helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
2010-04-04 11:07 pm
Entry tags:

The Tea Goddess

http://www.thefringemajority.com/teagoddess/
I saw this and thought of several people I know...
I don't know if it's any good or not, but it looked intriguing.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
2010-03-27 09:36 am
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Sithreal has passed

On March 23, I made this post (was private until I knew more):
http://helen99.livejournal.com/463036.html

He was in the hospital since that time - never came home. They performed diagnostic tests and finally came up with a diagnosis. It was definitely not heart disease, nor was it a recurrence of the mammary cancer, nor was it a lymphoma like they suspected for a while. Most of those would have been treatable to some extent. He'd developed a completely different type of cancer that had spread all over his lungs (fibrosarcoma). He never showed any symptoms at all before the initial breathing distress I described at the link above.

This type rarely occurs in the lungs - it's the kind of cancer cats were getting in the muscle and bone tissue of the leg from the 3-year rabies vaccine. Yet it could not have been from any vaccine, because I'd been very bad about being up to date on all his shots.

I'd been watching very carefully for recurrences of the mammary cancer for the past year. The mammary cancer surgery was about a year and a month ago, and all seemed to be well, but this entirely blindsided me. This had not shown up on any of the x-rays during exams. It only showed up on a very specifically targeted ultrasound that they did when they couldn't figure out what was going on.

We had him put to sleep on March 26, 2010. They brought him out of the oxygen tank wrapped in a fluffy towel and set him on Rialian's lap before giving him the shot. He was glad to see us, and he was purring. I had 11 good years with him, for which I'm very grateful.





Sithreal, my Sithreal
Sometime in 1998 - March 26, 2010
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
2010-03-23 10:11 pm
Entry tags:

Sithreal

Sithreal is in the hospital. Last Monday he started looking ill (the day before that, he had seemed fine). By the following morning, he had fluid in his lungs and was gasping for breath. We rushed him to the vet, who said he either had heart disease or cancer, there being more probability of cancer, because he'd had it before. That vet aspirated the fluid out of his lungs and prescribed a strong diuretic to get rid of any residual fluid. She advised me to take him to a cardiologist.

I called another vet (one who makes house calls) to come and see him. He also advised me to take Sithreal to a cardiologist. Two vets had advised me to take him to a cardiologist, even though the probability was cancer. I started to have hope that it was heart disease, because that is at least treatable.

You know you are having a very bad day when you say "I hope it's heart disease".

I'd hesitated to take him to a cardiologist, because I was fairly certain the illness was not heart disease. However, if I didn't, and the illness was, in fact, heart disease, I would never forgive myself. So I took him to the cardiologist.

He performed an ultrasound Echo Cardiogram on Sithreal's chest to determine if it was heart disease. The heart looked perfect. He continued looking around the chest cavity. He found what looked like a mass in the upper thorax, about an inch across.

The only way to tell whether or not the detected abnormality is malignancy is a biopsy. The vet said that I'd done right to take him off the diuretic, since it was not heart disease and the diuretic had made him dehydrated. He transferred him over to the emergency care unit for hydration and stabilization.

Sithreal was too weak to do a biopsy today, especially not on his lungs. The vet (a different one at this point) said that sometimes the lungs can collapse from aspiration and too much irritation. He opted to do another ultrasound on his abdominal area first. Sithreal had pain in his abdomen during normal palpitation by the vet (though this could be due to kidney irritation from the diuretic). After the ultrasound, they put Sithreal on fluids to try to increase his strength.

If they find something in the abdominal area, they'll take the biopsy from there. Otherwise, they'll wait until he's stronger to do a biopsy on the abnormality detected in his lung. They have not told me anything yet. No answers until tomorrow.

They suspect the cancer has recurred, or more accurately, that there were instances of it that were not detected when he had the original cancer surgery last year.

