Friday, October 4, 2013

Gnats and the Cone of Death

Gnat trapMan, what a relief to stick around here today! I enjoyed being at home today.

Has anyone else experienced Gnats Gone Wild lately? A friend (I forget who) recently mentioned that they were seeing a lot lately, and I was like, “Man, us too!” They’re driving us crazy here in the house. They hang out in the kitchen garbage can, they cling to the cans to be taken out to recycling, and at night, they seem to hover around our computers—AND our faces. It’s maddening! It must really be a year for them. Maybe because it’s been unseasonably warm. I don’t know, but I have just about had it with these em-effin’ gnats in our em-effin’ house!

So I looked for gnat traps online today. I don’t know it there are commercial products out there, but I saw quite a few homemade traps, and thought I’d try that first. Natural is always better, right? So I’m trying the thing pictured here (not my photo, but mine is also in a Ball jar!), and see if it works.

You put 3-4 tablespoons of cider vinegar in a glass or a jar, add a drop or two of dishwasher soap, and curl a piece of white paper into a cone and insert it into the jar. So far, I’m not seeing a major attraction there for the gnats, but I was thrilled when I finally saw one in there. “I caught one!” I hope that the cider smell will start to permeate the paper a little more and attract them. I sure wish I had a piece of filter paper from the lab! Hmm...I bet a coffee filter with a hole cut in the bottom might work well, too. I’m watching it closely, urging the little bastards to crawl in. I hope that when we get up tomorrow morning, I’ll see some dead ones in there. Die, die, die!

Speaking of little bastards (no, not John Mellencamp), I was hearing an odd noise outside earlier today, and when I looked out, I saw the little squirrel we call Piney Squirrel sitting on the grill, tearing strips off of the grill cover. What the heck? I went out and said, “Cut it out!” and he ran off with a strip of cloth in his mouth. He’d torn quite a bit off already, and although there is still a canvas layer underneath what he tore off, he managed to put a couple of small holes in the thing. I understand that you’re trying to make a cozy nest for the winter, Piney, but leave the grill cover alone! Maybe I’ll put out some dryer lint and he’ll like that better. We might need to buy a new grill cover. Perhaps a little duct tape will get it through this winter, though!

Finally, I’ve noticed that this year’s flu shot is providing a more robust immune response than I’ve encountered in the past. I usually experience a very slight soreness, but this year, my shoulder is more sore than usual, and it is slightly red and warm. Do not be alarmed, Citizens! These are normal, mild side effects, and I hope it means that my immune system is really ramping up its efforts to produce antibodies against the strains of influenza included in this year’s vaccine. I don’t feel crummy at all, but the sore shoulder makes it hard for me to sleep on my left side, which is my side of choice. I don’t know if it’s just me, or if the shot this year is a little more of an irritant. But don’t let that stop you from getting the shot. Influenza can be much worse than a sore shoulder, believe me!

A low-key weekend coming up for us. Notre Dame is playing Arizona State in the Shamrock classic, which is in Dallas this year. We’ll be watching that tomorrow evening. During the day, it looks like we’ll head over to the Verizon store and get my [cue “The Price Is Right” announcer voice] BRAND NEW PHONE! I want to go with one of the Samsung Galaxy phones. It will depend on what they have in the store, because I’m not sure I want to wait for something to be shipped. But we’ll see.

I wish you long days and pleasant nights!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Takin’ Care of Business

Healthcare.govWhoops, a few days without an entry here, but I’m not going to feel too bad about it, because it’s been a bit of a busy week for me. I’m looking forward to a day at home on Friday!

I’ve had three medical appointments in the past three days, and I have one more to go on Monday (the dentist). Good news on all fronts so far, with a negative mammogram, healthy eyes with no significant change from last year, and a good checkup with my doctor today. She is such a gem, and we even had a few laughs today. As we were finishing up, she said, “You’re doing great, and I’m happy that I don’t have to yell at you about anything!” I laughed and said, “And I’m happy to not be yelled at!”

I got my flu shot today, too. I have a slightly sore shoulder, but nothing major, and I’m always happy to get my flu shot taken care of. Happy to do it this early in the season, too! Everyone go get your flu shot, okay?

I’ve also had to make sure I was at home a couple of these afternoons, for a DirecTV technician (all fixed!) and a wine shipment (all delivered!). This is much more activity than I normally deal with, so I am ready for a down day!

I’ve been watching the shenanigans in Washington. And by ‘shenanigans,’ I mean the complete and utter batshittery of the Republican party right now. I’m not going to go into it at all here. I’m sure you’re all paying attention, and I’m also sure that you all know what I think about this bullshit and how disgusted I am.

What really astounds me is that all of this is because they want to keep millions of people from getting health insurance. I’ve been thinking about that a lot this week as I’ve gone to my various appointments to obtain preventive care. I’ve been fortunate in having employer-subsidized health insurance for my entire career. Since I worked in healthcare, it was always very good insurance, too. There were times when I paid maybe $10 a month for insurance. I usually had a copay, but that is still some pretty great insurance.

