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Awareness Day - 252

Once again, it's International CF(ID)S/ME & Fibromyalgia Awareness Day.

I have 252 tabs open in my browser, and this seems like a good day to write about that.

That's a lot of tabs, according to many.  And yet it's a fairly good number, at least for me.  The highest point I've reached - or lowest, depending on how you look at it - was 580 tabs, and a choking machine.

My laptop struggles under the strain; it frantically swaps things in and out as the tab count increases, and is currently using 320GB of virtual memory.  I am resigned to slow response times that invariably irritate Daniel when he has to do things on my machine.

I've been a longtime fan of tabbed browsing and session restores, unsurprisingly.  Occasionally things freeze up or fall over, and I have to bring the browser or the whole machine down with a forced reset.  The only thing I've ever restored from our comprehensive backups is browser session data.

Honestly, it's not uncommon for my browser session to be the biggest thing standing in the way of my recording, or even playing games on my machine, because bringing it all down is hard, and bringing it all back up again is harder.  There have been sessions that take an hour to resurrect.

It all comes down to BrainFog.


Read more...Collapse )

I'm not sure that there is a neat conclusion to bring this to.  But it's something to be aware of, something I'm acutely aware of every day, and on Awareness Day it seems worth writing about, as an illustration of just what this Illness does to my life.

It's important to say that this is not a post asking for advice on how to deal with the issue.  In fact, this is an explicit request that you do not give advice or helpful instructions, and fair warning that I will seriously consider removing anyone who does from my access lists.  Leaving aside the high probability that the years I've been dealing with this issue have given me ample opportunity to consider anything that might be suggested, that's not what this is about.

It's about what it's like, and how it feels.  The very point of all that Awareness stuff.

This entry was originally posted over on Dreamwidth. Please comment there if you can.


Apr. 10th, 2010

Having just posted this for the local folks, I am reminded of a link that I've meant to post for a while, and don't recall getting around to.

Home-made version of a Cadbury Creme Egg. It's the size of a kettle. Cue sugar-coma in 3...2...
Sometimes a picture really is worth more than any words I could come up with.

I keep wondering if I should try cutting that recipe down to a half or a quarter of that size (I mean, three pounds of sugar!?) and making one some time, but even then I don't know what I would do with that much fondant...
[NOTE: I'm just posting this on Asagwe's behalf.  Any questions should be directed to the company at the e-mail address below rather than left in the comments; pretty much all I can tell you about them is that they seem nice and hold good parties.]

Relatively senior Linux/Unix Systems Admin wanted for 3-6 months, in Fitzroy,
near Brunswick St, working mostly on-site. Starting ASAP.

Send your resumé to: jobs@strategicdata.com.au

Strategic Data are located in Fitzroy, just off Brunswick St, and are involved
in a wide range of data processing, managed and reporting applications.

See http://www.strategicdata.com.au/ for more of a customer-focused blurb.

We make use of a lot of Debian Linux, Perl, and Open Source software in
general, along with a wide range of other technologies.

We are looking for someone to come in and help impose order among the chaos of
our systems, helping deploy automation and move our infrastructure from
unique, hand-crafted systems to a managed, monitored and simplified

This is a position for three to six months, with possible extension; we are
happy to have contractors, or folks working as regular staff for the period.

Extension to the position is dependent on workload and business growth, and we
should have a good idea early in the picture how likely it is that you would
continue on with the company.

Remuneration is dependent on experience, and is in line with industry average.
We want someone pretty experienced and able to work in a fairly self-directed
fashion; we understand this means we have to pay for it.

Specific skills that would be valuable follow, but this is a "wish" list, not
a "must have" list. If you only hit some of these highlights, drop us a line,
because you might well be the person we are after — we are happy to teach the
right person the tools they don't know:

Description of desired techno-wizardry follows...Collapse )


Spontaneous Gecko!

Well, that was a moment.

For some weeks now, I've been encountering the Katzen from time to time clustered by a chest or drawers or a bookshelf or somesuch, staring intently underneath for minutes at an end.  I've taken a look myself, but never spotted what had attracted such attention.

I think I know now.

I was heading down the hallway, when something fell/leapt off the ceiling and down in front of my face.  It landed with a small thump on the floor, and as I called for Asagwe's assistance, the gecko scuttled into my pants.  Fortunately, I had just decided it was too hot for pants and discarded them, so this was not as awkward as it could have been...

