Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Teaser Tuesday - A Mind at a Time

It's Tuesday, so you know what that means. Teasers! Thanks go out to Miz B at Should Be Reading for hosting this fun game.

 Rules are:

 Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Today's teaser is from A Mind at a Time, by Mel Levine, MD.

"Planet earth is inhabited by all kinds of people who have all kinds of minds. The brain of each human is unique."

I try to read at least one nonfiction book and one fiction book at the same time. This one would be my nonfiction book. Dr. Levine has done some great work, and if you're interested in individualized teaching, learning disabilities or other forms divergent neurology, I highly suggest his books.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday Unconscious Mutterings - COFFEE!

Today is National Coffee Day. Care to join me in celebrating with a cup or two of the stuff?

In addition to that, today's also Monday, so you know what that means. Unconscious Mutterings, courtesy of Luna Niña!

  1. 20 :: cups of coffee on the wall, 20 cups of coffee! Gulp one down, shuffle around, 19 cups of coffee on the wall!
  2. Spark :: Given by heavenly, heavenly caffeine
  3. Hangnail :: dry winter air made tolerable by coffee
  4. Distant :: coffee fields
  5. Muffin :: with coffee
  6. Compute :: after coffee
  7. Bangs :: pinned back, so they won't get in my coffee
  8. Mattress :: needed after crashing from too much coffee
  9. Tense :: Maybe there is such a thing as too much caffeine
  10. Sarah :: Someone who is great fun to go out for coffee with
I sense a theme here...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Teaser Tuesday - The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Feeling crummy usually translates into lots of reading for me. This time is no different. So, here's today's Teaser Tuesday from Should Be Reading.

Anyone can take part in this meme. Here are the rules:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Since it's Banned Books Week, I figured I'd start reading one. Mark Twain's Adventures of Tom Sawyer has made some lists, and I've been meaning to read it, so here we go.

"Mary gave him a brand-new "Barlow" knife worth twelve and a half cents; and the convulsion of delight that swept his system shook him to his foundations. True, the knife would not cut anything, but it was a 'sure-enough' Barlow, and there was inconceivable grandeur in that - though where the Western boys ever got the idea that such a weapon could possibly be counterfeited to its injury is an imposing mystery and will always remain so, perhaps."

Yeah, Twain gets kinda long winded, but it's been a pretty entertaining read so far.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday Mutterings - Snotty!

Poor hubby's fallen prey to the immune system repressing side effect of prednisone. His mild cold has turned into lots of coughing and hacking. Pleasant times. I've started feeling symptoms, thanks to the persistent lack of sleep of late.

Good thing we're stocked up on tissues!

Anyway, time for Unconscious Mutterings, brought to you as always by Luna Niña.

  1. Equality :: Activism
  2. Strappy :: dress
  3. Kitten :: warm and fuzzy ball of claws
  4. Program :: Not getting with it
  5. Inventory :: irritating
  6. Choice :: Pro
  7. Scuba :: sub...sandwich...mmm...Subway
  8. Purchase :: Food
  9. Promotion :: SALE SALE SALE
  10. Organization :: HAH!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Nope. Not leaving the house for a while.

Well, folks, this hasn't been the greatest few days for us here in MN-land.

We couldn't believe how bad
the swelling was. It went all the
way up to his elbow.
Those of you who are already familiar with insect sting allergies probably know what's going on with the picture to the right.

Thursday afternoon, around 4 pm, hubby got stung by a bee on his hand. The stinger actually ended up driving right down to the bone.

Usually, bee stings aren't a big deal for him. He's been attacked by the things many times before, and every time, his body barely reacted.

This time was something else altogether. However, he hid this from me when he got home that day, opting instead to head downstairs to work on his computer. It wasn't until late that night that I noticed the swelling.

I couldn't convince him to go to the doctor until the next morning. Eventually, he went to Urgent Care, where he was seen right away. At that point, he was starting to have trouble breathing, too. They must have given him some epinephrine or something for the histamine reaction, put him on prednisone, and prescribed him a two-pack epi-pen to carry with him at all times.

