Thursday, April 30, 2009

A story for Maureen Johnson

In honor of the last day of BEDA I present, a surprising story for Maureen Johnson.

Once upon a time there lived a pantless hamster called MJ. MJ was always nervous because she was part of a traveling hamster circus called The Flea Circus Upgrade. MJ didn't mind bouncing balls with the seals. She loved riding the backs of the prancing ponies. She enjoyed lighting the fuse that sent her coworkers shooting out of the cannon and far across the arena. She didn't even mind putting her head in the mouth of the lion, so long as it brushed its teeth first. But she was terrified of the trapeze.

Every day her friends would scramble up the ropes, calling to her to join them, and every day she would pretend she had something terribly important to do. Once, when she said she had to give the elephant its vitamins and H. said he would do it, she pretended to twist her ankle, making it impossible to do even a moment of trapeze.

With a couple of skillful missteps she stretched her injury time to six weeks, which was just enough time for her to relax a little too much. As a consequence she wasn't paying enough attention and suddenly found herself right next to the trapeze ladder with no excuses and a healed ankle. Before she really knew what was happening she was at the top of the very tall ladder, clutching a trapeze swing in her little paws, hyperventilating, and praying that a helpful earthquake would open an enormous chasm below them and swallow everything up.

Instead poor MJ stood shaking, high, high above the ground, and wondered why bats were the ones that got the wings. Surely it wouldn't have hurt anything to give just a few to the hamsters.

"Oi, MJ!" called one of her friends. "Are you going to stand there all day?"

"Yes," she yelled back, but was soon proved wrong as her weak ankle, which she had in fact reinjured while climbing the ladder, gave out and she fell forward, right off the trapeze platform. She squealed, sounding a lot like a bat, and clung to the trapeze swing with all her might.

With that all her friends were off and the air was soon filled with tumbling, furry bodies flying through the air, flinging each other from swing to swing. MJ swung back and forth on her swing, trying to get up enough nerve to hang from her knees like her BEDA buddies.

For the rest of the story click here:


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Finally get somewhat caught up

I fell behind on everything this week but got somewhat caught up today. I wrote half of my column that is due Friday and did the writing I should have done on Monday. Now I just need to have dinner, work out, take a shower, answer about thirty emails and I'll be able to relax and read some of the Tabitha King book I'm reading...

Here's a nice bee, writing, reading and charity related tweet. mary_russell I’m pleased to exercise my small amount of influence in the world to help families support themselves with beehives


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Chores, chores, chores

I went out into the wide world today to get some chores done. Cam to allergist for shot. Car to shop for oil change and flush the radiator. Grocery store and gas station.

It's been quite hot all of a sudden, in fact the noon news said the harbor was 885 degrees, which was a bit frightening. I nearly took a photo of my television but I'm too dumb to work the camera so didn't. Anyway, when it's hot, esp when it suddenly gets hot, as it did this week, going from fifty to ninety in a day, I get sicker. Since it's water pressure in my brain making me sick (as well as scarring from meningitis, which makes it hard for the little veins, arteries and capillaries to pick up the spinal fluid and carry it off) I get worse when it's hot and the heat makes me retain water.

So everywhere we went I was unable to function. The guy says debit or credit when I give him my card and I don't know what that means. Someone asks me to sign and I sign in the wrong place. Someone else asks me to write down my email address and I don't remembere how to write. It's been fun!

I'm pretty lucky I live in the age of the computer. Of course I'd be even luckier if I lived in the age of the BrainPal. Ah well. One day.



This is my favorite Penny Arcade.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Very short post

I finished my script in the wee hours of the morning, winning Script Frenzy. And I'm leaving soon to go to see Neil Gaiman doing one of the Pen World Voices Festival of International literature events. It's a couple of hours drive so I should leave quite soon.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bilateral Subacute Subdural Hematomas

The New England Journal of Medicine ran a short piece about a man who presented with some not so serious symptoms which rapidly turned into something major. Interestingly his initial injury was four weeks prior to presenting to the ER with little to no symptoms, although I think anyone who loses consciousness should seek treatment. His headache started two days before the visit.

If you look at the images you can clearly see the bleeding in his brain. It's astonishing that he didn't have major problems sooner and it's even more astonishing that it didn't show up on the initial scan. Thank goodness his medical providers kept looking for the source of his symptoms.