Or not, as the case may be. They're still doing tests. Whatever it is, it is not good. I visited with him tonight. He hardly recognized me. He was mostly asleep, his third eyelids mostly covering his eyes, which seemed irritated and runny. But he wasn't asleep - he was still sort of conscious, eyes sort of open. Finally at around 9 pm, visiting hours were over and I left. I don't think he noticed when I left - he had drifted off. There was no record in his chart of him having received an anesthetic. I don't know if I'll see him alive again.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
2010-02-13 11:41 am
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Lighting of the Olympic Flame in Olympia

Last year there was a ceremony conducted in Olympia, Greece during which the Olympic torch was lit prior to transferring it to Canada. I hadn't actually seen this ritual when it first happened - I just found it because I had heard there was a technical problem during the torch-lighting in Vancouver and wanted to find out what happened. Instead of finding that, I found the Olympia link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwqnVcQNIJk&feature=PlayList&p=5B9034BF7002D0FA&index=0&playnext=1

The lighting ceremony is a series of four videos. The first one contains intros and national anthems, flag raisings, etc. Lots of pretty scenery shown. However, the ritual to Apollo starts in the 2nd video.

It's narrated in Greek but the visuals are worth watching just to see the scenery, choreography, and the ritual invocation of Apollo.

Afterwords there are some videos of the relay marathon with the torch, and then the handing over of the torch to Canada. The interesting part (to me) was the ritual itself. So beautiful...
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
2010-02-11 09:41 pm

The biggest, most magnificent snowstorm I've ever seen

By some stroke of luck, one of the cameras was actually in Rockville this week so we were able to take pictures of the snow. Here they are...

Rialian shoveled out the entire block, achieving legendary status in the neighborhood -- here's some of the work he did:

neighborhood1.jpg
neighborhood2.jpg
yard6.jpg

A lot of pictures of some huge icicles hanging off the gutters. We were careful not to stand under these stalactites. They were huge. Some of the pictures show how they looked from inside, and some from the outside.

icicles1.jpg
icicles2.jpg
icicles3.jpg
icicles4.jpg
icicles5.jpg
icicles6.jpg
icicles7.jpg
icicles8.jpg
icicles11.jpg
icicles12.jpg

A couple of shots of the house itself. The second one shows what's going on with the gutters. I hope the water doesn't back-leak into the house the way it did in 2003.

house1.jpg
house2.jpg

Finally, some pictures of the yard. The snow is up to the the top of the 4-foot chain link fence in some places.

yard1.jpg
yard2.jpg
yard3.jpg
yard4.jpg
yard5.jpg
yard7.jpg
yard8.jpg
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
2010-02-05 11:54 am
Entry tags:

Possible malware

I found a folder called F3C1DE9E5E164BA9B8547B53A45E3579.TMP in my home directory (running Vista Home Premium). The folder contained the application file "Wise Custom Calla 44.exe". Checked forums, and found a thread started by someone who'd found a similar folder in the Windows directory with 'Wise Custom Calla.dll" in it. (http://discussions.virtualdr.com/archive/index.php/t-165801.html). I've transferred the folder I found to trash but haven't deleted it yet.

Does anyone know anything about this?
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
2010-01-24 03:08 pm
Entry tags:

Beer

In Finland they have a beer called Sahti, which is brewed with a combination of herbs (instead of being brewed with hops). Here is a link that discusses ales made with herbs other than hops. It's an interesting field of study and presents much opportunity for fun geekery.

http://brewpublic.com/beer-reviews/just-gruit/
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
2010-01-15 07:57 am

(no subject)

Looks like Dreamwidth is having the same problem as LJ did a few years ago. Their response is different, however.

http://dw-news.dreamwidth.org/16590.html

Instead of deleting accounts, etc., Dreamwidth has decided to let the chips fall where they may and stick by its terms of service, which state that they will not remove an account unless it actually violates US law. Someone being "concerned" about content is not enough.

Apparently, however, it *is* enough for Paypal, who believed the trolls and withdrew its support of Dreamwidth, demanding that it remove posts that were in fact legal (racy in the eyes of contributors is not equivalent to illegal). So Dreamwidth is now looking for another merchant processor. Their provider has not withdrawn and is supporting them all the way.

When they find another merchant processor, I'll be interested to see who it is. I've wanted Paypal to have some competition for a long time now - they seem to have a monopoly on merchant processing unless you pay directly by credit card.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
2010-01-08 02:01 pm

Check this out

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/01/ecuador-ecosystem-rights.php

Ecuador has voted to give nature constitutional rights.

I have such odd feelings about this.

On the one hand, why does nature require protection with man's laws, when it existed for millennia prior to the existence of those laws.