At this point, I'd like to talk to all of you 'tough guys/girls' out there. If you ever, ever have a reaction this severe to a bug bite or bee sting, GET TO THE DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY. I don't care if your pride is knocked down a few notches, getting prompt treatment will reduce your likelihood of prolonged suffering, or eventual death. The bills will also be figured out, later. Emergency rooms can't turn you away for this.

On top of all of that, our cat went missing for a while the day hubby went to urgent care. The little brat scared us so badly that we ended up wandering the neighborhood, calling for him, tearing the house apart, and eventually calling the microchip place he's registered with.

One of the side effects of prednisone is changes in mood. Yeah, you can guess how well the missing kitty plus that side effect mixed. Ugh. Talk about a miserable experience for all involved.

The kitty showed up, though, after the phone call and a couple of online calls for help. Hubby finally got some rest, and said kitty would have cried for the entire night if I hadn't spent most of it upright with him. The only times he'd hush were when I was cradling him like a baby, or throwing bits of food for him to chase. Curling up in bed with us just wasn't going to cut it.

Saturday, I was beat. Saturday night, I didn't sleep much, either, so this morning was spent catching up.

Today, I wandered off to Target to pick up some antihistamines to carry just in case of another sting, as suggested by the paperwork from the doctor, and a few other things. As I was leaving, the alarm went off.

Cue accusatory stares! Ah, the perfect addition to an already stressful weekend.

At least the security guy was pleasant, as was the staff. It probably helped that I willingly showed them everything in the backpack I was carrying, and went through my purchases with them. It turns off that the sensors tend to randomly pick up things like key-fob and cell phone signals.

I was cleared, all's well, and I deserve some pampering. This calls for an oil treatment for my hair, a sugar scrub session and some painted nails.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Are You a Car Creeper?

Not all dudes in cars are creepers, but most creepers in cars are dudes. So, when do you transform from a dude in a car to a creeper in a car?

Symptom One: Horn Honking
An automobile's horn was put there to prevent car crashes by alerting other drivers and denizens of the road of your presence. It was not put there to draw the attention of the person you may find attractive as they walk along the sidewalk. Sure, it gets their attention, most often by scaring them into looking for impending danger, but it probably won't be the kind of attention you're looking for.

Symptom Two: Yelling and Whistling
Whistling or yelling at someone is never a good idea, but what's the point of doing it while you're driving by? Do you expect your target to flag you down and insist on going with you? Are you trying to compliment them? How is heckling a stranger on the street as if they're a zoo animal complimentary?

Symptom Three: Slowing Down
There are few things quite as disturbing to many pedestrians as a strange car slowing down for the occupants to get a better look/harass them. They have no way of knowing what your true motives are, if you have a weapon or if you're planning on getting out to assault them. It doesn't matter if you weren't planning on harming them. They have no way of knowing what you're capable of just by looking at you.

Symptom Four: Obscene Gestures
This should go without saying, but so should most of this list. Making obscene gestures, like thrusting your hips or otherwise miming sex acts, is just disgusting. Why would you think that would be appealing to anyone?

Symptom Five: Following
By "following" I don't mean following someone in a parking lot to get their spot when they leave. I mean slowing down to their pace and following them as they walk along the street. If you do this to someone with the intent to harass them, you're not only proving just how undeserving of their attention you are, but you may be breaking the law. After all, following while harassing or with the intent to provide more unwanted attention is a legal offense.

Symptom Six: Exiting The Car
This is quite possibly the most frightening action of all. When you pull over, exit the car and approach your target, you're not demonstrating a dedication to paying them a compliment. You're acting in a threatening manner, and shouldn't be surprised if you get a negative reaction.

If you've done any of these things to someone you don't know or someone you do know who doesn't like these behaviors, congratulations, you're a Car Creeper! If you'd like to get rid of that label, here are some simple tips on how to do so:
  • Stop doing it
  • If you witness one of your friends or family members doing it, let them know you don't approve
  • Stop doing it
  • Stop doing it
  • Seriously, quit it
This has been a PSA from someone who's had to deal with this nonsense on a fairly regular basis.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Teaser Tuesday - Weird-O-Pedia

JELLY! Man, I knew I forgot something. Ah well, I'm not up for another two mile walk to the grocery store. I'll just have to do without.

