Monday, August 28, 2006

ICP monitoring

I've got an appointment at eight am tomorrow morning to talk to the Hydrocephalus guys up at Johns Hopkins to see what their plan is for me. These are the doctors I saw in February who sent me for an MRI and then never followed up with me and finally said they'd forgotten all about me. A source told me that I had fallen through the cracks and that those who complain the most get the attention.

I wasn't doing much complaining, a few phone calls here and there, because I'm still deeply terrified at the idea of doing anything surgical to fix this PTC. The more they forgot about me the longer I had to try and decide if I could go through with it.

The next step will likely be ICP monitoring, drilling a hole in my skull, while I'm awake, inserting a wire and continually checking my intracranial pressure to see if it drops as well as spikes. It wouldn't do me a bit of good to get as shunt if I'm just going to trade high pressure for constant spinal headaches from low pressure.

The really weird thing is that I can't bear the idea of shunt surgery but I would be more than down with getting some sort of wireless connection in my head so I could go online at any time from any place. And I'd agree to getting a mouse implanted in my finger so I could just mouse whenever I wanted.

But I digress. I really miss acting and I'm tired of being sick all the time so I complained and now tomorrow we'll see what the plan is. Maybe it's going to be nothing but at least then I can close the chapter called Johns Hopkins and start the chapter called Skill Witch Doctoring.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Drive up on the sidewalk and make a sharp right at the trash pile

I took Chris up to the Baltimore Travel Plaza today so he could catch the bus back to NYC. I haven't been there very often and he usually drives there so it shouldn't be a huge surprise that I missed my exit. I was telling Chris the plot of a book I'd read and how the book was so much more enjoyable because I was imagining that the hero looked like Marvin from Sin City and next thing I knew I was well past the exit.

I got off on some road and was going to turn around but there was a sign saying the road was closed in two miles and we wanted to see why the road was closed so we drove down it, seeing nothing really and finally turned around again.

Unfortunately the last ext before the Harbor tunnel is 12 going south but our exit going North is 11 after the Harbor tunnel so we had to get off at the wrong exit and try and find our way to the Travel Plaza. I finally got directions from a fellow who confused me and eventually I asked two more guys where to go and they gave me very clear directions.

But when we got a couple of blocks from our destination a police car was blocking the road and the officer sent us down this tiny little alley. I asked him how to get to the bus stop and he said to turn at the next alley, go up two blocks, until we were even with where the other police car was blocking off the road, then turn right, then left.

So we did. But we ended up right in the middle of whatever it was that was going on. Another police car was blocking the alley and I couldn't get past or turn around. There were lots of people around, including one woman who tried to run her baby carriage into my car and I was very leery of backing out of the alley. Another police officer told me to turn around because he had a "very serious situation" and it wasn't safe to be there.

When I explained that the first officer told us to go this way he said that they didn't know they'd cordoned off more buildings and he moved his car so I could go up to the end of the street, where there was yet another police car blocking my way. Then he told me to drive up on the sidewalk and take a sharp right at the trash pile and then turn left at the street and I would find the bus station.

I've never in my life driven up on the sidewalk under the watchful eyes of a couple of cops. It was certainly an interesting evening.

I still have no idea what was going on, there was nothing on the news when I turned it on. I was thinking a hostage situation or a bomb but maybe I guess it could be anything.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

I changed my mind about Shakespeare

I used to like Shakespeare when I was young and then I went through a long period where I disliked him kind of intensely. I thought he was a hack because he wrote to order, so to speak, and he didn't teach his kid to read. I'm sure there was more to it than that, possibly all fueled by my extreme distaste for his sonnets, which all seem to be about how terrible it is that we grow older and aren't all fifteen year old hotties.

But over time I changed my mind, partly because of some things Will Shetterly said, and I owe Mr. Shakespeare an apology. I no longer think he's a hack and I'm sorry I said mean things about him.

I still don't like those sonnets though, I'm just sayin'

Friday, August 25, 2006

Most astonishing thing I've learned today

I had an interesting week. I learned all kinds of things, like that at one aquarium four sea lions died in one day (or three if you don't count a still-born pup) and that 90% of the animals at the aquarium in New Orleans died after Hurricane Katrina. Also that the entire penguin colony was FedExed back to the aquarium in May.