I feel bad that he had to have four burr holes, two on each side of his head. That makes it very hard to sleep because there isn't any comfortable way to rest your head. Still, it's certainly better than the alternative.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

More Grim News

As previously blogged this has been a difficult week. Cullen and Cam's friend is in jail on murder charges, on suicide watch. But that's not all that happened at school. A girl, who was "covered in blood" banged on the door of Cam's gym class begging for help. Yesterday the rumor was she had been raped as well as whatever caused her extensive lacerations. There's one more thing which I'll get to in a minute. With all these rumors I Googled then name of their school and found this article, which essentially says nothing at all. It's possibly the vaguest thing I've ever read.

The other rumor going around school is that on the anniversary of Columbine some kids with guns and a list came to school but were stopped. I can't find anything like that in the news but then again not everything that happens at school is reported. When the gun went off a few years ago there was no report for several days and then when a story did run it said no students were anywhere near the gun. I know that's not true because Cullen was there, getting a drink of water, and had to hide behind a bank of lockers for several hours.

I'm guessing the anniversary thing is just a rumor but who knows. There has certainly been plenty of chaos recently.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Wretched Day so Read Someone Else's Words

I've had a difficult, depressing day. I don't want to go into the details as I think this blog has been dreary enough lately what with the cat dying and the tragedy I blogged about yesterday. The end result is I'm having trouble getting things done as I'm constantly distracted by horrible thoughts.

I did manage to get my weekly column up and enter a microfiction contest and do a few other things but I'm hopelessly behind on everything else.

So I leave you with this short story, which is quite sneaky. I read it a couple of days ago and was impressed.

Enjoy and have a great Friday night.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Tragedy

A boy who goes to school with my youngest son has been arrested for killing his mother. According to this article in the Baltimore Sun the family had a long history of abuse. Both parents accused each other of abuse in court, with the father trying to get a restraining order against the mother. The father was also in trouble for beating the boy with a rod when the child was six years old, because the boy was crying and wanted a bandaid.

Cam says the boy was extremely upset because his girlfriend dumped him last week. Neighbors say fighting escalated between the mother and the boy.

Schoolmates of the teen have commented on other blogs saying that he did run away from home but was brought home again by the police and that he was still being abused by both of his parents.

I don't really know, I only have a few facts at my disposal, but it does appear as though social services could have done more, going all the way back to when the teen and his younger brother were only two and five. When the family has an "extensive file" and then a member of the family kills another, something went badly wrong.

I hope whoever is taking care of the younger brother, who also goes to Old Mill, is doing a better job and is working very hard to keep him safe and get him some counseling.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A well meant gesture but...

When I was a little kid I thought I had no imagination at all. I spent my days dreaming about the big black horse that carried me everywhere and the giant lion that padded along next to me, protecting me from anyone that bothered me, but because I couldn't see animals in clouds I was convinced I had zero imagination. I used to be baffled because I was always in trouble at school for daydreaming and letting my imagination run away with me. Which brings us to today.

We got a package from my vet's office. It was a copy of a rainbow bridge poem, which you may have seen elsewhere. But there was also something else.

You know those casts that little kids make of their hands in preschool? It was like that. But of Titan's paw print. And his name across the top.

I'm sure it's supposed to be a sweet keepsake but it gave me the willies. Did they make the cast after he died? While he was extremely ill, hooked up to his little IV? At this point in my wonderings I get dizzy and have to stop thinking about it.

I'm guessing it's not really his foot. It's some random foot that comes in bulk and you just add the cat's name. Or something. But it still freaked me out.

I feel bad that I'm not more appreciative. My vet's office went to a lot of trouble and how do I react? I'm a terrible person.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Some scary science

I keep seeing this new commercial. I'm not even sure what it's for. I'm guessing a meningitis vaccine because it shows happy children touching and smooching while someone warns that they're going to get meningitis and die.

I have a lot of bitterness over my own bout of meningitis, mainly because I feel it was grossly mishandled. When I came into the hospital I saw a young lady who looked at my feet and shins and said she thought I had meningitis and that treatment should be started right away and everyone who came into contact with me should get prophylaxis. The older "wiser" doctor who was with her told her she needed to be thinking of common diseases, not something exotic. As a consequence it took several days of agony before I was diagnosed with the very disease she thought I had and my brain suffered extensively during that time.

As a point of fact meningitis can show up as petechiae, a kind of spotty rash, and is sometimes seen on the lower extremities. You can read a little about that here:

I was already in trouble because this was my second trip to the ER. They sent me home the first time and Chris brought me back because I was so ill.

