enough to figure out what I need to do to get food to keep myself together. Lately I find that I bring some kind of food with me nearly every time I leave the house. I plan ahead a lot.

My social life has suffered a bunch because of all of this. When I'm struggling to get through even the most basic tasks like waking up and feeding myself, much less keeping my house clean and trying to earn some kind of income, it's hard to allocate the energy to keep my friendships current. I miss all of my friends horribly, but it's just beyond my capacity to keep up with all of you as much as I wish I could. It's nothing personal, and I deeply value our friendships. It's easier if you visit me, rather than me visiting you. If I've just met you, I probably think you're interesting, but I can't necessarily do much about it. Be patient with me. Keep in mind that often, getting out and visiting friends consigns me to spending the next few days recovering. If I sound reluctant to come to some kind of gathering or social event, it's nothing personal -- I'm just weighing whether I'm going to be physically capable of showing up.

I'm still working on learning to deal with all of this. I have a really hard time slowing myself down and pacing myself, because I have such an active, engaged mind. It's hard to deal with these invisible limitations, and it's harder still to interact in a world where many people don't have limitations like mine.

So that's me. I've got all of this going on, and there isn't a day that goes by that isn't deeply affected by what's going on in my body, but you probably wouldn't know it if you saw me on the street. If you can tell, that means it's an especially bad day. All I ask is that you're patient with me. There's a lot going on beneath the surface.

9/9/07 10:19 pm - Steam Trek: The Moving Picture


Star trek, re-unmastered as an old silent film.

9/8/07 03:07 pm - Iraq Pronunciation Chart

It seems to me that Americans don't know how to pronounce the name "Iraq". Here's a little chart to demonstrate what I mean:


I swear, I've heard all six of these pronounciations in the news, constantly, by various speakers. Maybe there's a possible exception of "eye-rock", but I'm sure I've heard it before.

The question I have is, which pronounciation is correct? Are multiple correct? Are none correct? Can anyone find a sound file of the proper pronounciation?

8/9/07 12:26 pm - Disgusting.

Today we have an example of what's wrong with our corporation-based economy.

It seems that Johnson & Johnson is suing the American Red Cross for trademark infringement in using the Red Cross symbol. Nevermind that the Red Cross has been around longer. Nevermind that they're a friggin' CHARITY. Nevermind that they don't have money to be sued for. Yeesh.

Here's the letter I submitted on Johnson & Johnson's Contact Us form:

I was dismayed to read the news today and discover that Johnson and Johnson is suing the American Red Cross, an aid charity, for supposed trademark violation. I think that J&J's case is very weak (the idea that while the Red Cross has been around longer than J&J, it received its charter after J&J was founded, seems weak to me). Beyond that, the idea of suing a charity that has done such a huge amount of good work in our country is apalling.

I'm especially upset that J&J is requesting that the Red Cross be forced to send aid products to J&J for DESTRUCTION. To take these products from the hands of disaster victims that desperately need them and DESTROY them is disgusting. I know you're just a corporation, and that you're simply a machine for improving the bottom line for investors, but you have to understand that there will be consequences for acting in such a brashly profiteering manner.

I, for one, intend to specifically avoid J&J products from now on. If J&J quits this law suit and apologizes to the Red Cross, I will consider buying J&J products again, but J&J's reputation will still be forever tarnished in my eyes. You may think you're protecting your brand, but in actuality, you're tarnishing it in my eyes.

Please reconsider your actions. There has to be a better way of resolving this situation than suing a charity we all depend on in times of disaster.

Please consider making a similar decision about your consumption of J&J products, and consider also ranting in their contact us form. They state that they don't respond to form letters, so please don't copy what I've said and paste it in. Even if you can't write as much as I have, just let them know how much their decision is affecting them in the only place they care: their profits.