But hands down, the most amazing thing I learned this week is that there is a group called No Room for Contraception. Seriously, they are against any form of birth control, even for married couples engaging in "the marital act." Wow. I can't even begin to understand their thinking. They've got a conference coming up called Contraception is Not the Answer.

What is the answer? Unwanted children that will be abused by their parents? Extreme poverty? Over population? All I can do is boggle.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Why more Hollywood films don't take place at the National Aquarium in Baltimore

From the page on photography, where I hoped to find some images I could use in my column:

Fees for Commercial Shoots
The National Aquarium in Baltimore charges a fee of $4,000 for four hours of access to the building. You may also be responsible for additional charges including overtime staffing and security, insurance, and any union contract stipulations. In certain instances you may also be required to provide your own generator.

Did you catch the part about providing your own generator? Wow. I'm so overcome with the urge to film there I can't even tell you.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Another entry in the "gosh isn't it cute when journos do this?" category

My editor in DC sent me an email today to say that Snakes on a Plane had disappointing box office receipts. I was rather surprised by this given the fact that the theater sold out Thursday night and was sold out for Friday also so I took a spin around the WaPo site and found this article.

It's called "'Snakes on a Plane' Fails to Charm Moviegoers" and over on the side is something else, called "Snakes' Is Defanged at Box Office." Both of these stories lament how poorly SoaP did over the weekend.

But did it?

Well it's number one for the weekend and it took in 15.3 million dollars, about half as much as it took to make the film. That's described as tepid by one of the pieces.

Look at this quote:

The college comedy "Accepted" opened at No. 4 with a solid $10.1 million.

Hmm, so Accepted had a solid opening while SoaP had a tepid opening, despite bringing in fifty percent more? Isn't that funny?

And there is some debate about whether or not SoaP's numbers even count since there was a Thursday night sneak showing, which could be said to distort the numbers. Never mind the fact that when they say the show opened on Thursday they aren't really being accurate because in a summer market there would be showings of the film starting in the morning and going all day and the sneak preview was for the ten o clock showing only, I guess that's too complicated for us readers to understand.

As I said in my column last week much of the media attention SoaP got was a sort of sneering looking down the nose and these two stories seem to me to be more of the same. It's like they're so determined to say "We told you this would never work" that they can't bear to look at the numbers as anything but a failure. As with much of life it's both funny and sad.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

This sounds like quite a lot of stuff I've encountered online

From something called So Dead My Love by Harry Whittington, describing some letters a private eye found while searching the hotel room of a man who has vanished:

All were boring, from stupid people with nothing to say and all the time in the world to say it.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Yummy yum

Cullen fixed tuna casserole for supper tonight. He made it the same way he makes mac and cheese but then added tuna and sauteed mushrooms. It was deluxe.

We went to see Snakes on a Plane last night. It's a darn good thing I'd seen Sam Jackson on the Daily Show the night before and he said he was the hero and lived through the film because I don't think I could have stood the strain if I had to worry about him too.

Chris is moving to New York tonight to start school at Pratt. Orientation begins tomorrow.

I'm reading a very good book of short fiction called Pulp Masterpieces. The first story, The Embezzler, is particularly good and mentions our sister publication American Banker.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Where is the amazing book of 2006?

Last year I read Cory Doctorow's Someone Comes to Town; Someone Leaves Town and walked around for days after feeling like I was stuck between worlds; that I had been touched by something magical and was different in some indefinable way.

The year before that Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell had the same affect on me, but it was even stronger because I took a couple of weeks to read the book.

When you're that strongly affected by a story you don't really want to read anything, or write anything, else because you're afraid of tainting the feeling and because you don't want to be disappointed. It's wonderful, if somewhat distracting.

I've read quite a few books I've really liked or even loved this year but so far nothing has stood out as The Book.

But maybe I've got a runnerup. I'm really enjoying The Eternals, the six part series put out by Marvel Comics. Neil is writing the story and John Romita Jr. is doing the art. It's sweeping and mysterious and amazing and it makes me laugh out loud in bits.

It makes me happy.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Worst Book Ever?