Anyway, if treatment had been started sooner I might have ended up with permanent damage and disability. I was so sick that I couldn't even get out of bed to go the bathroom without help for a long time after and I have problems with activities of daily living even now, six years later.

So naturally I try not to think about meningitis much. The commercials annoy the hell out of me.

What with thinking about it more I was doing some more research and found this interesting article from Science Daily. Check this out:

"The vessels just start exploding," McGavern says. "This tells us that killer T cells recruit monocytes and neutrophils that actually produce the pathology we see with meningitis. What we thought were the cells responsible actually only recruit accomplices who commit the crime."

I don't know about you but I prefer that things in my head NOT explode.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Two Important Questions for the Day

Number one - if you have a cavity filled in your canine do you automatically become disqualified from becoming a vampire? Only those teeth are pretty important for biting and drinking, if you follow me.

The other question, which I had to answer today, is would you pay about eighty bucks for laughing gas? Pros - laughing gas helps me get through the dentist visit without throwing up or fainting (both things that happen when I'm stressed since my brain swelled up). It also really allows me to relax. I've actually fallen asleep while getting work done in the past, even with all that equipment jammed in my mouth. Because I have an easily triggered gag reflex I can spend a lot of time worrying about gagging and choking while I've got the dam and such in my mouth. With the laughing gas the more nervous I get the deeper I breathe and the better I feel.

Con - eighty bucks is a lot of money. Esp with me owing almost five hundred dollars for my cat, who didn't even survive his illness. It's all kind of depressing.

I opted to try to get my filling without the gas, with the option of using it if I got panicky. It was a pretty quick job with very little drilling and I made it sans gas, barfing or fainting. My dentist is made of awesome.

Looking for a career that combines science and art? Dentistry might be for you. Building fillings, crowns and whatnot is actually quite artistic. My dentist got to blend two different colors of filling to match my tooth today. Good times.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Let's Play Let's Guess What's In My Trunk

Now the possibilities are many. I have an emergency kit in my trunk. I ferry kids and college students around. I go to the library. I move things for artists. I let an artist borrow my car for a couple of months.

Sometimes I find random things that I can't identify. Once a sort of piny wooden doll/monster/walking cane thing. Other things are more ordinary. Interesting rocks. Seashells. Videos. Books.

My middle son Cullen dropped by my room a few minutes ago to ask me if I bought yogurt while I was out today. No, I didn't. Huh, he says. There's definitely a tub of yogurt in the trunk.

I can't remember the last time I bought yogurt. Now I'm wondering what kind of life has started up in that tub. At least its only early spring. One summer when the kids were little somebody spilled a cup of milk in the back seat and I didn't find it until the car smelled so bad I was gagging.

Hopefully I'll be able to get the hazardous waste people to come and get the yogurt before it bursts open and ruins this car too.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon

I just finished reading The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon. In fact I kind of took the day off to read it. I didn't get online until almost six and I totally skipped this housing expo I was thinking about attending.

Like a lot of "literary" books I had a little trouble getting into it. (Weirdly I also notice I have this problem with books that have the pages that aren't all the same size. I lose my page, I can't find it again, I don't like the way the pages feel against my fingers as I read. Also this book was from the library with one of those plastic covers and it just felt really icky. It's hard to read something you don't want to touch. But I digress.) The first few days I read just a few pages a day. Then last night I got up to page two hundred and finished the rest today.

I'm guessing most everyone's already read it, what with it winning so many awards, so I'm not going to say much about it. I enjoyed it very much. Michael Chabon has a flair for description that makes me laugh out loud and read bits to whoever happens to be nearby. I give it a strong recommend but I was puzzled by the ending, which could just be me. There was something at the very end that to me meant something big but is completely uncommented upon. Maybe I just missed an explanation earlier in the story. That's very possible. I can be unobservant and forgetful, which isn't the best combo for trying to get on top of a mystery/alternate history story.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Frederick Douglass' Autobiography

A long time ago I did a play version of Frederick Douglass' life. I played his wife, who was with him when he died. In the show he comes home from a suffragette's meeting on or around New Year's Eve and has a heart attack and dies in my arms. It was very sad but not nearly as sad as his autobiography, which is available online here:

We all know that slavery was horrible and that the life of a slave was wretched but reading the words of someone who lived through it is pretty different from just learning about it in school or wherever. I just finished the book a few days ago. It took me a long time to read because it's so sad. I could only read it in short bursts.