On the other hand, if it's not protected by humans, it will probably be cannibalized by same.

On the other, other hand, such a law will most probably not be recognized by corporations whose profits depend on exploitation. These corporations have their own armies now, so whoever has the largest mercenary force will just keep happily doing whatever they've been doing.

On the other, other, other hand, maybe this is representative of a spark of insight awakening in the oversoul of the human race.

Ecuador has my attention...
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
2010-01-03 01:42 pm
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helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
2010-01-02 12:49 pm
Entry tags:

Happy winter!

Back from a wonderful New Years Eve party and enjoying the Arctic landscape (complete with Arctic wind) from inside the house, beside the wood stove, with hot cinnamon coffee...
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
2009-12-19 04:58 pm
Entry tags:

Early merry Christmas to me...

Hee Hee! http://www.pcworld.com/reviews/product/55488/review/powershot_a1100_is.html !!

It's the great great great grandchild of my A10 - somewhere between 'the latest' and 'obsolete' point and shoot camera with some relatively intuitive manual controls, which is what I wanted. It's pretty much the same camera as the A10, only it has more features, better resolution, and doesn't have the compatibility issues.

Here are some huge (~4 meg) photos to illustrate its closeup capability. This camera takes closeups comparable to the A10.

A1100:

Amy Brown statue -- I realized why I don't like the Amy Brown statue, even though I love the concept. It's because the painting details are not well-done. I didn't realize that till I saw this picture. Click the picture and view it at full size to see what I mean (part of eyebrow missing, ear smudged, lips painted outside the lip line, etc.)

Arwen action doll closeup -- Again, click the picture to see why this doll is beautiful in concept only...

A10: Aska Cy-Girl Action Doll -- this action doll is my favorite picture taken with the A10 and is also my favorite action doll - her features are wonderfully detailed and not excessively made up looking. More info here about Aska.

Here's a more reasonably sized (400K) picture of the snow outside now:

http://www.rialian.com/snow-december-2009.jpg
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
2009-12-19 12:08 pm
Entry tags:

Snow in December!

BIG SNOW!!! The biggest we've had since February 2003.
helen99: The sentience... Where is it?? (Intelligent Lifeforms)
2009-12-12 10:41 pm
Entry tags:

Cat

When we first got our Siamese cat Oosie, she reacted to her kitten shots by not eating for a week - we thought we were going to lose her. She pulled through, but we had to hand feed her every two hours. Several months later, she received her adult shots and she reacted again by throwing up and not eating for several days. All vets in MD required shots prior to spaying. We were afraid she'd react to the shots again, and maybe also the anesthetic, and thought that with the combination of the two, she might not make it through the surgery. As a result, we never got her neutered, and she went into heat periodically, an event that came to be known around our house as 'shriek week'.

This has been a perpetual source of insanity and insomnia for her and for us. She has a typical Siamese cat's voice, which is several hundred decibels louder than most other cats, and she knows how to use it. She knows the exact spot in the bathroom that will echo the loudest, and she would stand in that spot and roar at the top of her lungs when she was in heat.

At some point last week, we decided that continuing life like this was just not going to work for anyone concerned, and that if we got her spayed and she didn't make it, it would be better than allowing her (and us) to continue life like this.

This past Friday, Oosie was finally neutered. Similar to Y2K and 2012, nothing at all happened or will happen. She's fine. She and we suffered for SIX YEARS with this situation, during which our nerves and her libido were frazzled beyond their breaking points, and we never had to do this at all.

I'm not sure whether to rejoice or stick my fool head in a paper shredder.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
2009-12-10 02:40 am

(no subject)

Just ran across this book and thought it looked pretty cool.

ThinkGeek :: Sneaky Uses for Everyday Things

Posted using ShareThis
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
2009-11-14 01:25 pm

Project update

I finally finished the front of the chest of drawers/huge cabinet that I'm refinishing. This doesn't sound like much, but I only have weekends to work on it (some of which have been otherwise occupied), and each square foot of surface area takes hours to complete, because I want to achieve that silky polished wood feel over the entire surface. The areas I've finished look good, or so I've been told. More importantly to me, though, when I run fingers over the surface, it feels like silk. I'm now working on the top, the two front legs, and the left side. The right side and back legs are against walls, so the cabinet will have to be moved before I can complete them. I think the back of the cabinet may be unfinished, which would be great, but I don't remember (it's been about 6 months since it was placed against the wall where it is).