For a long time The Bridges of Madison County has held the position of worst book I have ever read. There has been some pretty strong competition, The Loop by the dude who wrote the Horse Whisperer (another horrid book), all of the Left Behind series, The Da Vinci Code and of course, good old Atlanta Nights.

This weekend I read something so thoroughly awful that it may jump into first place. At first I thought it was just pure bad writing from a new writer but according to the book cover the author, Ann Major, is a best selling author and a founder of the RWA. Then I thought well hell, maybe she's sick of writing real books and wrote a parody but no, according to her website she wrote this thing to call attention to her perceived problems with the USA/Mexico border.

It's called The Girl With the Golden Gun (see, can you blame me for thinking it was a bad joke?) and the hero is called, swear to God, Shanghai Knight. The heroine is called Mia and they have a little girl called Vanilla. No, really, it's true. There's also a character called Kinky.

The book is just pure hate from start to finish. Just about everyone hates everyone else, unless of course they're a chick chasing a dude that doesn't want them, or a couple of times a dude chasing a chick that doesn't want them. There's usually some hate mixed in there also.

The creepiest moment, in a book filled with murder, torture, abasement of women and stupidity, is when Shanghai dresses as Mia's mother to get into a Mexican prison to talk to her. There he is, in drag, calling himself her mother and he puts his hands up her dress and starts trying to get into her panties. Squick!

Saturday, August 12, 2006


After a lot of thought I've decided to turn on comment moderation. This is an attempt to stop the spam that sometimes comes in waves. I could turn on the word verification but the distorted letters and the colours make me sick, they make me throw up and hurt my head and I don't think it's fair to ask my readers to use something that I hate.

So comment moderation it is. Sorry if it's inconvenient, perhaps I'll turn it back off again if it turns out to be annoying.

Airport restrictions post arrest of possible mad plane bombers earlier this week

A few months ago a friend asked me if there were an airline that you could take where there was no security at all, you just got on the plane, would I take it? And I said yes. I don't think that anyone has to blow anything up anymore to throw the world (or parts thereof) into a panic. All you have to do is pretend that you are and bam there goes twenty million more man hours per year as people everywhere have to jump one more hurdle to fly.

As a result I'm just sort of vaguely irritated by these most recent arrests. It's not from a failure of imagination or anything; I can vividly see how destructive blowing up ten planes at once would be; it's mostly that I'm tired of the whole thing and don't want to play their game anymore.

Today I'm catching up on the news of the week, as I am wont to do on the weekend, and I read an article in WaPo that mentions that mothers were "forced" to sample the contents of their baby's bottles. This was in stark contrast to what I read about American planes, i.e. nobody is sampling them.

I think that if you're going to freak out and start searching people then sampling the contents is the logical thing to do. After if you're crazy enough to blow up ten planes at once then you're certainly crazy enough to kill a family, steal their baby and use it as a prop to get your mysterious liquid aboard the plane.

I'm very curious about the timing of this event and what news went out when because I was treated a bit oddly for having gatorade at the airport on the third of August. I think I blogged about it but not sure. But they did let me take it, just insisted on x-raying it first.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Some catfish and aquarium facts

I think I'm cutting this from my column but don't want it to go to waste.

Catfish don't have scales but some, like the ripsaw catfish (isn't that a great name?), have these bony plates called scutes. Those crazy whiskers that they have are not whiskers at all, they are called barbels and have loads of tastebuds that allows them to find food no matter how cloudy the water. The Tennessee Aquarium has a fabulous freshwater collection, reputed to be the best around, but they also have a pretty nifty saltwater selection which includes sharks, rays and my pals the seahorses. You can click here to find out your sea-horse horoscope; mine was a lot of fun.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Drat it all to heck

I got a call this evening from a doctor I don't see. While he was introducing himself I was thinking he had called the wrong number but he asked for me.

The lab had called him about the blood test I had today. My PT/INR, which should be around 2.5, was 5.5.

Now most doctors will tell you that you can't tell when your PT'/INR is high, that's it's a silent thing like hypertension or whatever. But I always get a cough and I always feel achy and horrid and feel like I'm dieing when my levels are high. So when my family doctor told me my lungs were clear yesterday even though I keep coughing I made arrangements to get my blood tested and sure enough it was stupidly high.