At the end when he talks about his escape he says he won't give any details because if he does then other slaves who try to escape will suffer as their escape routes will be cut off. That makes lots of sense but looking back at it from across an almost two hundred year divide I wish I could read how he did it. I wish I could know the names of the exact people who helped because they deserve so much for risking their lives and their families.

When we look back at these dark times they seem a little because there is always someone who steps up and does what needs to be done, no matter the cost.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Interesting eyes

Here's an article from the New England Journal of Medicine about a gentleman who has an interesting eye condition. The story describes his eyes as looking like keyholes and says the unusual appearance is a result of abnormal closure of the optic fissure, something that occurs when a fetus is about five weeks developed.

It hasn't caused the patient any trouble. But I wonder if it's brought him anything special. Surely those eyes must have intrigued people who met him and maybe stopped long enough to enjoy his special appearance and have a chat. The eyes are the window to the soul, right? His also have a lock, which might make him seem a little unattainable. Or as Cam says, does his wife have key eyes? It might make finding your soul mate a lot easier. All kinds of interesting story ideas spring to mind.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Script Frenzy 2009 Halfway Mark

I'm slogging along on my script for Script Frenzy. As I may have mentioned it's about a girl called Zed who was raised in a secluded compound, either on an island or in a canyon, depending on what page of the script you're on (remember first drafts are great for changing your mind about what's going on). Her grandfather is the one raising her and he realizes that when he dies she'll be alone with his corpse, which will soon rise.

He builds her a robot called Beau, then leaves, so that she won't have to put a bullet through his skull. She goes in search of him and discovers there are no zombies. He's delusional and most of what she thought about the world is wrong.

I'm more than halfway finished in terms of page count but not really in terms of story. Mostly because I haven't really had the chance to figure out the story. Is it a mystery? A girl lost in a strange world story? A whoa, your parents are really alive and deal with that story? I've tried a couple of different paths and am still not quite sure.

At one point she kidnapped a young child because his parents hadn't taught him how to fight zombies. I still think this is a funny idea but the real world implications are pretty serious and I imagine she'd end up somewhere pretty bleak like jail, a foster home or a mental institute while her robot friend is dissected so that doesn't really fit the whole comedy theme.

Of course she could encounter some real zombies but isn't that a little predictable? So many choices, so few days left in April.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What happened with Fox last night?

I recorded House and 24 and was going to watch House tonight when Cam warned me that everyone at school was complaining because House didn't have an ending. They didn't mean that the episode ended unsatisfactorily, they meant something else was broadcast instead.

I fast forwarded through the first 45 minutes and sure enough the last fifteen minutes is Gossip Girl. Which is all right if you like that sort of thing, but not if you want to know what's going on with House. And in fact it wasn't all right because the sound was wonky. There was music and ambient noise but no dialogue. Which was weird, let me tell you.

The first 23 minutes of 24 was also another show, no idea which one, with the same problems with sound.

Curious as to whether this was a local phenomena or something that happened everywhere.

(Last week's Fringe was also foafed up with the first so many minutes American Idol and then the episode just ending when things were getting interesting, but I suspect that was a failure of my DVR, not so much the broadcast.)

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Woody vs. the Zombie

Several years ago I was an extra in a movie with Morgan Freeman called Along Came a Spider. We spent three days, long hours each day, shooting a scene where he enters a commuter train, sees something suspicious, pulls his gun out, etc. etc. My job was to duck every time he reached into his denim jacket to get his gun.

I don't know how many times I ducked but it was a lot. (I had longer hair then, which would flair out when I turned my head and hid, and a friend who moved away once told me when he missed me he would play the scene from the film, see my hair and feel better. But I digress.)

A couple of years later I was on a Metro train in DC and a man who looked a fair amount like Morgan Freeman and was wearing a denim jacket boarded the train and reached into his jacket, in precisely the same way Mr. Freeman had. So I ducked.

I'm sure I looked both racist and crazy, but really it was sort of a Pavlovian response.

So when I read this article about Woody Harrelson getting into an altercation with someone he thought was a zombie, following several weeks of filming an intense zombie movie, I nodded my head and understood where he was coming from. I'm guessing a lot of actors understand exactly what happened.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

What is a Terminator at heart?

I'm watching the season finale of the Sarah Connor Chronicles, and I'm not sure I agree with something Cameron said. (This is Cameron the Terminator, not Cameron my son.) She said that Terminator's hardware and software are made to do one thing, kill humans. And John says but not you. She says no, not anymore. But at her core she is still the same. And John asks if that means she wants to kill him and she says yes.