Moving it to finish the rest of it and repair the broken back leg will be difficult. It is extremely heavy. Still researching how to repair the leg, and gathering up the tools to do it.

Slowly inching along with this project. This has been much more difficult than the other, lighter-weight pieces I refinished earlier this year and last year.

It occurs to me that I'm now working on two projects that involve dust and fumes of varying toxicity (the other project is painting the Rockville house). I wear a face mask and goggles while working, but I'm sure some of it gets through. Most of the people I know who refinish furniture or paint houses on a regular basis are a little strange. I'm not sure if that's because strange people are attracted to these lines of work, or they became strange from breathing sawdust, paint dust, and fumes. Maybe a little of both. I hope that does not happen to me. I don't want to become a strange little old lady with a fume-pickled brain who spends most of the time reanimating relics from the era of bad paint jobs.

Maybe after I'm finished with these two projects, I will take a break from indoor projects for a while.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
2009-10-14 09:30 pm

(no subject)

testing phone post
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
2009-10-13 07:39 pm
Entry tags:

(no subject)

Vegetarian spider found.

According to this article, "The vegetarian diet of B kiplingi appears to have prompted other changes. Since it no longer needs to go through the energy-sapping business of catching prey, it has diverted its web-spinning abilities to building family homes. Mothers use the nests to rear their young."

This article has a cute picture of the critter, and suggests that the males, instead of being eaten, help care for the eggs and young. Webs are used for building nests and evading the ants that guard the acacia plant beltian bodies that the spiders eat.

Beltian bodies don't grow on acacia plants unless the ants are present, so in effect, the spiders have become farmers - the ants somehow cause the acacias to produce beltian bodies (spider in pic above is holding a beltian body and eating it). The spiders then evade the ants and take beltian bodies. Salticidae are amazing little creatures (and so very weird looking). The other spider I posted about that made all kinds of noise to avoid being eaten was also a salticidae (different kind). Very adaptive and intelligent...

In other spider news, a beautiful golden piece of cloth was spun from spider silk: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/09/spider-silk/ -- I like the cloth but felt a bit sorry for the spiders who got 'silked'. It takes them weeks to regenerate their silk once that's done. Luckily it's not economical for them to make a practice of it, but the cloth was really pretty.

Why am I posting about spiders? I can't stand them. But these were just so cool.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
2009-10-12 12:42 am

Projects

Several months ago, Rialian's brother asked if we wanted a chest of drawers someone was throwing out. I asked what condition it was in, and he said it was fine except one leg needed fixing and it was painted a weird blue color. When he brought it over, I realized that 1) it was not a chest of drawers - it was a huge cabinet, 2) the leg was broken entirely off. It needed a lot more than just a minor fix. It needed serious carpentry, as in inserting a dowel in it to reattach it without damaging it even more, and 3) "Blue" was not exactly the right descriptive term for the "color" it was painted. Rialian asked if I wanted them to take it away, but I decided to keep it and refinish it and fix the leg. It would make a great tool cabinet.

This thing is huge and heavy and old. The top section has two doors, and if you open them you can see some shelves and a set of smaller drawers. The lower section has four large drawers. I can organize each kind of tool into separate drawers - one for wrenches, one for screwdrivers, one for various types of blades, one for clamps, etc. The inside of the cabinet has a beautiful wood finish. Unfortunately, however, the outside of it is another story. Someone lacquered it dark brown, which wasn't that bad (but not as pretty as the wood finish). The problem is, on top of the brown lacquer, someone else had painted over it with some kind of see-through bluish-whitish-greyish ... "color" (using the term loosely). I'm not sure exactly what effect they were trying to create, but the whole thing has to be stripped down to bare wood. I'd started to do that but then hurt my wrist. It took a couple of months to get back to the point where I could put pressure on it and do repetitive motion tasks like sanding, and after it was ok, I didn't feel like getting back into it. Last weekend and this weekend were the first weekends that I got back to stripping the finish (maybe it's a cool weather thing). I'm looking forward to seeing what it will look like when it's done.