The medicines I've been taking - and have to take for the next 8 days - are making my levels too high by interfering with the vitamin K in my system. Sigh.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I'm falling apart

I had a mammogram last week and my skin tore from the metal that they use to smash your breasts flat. Yesterday I moved my leg and a crack broke open in the fold of my knee. Plus I still have this big stupid cough. As I was getting ready for bed a big blister popped at the back of my throat and I threw up a bunch of blood. Then when I brushed my teeth it was painfully clear that I have a thrush infection on my tongue.

I went to the doctor and she said I have to go and see a nutritionist. Between avoiding vitamin k because of the blood clot medicine, avoiding A and D additives because it makes PTC worse, not going out in the sun because Diamox makes me burn even faster (probably resulting in a burn before I go outside) I've got a vitamin deficiency. But it's worse than that because Diamox pulls potassium out of my system. In short I'm a mess and I've got start eating, I can't keep on skipping two or all meals a day.

And of course I have to treat the thrush which is a side effect of an antibiotic I had to take. It's frustrating to have to take a medicine because of another medicine. It's a never ending cycle.

Edited to add - I forgot to say that the other reason I got the thrush was becuase of this medicine called Advair. It's an inhaled steroid and it can lead to thrush all by itself. You have to rinse your mouth out after you use it but I always forget. So there you go, the double whammy.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

$2000 x 1000 = lots of girl scout cookies

This article in WaPo says that around a thousand girls have been exposed to rabies while at girl scout camp. The monetary cost of treating the girls is about $2000 per person and the Girl Scouts are picking up the tab since the girls were exposed while at Girl Scout camp.

While I think that's the right thing for them to do, goodness, what an unexpected expense.

Back in the day I used to be an assistant brownie leader. It was great fun, for me and for my girls. I think we went camping once. It's hard to imagine having to tell all the parents of your troop that everyone needs some barbaric, expensive, painful treatment because they went to your camp.

It seems to me that rabies research should be further along. As far as I know (and I could be wildly wrong) you still have to look at the brain of the animal to see if it is infected. Why not blood tests? My understanding is that the rabies virus in people is similar to HIV in that it is a slow virus; you can have it for a long time before it makes you ill and of course we've got no treatment for rabies, just prevention.

We found a fox out in the field with the horses once, it was a kit and had been knocked in the head by the horses and we took it to the rescue center down in Bowie but they had to send it to be tested. It didn't have rabies but still ended up dead. It was very sad.

We also had a rabid raccoon at the barn and that was pretty scary. Even the people from animal control thought it was a pet that had gotten out. Until it started spinning in circles and biting itself while foam flew everywhere that is. We had locked it in a stall, partly to keep the dogs away but the one animal control fellow was sure it was tame and was actually reaching down to pick it up when it went nuts.

I've always stressed to my kids that if a wild animal will let you touch it there's something wrong it but it's very hard to resist them and oh boy can they ever fool you.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Character Growth in Luggage

I'm reading Terry Pratchett's Interesting Times and I'm feeling sad for the sapient pearwood luggage. It's feeling lost and unowned and thinks perhaps nobody wants it anymore. It's drawing little marks in the dirt with one of its many, many feet as it tries to figure out what is going on.

The reason I feel sorry it is because it has always been this amazing, unstoppable, completely confident creature. It can kill anything, it always knows what to do, and nobody ever tries to tell it not to. Or at least they don't try twice.

So to see it adrift and feeling forsaken is hard. But then who said character growth is easy?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Cameron is back home again

Cam has been on a long trip with his dad and is back home today. You can read more about it here.

I got on the moving sidewalks at the airport and completely lost my balance. Then I fell on the escalator and my skirt (long) got stuck for a second and then I caught it on some luggage and was trapped. I'm lucky I didn't get arrested for odd behavior.

I'm watching the Colbert report and this guy is talking about how the Democrats are the best party for veterans because Republicans have decimated the military. I don't know, Cullen thinks that veterans should start the paramilitary party but I think we should have the "Let's Give Our Soldiers Enough Equipment" party. Why not?