At least I have fixins for beef stew. Yum.

Food thoughts aside, it's time for this week's Teaser Tuesday, hosted by Miz B of Should be Reading.

Everyone's welcome to take part, but there are some rules to follow:

Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

From Weird-O-Pedia, by Alex Palmer.

"Booty fat is healthier than belly fat. Extra weight in the thighs and lower body instead of around the gut actually indicates low levels of "bad cholesterol" and higher levels of the good kind that protects against hardened arteries."

Such a fun, easy to read book. You can read more about it in the affiliate link below.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday Mutterings - Procrastination Is Strong Today

Today hasn't been very good for productivity. I've been up since before six, and haven't gotten as much done as I would have liked.

Ah well. Perhaps Luna Niña's word association will help.

  1. Men :: in tights
  2. Partial :: baldness
  3. Expenses :: too many
  4. Notification :: chime
  5. Bubble wrap :: FUN TIMES
  6. Speech :: Awkward
  7. Rumble :: Thunder
  8. Sounds :: Seem to be a theme
  9. Sweaty :: armpits
  10. Mud :: Outside my window
Well, that wasn't quite as imaginative as it usually is.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Fictioneers - Home?

Well, I missed the past two Friday Fictioneers, but I'm back for now! Thanks go out to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting!

This was written with my grandmother's stories of being part of a German diaspora in Poland during WWII. One of the seldom told stories from that era were of the displaced Germans who were driven from their homes by both the Axis and the Allies.

The Nazi party eventually stopped viewing them as true Germans, and the Allies only saw them as German. As a result, many families had to run for their lives. It's terribly sad that these people are almost always forgotten when WWII history is covered in class.

Used with permission. Copyright – Janet Webb
Genre: Historical Fiction
Word Count: 99


They had been running for so long, she’d lost track of time. Often, they had no access to the luxury of a bathroom like the one she stood in now.

They didn’t know if they’d have food, a place to sleep or even survive the week. Some of them didn’t make it. Some where captured. Others succumbed to illness or fear. Somehow, she stayed alive. She kept what’s left of her family breathing, just as much as they kept her heart pumping.

Now, she stood in front of the mirror, and wondered who the stranger staring back could be.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Review of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Anthology by Douglas Adams

Have I ever mentioned how much I enjoy cavorting with fellow bookworms and writers? I'm going to have to pick up my reading speed, if I'm going to keep up with all the great suggestions I've come
This thing took me forever to read.
across these past few days!

Speaking of reading, I've finally made it through my anthology of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I feel as if I should list reading five books instead of just one on my Goodreads Account.

Anyway, Douglas Adams wrote Five books and one short story in the Hitchhiker's series: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Life, the Universe and Everything, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, Young Zaphod Plays It Safe, and Mostly Harmless.

Adams had a wonderful skill with describing characters and surroundings I've seldom seen outside of his work. The sheer imagination behind the world(s) he created is entertaining, but the simile he employs is a big part of why his work is so memorable.

The best books in this series, by far, are the first two. They're full of humor, vivid descriptions and generally entertaining prose. I could easily see that he was enjoying himself as he developed the story.

I also enjoyed The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, but it seemed as if the humor was slowly being eroded away. There were also shining points in Life, the Universe and Everything, and Thanks for All the Fish, but I found myself tickled less by the humor and not quite as absorbed by his world. It felt as if the fun was slowly draining from his work, as if he wasn't enjoying the writing any more.

Young Zaphod Plays It Safe was a refreshing peek into his humor and imagination, but I couldn't make it through Mostly Harmless. That last book was actually pretty dull, though I could tell there was an effort being made at creating an off the wall story.

From what I've read of Adams' life, he was growing tired of the Hitchhiker's world towards the end, and that's very evident in his writing. He knew he was being pushed to write more for the money than for the joy, and I think that really broke him down.

I don't blame him, either. Fiction writing is about expressing emotion, exploring the human condition and passion. I have a hard time doing anything 'just for the money', but unfortunately, it often needs to be done.