8/4/07 05:35 pm

Dear lord, Dice has done it again. Check out this gem:

First, I'm pretty sure that scalar variables in PHP need a $ in front of them. Second, who'd store a format string in a separate variable? That makes the code LESS readable. Third, they fucked up the order of the num and location arguments. Finally, what the hell is this print statement supposed to be talking about, anyway?

Way to really speak the language of geeks, Dice.

Oh, look at this. It turns out I've posted two of Dice's previous gems. I'll recap them, with links to my original posts, in reverse order of posting:

So these idiots have well and truly proven at this point that they're utterly incapable of writing a line of code, but that they still insist on somehow attempting to gain geek cred by trying. And they haven't learned in over two years. Sheesh.

Note: you may have to turn off ad-blockers and/or enable images from m3.doubleclick.net and m1.2mdn.net to see the above images. It's worth it.

8/3/07 05:38 pm

Someone taught a tesla coil how to sing. I so want one.

Ooh, there's an explanation, and a bunch more songs :D

Edit: and oh wow, YouTube somehow presented me with beatboxing flute. This guy is AMAZING. Oh internet, you devious timewaster! *shakes fist*

Beatboxing flute + cello. Audiogasm.

7/25/07 12:07 pm

To all those wondering why LiveJournal, Second Life, CraigsList, Yelp, and many other big-name sites (not including netflix, who were already down) went down yesterday afternoon:

365 Main Responds to Questions about July 24th San Francisco Power Incident.

In short, there was a huge power outage in San Francisco, and it knocked out utility power to the facility that hosts many big companies' servers. Several portions (at least 3/8 of their customers) lost power when several backup generators failed to start. 45 minutes later, those generators were started manually and power was restored. In short: this shouldn't have been able to happen.

Edit: Oh, I forgot to mention the little beautiful irony in all of this. It seems that yesterday, just a few short hours before the outage, 365 Main and one of their customers, Red Envelope, together made a press release about how Red Envelope had enjoyed 2 years of 100% uptime at 365 Main. Oops. The press release has since been removed from 365 Main's website. [More Details]

7/2/07 09:40 pm

Has anyone ever told you how cool your local public library is?

I know half of you probably just skipped on to the next item on your friends list, but for the rest of you, there's really something here that you may not have known before.

My local library is the Jamaica Plain Public Library, a relatively small collection of books in a building just a short bus-ride away. They've got a rather paltry scifi/fantasy section, which is mostly what I'm in the mood to read lately. I've plowed through most of it, but that hasn't stopped me from getting great books from this library.

The JP library is part of the Boston Public Library network. Like most modern libraries, my membership isn't in the JP library, but in the BPL network. I can borrow a book from any BPL library and even return it to any other if that's convenient. Better still, I can make a request (on the web, over the phone, or through my librarian) to have any book transferred to my library for me to pick up and read at my leisure. Almost every single book I'm interested in exists in at least one copy in at least one library in the network, and often there are at least 5-10 copies. I've currently got 3 books heading my way.

The new Harry Potter book, that one due out next month? Already, 433 people (434 including me) are on the waiting list, reserving a copy to borrow when it comes out. That's okay, though, because the BPL network already has _500 copies_ on order. I'll get a brand shiny new copy to read at my leisure almost as soon as it comes out, and no rushing Barnes and Noble to make sure I get a copy.

The best part about all of this? It's completely free. Well, it's not free, but I'm already paying for it, so I may as well use it, right? You're already paying for it too. Next time you're thinking about buying a book you heard about, consider whether you really NEED to have a copy of it lying around your house taking up space after you're done reading it. If not, you can save yourself some money and borrow a free copy through your local library network.

If you don't use your library, it might close. They depend on you to show them how much you appreciate this resource by making use of it.

6/26/07 01:59 pm

Wow. WPI's old slogan, "The University of Science and Technology. And life.", now has competition in the stupid-slogans field:

6/22/07 04:14 pm


Absolutely friggin incredible. For those of you who don't know, playing that well on a theremin probably took this guy years of practice. The best I can do on mine is almost hit notes about half the time... nevermind the articulation.
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