Conversations I have with my cat – Part 7

CAT: This door is closed!

ME: Honey, I’m trying to write.

CAT: This door is closed and I am on the other side of the door!

ME: Trying to write! That’s why I closed the door.

CAT: Door! Is! Closed!

ME: The whole reason I got an office was so I could close the door when I need to write!

CAT: Door!

30 Minutes later

CAT: The door continues to be closed despite my many protestations!


Kidney Stone Update

Posted by ON in Dear Diary

Oh yeah, that emergency room visit I mentioned…

So it went like this: my abdomen started aching, and then eventually so did my *ahem* balls. Elina was on me to make a doctor’s appointment, but I got a little dude about it and decided to wait it out. After a week (*ahem* or so) of duding, it wasn’t going away. In fact, it was getting worse. So, to get Elina off my back I said I’d make a doctor’s appointment on Monday.

We needed some stuff for the new house, (OMG, did I mention we bought a house??!?) so I drove out to Ikea for a cliche Ikea-New-House pilgrimage.

I was only there for a bit before I realized my abdomen (and balls) really hurt.

Still floating in a haze of dudeliness, I promised myself that I’d go to an Urgent Care, but I had this cart full of house crap, and I couldn’t just abandon it, right? In the checkout line I started looking up the closest Urgent Care.

But, you know, I realized I was hungry, so I thought I’d grab some food while I looked. One lovely veggie-burger later, I realized that I had possibly made a misstep by waiting this long. By the time I finished eating, things REALLY hurt.

I texted Elina and drove to an Urgent Care. While talking to to nurse at the desk, I nearly passed out from the pain and had to go into the bathroom to throw up. They sent me to the real Emergency Room.

Sometime later, with an IV in my arm, a variety of drugs in my system, and with an ultrasound of my belly, they informed me that all the pain was me passing a stone in my right kidney. Fortunately it seemed to be gone now.

Less fortunately, they discovered another stone in my left kidney.

An ultrasound, X-ray, and CT scan later, they confirmed a 1cm by 1cm by 2cm kidney stone (shaped like a bullet!) and two smaller fragments in my left kidney.

The stone is too large to do Shockwave lithotripsy (sitting in a pool and breaking that shit up with ultrasonic sound!), which unfortunately leaves Ureteroscopy and Laser Lithotripsy (going through the urinary tract ( ! D: ! ) with a tube and exploding the stone,) or Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (making an incision through my back into my kidney and inserting a small tube/vacuum to break up the stones and suck up most of the pieces.) Whew.

After speaking with a surgeon, we’ve decided to go with the through-the-back option, (the stone is so large that the urinary tract option has the added danger of leaving tons stone debris along my tract, which would need a second and possibly third procedure.)

I’ll be having surgery February 9th. They’ll put me under. I’ll have to spend at least one, possibly two nights in the hospital and will have a week of painful bed recovery at home. There’ll be a stent from my bladder to my kidney. Three weeks after the surgery I’ll have to go back in and have it removed (by way of a method so horrifying that I can’t get myself to write it down.)

If everything goes to plan, I should be in pretty good shape about 4 weeks after the surgery. Whew.

I’m kind of freaking out, but generally trying to get on with my life.

Companies I lie to.

Posted by ON in Dear Diary

Usual disclaimer: It’s been forever, dusting off this thing, lot going on, yadda yadda yadda…

So we moved into the new house. (New House?!??) and right after the move, after I got out of the hospital (hospital?!??) we set up our new internet service with CenturyLink.

For the record, this isn’t going to be a rousing endorsement CenturyLink. They’ve screwed up literally every step of the process of setting up our internet. Billing installation, everything.

They’ve even sent me three letters, three different letters informing me that my credit rating is zero, the letter literally has 000. The letter(s) go on to explain that the reason I’ve had to pay a large (unspecified) deposit is because of my impossibly low credit rating. 000.

So, there’s two problems here, but fortunately they cancel each other out. The first is … I have an amazing credit rating. I don’t know how exactly, but somewhere along the line I accidentally got all adult and ending up with awesome credit. If I were chatting with the folks at CenturyLink, I’d motion around me to the house I just bought. (Zero credit rating tends to make such things a little tricky.)

The other problem is they haven’t actually charged me a deposit. As far as I can tell the whole series of letters is CenturyLink trolling me. I guess as long as they don’t actually bill me for this deposit, I’ll just play along and pretend to write them invisible checks for its unspecified amount.

All of which is to say, I’m much happier with CenturyLink than Comcast. When we moved out of the apartment, I called Comcast and said, “We want to end our service.”

The guy indignantly asked why, and I said, “We’re leaving the country, we don’t know when we’ll be back and we don’t know where we’ll be living next.”

And boom, the guy only tried to talk me out of it two more times, a mere twenty minutes of typical-Comcast-employee-desperation later, and we were free forever. Fuck Comcast.

Now I’m just biding my time till Google Fiber shows up.

Oh yeah, about the house and the hospital and the last year … I realized that I’ve been having trouble getting back into blogging because there’s SO MUCH TO SAY, so I figured I should just jump in and get a post out there. I’ll try to catch you up as I go.


Data and visulaization

Posted by ON in Dear Diary

I’ve been messing with the D3.js data visualization library for day-job stuff. I realized early on that the potential for making amazing visualizations was pretty much unlimited.

I’m nearly positive that every time you see a cool chart on a TED talk, it’s probably been made in D3.

Anyway, another thing I’ve been thinking about is my old habit of trying to use the internet to keep myself honest. I sort of like (and fear) the idea of keeping a constant track of my writing progress, how I’m eating, exercise, basically everything that I should be doing to keep myself healthy, happy and keeping meaning in my life.