Anyway, back to the books. I would highly suggest picking The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, especially if you enjoy imaginative prose and dry humor. If you have time to kill, and you'd like to give them a shot, Life, the Universe and Everything, and Thanks for All the Fish are worth a look. (Or, you can pick up the below trilogy in four parts, and save yourself the trouble of hunting for the four books.) I'd skip Mostly Harmless, though.

Always remember. Know where your towel is. (Now, where did I put my salted peanuts?)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Teaser Tuesdays - The Three Musketeers

This looked like a fun little game, and particularly fitting for this blog.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"It is now three years, madame, since I saw you for the first time, and during those three years I have loved you thus. Shall I tell you each ornament of your toilet?" The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas

Monday, September 8, 2014

Monday Mutterings - On track?

Today marks the first day of my own personal 21 day challenge. The challenge? Maintain a semi-regular work/exercise schedule. Hopefully, this will help me feel healthier and bring in a bit more of an income.

I foresee much coffee in my future, and Unconscious Mutterings to keep me going on Mondays, thanks to Luna Niña.

  1. Bubbles :: "BUBBLES! BUBBLES BUBBLES BUBBLES! These are MY bubbles!" (Finding Nemo is such a cute movie.)
  2. Urges :: To propagate.
  3. Doorknob :: One who is not particularly intelligent.
  4. Insipid :: insults
  5. Freckles :: skin cancer
  6. Leafy :: greens
  7. Volkswagon :: dropping parts as it putters down the street
  8. Scrap :: see number seven
  9. Illuminate :: Illuminati
  10. Headboard :: and lice
For the record, I'm sure Volkswagon makes (made? Are they even still in business?) some decent cars, but the word always puts the image of an ancient bug in my head.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Your Stigma is Making my Label Itch

Labels are odd. They have their uses, and over reliance on them is a dangerous thing, but carrying certain types is a strange experience.
Wouldn't mind this label.
By ArielCo, original by Oskay [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons

Up until high school, I spent a good chunk of time in the special education classroom, thanks to my dyslexia. There, I met all sorts of kids with an impressive range of disabilities. I remember kids with epilepsy severe enough to impact their education, other learning disabled kids and some kids who didn't talk about their diagnosis.

In addition to that, I regularly saw the school counselor, and belonged to a support group for kids from broken families. Through that group, I got to know others who struggled with the fallout from situations that mirrored my own or were far worse.

We were all kids struggling with problems I later found out many adults couldn't deal with. More often than not, aspects of those problems stick with us to varying degrees today. We all carried labels, and the stigma that came with them put massive bull's eyes on our foreheads.

Obviously, I made it through those rough years, and once I hit adulthood, found more labels applied to me. The one that feels the strangest is the one my asthma gives me: having a chronic illness.

That just sounds so melodramatic, especially considering my problems are so comparatively minor to that of many of my friends. My symptoms are relatively well controlled with minimal medication, which seems pretty rare after having it for over 20 years, now.

When chronic illness is mentioned in the media, it's usually used to describe folks who can't get out of bed, or are on about five hundred types of medication. It doesn't seem to apply to those of us who are pretty healthy, outside of flareups and following periods of weakness. When I was diagnosed as a pre-teen, I was just happy to be able to breath again. I didn't even realize it was classified as chronic until adulthood.

When I sit and think about it, though, I realize my lifestyle isn't what most people would classify as "normal". I wear dust masks when I clean, which happens every week to keep the dust levels down. I don't use commercial cleaners, outside of the most mild products I can find. I actually make most of my cleaners, because they have less of an effect on me than most things I've tried. I avoid certain foods, and restrict others.

When I start feeling sicker than usual, I look at the way I've been living. Have I been eating too much dairy? Red meat? Processed foods? Is there mold growing somewhere in the house? Has there been a change in our toiletries or laundry stuff? Have I been feeling more stressed out than usual? Is this the beginning of an infection, or is it just an allergy/asthma flair up?  If I DO get an infection, there's a new list of things to think about, primarily around activity level.