But does that really work? You could say that at heart a human wants two things - to eat and mate. Those are our most basic biological imperatives. And water, we have to have water to survive. Food and water for most basic survival, mating for most basic reason for life at all, to create more life.

But how many of us have to constantly fight back the urge to leap onto a robin on our lawn and rip its heart out? Not that many. An enormous number of humans choose a vegetarian diet, turning their backs on the carnivorous side of their omnivorous nature.

Fewer people choose celibacy I think, but we can choose it. Others choose temporary celibacy, when their partner is ill, or out of town, or exhausted, or a host of other reasons.

Is Cameron's urge to kill humans any stronger than any of the basic urges we habitually repress? Might a Terminator, especially one that is being stimulated in other ways, not in fact be capable of finding killing disgusting, just as a vegetarian may be repulsed by meat?

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

It's so true!!

I have gained a monkey badge

Maureen Johnson has promised all of her followers monkeys if she reached the magic three thousand number. Isn't it cute? You'll probably want to get in on this.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Things that don't make sense

Our vet called us this morning to say that Titan's blood sugar was still very low this morning, despite getting glucose drip IV all night long. Dr. Gray gave him a fifty percent dextrose solution to try and get his blood sugar back up and finally succeeded but Titan was showing severe neurological impairment.

When we visited Titan last night it took him a full two minutes to respond to us. I thought he was angry with us for leaving him there but I guess it took him that long to process our presence. The tech said he would not eat or or drink anything, which is mad crazy for him. He always eats everything in sight and drinks quite a bit of water. I had to refill his water dish three times last weekend, which is one reason we brought him in for a check up, because I thought his sugar was too high! He also was not meowing at all, again very odd for him as he is very vocal. In fact he was abandoned by his previous owner and we've always suspected it was because he was so noisy.

We're not sure if he had brain damage from his blood sugar getting so low yesterday or if he threw a clot into his brain. We sent his blood and urine out last night for a comprehensive screening and everything came back fine but the sugar. His kidneys and liver appeared to be fine. It's bewildering because he showed no symptoms of low blood sugar at home. He was limping but active and eating, drinking, complaining and asking for attention. All of his normal activities. He was even feeling spry enough to jump into the bathtub for a rest a few days ago, one of his favorite spots.

The only real symptom he had was peeing all over everything. Which really should be more a symptom of high blood sugar. It's baffling.

Also why was his blood sugar still below twenty after getting IV glucose from 4:30 pm to 7:30 the next morning? Tell me what sense that makes.

I made the decision euthanize him this morning, helped out by our vet's advice.

Our vet deserves a commendation. He stayed at the hospital quite late last night and was back there early this morning, even though he was supposed to have the day off. He made a confusing and extraordinarily difficult time more bearable.


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Sick cat blogging

My cat Titan went to the vet this morning for his blood tests to see how his diabetes is coming along. He hasn't been feeling well lately. His limping is worse and he's been peeing all over everything. He's also even grouchier than usual.

We dropped him off at eight. His glucose was 128. By two it was twenty. Twenty!! By 4:30 he bottomed out and was on iv glucose. He's spending the night at the hospital and we're sending his blood and urine out for a comprehensive panel.

This means I have to get up at an ungodly hour again tomorrow and shift him home. Assuming he's well enough to come home that is. Then he goes back again for another blood test in the middle of the week. And we're going to switch him to wet cat food, which is usually a no no.

Oh what an expensive cat he is. That's expensive in both monetary and emotional terms.


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Don't view if you haven't seen this week's House episode

I was watching this week's episode of House and working on my script for Script Frenzy. I was writing a scene that has a double murder suicide and as I typed the word suicide 13 found Kutner's body. I'm sure it would have been surreal enough but combined with the scene I was writing made the whole thing dreamlike.

I'm extra shocked because when I watched last week's episode I was looking at Kutner's calm demeanor and thinking how he is the only sensible one in the lot. Talb is a mass of neuroses, House is House, Foreman hides his emotions away, 13 is dying, etc. etc. How wrong I was.

Why do these stupid characters make me care about them? I hate crying over fake people.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

More about zombies (Can you ever get too much?)

In honor of my project for script frenzy, which is about a teenager trained to be a zombie hunter, I present a post from Meg Cabot's blog called Teenage Zombies. I was particularly struck by this advice:

The other problem with the movie is that the music is kind of dopey and the special effects aren’t that scary and everyone is always like, “Wait, we have to go back.”

Why does everyone always say that? There’s no reason to go back. Really. Ever. Just drive forward.