The thing was longer than my fingers, probably about 10cm or so, and almost certainly another House Gecko.  I was vaguely sorry to have to put it outside, since they're rather lovely, and it's doubtless been helping to keep the bugs down while we've had the windows open and all.  However, the cats really would love to get their paws on it - they were trying enthusiastically to get behind the bookshelf at 2:30 this morning, purring and squeeping happily at the prospect of a new, then-unidentified but definitely captivating, plaything.  So after we caught it in a bucket, we shepherded it out onto the windowsill.

Mind you, after a brief scuttle along the windowsill, it decided to launch itself off the wall and down two stories.  I'm beginning to suspect it likes doing that, but fortunately or un, there wasn't a neighbour downstairs for it to startle this time...

It appeared to be okay after it landed, at least.  And we found the whole thing rather nifty, after the brief moment of "ACKWhat'sinfrontofmyfaceandwillitbiteme???"

Two cats, meanwhile, are now pacing around wondering what all the fuss was about - after carefully staying where they were lounging for the duration of the action...

[EDIT, 10:50pm: SlippyCheese is now asserting that it must've been a suicidal gecko, and that after its first attempt to end the pain failed, it decided to try a jump from a greater height.  I am, for my part giving Mr Cheese a dubious look...]
Apropos of nothing in particular:

Kitsunuki! (Flash animation, with sound)
I was woken up by the rain passing through.

Not least because, to my amazement and amusement, it sounded remarkably like the a capella choir's introduction to Africa, only without the jumping-on-the-choir-rises bit.

This delights me no end.

As the rain passed and the birdcalls started filtering tentatively through the last drops, I opened my eyes to see two cat-silhouettes sitting neatly on the bed, staring at me in the dark.  And the moment that I focussed on them, without moving my head, they meowed in perfectly-timed harmony, a duet of "So what was that, exactly??"

[UPDATE, 5:40am: The Katzen must have been disturbed by it.  They've been following me from room to room every time I move... even now there are little shadows sitting behind me with their paws neatly together, just watching.  Poor little jungle-cats - they'd never cope in the tropics!]
Thanks to xanni_au, an online version of the Farnsworth-Munsell Color Discrimination Test.  That's a test of one's ability to perceive the difference between hues, just for the record - though of course this electronic version shows the combined bias of an individual's colour perception and their monitor calibration.

A bit of background info about the test, as well as an interesting comment on experimenting with it.

The test takes a bit of time with all the point-and-clicking, and the server took a while to come back with results, but if you do it I'd be curious to know how you went.  Particularly if you're one of those strange people who believe that grey is purple, or brown, or... *grin, ducks, would run but flops instead*

I scored 4 (where lower is better), with the missed hues all in a row in the green-blue transition (~54-57, though I can't be sure I counted exactly).  I was working on that row when I got a phone call about family stuff, and I can't recall whether I actually finished it before going on to the row above it - BrainFog and preoccupation can be quite a combination.  I may do it again some time, but I'm both aware that the test can be learned, and feeling my system shut down as I type this...

Though one thing I did want to note was how intriguing it was doing the test, and feeling it on a visceral level when I moved a colour chip into the wrong place, through being off in my approximation of where it belonged or slipping off the touchpad or whatever.  I really wasn't expecting the instant, strong feeling of wrongness - and it makes me all the more curious as to what happened with the ones I did get wrong.  I've said it before, but brains are fascinating things!

And on another note entirely, the EepyBird boys (of Mentos + Diet Coke = SCIENCE! fame) show us what to do with a quarter of a million Post-It Notes and too much spare time.

Out of curiosity, are they Post-It Notes to you?  I feel that by now the term has crossed the border between individual brand name and broader reference - rather like bandaid, thermos, sellotape/scotch-tape*, velcro, or aspirin - but I don't know if this is just a regional thing?

* - Also a 3M brand, I note, like the Post-its. They seem to be doing well - or badly, depending on how you look at it - at trademarks that go generic...