For a while I wondered if I should make a little box at the bottom of every post that tracked these things, maybe sort of like those old nerd code things people used to do in the 90s, but the more I think about it, I’d love to build a chart that tracked these things. Then I (and the entire internet) will know when I’m meeting my goals or not.

D3 is pretty complicated, but I’ve also been playing with Plotly. I may just try this…

A Year of Reading Women

I ran into this reddit post the other day where folks suggested classic and awesome books by women. I pitched in a few friends of mine: Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Brenda Cooper, Monica Byrne, etc.

But the longer I thought about the list the more uncomfortable I felt.

I’m ashamed to note how few of the books I myself had read.

It’s important to me to read diversely, partially to develop my own writing, but frankly also just for my development as a person.

I know it’s not intentional, but it bugs me how much I unthinkingly default to male authors most of the time. So I copied the whole damn thing, cut out everything I’d already read, and made a giant list of my own. I’ve decided to only read women authors for the next year, and I’m tasking myself to read at least twelve books.

I started yesterday with N.K. Jemisin’s “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.” I’m not a huge fan of epic fantasy, but her world-building is astounding.

Next I’ll read Ann Leckie’s “Ancillary Justice” and then maybe Nnedi Okorafor’s “Who Fears Death?

Anyway, here’s the extended list. It’s by no means exhaustive. Feel free to add books in the comments.

  1. Octavia Butler – Kindred
  2. Shirley Jackson – We Have Always Lived in the Castle
  3. Monica Byrne – The Girl in the Road
  4. Toni Morrison – Beloved
  5. Margaret Atwood – Oryx and Crake
  6. Karen Russell – Swamplandia!
  7. Virginia Woolf – A Room of One’s Own, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, Orlando, The Waves and to the Lighthouse
  8. Willa Cather – O Pioneers!, My Antonia, The Professor’s House
  9. Joyce Carol Oates – Them, The Falls
  10. Charlotte Bronte – Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights
  11. Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird
  12. Pat Cadigan – Tea From an Empty Cup, Mindplayers, Synners –
  13. Wilhelmina Baird – Crashcourse –
  14. Connie Willis – Doomsday Book, To Say Nothing of the Dog, Blackout, All Clear
  15. Lauren Beukes – Zoo City –
  16. A.S. Byatt – Possession
  17. Zora Neale Hurston – Their Eyes Were Watching God
  18. Alice Munro – Runaway (short story collection)
  19. Maya Angelou – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
  20. Carson McCullers – The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
  21. Flannery O’Connor – Good Country People, The Life You Save May be Your Own
  22. Amy Tan – The Joy Luck Club
  23. Alice Walker – The Temple of My Familiar, The Color Purple
  24. Miriam Toews – A Complicated Kindness
  25. Louisa May Alcott – Little Women
  26. Isabel Allende – The House of the Spirits
  27. Maria Luisa Bombal – The House of Fog
  28. Judy Blume – Forever…
  29. Daphne du Maurier – Rebecca
  30. Elizabeth Gaskell – North and South
  31. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings – The Yearling
  32. Florida. L.M. Montgomery – Anne of Green Gables
  33. Anais Nin – Three Little Birds, A Spy in the House of Love
  34. Annie Proulx – The Shipping News
  35. Louise Erdrich – Love Medicine
  36. Edith Wharton – The Age of Innocence, Ethan Frome, House of Mirth
  37. Kate Chopin – The Awakening
  38. George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) – Middlemarch
  39. Sylvia Plath – The Bell Jar
  40. Clarice Lispector – The Hour of the Star
  41. Penelope Lively – Moon Tiger
  42. Joanne Harris – Chocolat
  43. S.E. Hinton – The Outsiders
  44. Susanna Clark – Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
  45. Djuna Barnes – Nightwood
  46. Hilary Mantel – Wolf Hall
  47. Barbara Kingsolver – The Poisonwood Bible
  48. Marilynne Robinson – Housekeeping
  49. Isabel Allende – The House of the Spirits
  50. Donna Tartt – The Secret History
  51. Doris Lessing – The Grass is Singing, The Golden Notebook
  52. Agatha Christie – And Then There Were None
  53. Margaret Mitchell – Gone with the Wind
  54. Aung San Suu Kyi – Letters from Burma
  55. Anne Sexton – Transformations
  56. Joan Jacobs Brumberg – The Body Project
  57. NoViolet Bulawayo – We Need New Names
  58. Nell Freudenberger – The Newlyweds
  59. Jesmyn Ward – Salvage the Bones
  60. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Americanah
  61. Candice Millard – Destiny of the Republic
  62. Jennifer Egan – Look at Me
  63. Elizabeth Strout – Olive Kitteridge
  64. Cheryl Strayed – Wild
  65. Ruth Ozeki – A Tale for the Time Being
  66. Katherine Dunn – Geek Love
  67. Malorie Blackman – Noughts and Crosses
  68. Philippa Gregory – The Other Boleyn Girl
  69. Jacqueline Susann – Valley of the Dolls
  70. Lois McMaster Bujold – Shards of Honor, Falling Free
  71. N.K. Jemisin – The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms –
  72. Nnedi Okorafor – Who Fears Death –
  73. Ekaterina Sedia – The Alchemy of Stone, –
  74. Jo Walton – Tooth and Claw, Farthing
  75. Ann Leckie – Ancillary Justice –
  76. Joanna Russ – The Female Man –
  77. Leigh Brackett – The Long Tomorrow –
  78. Kate Wilhelm – Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang –
  79. Anna Seghers – Transit –
  80. Tricia Sullivan – Someone to Watch Over Me –
  81. Justina Robson – Silver Screen –
  82. Gwyneth Jones – Escape Plans –