That fantastic advice doesn't just work for films, or zombie hunting, or fleeing from zombies; it's also perfect writing advice. Don't ever hit the back space. Don't go back and delete anything you've written. Don't think you're just going to edit one thing and then go on. Instead write a note to yourself about what you think is wrong and go on from there. I've actually written as many as 11 thousand words and decided they weren't working for me, written a note like @@this books should really start here@@ and forged on with whatever direction seems better.

I am only talking about first drafts here. If you're doing a rewrite you're probably going to need to stop and go back from time to time. But I find that even when I'm doing my rewrite I need to forge ahead to a degree. I can bogged down just doing the first reading of my first draft and start trying to fix things. I really need to read the whole thing through while making notes then tackle it and whip it into shape.

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Monday, April 06, 2009

A couple of Raving Rabbids

Just in case you haven't seen these guys. This is how I've been spending my spare time when I'm not writing my script. Courtesy of my pen pal who lives in New York.


Sunday, April 05, 2009


A zombies song since I'm writing a zombie script. Of course these are metaphorical zombies but still.

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Saturday Cat Blogging

My cat Titan is old, arthritic and diabetic. He is also in the habit of going through spells where he pees all over everything, which is of course maddening. Today he started to pee on the carpet and Cam grabbed him and threw him into his litterbox. He walked back out and peed on my copy of Alan Moore's From Hell.

Our vet tells us to lock him in the bathroom when he gets like this and keep him in there until he only uses his box. But we only have one bathroom and sharing it with a large, grouchy, pissing cat is not fun. I bought a baby gate and a new bed for him and I'm going to lock him in the kitchen and see how that goes. He's got an appointment with the vet on Thursday for his glucose curves and I'll get him checked out for an infection then but I suspect he's just being annoying.


Friday, April 03, 2009

Wicked Game Now Available in Mass Market Paperback

Jeri Smith-Ready's book Wicked Game is now available in mass market paperback so if you haven't picked it up yet you can grab it and save a little cash.

Here is the beginning of my Quality Time column about Wicked Game:

I was just sorting through some books in my bookcase and I picked up my copy of Wicked Game, by Jeri Smith-Ready, and was surprised to realize I'd never mentioned it in this column. It's a fun read, a romantic story that throws confidence tricksters, vampires and rock and roll together to create a compelling story.

One of the more interesting elements of vampire lore is the idea that vampires are obsessive compulsive. There's an old piece of advice that says if you're trapped by a vampire throw some poppy seeds or rice onto the floor and the vampire will have to stop whatever it's doing (like, yanno, feeding from you) and pick up every seed or grain, counting each one. (In an interesting correlation Cinderella's stepmother does something similar to her to keep her from going to the ball. She throws peas and lintels into the fireplace and tells Cinderella she can go to the ball after she sorts every last one out. Does this mean Cinderella is a vampire? That's an interesting thought and doesn't bode well for the prince does it? But I digress.) Ms. Smith-Ready takes this idea and uses it to build a world where vampires get stuck, unable to change or grow with the times, bewildered and unable to cope as the world moves on. These stagnant vampires mentally fade away as they fall further and further behind. Even a vampire that is quite young, only a decade or so undead, will have trouble in day to day "life", constantly having to fight their OCD.



Thursday, April 02, 2009

Script Frenzy 2009

I am taking part in Script Frenzy. I woke up with an idea a couple of days ago. It's about a girl raised to believe that the zombie apocalypse happened when she was very young, and that zombies killed her parents. But actually her grandfather, who is raising her, is delusional. We'll see how that goes. I'm on page eight.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Stats that made my eyebrows raise

The latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine has an interesting free article about when to start antiretroviral therapy that has some startling numbers.

The results are striking. Among the 8362 patients with a CD4+ count of 351 to 500 cells per cubic millimeter, deferral of therapy until the CD4+ count had fallen to 350 cells or less was associated with an increase of 69% in the risk of death, as compared with patients who initiated therapy when their CD4+ count was within the designated range. Similarly, among the 9155 patients with a CD4+ count of more than 500 cells per cubic millimeter, deferral of therapy until the CD4+ count fell below 500 cells was associated with a significantly increased risk of death of 94%.
That's astonishing. Earlier the article says "Currently, these guidelines state that the optimal time to start therapy for an asymptomatic patient with a CD4+ count of more than 350 cells per cubic millimeter is unknown."

This is information that patients need to know and discuss with their HIV doctors.