The reason I supported the Affordable Care Act from the beginning is because I want everyone to have that. I want everyone to have access to preventive care. I want everyone to get checkups and screenings and have a doctor that they can turn to when they have a medical problem. I don’t want anyone to be wiped out by medical bills, or have to declare bankruptcy because they get cancer or have a heart attack or a stroke, or whatever.

So while I watched the teabagger faction of the Republican party completely lose their shit this week, I also watched with joy as the exchanges opened on Tuesday and people began signing up. There are definitely problems with access, and some of that seems to be both volume and software. I am confident that these issues will be fixed soon. I have plenty of friends and family who may qualify for the exchanges and for subsidies, and my fingers are crossed for them.

As for the Republicans whose goal is to stop the Affordable Care Act, in the words of Austin Powers, that train has sailed.

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Final Countdown

The Final CountdownWell, here we are.

The clowns have taken over the car and are driving it right into the main circus tent pole, apparently intent (Ha! See what I did there?!) on bringing the whole thing down.

On my way to the store today, I was listening to NPR, and they interviewed Maine Senator Angus King. He’s an Independent, but caucuses with the Democrats. He said that it goes against his grain to not try to cut a deal, but they aren’t going to negotiate with a gun held to their head. He also said that “This is no way to govern,” and that “We look like a third world country. It’s embarrassing.”

It IS embarrassing.

This has to stop. One way or another. To put it into perspective, I read a couple of things today that turned the tables. Imagine if Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat-controlled House had said that they wouldn’t pass a continuing resolution to fund the government unless we cut off funding for the Iraq war? Or unless Republicans agreed on single-payer healthcare?

How do you think the Republicans would have liked THEM apples?

This is just insanity. Michele Bachmann is apparently ecstatic, saying that they’re getting exactly what they wanted with a government shutdown. Fuck off, you crazy bunt. Real people are going to be affected by this, and for a party that claims to be all about fiscal responsibility, you sure don’t seem to have your panties in a wad over the several million dollars that a shutdown will cost, do you? This will have consequences, from the dollars generated in DC museums to the people working at the little drink stand in Yosemite National Park.

All of this because they don't want more people to have health insurance. HEALTH INSURANCE!

For the life of me, I don’t know how anyone can support these terrorists who are holding our government hostage.

This is shameful.

Here. Watch a hair band and glory in their posturing and the way their hair flows. Marvel as they coordinate their singing and guitar-playing in a little rockin’ dance. The ‘80s were a weird and slightly crazy time.

Things seem even weirder and crazier now…and that’s sayin’ something.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Beth’s Books: Doctor Sleep

Beth's BooksI’m severely out of whack today because Stephen King kept me up until the wee hours of the morning! I hatelove him for constantly doing that to me.

Maybe one of these days, I’ll finish one of his books in the afternoon. It usually seems to work out that I’ve got about a couple hundred pages to go around midnight, and I can’t bring myself to put it down for the night. I have to finish. This morning, I was up until 5 AM. At least we didn’t have to go anywhere today!

I’m not really going to give any spoilers here, just write a general review of the book. But if you like to be completely surprised by a book, you probably shouldn’t read this entry before you read the book. There were a couple of things that happened that made my jaw drop, and needless to say, I won’t be spoiling THAT for anyone!

If you don’t know anything about it, Doctor Sleep is the sequel to The Shining. We get to see what young Danny Torrance has been up to in the years since his Dad tried to beat him and his Mom to death with a roque mallet. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been up to much good, and is following in his father’s drunken footsteps.

After hitting rock bottom, he finds himself in a small New Hampshire town and encounters a couple of people who take a shine (so to speak) to him. He manages to claw his way back to sobriety and a job at the local hospice. With the assistance of the hospice cat, he is able to understand when the residents are ready to make the crossing to the Other Side, and he eases their journey; thus his nickname, and the title of the book.

He eventually encounters the shine of a young girl who is close by. She also attracts the attention of some very, very bad sorts who want her “steam”: her very powerful essence. This leads to a showdown between Good and Evil that King writes of so frequently.

Stephen KingThere are a lot of great characters here that we come to genuinely care about, and chief among them is Dan Torrance, all grown up. His struggle is painful to watch, but he was a good kid and he’s a good man. You cheer for him the entire way. Abra, the young girl with the strong shine, is a fierce warrior. The bad guys are bad enough that you cheer for their complete and utter demise, although some of the acolytes are pathetic enough that you feel a tiny bit sorry for them. But not much.

King writes some great lines, and probably my favorite in the book was this:
We’re all dying. The world’s just a hospice with fresh air.
Brilliant. And so true.

Both Lisa and Ken asked me if they should read The Shining before reading this sequel. They have seen the movie but haven’t read the book. I hadn’t read it for many years, but recently revisited it in preparation for reading this book. I’m glad I did. You wouldn’t have to read it, but I think it gives a better insight into the characters and to Danny’s complicated and dysfunctional relationship with his father. I think it’s also important to understand how Danny’s experience at the Overlook followed him for the rest of his life, and to remember some of the horrible things he encountered there.

Because some things linger.