Kit & Cat Conversations

So, when we stopped at the supermarket tonight, we found a curiously-named "Chocolate Charlotte*" reduced to clear in the cake section, and brought it home.  This set the scene for the following conversation:

5-tails: "Oh - the bread's come out of the fridge, then?"
SlippyCheese: "I pulled it out to make room for the Charlotte."
S5t: "...It's because it has a name, isn't it?  If the bread were something like Peter the Ploughman loaf, it would get to keep its place and you'd be all 'Oh, too bad Charlotte' and-"
SC: "Ha!  Naturally, Charlotte, being a female food, would have first priority on the fridge space.  I mean, where were you raised?"
S5t: "Somewhere where we don't have this sexist bullshit?  Anyway, so because I happened to randomly call it a male name-"
SC: *hugging the fox-thing* "We raise our manly bread-products to be tough, around here!"
S5t: "Actually, tough it about the last thing we want the bread to be, SillyCheese..."
SC: "Where were you raised?  In an oven?  In the freezer?"
S5t: *thwapping the cat-thing affectionately* "No, you must've been the one raised in the freezer - that'd explain why you're Should've-Been-Born-a-Penguin-Cat!"
SC: "In a sieve? Must've been in a sieve with manners like that..."

And then there was a lot of giggling.

Of course, with a moment's work, I was able to find room in the fridge for the bread and the Charlotte...

* - Googling it now that I'm home, it only gets better when I discover that the first writeup I found calls for 40-50 boudoirs in order to make one. No, really.

Grey areas...

I've had this conversation with small groups of people before, but talking about it today has me wondering.

Do you consider there to be a difference between "grey" and "gray"?
[EDIT: I'm quite aware that the former is the British spelling, and the latter the American; I'll confess that when I wrote this post I figured that that difference was so obvious that it didn't merit a mention, and that the context of the paragraphs that follow would make my intention clear.

Apparently it wasn't as clear as I thought it would be, though.  I used to get into trouble in high school maths classes for not writing out the "obvious" bits of working towards a solution, too...

To me, there's been one as long as I can remember.  Grey describes the bluer tones, gray the yellower.  Grey is the word for bluestone cobbles; gray the colour I associate with rainclouds after a storm (though of course clouds can be grey, too).  Since there are relatively few truly neutral shades out there, they tend to divide fairly neatly, though "grey" tends to be the one I use as a catchall term.

I'm much more partial to grey than gray, for the record.

Anyway, having this conversation in the past, I've encountered a number of Australians who used different distinctions but do see a difference between the two - often but not exclusively the visually-inclined, probably more artists that wordsmiths.  Intriguingly, usually we found that we saw the same difference between the two - for some the distinction was between "warm gray" and "cool grey," for others between "hard grey" and "soft gray," but whenever we compared examples in whatever was around us, we found we were referring to the same shades by the same terms.

Mind you, SlippyCheese thinks I'm mad.  But then, this is hardly the first thing that has led him to this conclusion.  *smile*

So I'm intrigued.  Is this just a consequence of growing up in a country that vacillates between UK and US spellings for words, or does it occur elsewhere?  Do you see a distinction between the two terms, or do you think me cracked in the head for even suggesting it?  If you're aware of differences in the way you perceive the world (colour-blindness, synaesthesia, tetrachromacy), do you think they're factors at all?  Do you have a better memory than I for what Crayola/Derwent/etc labelled their colours, so you can tell me that that's where we all learned it from?

[EDIT, 1-something am: I meant to say somewhere in this post that I've wondered on occasion whether it's in some way similar to the Booba-Kiki test (discussed fascinatingly by Vilayanur Ramachandran here) - whether perhaps something in the sounds associated with each lends itself to association with warm & cool/hard & soft/blue & yellow dichotomies?]
I woke up this afternoon* to find a catnip mouse on the bed, right where I muzzily remember some feline being at one point when I rolled over.

This has happened enough times now that I can't discount it as mere coincidence.

I can now say with some confidence that in addition to happily sleeping (as well as sitting/snuggling/playing/fighting, often in exactly that order) on the bed, the Katzen are bringing their toys to bed with them.  So I sleep with mine, and they sleep with theirs.

This makes me grin a lot.

(It's particularly entertaining when Rhatu does it.  He carefully deposits the mouse on the bed, then settles his body carefully over it as if it needs incubating.  He makes small squeaky noises when he does it, too - at least when I'm awake...)

* - I finally managed to make it out of bed about 20 minutes ago. It's One Of Those Days...


Oct. 19th, 2009

Maybe it's just that it's rather late and I'm very tired, but I'm currently finding AverageCats hilarious.  Particularly since I just poked the "About" page, and found the following:

Hey, what’s with the correctly spelled words?
      * Learn English- the first language corrupted by lolspeak.