I do my best to avoid areas that are full of my triggers, like basements and smoking sections. If people are smoking at a bus stop, I've gotten very good at figuring out how to get upwind of them. I cover my mouth and nose every time I leave the house when the temperature dips below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius). I avoid submerging myself in cold water, and I keep a pretty close eye on when certain plants bloom. I make it a point to exercise at least twice a week, and when I do go running, I pay more attention to my breathing than trying to meet a distance or time goal.

I always carry a rescue inhaler with me, and keep my prescription up to date, just in case I need to refill it, or the old one expires. I keep track of how often I use it. If it seems like I'm using it a lot, I re-evaluate my surroundings and visit the doctor if I can't correct what I'm reacting to.

If more medication is suggested, I research side effects, how long it's been on the market and ask about anything I should avoid. If I try it, I have to watch for signs of allergy, like the hives I seem to get every time I take a commonly used antibiotic. 'Cause, y'know, there's always the possibility of a severe, life threatening reaction.

(I think the medication research should be common sense, but my body's hypersensitivity has highlighted that step for me.)

This is all stuff I'm used to dealing with, and it's all in relation to keeping my breathing clear. Seeing it all written out, I'm a bit surprised at just how much of it there is. I guess I do go through a fair amount to avoid worsening my asthma.

I don't think I'm chronically ill, though I do have a controlled chronic illness. I still don't fit in the box I'm told I'm supposed to.

The more I linger in the world of labels, the more I realize the importance we put on our labels effects our identities. I also realize there's a difference in whether others know about those labels or whether they don't.

Sure, some are necessary to disclose in some situations, like if I go hiking with a group, I notify people of my asthma, and what to do if it flares up. (Generally, let me take my meds and rest for 15-20 minutes, so my heart rate can slow down and lungs can loosen. DON'T freak out. DON'T push me. DON'T get angry.) I'd expect the same of anyone who has a bee allergy or breathing problem, too. In those cases, label disclosure is extremely important.

Otherwise? People don't necessarily need to know those things, or the other invisible labels I carry. Our view of ourselves is more important than what anyone tells us we "should" be like.

Of course, as my school experiences and the every day experiences of pretty much everyone around the world demonstrate, the way other people react to how they label us can be dangerous. That enters into the worlds of stigma, entitlement, ignorance, and fear.

Way too many people are still mistreated because of the color of their skin, their sexuality, their gender, their disability status, their socioeconomic status, their...well, any other visible label. There are a lot of them.

That's how what the media and our culture as a whole does its damage. Too much of that shameful behavior is reinforced by the news we consume and the things we're taught from a young age. When we see something happen, fear may stop us from intervening, or maybe we agree with it on some level.

While we can't change what other people think or do, we can work on ourselves. We can broaden our own horizons, and learn about what those who fit into misunderstood groups go through on a daily basis. We can listen to their stories, and instead of accusing them of lying or exaggerating, give them the benefit of the doubt. When stories are common enough, there are systemic problems that must be resolved.

What seems to get lost in this whole issue of labels and stigma is that those who carry them are people. We all deal with labels and stigma, even if we don't realize it, and we are all people. The basic experience of being a person, experiencing hunger, fulfillment, thirst, joy, exhaustion, belonging, pain, and all of the other things we all go through on a primal level, is universal.

Why is that simple fact so hard to remember?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tuesday's Unconscious Mutterings

Monday Mutterings on a Tuesday? Well, yeah.

Yesterday was Labor Day here in the US, and I decided to celebrate by exercising my right to take some time off. Many thanks go out to everyone who has fought, and continues to fight, for worker rights.

Anyway, on to word association hosted by the ever awesome Luna Niña.

  1. Brownie :: Torture (if you've ever baked your own brownies, you know what I'm talking about)
  2. Randomly :: Crafty (of course. One of my other blogs IS Random and Crafty, after all.)
  3. Congratulations! :: Thank you!
  4. Curls :: All over the place
  5. Lipstick :: Ruby red
  6. Memory :: Forgotten
  7. Tea :: party
  8. Bulletin :: board
  9. Fragrance :: free zone (ah, the joys of asthma and allergies)
  10. Pace :: picante sauce!
Happy Tuesday, all!