Someone responded to my playing them the Colorpulse's Carl Sagan remix track by showing me this.  Is Sagan the ultimate Agent?  Decide for yourself...

Meanwhile, via wtf_nature, Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine encounter an amorous kakapo while filming "Last Chance to See." The results are... well, I have to admit that my response was not far off the presenter's... Oh Gods, that face!

And if you have Amorous Kakapo, you also ought to see Affronted Owl In A Box.

Meanwhile, Aubrey de Grey (and his amazing dancing beard!) presents at TED about ageing and why we should stop doing it.

On another note entirely, SlippyCheese found this piece of dementedness wandering around the InterWebs.  jwz's comment was "Yes, this is a cat video. But it is THE BEST CAT VIDEO EVER FILMED." I'm not so sure about that, but I can say that Rhatu and Squeep are full of WTF at it.  (Though by now, Squeep has worked out that the strange foreign cats are presumably trapped in the laptop, 'cos she comes running for it every time we play the vid, and peers at the screen.)

To my amusement, the Katzen even recognise Autotuned Singing Cats as feline (especially the tiny kitten, which always gets an immediate response...).

On a feline note, from the UK just to make the day complete: Cat Successfully Registered as Hypnotherapist.  George the cat was registered with the British Board of Neuro Linguistic Programming (BBNLP), the United Fellowship of Hypnotherapists (UFH) and the Professional Hypnotherapy Practitioner Association (PHPA); the sound-bites from each of the organisations make the article, for me.

Finally, for anyone who remembers Staplerfahrer Klaus, probably the most... memorable... safety video ever produced, Staplerfahrer Klaus - Das Casting.

[EDIT: I spoke too soon with that "Finally" comment above.  What really rounds out the night for me, is the list of punning taxonomic names at CuriousTaxonomy.net.  I mean, how can one's life be complete without the knowledge that Agra vation is a species of ground beetle, or Vini vidivici a recently extinct parrot?  To say nothing of the Hebejeebies...]
This is not the villanelle I intended to post today, but I tripped over it in my meanderings and I think it rather clever.

The reversal of the order of the two last lines works really well, too - proving yet again that when it comes to creativity, it pays to learn the rules, then choose to break some...

Ruptured Friendships, or The High Cost of Keys

I am obliged to repossess
Some nooks and crannies of my soul.
I do not think of you the less.

Tonight's ragout would be a mess
without the red clay casserole
I am obliged to repossess.

The green chair suits my dinner dress.
The silk throw makes a pretty stole...
I do not think of you the less.

Six forks, two serving-spoons, and, yes,
A platter and a salad bowl
I am obliged to repossess.

Indeed, I say, more courtliness
Would land me quickly on the dole,
I do not think of you the less.

Malicious mischief? I confess
The quicker I forget the role
And do not think of you, the less
I am obliged to repossess.
- Marilyn Hacker


Drama by live feed?

From jwz, via SlippyCheese:

Dramatic Readings Of Twits - presented by the Washington Post
Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4, on the Post site itself (all the rest are on YouTube)

I laughed.  Well, except for the backslash bit, which was both wrong and longer to say...

Oh, and on the subject of Twitter and theatre, if you haven't seen Web Side Story, the musical of romance and geekery, you possibly should.


Thought from an e-mail earlier today.

Is it just me, or are there times when assembling a plan to catch up with someone seems more like a game of Cluedo than anything else?  You dance around the possibilities as around a game board, occasionally trying to pin down a specific and having someone quietly let you know why that theory isn't an option... until eventually you hit upon Professor Friday in the evening with the at the selected venue.

No?  Maybe it's just me, then. *grin*


Apropos of nothing in particular, The Gorilla In Your House.

I've had this link floating around for months (originally on another machine), because I meant to post it in CFS Awareness Week. Only I was too sick. Oh, the irony...

Anyway, I like this one, though I take exception to the last line.  But it's still, in my opinion, better than the wretched Spoon Theory.

Also, via Thaily: http://www.snakesonacane.com/
I've never seen an episode of House, but the making-of video on that site is worth a watch, not least for Hugh Laurie's "And, erm, I volunteered, like an idiot, to have real snakes wrapped around my body..."

Okay, gardening folks.  Terracotta pots: do you seal them, or not?  More importantly, why?

The internet tells me that sealing pots before you plant in them is essental.  And that unsealed terracotta is the best thing for your plants.  It tells me that in Australia, sealing is even more essential than usual, and that it's completely unnecessary because we don't have the frost-damage risk that exists elsewhere, and thus pots soaking up water is not the danger that it might be.  And more.

All at the same time.

It's time for me to repot some of my wee Ikea succulents, including George* and the Alien Plant**, and if I could get them through the 45-plus-degree days of February, I'm damn well not losing them to a pot, of all things.  I'm liking this whole not-killing-plants thing, and I'd like to continue that.

So any advice you've got would be appreciated...

* - George may actually, to my amusement, be a Beestebul, but it's been a George since we first picked it out of the racks and racks of trays.
** - which is either a "Gollum" or a "Hobbit."  I'm not making this up.


I'm sore-throated and feverish tonight, so I'm posting links.

Accessibility Fail: a Bank of America branch demanded a thumprint from a man born without arms, then refused to cash his cheque because he couldn't provide one.  When Steve Valdez told the bank manager giving a thumbprint would be impossible, she suggested he either bring in his wife (who had written the cheque), or open an account; Valdez asked the bank if it had ever heard of the ADA and the manager told him they were complying with it by offering these two choices.

I'm rather pleased that in the few days since I read about this, the story has spread - it's the sort of thing that should, I'd say.  I've said it before, but accessibility is more than a wheelchair ramp outside the building, or Braille on the lift buttons, and if situations like this get people thinking and talking about that, then great - that might eventually stop them from happening.

Secondly, this is fascinating, thought-provoking reading.
And utterly, absolutely ***NOT SUITABLE for anyone with medical triggers.***  I suggest you head straight for the LJ cut, below.

A man (2 the Ranting Gryphon, for those who know him as such) gets laughed at for half his life when he complains of heart trouble; finally has said heart trouble while doctors are paying attention and gets diagnosed with something dangerous.  The next day, they deliberately induce said heart condition, in the hopes of finding out what's going wrong and fixing it.

And he dies, three times.  Then blogs about the experience, as one does if one has the opportunity.


Street Art. Brilliant, and safe for the folks warned off the above link.Collapse )

On another note, I've mentioned before that I'm all for Topless Equality in the world, and for encouraging the idea that nudity doesn't have to be sexual, let alone pornographic.&nsbp; However, it was quite a surprise to learn that GoTopless (and with a name like that, do you really need a non-worksafe warning?), the group who recently organised cheerful rallies to this end in the US, are a product of the Raëlians. In their own words, "GoTopless was founded by the Raelian Movement, which recognizes that life on Earth was created by advanced extraterrestrial scientists. These scientists, both male and female, used their mastery of genetic engineering to create humans in their own image (breasts included!)."

The mind boggles.

But it's still a damn sight better than PETA's appalling fat-bashing bullshit campaign (complete with yet another photo of headless fatty, because you can't have people thinking of those who are overweight as people!), which takes the organisation to new lows.  I didn't think they could actually manage to lose more of my respect...

[EDIT, 2pm 2009-09-11: Apparently I'm behind the times in posting this one; shortly after I first read about the offensive billboard above, PETA had pulled it down with a passive-aggressive non-apology that left the impression that they missed the point entirely... while putting something equally offensive up in Europe, whee!

The biggest irony in all of this for me is that PETA themselves publish lists like I Can't Believe It's Vegan, with effusive comments like "Being vegan doesn't mean you have to eat wheatgrass and alfalfa sprouts... You may even be surprised to find that a few of your favorite indulgences happen to be vegan!"  Personally, I really don't like the notion of assigning moral value to foods ("good" and "bad" foods, "sinful indulgences" and the like all frame things in an unhelpful way, I think), but I can't help thinking that there's just a little bit of contradiction in those two messages...

At the same time, of course, PETA's implying that there is no such thing as an overweight veg*n, a notion that causes problems for vegans and vegetarians who don't fit the mold, is just wrong.  The huge difference that being vegan will make, according to their own website?  Is 10-20 pounds - under 10 kilograms.]

Finally, a social experiment: Reactions of passersby to a woman abusing a man (this is apparently a followup to a video with the roles reversed, but I haven't tracked that down yet).  While it's little more than anecdotal, the assumptions that inform both the reactions of the parkgoers and the viewer responses that I've seen are fascinating, in an awful sort of way.

And on that pleasant note, I'm off to snuggle cats.


Shadow 5-tails

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